American Elephants


Do You have the Feeling That There Is Something Wrong Out There? by The Elephant's Child

Do any of you have the sort of unsettled feeling that things are not quite as they are being portrayed? News made of too little information, asking the wrong people, not exactly President Trump’s “fake news”— but just an instinctive feeling that something is wrong out there. Here’s a post from Real Clear Investigations:

Broward County, Fla., school officials portray as a great success their Obama administration-inspired program offering counseling to students who break the law, instead of having them arrested or expelled. They insist that it played no role in February’s school massacre by Nikolas Cruz. They also claim that in fact juvenile recidivism rates are down and school safety is up, thanks to the program.

The evidence tells a far different story.

Broward County juvenile justice division records, federal studies of Broward school district safety and the district’s own internal reporting show that years of “intensive” counseling didn’t just fail to reform repeat offender Cruz, who allegedly went on to shoot and kill 17 people at his high school. Records show such policies have failed to curtail other campus violence and its effects now on the rise in district schools — including fighting, weapons use, bullying and related suicides.

Meanwhile, murders, armed robberies and other violent felonies committed by children outside of schools have hit record levels, and some see a connection with what’s happening on school grounds. Since the relaxing of discipline, Broward youths have not only brazenly punched out their teachers, but terrorized Broward neighborhoods with drive-by shootings, gang rapes, home invasions and carjackings.

Do read the whole thing. Things are not as they seem. We have entered an era when everything is being analyzed for its proportionality. There seemed to be a significant number of young students of color being sent to prison for commission of crimes. If the number of young people of color in prison for committing crimes was out of proportion to the general percentages of young people of color in society, clearly school teachers were cracking down on troublesome students because they were racially prejudiced. The “school to prison pipeline.” The Obama administration cracked down. Schools sending too many young people to prison would have to answer for their racism, and they would receive a visit from the feds.

This is apparently what happened with Nikolas Cruz, of Hispanic descent. His threats were recognized by the school officials, but because he was Hispanic and the federal government had said to ignore it, the school did not take the actions that they might have taken had there been no federal interference. The school had issued instructions that Cruz was not to be allowed to enter campus if he was wearing a backpack. And in their response to the killings, the school demanded that all students carry transparent backpacks so the contents could be seen. That does make it fairly clear, doesn’t it?

Tom Steyer continues to travel around the country urging college students to vote Democrat and to work for impeaching President Trump, thus aligning himself with Maxine Waters who is also demanding that President Trump be impeached. Neither one seems to have any particular high crime or misdemeanor for which they want him impeached—they just hate him. I suspect that Steyer is having fits over the useless environmental regulations being discarded, and perhaps the useless Paris Climate Accords.

Steyer is very green, and apparently a true believer that the Earth is dying without our immediate action to…? There are a remarkable number of people who appear at the front of any climate march in polar bear suits, though the polar bears are doing just fine according to the Canadian zoologist, Susan Crockford, who has become the world expert on all things polar bear and who issues a report each year on their progress. Their numbers are increasing comfortably, they are well fed and healthy.

When you hear or read something that seems, if not immediately wrong, at least questionable, do you plan to study up a little to see if it is indeed true, or do you just take the word of whatever article you read? Look at all the Lefties who insist that we would be far better off if we just kept all the petroleum products in the ground, where they belong. Wind and solar, their favored energy sources, deliver about 4% of our energy needs. How are their favored electric cars supposed to charge their batteries? How do our cars and trucks run? How does the food get delivered to our grocery stores? Starving to death is not a nice way to go.

Why do they keep circulating what Hollywood celebrities have to say, as if they know anything, or have any authority to speak out beyond the fact that we might recognize their names or faces?

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Here’s What “Draining the Swamp” Really Means! by The Elephant's Child

“Draining the Swamp” is a newly popular phrase for trying to rein in the overgrown government in Washington D.C. that seems to be leading to an administrative state — a catastrophic error devoutly to be avoided. Philip Hamburger has written a splendid assessment titled Is Administrative Law Unlawful and a companion The Administrative Threat which explain just what we have to worry about.

Investors Business Daily has written about just how it works.

What was first proposed by Congress as a modest law to assess the environmental impact of highway construction and other publicly owned projects, has grown into a bureaucratic monster, the likes of which no one ever imagined.

Nearly a half-century ago, before major federal environmental laws existed, Congress wanted to ensure that all federal agencies consider the environmental impact of their actions. This well intended action led to passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

America’s permitting and regulatory process is now so tightly bound in red tape, virtually no major energy or construction project can be accomplished without years of permitting delays, involvement of multiple government agencies, and seemingly endless  litigation. According to a 2016 review by the National Association of Environmental Professionals, it now takes an average of 5 years to complete one NEPA environmental impact statement. This timeline doesn’t include the years of litigation that routinely follow every major energy and construction project.

In North Dakota a badly needed drinking water project was held up in permitting and court for nearly 15 years. Colorado is still waiting after 10 years of trying to expand a reservoir to boost their drinking water supply. Everyone recognizes that the permitting process is a huge problem. The Obama administration ran into it with his stimulus program, and tried to speed up the process. But what is needed is not just “fixing” the rule, but to reform the NEPA process by making environmental permits a “one agency, one decision” deal, include a two-year deadline. For most NEPA permits, a lawsuit can be filed up to six years after the project ends. Environmental activists often simply do not want any change to take place in the area of their concern, and will use all kinds of silly lawsuits to end or slow development. The “endangered species” idea can be used anywhere, if you can’t find a specimen, but there may be large quantities on the other side of the ridge.

The Obama administration imposed a record 600 major regulations, which added rules that cost the economy $100 million or more at a rate of every three days.

President Trump is taking on the issue of permitting reform head-on, laying out a comprehensive plan to streamline approval for major infrastructure projects. A big part of the cost of any infrastructure project is red tape, which I’m sure he knows well from his construction projects. So far by the end of December had saved some $8.1 billion in net federal regulatory costs. The impact on the larger economy is more significant. Scott Pruitt is doing a fabulous job.

Regulations destroy freedom. The question: Is the loss of freedom worth what the regulation will cost?



Addressing the Administrative State: Drain the Swamp by The Elephant's Child

After a year of impressive accomplishment, in spite of “the resistance”, Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal is offering ” A Big Beautiful Trump 2018 Issue: Civil Service Reform.” Send your message of approval to the White House! The Journal has a pay barrier, but Instapundit has the essentials.

Let 2018 be the year of civil-service reform—a root-and-branch overhaul of the government itself. Call it Operation Drain the Swamp.

When Candidate Trump first referred to “the swamp,” he was talking about the bog of Beltway lobbyists and “establishment” politicians. But President Trump’s first year in office has revealed that the real swamp is the unchecked power of those who actually run Washington: the two million members of the federal bureaucracy. That civil-servant corps was turbocharged by the Obama administration’s rule-making binge, and it now has more power—and more media enablers—than ever. We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.

It’s Lois Lerner, the IRS official who used her powers to silence conservative nonprofits. It’s the “anonymous” officials who leak national-security secrets daily. It’s the General Services Administration officials who turned over Trump transition emails to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the absence of a warrant. It’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Leandra English, who tried to stage an agency coup. It’s the EPA’s “Scientific Integrity Official” who has taken it upon herself to investigate whether Scott Pruitt is fit to serve in the office to which he was duly appointed. It’s the thousands of staffers across the federal government who continue to pump out reports on global warming and banking regulations that undermine administration policy.

More broadly, it is a federal workforce whose pay and benefits are completely out of whack with the private sector. A 2011 American Enterprise Institute study found federal employees receive wages 14% higher than what similar workers in the private sector earn. Factor in benefits and the compensation premium leaps to 61%. Nice, huh?

Here’s a website that offers information on federal pay and benefits. It does not seem to be an official government website, but offers information for those who wish to become government employees. Do follow the link to Instapundit and read and save the invaluable Ms. Strassel’s invaluable piece.

We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.

You might consider reading Philip Hamburger’s recent book “Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Philip Hamburger is a leading scholar on the Constitution and a Professor of Law at Columbia University.



Explaining the Trump Derangement Syndrome: by The Elephant's Child

All is explained. Or at least a goodly part of all. Economist Mark Perry refers us to an article by Jeffrey A. Tucker last May in FEE. All good things eventually become clear, but the path may be a little tangled. Dr. Perry offers a condensed version:

For the center-left crowd, all their hopes and dreams are bound up with particular political processes, outcomes, and institutions. The state is their favorite tool for all the good they aspire to do in this world. It must be protected, guarded, defended, and celebrated. The illusion that the government is not a taker but a giver and the source of all good things must be maintained. The gloss of the democratic process must be constantly refurbished so that the essential sanctity of the public sector can be constantly cited as the highest calling.

The center-left has at least one hundred years of work and resources invested in the state’s health, well-being, reputation, and exalted moral status. Nothing must be allowed to threaten it or take it down a peg or two. Any failures must be deemed as temporary setbacks. The slightest sign of some success must be trumpeted constantly. The population must be subjected to unrelenting homilies on the essential holiness of the public sector.

They believe so strongly that they can make the world a better place through the managerial state that it has become their religion. It’s their very core! The president is supposed to at least pretend to be the high priest of the statist religion. That’s his job, according to this outlook.

Everything seemed to being going so well under the Obama administration, which was so earnest, so decorous, so civil. He was funny, smart, respectful of process, and sincere in his pronouncements. He ran on hope and change but governed as the person who kept hope for a new freedom and any radical change at bay.

Trump has profoundly disturbed the balance(click here for the rest)

We keep wondering just what spurs the Trump Derangement Syndrome. This is not a bad diagnosis.



President Trump Has Signed 40 New Pieces of Legislation, Getting Rid of Unneeded Regulation by The Elephant's Child

President Donald Trump continues to sign legislation, an achievement that he called “nice” on Friday. There is a bill to improve weather forecasting, a long-term vision for NASA, and some long-awaited reforms for the Department of Veterans Affairs. All three had bipartisan support.

—The Weather Research and Forecasting innovation Act of 2017 was described by the Washington Post as “the first major weather legislation enacted since the early 1990s. It aims to increase research into improving weather forecasts and to modernize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. David Titler, professor of meteorology at Penn State, said “improving weather-related safety of our people and assets is not political, but just common sense.”

—The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 calls for a $19.5 billion budget for NASA, a increase over the $19.3 billion budget for 2016. It asks that NASA create a plan for getting humans “near or on the surface of Mars” in the 2030s. Trump said during the campaign that “making sure we stay at the forefront of space exploration is a big priority for my administration.”

—The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act allows wrongdoers to by punished and gives more protection to those who inform. It puts veterans in charge of their own care.

Fifteen of the 40 bills signed repeal Obama-era regulations. Examples include a rule that made it harder for states to drug test welfare recipients and a regulation that imposed permitting requirements on mining sites. These were bills signed under the Congressional Review Act which allows Congress to nullify any regulation created in the previous administration’s final 6 months.

—Other bills, less consequential, included the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act  which reduces the time families of fallen officers have to wait to receive survivors benefits. Another  bill gives federal grants to law enforcement agencies that hire veterans.

Many businesses and government offices have been hamstrung with over-regulation, which is what happens when agencies are given free rein to establish rules and regulations.



The Y2K Bug, Seventeen Years Later, Still Filing Reports. by The Elephant's Child

Much has been written about the evils of bureaucracy and the administrative state. President Trump is fully on board with that, but his latest effort to whittle down the bureaucracy and the unnecessary and illogical regulation involved provided an excellent illustration. Seventeen years ago, it was believed that at the turn of the century computers would not be able to cope with the change from 1999 to 2000. They called it the Y2K Bug. It came with a rule that required them to continue to provide updates on their preparedness for coping with the bug. And they still are faithfully providing them.

In another case, the Pentagon was required to file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed some 1,200 man-hours every year. You can absolutely assume that every federal office and agency has some silly requirement like that, which consumes time and effort more fruitfully devoted to more important tasks. Often everybody knows that it’s a waste of time, but in a bureaucracy it’s hard to get the attention of the person needed to make the change. President Trump has initiated a “War on Waste,” which targets 59 obsolete projects. Imagine a huge spider web, with one strand near the middle that keeps vibrating uncontrollably.



Why Small Government by The Elephant's Child

It seems clear that our nation’s economists are not only well qualified at the dismal science, but know a thing or two about presentation as well. Enjoy.




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