American Elephants


The President is Concerned About Mass Shootings, Regulates the Innocent, Releases the Guilty. by The Elephant's Child

You can understand just why President Obama is so angry with Republicans. They not only fail to appreciate all the great things he has done for the country, but insist on criticizing him for doing them. No wonder he is angry. Some even claim that he is trying to make America a socialist country.  Socialism is defined as any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

Liberals have realized that they don’t need to own the means of production and distribution of goods, they can just regulate it all, and so the president intends to advance “fundamental transformation”  by decree. The Wall Street Journal summed it up under the headline “Happy New Regulatory Year:”

Unofficially, Mr. Obama’s Administration has once again broken its own record by issuing a staggering 82,036 pages of new and proposed rules and instructions in the Federal Register in 2015. We say unofficially because Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who tracks these regulations, warns that the final number will likely come down by a few hundred pages when the official National Archives tally is released, without the blank pages that sometimes appear in daily publication.

He told us early on that he wanted to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” which is probably the only thing he has come close to accomplishing — in an accomplishment-free administration.  I shouldn’t say that. He is a champion at limiting economic freedom and the 94,446,000 working age Americans who have given up looking for work can attest to that.

Today he announced his executive orders on gun control, with a long list of mass shootings: Fort Hood, Binghamton, Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown, the Navy Yard, Santa Barbara, Charleston, San Bernardino. Not any one of these mass shootings would have been prevented by any of President Obama’s executive orders. But then his climate control efforts, which resulted in an unenforceable agreement to limit CO2 emissions, would have no effect on the climate of the world at all — even over the next 100 years.

The gun control efforts would accomplish not much of anything at all, but are not a particularly big intrusion on gun rights either. So why? Obama is extremely dogmatic. Once he has an idea, it is set in stone, and he does not change his mind. It is of a piece with his orders on rules of engagement for military personnel which got so many of our troops killed, both at Fort Hood and in Afghanistan.

Obama also just commuted the sentences of 95 drug dealers convicted of non-violent possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and some 20 of them for illegally possessing firearms. I’m inclined to believe that selling illegal drugs is a violent crime.

California, the home of the San Bernardino killing, has the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Chicago, also a city with very restrictive gun laws has a record number of gang shootings. Australia has seen a spike in gun crime in spite of an outright ban on guns. Paris has extremely strict gun laws, and has had two dreadful examples.

In the United States, we have had a 50 percent drop over the past two decades as a direct result of good policing, and of putting more of the bad guys in prison. The “Ferguson Effect,” blaming the police in spite of grand jury investigations, has meant a drop-off in policing. Recruitment for the police academies has declined, and more cops are quitting the service. They don’t need to risk their lives every day to protect the people, and be unfairly accused of racism, or of murder when defending themselves. They are more reluctant to patrol dangerous neighborhoods, and there is an uptick of 11% in homicides in 25 of our 30 largest cities. In spite of the uptick (which is significant) today’s murder rates are still at all-time historic lows.

It is the policing revolution of the 1990s that succeeded in calming urban violence. President Obama has rejected angrily any suggestion of a “Ferguson Effect.”

“He accused FBI director Comey of ‘cherry-picking data’ and ignoring ‘the facts’ on crime in pursuit of a ‘political agenda,’ noted Heather MacDonald. The idea that the president knows more about local crime and policing than the nation’s top law-enforcement official is absurd. Yet after DEA chief Rosenberg threw his weight behind the Ferguson effect, the White House lashed out again, petulantly claiming that he had no evidence.”

Do read Heather MacDonald’s article “In Denial About Crime” linked here, and above. She is truly an expert, and current trends are worrying.

The president has had conflicting ideas about how to help the black community. On the one hand he has emphasized children’s need for fathers, which is a great good. On the other hand he has unfortunately suggested that police officers are racist. With his commutation of sentences, largely of drug dealers, he has suggested that it is somehow unfair for so many black men to be in prison. What is unfair is for so many black men to be dealing drugs. Here is the list of the most recent list of 95 prisoners whose sentences he commuted. He commuted another 45 earlier in the year. Reportedly 6,000 prisoners are to be released in his final term.

Much of this is ideological prejudice expressed in the Fox Butterfield Fallacy of misidentifying as a paradox, that which is a simple cause-and-effect relationship. New York Times reporter Fox Butterfield remarked on the drop in crime, led by a drop in murder, and asked why is the number of inmates in prisons and jails still going up? The typical New York Times reporter disapproved of sending people to prison because they think it is racially discriminatory. It is a common belief on the Left.

Mr. Obama remains angry with Republicans, angry with Congress, and determined to get his way by ignoring the Constitution, and accomplishing what he can by executive orders, and de facto rules as “notices” or “guidance” that are ignored by businesses at their peril. The Supreme Court has encouraged this abuse by affirming that federal agencies have wide latitude to issue “interpretations” of federal laws and even to change those interpretations without going through the formal exercise of rule-making. Clearly, Congress needs to restrain their habit of passing rule-making on to federal agencies.

The federal government does not understand the effect on business of their busy-rule making nor of the effect on the American economy.

This year administration plans to issue new or final rules restricting legal arbitration, mandating overtime  pay for millions of workers, punishing payday lenders, further regulating financial advisers, limiting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling and further reducing silica dust exposure in the workplace.

It will accomplish little, damage our damaged economy further, and impose more costs on every American. Some accomplishment!



Obama’s Mass Release of Prisoners Soon to Hit the Streets by The Elephant's Child

Over the past thirty years,  Americans have experienced a record decline in crime rates. Neighborhoods once dangerous for the law abiding have been stabilized. The murder rate is down, saving many lives, mostly of young disadvantaged men in our cities. The gains, however, are fragile and at risk.

Later this month, about 6,000 federal prisoners are expected to be granted an early release from the Bureau of Prisons. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has lowered the sentences for many drug offenders, and made the change retroactive. This is the largest one-time release in history, and the 6,000 inmates are set to be released  between October 30 and November 1, but is only a fraction of what is to come. According to Commission estimates, 46,000 inmates currently serving federal prison sentences for serious drug trafficking offenses are eligible for early release.

The Justice Department’s own studies on recidivism — inmates who commit new crimes after their release — are a source of concern. The Justice recidivism report showed that within five years of release, 77 percent of drug offenders in the state system had committed new crimes. Using that number would suggest that there is a potential for over 4,600 offenders and 35,000 new crimes committed in the next five years, and this is only talking about the crimes for which the recidivists are caught.

There is the famous “Fox Butterfield Effect”named after New York Times crime reporter Fox Butterfield who was responsible for such headlines as “More Inmates Despite Drop in Crime”. “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction,” and “Crime Keeps on Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling.”He just didn’t get the connection.

Those who are not U.S. citizens will be deported, but the majority will be placed in home confinement or halfway houses and then supervised release. Those systems are already taxed, but are they prepared for thousands of new charges?

Crime in New York City is already up dramatically, due to Mayor de Blasio’s softer stance on crime. There are genuine risks in this early release plan, and it is the public that will bear the costs. Mr. Obama is already pursuing a less-serious police position in inner city neighborhoods after riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. The”Black Lives Matter” movement has police departments pulling back from policing for fear of attacks and riots — which has been accompanied by an unsurprising rise in crime rates.




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