American Elephants

What You Need to Know About the Southern Border by The Elephant's Child

Naturally, I like to write my own sterling opinions, which I assume are entirely correct, but I have the feeling that you would rather hear it direct from the horse’s mouth, as the saying goes. This is a conversation between Jessica Vaughn for the Center for Immigration Studies and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan. He is well chosen to occupy this post with his long experience in the field.

The talking points and misinformation that we normally hear have little to do with the actuality in the field. The flow of people who want to get in to the United States is huge, composed of people from all over the world. But it’s not a simple thing to understand. We hear lots about compassion and concern, and a lot less about the Cartels and their activity which includes not just the Wall, which is being built, but drugs coming across the border. 68,000 Americans died this past year from drugs smuggled in across the Southern Border. Sixty-eight thousand!

There’s lots of human smuggling, sex trafficking, and drugs, the Cartels haul in billions from their take in supporting all this evil. Democrats, interested in compassion, and their own designation as “good people”, are apt to believe that we should care deeply about these poor people who just want to participate in the good life that America promises. It is way more complicated than that.

The estimate is 150,000 people who make it across unchecked, and unaccounted for, not those who are caught and tallied. They assume that the actuality is much larger. Mr. Morgan points out that not all of them are bad people, but a heck of a lot are. The Wall is not an invention of President Trump’s. It is the results of the request of the Border Patrol for a badly needed wall.

Do watch the whole thing. We need more people who understand what the real situation is, and what the Border Patrol faces. We have a lot of Politicians who come up with a lot of false information. It’s a complicated and complex situation, and we need more informed and concerned Americans.

The Inexorable Growth of Big Government Continues Apace by The Elephant's Child

us-capitol-sky-brightening-apIf you understand thoroughly the proposition that the Federal Government has no money of its own, you are on the way to economic enlightenment. It’s true, and failing to understand that simple fact leads to all sorts of economic confusion. The government gets its money—all its money — from the taxpayers.

I mention this because we are inclined to forget it when politicians are promising nice things around election time. You will have to pay for those “nice things.” That was what Democrats wanted you to ignore when they started promising health care for all, and health care for the needy. They weren’t offering health care, but only government control of health insurance, and through the 20,000 pages of regulations for the entire medical establishment, control of  the doctors and nurses and technicians and hospitals and medical equipment and services and anyone connected to the medical establishment that I forgot to mention. It was not about health, but about control.

The Democrats in Congress believed that medical care cost too much. They claimed that if they just told everybody what to do and how to do it, things would get cheaper. [Well, not really. What they really wanted was single-payer health care like the care that has been financially ruining Britain for years, but they didn’t think Americans would go for it right off the bat.] If you take out all the carefully constructed language, and just flatly describe the project, it doesn’t sound so appealing at all, and with good reason.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health care more affordable, but a study of insurance policies before and after ObamaCare shows that average premiums have skyrocketed  — for some groups as much as 78%.

Average insurance premiums in the sought-after 23-year-old demographic rose most dramatically, with men in that age group seeing an average 78.2 percent price increase before factoring in government subsidies, and women having their premiums rise 44.9 percent, according to a report by HealthPocket scheduled for release Wednesday….

The premium increases for 30-year-olds were almost as high as for 23-year-olds — 73.4 percent for men and 35.1 percent for women — said the study, titled “Without Subsidies Women & Men, Old & Young Average Higher Monthly Premiums with Obamacare.”

Between higher healthcare premiums, lower quality health care, higher food costs, ever more taxes — there goes the standard of living. How are people supposed to save for retirement, for their kids education, for their own home?

Democrats favor big government, not because they are particularly enamored of bigness as such, but because they keep ‘improving’ everything with more laws and regulations, which requires more workers, and more agencies and first thing you know, government has just grown bigger and bigger. I touched on this with a quotation from Rob Stein, founder of the Democracy Alliance — who candidly explained the importance of being in control of government to the Democrats, and I’ll repeat it here, because it’s important.

The reason it is so important to control government is because government is the source of enormous power,” Stein continued. “One president in this country, when he or she takes office, appoints…5,000 people to run a bureaucracy, nonmilitary nonpostal service of 2 million people, who hire 10 million outside outsource contractors–a workforce of 12 million people–that spends $3 trillion a year. That number is larger than the gross domestic product of all but four countries on the face of the earth.

So the reason we’re doing what we’re doing…and the way we get progressive change, is to control government,” Stein said. “That’s what this is about.

Ah, but there’s the rub. Philip K. Howard explains:

Modern government is designed to be a kind of legal machine.But it is badly designed. Indeed, it may be one of the worst machines ever invented. Its core flaw is that it aspires to make choices without human judgement at the moment of action. …

Grinding public decision through a legal apparatus is not the handiwork of a demented management theorist. It’s a philosophical mandate. Government decisions, we believe, must comply with what is known as the “Rule of Law.” This hallowed concept is universally regarded as the foundation of a free society.

The Rule of Law aims at making sure government uses its powers properly, in an orderly fashion, and not by the whim of some official. By drawing boundaries of prohibited conduct, law limits the scope of state power and assures citizens of a protected zone of their freedoms.

“Automatic law,” Howard says, “causes public failure. A system of detailed dictates is supposed to make government work better. Instead it causes failure.” And when things don’t work, the response of government is to make another law or add some more regulations.

The goal of preventing action by the whim of some official leads to an inability to make decisions, even truly necessary ones. Agencies have formal budgets, and the goal becomes to spend enough to use up all budgeted funds, for that makes it possible to get an increase for the next fiscal year, rather than being cut back. There is no goal of cutting expenditures.

Now and then there is a push for cutting back. President Obama proudly proclaimed eliminating the law that classified spilled milk in the farmyard as an oil spill. (EPA regulated milk as it does petroleum because of butter fat content. Ditto vegetable oil) But it didn’t go much beyond that. Philip Howard proposes a 15 year limit attached to all legislation. At the end of 15 years, a law would have to be revisited, and either renewed for another 15 years, or dumped. Makes sense to me. Congress always means well, but never ends up discarding useless laws. Anyone have a better suggestion?

Free Markets, Free People, Free Country. by The Elephant's Child

Paul Ryan is not only a budget expert, he thoroughly grasps the big picture, and is fully capable of talking about it and explaining it. Here’s an excerpt from his speech to CPAC earlier this year.

There are those who say modern society is too complicated for the average man or woman to deal with. This is a long-standing argument, but we heard it more frequently after the mortgage credit collapse and financial meltdown in 2008. They say we need more experts and technocrats making more of our economic decisions for us. And they argue for less “political interference” with the enlightened bureaucrats … by which they mean less objection by the people to the overregulation of society.

If we choose to have a federal government that tries to solve every problem, then as long as society keeps growing more complex, government must keep on growing right along with it. The rule of law by the people must be reduced and the arbitrary discretion of experts expanded. . .

If the average American can’t handle complexity in his or her own life, and only government experts can … then government must direct the average American about how to live his or her life. Freedom becomes a diminishing good.
But there’s a major flaw in this “progressive’” argument, and it’s this. It assumes there must be someone or some few who do have all the knowledge and information. We just have to find, train, and hire them to run the government’s agencies.

Friedrich Hayek called this collectivism’s “fatal conceit.” The idea that a few bureaucrats know what’s best for all of society, or possess more information about human wants and needs than millions of free individuals interacting in a free market is both false and arrogant. It has guided collectivists for two centuries down the road to serfdom — and the road is littered with their wrecked utopias. The plan always fails!

Is the President Above the Law? by The Elephant's Child
February 3, 2011, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Law | Tags: , ,

“Holding someone in contempt of court is a powerful sanction in a judge’s arsenal to redress an intentional disregard for the law and the courts.” So said Rory Cooper at the Heritage blog today.

It is an important event when, yesterday, Federal District Judge Martin Feldman held the Interior Department in contempt of court for ignoring his ruling to cease the job-killing drilling moratorium imposed by President Obama last year.

President Obama first ordered the halt in offshore drilling in response to the BP oil spill in April of 2010.  Many reasonable observers felt that a temporary stoppage was necessary to assess the state of safe drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.  Hardly anyone has supported the permanent moratorium the Obama administration has since enforced.

Judge Feldman wrote:

“Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the reimposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this Court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt of this Court’s preliminary injunction order.”

Judge Feldman also ordered Interior to pay attorney’s fees for oil companies challenging the drilling ban.

Senator Mary Landrieu publicly testified against the moratorium.  President Obama’s hand-picked drilling commission opposed the moratorium.  Former EPA Chief and Commission Co-Chair William Reilly said:

If there’s a single point of consensus as we’ve been down here, it’s that the moratorium is doing very significant economic damage to this area. As Sen. Landrieu said there are only 33 rigs. How hard can it be to put inspectors on each one and draw conclusions that will allow a resumption of activity?”

After Judge Feldman rejected Interiors initial moratorium, the administration came back with a second moratorium, which was also rejected.  The administration appealed, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a stay of the lower court’s decision.  Then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and President Obama announced that they were “lifting” the moratorium, but proceeded not to change their behavior.  Almost no new drilling permits were issued, creating a de facto moratorium.  Each step taken by Interior shows their defiance of the court’s rulings and real contempt for the American taxpayer.

President Barack Obama is a lawyer, his wife is a lawyer.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is a lawyer. They know better.  Defiantly ignoring binding judicial decisions  seems to express the administration’s open contempt for the rule of law.

Judge Vinson ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional, and the ruling was binding on the 26 states that were parties to the suit.  Yet an administration spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that the administration had no intention of halting implementation of the law.  Administration refusal to address clear voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers is still being pursued.  Yesterday President Obama signed the U.S. instrument of ratification for the New START Treaty with Russia, but did not release the text of the document to the public as instructed in the Senate’s resolution of ratification.

Many observers have noted the characteristic arrogance of this President.  It is becoming a pattern, and a very disturbing development.

(Update by AE: great minds think alike, Michelle Malkin has more on the Obama administration’s lawlessness in her column today)

So What’s Wrong With Enforcing the Law? by The Elephant's Child

Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to prevent the Arizona immigration law from taking effect. The Arizona law mirrors Federal immigration law.  The big difference is that Arizona wants to enforce the law, and the Attorney General does not, even though he took an oath to do so.

President Obama and Attorney General Holder want to claim that only the feds have jurisdiction, and there is a preemption issue, even though the Arizona law has not yet taken effect.  But, it seems that Rhode Island has long been carrying out the procedures at issue in the Arizona statute.  Rhode Island state police check immigration status at traffic stops whenever there is reasonable suspicion, and they report all illegals to the feds for deportation.

Critics have claimed all the usual profiling arguments, and the assertion that such procedures hamstring police because they might make immigrants afraid to cooperate.  But it turns out that it is the Rhode Island police who insist on enforcing the law.  So why hasn’t Holder sued Rhode Island?

But the Supreme Court has already held, in Muehler v. Mena that police do not need any reason to ask a person about his immigration status — not probable cause, not reasonable suspicion.  The U.S. Court of  Appeals upheld the Rhode Island procedures.  So Holder is suing a sovereign state for enacting a statute in support of immigration enforcement practices that have already been upheld by the nation’s highest courts.

Michael Graham notes ion the Boston Herald that “knowledgeable local cops will actually prove that the law is enforceable, blowing his boss’s cover.”

Remember President Barack Obama’s claim last week that our borders are “just too vast” for us to secure them through enforcement, with fences and border patrols? The border’s too big.  The hole in the Gulf is too deep.  The recession is too stubborn.  Maybe we should find the president a smaller, easier-to-manage country to govern.  You know — send him to the minors for a few years.

A new study by the Federation for Immigration Reform concludes that illegal immigrations cost us $113 billion a year.

Does the Rule of Law Mean Something or Not? by The Elephant's Child

Do you remember the New Black Panther case?  On the day that Barack Obama was elected president, there were pictures all over the news of two very large black men in black berets and jackboots, standing at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia, brandishing nightsticks and intimidating voters and poll watchers.

The Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs.  In an essay in the Washington Times, J. Christian Adams says that he and other Justice attorneys “diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges.  Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case. Mr. Adams says:

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney. (…)

Based on my firsthand experiences, I believe the dismissal of the Black Panther case was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law. Others still within the department share my assessment. The department abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens victimized by the New Black Panthers. The dismissal raises serious questions about the department’s enforcement neutrality in upcoming midterm elections and the subsequent 2012 presidential election.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has opened an investigation into the dismissal and the DOJ’s skewed enforcement priorities. Attorneys who brought the case are under subpoena to testify, but the department ordered us to ignore the subpoena, lawlessly placing us in an unacceptable legal limbo.

This is a truly disturbing accusation by a lawyer who served as a voting rights attorney at the Justice Department until this month.  Do read the whole thing.

Victor Davis Hanson has also noticed, as have many others, that we have seldom if ever “seen such a systematic attack on our framework of laws at the present assault from the executive branch.” Federal Judge Martin Feldman ruled that Obama’s moratorium on drilling in the Gulf was unconstitutional, but the administration plans to try to reinstate it anyway, in spite of the damage to the Gulf Coast economy.

The president’s order to BP to establish a $20 billion payout fund, is clearly illegal without a court order or legislation, as is the administration decision to ignore past legal precedent capping oil-company liability.  Or there is the executive order that overturned established bankruptcy laws, the legally determined order of creditors, and put his own campaign donors first in line.

Obama plans to sue Arizona for their laws duplicating unenforced federal law. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, produced a video advising workers that they have a right to be paid fairly, whether documented or not.  Illegal is fine, unfair pay is not.  If you don’t like the law, just ignore it.

This is very serious stuff, and a casual hostility to the rule of law —by lawyers!   Do read the whole thing.

Bullying Business Again. by The Elephant's Child

We have noted that the members of the Obama administration have less experience in the private sector than any administration in memory.  The same seems to be true for leaders of the Democrat coalition in charge of the House and the Senate.  It is perhaps, then, a little more understandable that they have become accustomed to bullying business.  They do not understand why it might be improper to sue and beat up on Goldman Sachs for shorting the housing market.  They thought it was fine to force AIG to take bonuses away from executives who were contractually entitled to receive them.  Though there are many lawyers in their ranks, they seem unfamiliar with contract law.

BP faced demands Tuesday that it withhold its first-quarter dividend, which it committed to pay in April, in the early days of the Deepwater Horizon crisis. A confirmation of the payment date Tuesday drew a letter of condemnation from 32 members of Congress. … The dilemma comes as BP faces tremendous heat over the issue. Last week, President Barack Obama warned the company against “nickel and diming” people affected by the spill and said BP had “moral and legal obligations” to Gulf Coast residents that may supersede its obligations to shareholders.

What gives legislators the right to boss around a private company — one that never accepted a bailout — and stick themselves in the middle of the contractual agreement between a private company and its owners — the shareholders.

Liberals are attempting to force businesses to make economic decisions based on political considerations.  Politicians with no respect for the rule of law are assuming a power to which they are not entitled, issuing orders not only to private companies, but to independent nations.  The hubris is breathtaking.  And they are forcing business executives to become political operatives and to buy influence and lobby to protect their interests.  In the fantasy world of the liberals, private business is bad because it intends to make a profit.  Only “non-profits” or “non-governmental organizations” are to be favored, for they get to play politics funded by foundations, unions and other interest groups. “Public  Service” as it is euphemistically called by the White House.

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