American Elephants


The European Union is Coming Undone Over Political Correctness. Could We Just Use Common Sense Instead? by The Elephant's Child

Constitution

The news almost daily has headlines regarding the influx of refugees or migrants into Europe. They are generally referred to as Syrian refugees or Syrian migrants, but they come from a wide range of countries including many from Africa, and Asia as opposed to what we usually think of as the Middle East. We have seen pictures of massive marches of immigrants in Europe and read the tales of the problems Europe is having with their refugees, and specifically with Islamic terrorism. Paris and Brussels are only the start.

Did you know that the Obama administration has issued around 680,000 green cards to migrants from Muslim nations during the last 5 year period? If there is no change in current policy, the U.S. will admit another 680,000 over the next five years, or possibly more. During the same five years, we issued green cards to only 270,000 migrants from the European Union.

According to DHS files the largest numbers of migrants came from Iraq and Pakistan with 83,000 each, and 75,000 from Bangladesh, 45,000 from Egypt, 31,000 from Somalia, 24,000 from Uzbekistan, Turkey and Morocco had 22,000 migrants each, Jordan and Albania 20,000 each and Lebanon and Yemen each had 16,000. Indonesia (15,000), Syria (14,000), Sudan (13,000), Afghanistan (11.000). and Sierra Leone  (10,000). There were only a few thousand each from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kosovo and Libya.

The administration, aside from being unable to say the words ‘Islamic terrorism,’ seems to believe that terrorism doesn’t really exist— even when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his followers in chants of ‘Death to America‘ and ‘Death to Israel‘ — that’s just P.R. to please the locals. The programs launched by the administration to reach out and protect Muslims are extensive, and the administration has agreed to a terrorist front’s demands to purge FBI’s anti-terrorism material that was thought to be ‘offensive’ to Muslims.

A closely watched case, United States v. Texas, is going to be argued before the Supreme Court on April 18, Monday. The court surprised watchers when it asked that the parties in that case address a question they did not raise in their briefs: whether President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” (DAPA) order violates the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution. (“he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed,”) That clause had never before been addressed by the Court. An interesting development for the president who has said “I have a phone and a pen,” and has not been troubled by taking the laws into his own hands.

DAPA is a set of executive branch directives giving some four million illegal aliens who have given birth to children in the United States what the orders call “legal presence” — even though they are here in violation of the law. This “legal presence” entitles DAPA beneficiaries to work permits, a picture ID, driver’s licenses, social security, Earned Income Tax credits, Medicaid, ObamaCare, and other social welfare benefits. Until the 2014 election, President Obama repeatedly and emphatically stated that he did not have authority to issue such an order without congressional action. Then he did it.

Absolute monarchs rule absolutely. What they say goes. It was a long battle in English history, and King John (1119-1216) did things his way until confronted with armed insurrection at Runnymede (1215) when he agreed to the Great Charter which established the principle that even kings are not a law unto themselves, and must act through settled law.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution took care to carefully consider what prerogative powers were suitable for an American president. Much of the Constitution is devoted to replacing prerogative powers with settled law. Henry VIII believed his royal proclamations should have the force of law —Parliament repealed the Act of Proclamations.

As our Constitution was being written, the Committee on Detail changed the words of the draft Constitution which vested a “single person” with the power to carry into execution the national laws” to read “he shall take care that the laws of the United States be duly and faithfully executed.” That changed the execution of the law from a power to a duty rather than a power, indicated by the word “shall.” A reversal would portend ever-increasing  exercise of executive powers. The question is not whether the president’s rule would make good policy, but whether the Constitution allows the president to rule statutory violations. It does not.

The State Department wants to increase the rate of bringing Syrian refugees to the United States to an average of 1,500 a month in order to meet President Obama’s target of settling 10,000 refugees in the country by September.  Why by September? That’s Obama’s target —perhaps he expects to get 10,000 of them voting by November. Who knows? We have Trump’s Yuge wall, 40 feet tall, that he claims he will make Mexico pay for, which is absurd. The 18 to 24 month time for processing admission of  refugees has reportedly been slashed  to 3 months to meet the president’s goal of 10,000 refugees this fiscal year.

Although the Muslim immigrants clearly include some ISIS members seeking entrance to the U.S, (they are certainly plentiful among European migrants), the slashing of processing time is worrying. It would seem that immediate admissions should focus on providing a safe haven for the remnants of historic Christian communities throughout the Middle East that are now targeted for extinction. Churches have been burned, priests arrested, Christians have been tortured, raped and crucified. They have nowhere to go. Present policy does not take into account their precarious situation. The State Department accepts refugees from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees which oversees the large refugee camps— but Christians do not dare enter those camps, where they are attacked and targeted by Islamists.

Playing politics with Immigration is a particularly unseemly thing to do. Instead of efforts to carefully vet Muslim immigrants, we run into accusations of “Islamophobia,” designed to stop any dissension. Religious freedom, promised by our Bill of Rights, does not aim to free those who are intending terrorist attacks. There are many tenets of the Muslim faith that are directly antithetical to the U.S. Constitution. We should be able to clearly explain those to all Muslim immigrants. We do not tolerate honor killings, we do not regard women as second-class citizens, we don’t accept wife-beating, and rape is a crime. These are serious prison offences. That is not Islamophobia — it’s just clearly setting the ground rules. There should be a clear discussion of rules that are in the Koran that are not acceptable under our Constitution. If they cannot agree to American law, perhaps they would prefer to go elsewhere.

One of the most despicable acts of President Obama has been to delete some of the requirements under the law for becoming an American citizen. That’s why Europe is in such great turmoil at present. They have no programs for assimilation, or for becoming a citizen of a particular country. European nations have always been tribal, with  differing languages, customs and rules. After centuries of constant and deadly wars they thought to end them by opening borders and sharing finances and laws. It hasn’t worked. An unelected and unrepresentative bureaucracy merely substitutes for the absolute monarchs that once ruled Europe, and the people are not quite at the armed insurrection stage, but it’s not all peaches and cream either. Political correctness dictates acceptance of poor refugees, common sense dictates something else.

Emma Lazarus’s “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore—” is all very compassionate, but hardly an acceptable guide to immigration.



Obama Makes Nice With The World’s Dictators, But It’s All Out War With Republicans by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama is going full bore community organizer on his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, as he announced yesterday from the Rose Garden:

Of the many powers and responsibilities that the Constitution vests in the presidency, few are more consequential than appointing a Supreme Court justice — particularly one to succeed Justice Scalia, one of the most influential jurists of our time.  …

So this is not a responsibility that I take lightly.  It’s a decision that requires me to set aside short-term expediency and narrow politics, so as to maintain faith with our founders and, perhaps more importantly, with future generations.  That’s why, over the past several weeks, I’ve done my best to set up a rigorous and comprehensive process.  I’ve sought the advice of Republican and Democratic members of Congress.  We’ve reached out to every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to constitutional scholars, to advocacy groups, to bar associations, representing an array of interests and opinions from all across the spectrum.

And today, after completing this exhaustive process, I’ve made my decision.  I’ve selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness, and excellence.  These qualities, and his long commitment to public service, have earned him the respect and admiration of leaders from both sides of the aisle.  He will ultimately bring that same character to bear on the Supreme Court, an institution in which he is uniquely prepared to serve immediately.

Today, I am nominating Chief Judge Merrick Brian Garland to join the Supreme Court.  (Applause.)

Followed by a long speech about Judge Garland’s qualifications and various comments on his own Constitutional Duty, and a lot of nonsense about how it is the Republicans Constitutional Duty to give Judge Garland an immediate hearing and confirm him.

President Obama is correct that it is his duty to nominate someone for the office. He is incorrect that it is the Republicans’ duty to give him an immediate hearing and to confirm him. That is not in the Constitution. Republicans believe that confirmation of a new judge should reflect the new president under whom he will serve and the people who voted for that administration — rather than the last few months of a lame-duck presidency.

Here’s a sampling of the president’s rhetoric:

I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote.  If you don’t, then it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair.  It will mean everything is subject to the most partisan of politics — everything.  It will provoke an endless cycle of more tit-for-tat, and make it increasingly impossible for any President, Democrat or Republican, to carry out their constitutional function.  The reputation of the Supreme Court will inevitably suffer.  Faith in our justice system will inevitably suffer.  Our democracy will ultimately suffer, as well.

He rounded up a group of lefty “experts” — think tank scholars, law professors, political science professors, and history professors to send a “Letter from the Experts: The President’s Supreme Court Nominee Deserves a Chance.”

The summary from Tanya Somander. Director of Digital Rapid Response for the Office of Digital Strategy: Scholars, law professors, and presidential historians write that denying the President’s Supreme Court nominee a hearing is unprecedented.

Well, no it isn’t. The GOP is playing by the same rules that Democrats like Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and even Barack Obama employed when their party didn’t control the White House. The Senate will be doing its job and fulfilling its Constitutional duties by refusing to confirm the president’s choice just as much as it would by approving him.

Democrats will go full community organizer on this. There’s nothing Obama loves so much as playing political hardball. He never quits. He  has mobilized veterans from his campaign operations to help him push for his Supreme Court nominee. The “new” group will be called “the Constitutional Responsibility Project.” It will be: “a nonprofit organization and solicit donations, develop advertising, coordinate messaging, help manage operatives in the field, respond to attacks on Judge Garland and collect opposition research on Republican opponents.” That’s what  you call hardball.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Garland’s 19 year tenure on the DC  Circuit Court of Appeals “demonstrates a reliable vote for progressive causes.” The National Federation of Independent Business concludes after studying his record that “he would be a strong ally of the regulatory bureaucracy, big labor and trial lawyers.”

He seems to favor stronger gun laws, and has shown a pattern of over-deference to administrative agencies including the EPA. “In a dozen close cases in which the court divided, he sided with the agency every time.”

It looks like a long hot summer.



A Strong Rebuke to the President of the United States by The Elephant's Child

Gerecht-Home-Main

On Tuesday the Supreme Court issued a stay that blocked the federal government from implementing a series of far-reaching environmental regulations that essentially crippled the entire coal industry. The rules were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of President Obama’s attempt to force America’s energy sector to reduce their carbon emissions to conform to the administration’s demands.

Once again acting on his “presidential authority,” the president was making laws that would close hundreds of coal-fired power plants, because the president believes that CO2 is a pollutant (it is not) and that CO2 is the cause of global warming (it is not). Mr. Obama was trying to set an example for other countries to do the same, to comply with the unenforceable agreement that came out of the Paris Climate Talks—COP21.

Because of a 5-4 majority on the court, nothing will be done to implement those changes until an appeals court can formally rule on a challenge brought by 27 states, and corporate and industry groups against the EPA. What the Supreme Court has done is to restore some sense of accountability to an agency that has attempted to become a legislative body without any authority to do so.

The appellate courts will now have to give the 27 states the opportunity to make their case. The Supreme Court is not just saving the jobs of coal miners and the economy in several states, but calls attention to the rule of law at a time when the president of the United States has come to believe that he doesn’t have to bother with the consent of Congress. He just rewrites the law and dares the critics to stop him.

That stay will remain in effect through the end of Mr. Obama’s presidency, until the Supreme Court has a chance to hear the case—in 2017 at the earliest. The stay sends the strongest possible signal that the court is prepared to strike down the Clean Power Plan on the merits, assuming the next president doesn’t revoke it.

Not since the court blocked President Harry Truman’s seizure of the steel industry has it so severely rebuked a president’s abuse of power. …

In a ruling two years ago the court held that the EPA couldn’t conjure up authority to make “decisions of vast economic and political significance” absent a clear statement from Congress. Thus, the EPA may have the authority to require power plants to operate more efficiently and to install reasonable emissions-reduction technologies. But nothing authorizes the agency to pick winners (solar, wind) and losers (coal) and order generation to be shifted from one to the other, disrupting billion-dollar industries in the process.

The EPA has been rebuked by the courts repeatedly. In January the House joined the Senate in trying to stop another of Obama’s “power grabs” — the EPA’s attempt to seize control of virtually all waterways across the country. The federal government has used the EPA as its proxy and the Clean Water Act to enact its ideas about controlling privately owned land through the regulation of waterways. This year they extended, without congressional input, their authority through the 1972  Clean Water Act.

The Obama administration excused this attempted appropriation as nothing more than an effort to save the nation’s streams, headwaters, creeks and wetlands from “pollution and degradation.” In reality, the EPA simply wanted to expand its command over such near-waterless features as dry creeks, potholes and puddles . Under this regime, private individuals or businesses would need government permission to do anything on their property that is even remotely related to water — such as digging a drainage ditch — giving Washington sweeping powers over private lands.

A federal judge told the EPA last August that they had gone too far, but they just shrugged and said they would enforce the rule in the 37 states that were not part of the lawsuit. “Administrative Law” is one of those innocuous phrases in which the Left excels, like the substitution of  “extremist” for “terrorist.” But you must pay attention to the real meaning — which is the substitution of agency regulation and presidential orders or directions or memos  for the lawful actions of Congress. As Jonathan Turley, professor of Law at George Washington University said:

“What the president is doing is not one of the dangers
the Framers were concerned about; it is the danger
the Framers were concerned about.”



Excuse Me, It’s a Tax—Not a Mandate—It’s a Tax. by The Elephant's Child

Here is Obama’s Chief of Staff Jack Lew, asserting the denial in the administration of the Supreme Court verdict. If the law forces those who are unwilling to buy government health insurance to pay a tax as a penalty — taxes are more easily disposed of.

Obama doesn’t want to be seen as a baldfaced liar; yet we have extensive evidence of his claim that he will not raise taxes on the middle class, that you can keep your health insurance if you like what you have, and that you can keep your doctor. All hooey. Seventy-five percent of the cost of ObamaCare will fall on those making less than $120,000 a year.   And that’s on top of the Tax Armageddon that arrive on January 1, 2013.

Cato says that taxes are of three types — income, excise, or direct.  Each type must meet specified constitutional constraints. Because the mandate penalty tax under PPACA does not satisfy any of the constraints, it is not a valid tax.So the law could be challenged on that basis. Or it becomes much easier for Congress to repeal. It’s going to be interesting.

Don’t miss the Solicitor General’s testimony before the Supreme Court. It’s a tax, a tax, a tax.



Act of Great Cunning? Too Clever By Half? Complete Disaster? by The Elephant's Child

The ObamaCare decision was a shock. We had been hearing about the huge numbers of  the public who wanted ObamaCare repealed. Intrade was running over 70% for repeal.  And Chief Justice Roberts joined the left to uphold ObamaCare. For many Republicans, the instant reaction was outrage.

With Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the swing vote, joining the conservative members of the court, we seemed to have repeal guaranteed and Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold. Why?

Trying to understand was interrupted by a more plebeian problem, of the plumbing variety. You know how it goes. You try all the home remedies hoping to avoid having to call the plumber, and it’s always late on Friday or on the weekend, when the cost is way higher.  Nevermind. You know how it goes.

Here are a variety of serious people with fine minds offering their take:

Paul Rahe is a professor of History at Hillsdale College and an outspoken critic of ObamaCare.

Sean Trende is Senior Elections Analyst for Real Clear Politics.

Timothy Dalrymple writing at Patheos after listening to a talk from Paul Clement, who argued the case.

Mark Tapscott. Executive Editor of the Washington Examiner.

Richard Epstein Professor of Law at University of Chicago and NYU School of Law. Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Joshua Hawley Now a Law Professor, but a former clerk to Chief Justice Roberts.

Randy Barnett Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown Law, and a member of the team that argued the case before the Supreme Court.

You can easily find all sorts of articles filled with outrage.  These are more thoughtful. The Wall Street Journal has several pieces, but is behind a subscription barrier.



The Final Verdict by The Elephant's Child

Just Another Broken Promise by The Elephant's Child

The tax increases imbedded in ObamaCare add up to $1.7 trillion over the next ten years, according to the CBO. The”mandate” which they sometimes called a “penalty”—which you have to pay if you don’t buy the health insurance the government ordered you to buy — has been clarified by the Supreme Court. It is a tax.

 




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