American Elephants

We All Need Reminding From Time to Time: by The Elephant's Child


From Bernard Bailyn’s The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution:

“At the Philadelphia convention, with exquisite care and with delicate nuances, they devised a complex constitution that would generate the requisite power but would so distribute its flow and uses that no one body of men and no one institutional center would ever gain a monopoly of force or influence that would dominate the nation.”

In every generation, we need to remind the people of the care and wisdom that went into the making of the Constitution. It has worked for 286 years, and remains unique among nations in its establishment by “We the People,” and the limited powers that it grants to the government. And it is up to us to remind our representatives in government of its meaning, and to insure that our schools teach its history and its meaning .

See also: Catherine Drinker Bowen’s Miracle at Philadelphia

Democrats Are Trying to Create a Constitutional Crisis! by The Elephant's Child


We are told that the Senate, under the direction of Majority Leader Harry Reid, is trying to write a bill to give President Obama the authority to raise the US Debt Limit by executive order.

Great effort is being expended by the Democrats in general and Obama in particular to scare the public that everything is about to come apart because of the raging disagreement in Congress. Obama has said if Congress won’t give him his way, he will just have to “go around Congress.” The Constitution does not allow him to do that.

The Democrats are dealing with the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4, which says:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pension and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

The Section 5 clause adds:

The Congress shall have power to enforce by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Since neither Harry Reid nor the Senate can amend the Constitution — that has to be done by passing an amendment in both houses which has to be approved by the 50 states, or by holding a Constitutional Convention— I suppose they’re going to try some tricky application of Section 5 to let them fix Section 4 to meet their preferences.

The “power of the purse” rests with the House of Representatives. That is the power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States. To borrow money on the credit of the United States, To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, to coin Money, and to deal with pirates. I’ve left some things out, it’s a long section.

The reason the House is in charge of the government purse, is because they are the closest representatives to the people, and it is the people’s taxes that they are arguing about. Members of the House represent the people of their state according to population numbers. They have to face the voters every two years to seek their approval.  In the 2010 election, Americans gave Republicans the biggest landslide victory in 75 years — after Democrats passed ObamaCare.

Because the Democrats in the Senate refused to pass a budget— as they were required by law to do for four years — Congress has been reduced to operating on ‘continuing resolutions’ which simply kick the can down the road for a few months when they will have the same battle all over again.

Democrats are remarkably unconcerned about money. The national debt of nearly $17 trillion will get fixed— somehow. Congress must agree to finance the government so that we do not default on the debt. Only the president and the Democrats have suggested that anyone would default on the debt. Democrats don’t do principles, they freely admit it. They consider issues as they come up and react to them. Whether this partly explains their unconcern with deficits, balanced budgets, or whether it’s math avoidance, economic ignorance or just an illusion that there’s always more tax money to be collected, I have no idea. I do not understand how they can be so casual with the people’s money.

I find their attitude bewildering. You will often hear a liberal say that marginal tax rates under FDR were 94% for the rich, and we got along all right. Why can’t we do that again? Obama has for five years exhibited no restraint in spending whatsoever. Chicago style politics reigns, cronies and supporters are rewarded, graft and fraud are common. The agencies and departments of government have been used as political tools to subvert elections, punish supporters of the opposition party, destroy the businesses of opponents, and to give out guaranteed loans and grants to supporters. Crooked government.

This is the man who ran for office promising to be “a uniter, not a divider.” That worked out well.

I don’t know where the Democrats are planning to take this. The American people are worried about the debt and about government spending. Americans may not understand higher economics — but they do know about bills and debt and not running up a big balance on the national credit card. They are beginning to sense the president’s contempt for ordinary citizens.  #Occupy America and jokes about the Barrycades simply presage greater civil disobedience. Americans don’t take well to Autocrats, nor dictators.

Mark Levin Explains “The Liberty Amendments.” by The Elephant's Child

Sound interesting? Here is Mark Levin”s book, and here is one of  many editions of The Federalist Papers.

The Most Important Video You Will Watch This Year. by The Elephant's Child

This beautifully made and powerful video from the SpecialOps and Intelligence (ret.) community is important to let people know the extent to which this administration has betrayed America’s national intelligence, endangered lives, and destroyed relations, just for pure personal political gain. Selling out America and Americans. If enough people watch this, the election is over.

The United States of America Doesn’t Do Imperial Presidencies. by The Elephant's Child

Still smarting from the response to his “you didn’t build that” comment, which was an enormously clarifying view into his far-left thinking, President Obama did it again. This time, according to his mindset, allowing Americans to keep more of their own money is a “giveaway.

Only last Wednesday at a New Orleans campaign event, Obama talked about “another trillion-dollar giveaway for millionaires”  in referring to extending the Bush tax-cuts. Just a day later, press secretary Jay Carney repeated the canard — he called an extension “another $1 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest Americans.”

Let’s clarify. Refusing to extend the Bush tax cuts is, by definition, raising taxes. Government exists at the sufferance of the American people. What the American people earn by their efforts is their money— it is not “government money.” The people are willing to be taxed, and give permission their elected representatives to do so — for the specific purpose of funding necessary government functions, like national defense, enforcing the laws, and providing for the general welfare. If government gets too grasping with their definition of the latter, the people will remove those elected representatives. Is that clear enough?

President Obama has ignored the “enforcing the laws” part when he doesn’t like the law; which is not  optional for a President of the United States. Now he is assuming that government owns all the money and has the authority to manage everyone’s life. He does not recognize business as the lifeblood of America, and assumes that government work— which he regards as far nobler — is “service” to some kind of higher ideal.

Obama is unimpressed by success in business, possibly because he has never had any, and resents the rewards earned by those who are successful. He thinks they’re all way overpaid, and that excess should be taken away to raise up those who are not successful, for he is sure that they have worked just as hard.

The American people are inclined to get a little testy when their labor is so disrespected, and rise in fury when the money represented by their hard labor is just plain wasted. It remains taxpayer money. It is not government money. It should be treated with care and thrift and conscience.

The President of the United States is a “public servant.” That means that he is subject to the wishes of the American people, not that he has been elected King. We dispensed with that a long time ago. Americans have great respect for the office of the presidency, largely because George Washington set such a restrained and careful example. The current occupant of the office would do well to review our founding father’s restraint.

A President Above the Law, Making His Own Rules. by The Elephant's Child

Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal wrote a column last Thursday about Obama’s  “imperial presidency.”

If you recall, that was a favorite charge of the left about the 43rd president’s conduct in war, wiretapping and detentions. “Yet say this about Mr. Bush, His aggressive reading of executive authority was limited to the area where presidents are at their core power — the commander-in-chief function,” Strassel said.

Executive power is weakest  in the realm of domestic policy. It is subject to checks and balances, and is co-equal with the other two branches of government. Yet this is the very area where Mr. Obama has granted himself unprecedented power.

The president did work with Congress on the health care law, but that was an unusual example of Mr. Obama working with Congress. His more usual pattern is complete disregard for the powers of the legislative branch in favor of administrative decision-making, without, or in spite of congressional action.

The president proposes, Congress says no, and Mr. Obama does it anyway.

Mr. Obama doesn’t like the federal law that criminalizes the use of medical marijuana. Congress has not changed the law. The president has instructed the Justice Department not to prosecute. He doesn’t like the Defense of Marriage Act, but Congress has not repealed it, so he stops defending it in court. He asked Congress to get rid of the provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act that annoy the teachers union, they didn’t, so now the Education Department issues waivers.

Congress refused to pass cap-and-trade, so the EPA is now putting it into effect with an overly-generous reading of the Clean Air Act. The NLRB has pushed through an election law to replace the”card-check” that Congress turned down. Incensed by the Supreme Court’s decision that Arizona could still ask for an illegal’s papers, he announced that the administration would not respond to requests for information about legal status. States have made an effort to clean up their voter rolls to prevent vote fraud,  he sues the states to make them stop.

The United States has bankruptcy laws, which handle companies in trouble quite efficiently and bankruptcy judges are expert at reducing labor costs if they are out of line. Obama simply took over the auto industry, and gave a big chunk of it to the unions. The Supreme Court rejected the health care mandate, and said it was a tax. Obama said he rejected that. In one situation after another, the president has simply rejected the authority of Congress, and done what he wanted.

Then there’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that has a very questionable agenda that emphasizes legally questionable interpretations of nondiscrimination laws. The release of unverified customer complaints against credit-card companies suggests that it is a tool of the overreaching administration. The “independent” agency is interacting with the White House in inappropriate ways for an agency that is supposed to be independent. And the idea that consumers need financial protection seems like more of a grasp for power.

Its spending and hiring practices have not been made available to Congress, and Richard Cordray, the consumer chief  was nominated in a recess appointment when the Senate was in session, which is unconstitutional. The president said it’s up to him to declare whether the Senate is in recess or not, and he says they weren’t. That isn’t up to the president. So private parties can refuse to obey any regulation issued by this new unaccountable bureau.

This is all  a startling insight into Mr. Obama’s view of his own importance and authority.

The other co-equal branches of government have never before been faced with a president who has no respect for the Constitution. After all, there is that oath. What makes it even more troubling is that this executive overreach is usually done as pure political payoff to special interests or voting groups the president is trying to subvert.  It is an ugly situation.

Now a second Obama cabinet official faces a contempt of Congress charge. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ignored a duly authorized and issued Congressional subpoena for documents that would shed light on the drilling moratorium that he imposed after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The order meant thousands of lost jobs and decreased energy production, and the House Natural Resources Committee has real questions.

Last week Attorney General Eric Holder became the first cabinet member in American history to be cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to produce documents related to Fast and furious. Salazar has already been found in contempt of federal court in 2010 for imposing a moratorium in spite of a federal judge’s preliminary injunction.  He may be the second to be found in contempt of Congress. This is the administration that promised to be “the most transparent” in history.

I hope the Romney campaign is paying attention. Americans, mostly, are deeply satisfied with their Constitution, and feel that the Founders got it right in the first place. Arrogant disregard will not go down well.

Tyrants, Dictators and Kings? Not Here, Not Now, Not Ever. by The Elephant's Child

Imperialism? Not a description we’re used to in America, but one that is becoming increasingly common around the web. Today’s presidency has little regard for the separation of powers, or the three equal branches of government.  Don’t like the laws? Just ignore them  and go your own way.

The Founders created three separate and equal branches of government as a system for slowing things down. Encouraging deliberation and argumentation meant fewer ill-thought out laws and regulations. The president said that if Congress will not act (in the way he wants them to) he’ll just have to go around them. Dr. Matthew Spalding at Heritage listed some of the most blatant offenses:

Last week, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum instructing U.S. immigration officials to use their “prosecutorial discretion” to create a policy scheme contrary to existing law, designed to implement legislation that Congress hasn’t passed.

The President himself has admitted he doesn’t have the authority to do this. “The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting, I promise you, not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works,” he told Hispanic activists last year. “That’s not how our democracy functions.”

The Left does not like disagreement, but there are still limits:

  • The Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the President’s cap-and-trade plan, but his EPA classified carbon dioxide, one of the building blocks of life, as a pollutant so that it could be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
  • The Employee Free Choice Act— a particular goal of labor unions—was defeated by Congress, the National Labor Relations Board announced a rule that would approve “snap elections” for union representation, limiting employer’s ability to make their case to workers, and guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization.
  • An internet regulation failed to be approved by Congress, but the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would regulate the Web anyway, despite a federal court’s ruling that it had no authority  to do so.
  • Congress has consistently barred the Dept. of Education from getting involved in curriculum , the administration has offered waivers to the No Child Left Behind law in exchange for states adopting national education standards, without authorization from Congress.

The Imperial Administration has refused to enforce laws duly enacted by Congress:

  • The Supreme Court unanimously approved Arizona’s right to ask those questioned on violations for their immigration papers, the administration has announced they will only respond in cases of major crime. They choose not to enforce immigration law.
  • The Department of Justice has chosen not to push Congress to repeal federal laws against marijuana use, but simply decided it will not enforce those laws.
  • DoJ has announced it will not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act or defend it from legal challenge rather than seeking change from Congress.

On Tuesday, the president invoked ‘executive privilege’ to avoid handing over 1,300 documents in an ongoing Congressional investigation. The Supreme Court has ruled that ‘executive privilege cannot be used to shield wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, the president gave “recess appointments” to four official who were subject to confirmation by the Senate, even though the Senate was not in recess. This ignores the  advise and consent role required by the Constitution.

The President of the United States of America may be a uniquely powerful official, but his authority does not extend to making laws, nor choosing which laws he likes and which he doesn’t, nor which he will enforce and which he will ignore. Doesn’t work that way.

We need to elect a president will vigorously exert his legitimate powers, and faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress, while clearly understanding the limits of his powers. This president’s misunderstanding of his role is not just astonishing, but dangerous to our constitutional republic.

In his Osawatomie, Kansas speech Obama stated that his aim was a nation where “everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” Nice phrase, but totally meaningless.  Who decides? Who controls? Who makes the rules? Turns out that government, more of it, is just the tool to do that job. Nevermind that government, particularly under this president, does a singularly poor job with decisions, controls and regulation. Which ends up as an enormously poor job with an economy.

Not My Fault, Says Obama, It’s the Stalemate in Washington. by The Elephant's Child

In this week’s weekly address, President Obama told the American people that the “stalemate in Washington is holding our economy back during this make-or-break moment for the middle class.”Uh huh. Translation:”The Republicans won’t pass my jobs bill.’ He’s sent his bill over to Congress twice now, and it has been unanimously rejected twice. “Unanimously” means that none of the Democrats would vote for it either.

The president doesn’t seem to know how jobs are created, and even the part of his jobs bill that has passed, the temporary continuation of the cut in the payroll tax, goes to those who are working, and have jobs.  They will get a little more in their  pay envelopes, but  it will do nothing whatsoever to create jobs. It does, however, cut back on what those receiving the money eventually get from Social Security.

I assume that this goes back to the Democrats fixed idea that if you just put more money into the economy, there will be a multiplier effect as the money (taxpayer money)  circulates through the economy and passes from hand to hand.  If there is such an effect, it is very small, but it is a matter of faith to the left.

History shows that the money that individuals and businesses invest and spend, if left alone to do so, generates far more wealth and new jobs than any government-directed spending.  The most successful cities and states dedicate their resources in creating the kind of conditions that attract private investment rather than pouring public money into centrally planned visions of economic development.
(Brian Anderson City Journal, Autumn 2001)

Obama repeated his idea that Congress should pass a bill to help states put thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers back on the job. And he wants a bill to put union construction workers back to work building his fabled infrastructure — those crumbling roads and bridges and runways.

Public school employment has climbed by nearly 100% since 1970, while the enrollment of pupils has only climbed by about 10%. We seem to be overloaded with school administrators, yet the left persists.  And class sizes have dropped by 40 percent since 1960, but class size remains a constant issue.

If the states, struggling to balance their budgets, have laid off teachers, firefighters or police, that is a choice that they made. It is not up to the federal government to use taxpayer money to rehire employees that the states have decided they can’t afford to pay.

After Solyndra and all the other bankrupt “green energy” companies, he want more tax credits for clean energy manufacturers? I’m afraid the president is indeed a slow learner. Ryan Lizza, writing in the New Yorker says that President Obama plans to make climate change his top priority for his second term.

“Obama has an ambitious second-term agenda. The President has said that the most important policy he could address in his second term is climate change,” supposedly to “improve the world.”

Obama’s belief in big government goes deep. He seems to hold the private sector in contempt. According to David Maraniss’s new biography Barack Obama: The Story, Obama did work in the private sector for a year, writing newsletters for American companies doing business abroad. He hated it. He quit after fulfilling his initial one year commitment. He had no prospects, but wanted to do public sector work.

Obama’s work in the public sector took place in Chicago, where those in the public sector help each other. You do nice things for your friends and they do nice things for you, and the taxpayers have the benefit of paying for it all.

There is a stalemate between the two parties. Some claim that both parties have moved to extremes. Certainly the Democratic party has been in the hands of the hard left, but Democrats’ idea that the Tea Party is something extreme is laughable. Surely some nice grey-haired ladies carrying signs and Gadsden flags aren’t that scary, are they? Although Obama did call out a Swat team to deal with them in Ohio. The Tea Party Patriots wanted more respect for the Constitution and adherence to it, obviously a radical position.

The Constitution is “extreme” to the hard left. They are offended that it has not been changed enough to be more compatible with their current thinking. Their prominent legal scholars would prefer a “living” constitution — one that is more in line with their ideas. Some think we should pay more attention to European law. You will notice headline news  concerns “Citizens United” — a Supreme Court decision protecting free speech, and another upcoming Supreme Court case again involving the First Amendment, and the protection of Freedom of Religion. This not a dusty old discussion, but important today.

Most Americans believe the Constitution has served us well. It has only been amended twenty-seven times in 225 years. The president took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. That oath neither changes nor is modified simply because this is an election year.

Obama Pissed Off The Wrong People by The Elephant's Child

There are about 40-thousand Catholic priests in the US and about 220,000 parishes serving about 70+ million Catholics, over 20% of the US population. — If not religious, skip to about 1:25 minutes.

Fr. Andrew was invited to lead the opening prayer at the 2012 Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention in the Magness Arena at the University of Denver. The moral challenges facing our country are not caused by political affiliation, but rather by attacks on religious freedom. He invites all people of conscience to uphold religious freedom.

This post is borrowed shamelessly from Bruce Kessler at Maggie’s Farm.

This one is from the Catholic Church.

Constitution? That Doesn’t Apply To Us! by The Elephant's Child

There was a very weird meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee this last week. The committee was questioning Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Secretary Panetta repeatedly stated that the U.S. needed “permission” from international bodies and organizations as a legal basis for using military force. He cited NATO support or a United Nations Security Council resolution as an example of such “legal basis” for action.

As the revolt in Syria heats up with talk of U.S. intervention, Senate Armed Services Committee member Jeff Sessions asked Secretary Panetta:

We spend our time worrying about the U.N., the Arab League, NATO, and too little time, my opinion, worrying about the elected representatives of the United States. As you go forward, will you consult with the United States Congress?

Seems like a straightforward question, but he never got an answer. Obama’s intervention in Libya was extremely questionable. Instead Panetta rambled weirdly about getting “permission” from international organizations before engaging the U.S. Military abroad:

You know, our goal would be to seek international permission. And we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from Congress.

Sessions asked “So you are saying NATO would give you a legal basis and an ad hoc coalition of nations would provide a legal basis?”

Let me for the record be clear again Senator so there is no misunderstanding. When it comes to the national defense of this country, the President of the United States has the authority under the Constitution to act to defend this country and we will. If it comes to an operation where we are trying to build a coalition of Nations to work together to go in and operate as we did in Libya or Bosnia, for that matter Afghanistan, we want to do it with permissions either by NATO or by the international community.

Sessions was clearly dumbfounded, reminding him that he needed to worry about getting legal authority from Congress as the U.S. Constitution requires before engaging in foreign hostilities. That’s a well-known tenet of the Constitution — that only Congress can declare war. It was observed by President Bush as he sought and got Congress’ OK before the last Iraq War, and its breach was fuel for the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal that dogged the Reagan administration. Panetta repeated the rambling response about international permission.

The Pentagon tried on Thursday  to clarify the remarks made by Secretary Panetta when he told a Senate committee that the U.S. military was seeking “permission” from a foreign organization to intervene in Syria. The official said Panetta was “re-emphasizing the need for an international mandate.  We are not ceding U.S. decision-making authority to some foreign body.”

Neither Panetta nor the Pentagon official seemed to grasp that the president cannot just charge off and commit the armed forces of the United States without consulting with Congress. There does not need to be a formal declaration of war, contrary to the squawks of many liberals during the Bush administration, but the president must consult with Congress and get their assent. It is a startling look into the mindset of this administration.

The Constitution of the United States of America. by The Elephant's Child

Masterpieces created by a committee are notably few in number, but the United States Constitution is certainly one of them.  Amended only twenty-seven times in 215 years, it came into being just as the world was about to undergo the most profound — and continuing —period of economic change the human race has known.  The locus of power in the American economy had shifted from sector to sector as that economy  has developed.  Whole sections of the country have arisen and fallen in economic importance.  New methods of doing business and economic institutions undreamed of by the Founding Fathers have come into existence in that time, while others have vanished.  Fortunes beyond the imagination of anyone living in the preindustrial world have been built and destroyed.  And yet the Constitution endures, and the country continues to flourish under it.
                 John Steele Gordon: An Empire of Wealth

Just a reminder. Obama thinks it is flawed, and needs to be revised.

Are There Any Limits on How Far the EPA Can Go? by The Elephant's Child

The story of the Sacketts is a startling one, and demonstrates the out-of-control character of the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency. The case is

Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Status: U.S. Supreme Court granted petitioners’ certiorari petition of June 28, 2011.  Petitioners’ opening brief on the merits filed September 23, 2011. Respondents’ merits brief due November 23, 2011.

Here is the  summary of the case, from the Pacific Legal Foundation:

Can federal bureaucrats seize control of your hard-earned property – and deny you a meaningful right to appeal the land grab?

This is the compelling question in Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – the latest PLF case to be accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Observers on all sides see history in the making – a case that could break new ground in environmental law, and win a broad-impact precedent for property rights. Sackett could have “a sweeping effect,” UC-Davis law professor Richard Frank told NPR.  It has the potential “to bolster the rights of landowners facing costly demands from the federal government,” reported Bloomberg/Business Week magazine.

— In 2005, when they bought a small piece of land in Priest Lake, in the Idaho panhandle, Mike and Chantell Sackett never dreamed they’d be launched on a road to the highest court in the nation, to fight for fundamental principles of due process and property rights.

The Sacketts are small business owners, and they live in a rented home.  Their plan was simply to build a house of their own.

And they did everything right.  Their parcel is in a residential area – a platted subdivision – with sewer and water hookups.  They obtained all the needed permits to begin building.

But when they began laying gravel, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency swooped in without warning.  The Sacketts were told their land is “wetlands.”  They were ordered to return their property to EPA’s liking – on pain of $37,500 per day in fines!

Shocked, the Sacketts thought:  There must be some mistake!  They hired a soil expert and a biologist, who provided a certification that their parcel is not a wetland.

But the  EPA was unmoved.

— Mike and Chantell wanted to challenge the “wetlands” finding in court – but EPA (and the Ninth Circuit) said, No:  They would have to restore their property (at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars), seek a “permit” (costing 12 times the purchase price of the land!), and bring a legal case when the permit was denied.  Or, alternatively, they could violate EPA’s commands, and be hit with ruinous fines.

It’s a little scary when you realize that this could happen to you.  This is why some farmers cut down any trees in their fields — for fear the EPA or will descend with an endangered species order that deprives them of the use of their land.  Goodness, they could declare the whole of the Seattle Area a wetland — between two lakes and the Sound, and with a wet, rainy winter beginning.  The Ninth Circut is the most frequently overruled circut in the country.


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