Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Trump's Augean Stables

President-elect Trump and President Lincoln may share the same destiny in that Trump will be faced with a civil war, as was Lincoln. I do not expect the coming one to be so devastating to the countryside and towns as the last one, nor see streets of rubble in middle America and bodies in the wide corn fields. Well, I hope not. But he will face an implacable foe in his own people and have an Herculean task to perform.
We are used to seeing 'civil war' as in the old, tried and well tested mode of tanks in the streets, shellings, bombings and mauruading troops, ala Syria and the middle east. But modern America is a somewhat different place now and the coming battles will be inside Great Buildings of State, and very much like the Stables of Augea, full of dung; 'Regulatory' dung, produced by the famous strokes of the pen and the whispers into the telephone. And President Obama was not alone in leaving his dropping all over the place. He put in place tens of thousands of turd makers.

The Second American Civil War has been going on for some time now. The  marxist wreckers have held the field for a long time, nearly a decade, led by their Islamist pretender, Obama. He has destroyed much and built a destructive army that will remain after he retires to his many mansions at home and overseas and plays golf. 

Trump will have his work cut out cutting them and cleaning them all out.  But how will he divert the Potomac?  How is Washington to be cleansed?  One thing is certain, the fight has not yet started: the ring is crowded with paid flunkies  preparing for the main bout.

Few here in quite Oz and especially quiet Tasmania have the  up-close and personal insight but the Tavern is fortunate to have passers-by who drop in to take refreshment and tell us the news. So it was this week.

A few have seen the scale of the task and Hans von Spakovsky is one. His eyes were still glazed as he supped a fine ale and told us what Trump faces. He was followed by Victoria McGrane who at least had some good news of a weapon at hand for the Donald. Hans was upstanding first.
Taming the Bureaucratic Beast
The Herculean Task Ahead of President-Elect Donald Trump
President-elect Donald Trump certainly has his work cut out for him: Undoing all of the damage done by President Barack Obama over the past eight years.

Mr. Obama instigated an unprecedented — and unconstitutional — expansion of power by the federal government that poses a danger to our liberty, our freedom, and our economic well-being. Last [month's} election gave us a chance to pull our constitutional republic back from the brink and preserve the greatest nation the world has ever seen.

Too many political appointees were simply afraid of criticism if they implemented conservative policies and principles.
Customers in other Anglophile nations are not used to 'political' appointees in Public Service roles. Most of us have a 'Westminster' system of one sort or another in which Elected MPs are appointed to head up Ministries which are staffed by career civil servants. This is not quite the case in America. 
But Donald Trump will be up against a massive federal bureaucracy that will resist all of the steps necessary to accomplish that goal. 
Consider the Department of Justice, which has been politicized to an extent never seen before. Cleaning it up will be as difficult as cleaning out the Augean stables. 
Hercules had to divert two rivers to wash out the filth, 
and it will take a similarly massive effort at Justice to wash out the politics and progressive liberal activism that infests the agency from top to bottom.
The members of the Trump transition team need to understand that the career ranks at federal executive departments (perhaps with the exception of the Defense Department and isolated other pockets like the Border Patrol), are not filled with nonpartisan civil servants who impartially carry out the policies of the president. From the State Department to the Department of Justice, partisan liberals predominate the ranks of career employees.
For the last eight years, the Obama administration’s political appointees, with the help of their friends and allies in the career ranks, have ignored, bent, and broken the rules governing merit selection to aggressively hire only liberal career staff. 
The Justice Department’s civil rights and environmental divisions have made it a high art form. The bureaucracies of these agencies, virtually immune to being fired, will do everything they can to stop President Trump’s policies and directives.
In fact, the transition team should expect that the Obama administration will follow the lead of the Clinton administration, which went on a hiring spree during its last two months to jam as many leftists (including political appointees) into open career spots as they possibly could. 
When the new administration takes over at noon on Jan. 20, 2017, it should immediately review (with an eye toward potential termination) all federal employees who are still in their probationary period. 
The federal government is already far larger than it should be, so there should also be an immediate hiring freeze put in place across the entire executive branch to shrink the size of the government.
During the George W. Bush administration, I was one of the few conservative career lawyers inside the Civil Rights Division. While there were some very good, principled conservative political appointees inside Justice, some were actually afraid to implement conservative policies lest they incur the wrath of the liberal bureaucratic establishment inside Justice.
Others were very naïve; they didn’t understand that the critical mass of liberal career employees would do everything they could — directly and indirectly — to thwart the president’s priorities. In their recalcitrance, they went so far as to misrepresent the law and conceal critical facts to block implementation of anything they disagreed with.
Their other tactic was to violate, without hesitation, confidentiality regulations and ethics rules. 
They would leak with abandon — to their liberal allies in the press, their friends at progressive advocacy organizations, and their confidantes on the staffs of liberal members of Congress — the details of any program or policy with which they disagreed. Again: Too many political appointees were simply afraid of criticism if they implemented conservative policies and principles.
This was a particular problem with the political appointees who inhabited the middle levels of management. Many of them were early in their careers and hoped to advance to higher posts within this or the next Republican administration. Some of them looked at past nominees who had been filibustered and were scared that pursuing policies upsetting to the Left would result in their future advancement being torpedoed. So they changed their behavior and avoided implementing conservative principles on important public policy issues.
The Trump administration needs to pick political appointees at all levels who follow their leader’s example — people who don’t give a damn what the editorial pages of The Washington Post or The New York Times say about them. 
When organizations like Media Matters and the Center for American Progress or MSNBC don’t like them, they should wear it as a badge of honor. 
Anyone scared of that should not be in the administration. 
In fact, if the left-stream media approves of what you are doing as an administration official, you are probably doing the wrong thing.
Finding individuals who will stand their ground means looking for people who have been inside the cauldron and not retreated under the Left’s relentless viciousness and vindictiveness. All too often, conservative officials have withered when faced with the unfair and dishonest criticism of the institutional Left.
One final fact that the Trump administration should keep in mind: Year after year, all of these predominantly liberal federal agencies have gotten bigger, gotten more money, and acquired more power — for decades. The most expedient solution to reducing the power and liberal influence of the federal government requires a significant downsizing of the entire executive branch.
Proposals for even modest cuts lead to howling protests from the liberal press, the Washington political establishment, and the public employee unions. But downsizing would force the agencies to rein in their activities and concentrate on their core missions, reducing their ever-growing interference in the everyday lives of Americans and our economy because it would decrease the resources that the feds could spend on such interference.
The executive branch of the federal government is an ever-growing behemoth that is slowly invading every facet of American life. 
The only way this will ever change is if conservatives finally realize that when they control Congress and the White House, that is only the beginning of the fight. They can effect change and implement conservative public policy only if they tame — and dramatically reduce — the vast federal civil service bureaucracy in the executive branch.
Only then will the nation’s accelerating path toward socialization and the loss of our liberties be halted and drawn back.

Some 4000 political appointments are in order just to get hands on reins. It is likely that Trump will need a whole lot more than even his children.  And that is just in order to have his 'army' of cleaners in place with mops and buckets in hand.

Then there are the bodies to shift, each with fingers gripping their expensive chairs and ankles tied to their desks. Crikey, many are 'snowflakes' who will cry blue murder when handed their eviction notices.

Their tasks have been 'Regulation'. The outgoing government idolises regulation. They have been ridiculed for the way they get their way. Most, even at the higher reaches of the piles of dung have no idea what their regulations even do.  Bug-eyed Nancy Pelosi, the 'Speaker' of the time said that Congress would have to pass the ObamaCare bill in order to know what was in it !!  It did not occur to her that she was paid to read the friggin' thing first.

Somehow they have even overlooked the 'poison pill' passed some time ago.  Victoria explained.
Republicans in Congress prepare obscure tactic to gut Obama regulations
Twenty years ago, Newt Gingrich and allies pushing the self-styled Contract with America created an obscure but potent legislative weapon to help Republicans combat what they deemed to be out-of-control regulatory overreach in Washington.
Almost hidden in the weeds.

But like some kind of mystical, regulation-slaying sword, this tool comes to life only when the political stars align in just the right way, with single-party control on Capitol Hill and the White House, at just the right time.
Donald Trump, when he rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue at his inauguration, will usher in that time.
Republicans are readying an onslaught under what’s known as the Congressional Review Act to cast aside a raft of Obama administration edicts, including rules designed to make it harder for US corporations to avoid taxes; environmental rules aimed at curbing earth-warming emissions; and sweeping changes to overtime regulations that were set to guarantee extra pay for an estimated 4 million Americans.
Congress put Gingrich’s creation to work just once before, in 2001, to dispatch a workplace safety rule governing ergonomics, issued in the waning months of the Clinton administration.
This time Republicans are thinking much, much bigger.
“We plan to robustly use the Congressional Review Act to reverse the midnight regulations of Barack Obama,” said Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, who is a leader of the Senate effort. “His legacy lost. The American people said ‘No, we don’t want that. We want to change direction.’ ”
While Barrasso and other Republicans say the tool allows them to rescind “last minute” regulations pushed by the Obama administration, the Byzantine way that time is defined in the act means they will most likely be able to take aim at regulations put in place as far back as late May.
Gingrich, now a close Trump adviser, is thrilled his creation will get some use.
We’ve gone through a period where unelected bureaucrats have arrogated a level of dictatorial power that can ruin lives, close companies, and totally disrupt local governments with no recourse,” Gingrich said in a brief interview. “And to reassert the elected officials is, I think, a good thing.”
The Congressional Review Act in some ways encapsulates the absurdities of Washington. 
The law provides a fast-track process for lawmakers to overturn agency rules they dislike, rules that often took years for the executive branch agencies to write, review, and approve. Under terms of the act, each chamber passes a “resolution of disapproval,” the president signs it, and — poof! — the regulations exist no more.
But, as a practical matter, for this to actually happen requires a particular set of circumstances: Both chambers of a new Congress need to be controlled by the same party; a newly elected president must be of the same party; and everyone agrees that rules issued by the previous White House occupant, from the opposite party, need to be tossed.
And, under time limits in the act, they have a period of just a few months in the new Congress to get it all done.
The morning after Trump’s victory, Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy team at the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, said he got “a million phone calls from Hill people about possible regs” that Congress could use Congressional Review Act to repeal.
Senate Democrats can’t rely on their typical go-to counteroffensive, the filibuster. A key reason this regulatory repeal tool is so potent is that it requires just a simple majority — 51 votes — in the Senate, not the 60-vote super majority most legislation requires.
If Congress uses it to successfully overturn a regulation, the agency is barred from ever again issuing rules that closely match what lawmakers rejected — unless Congress passes new legislation permitting the agency to do so.
All those regs support 'government' jobs. The pension bill will be bigger than the queues at the employment exchange.  Entire University Departments will be rolling out 'graduates' who will have no gummunt job to go to. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

The 'regulations' may seem small items, but the damage that the pen and the phone have wreaked is immense.  Beaurocrats not only defy sensible policies and make their own up on the lefty run, but they bungle too. A small example may assist in gaining a little perspective.
Tomato Growers Lose Millions Thanks to Bungling Regulators
Last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government could not be held financially responsible for issuing erroneous warnings about the source of an outbreak of foodborne illness that caused the loss of millions of dollars of tomatoes.
The warnings, issued by the FDA in 2008, turned out to be wildly inaccurate and deeply damaging.

The first, issued on June 3, warned consumers in New Mexico and Texas not to consume several types of raw tomatoes because they may be tainted with salmonella, a bacteria that can sicken and kill those who consume it. A few days later, on June 8, the FDA expanded the warning to include similar types of tomatoes across the country.
Soon after, on June 13, the FDA held a press conference that strongly inferred Florida tomatoes might be to blame. ("I'm not wanting to put the focus on Florida specifically, but...") But on July 17, the agency reversed course.
"After a lengthy investigation, the FDA has determined that fresh tomatoes now available in the domestic market are not associated with the current outbreak," reads an agency press release, which concluded instead that consumers "should avoid eating raw jalapeño and raw serrano peppers."
At the time of the first warning, on June 3, the FDA documented several dozen cases of foodborne illness it wrongly claimed were caused from eating tomatoes. By the time the agency admitted its error on July 17, the FDA acknowledged more than 1,200 such cases had occurred. By that time, the salmonella cases had mushroomed into "the largest foodborne outbreak in the United States in more than a decade."
It is not just armies that lay waste the land.

Clearly, the FDA warning hadn't helped consumers, who continued to buy and be sickened by contaminated hot peppers. And it didn't help consumers who stopped buying perfectly good tomatoes at the agency's urging, or who threw away tomatoes they'd already purchased.
But if the FDA's misplaced warning was unhelpful at best and harmful at worst to consumers, 
it was downright devastating to tomato growers and handlers. 
The agency's warnings had spread like wildfire. For example, the New Mexico Restaurant warned its members against using tomatoes. Newspapers around the country warned consumers to avoid eating tomatoes. Demand for tomatoes plummeted by up to 40 percent in the wake of the warning, and prices fell by half. The industry lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Congress held hearings in the wake of the FDA's retraction of its tomato warning. "Shipments ground to a halt," Anthony DiMare, whose family's company suffered enormous losses, told Congress. "Tomatoes were left in the fields, in the packinghouses and on trucks that were turned away by our customers."
You can read the rest yourselves. It shines a light on yet another nest of vipers.... the Courts.

2017 will be a busy year which will see a turn-around in the civil war. It may get a little bloody at times. There will be a lot of tomatoes thrown around.

But let us end by joining the throng in the US Room where I hear singing...

Drink deep.


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