American Elephants


Abolish the EPA. They Are Useless, Ill Informed Leftist Bullies. by The Elephant's Child
August 31, 2009, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Environment, Statism

In its latest issue, Consumer Reports reviewed shower heads.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute criticized them for reporting a high-performing shower head to federal authorities — not because it was defective or fraudulently advertised, but because it exceeded government limits on shower head water flow.

Consumer Reports states that the British-made Hudson Reed Theme Thermostatic Shower Panel had a forceful spray that seemed too good to be true— or legal.  Environmental Protection Agency regulations limit shower head water flow to no more than 2.5 gallons per minute.  Consumer Reports acknowledges that many shower fixtures get around this rule by using several shower heads, but the magazine decided to report the new single-head fixture to authorities anyway.

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman pointed out that Consumer Reports had things backwards.  Their “duty is to consumers, not bureaucrats.  It should not be acting as a nosy bathroom cop, trying to toss good products in the slammer just because they violate some intrusive federal regulation.  More basically, people ought to be able to use whatever shower fixtures they want, just like they can decide how long a shower to take.  This is a really victimless crime.”

Perhaps this is where Obama’s “green jobs” are going to come from.  Can’t you just see thousands of ACORN members as uniformed bathroom police, checking if you  have a low-flow shower head, a low-flow toilet and  the correct CFC lightbulbs (hope you don’t read in the bathroom, CFCs are terrible reading lights).

Never content to leave well-enough alone, the busybodies at the EPA are planning to restrict shower head flow even further:

Currently there is heightened interest from many stakeholders to pursue the development of performance based shower head  criteria to address water and energy savings, encourage new and emerging technology, and ensure consumer satisfaction.

“Performance based shower head criteria” indeed.  And just who the hell are these “stakeholders?”  The EPA tops my personal list of government agencies to be abolished entirely. They are about to “regulate” carbon dioxide as a “pollutant,” so plan to stop breathing soon. They may be missing high school biology, but they do understand that calling CO2 a pollutant gives them the regulatory ability to regulate absolutely everything.  Can’t beat that if you are a good leftist!



The United States of America’s Bad Neighbor Policy. by The Elephant's Child
August 31, 2009, 12:25 am
Filed under: Developing Nations, Foreign Policy, Latin America, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Honduran Flag

The U.S. State Department staff have recommended that the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya be determined to be a “military coup.”  Last week the Obama-style Good Neighbor Policy announced that visa services for Honduran are suspended indefinitely, and that some $135 million in bilateral aid might be rescinded.

To recap a little recent history, Honduras has been quite aware of the tendency in Latin America for Presidents to suddenly get the ambition to convert their tenure into a more rewarding lifelong term.  Observing this, the Honduran people wrote into their Constitution, Article 249, which states that any president who tries for a second term automatically loses the privilege of his office.  Mr. Zelaya did attempt to secure a longer term with the help of his buddy Hugo Chavez (who has already declared himself Dictator for life), and the Supreme Court of Honduras ordered the Army to evict Mr. Zelaya from the country.

Back home, things have not been going well for President Obama. His approval ratings are tanking—according To Rasmussen, 42 percent strongly disapprove of his job performance, while only 32 percent strongly approve.  His SEIU thugs, ordered to be approving attendees at ObamaCare town halls, have been a little thuggish and exceeded their instructions.

The British released the Lockerbie bomber in return for an oil agreement with Libya, ignoring American concerns. Obama’s budget management has proved to be ephemeral, and the Congressional Budget Office says spending will reach 23 percent of GDP without the health care plan or the Waxman-Markey climate bill.

So with things going so badly, Mr. Obama doesn’t need another loss, particularly from a small Central American country that dares to defy  imperial orders from Washington.  Behind the scenes, the State Department has been putting intense pressure on Honduras to return Mr. Zelaya to power.  Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal says:

Mr. Obama apparently wants in on this leftie-fest.  He ran for president, in essence, against George W. Bush. Mr Bush was unpopular in socialist circles.  This administration wants to show that it can be cool with Mr. Chavez and friends.

There have been reports that U.S. officials have been calling Latin governments to demand that they support the U.S. position.  Prominent Hondurans complain that a State Department official has been pressuring the interim government to accept the return of Mr. Zelaya to power.  So in effect they are demanding that Honduras ignore their constitution and follow U.S. orders.  Threatening to use all U.S. power against a small, poor Latin Democracy is not exactly a way to be “cool.”

But then promoting Democracy doesn’t seem to be on President Obama’s agenda.



Democrats Set New Record Low: Exploit Funeral, Religion AND Children Simultaneously! by American Elephant
August 30, 2009, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Health Care, Liberalism, News, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: ,

Apparently unsatisfied with their shockingly disgraceful performance at the Wellstone memorial, Democrats are out politicizing funerals again, plumbing new depths of depravity. Except this time, while they felt the need to politicize the event, they lacked the courage and character to risk the backlash themselves — so they wrote scripted prayers for children to recite in their stead.

Think about this for just a moment. These people are so obsessed with politics —  so obsessed with seizing your power and money from you that they cannot attend a funeral without using it as an opportunity to forward their powerlust. Via children. It’s not just appalling, people like that are deeply dangerous to liberty.

(h/t Hot Air)



Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty of Just What It’s All About. by The Elephant's Child
August 29, 2009, 2:01 am
Filed under: Economy, Freedom, Health Care | Tags: , ,

The problem with economics is that there is never enough of anything.  Resources are constrained, we can’t have everything, so someone has to make the cost-benefit decision.

Capitalism works by, say, a brand new offering of giant TV screens.  Wow, gorgeous picture.  Real movie theater in your own home, and you don’t even have to pay an exorbitant price for the popcorn.  But the cost!  Everybody wants one, but how long does it take to pay for one and is it worth it?

What usually happens is that those who can easily afford the cost will promptly buy one.  That income to the manufacturer allows the next batch of giant TV screens to be larger and cost a little less.  As quantities grow, the manufacturer can make more money by selling  larger quantities. You make more money by selling 10,000 at $10 profit each than by selling 100 at $100 profit each.  Before too long the price has really come down and way more people can afford to buy one.

Those who rail at the wealthy man who buys the first, highly prized product as being somehow “unfair” are missing the point.  It is the people who are willing to shell out for the originals that make the later low price possible.

Keith Hennessey focuses today on a very basic health care question:  “Who should decide whether additional medical care is worth the cost.” Most of the health care debate boils down to this question. Mr. Hennessey has a wonderful ability to frame questions in a way that makes you think through the problems.  We have to understand the trade-offs and the decisions involved.  His portrayal of the debate is short, but reading the comments  is also useful.  Don’t miss this one!!



Just Stop! No More Spending, None! Please, Just Stop. by The Elephant's Child
August 28, 2009, 3:55 am
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy | Tags: , ,

Americans are angry.  They don’t like the uncontrolled, useless spending coming out of Washington.  Stimulus funds going to residents of federal prisons, to rebuild bridges that have no traffic, to build bicycle paths and fund pornographic theater, are not designed to make people feel better when unemployment is growing towards 10 percent.

That’s the national average.  In many places it is far higher, and the job outlook is dismal.  That is dismal, except in Washington D.C., where employment has never been better.

Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, caused a bit of a stir earlier this week when he relayed the latest wage data from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The new data show that average federal compensation is now ore than double the average in the private sector.

In 2008, the average wage for 1.9 million federal civilian workers was $79,197, which compared to an average $49,935 for the nation’s 108 million private sector workers.  The federal advantage is even more pronounced when worker benefits are included.  In 2008, federal worker compensation averaged a remarkable $119,982, which was more than double the private sector average of $59,909.

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For those who wanted to argue elites and essential and highly educated, he responded with further clarification. If you are one of the folks who are struggling along on a pay-cut and just grateful that you still have a job, I’m  sure that it is comforting to know that the federal workers are an elite workforce with highly educated people.  That’s why they’re making such a mess of the spending.

What was it that W.F. Buckley used to say about how he’d rather have the first 500 names in the phone book than the faculty of Harvard…?



About What’s In The House Health-Care Bill HR3200 — All Those “Myths” by The Elephant's Child

THERE ARE NO RESTRICTIONS ON NON-CITIZENS.

During the August recess, Democrats President Obama, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and dozens of others have insisted that ObamaCare does not provide coverage for illegal immigrants, no way, not ever.  The President said during his Saturday address that he wants “an honest debate,” not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions”

They are wrong in claiming illegal immigrants will be covered “That is not true.  Illegal immigrants would not be covered.  That idea has not even been on the table.” Obama said.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) says under H.R. 3200, a “Health Insurance Exchange’ would begin operation in 2013 and would offer private plans alongside a public option.  H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitizens — whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently — participating in the Exchange.

CRS also notes that the bill has no provision for requiring those seeking coverage or services to provide proof of citizenship.  Oops!

________________________

COVERAGE FOR ABORTIONS IS MANDATED.

President Obama said on Saturday: “Some are also saying that coverage for abortions would be mandated under reform.  Also false.  When it comes to the current ban on using tax dollars for abortions, nothing will change under reform.”

FactCheck.org reported on Friday”  “As for the House Bill as it stands now, it’s a matter of fact that it would allow both a “public plan” and newly subsidized private plans to cover all abortions.”

The House bill would mandate the establishment of at least one insurance plan that covers elective abortions in every regional health-care “exchange” for every federally-subsidized plans.  Again, Oops!

Let’s do have an honest debate, not one dominated by misrepresentations and distortions.



Obamacare Preview: 1 Million Brits Receive ‘Cruel and Neglectful Care’ by American Elephant
August 27, 2009, 1:54 pm
Filed under: Health Care, Politics | Tags: ,

In the last six years, the Patients Association claims hundreds of thousands have suffered from poor standards of nursing, often with ‘neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel’ treatment.

The charity has disclosed a horrifying catalogue of elderly people left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffering from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses and dismissive staff. [read more]



Oil is Not as Scarce as Some Believe, and We’re Nowhere Near “Peak Oil.” by The Elephant's Child
August 27, 2009, 1:19 am
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment, National Security, Politics | Tags: , ,

An article in Monday’s New York Times once again demolishes the theory of “peak oil.” It is the theory that at some point, probably soon, global geological scarcity will make global petroleum production begin to fall, indicating the end of the age of oil.  This will bring economic catastrophe, unless we prepare for it now.

Fatih Birol, the top economist at the International Energy Agency, insists that the moment will arrive in ten years, sooner than most earlier predictions.  Some believe that the tipping point has already been passed and we are in inevitable decline.  The news media, always ready for a crisis of some sort, has been happy to take peak oil seriously with the help of oilman T. Boone Pickens and  James Schlesinger, a former secretary of energy.

Michael Lynch, the former director for Asian energy and security at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an energy consultant, says that oil remains abundant, and the price will probably come down closer to the historical level of $30 a barrel as new supplies come in from the deep waters off West Africa and Latin America, in East Africa, and in the Bakken oil shale fields of Montana and North Dakota.

A careful look at the facts, says Mr. Lynch, shows that most of the arguments are based on anecdotal information and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum.

When a new oil field is discovered, it is given a size estimate that represents how much petroleum is thought to be recoverable at that point in time.  Over the years, the estimate is usually revised upwards, either because more oil is found in the field or because new technology makes more oil recoverable.  This doesn’t get reported as a new find, so peak oil advocates are apt to ignore it, and numbers become less dependable.

It’s important to avoid allowing the false threat of vanishing oil to lead the government to expend vast sums on foolish renewable energy schemes or yo impose unnecessary conservation rules on a public that is struggling with recession and unemployment.



“Cash for Clunkers” Is Over, but The Memory Lingers On. by The Elephant's Child
August 26, 2009, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Environment, Taxes | Tags: , ,

The Obama administration’s Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) better known as “Cash For Clunkers” has ended.  It was designed to provide benefits by reducing greenhouse gases, and stimulating the economy.  To encourage new automobile sales at the newly taxpayer, Fiat and Union-owned  companies, the government gave $3,500 or $4,500 to motorists when they brought in an older car to trade for a new vehicle.  The bill only rewarded those who owned gas guzzlers of  little value.

The EPA spent a month evaluating  30,000 models made between 1984 and 2004 and decided that only about 8,000 — that get 18 mpg or less — would qualify.  Oddly enough, it didn’t matter how big a difference there was between the old car and the new one.  You could get a subsidy if you traded an 18 mpg car for one that gets 22 mpg, but not if you traded a 19 mpg car for one that gets 42 mpg.

Of course this was just robbing Peter taxpayers to pay someone who could afford to buy a new car right now.  Used cars worth more than the subsidy were not eligible, which rewarded those who chose to buy a gas guzzler the last time.

Those who understand the details of CO2 emissions pointed out that any environmental benefit was simply too small to be measured, so claims for the benefits of the programs shifted to the economic benefits of stimulating new car sales. Or did this just push forward new car sales that would have been made soon anyway?

Then there were all the consequences that nobody thought of.  The subsidy was to be distributed only when the old car was destroyed.  Mechanics assigned to destroy the so-called clunkers have posted videos on YouTube, muttering in anger as they fill the engines of perfectly good Corvettes and Cadillacs with sodium silicate and run them until they self-destruct.

Today’s old cars are tomorrow’s valued classics.  Destroying old cars damages used car sales by eliminating inventory, and probably will  put some used car dealers out of business.  Used car prices will skyrocket.  This also harms the poor who need cheap transportation.  Those who make their living from selling used car parts complained loudly to the right people and got the law changed so just engines were to be destroyed. The program has undoubtedly been a net destroyer of wealth.

Many charities depend on donations of older cars which they are able to part out.  There has been a 12 percent decline in donations, devastating to the funds charities depend on to provide help for the needy.

The initial $1 billion was exhausted in a week, so Congress added another $2 billion, and the program that was expected to last through the fall, ended Monday.  The administration was unprepared to deal with all the applications for rebates.  250,000 cars were sold in the first four days.

Dealers were worried that they would not be able to be repaid before funds ran out.  The Transportation Dept. had processed only about 2 percent of applications.  Many were being turned down.  They hired people from the FAA and CitiGroup to process claims, asking them to come in over the weekend to attempt to catch up, and then notified them not to come in because the system was down until Monday.

Now, it turns out that the $4,500 rebate is fully taxable as regular income.

This was a small $3 billion program that demonstrated nothing so much as the incompetence of the federal government in administering a simple congressional appropriation.

These are the people who want to completely reform the best health care system on earth, which serves 330 million people, and which will add at least 2 trillion to the deficit.They assure us that they know just how to do it; that it will save money;  offer better care;  insure 47 million more people; insure all pre-existing conditions; and not only cost less but rescue the rest of the economy.  That sounds like a real clunker to me.



Call the ASPCA… by American Elephant
August 26, 2009, 3:18 am
Filed under: Humor, Pop Culture | Tags:

…this is animal abuse! For cryin out loud, leave them a little dignity!



Look For The Union Label, It’s Plastered in The Most Unlikely Places! by The Elephant's Child

Since 1955, the share of workers who belong to a union has dropped from 33 percent to about 11 percent.  Though unions have become increasingly unpopular, they managed to scrape together $52 millions of member dues to donate to Democrat political campaigns this last year.   The unions have helped to wreck two major industries, automobiles and steel.

Democrats are not ungrateful.  The Unions have been rewarded  with shares of GM and Chrysler that should belong  to the taxpayers.  Now, Denis Hughes, president of the AFL-CIO in New York, who has been interim head of the New York board of the Federal Reserve since May, when Stephen Friedman stepped down, is expected to become permanent head.  So now this union activist has been elevated to one of the most important financial posts in the country, a troubling sign of the Obama administration’s over-reliance on organized labor.

Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke has been nominated to a second term,  no surprise, as this is a time of unusual financial crisis.  The naming of Denis Hughes is the surprising news, of the ‘what could they be thinking’ kind.

Hughes has no significant financial experience.  He is not an economist, and his educational background does not inspire confidence.  He has a B.S. degree from the Harry Van Arsdale School of Labor Studies at Empire State College.  His experience has been as a union official and political operative.  His entire career has been spent strong-arming and fighting the very people he will now be regulating.  He may be more expert at extracting concessios from corporate America than in the complications of high finance.

As Investors Business Daily asks:

More to the point, can those on Wall Street who come before him in routine regulatory matters expect fair treatment?  Will union issues become part of the New York Fed’s agenda?  Will banks find requests to expand or merge stymied  because unions fear a loss of jobs somewhere?

Elevating a person to the most important of the Fed Banks, whose experience would suggest an inbred hostility to capitalism and free markets, seems dangerous.  Yet the White House has also named former United Steelworkers adviser Ron Bloom from head of the auto task force to “industrial policy czar” in charge of manufacturing.  Itself an astounding nomination.  Where does this government find the authority for an “industrial policy czar?”  And since when does America have an industrial policy?

Unions have consistently been hostile to capitalism and the free market.  They are opposed to free trade, and favor restrictions.  They are inclined towards protectionism in the contrary belief that imports will damage their own opportunity.  They favor minimum wage laws which harm beginning workers.

Unions are being rewarded with huge chunks of stimulus funds for construction and infrastructure projects that are restricted to union labor.  Stimulus funds will also go to rescue union pension funds which are in financial trouble, since they spent their union dues on politics.

Policies always have consequences, and Democrats have little interest in consequences, only in their good intentions.  High labor costs and hostility to the free market will drive  business and investment overseas.  Unemployment will continue to rise— including union jobs—  and  economic recovery will be long, long  delayed.



They Focused the Hubble Telescope On An Empty Spot in Space, And Look What they Found! by The Elephant's Child
August 25, 2009, 2:38 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: ,



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