American Elephants


Bush was right/Democrats lied #379: by American Elephant

Democrats unanimously confirm the four-star General they previously accused of lying about the Surge and referred to as General “Betray Us.”

How anyone who votes Democrat can even face themselves in the mirror is utterly beyond me.



Shocking! Leftist Protesters Turn Violent As Usual. by The Elephant's Child

Riot police arrested more than 150 rioters at the G-20 meeting in Toronto.

Riot Police stand ready to arrest violent Tea Party activists.



American Income Mobility is a Wonder of the World! by The Elephant's Child
June 30, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law, Taxes | Tags: , ,

The Congressional Budget Office has analyzed the 2007 income-tax files.  These graphs show the quintiles into which the Treasury Department divides American taxpayers according to income shown by IRS figures.  The United States has the most progressive federal  tax system of any developed country. Here, in the first graph, are the quintiles of taxpayer income, by percent of all income.

The second shows taxes paid by each quintile of taxpayers by percent of taxes paid.  Each graph can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Here the graph demonstrates the share of pretax income paid, and the shares of total taxes paid by all.


The highest quintile of earners, the fabled “rich” pay 70 percent of all taxes paid.  Is that enough, too much? What does this information do to all the “soak the rich” demands? Most people when queried about how much taxes anyone should pay, believe that no one should pay over 25 percent.

Obama’s redistributive policies are based on a concern that there is too big an income gap between the rich and the poor. But the poor are not getting poorer, they are getting richer too. Nearly 60 percent of taxpayers move up from the bottom quintile within ten years. Nearly 40 percent of taxpayers move down from the top quintile during the same period.

A report from the Tax Foundation, once again shows that roughly half of millionaires during the period w999 through 2007 attained this status just once during those nine years.  Only 6 percent of this group were millionaires in all nine years.

The problem with all the political attacks on “the rich” and the complaints about the “income gap” is that they are based on snapshots of the population at a moment in time, and do not recognize the extraordinary mobility of Americans through income distribution.  Most people start out poor, their income grows as they rise through a working life, and declines as it ends and they enter retirement years.

Keep in mind that most jobs are created by those upper quintiles.  So what is fair, and what is moral?



Making the Catastrophe Worse, Step by Step! by The Elephant's Child


Seventy Days in:

The National Incident Command and the Federal On Scene Coordinator have determined that there is a resource need for boom and skimmers that can be met by offers of assistance from foreign governments and international bodies.

The United States will accept 22 offers of assistance from 12 countries and international bodies, including two high-speed skimmers and fire containment boom from Japan. We are currently working out the particular modalities of delivering the offered assistance. Further details will be forthcoming once these arrangements are complete…

Three days after the BP Deepwater Horizon Rig blew up on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill — one much larger than the spill that was then under way. The chairman of Spill Response Group Holland said that each Dutch ship had more cleanup capacity than all the ships the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill.

To protect against the possibility that the equipment wouldn’t capture all of the oil gushing from the well, the Dutch also offered to help the U.S. with a contingency plan to protect Louisiana’s marshlands with sand barriers.  A Dutch research institute specializing deltas, coastal areas and rivers developed a strategy to begin building 60-mile long sand dikes within three weeks.

Why didn’t it happen? First of all there’s the Jones Act (the Merchant Marine Act of 1920) intended to protect maritime unions, which precludes a foreign flagged ship from operating near the U.S. Coast.  In the case of Katrina, the Jones Act was waived by the Bush Administration within 3 Days. That’s not all, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules.  The Dutch ships can suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water.  That is not good enough for U.S. regulators.  Better to have no oil soaked up than return water that has more than 15 parts per million of oil to the Gulf of Mexico.  Water that is not 99.9985%pure is just not good enough.

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires regions to have minimum levels of equipment such as booms and skimmers.

Admiral Allen, the incident commander, said that there are “discussions we’re having across the entire country where we have equipment that’s out there as a requirement — legal requirement to cover spill response of those areas — and how we might free those up.  That’s a work in progress inside the administration right now. “

The head of French oil spill response company. Ecoceane, said the Jones Act and other difficulties getting through to BP prevented his company from putting boats to work sooner.  He has boats to work offshore, but also smaller models to work in shallower inland waters.  In the end, he sold nine spill response boats to a Florida company last week.  That makes them American boats and gets around Jones Act problems.

The spill is tangled in a web of red-tape, with way too many officials in charge of conflicting regulations, conflicting power, conflicting responsibility.  Allen may be the incident commander, but apparently he does not have any overriding authority, so everything winds up in endless debates and discussions.  A textbook case of how to bungle a crisis.  One of the first things they did was to send down a bunch of lawyers.



AT-AT DAY AFTERNOON by The Elephant's Child
June 29, 2010, 9:31 am
Filed under: Art, Entertainment, Fun n Games | Tags: , ,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Sixty-Eight Days and Counting! This Doesn’t Have To Happen! by The Elephant's Child

Sixty-eight days after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began, the headline reads “No Skimmers in Sight as Oil Floods Into Mississippi Waters.”

A morning flight over the Mississippi Sound showed long, wide ribbons of orange-colored oil for as far as the eye could see and acres of both heavy and light sheen moving into the Sound between the barrier islands. What was missing was any sign of skimming operations from Horn Island to Pass Christian. U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor got off the flight angry. ‘It’s criminal what’s going on out there,’ Taylor said minutes later. ‘This doesn’t have to happen.’ A scientist onboard, Mike Carron with the Northern Gulf Institute, said with this scenario, there will be oil on the beaches of the mainland. ‘There’s oil in the Sound and there was no skimming,’ Carron said. ‘No coordinated effort.’”

The blog ‘So It Goes in Shreveport’ offers this depressing bit: “Admiral Allen was asked about the lack of skimmers by Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald. His response? ‘The discussions we are having with the Navy and other folks right now is the availability of skimmers that are on standby because they might be needed for a spill someplace else and how we might go about assessing the availability of those resources. So I would separate out the resources that the Navy had that they’ve already given to us and the discussions we’re having across the entire country where we have equipment that’s out there as a requirement — legal requirement to cover spill response of those areas and how we might free those up, and that’s a work in progress inside the administration right now.’ Got that? We’ve got skimmers on standby but can’t use them because they might be needed somewhere else.”

The “A Whale” is the world’s largest oil skimmer, and it has sat in port in Norfolk, Virginia, waiting for approval from the Coast Guard, BP, and President Obama to go where the oil needs skimming instead of just sitting in port. The ship is a converted oil tanker, built in South Korea, was refitted in the wake of the BP oil spill with twelve 16-foot long intake vents on the sides of its bow designed to skim oil off surface waters.

The vessel’s billionaire owner, Nobu Su, the CEO of Taiwanese shipping company TMT Group, said the ship would float across the Gulf “like a lawn mower cutting the grass” sucking up to 500,000 barrels of oil-contaminated water a day.  The ship stands 10 stories tall,  is 1,115 feet long and has nearly a 200 foot beam, and displaces more water than an aircraft carrier.  It set sail on Friday for the Gulf.

The company still does not have government approval to assist in the cleanup, not does it have a contract with BP to perform the work.  All this potential assistance, from A Whale or from all the skimmers offered by other nations, doesn’t come free, but the costs of the spill on the entire Gulf region aren’t exactly free either.




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