American Elephants


House Defeats President Obama’s Request to Raise the Debt Ceiling, 318-97. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have demanded a “clean vote” on raising the national debt ceiling, that is, without any cuts to spending or reforms to the budget process.  The House Republicans today took them up on it. It was, of course, a bit of stagecraft, for everyone recognized that the bill was doomed to fail.

In America, unlike other countries, federal law requires Congress to authorize the government to borrow any money that is needed to pay for the programs that Congress has passed. In recent years, as the national debt has grown, the Treasury has periodically bumped up against this debt limit.

On May 16, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner formally told Congress that the government would have reached its $14,294 trillion debt limit that day, but for “extraordinary measures” to buy time for lawmakers to increase the limit on borrowing.

The American people want cuts to spending programs. They fear the consequences of more debt, and want some serious action on the part of Congress.  The Obama budget for fiscal 2012 was unanimously rejected last week in the Senate, a humiliating 0-97. According to a new Gallup poll, Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling 47% to 19%.

Liberals, of course, do not want to cut anything, except maybe Defense, and want a “Debt-Failsafe Trigger” which would empower unelected bureaucrats to increase taxes as a means to balance the budget.  This is a real danger.

However, Mission Accomplished! The vote today went as expected, and was a way of clearing the air to show that any attempt to separate an increase in the debt ceiling from spending reduction cannot win Congressional approval. The House defeated Obama’s request to raise the debt ceiling— 318-97.  Nearly half of Democrats voted with the Republicans to defeat the measure— 82 explicitly voted against it including Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and DNC chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, which shows how nervous the White House is at being on the wrong side of this issue.  10 members did not vote.

President Obama is having a bad spell. His budget has been unanimously dumped. His Mideast foreign policy was a flop. He went on a high-visibility tour of Europe that wasn’t well received, and Joplin Missouri was flattened, but he neglected to return. He laid a wreath on Memorial Day, but neglected the customary visit to returned vets in Bethesda and Walter Reed, in order to play golf.  He has only himself to blame.



A No-Confidence Vote For Obama Appointees. by The Elephant's Child

A new survey shows strained relationships between senior career federal managers and executives and the political appointees with whom they work.  The study was conducted in April by Government Executive’s  research division, the Government Business Council.  It involved surveying 148 Senior Executive Service members and GS-15s about their attitudes toward current challenges and Obama administration initiatives.

Career federal executives and managers are skeptical about the ability of current political appointees to improve agency performance.  Their role, said one respondent has increased, but the effectiveness, skill and knowledge have dramatically decreased.

Obama officials don’t have either functional or agency-specific knowledge. Nearly 60 percent of respondents gave Obama appointees a grade of C or lower for their functional expertise. They don’t believe that appointees understand human resources and procurement rules, and they presume that the institution is there as “an obstruction” and attempt to “break the organizations.”

Appointees have “unbelievably poor communication with career employees,” one respondent said.  Almost 40 percent of managers gave appointees Ds or Fs on collaboration and communication with their staffs.  Some “have a divide-and-conquer strategy, and there are way too many industry fingers allowed in decision-making,” a respondent noted.  At another agency, a manager said the result has been “politicization of normal agency functions.”

At the CIA, there is an “undercurrent of dissent and dislike” for the president, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Human Events last week over the White House’s contradictory messages on the War on Terror.  At the FBI, supervisors have had it with rules of the game that favor cronies.  They are unhappy over the president’s decision to extend the term of FBI Director Robert Mueller.

At Immigration and Customs Enforcement, agents wrote a scathing letter in 2010, titled “Vote of No Confidence in ICE Director John Morton and ODPP Director Phyllis Coven” for failing to allow agents to do their jobs, because of the Latino vote.

It seems that short-term political objectives are taking precedence over the work of government.  That was our impression, and events are proving it to be true. These are problems that cannot be solved with White House imperialism. Ordering it so will not fix things. That takes leadership.



Living the Dream in Ontario, Canada. Sigh! by The Elephant's Child

This treehouse was built in Ontario, Canada, featuring  little over seven-hundred square feet of platform spread over eight levels.  There are two cabins, a 50-foot rope bridge, a 120-foot zip-line, an elevator, a full bar and a barbecue. It was built over several summers, totalling about a month. The song in the video is the Flower Duet.

I once had a treehouse when I was small.  Well, more of a tree platform, about four feet square. It sat about seven feet up in a cottonwood by the river.  Our trees were largely either Ponderosa pines or Douglas fir, and that cottonwood was the only non-evergreen of any size.  I found it very scary because it was so high.  Wimp, yes, but I was little, probably 6 or 7.

(Borrowed shamelessly from The Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys)



There’s a New Law. The Federal Government Must Write In “Nicespeak.”. by The Elephant's Child

Last fall, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act (H.R.946) which will take effect in October, when all federal agencies must start writing plainly in all new or substantially revised documents produced for the public. By July, each agency must have a senior official who will oversee plain writing within that agency, a section of its website devoted to the effort, and a training program underway.

This will be hard. Federal employees have long assumed that the use of large words demonstrates the importance of their work. Many have been trained by members of prestigious faculties who write in gibberish themselves as proof that they really do possess advanced degrees.

One of the most famous examples of federal-speak is a Pentagon 26-page recipe for brownies that went on about “regulation promulgated thereunder,” “flow rates of thermoplastics by extrusion plastometer” and a commandment that ingredients “shall be examined organoleptically. (look at, smell, taste or touch).

Cass Sunstein, Obama’s information and regulation administrator, gave some guidance to federal agencies in April on how the law should be implemented: “It is important to emphasize that agencies should communicate with the public in a way that is clear, simple, meaningful and jargon free.” Bad writing, he says keeps people from applying for benefits they should get, makes federal rules hard to follow and wastes money because of all the time spent explaining things to a confused public.

The Federal Plain Language Guidelines, which outline the changes promised by the Act, contain some questionable instructions:

  • “Government” will be changed to “we”, and “citizens” will be replaced by “you” making all instructions seem more good-natured and friendly.
  • “Stuffy” language, such as “pursuant,” “herein,” “in accordance with,” “commencing,” “practicable,” and the most offensive target: “shall,” will be purged.  Apparently we shouldn’t be bothered with three-syllable words.
  • The active voice should always be used, except when “the law” is the actor.  In that case, use of the passive voice will keep citizens from misdirecting their frustration toward the government.
  • [This merits a direct quote]: “We have ONE rule for dealing with definitions: use them rarely.” Will avoiding definitions really make matters more clear to average Americans?
  • As evidenced by the above quote, another tip is to use CAPS LOCK, italics, and bolded font constantly to emphasize your point. Did it work?

There are dozens of pages about using only simple, short words, very basic sentence structure, and clear headings. 117 pages of such guidelines appears fairly condescending to the American people. Friendly language is not going to make unconstitutional procedures acceptable, nor will it convince skeptical citizens that federal agencies are being honest. Aside from talking down the public, the Plain Writing Act creates a new level of bureaucracy. We could call it “Nicespeak.”

As Syme said, describing the definitive Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary:

We’re getting the language into its final shape—the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will  have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words—scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone.  The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.

…Take ‘good’ for instance.  If you have a word like ‘good,’ what need is there for a word like ‘bad?’ ‘Ungood’ will do just as well—better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of ‘good.’ what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like ‘excellent’ and ‘splendid’ and all the rest of them? ‘Plusgood” covers the meaning, or ‘double-plusgood’if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already, but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else.



The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by The Elephant's Child
May 30, 2011, 6:27 am
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Military | Tags: , ,
Tomb

seal

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number one.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.  After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5.  How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, and 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A person who applies for guard duty at the tomb must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30″.

Other requirements of the Guard: they must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform (by fighting) or the tomb in any way.  After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb.  There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.  There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.  There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.  Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

During the first six months of duty a guard may not talk to anyone, nor watch TV. Off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.  Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.  Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD, AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington D.C., our U.S. Senate and House took 2 days off in anticipation of the storm.  On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend their assignment.   They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!”  Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

One tomb is empty: the Vietnam Tomb.  It was later discovered who was in the tomb.  The family had the remains removed and buried with military honors. Congress decided to leave the tomb empty.  Fox News carried the full live service at the tombs.  The other channels passed it by.  All who have served understand the bond.  Freedom is never free.

R. Harper

This is a re-post from Memorial Day, 2009.



We Remember Them All, From All The Wars. by The Elephant's Child
May 30, 2011, 6:14 am
Filed under: Freedom, History, Military, Politics | Tags: , ,

Filed under: Freedom, History, Military, The Elephant’s Child | Tags: , ,

There is a story my mother told to me, and her grandfather told to her.  When he was small — about my mother’s age at the time — he was sitting at his grandmother’s knee.  She told him the story of the time when she was small, and about his age, in Connecticut.  It was a beautiful spring day,  her father was plowing, and she was walking in the furrow behind him, smelling the sweet earth as the plow turned the soil.

They heard the sound of a horse galloping up the lane, and a man shouting.  Her father dropped the reins of his horse and ran for the house. Catherine gathered up her skirts and ran after him.  She met him at the door, his musket in hand.  He gathered her up and kissed her goodbye and ran for his horse.  He was a Captain of Minute Men.  The British were raiding.  She never saw her father again.  They brought his body  home after the battle.

Men have been dying for freedom and home, their comrades, and friends and family for a very long time.  Today we remember them all, from all the wars, with sorrow and gratitude.



The Democrat’s Big, Enormous, Gigantic Lie Strategy by The Elephant's Child

Democrats believe you are stupid. At least they are sure that most voters are stupid. So they believe that a well-turned phrase, repeated endlessly by every liberal politician and pundit, will implant itself in your brain and no elaborate Republican explanation will be able to overcome it.

Republicans respect the American people, and believe that if things are honestly explained, people will understand what is in their own self-interest. Republicans are very big on individualism and believe that millions of people, each pursuing their own self-interest, will for the most part, work out pretty well.

The case in point is Medicare. Democrats have not quite got their talking points down yet, but watch for it.  It revolves around “Republicans are trying to kill Medicare” and “Paul Ryan is going to throw Granny off the cliff.” Scaremongering has always worked, to some extent, for Democrats.

Medicare, as you know it, has already been totally changed by the Democrats in  ObamaCare. ObamaCare is law.  It just hasn’t taken effect yet. The outrageous distortions about the Ryan Medicare reform plan are coming from the very people who are speeding up Medicare’s path to insolvency.

They had to get ObamaCare passed and make it financially plausible, so they cut Medicare reimbursements to doctors and hospitals by $575 billion, and used that to finance two massive new entitlement programs in ObamaCare.  Last month, the president proposed taking another $480 billion out of Medicare to lower the deficit. Democrats have put a hard cap on Medicare spending. No more open-ended Medicare entitlement.

Medicare—as you know it—is already gone.  Republicans are trying to reform it so that it can be preserved, not only for those age 55 and over, but as protection for everyone.

Democrats have cut payments to providers so deeply that doctors will stop taking Medicare patients or go broke.  Eighty-seven percent of doctors say they will stop seeing or will restrict the number of Medicare patients they see.

Last year. Medicare expenditures reached $523 billion, but income was only $486—leaving a $37 billion deficit in just one year. Every day 10,000 new individuals are becoming eligible for Medicare. Democrats are focused on the fact that the largest medical expenses come in the final years of life. To offer generous health-care for the rest of society, they have to whittle down the cost of old people. All those unnecessary attempts to prolong life when the old people are just going to die soon anyway can be eliminated, or at least cut back.

To make sure that the cost of Medicare is held down to pre-determined guidelines, an unaccountable, 15-member Payment Advisory Board will use price-controls to control costs. There is no recourse if you don’t like their decisions. None.



Federal Funding to Teach Little Kids to Sit Still. by The Elephant's Child

From James Taranto”s Best of the Web, in the Wall Street Journal, May 27

Sit Still or I’ll Spend Another Half Billion Dollars!

CNSNews.com reports on the federal government’s latest brainstorm: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNSNews.com on Wednesday that the administration’s new $500 million early learning initiative is designed to deal with children from birth onward to prevent such problems as 5-year olds who “can’t sit still” in a kindergarten classroom. “You really need to look at the range of issues, because if a 5-year-old can’t sit still, it is unlikely that they can do well in a kindergarten class, and it has to be the whole range of issues that go into healthy child development,” Sebelius said during a telephone news conference on Wednesday to announce the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.

It makes you wonder what became of 5-year-olds who went to school before these geniuses decided to spend $500 million in taxpayer money to make them sit still. Oh wait, some of them grew up into the geniuses who have now decided to spend $500 million in taxpayer money to make 5-year-olds sit still. If we can prevent that from happening again, maybe the expenditure is worth it.

There was a time when elementary school teachers were graduates of 2-year Normal Schools. Generations of kids learned to sit still in school, and parents told their children that they were to obey the teacher, or else.  After the end of WWII there was a drive to consolidate schools.  All those little country schoolhouses were closed so that country kids could go to a big school in a big town. Same thing went for small neighborhood schools. Big schools were more efficient.

Normal schools became four-year colleges, and colleges had education departments where professors developed theories and philosophies of education. If departments of education were to compete for students (and funds) with history departments, and science departments, they needed more structure. More attention was paid to the socialization of children. Gone were the portraits in each classroom of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Do they still begin the day with a salute to the flag?

The restlessness of kids was dealt with by recess, and the chance to play tag, dodge ball, annie annie over and red rover, and parents told their kids to mind the teacher. Miscreants got a spell in the corner in front of the whole class.

Then regulation and the lawyers entered the picture. Recess games like tag and red rover and dodge ball were banned.  Playground equipment like merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters and swings disappeared. Exercise was a function of gym class, under supervision. Lawyers and regulations proliferated and schools were sued for children’s rights, and children were expelled for drawing a picture of a gun.  So now we’re going to spend $500 million to make little kids sit still? I do not suggest cause and effect here.

But somehow while all this was going on, the schools kept failing, and fewer children learned to read, to write and multiply and divide. The government spent more money and schools of education developed more theory. Kids don’t need to learn math because they have calculators, and can you remember the last time a clerk (sales associate) counted your change back to you?



Obama’s Pursuit of the “Peace Process” Ends Predictably. by The Elephant's Child

Walter Russell Mead writing in the American Interest on May 25, said that President Obama has three times taken on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and three times he has failed miserably.

Where [Obama] has failed so dramatically is in the arena he himself has so frequently identified as vital: the search for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. His  record of grotesque, humiliating and total diplomatic failure in his dealings with Prime Minister Netanyahu has few parallels in American history. Three times he has gone up against Netanyahu; three times he has ingloriously failed. This last defeat—Netanyahu’s deadly, devastating speech to Congress in which he eviscerated President Obama’s foreign policy to prolonged and repeated standing ovations by members of both parties—may have been the single most stunning and effective public rebuke to an American President a foreign leader has ever delivered.

Netanyahu beat Obama like a red-headed stepchild; he played him like a fiddle; he pounded him like a big brass drum. The Prime Minister of Israel danced rings around his arrogant, professorial opponent. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters go up against the junior squad from Miss Porter’s School; like watching Harvard play Texas A&M, like watching Bambi meet Godzilla—or Bill Clinton run against Bob Dole.

Mead, I should add, is a Democrat who voted for Obama.  Obama’s policies have been rooted in the idea that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the primary reason for unrest and problems in the Middle East. He is wrong. President Obama has made no secret of his attitude towards Mr. Netanyahu and Israel, and many in the administration are known for their opposition to Israel. Scholar Stanley Kurtz has documented President Obama’s extensive Palestinian ties. The faculty lounge is not the place to develop foreign policy.

The “Arab spring” is unrelated to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Young educated middle class Arabs who communicate through Twitter and Facebook want democracy and liberty. Canadian journalist David Warren pointed out several years ago, that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the pictures of Iraqis, and Iraqi women, voting in free elections was like an earthquake in the Middle East. Iraq is a model, and Arabs want that freedom.  But there is a long way between protests in the street and a new form of government.  The Muslim Brotherhood is influential and organized.

What will come of the protests in the Middle East, no one knows. The administration has misunderstood the dynamics there, but Arab nations are a puzzle to Americans. We don’t understand dictators.

The protests in Tunisia began with a man who self-immolated after the government repeatedly refused to allow him to sell vegetables from his cart, his only way of making a living.  The Middle East is a place of conspiracy, suspicion, authoritarianism, deceit and guile and absolute brutality.

The administration had Syria’s Assad pegged as a potential reformer, and sent Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi off, separately, to visit. Who knew Assad would have his army shooting citizens in funeral procession as they carried the bodies of their executed friends to the cemetery. The malevolence of  a despot who intends to remain in power is beyond our understanding.

The administration does not grasp the relationship between the people of United States and Israel. Walter Russell Mead captures that as well. The ideas of the faculty lounge don’t translate well into foreign policy. Mead said:

As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth.  Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul.  The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism.  The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America. …Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith.  Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel also don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God,

These juxtaposed images of a young Bibi Netanyahu and a young Barack Obama demonstrate the life experiences and outlook of the two men. Bibi Netanyahu did not, as some say,”lecture” to the American president. He explained, with deep passion, the position of Israel. Obama seemed not enlightened, but angry.



The Democrats’ Insane Lightbulb Ban Approaches! by The Elephant's Child

The big lightbulb companies, GE, Phillips and Sylvania, are showing off their new LED bulbs. The GE Energy Smart LED Bulb does the best to imitate the features of a conventional incandescent bulb, including brightness and lighting angles.  Since it is based on light-emitting diodes, rather than a heated-up filament, it will use only one-fourth of the typical power  of an incandescent bulb to put out 450 lumens— the brightness equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb.

GE expects its LED bulb to last 17 years—or a 25,000 hour life—if run for four hours a day, every day.  And the GE Energy Smart LED Bulb fits normal incandescent sockets,  which is a nice touch for anyone who is worried about having to rewire their whole house.

There is “one little drawback,” they are expected to cost $50 each. What? I expected this to be bad, but this is unbelievable. The brightness equivalent of a 40-watt bulb? They are replacing a 100 watt incandescent bulb with the brightness equivalent of a 40 watt bulb?  I don’t even use many 60 watt bulbs.  Let’s see,  I need 9 bulbs for my kitchen, 4 for my bedroom, 4 for my bathroom, and that’s $850 without considering the living room, dining room, the study, and the other bedrooms, other bathrooms, the front hall, and the outdoor lighting.  Just last year LED bulbs were being quoted to cost $80—at a minimum.

What do I want with a bulb that lasts for 17 years? You could buy a bulb for a baby gift, and then give the kid another when he graduates from high school.  Sylvania expects that two-thirds of all consumers will consider switching over to a non-incandescent for future lighting purchases. Well, yes, since you fixed it so that we have to buy your product that clearly is not ready for prime time.

U.S.Federal lighting efficiency standards come into effect January, 2012, which mandate a “gradual” phasing out of incandescent bulbs over a two-year span. 100 watt bulbs go first, 75 watt bulbs are scheduled to be banned in 2013 and 60 and 40 watt bulbs in 2014.  In return I get a 40 watt bulb that will last for 17 years (they say) or I can have twisty CFL bulb that takes forever to warm up, gives nasty light, may explode or catch fire, must call the hasmat crew if I drop it, and when it burns out I’m supposed to drive all over town to find a place that will recycle it without charge.

Look at the picture— those baffles or whatever they are on the sides are supposed to imitate the lighting angles of an incandescent bulb. LED bulbs don’t spread their light naturally. The baffles mean they won’t fit a lot of fixtures. Neither kind of bulb—CFL or LED—is a satisfactory replacement for an incandescent bulbs.They have trouble putting out warm color temperatures, the warmer the temperature of an LED bulb, the less efficient the bulb is. Does that mean even less than 40 watt?

No wonder GE Sylvania and Phillips wrote the bill banning incandescent bulbs. Nobody would buy their damn bulbs if they weren’t forced to. We’ve had a lot of claims about energy savings, and I don’t know of any one that has measured up. Claims for insulation do not measure up. Claims for insulated windows don’t measure up. Energy Star appliances don’t measure up. But we’re supposed to believe their claims for lightbulbs enough to spring for $50 a bulb?

Bob Karlicek, the director of the Smart Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute thinks the price can be brought down to $10 eventually. He also said “it’s not necessarily clear to people in the lighting industry that LED chips were ever meant to go into a bulb.” What’s really needed, he said, is a new approach to lighting.  Oh.

You apparently had three separate companies colluding to get a government mandate to help rid them of  their high-cost incandescent factories, undoubtedly union factories, and send their bulb operations to China where they can get bulbs made for pennies.  Were they sure they could come up with a satisfactory substitute in the allotted time? The bulbs on offer do not seem to be satisfactory substitutes in any way.

The governmental idea that people will drive to bulb recycling centers and pay to recycle their CFL bulbs, is nice, but people will just put them in the garbage.  The government has offered a $10 million prize for an energy efficient replacement for the 60-watt bulb— another proof that this all started with “energy saving” which is necessary—not to save you money on your light bill, because it probably won’t—but to keep fossil fuel fired electricity plants from emitting CO2.  I will refrain from my usual rant about how utterly insane (incompetent) this is.

And we will soon need a new federal program to help the poor buy lightbulbs.



Fear of Big Brother? That Was So Yesterday! by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration is slowly learning about terrorism, this time with key provisions of the Patriot Act up for reauthorization before they sunset on Friday. Previous extensions have been political dogfights, but this time everyone, according to the Wall Street Journal is “acting awfully grown-up:”

While the liberal blogosphere is still peddling the Big Brother meme, the Obama Administration is now in full-throated support. Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month that it is “absolutely essential” that the provisions be reauthorized and that “we never want to see these acts, these provisions, expire.” Allowing them to sunset regularly is “not helpful” and hurts intelligence gathering, he added. “Our prosecutors or investigators need certainty” and “if they were done on a permanent basis, that is not something we would object to.”The renewal debate involves three sections of the law, known as “business records,” “lone wolf” and “roving wiretap,” which have become key tools of antiterror law enforcement. The first lets investigators gather business records related to international terrorism, the second to track aspiring terrorists acting alone, and the third to stay on top of subjects who try to evade surveillance.

These special powers are important to law enforcement because they provide greater latitude than so-called Title III wiretaps, which require disclosure to the target. The lone wolf designation likewise allows intelligence agencies to stay on offense against terrorists who may not have previously shown any sympathy for al Qaeda or jihadist causes.

The seething left has always presumed that anything connected with something called “The Patriot Act” must be a law designed to let the government spy on you and your neighbors. I’m sure you heard that at some point. The liberal conspiracy theory was that “Republicans were engaged in an unlawful crusade to turn the U.S. into a police state. The Patriot Act can now join Guantanamo, military commissions, unlimited detention, drone strikes, the state secrets doctrine and Middle Eastern democracy as Bush policies that Obama has embraced one way or another.”

There are careful legal guards in each of the three provisions specifically designed to protect civil liberties. Requests to look at business records must be authorized by the special FISA court. In order to get permission for a roving wiretap, an FBI agent has to apply to the ISA court and show probable cause to believe that the target is a terrorist, a foreign terrorist organization or a spy.  The government really isn’t interested in the dalliances, licit or illicit, of ordinary folk.

Senate leaders have agreed to extend all three provisions for four years. Will wonders never cease.



The White House is Deliberately Trying to Make Energy Cost More!! by The Elephant's Child

The situation in the Gulf of Mexico has not improved. The actions of the administration continue to drive despair throughout the Gulf region. One excuse follows another.

A new report from the House Oversight Committee says that if President Obama is suffering politically from the backlash about high energy prices, he has only himself to blame. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued a blistering report on Monday, accusing the White House of deliberately pursuing policies designed to make energy more expensive, manipulating costs to favor his own energy choices.

The report—”Rising Energy Costs: An Intentional Result of Government Action”— accuses the administration of restricting access to domestic energy sources, hindering “fracking” technology and hampering the economic recovery by proposing new taxes on the energy industry.

The report also says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) coordinated with environmental groups to target energy producers with environmental concerns. The Oversight Committee obtained an email between the EPA Texas regional director and an environmental advocate congratulating each other on progress in creating barriers to energy production from fossil fuel sources.

Obama has a history of pushing alternative energy sources.  In quotes from the president’s 2008 campaign, he said “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Coal-powered plants, you know natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money.”

Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy, said “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” In his fiscal year 2012 budget, Obama requested that the tax breaks for the oil industry be repealed, totaling $60 billion over 10 years. Jack Lew, director of the OMB, defended the repeals by tying them to the goal of producing more electric cars.

Enormous costs have been imposed on the American economy in the name of fraudulent ideas about ‘global warming.’ The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to the public’s health and welfare.  Alan Carlin, PhD, a senior research analyst at the EPA did the reasonable thing, and applied the scientific method used in the EPA’s technical support document.  He found computerized guesswork, editing by advocates. Carlin was told to not communicate with anyone, and no meetings, no emails, no written statements, no phone calls. That was two years ago.

Carlin’s report has been updated, expanded, peer-reviewed and published in the respected International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The report scorns computer modelling, false comparisons between hypotheses and observed data, and efforts to manipulate climate measurements. The main points are that the economic benefits of reducing CO2 emissions are vastly lower than EPA estimates, and the costs are vastly higher. His conclusion: the risk of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming appears to be so low that it is not worth doing anything to attempt to control it.

It’s not just high gas prices, nor unemployment and despair in the Gulf region, but  huge subsidies for unreliable and inefficient wind energy and solar energy. The government is choosing private businesses to support with taxpayer money that make expensive and unreliable electric cars; spending vast amounts of taxpayer money to support wind farms.; forcing car companies to make the kind of vehicles that the administration wants in spite of a complete lack of demand in the free market.

They are pushing high-speed rail on states that don’t want it; giving taxpayer money to a company that makes hugely expensive (but cute) electric sports cars. The president has ordered the federal vehicle fleet to be made up entirely of alternative-fuel automobiles by 2015. The cost of this policy will be astronomical compared to any environmental benefit, if there is any. He has ordered the government to buy more than 100 plug-in electric vehicles and will install charging stations in government buildings in five cities, including Detroit.  These are luxury $40,000 sedans, plus $2,500 charging stations bought for government employees. I could go on, and on.

All these billions of dollars are being wasted in an effort to prevent any increase in CO2, a benign colorless, odorless gas that is one of the building blocks of life. It is not only not a pollutant, but it is absolutely necessary for life on earth.  It is not a cause of global warming, for increases in CO2 in the atmosphere come after increases in temperature by as much as 300 years, and cannot be causative.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was created to bring about, in the words of Jacques Chirac, authentic global governance.  Preferably under the auspices of the United Nations, and the NGOs, the aspiring Non-Governmental Organizations. If that’s what all this chaos is about, it’s a flop on that accord.  The IPCC has been thoroughly discredited, and is turning their attention to biological diversity or something like that.

Do read the brief executive summary in the Oversight Committee Report.  The United States has the world’s greatest supply of energy. The President of the United States wants to keep us from using it.




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