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)




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