American Elephants


A friendly word for Exxon-Mobil… by The Elephant's Child

Exxon-Mobil has received huge attention since it was announced that they posted a record profit of $11.68 billion in the second quarter. Media spokesmen have huffed and puffed, announced the P-R-O-F-I-T-S in sneering language as if oil company CEOs had personally lifted our wallets, emptied our bank accounts, and put us all in the poorhouse. Democrats were gleefully beside themselves in finding someone else to blame, and demanded a new windfall profits tax. That would fix them.

No one saw fit to mention that in the same quarter, Exxon Mobil paid almost 3 times that much in taxesmore than $32 billion. (A tax bill greater than the GDP of many countries). That doesn’t count the taxes you pay on every gallon that goes into your gas tank: 12% to the federal government and differing amounts to the states. Mine is one of the highest.

When we start talking in billions, most of us are not comfortable with the figures. (How many zeros is that?). Many more people than ever before are becoming millionaires, but the billionaires live in a rarefied atmosphere that most of us don’t understand very well. It’s easy to assume that there must be something wrong with a profit of $11 billion.

Politicians, especially in an election year, prey on voter’s ignorance of matters economic. When gas prices are over $4.00 a gallon and grocery prices are climbing, people are being hit in the pocketbook. $11 billion in profit seems unimaginable, obscene.

The government is taking a far larger amount, demanding more and refusing to open known oil fields that could be producing in about 3 years. The Democrats want “windfall profits”, they want to outlaw “price gouging”, they want to “stop the speculators”, they want to distract you from the idea of drilling for oil.

In the last 10 years the top 20 U.S. and Canadian oil companies invested 50% more than they earned in efforts to produce more oil. Production in existing oil fields in the U.S. is slowing and they are having to go far afield to drill.

American corporations are among the most heavily regulated entities on earth. A corporation is a legal fiction that allows a group of people to band together to do business in the hope of making a profit. Corporations can survive a year or so of losses, but in general, if they don’t make a profit, they go out of business.

It is fashionable to think of corporations as “evil”, but the reasons for that illusion aren’t attractive. Our intelligentsia, proud of their advanced degrees, are incensed at the salaries and bonuses of corporate CEOs whom they regard as a lesser species. They do not understand business or economics, and in general, want to stamp it out.

Gas prices are dropping, but Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid soldier on. Speaker Pelosi has suggested that maybe they could allow a little offshore drilling — but only on the East coast! Have a little sympathy for the oil companies. They are trying very hard to produce the petroleum you need, and they are investing (without orders from Pelosi and Reid) heavily in alternative energy. Their business is to produce the energy you need at a price you can afford. That’s how they stay in business. (No, unfortunately I’m not a stockholder).



The Audacity of Hype! by American Elephant

Even staunch liberals like Chris Matthews are beginning to realize that Barack Obama is all hype and zero substance. I imagine the Hillary camp probably pressured Matthews into this exchange with an Obama representative, but nonetheless I give Matthews credit for pointing out that Obama has accomplished absolutely nothing despite having been in elected office for years. (hat tip: James Taranto)



So Why Do You Want to Be President, Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

Haven’t you often wondered just what it is that impels a person to seek the office of President of the United States?  Admit it.  You have looked at one candidate or another and snickered and wondered “what were they thinking?”

There is ambition, of course, and we can all identify the candidates with burning ambition.  But what makes them think that they are up to the challenge? Do they want to do, or do they want to be?  Hillary claims vast experience, since she lived in the White House with the President — which is about as plausible as a wife replacing a retiring C.E.O.  It may have been interesting and fascinating, but it wasn’t experience, at least as we usually define experience.

John Edwards had one term in the Senate, and one campaign for Vice President, and apparently fell in love with his ‘two Americas’ theme.  Barack Obama was in the Illinois State Senate, but no sooner did he take his seat in the Senate than he began campaigning to be President, and hasn’t been in Washington much since.  Thin resumes indeed. 

 Occasionally a candidate will be selected by a group of others who seek him out and urge him to run.  But every one of the current candidates on both sides is self-selected.  This, I think, makes our job of learning about a candidate harder.  Why do they want to be President, and why should we agree?

Here’s how I think you do it.  First, go to a candidate’s website, print out what you can find under ‘Issues’ or some equivalent title, and go over it with a fine tooth comb.  Make notes.  Do they seem to know what they are talking about, or are they just pandering — promising to give you stuff if you vote for them?  Do they have a grasp of the current problems in foreign affairs?  Do they understand the current threats to the security of the United States?  This, after all, is the primary job of the President.  Do they have a clue about economics?  They can ask Congress to pass laws to accomplish other items on their to-do list, but Congress doesn’t have to agree, and probably won’t. 

Second, look carefully at who the candidate has selected as advisers.  Do these people have good resumes on their own?  Obama, for example, speaks of hope and change and unity, yet his advisers are from the Carter Administration and advised what many consider the worst presidency in history. 

Third.  Pay far less attention to the candidate’s looks, what they say on the stump (after a while they all turn into demagogues, promising goodies and avoiding the really serious questions). 

If I had my choice, I would do away with the debates.  It’s silly, waiting for someone to sweat, or get angry, or trip over his own tongue.  I’d like to see a relaxed conversation about the state of the country and the world with all the candidates and an interesting, scrupulously non-partisan host, rather than a Sunday show host who is trying to get the candidates to embarrass themselves.  No stage and lecterns, but comfortable seats around a table.  I want to get to know the candidates, not trick them into saying something they didn’t intend.  Much of the mischief on the campaign trail is committed by the media — who are ever ready to pounce on anything that might make a more interesting story.

How would you  prefer to choose a candidate?  Are you satisfied with the way we do it now?




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