American Elephants

Obama Slashes Defense to Pay-Off Unions and ACORN by American Elephant

Barack Obama wants us to mortgage our future to the tune of $1.1 trillion dollars for a “stimulus” bill that will do nothing to stimulate the economy but a great deal to line the pockets of liberal interest groups and make Americans dependent on Democrat-led big government. Unions, ACORN, environmental groups, Hollywood…. the bill reads like a laundry list of give-aways to liberal special-interests and big socialized government.

But while the sky is the limit when it comes to buying a permanent Democrat majority,  news came down late Friday night  that Obama has found some massive spending cuts he is willing to make. In the midst of two wars, an erstwhile worldwide offensive against terror, and increasing aggression by the most dangerous regimes around the world, Barack Obama has directed the joint chiefs to slash military spending by over 10 percent:

The Obama administration has asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent — about $55 billion — a senior U.S. defense official tells FOX News.

Last year’s defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend “burning the midnight oil” looking at ways to cut the budget — looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said. [read more]

Naturally, since the Dear Leader signaled he is trying to hide this move by ordering the cuts on a weekend, everyone but FOX News has refused to even cover the story.The same way the MSM refused to cover this video. Even when Obama later made ridiculous claims in the general election that his approach to national defense would differ little from John McCain’s.

Of course at $55 billion, the defense cuts still don’t come close to paying for his “stimulus” bill.  But look on the bright side — with leadership like this, perhaps our children won’ t even be here when the massive bill comes due for Obama and the Democrats’ reckless agenda.

(h/t Gay Patriot)

Update: Ed Morrisey nails it:

I’m not going to argue that the defense budget doesn’t have fat.  I’ve seen defense contracting from the inside, and it stinks.  However, unlike the Obama stimulus bill that will cost more than twice as much as the 2010 defense budget, it’s not 90% fat.  Director Blue reminds us of a few numbers:

• $83 billion in welfare payments
• $81 billion for Medicaid
• $66 billion on “education”, more than the entire Department of Education required just ten years ago
• $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits
• $20 billion for food stamps
• $8 billion on “renewable energy” projects, which have a low or negative return
• $7 billion for “modernizing federal buildings and facilities”
• $6 billion on urban transit systems, dominated by unions and which, almost universally, lose money
• $2.4 billion for “carbon-capture demonstration projects”
• $2 billion for child-care subsidies
• $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that’s run in the red for 40 years
• $650 million for “digital TV conversion coupons” (on top of billions already spent)
• $600 million on new cars for government (added to the $3 billion already spent each year)
• $400 million for “global-warming research”
• $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts

Obama’s busy expanding all of the rest of the government except for its primary, Constitutional mission: defending the nation. [read more]

Up-Update: Congressional Quarterly is now reporting that Obama has given the pentagon a $527 billion upper limit on spending, which, if correct, would mean up to an 8% increase in spending. We’ll have to wait and see what the final story is, but for now, just as I was willing to criticize him for slashing the defense budget, I will also praise him for doing the right thing if he does increase it.

The Choice: Boost the Economy or Play Politics. FAIL! by The Elephant's Child

No wonder they are trying to rush this “economic stimulus” package through Congress.  The more people pour through the 1855 pages of this bill, the more they find out about it. The overriding theme is that:  This is an enormous  crisis which requires great haste to pass the bill (but no time to read it) but there is no rush to get any of the money into the economy, which won’t happen for at least 18 months. Please read that last sentence again.

Now is the time to make the tough choices” President Obama, Jan. 26: noted Robert Samuelson yesterday.

Among the many claims made for the “economic stimulus” package in front of Congress is that it will “jump-start” a “bigger, better, smarter” electric grid, letting Americans use energy more efficiently.

The package commits $4.5 billion to this, which (says the White House) will help finance 4,000 miles of transmission lines and 40 million “smart meters.”

Sounds great.

But it may be mostly hype.  For starters, the $4.5 billion is a pittance.  An industry study in 2004 — surely outdated —put the price tag of modernizing the grid at $165 billion.

More important, says a report from JPMorgan, the “smart grid” isn’t mainly a matter of building new transmission lines or installing new meters.  It’s more “communication and information processing technology” that allows for more efficient transportation and use of power.

“The smart grid, while a great idea, is basically a software project,” says economist Marc Levinson of  JPMorgan.  “The reason utilities aren’t pushing it faster is not lack of money or will, but because there are lots of technical issues and also important compatibility problems so that the various companies’ grids can communicate freely with one another.”

As it turns out, President Obama didn’t make the tough choices on the stimulus package.  He could have used the program mainly (a) to bolster the economy or (b) to advance a larger political agenda…

According to the Congressional Budget Office, only 21% of the new spending would actually flow to the economy in fiscal 2009 (till September).  For fiscal 2010 an additional 44%, and a third would not be spent until after 2011.

Which, by the way, is when the Bush tax cuts will expire, creating the largest tax increase in history.  An estimate is that a family of four (2 children) making  $60,000 would see their taxes rise by $1,900.  And if you make over $200,000 ($150.000, $120,000) they plan on taxing you enough to render over 50% of the population tax free.

As Robert Samuelson said:  (Read the whole article here)

There were tough choices to be made —  Obama ducked them all.

Green promises are not green because they are environmentally sound, but because they are snake oil! by The Elephant's Child

In the Old West there were, famously, medicine men who traveled around to small towns that were springing up, posing as doctors and selling bottles of elixir guaranteed, guaranteed, to cure all ills.  Often they had a companion who would play a little music, or sing to create something of a show and draw an audience.  The medicine man would promise wonderful things, no more aches, no more pain, no more cough, never tired, new lease on life with only a tablespoon every single day.

Modern day sellers of snake oil prepare you to do what they want you to do, with the techniques of  what today is called “community organizing.” The idea is to recognize people’s worries and to remind them every day how unhappy they are, and how miserable their situation is, and to turn those miseries to organizing to accomplish the organizer’s goals. In other words, you have been had.

Al Gore came by on Wednesday, in the middle of a sleet storm to tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the end is near, peddling  his own brand of snake oil.  Back in the late 70s, when it was first noticed that global temperatures seemed to be increasing, scientists looked for a cause and noted that CO2 was also increasing.  Ah Hah! From that oversimplified confusion of correlation and causation has emanated all sorts of mischief.  Enormous amounts of money have been invested in that mischief.

Environmentalists want to get rid of CO2. They want to get rid of petroleum, cars, nuclear energy, hydropower dams,  coal  or anything else that is extracted from the earth. They believe firmly that if only we invest enough money; wind, solar and geothermal “clean” energy will transform our whole society into something cleaner and more natural, and with more “social justice.”

2008 was an outstanding year.  The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records by installing 8,358 MW of new generating capacity (that’s what a wind farm could produce if everything worked and the wind blew at the proper speed all the time).  Now they need a bailout.  They can only proceed or be sustained if they are subsidized by the government.

The idea about wind energy sounded good.  Contrary to reports from wind energy advocates, wind farms create very few jobs and there are few energy, environmental or economic benefits. At least not compared to other ways that the money could be spent.  Most wind farm jobs are in construction, are short term — less than 6 months and are done by specialized workers brought in for the job.   Wind farm owners often contract with the suppliers for maintenance work, so there are no “new jobs” in the community.  Output from a wind turbine is intermittent, volatile and unreliable, and costs are high.

If the “green jobs” promise is snake oil, and studies show that it is, then why is the government willing to spend so much money on “green jobs?”  It is payback to the environmental organizations for their support in the campaign. The Apollo Alliance promised 5 million green jobs, but they just made up the figure.

Al Gore seems to believe that global warming is real and catastrophic. However, he is prepared to make many millions if Americans will just agree to try to stop global warming.  He is founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management, a London based private equity fund, and a principal in Silicon Valley venture capital firm KPCB, both of which have major interests in global warming ventures.

Obama’s nominees for energy and environment posts are by far his most radical appointments. Snake oil will abound, and changes to America that few will like.  Call your senator now.

Americans Turn Against Obama Stimulus by American Elephant
January 29, 2009, 6:02 pm
Filed under: Economy, Liberalism, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear | Tags: ,

Public support for Obama and the Democrats so-called stimulus plan has fallen to 42%.

200 leading economists have taken out a full page ad opposing the plan, which would much more accurately be titled the “Democrat Donor Payoff and Permanent Majority Fund” as the vast majority of the bill is designed to reward Democrat interest groups and make Americans dependent on unions and big government (and thus Democrats) for jobs and handouts.

Its clear the rush to pass the bill has less to do with economic recovery, and more to do with keeping Americans in the dark about the vast scale of corruption this bill represents.

So, keep it up! Keep talking about it. Americans are learning. And keep calling and writing your representatives.

200 Top Economists Oppose Obama’s Stimulus Plan by American Elephant
January 29, 2009, 4:43 am
Filed under: Economy, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics

Obama and the Democrats want to pass their so-called “stimulus” plan very quickly. After all, they are only calling for THE biggest increase in government spending in the history of the United States (or any other nation on Earth for that matter) why waste time actually reading and debating it?

Could it be that Democrats are afraid the American people might discover that it has absolutely nothing to do with stimulating the economy, and everything to do with paying off Democrat special interests and cementing their own power by drastically increasing the number of Americans dependent on government — and thus Democrats —  for either work or welfare?

Or perhaps Obama was afraid if he didn’t pass it fast enough, someone might have some time to organize opposition against it.

Unfortunately for him, they have.

The CATO Institute has taken out full-page ads in the New York Times, The Washington Post and Roll Call, with the signatures of 200 of the nation’s top economists saying essentially Obama’s trillion dollar plan won’t work:

Click the image for a full-size PDF. Help get the word out.  You can Digg the original story here.


(h/t The Competitive Enterprize Institute)

So, You Think a Nobel Peace Prize is Impressive? by American Elephant


Much ado is made over Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. A highly coveted and ostensibly prestigious award;  we are supposed to be deeply impressed by the winners. But should we really be? Just how much is a Nobel Peace Prize worth?

Consider this…

A Lady Named Irena Sendler
By John Coleman

Recently a 98-year-old lady named Irena Sendler died.

During WWII, Irena got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.

Being German, she KNEW what the Nazi’s plans were for the Jews. Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of her tool box she carried, and she also carried in the back of her truck a Burlap sack, (for larger children).

She also had a dog in the back of the truck that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog, but the barking covered the children/infants noises.

During her time and course of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 children/infants.

She was caught, and the Nazi’s broke both her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the children she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her backyard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it, and reunited the families. Most, of course, had been gassed.

Those children she helped were placed into foster family homes or adopted out.

Last year, Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


Al Gore won for doing a slide show on Global Warming.

I’d say they aren’t worth spit.

Learn more about Irena Sendler at Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project.

(h/t ICECAP)

If you don’t have what you think you need, make do with what you have. by The Elephant's Child
January 28, 2009, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

What is a band to do when they need a rhythm section and they don’t have one?  This is pretty goofy, but it works!

It’s Election Time Again in Iraq, and We Wish Them Well. by The Elephant's Child
January 28, 2009, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, Heartwarming | Tags: , ,

Saturday is the main polling day for Iraqi Provincial elections, but around 600,000 police, soldiers, hospital patients and prisoners were eligible to cast early ballots today, to help avoid logistical and security problems which troubled the parliamentary  election of January 2005 when the vote was held on a single day.

The chairman of the Independent High Electoral Commission told reporters that “Turnout was huge,” after the polls closed at 5 pm.  He said that there were no violations or irregularities.  Security was very tight.

Iraq is holding the elections in 14 of its 18 provinces on Saturday.  About 15 million citizens  are eligible to vote.  Prime Minister Nuri as-Maliki is hopeful of a turnout between 70-80 percent.  They will choose from among 14,000 candidates for 440 seats.

In 2005 many Sunni Arabs boycotted the elections, but this time around they are expected to vote in large numbers to reverse the political imbalance that resulted from their failure to vote last time.   That rejection allowed Shiite and Kurdish parties to take control of parliament which bred resentment among Sunnis and was at least partly to blame for the violent insurgency that took so many lives.

A story from an American soldier told of a very pregnant Iraqi woman standing in line to vote in the last election.  She went into labor, and with the help of an American medic, delivered the baby right there.  She thrust the baby into the arms of the soldier, and went in to vote.

Many doubt that change can really come to the Middle East, but when millions of women proudly vote for the first time, it cannot help but create something of an earthquake throughout the region.

General Petraeus, when questioned about the potential for Democracy in Iraq, said that he called it “Iraqracy.”  Not quite like our Republic, but they seem to be on the right track.

The Gore Effect Strikes Again! by The Elephant's Child
January 27, 2009, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Liberalism, Progressivism

There is an awkward effect whenever Al Gore speaks on “global warming” or “climate change” that we have come to call The Gore Effect”. Mother Nature doesn’t like being fooled, or trifled with, for that matter.  It freezes, it snows, the weather turns frigid, and the Nobel Peace Prize winner is made to look, well, silly. Mr. Gore speaks to Congress tomorrow in a snowy, frigid Washington D.C.

Dr. Roy Spencer enumerates some of the propaganda techniques used by the former Vice President to sell his notion of a global warming Armageddon. Quotes are from Al Gore.

Appeal to fear: Appeals to fear seek to build support by instilling anxieties and panic in the general population.

I want to testify today about what I believe is a planetary emergency — a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth”

Flag-Waving: An attempt to justify an action on the grounds that doing so will make one more patriotic, or in some way benefit a group, country, or idea. Also Inevitable victory invites those not already on the bandwagon to join those already on the road to certain victory .  Those already or at least partially on the bandwagon are reassured that staying aboard is their best course of action.

“After all, we have taken on problems of this scope before.  When England  and then America and our allies rose to meet the threat of global Fascism, together we won two wars simultaneously in Europe and the Pacific.”

Black-and-White fallacy: Presenting only two choices, with the product or idea being propagated as the better choice.

“It is not a question of left vs. right; it is a question of right vs. wrong.” (June 21, 2006, London, England).

Dr. Spencer’s complete list of propaganda techniques used by Mr. Gore is available here. Dr. Spencer’s  global temperature monitoring work with satellites is on the cutting edge of climate science. He notes that his work has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies, and he has never been asked by any petroleum company to perform any service.  Not even Exxon-Mobil.

VIDEO: Why the “Stimulus” Will Be a Disaster by American Elephant
January 27, 2009, 12:24 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, Economy, Freedom, News, Politics | Tags: , ,

Democrats want to spend almost a trillion dollars on a so-called “stimulus” bill (it will be over a trillion with interest alone) — the largest increase in government spending ever. Dan Mitchell from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity explains how these policies have been tried many times before, both here and elsewhere, and details how and why they have failed every time, everywhere.

Absolute MUST-see TV for every American:

$825 Billion and climbing, and climbing and climbing. by The Elephant's Child

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009: $850 billion and counting, 1,588 pages and counting, and your congresspeople aren’t going to read it.  There is now a new website called Read the Stimulus which presents this bill in a searchable database of bill text, committee reports and links to analysis of the stimulus package. There are a lot of people who are doing the hard work of wading through the pages to let you know what is going on.

We want you to help find the pork and the waste.  This bill is the granddaddy of all earmark packages, filled with gifts to supporters, presents for partisans and daydreams from the far left playbook wrapped up in the guise of economic stimulus.  The guiding impulse seems to be “get lots of money out into the economy right now”.

That is not what is happening though. All those “shovel ready” infrastructure projects aren’t quite that ready, and it will be a year or two before that starts, and then there are the permits and the lawsuits, and the overruns and leakage.  George Melloan offers some cautions:

The central defect of government bailouts and stimulus packages is that the money is allocated through a political process.  It goes to recipients who have the most political influence.  Private entrepreneurs and even big business, by contrast, employ investment to earn a profit.  The record shows that the latter yields greater economic efficiency, and hence creates real jobs.

The new stimulus package pays lip service to aiding the private sector with various tax incentives for hiring and investing capital.  It acknowledges, just barely, that the private sector will be the engine for recovery if recovery is to be had.  But the record for such measures is about as dismal as the one for short-term supplements to consumer income.  They do very little to change the decisions or behavior of the recipient.  If the recipient is wary and uncertain about the future, he or she will probably remain so.

Hot Air wants you to show what an Army of Davids can do.  He will need both link and description, e-mail them to stimulus-at-notonedimemore-dot-org.  There is going to be an enormous effort to sell this enormous package to the American people.  Let them hear from you.

“Stimulus” that will not stimulate, “Reinvestment” that will not lead to recovery, politicians on the wrong track. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama wants his stimulus bill passed quickly in answer to continuing job loss among the American people.  In just the last few days big layoffs have been announced by Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks.  Ouch!

The big $825 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Action and Action Now!) is working its way through Congress.  There are big gifts to every progressive constituency, and lots of “hopenchange”, but not much stimulus.

The language has changed a little, from “creating jobs” to “creating or saving jobs”, which is a little more difference than is apparent in just the change in wording.

I have been going over the Summary put out by the Committee on Appropriations, and the Summary from the Ways and Means Committee.  They are quite interesting, but not stimulating.

In 2008, government payrolls topped  22,ooo,ooo, and are continuing to climb.  The Recovery and Reinvestment Act “creates” jobs by increasing government payrolls at all levels.  This rests on a vast misunderstanding of how jobs are “created.”

When the government hires someone , whether city government, county, state or federal, where does their pay come from?  Taxes.  Government has no money of its own.  It takes that money out of your pocket in taxes.  Your taxes pay the salaries of teachers, firemen, forest service rangers, soldiers and congressmen.  When Congress puts in a clever bill that gives themselves an automatic pay raise every year, it comes right out of your pocket.

So how are jobs created?  Joe Inventor invents a machine that sticks little gummed labels on all sorts of fresh fruit — apples, tomatoes, oranges, etc..  Soon every orchardist has to put little labels on his crop.  The machines have to be made, all the parts have to be made, and the little gummed labels have to be gummed and printed, and stuck on the fruit.  You  have seen and peeled off the labels.  I don’t have any idea how many people are employed by this invention, but it has to be a lot.

Samuel Smallbusiness has a small company that installs insulation in buildings.  Business is so good that he needs a couple of more workers to keep up with the demand.  He has created two jobs.  The government decides to “create” jobs by creating a “job corps” for underprivileged young people.  You pay for the job corps in increased taxes: Samuel Smallbusiness loses demand as government paid kids are now doing some of the work that his crews used to do.  He lays off three workers.

Most of the creating and saving of  jobs is summed up by these examples, but there is more.  A major targeted effort is for “clean, efficient American energy.”  This effort comes from a belief that global warming is a problem, that global warming is caused by carbon in the atmosphere, and that wind, solar and geothermal power can become a significant source of energy.  This entire statement is a falsehood. The earth has not warmed in the last ten years, and has been cooling for the last five years.  This year it has become particularly noticeable.  It is expected that the earth will continue to cool for around 30 years, but we cannot predict the future.

Vast infrastructure programs are planned, to “modernize roads and bridges, transit and waterways.” The Federal Highway Program spreads millions in bounty to the states each year for modernizing roads, bridges and transit. Potholes get politicians no publicity.  The money gets spent on bike trails and more scenic efforts. Light rail is popular among politicians, but has been shown to neither relieve congestion or pay for itself.

The summary from the Committee on Appropriations is available here. It’s 13 pages to pour through, and hopefully many, many changes will be made before it becomes law.

What is frightening is the absence of anything that will relieve the economic crisis or help the economy to recover.  It is all old-fashioned “pump-priming” left over from John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s. Back then they paid people meager wages to dig ditches and now they want to pay people to computerize  businesses and build windmills — but they are still makework jobs.  When they have shelled out the entire $825 billion and the economy is still in the tank, then what?

There is lots of money for pie-in-the-sky things that may never come to fruition. Experts, those who are not trying to sell wind farms, point out that neither wind nor solar will in the foreseeable future become a significant source of power.  There is money for scientists to cure diseases, solve chronic illnesses, create new fuels and invent electric batteries that have not been invented with vast money from venture capital. All very nice, but this is pure “hopenchange,” not economic stimulus.  They may get results in 2 years or in 25 or never.

President Obama’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, quietly suggested that government would accomplish more by buying things, but nobody was paying attention.  Replacing the military equipment worn out in the war would be a wise purchase as many have recommended, boost the economy immediately,but the Code Pinkies and the Move-Ons would undoubtedly go ballistic.

Is the faith in the Messiah such that people will go for anything, no matter how unlikely?  I sure hope not!

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