American Elephants

I Knew I Didn’t Understand Bankruptcy Law, But It’s Even Worse Than I Thought. by The Elephant's Child
May 22, 2009, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law, Politics | Tags: , ,

The Obama administration is going to send General Motors into bankruptcy as soon as the end of next week, “under a plan that would give the automaker tens of billions of dollars more in public financing as the billions of dollars more in public financing as the company seeks to shrink and reemerge as a global competitor, sources familiar with the discussions said” according to The Washington Post.

According to the draft bankruptcy plan the company will get around $30 billion in additional federal loans. The federal government will get  50 percent of the restructured company, take the right to name members of the board, and the United Auto Workers retiree health fund will own as much as 39 percent of the restructured company in exchange for giving up its claim to at least $ 10 billion that the company owes.  Investors who own $27 billion worth of GM bonds — their senior legal and contractual debt — are supposed to settle for 10 percent of the restructured company.

Yes.  The UAW is owed $10 billion, gets 39 percent of the company.  Bondholders, who are supposed to be paid first and are owed $27 billion get only 10 percent, I have to assume, because the unions had a big part in putting Obama in office.  Apparently Obama skipped Contract Law when he was in law school.

There’s more, much more.  Do read the whole article, maybe you will understand more than I do.  The only thing I’m sure of is that the taxpayers are getting the shaft.

Check out this priceless little pamphlet, and take note on the bottom of the title page just who published it.

A Little Irreverent Humor. by The Elephant's Child
May 20, 2009, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Music, Politics, Progressivism

Peak Oil Nonsense, and Clean Energy Hooey. by The Elephant's Child
May 20, 2009, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Freedom, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,


Did you wonder where our oil comes from?  Here are the sources of all that “foreign oil” that is so often declaimed.  [ Click on the image to enlarge]

Aside from the (erroneous) belief that “global warming” is a threat to the life of the planet, there is a widely held belief that we have reached and passed “peak oil,” and it’s all downhill from here on out.  So we have no choice but to move to smaller, more efficient cars, hybrids, electric cars, alternate fuels and clean renewable energy.  “Sustainable” is the euphemism of choice.  And the Obama administration doesn’t like coal.

So-called “clean renewable energy” has nothing to do with transportation.  Wind and solar produce some electricity, but do not power automobiles. Peak oil advocates point to declining oil production in Mexico as a sign of an imminent global peak, but ignore indications that the Mexican government has been starving the national oil company of capital.  Many academics assume that once prices retreat that they will continue to decline, or conversely, ignore the effects of price controls, tax changes or other economic changes.

A new study by the energy consultancy IHS-CERA (formerly Cambridge Energy Associates) notes that in 2000, Canada’s oil sands produced just 600,000 barrels of oil a day, while today they produce 1.3 million barrels.  By 2030 they could be producing as much as 6 million barrels.  If we have not antagonized our neighbors too much, perhaps we can buy some of it.

Only a very minor role for alternative energy over the next three decades is predicted by any reputable major forecaster.  Fossil fuels will continue to be the source of our transportation energy. The United States government has removed more than 31 billion barrels of oil, 154 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion tons of coal from the market by laws that make it difficult if not impossible to prospect or produce energy on federal lands.  To keep our economy healthy and growing, we must have more oil.

But lawmakers in Congress have gone after our most important supplier with “buy American” provisions in the stimulus plan.  Officials have suggested perhaps Canada’s oil is too “dirty”, and would increase our “carbon footprint.” And Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, is suggesting that we need a wall and fences on our Northern border so that our Southern neighbors will not feel discriminated against.

I hope our friends to the North will forgive our foolishness when we are freezing to death in the dark.

Central Planning Has a Bad Reputation. Doesn’t Anyone Ask Why? by The Elephant's Child
May 20, 2009, 12:52 am
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

The Obama administration announced proposed mileage standards that will require federally controlled automakers to meet California’s 35 mpg mandate by 2016.  Car makers know that the standard is unachievable, but they obviously are in no position to say no to the administration.  The only way for manufacturers to meet that mandate is to make smaller, lighter and deadlier cars.

The administration believes that CO2 is a dangerous problem, and that emissions must be cut.  They believe that the way to cut emissions is to force everyone into small, more efficient cars.  They are intent on switching America to “clean, renewable energy.”  Clean, renewable energy has nothing to do with CAFE standards because wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal power and nuclear power produce electricity, not gasoline.

Increased gasoline prices are political suicide.  Estimates of the increased cost of producing cars to meet the new standards run from $1,300 per car up to $7,000.  The Natural Resources Defense Council has said that a 35 mpg standard will save about one million gallons of gas per day. Steven Milloy asks how that savings balances out against the 2,000 fatalities that the National Academy of Sciences says are caused each year by making those cars lighter?  He points out that the proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than the Iraq War.

The supposed end of all the taxpayer bailouts and federal control imposed on the auto industry is to restore the car companies to health and profitability.  Yet every mandate imposed by the government just ensures that the bottom line will suffer.  It means fewer jobs and producing unprofitable vehicles that consumers don’t want.  Greg Pollowitz notes that if the Obama plan actually managed to save the proposed 1.8 billion barrels of gasoline, it would mean that something like $16.1 billion in taxes will be lost to the states and the federal government.

This all begins to demonstrate how the old Soviet Union’s central planning ended up with factories producing all left shoes.   A 2008 Center for Automotive Research survey found consumers unwilling to spend more than $200 extra on cars to have environmental improvements.  Irrational doesn’t even begin to describe it.

There’s More To “The Peace Process” Than Meets The Eye. by The Elephant's Child
May 19, 2009, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Israel, Middle East | Tags:

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday for talks. Obama emphasized the famed “Two State Solution”, that has been suggested, pressured, insisted on for years and years. The pressure is all on Israel, since there really isn’t a Palestinian government with which to negotiate. It is split between Fatah and Hamas who are busy killing each other when they are not lobbing rockets into Israel. Fatah is weak and has no authority to negotiate, and Hamas is simply a terrorist enterprise invested in war.

For Israel and her neighbors the primary problem is Iran. Iran’s push for a nuclear arsenal, support for Hamas and Hezbollah and meddling in Iraq are threatening, and their interest is in curbing Iran’s power. Iran is threatening to foment Islamist unrest that threatens the governments in Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

For Washington, emphasis is on “the peace process.” Although Obama has great faith in “negotiations” with Iran, he suggested for the first time that those negotiations are not open-ended, and that “we’re not going to have talks forever.” But words, in the mouth of this president, often have changing meanings.

It is disappointing that Washington seems to have so little interest in the real problems.

If We Adopt ObamaCare, Where Will the Canadians Get Their Health Care? Part I. by The Elephant's Child

Nepotism is alive and well in the Obama Administration.  One of President Barack Obama’s key advisers on medical policy is the brother of his exceedingly partisan chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.  Dr. Emanuel has written a paper on “The Perfect Storm of Overutilization” which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Emanuel thinks we use way too much medical resources.  He doesn’t even like fancy waiting rooms, he believes that physicians are too highly paid and he doesn’t like the Hippocratic Oath.  He doesn’t like American hospital rooms which offer more comfort, privacy and extra services than hospital rooms in other countries.  Back to big wards, I guess.

Dr. Emanuel calls for medical students to be trained “to move toward more socially sustainable, cost-effective care.” In order to reduce spending, doctors will have to be pressured to deny treatment.  The Canadians do not allow most cardiac treatment for patients 65 and older.  The Hippocratic Oath’s promise “to use my power to help the patient to the best of my ability and judgment” prompts doctors to use too many medical resources.

The legislation for influencing your doctor’s decisions was included in the stimulus package — The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  It sets a goal that every individual’s treatment will be recorded by computer, and your doctor will receive electronically delivered protocols on “appropriate” and “cost-effective” care.  No individual judgment here, just follow the program.  In Britain, they deny treatment for elderly people’s macular degeneration until they have gone blind in one eye.

Dr. David Blumenthal, a Harvard Medical School professor, has been named national coordinator of health information technology.  His writings, according to Betsy McCaughey, also favor limiting the amount of health care that patients can get.  He agrees that there may be longer waits and reduced availability of newer and more expensive treatments or devices.  “If electronic health records are to save money,” he wrote, doctors will have to take “advantage of embedded clinical decision support.” [euphemism alert!] Computers telling doctors what to do.

Age discrimination will be big under Obama Care.  We were all young once, so denying care to the elderly in order to give more to the young and fit is the goal.  This is a fundamental part of Britain’s National Health Service, and Canada’s Health Service.  Watch out if you have a lot of health problems too.

The President spoke last Monday on health care.  He was flanked by heads of several of the major health care lobbying groups.  He announced, grandly, a “watershed event:”

These groups are coming together to make an unprecedented commitment.  Over the next 10 years —from 2010 to 2019 — they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year — an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion.

Uh huh.  The president of the American Hospital Association said that a deal with the White House had been “spun way away from the original intent.”  They promised to try to reduce spending gradually over 10 years, eventually trying to reach 1.5 percent. The agreement had been misrepresented.  There’s “frankly a lot of political spin” he said.

The most ethical Congress ever plans to ram Obama’s Health Care program through without any possibility of filibuster or dissension.  No consideration of unintended consequences.  No reading the bill.  No checking on the rules and regulations.  Economist Larry Kudlow says that it will be at least $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion more at least, and will bankrupt the nation.  Not that the country is not bankrupt already.  Every nationalized health care plan has cost far, far more than estimated.

What do you want to bet that the most ethical Congress ever has no intention of giving up their own very special health care plan to join the rest of the nation in socialized medicine?  This is billed as only a way to get those 45 million uninsured covered with health care policies.  Except that the 45 million number is a lie, and if the whole deal is to cover the uninsured, why the elaborate plan to force doctors and hospitals under threat of losing their licenses to follow the government’s computerized protocols?  Logan’s Run or it’s remake The Island have come to life.

Rasmussen reports that 70 percent of insured Americans rate their health insurance coverage as good or excellent.  Only 32 percent would pay higher taxes to provide health insurance for all.   54 percent say they’re not willing to pay more in taxes.

When Canadians or British citizens need medical care that they cannot get in their own system, they come here for the things that their own country denies them.  So where do we go when we are denied?

Stay tuned for Part II.

And If The Computer Models Are Just Plain Wrong, Then What, Mr. President? by The Elephant's Child


President Barack Obama is urging Congress to pass a cap-and-trade bill that would cost every American family over $3,000 a year in increased costs for everything they buy.  We have all heard of drastically rising temperatures, rising seas and melting icecaps.  What if it’s all a lie?

There seems to have been a slight warming trend over the last century, but by how much?  A new report by meteorologist Anthony Watts, proprietor of the best science weblog, casts doubt on the reliability of the U.S. temperature record over the last 100 years.

There are currently over 1200 surface temperature stations across the country.  Some of these stations have been collecting data for over 100 years.  Pictured above is the station in Orland, California, which has been recording temperatures in the same place for a century.  It is well sited.   This is not true of some other stations.  If thermometers are located where the temperature is influenced by hot pavement, trash burners, air conditioning exhaust, reflections from nearby buildings, the readings are of questionable value.  And it seems that a lot are questionable.

Working with an army of volunteers, Watts has documented the surroundings of around 70 percent of American temperature data sites.  Using the government’s own standards, Watts graded each site on a scale from 1 to 5.  A grade of 1 to 2 indicated a reliable location, as the Orland station.  A grade of 3 to 5  can result in temperature errors of several degrees according to the government’s own studies.

To date, only 3 percent of stations surveyed were grade 1.  Roughly 8 percent were grade 2, meaning that only 11 percent of stations were located in a manner that resulted in reliable temperature data.  20 percent of stations were grade 3, the majority (58 percent) were grade 4 and 11 percent flunked absolutely at grade 5, which meant that their temperature records were off by 3°.  That’s a lot, if you are rearranging the government, the public’s use of energy, taxes, transportation, and people’s lives because of so-called global warming.

Marysville issues1

Here is an example of a poor location in Marysville, California. The thermometer instruments are  labeled “MMTS Shelter” with an asphalt parking lot radiating heat, a nearby cell tower, and multiple air conditioning unit exhausts belching heat.  Unreliable doesn’t begin to describe it.  But this is an example of  a town that has grown up around a long-established station.  Anything that could influence the temperature, according to government standards, must be at least 100 feet from the thermometer shelter.

The United States surface temperature records were supposed to be the most thorough, long standing and most reliable in the world.  If most of the stations were recording temperatures that were several degrees too warm, what happens to all of the one degree of warming over the last century that has panicked governments (including ours) across the world.  And if the temperature records of today’s climate are wrong, then what does that say about the climate model’s predictions of future warming?

For those who are interested, the report is available here.  Further information on the project with a Google earth map of station locations is here, and you can even volunteer, for there are still many stations to survey.  Anthony Watts’ excellent blog can be found here, with always new and fascinating information about the science  and fun of climate change.  His site even includes a glossary to help you decipher scientist language.

Oh Swell, Now We’re All Going to Jail. by The Elephant's Child

Under a recently introduced bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 1966, bloggers would face up to two years in prison if they “harass” public figures by criticizing them in a “severe repeated, and hostile” manner, and thereby cause them “substantial emotional distress.”

Will someone please explain to me why Leftists cannot stand to have anyone disagree with them and feel that disagreement must be prevented by law?  Isn’t freedom of speech the first and most important of all our rights in America?  Political speech, especially, is protected by the Constitution.  Did they never read the Constitution?  Do they know no history?

Greg Pollowitz goes on to explain:

U.C. L.A. Law Professor Eugene Volokh, the author of a First Amendment treatise, has concluded that the bill is unconstitutional. …As a federal appeals court noted in DeJohn v. Temple University (2008), “there is no harassment exception to the First Amendment’s free speech clause.” Speech that causes emotional distress can be protected as the Supreme Court made clear in barring a lawsuit by Jerry Falwell over an offensive parody.

Did no one read about Mark Steyn’s experiences with Canada’s human rights nazis?  Did the travails of Salman Rushdie make no impression?  Do people not realize how precious our Bill of Rights is?

Irresponsible! by The Elephant's Child
May 15, 2009, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law | Tags: , ,

All those zeroes are hard to understand.  Millions and billions and trillions all sort of melt together. Can you write $1.8 trillion with the correct number of zeroes?  That is the projection for the 2009 budget deficit. Polls suggest that the public tolerates these large deficits because they believe them to be temporary.  Dream on.

Here’s another video that attempts to put the spending in comprehensible terms.

Everything You Need to Know About President Obama’s Cap-and-Trade Plans. by The Elephant's Child

If you are wondering about “cap-and-trade” or “carbon taxes” or “carbon sequestration” or “global warming” or “climate change,” here is all you need to know. [from Steven Milloy’s new book Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them].

There is no scientific evidence indicating that carbon dioxide, much less man-made carbon dioxide emissions, control or even measurably impact global climate.

Global Warming hysteria is based on hypothetical computer models that have never been validated against real world experience.  The fact that many scientists accept the hypotheses does not make them true.  For that matter, many scientists actively dispute those same hypotheses.

When you are confronted with hysteria about climate change, you might remember these four factual sentences.

The Way Things Work in the World of Environmental Activism. by The Elephant's Child
May 15, 2009, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Economy, Environment, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

The Scientific Method

  1. Observe a phenomenon carefully.
  2. Develop a hypothesis that possibly explains the phenomenon.
  3. Perform a test in an attempt to disprove or invalidate the hypothesis.  If the hypothesis is disproven, return to steps 1. and 2.
  4. A hypothesis that stubbornly refuses to be invalidated may be correct.  Continue testing.

The Scientific Computer Modeling Method

  1. Observe a phenomenon carefully.
  2. Develop a computer model that mimics the behavior of the phenomenon.
  3. Select observations that conform to the model predictions and dismiss observations as of inadequate quality that conflict with the computer model.
  4. In instances where all of the observations conflict with the model, “refine” the model with fudge factors to give a better match with pesky facts.  Assert that these factors reveal fundamental processes previously unknown in association with the phenomenon.  Under no circumstances willingly reveal your complete data sets, methods, or computer codes.
  5. Upon achieving a model of incomprehensible complexity that still somewhat resembles the phenomenon, begin to issue to the popular media dire predictions of catastrophe that will occur as far in the future as possible, at least beyond your professional lifetime.
  6. Continue to “refine” the model in order to maximize funding and the awarding of Nobel Prizes.
  7. Dismiss as unqualified, ignorant, and conspiracy theorists all who offer criticisms of the model
  8. Repeat steps 3. through 7. indefinitely.

This succinct explanation of the way things work was written by Roy Tucker.

The fix is in by American Elephant


A new report shows that one out of every four overseas military ballots goes uncounted:

It said that of 441,000 absentee ballots requested by eligible voters living abroad – mainly active-duty and reserve troops – more than 98,000 were “lost” ballots that were mailed out but never received by election officials. Taking into account 13,500 ballots that were rejected for such reasons as a missing signature or failure to notarize, one-quarter of those requesting a ballot were disenfranchised.

The study found that an additional 11,000 ballots were returned as undeliverable. [more]

But never fear! The same Democrats that regularly work to prevent military ballots from being counted are all over it!

Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said the study, while providing only a snapshot of voting patterns, “is enough to show that the balloting process for service members is clearly in need of an overhaul.”

By this time next year, with hard work, the Schmuckster hopes Democrats can disenfranchise at least 85% of all military ballots!

Lord help us!

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