American Elephants

There is a Splendid Venue for the KSM Trial, on Beautiful Guantanamo Bay. Cheaper Too. by The Elephant's Child

Friday News Dump:  The White House asked Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department to find an alternative site to hold the federal trial of  9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYC Police Commissioner are opposed to a New York trial.  The estimated cost for providing security alone is $200 million a year, and the trials may last for years.  It would paint a large bullseye on the city, any large noise could terrify citizens, the media circus would be hugely disruptive, as well as revealing matters of national security to the world.

Senators from both parties sent a letter to the president asking him to strongly reconsider the decision to try KSM in a Federal Court.  Yesterday Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence publicly withdrew her support.

The administration has absurdly tried to avoid seeing acts of terrorism against the United States as acts of war.  Thomas Sowell points out the mindset of the left as exposed in an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will be tried the right way — the American way, in a federal courtroom where the world will see both his guilt and the nation’s adherence to the rule of law.

Terrorists are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions, much less the Constitution of the United States.

The Conventions are designed to protect civilians and soldiers who observe the rules. The pious notion that KSM or Abdulmutallab “deserve their day in court” is nonsense as a matter of law or tradition.

A.G. Holder, when asked pointedly by Sen. Lindsey Graham, when in history terrorists had ever been tried in Federal Court or offered the protections of the Constitution, could not answer.  It appears that when he announced New York City as the trial venue,  he didn’t consult with anyone.

The Justice Department has been asked to “find another venue.” The American people were outraged at the inept treatment of Umar Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day panty bomber, who was questioned for only 50 minutes before he got his Miranda rights and an attorney who told him not to talk.  That was too much for Congress as well.  If the administration does not do the right thing, Congress may force their hand by denying funding.

It’s time for the administration to acknowledge the folly of deciding to try KSM in federal court and refer him back to a military commission where he belongs.

Barney Frank (D-MA) Solves the Next Financial Crisis! by The Elephant's Child

The “educated class” and those who aspire to being thought of as “educated” have gathered in Davos, Switzerland for an opportunity to see and be seen the World Economic Forum to, in one panel, debate where the next global crisis will come from.

Unsurprisingly, they were all over the map, but in general they think that long-term government debt is a problem.   A few hours after this meeting, in his State of the Union speech, President Obama would call for a three-year government spending freeze, applying to a teeny-weeny sector of government spending approximately 16% of the federal budget.  Nine percent of the public thought that would be effective.

Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), who attended the Davos session as one of the selected “challengers” for the three presenters, called for large cuts in defense spending as well as tax increases — particularly on wealthy Davos types. Frank vowed:

I think almost every American here pays much less in taxes than you ought to.  I’m going to go back and try to raise the taxes of most of the people who attended here.

That’s just what we need, Barney.  Raise everybody’s taxes.  The real problem is s-p-e-n-d-i-n-g!  You are not just spending too much, but most of what you are spending is pure waste.  Rebuilding bridges that nobody uses, money for airports that have no flights, money for imaginary (and temporary) “green” jobs, guaranteeing loans for “clean energy” that will never be cost-effective.  Creating new bureaus, new administrations, new offices, and funding those who supported your campaigns.

Just stop! Please, please, just stop!

When the temperature drops, the turbine stops, and needs electric heat! by The Elephant's Child
January 31, 2010, 3:45 am
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Junk Science | Tags: ,

Like many states, Minnesota has invested in alternative energy.  It’s the in thing to do.  The state has spent $3.3 million on eleven wind turbines, but in an economy where everyone seems to speak in billions and trillions, that doesn’t seem like news.

But it seems the turbines don’t work in cold weather.  The special hydraulic fluid used for colder temperatures was used in the turbines, but it’s not working, so neither are the turbines.

There is a plan to heat the fluid, but officials must find a contractor to do the work.

So they need heaters to warm the hydraulic fluid.  How will the heaters work?  They will have to use either electricity or natural gas at each turbine to keep the mechanism lubricated.  That reduces the net energy gain from each turbine, depending on how much heating the turbine fluid needs, to stop congealing in the winter.  Minnesota winters last anywhere from four to six months, so that makes the wind farm fairly inefficient as an energy source.

As we were saying, you simply can’t rely on what the turbine salesmen are claiming about the efficiency of wind power.  Sometimes the wind blows, sometimes it doesn’t.  It is simply not reliable enough to be a primary energy source. But it is “Green” so there are brownie points involved.

(h/t: Hot Air)

Obama Cites “Overwhelming Scientific Evidence” and Gets the Biggest Laugh of the Entire Speech. by The Elephant's Child
January 30, 2010, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Junk Science | Tags: , ,

One of the more interesting moments in the State of the Union speech was when Obama said ” I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change,” and the audience burst into laughter.  It appeared that the president was a little nonplussed, uncertain as to why there was laughter.

One real clunker in the president’s speech was his pledge to cap discretionary spending, and he promised to “incentivize” America’s commercial energy sector.   His passion for “clean energy” and “green jobs” has not faded.

The president seems unaware of ClimateGate, IPCC-Gate, GlacierGate, AmazonGate or the increasing evidence of fudged figures in all sectors of the climate monitoring effort.  I apologize for using the trite “Gate” suffix, but it is a quick way to indicate scandal.

The efforts of governmental bodies about climate were directed toward discovering the extent to which human influences were the cause of global warming, what dangers the warming might indicate for the future, and what governments could or should do about it.

It seemed an urgent problem and money— big money— flowed.  But it flowed to those who could demonstrate the problems, not to those whose work indicated that warming seemed to be a natural phenomenon.  It was easy for scientists, hungry for grants, to favor evidence that indicated warming, and de-emphasize that which didn’t.  Or to leave the stations that showed no warming out of the lot.  Just little fudges here and there.

It is going to take time for it all to shake out, but indications are that alarmist fears of problems derived from increases in climate warming are misplaced.  The consequences of not understanding a cooling planet or even a planet comfortable in the same kind of warming and cooling that has been going on for centuries are immense.

Businesses envisioning vast profits from governmental funding of wind farms and solar arrays are inclined to extol the advantages of their products.  What energy a wind turbine is rated to produce under optimum conditions, for example, is quite different from what it actually does produce when the wind blows only intermittently or occasionally.  When the wind does not blow at the right speed, the grid requires full-time back-up from a conventional energy source.

Wind farms and solar arrays, though ugly, are glamorous.  Saving the planet elevates one to a higher plane than that occupied by those not so engaged.  Think of the cachet of that which is organic, sustainable, or natural. Think of the vast new governmental departments, the industries, the money, the prestige, the power.  Hard to give up those dreams simply because there is some question whether there is really any global warming at all.

At a time of double-digit unemployment, an economy in recession, out-of-control government spending, and rising deficits, it seems unwise to invest money in schemes that have proved to be a failure in Europe, killing two jobs for every one created.

The president is a true believer.  He has barely disguised contempt for those who do not share his certainty that he is pursuing the noble course.  There will be “green” jobs, even if the government has to pay for every one with taxpayer money.  And they will be added to the “created or saved” ledger that is a fixture of fantasy-land.  The planet will be saved.  And Obama will be its savior.

Limitless billions in federal loan guarantees will create wind, solar, clean coal and nuclear projects — the lobbyists insist that the loan guarantees are off budget, and all will be repaid, so they are as good as being free.  Easy.  The CBO estimates, for example, that roughly half of the nuclear projects would default.  How to pay for it all?

The president has urged the Senate to approve the House-passed cap-and-trade legislation.  It would create a Clean Energy Development Administration to administer the loans and use carbon-emission taxes to cover any defaults.  Another federal disaster.

The Way Things Work. by The Elephant's Child

Andrew Stuttaford excerpted this pertinent bit in the Corner at National Review Online, from a recent longer piece in Reason magazine by Steven Greenhut.   It’s worth repeating and considering.

The United States had 2.3 state and local government employees per 100 citizens in 1946 and has 6.5 state and local government employees per 100 citizens now. In 1947, Hodges writes, 78 percent of the national income went to the private sector, 16 percent to the federal sector, and 6 percent to the state and local government sector. Now 54 percent of the economy is private, 28 percent goes to the feds, and 18 percent goes to state and local governments. The trend lines are ominous.

Bigger government means more government employees. Those employees then become a permanent lobby for continual government growth. The nation may have reached critical mass; the number of government employees at every level may have gotten so high that it is politically impossible to roll back the bureaucracy, rein in the costs, and restore lost freedoms. People who are supposed to serve the public have become a privileged elite that exploits political power for financial gain and special perks. Because of its political power, this interest group has rigged the game so there are few meaningful checks on its demands. Government employees now receive far higher pay, benefits, and pensions than the vast majority of Americans working in the private sector. Even when they are incompetent or abusive, they can be fired only after a long process and only for the most grievous offenses.

It’s a two-tier system in which the rulers are making steady gains at the expense of the ruled. The predictable results: Higher taxes, eroded public services, unsustainable levels of debt, and massive roadblocks to reforming even the poorest performing agencies and school systems. If this system is left to grow unchecked, we will end up with a pale imitation of the free society envisioned by the Founders.

This British Parody Cracked Me Up! Too True. by The Elephant's Child
January 29, 2010, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Politics

Language alert!  Surely you know someone like this.  The best parodies capture a bit of reality.

(h/t: Planet Gore NRO)

Creating and Destroying Jobs the Massachusetts Way. by The Elephant's Child
January 29, 2010, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Taxes | Tags: , ,

States make a real mistake when they focus their economic policies on working to entice out-of-state businesses to relocate in their state. Efforts to nurture home-grown entrepreneurs and companies would result in more economic growth, according to a new study in Massachusetts from the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank.

The study found that job growth in Massachusetts had stagnated over the past 18 years largely because the state’s economy had not created enough new companies.  The study also found that Massachusetts start-ups are employing far fewer workers than in the past. Between 1990 and 2002, each new firm created an average of seven jobs, but in the last few years the average has declined to fewer than four jobs.

In any given year, company relocations generated just a fraction of the jobs created by start-ups. The number of new jobs created has not kept up with those lost when older companies shut down.  There is no guarantee of business success, skillful management or enthusiastic customers.

Successful states create a climate conducive to business success — low taxes, few regulatory hurdles, and an attitude that promotes and nurtures entrepreneurs.  We often see states romancing large firms located elsewhere, offering vast subsidies, in the hopes of landing a new division or a new plant. while burdening existing small businesses with burdensome taxes.  Well-known names may seem glamorous, but it may be far better  to take good care of your own people and encourage their creativity and enthusiasm.

The Beauty of Birds! by The Elephant's Child
January 29, 2010, 3:35 am
Filed under: Art, Freedom | Tags: , ,

Photographer Andrew Zuckerman is famous for focusing attention completely on his subjects by photographing them against a pure white background. It captures the amazing beauty of his subjects.  Enjoy!

(h/t: Kim Komando)

The Left Embarrasses Itself Once Again. by The Elephant's Child

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell gave an impressive Republican response to the State of the Union speech last night. Good looking, he is an effective speaker, and he is joining a remarkable group of young Republican politicians attracting attention on the national scene.

The left has also noticed. Over at Daily Kos, they didn’t like the diverse group that was seated behind the governor.

And the teabagging, bipartisan response in front of an all GOP audience is over.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had a “black woman”, “asian guy”, (sic) and “military guy” behind him.  The seating chart for this thing must have been six months in the making.

The  Center for Media and Democracy headlined their comment “Bob McDonnell, Human Wallpaper & the Stagecraft of the Response to the State of the Union.”

As I watch the response to the State of the Union address, I cannot help but notice that Virginia’s new governor, Bob McDonnell, in his response to the President’s speech, has continued the George W. Bush PR stagecraft in setting the scene for his remarks.  Like tokens, he has four supporters strategically positioned behind him to fit in the television screen: an African-American woman, a white male soldier, an Asian man, and a young woman.

As Jen Rubin points out over at Commentary, “those people aren’t props.  The white woman in the shot is Janet Polarek, secretary of the commonwealth.  Above her is Jim Cheng, secretary of commerce and trade.  The soldier is Staff Sergeant Robert Tenpenny, who served with the governor’s daughter Jeanine McDonnell in Iraq.  Above him is Lisa Hick-Thomas, secretary of administration.  That exquisitely diverse group, in other words, is mostly McDonnell’s cabinet. ”

Rubin adds “it’s good of the Left to point out just how diverse are the people whom McDonnell has selected for key posts. …[H]e also got all-around good reviews from mainstream pundits — and got the Left to embarrass itself.”

“It’s Not About Me,” “It’s Not About Me.” Oh, Yes It Is. by The Elephant's Child

Presented for your enlightenment without comment.

Americans Do Not Trust the Major TV News Operations — Except for FOX News! by The Elephant's Child

Public Policy Polling is a Democrat polling outfit.  That makes its newest survey looking at perceptions of ABC News,  CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News especially interesting.  The survey found Fox as the only one that more people say they trust than distrust.  49% say they trust Fox to 37% who do not.

CNN does next best at a 39/41 spread, followed by NBC at 35/44, CBS at 32/46, and ABC at 31/46.  Ouch!

There is a lot of political polarization in which outlets people trust.  74% of Republicans trust Fox News, but no more than 23% trust any of the other four sources.  For Democrats the numbers are a complete opposite — a majority trust all of NBC, CNN, ABC, and CBS while only 30% have faith in Fox News.

This indicates something about the post-partisan president who was going to bring us all together.  Perhaps the White House vilification of Fox News demonstrated to the public that Fox wasn’t a Progressive patsy.  Pandering and sycophantic coverage doesn’t sit well with the public.

This conforms with non-partisan studies that have found Fox to be the most centrist of the news outlets.  Public Policy Polling  is not happy with the results of their survey:

These numbers suggest quite a shift in what Americans want from their news. A generation ago Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country because of his neutrality. Now people trust Fox the most precisely because of its lack of neutrality. It says a lot about where journalism is headed.

And that snarky comment says a lot about Democrat perceptions.

Is Congress Exempting Itself From Health Insurance? by The Elephant's Child

That’s the question asked on the Heritage Foundation’s blog.  The Senate health-care bill got the unions on board by exempting union workers from the proposed 40-percent excise tax on “Cadillac” plans — those worth more than $8,000 a year for individuals.

It is not yet clear what the White House’s new strategy to pass health care will be in the wake of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts senate race.  Democrats, from their public utterances, are dismissing it as angry white men, angry stupid people, and badly misled people who don’t know what’s good for them.  The very definition of denial. What they say in private remains unknown.

But according to Federal News Radio, can’t have federal employees left out of the earlier compromise.  Just to make sure that the definition of a “Cadillac” plan for federal employees is fair, dental and vision insurance would not be counted towards the taxable cost of a policy.  This, of course, includes Members of Congress who blithely exempt themselves from anything unpleasant.

This is such stupid public policy that it boggles the mind.  They probably think we won’t notice.  They really do think we’re stupid, you know.

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