American Elephants

Graft, Federal Funds, Vote Fraud, and Getting Away With Stuff. by The Elephant's Child

You will be delighted to know that ACORN and other left-wing advocacy groups may be eligible for up to $3.99 billion in federal funding included in the $3.83 trillion fiscal 2011 budget that President Obama unveiled yesterday.

All this money comes from a congressional slush-fund called the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) $48.5 billion fiscal 2011 budget.  CDBG grants, which are awarded to states and localities, pass indirectly to ACORN.

BUT — Didn’t Congress pass a ban on funding the group and its affiliates just this last year?

Congress hinted that it might restore funding.  On December 8, the House Appropriations Committee rejected, on a party-line vote of 9-5, an amendment that would have blocked federal funding of ACORN.

Then in December, Federal Judge Nina Gershon restored federal funding by issuing a temporary injunction against the congressional funding ban, ruling that depriving ACORN of taxpayer funds was an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” that singled out ACORN for punishment without trial. That injunction expired, but Acorn asked that the order be modified to cover 2010.

This is all up in the air, as both sides are filing motions and documents with the court, and the issue may not proceed to trial.

Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute calls CDBG “America’s worst urban program” pointing out that the money that the program has given to poor neighborhoods has had little impact, because nothing in the funding requires those who receive grants to show that they are actually improving anything. ACORN has been receiving funding under the Great Society-era program since at least 1996.

The Thrill Is Gone! by The Elephant's Child

There was a great wave of enthusiasm across the world when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, for various and sundry reasons, for few knew much about him.  After a year, the bloom, so-to-speak, is off the rose.  Probably most damaging was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the new President after only a few days in office, and his acceptance of it.  That called the attention of the world to the premature nature of Obama worship, and the need to wait to see what he accomplishes.

Much of Europe has lost its enthusiasm, Massachusetts definitely did, the polls are way down, but now Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo has authorized the removal of a recently erected statue of Barack Obama as a child, from its current spot in a park in the city’s classy old Menteng neighborhood to the nearby school that he attended.

The order followed the creation of a Facebook group of Indonesians campaigning for the statue to be torn down. Newspapers and TV stations picked up on it, newswires picked it up, and the group’s membership has soared to over 50,000. Well, easy come, easy go.

Scotch Whisky, Stories of Antarctic Adventure, Icy Cold, Real History. by The Elephant's Child

Back in November we wrote about a cache of whisky left behind by explorer Sir Earnest Shackleton, in the hut built as a base for the Shackleton expedition, in 1908.  The expedition was to reach the South Pole, but failed in their quest.

Three crates of Scotch whisky and two crates of brandy left beneath the floorboards of the hut have been unearthed by a team from the Antarctic Heritage Trust. They expected to find two crates of Scotch, but the brandy was a complete and welcome surprise.

Richard Paterson, a master blender for Whyte and Mackay, the firm that supplied the Shackleton expedition with 25 crates of Mackinlay’s “Rare and Old” whisky, described the unearthing of the bottles as “a gift from the heavens for whisky lovers,” since the recipe for that blend has been lost.  “If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analyzed, the original blend may be able to be replicated.”

Mr. Patterson wrote about what the whisky might taste like on his blog, when it was first announced.

[W]hiskies back then — a harder age — were all quite heavy and peaty as that was the style.  And depending on the storage conditions, it may still have that heaviness.  For example, it may taste the same as it did back then if the cork has stayed in the bottle and kept it airtight.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust website has a detailed history of the failed expedition on its website.

There are Serious People in Congress Who Do Have Serious Discussions. This One’s Worth Your Time. by The Elephant's Child
February 5, 2010, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, Middle East | Tags: , ,

Here’s a very interesting conversation led by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. Nice to see some serious discussion in Congress about the serious matters we send them there to discuss.

(h/t: The Corner, NRO)

Biofuels, Sure, That’ll Work. Sustainable. There’s Got to Be a Good Substitute for Oil Somewhere. by The Elephant's Child

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) said on Wednesday that it expects the biofuels industry to produce 6.5 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol this year.

Um, In 2007, Congress mandated that 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol — an additive to gasoline made from switchgrass, sugar cane bagasse and other plants — be blended into the nation’s fuels this year.

Perhaps government goals for turning inedible crops into transportation fuel have been a little optimistic and unrealistic.  Devising a lot of  mandates in the halls of Congress by a  bunch of congressmen who have undoubtedly never seen either switchgrass or sugar cane bagasse, whatever that is, is possibly the wrong approach.

Biofuel advocates blame Bush, the Recession, and tight credit for freezing development.  Alabama-based Cello Energy revised their forecast to 2 million gallons, but a federal jury ruled last summer that the company had defrauded investors.  Range Fuel’s Georgia wood-to-ethanol plant received $150 million in federal grants and loan guarantees, but would produce 2.5 million gallons instead of the expected 10 million gallons.

Next year’s mandate is for 250 million gallons.  Well, ethanol doesn’t contain as much energy as gasoline — a gallon won’t take you as far,  it requires big subsidies, and apparently some new technology that hasn’t appeared yet.

The late Daniel Boorstin, historian and Librarian of Congress said;  “Never was there a more outrageous or more unscrupulous or ill-informed advertising campaign than that by which the promoters for the American colonies brought settlers here.  Brochures published in England in the seventeenth century, some even earlier, were full of hopeful overstatements, half-truths and downright lies.  Gold and silver, fountains of youth, plenty of fish, venison without limit.  How long might it have taken to settle this continent if there had not been such promotion.  How has American civilization been shaped by the fact that there was a kind of natural selection here of those people who were willing to believe in advertising?”

And so Congress carries on a tradition from the earliest days of our nation.   Ever willing to believe in the hopeful overstatements of promoters.

It’s a Disaster in Europe, But Never Mind, We Won’t Make Those Mistakes! by The Elephant's Child

Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute points out the disaster currently in the works in Europe. European Greens have pushed for carbon-dioxide (energy) rationing to — of course — “save the planet.” This is a climatically meaningless, job and competitiveness destroying, silly feel-good gesture.

The Times (London) reports that energy regulator Ofgem has warned of power blackouts and spiraling consumer prices, and raised the prospect of partial renationalisation of the industry in order to maintain the U.K.’s energy security.

The Chief Executive of Ofgem, said that the crisis has been exacerbated by the impact of the recession on energy industry investment, Britain’s growing reliance on imported gas as North Sea supplies are depleted, and the closure of 9 aging coal-fired and oil-fired power stations by 2015 in order to meet EU pollution laws.  That move will scrap nearly a third of Britain’s generating capacity.

EU targets for cutting “greenhouse gas emissions” and developing “renewable” energy will create a huge demand for investment over the next decade.  The most ambitious plans call for £200 billion for renewable energy, and would mean doubling the size of investment over the past decade.

The EU’s emissions trading scheme (cap-and-trade) is not working. It is not actually designed to reduce emissions, and when you add on the offset schemes that politicians cannot resist, the opposite will occur.

Ann Robinson of the price-comparison website said energy bills could reach around £5,000 by 2020 in order to cover the required investment.

Members of Congress suggest that “We’ll just avoid Europe’s problems.” Chris Horner says that if you know how to avoid Europe’s mistakes, please phone Europe.  They have no idea what to do.

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