American Elephants

Democrat Geniuses Think Guam is Going to Tip Over by American Elephant
March 31, 2010, 10:17 pm
Filed under: News, Politics | Tags: , ,

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, these are the same towering intellects that just seized control over the health care industry, the banking industry, the loan industry, the auto industry, and are currently scheming  to seize control of the energy industry. The economy, your job, your future, your children’s future, the nation’s future are in the oh so capable hands of Democrat brainiacs like this who think that islands can capsize:

Now doesn’t that make you feel better? The country’s truly in the very best of hands!

Thank God Democrats are there to, in Obama’s words, “restore science to its rightful place“!

(h/t: AoS)

Guess Who is Employed and Who is Unemployed. by The Elephant's Child
March 31, 2010, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Politics, Statism | Tags: , ,

February unemployment was down by 36,000.  March figures are due on April 2.  Here in the greater Seattle area, our garbagemen are debating whether to go on strike, echoing Nick Gillespie’s video.  A representative of Waste Management said that less than 24 hours after ads were placed in local papers, they received more than 1,000 applications online.

Takes some extra hubris to go on strike for higher wages or benefits when so many are unemployed, and so many businesses have gone belly-up with no sign a strengthening economy.

Another Obama Announcement That’s Not What it Seems, and Less Than Claimed. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama announced today that he would open up portions of the Outer Continental Shelf to offshore drilling.  Well that sounds exciting, at least that’s what the media thought as they gushed over the announcement and hurried off to get comments from environmentalists (which of course were negative).

The Institute for Energy Research urged a little caution:

Today, while President Obama may have stated his support for increased energy development in the Eastern Gulf (which requires congressional action) and the Southern Atlantic (which he’ll study over the next year), he also announced that he would delay the development of the energy resources off Virginia’s coast and lock up vast resources off the Alaskan coast.Additionally, those who cheer the President’s newfound support for domestic energy resources should remember that the very same President’s FY 2011 budget proposal includes upwards of $36 billion in new oil and natural gas taxes, which will discourage domestic production, especially in areas like the Southern Atlantic that have little to no existing infrastructure. While today’s rhetoric made for a good news cycle, the policy is not a step forward, but a huge leap backward.

Thomas J. Pyle, President of the market oriented Institute for Energy Research issued the following statement:

America’s offshore energy resources belong to the American people. Not a company, not a special interest, and not a single administration. And a clear majority of the American people supports the commonsense strategy of producing more oil and gas here in America. Unfortunately, today, and to our economic detriment, the President once again ignored the will of the American people.Just as he did in his State of the Union Address, President Obama cited the imperative of offshore energy exploration. But words alone will do nothing to move this country’s energy policy forward in a meaningful way. It’s similar to his announcement on nuclear loan guarantees—the President talked a good game, then eliminated funding for the only nuclear waste repository in the nation.

In 2008, when Congress and then-President Bush retired the decades-old moratorium on the safe and environmentally sound practice of producing energy miles off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the American people, and our economy, scored a huge victory. Unfortunately, what President Obama outlined today puts part of that moratorium back in place. Kicking the energy can further down the road is not a change in policy.

Canada drills for oil in the North Atlantic. Cuba, Brazil, and Venezuela produce energy in the water to our South. The Russians do the same to our West. Yet, America, the most technologically advanced nation in the world, with the most stringent environmental policies on the books, remains the only nation that imposes burdensome regulations and endless streams of red tape on domestic production. Americans want to stop embargoing our own oil. The president’s plan expands that existing embargo, and Americans will pay the price.

This smoke-and-mirrors offering comes with a big price. The president wants to force Americans to swallow a massive new energy tax before any state reaps the benefits of this offshore drilling.  The Waxman-Markey energy tax that Obama urged Congress to pass last summer would eviscerate the economy, killing more than one million jobs per year while raising the cost of energy for every American.

Over-Educated, Over-Indebted, and Unemployed? by The Elephant's Child
March 31, 2010, 2:06 pm
Filed under: Economy, Education, Freedom

When President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) into law, included was a complete government takeover of the federal student loan program.  A huge government takeover that supposedly will “save” $68 billion.

After July 1, 19 million students will have to go to federal call centers to get their student loans.  But wait until they find out how it all works.

The government is paying 2.8 percent to borrow the money, and charging 6.8 percent to lend it to students.  The difference will be spent on the new health-care program and other programs.  In other words, the government is overcharging 19 million students.  Senator Lamar Alexander (R– Tenn) says The overcharge is “significant” because “on a $25,000 student loan,which is an average loan, the amount the government will overcharge will average between $1,700 and $1,800.”

“Up to now, 15 out of 19 million student loans were private loans, backed by the government.  Now we’re going to borrow half-a-trillion from China to pay for billions in new loans.  Not only will this add to the debt, but in the middle of a recession, this will throw 31,000 Americans working at community banks and non-profit lenders out of work.”

Senator Alexander, a former University of Tennessee president and a former Education Secretary, says:

It changes the kind of country we live in more than it changes American education.  The American system of higher education has become the best in the world because of choice and competition.  Unlike K-12, we give money to students and let them choose among schools, having the choice of private lenders or government lenders.  That’s been the case for 20 years.  Having no choice, and the government running it all, looks more like a Soviet-style, European, and even Asian higher-education model where the government manages everything.  In most of those countries, they’ve been falling over themselves to reject their state-controlled authoritarian universities, which are much worse than ours, and move toward the American model which emphasizes choice, competition, and peer-reviewed research.  In that sense, we’re now stepping back from our choice-competition culture, which has given us not just some of the best universities in the world, but almost all of them.

The costs of a college education have been climbing inexorably, far faster than the rate of inflation, largely because of government interference in education.  As long as government supplies more and more loans, there is no incentive for frugality among colleges and universities.

Richard Vedder, a Professor of Economics at Ohio U. says:

Putting aside the nasty reality of a 45 percent six-year college drop-out rate, the Labor Department forecasts that, over the next decade, there will be fewer new jobs requiring college degrees than there will be new college graduates. This bill aggravates a costly and inefficient system, likely will raise tuition charges, and lead to more over-educated and over-indebted young Americans.

President Obama claimed Saturday that “by the end of this decade, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

Big Government Intrudes in Your Life, Part 1. by The Elephant's Child

Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood recently issued a memorandum of understanding.  The federal government will no longer favor motorized methods of transportation.   What?

For short distances, people should walk, or ride a bike.  For longer distances, they should rely on public transportation.   The family car is apparently passé.  I wonder how Secretary La Hood gets to work?  What about Government Motors? So many questions!

Criticizing Chavez is a Crime, But He’s Not a Dictator. by American Elephant
March 31, 2010, 1:25 am
Filed under: Developing Nations, Foreign Policy, Latin America, Terrorism | Tags: ,

Progressive poster-boy Sean Penn has announced that Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez is no Dictator, but a lovely person, and anyone who calls him a Dictator should be put in prison. That statement alone should have you rolling on the floor with laughter.

Said kind and noble President-for-Life Hugo Chávez has been slowly tightening the screws his political grip on Venezuela since he came to power in 1999.  Last week he tightened a bit more.

On Thursday, Venezuelan military intelligence detained the president of Globovision, the country’s last remaining independent media outlet.  According to Attorney General Luisa Ortega, President Guillermo Zuloaga is being investigated for criticizing Mr. Chávez during an Inter-American Press Association meeting  earlier this month in Aruba, for closing down independent media outlets.  Mr Zuloaga said that press freedom had been lost.

Mr. Zuolaga is being investigated for spreading false information and making comments “offensive” to the president.  He cannot leave the country until the investigation is complete.  He faces from three to five years in prison if convicted of making  false statements.

Earlier, the former governor of the state of Zulia was arrested on charges of conspiracy and making false statements.  Mr. Paz had appeared on Globovision supporting the claim of a Spanish judge that the Chávez government is allied with Columbian rebels and Basque separatists, and that Venezuela is a major thoroughfare for South American drug trafficking.

Mr. Chávez (who sounds very much like a dictator)  has stripped Venezuelans of their property rights, their right to private schools, any right to hold dollars and the right to free association.  Now free speech is the victim.  But he is really a lovely person and no one should call him a dictator.

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive. by The Elephant's Child

Major corporations have been restating their earnings, one after another.  The White House claims that CEOs are reducing the value of their companies and cutting shareholder returns out of a form of political payback.  Henry Waxman (D-Hollywood) is hauling CEOs before the House on April 21 for what the Wall Street Journal calls “an intimidation session.”

A White House staffer told the American Spectator that “These are Republican CEOs who are trying to embarrass the President and Democrats in general.  Where do you hear about this stuff?  The Wall Street Journal editorial page and conservative Web sites.  No one else picked up on this but you guys.  It’s BS.

The Financial Standard Accounting Board’s 1990 statement No. 106 requires businesses to immediately restate their earnings in light of their expected future  retiree health liabilities.  These major corporations are simply reporting the corporate costs of the Democrat decision to raise taxes on retiree drug benefits to finance  ObamaCare The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590).  (How’s that for a euphemism?)  If they did not report, they would be prosecuted and the SEC would go after them in civil enforcement suits.  Apparently if they do report, they get a public whipping from Mr. Waxman.

The companies and the unions have been warning about such writedowns for months, but now they are trying to ruin Mr. Obama’s day in the sun. Actions have consequences, and foolish actions often have bad consequences.

John Deere ($150 million), Verizon ($100 million), Caterpillar ($100 million), AK Steele Holding Corp. ($31 million), Valero Energy ($15-20 million), Medtronic ($90 million), 3M ($90 million), AT&T ($1 billion).  Towers Watson Consulting estimates that the total writeoffs will be as much as $14 billion, and the 3,500 businesses that offer retiree drug benefits are required by law to report and expense their losses this quarter or next.  These taxes were supposed to help pay for ObamaCare.  The bigger worry, aside from senseless losses in a down economy, is that companies will start eliminating private retiree coverage, which would boost government costs even more with huge new liabilities.

Obama’s great victory had a tiny 3-vote margin, and a huge cost in bribes, threats and  backroom deals.  Not a single Republican supported the act. The costs may be more than expected in more ways than one.

Davenport, Iowa Civil Rights Commission Chooses to Make Fools of Themselves! by The Elephant's Child
March 30, 2010, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: , ,

The Davenport, Iowa Civil Rights Commission decided, one week before the most solemn day in the Christian year, to remove Good Friday from its municipal calendar.  And, of course, set off a storm of protest.  The City Council was not informed, and has to clear up the silly mess.  “How do you tell people the city renamed a 2,000 year old holiday?” said City Alderman Bill Edmond, as the city quickly changed it back.

The Civil Rights Commission said it recommended changing the name to better reflect the city’s diversity and maintain a separation of church and state when it came to official municipal holidays.

We merely made a recommendation that the name be changed to something other than Good Friday, said the commission’s chairman.  Our Constitution calls for separation of church and state.  Davenport touts itself as a diverse city and given all the different types of religious and ethnic backgrounds we represent, we suggested the change.

It would be helpful if some of these folks who get all fired up about “diversity” stopped and did some thinking about what is diverse and what isn’t, and actually read the First Amendment, in its entirety, to understand what it says.  There is no separation of church and state in the Constitution! The First Amendment says that: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Oh yes, they wanted to call the day that commemorates the day Jesus was crucified and died “Spring Holiday.” Sigh.

So Do You Have an Opinion about Opinion Polling? by American Elephant

Democracy and Its Discontents is a revision of some lectures that Daniel Boorstin, the late former Librarian of Congress, gave in 1972, and his chapter on “opinion” caught my eye. After all, what those of us who blog deal in day by day is “opinion,” not just our own, but everybody’s. And a conflicting , contentious  bunch of opinions they are.

“In the beginning”, Dr. Boorstin said,” “opinion” was a synonym for uncertainty — for a notion grounded in personal preference (rather than fact), and hence was thought likely to be the pathway to error.”

“Until the rise and triumph of liberalism in Europe, “opinion” was closely identified with error, and to say that something was “mere opinion” was a way of saying the notion was hardly worth taking account of. ”

By the late eighteenth century, “opinion” acquired a different tenor. “Opinion” began to be accompanied by such qualifiers as common, general, or public. Christof Wieland, a German man of letters wrote in 1798 that:

an opinion that gradually takes root among a whole people, especially among those who have the most influence when they work together as a group.  In this way it wins the upper hand to such an extent that one meets it everywhere.  It is an opinion that without being noticed takes possession of most heads, and even in situations where it does not dare express itself out loud it can be recognized by a louder and louder muffled murmur.  It then only requires some small opening that will allow it air, and it will break out with force.  Then it can change whole nations in a brief time and give whole parts of the world a new configuration.

One could only hope!  In 1801, Thomas Jefferson referred gratefully to “the mighty wave of public opinion which has rolled over our republic” and which had brought him the Presidency.  Since then, only a few American politicians have dared not to defer to and praise the wisdom of Public Opinion. So how did we get from individual “opinion” which was not to be trusted and not worth taking account of to “public opinion?”

It is the modern Democratic process that has turned private opinion into public opinion at the ballot box.  Democracy meant a new opportunity for citizens to express their wishes, and for other citizens to know other people’s opinions.  Public Opinion was becoming a notable and mysterious new power.

One thing followed another, and mass opinion sparked the rise of a democratized economy:  mass production and mass marketing made it necessary for everyone to know the preferences of everybody about everything.  And out of that came Opinion Polls, and sophisticated scientific sampling.  And that sampling was used in politics by candidates and journalists on every question, public or private, of possible interest to anyone.

By the late twentieth century, Dr. Boorstin says, something had come into being in the United States which he calls “Big Opinion.”

Just as large-scale organization, concentration of capital , and new technologies brought into being “Big Science,” so it was with the machinery of making, forming, shaping, testing, assessing, and organizing opinion.  A whole new technology of polling and sampling became the basis of a prosperous industry.  Opinion pollsters formed themselves into professional societies, they produced  learned journals, and trade journals….When opinion measuring and opinion making had become big business, the power and prestige of Public Opinion had reached a new stage.

So now we have Big Opinion, opinion pages in the newspapers where pundits write  important opinions.  We have blogs, where others comment with their opinions of the opinions of the blogger, and going even farther we have Facebook where one can collect friends to offer their opinions and Twitter where one can tweet in a limited number of words.

And yet we have reached a point where the unthinkable has happened:  American politicians have dared to defy Public Opinion, ignored the wisdom of Public Opinion, and gone so far as to sneer at such opinion as meaningless, unimportant and misguided.  The premiere role of Big Opinion is at the ballot box, where it chastises the careless, the greedy, and the crooks, and brings down governments in conflagrations that echo around the world.

It’s not nice to ignore Big Opinion!

Improving International Relations one Step at a Time. by American Elephant

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has received a letter from 327 members of the U.S. House of representatives — three quarters of the House — expressing concern that “the highly publicized tensions” in US Israeli ties will “not advance the interests of either state. The letter makes no mention of the extent to which President Obama has contributed to the tensions and their publicity, but the letter can be seen as a rebuke to the administration.

When Vice President Biden was in Israel recently, a housing minister announced another step in the approval process for apartments being built in a Jewish sector of East Jerusalem — simply a routine bureaucratic announcement.  The Obama administration chose to assume that this was somehow a “settlement”, and that President Obama had the authority to tell the Israelis what they could do in their own country.  Another example of arrogant interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

The interference in Honduras’ constitutional questions was troubling.  President Obama came to office apparently deeply concerned about America’s “troubled relations” with the rest of the world.

He first insulted the British by summarily returning a bust of Winston Churchill that was on loan to the White House, then made a botch of diplomatic niceties with a visit from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He insulted the Germans by ignoring their celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall, skipped out on the formalities of his visit to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, angered France, insulted the Danish King in Copenhagen, refused to offer verbal support to the British in their dispute with Argentina over the Falklands, continued to ask for talks without pre-conditions with the butchers of Tehran who are developing nuclear weapons to destroy Israel and the United States — while refusing even verbal support to Iranian dissidents.

He reportedly has formed a “good relationship” with Russia’s Medvedyev, but  we have no idea yet of what Obama has agreed to in the nuclear arms agreement he just signed.

Not Just a Blunder, but an Immense Blunder! by American Elephant
March 28, 2010, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Taxes | Tags: , ,

This has been an amazing time.  President Obama, fresh from a victory in passing a very dirty health care reform bill, now feels it necessary to go out to “sell” ObamaCare.  Apparently some 54 (?) speeches before the vote in Congress didn’t succeed in selling it, so he’s now going to give some more speeches — mostly to sneer at and disparage those who cry “Repeal.” This is probably not wise.

The bill passed by a very tiny margin, and passed only because of sleazy backroom threats and bribes, by a Democrat Congress that clearly isn’t  enamored with what they have wrought.  It passed in the face of the vast disapproval of the American public, who expressed themselves very clearly in poll after poll.  The people do not like this bill.  They did not want it, and as the folks who assume that they are getting free heath care wake up to reality, opposition will only climb.

Can it be repealed?  Those who have watched the British and the Canadians passively accept treatment that we would not stand for, because it is “free,”are afraid that it cannot be repealed.  But Americans thought Social Security and Medicare were good ideas at the time. They weren’t demanding ObamaCare, they were demanding jobs and a recovering business climate. Perhaps the greatest lack of communication ever.  Or the most arrogant choice to refuse to listen.

There was a time when we thought Prohibition was a good idea. It was a Constitutional amendment, for we were sure that it was a fine and permanent thing. It wasn’t and we repealed the amendment.

Slavery was the way of the world.  Every society on earth had practiced slavery, and in spite of an angrily divided country, we repealed that too.

The thing that I find most amazing are the folks who seem to think that it is time we imitated the more advanced Europeans. Where did they get the idea that Europeans are in any way more advanced? America has always been a beacon of freedom to the oppressed peoples of old Europe.

Our economy is in dreadful shape, and one business after another is reporting on the disastrous effects the health care bill will have on them.  The “jobs bill” just passed will do little to create any jobs, and Obamacare is a huge job killer.  But rather than directly address any of the real problems, the Democrats are urgently chasing old, tired, unworkable liberal ideas left over from failed administrations, from long ago.

Democrats told us back in 2004 that the trouble was that they didn’t have any ideas.  I’m afraid that for once, they were right.

“Go For It!” he said. Yes We Can! by The Elephant's Child
March 26, 2010, 1:14 am
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law | Tags: , ,

Plumb Bob notes that the Hill reports a speech by President Obama in which he challenges Republicans to try to repeal the health care reform act:

This is the reform that some folks in Washington are still hollering about.  And now that it’s passed, they’re already promising to repeal it,” Obama said.  “They’re actually going to run on a platform or repeal in November.  Well, I say go for it.”

This brings to mind, notes Bob, President Bush’s similar moment of bravado, when on July 1 of 2003 he declared his confidence in US military preparedness for destabilizing attacks in Iraq by saying “Bring it on.”

The most remarkable difference between these two challenges by two Presidents is this:

Obama’s enemies are Americans.

(h/t: Ron Spins)

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