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.

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