American Elephants

Is Being Out-of-Touch Disqualifying? And If Not, Why Not? by The Elephant's Child
June 11, 2010, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Liberalism, Politics | Tags: , ,

We often speak about our representatives in Congress being out-of-touch with the real people at home. This little exchange is a great demonstration. It seems impossible that any person serving in the United States Congress could possibly be unaware of the public’s concern about government spending. What on earth goes on in this gentleman’s head?

In general, I suspect that members of Congress have not yet fully absorbed the extent to which their statements can be excerpted and recorded for history. It’s hard for busy people to keep track, but little instances such as this one should determine elections. We won’t get the best and the brightest politicians, but we should have some basic standards that eliminate those who are so out of touch. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA)

The expression on Mr. Bernanke’s face is priceless.

Bullying Business Again. by The Elephant's Child

We have noted that the members of the Obama administration have less experience in the private sector than any administration in memory.  The same seems to be true for leaders of the Democrat coalition in charge of the House and the Senate.  It is perhaps, then, a little more understandable that they have become accustomed to bullying business.  They do not understand why it might be improper to sue and beat up on Goldman Sachs for shorting the housing market.  They thought it was fine to force AIG to take bonuses away from executives who were contractually entitled to receive them.  Though there are many lawyers in their ranks, they seem unfamiliar with contract law.

BP faced demands Tuesday that it withhold its first-quarter dividend, which it committed to pay in April, in the early days of the Deepwater Horizon crisis. A confirmation of the payment date Tuesday drew a letter of condemnation from 32 members of Congress. … The dilemma comes as BP faces tremendous heat over the issue. Last week, President Barack Obama warned the company against “nickel and diming” people affected by the spill and said BP had “moral and legal obligations” to Gulf Coast residents that may supersede its obligations to shareholders.

What gives legislators the right to boss around a private company — one that never accepted a bailout — and stick themselves in the middle of the contractual agreement between a private company and its owners — the shareholders.

Liberals are attempting to force businesses to make economic decisions based on political considerations.  Politicians with no respect for the rule of law are assuming a power to which they are not entitled, issuing orders not only to private companies, but to independent nations.  The hubris is breathtaking.  And they are forcing business executives to become political operatives and to buy influence and lobby to protect their interests.  In the fantasy world of the liberals, private business is bad because it intends to make a profit.  Only “non-profits” or “non-governmental organizations” are to be favored, for they get to play politics funded by foundations, unions and other interest groups. “Public  Service” as it is euphemistically called by the White House.

It Wasn’t Anger that We Wanted, Mr. President. It Was Leadership. by The Elephant's Child

In the wake of the oil spill, President Obama asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to come up with a new report on recommendations for drilling safety.  Then, on May 27 Mr. Obama announced a six-month deep water drilling ban. He justified it on the basis of the top recommendation of Mr. Salazar’s report, which was a moratorium. The report noted, to include an air of technical authority: “The recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.”

That was flatly false.  In a scathing statement released this week, the seven experts explained that the report draft they had reviewed did not include a six-month drilling moratorium.   That was added after they had signed off.  “The Secretary,” they said, “should be free to recommend whatever he thinks is correct, but he should not be free to use our names to justify his political decisions,” wrote the seven in a letter to Gulf Coast politicians.

The seven noted that they broadly agreed with the report and even signed off on a proposal to suspend new deep water permits for six months.  They also agreed to a “temporary pause” in drilling to perform additional testing on the Gulf’s 33 deep water wells that have already received permits to drill.

“A blanket moratorium,” the seven said “is not the answer. It will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill.”  If anything, the ban could prove “counterproductive to long term safety.”

The Department of the Interior says the ban was a White House request.  Best guess is that credit should go to energy czar Carol Browner, who has been loudly favoring the ban to show the Administration is doing something.  Mr. Obama has pushed to question off to the commission he has appointed to investigate the spill.  The commission is not fully staffed, and their report is not due for six months.  That will be too late for thousands of Gulf workers who are in danger of losing their jobs within weeks, as deep water rigs prepare to leave the Gulf.

Meanwhile talk of “kicking ass” and demonizing BP has led to a backlash from Great Britain, home country of the oil giant, and the mainstay of many a retirement portfolio.  A Conservative peer, Lord Tebbit, called the American response “a crude bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan, political, presidential petulance against a multinational company.”

British message boards have been full of anger against America and Mr. Obama, a president who has been wildly popular until now, and against the economic costs of American anger.

Place: BP Corporate Headquarters. Problem: The Spill. by The Elephant's Child
June 11, 2010, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Energy, Environment, Humor | Tags: ,

This is pretty funny, simply because it is so true.  Humor is the saving grace.

(h/t: Planet Gore)

More Funny Business in the Federal Bureaucracy! by The Elephant's Child

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has a longstanding reputation as a watchdog for funny business in the federal bureaucracy. This makes him a good guy in the mind of those who are concerned about federal spending. One of his staffers was pouring through the Federal Register, which is read by federal bureaucrats, and never seen by the public.

There was, on March 16, something called a “notice of solicitation of comments” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor. (You can see why it is little read by the public).

“BLS is responsible for developing and implementing the collection of new data on green jobs,” said the note in the Federal Register. The notice said there is”no widely accepted standard definition of ‘green jobs’.” The Labor Department asked that readers send in suggestions for definitions. The staffer went to the Department of Labor Web site, where he found a number of announcements like these:

  • U.S . Department of Labor Announces $100 Million in Green Jobs Training through Recovery Act.
  • U.S. Department of Labor Announces Nearly $180 million in “Pathways Out of Poverty” Training Grants for Green Jobs.
  • U.S. Department of Labor Announces Nearly $190 Million in State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants for Green Jobs.

So, the Labor Department is dispensing hundreds of millions out for “green jobs” and has just admitted that it doesn’t know what a “green job” is.  Senator Grassley asked what definition of green jobs did the Labor Dept. use when it spent the money?  What about all the other government agencies that are spending millions on green jobs?  Nobody has a clue.

The Labor Dept. has not responded to Senator Grassley.  The Labor Department has spent $500 million on green jobs.  The Recovery Act contains more than $80 billion in clean energy funding”to promote economic recovery and develop green energy jobs.”

If green sources are really cheaper than fossil fuels, then there is no need to subsidize them, because households and businesses would have a built-in economic incentive to rely on renewable energy sources.  But without subsidy, wind-farms, solar arrays and biofuels quickly shut down.  Colleges and universities have added environmental majors, and training for so-called green jobs, but the economy has not responded with job openings.

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