American Elephants


The Commission to Study the BP Disaster Is Made Up of Anti-Oil, Anti-Drilling Green Activists. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has appointed a seven-member commission to investigate the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and explore the causes of the catastrophic oil spill and make recommendations.  His commission is so ideologically stacked that even many of his fellow Democrats cannot support it.

Five Democrats on the Senate Energy Committee voted last week with Republicans to have Congress set up an “independent” commission to investigate — bypassing the President’s appointees.  The amendment passed the committee on a 15–8 vote and charges the leadership with naming a 10–member commission.  It demands that appointees should have “technical expertise in offshore oil exploration, health and safety, and environmental protection.” Mr. Obama gets to name only the chairman.

The President’s commission is loaded with anti-drilling, anti-oil activists:

  • Co-chair — former Democrat Senator Bob Graham — constant drilling opponent.
  • Donald Boesch, U. of Maryland “biological oceanographer” who has opposed drilling off the Virginia coast and argues that oil impacts represent an environmental catastrophe.
  • Terry Garcia, VP at the National Geographic Society, directed coastal programs in Clinton administration, recovery of endangered species, habitat conservation.
  • Fran Ulmer, Chancellor U. of Alaska, member of Aspen Institute Commission of Arctic Climate Change, on board of Union of Concerned Scientists, wants cap-and-trade passed.
  • Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC.  Blames America’s “addiction to oil,” Called for bans on all offshore drilling and Arctic drilling.
  • Co-chair William Reilly (Republican) Chairman of the board at World Wildlife Fund, director at Packard Foundation, ConocoPhillips, DuPont, all USCAP members. Environmental activist.
  • Harvard’s Cherry Murray, president of American Physical Society which just rejected calls from 160 physicist members to alter doomsday climate change position.

A bigger bunch of radical green credentialed activists would be hard to find.  The Wall Street Journal said “The lineup is the equivalent of naming a panel of Amish to win the war in Afghanistan.  They have neither the knowledge nor the interest in drilling down to learn the facts of what went wrong in the Gulf and how to prevent future oil spills.  Sounds like this bunch was picked by Energy Czar Carol Browner.

All credit to the bipartisan Senate majority who voted for a better commission for calling Mr. Obama on this ideological agenda.



When the Slush Fund Hits the Fan! by The Elephant's Child

According to a story in The Marine Corps Times, the Navy’s Inspector General has found that, the “number one priority” at the Naval Academy is not finding, educating and graduating the best possible naval officers, but the academy’s diversity efforts.  The key is having the right skin color and ancestors from the right foreign countries.   Aside from that, it’s the “slush fund” for guests at VIP parties, the golf association, and perks for the football coaches.

Call it “fast-and-loose accounting,” with off-the-books funding, deviation from the usual mission intensive approach of our military and overly–enthusiastic football fans, with all the drama of the usual scandal. Sad.



Must Read of the Day: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 by The Elephant's Child

You might want to print this out, and pass a copy on to the principal of your local high school, with copies to each member of the school board?

“If every high-school principal gave this speech at the beginning of the next school year, America would be a better place.”  I don’t know if this was Dennis Prager’s quote, or was inserted by the editors at National Review, but I’ll go along with it — applauding.

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers, and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow, or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian, or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity — your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial, or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race-, and non-American-nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values — e pluribus unum, “from many, one.” And this school will be guided by America’s values.

It’s an excellent speech.  Brief and important.  Pity that it is, thus far, only imaginary — but hopeful. I wish I had understood when my kids were in high school, how far we have come since I was in high school.



Becoming an American Citizen, the Legal Way! by The Elephant's Child

Veronique de Rugy is an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.  A native of France, educated at the Sorbonne, she is now beginning the process of becoming an American citizen.  She posted this delightful video to take note of the occasion.  Ms de Rugy writes at National Review, at Reason magazine and at The American.  If you go here, you can see her plea to President Obama not to turn America into another France.

(h/t: Veronique de Rugy)



Experience is a Great Teacher, But We Have To Pay Attention! by The Elephant's Child

Getting regulations right is always hard, and usually the fewer regulations imposed, the better.  Some regulation is obviously needed, or we would all crash into each other in intersections.  If budgets are tight, it’s often easier to raise taxes than to cut expenses. That’s why we admire New Jersey’s Governor Christie so much. Legislators who do not adore increased revenue are few and far between.

In January, Oregon voters decided that it was a good idea to raise taxes on (are you surprised?) the rich to increase revenue.  Measure 66 passed 54–46 on January 26, to increase funding for “education, health care, public safety and other services.”  (I’ll bet they said “for the children” too).  It increased the rates from 9% to 10.8 % on single filers earning $125,000 to $250,000 a year, and on joint filers earning $250,000 to $500,ooo.

For individuals pulling down more than $350,000 a year and families making more than $500,000, the rate went up 2 percentage points.  A pure envy tax.

The ballot initiative was pushed by aggressive public employee unions.  The supporters spent $6.9 million campaigning for Measure 66 and for Measure 67 telling voters that 66 alone would raise an additional $472 million.

Envy doesn’t pay.  Tax revenues went down.

Oregon’s revenue forecast predicted that tax collections through July 2011 will come in $577 million short of the budgeted amount, because of lower-than-expected personal income-tax collections.

“Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated.  It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value or use and no government power can restrain it for long.” (Walter Wriston: The Twilight of Sovereignty)

In New Jersey, from 2004 to 2008, $70 billion in wealth left.  Moved.  They fled a tax code that punished success.  Same thing happened in Maryland.  Millionaire tax — they lost one-third of their millionaires on their tax rolls, and tax collections were $100 million less than before the tax was raised.

Governor Christie is proposing a sweeping privatization effort in New Jersey, and vetoed, in May, the legislature’s income-tax surcharge on millionaires, and the legislature could not override the veto. Taxing wealth and productivity may sound like a good idea.  The evidence proves otherwise.




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