American Elephants

“I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you!” by The Elephant's Child

It was nine years ago today, that President George W. Bush climbed on the ruins of a fire engine at Ground Zero, and spoke from his heart to the American people and the exhausted workers. Keith Hennessey, who was President Bush’s economic adviser, has assembled some recollections of the event by those who were there:

Eric Draper, White House Photographer:

I remember standing at the site which still smoldered from the terrorist attack three days earlier.  President Bush had just finished touring Ground Zero and embracing and talking with hundreds of firefighters.  As the White House Photographer, I focused on capturing the strong emotion there.  I had to press my way through the crowd to stay with the President, who was being guided to a spot to speak.  I was close enough to the President to touch his legs if I tried, so I had to use my widest camera lens.  When he said, “I can hear you,” I knew it was going to be a powerful, historic moment.  I watched my President lead the country through its shock and grief.

Here are more recollections of that terrible and inspiring day, and here is the video.


The American People Aren’t Happy With Congress. by The Elephant's Child

Gallup has released a new poll. It asks respondents to evaluate the major accomplishments of Congress in the last two years:  The national health care bill, the stimulus, the auto bailout, the bailout of major banks and financial institutions, and the financial regulatory reform bill.  Gallup found majority opposition to every one of those policies, with the exception of financial reform.

  • National health care:  56 percent disapprove, 39 percent approve.
  • Bank bailouts: 61 percent disapprove, 37 percent approve.
  • Auto company bailouts: 56 percent disapprove, 43 percent approve.
  • Stimulus: 52 percent disapprove versus 43 percent approve.
  • Only Financial reform got approval from 61 percent, 37 percent disapprove.

This is extremely bad news for the House and Senate Democrat leadership.   It is even worse when the questions are asked of registered independents.  Only 35 percent approve of national health care, 32 percent approve of the bank bailouts, 38 percent approve of the stimulus, and 40 percent approve of the auto bailouts. 62 percent of independents approve of financial regulatory reform.

It is doubtful that anyone has a clear idea of what is actually in the financial regulatory bill, since even most Democrat Congressmen don’t.  Approval may be based on the President’s oft repeated fraudulent claim that Wall Street was to blame for the financial crisis.

The most partisan division is found over ObamaCare.  69 percent of Democrats approve of the bill, as opposed to just 13 percent of Republicans, and 35 percent of independents who approve.

Congress’ approval rating has been stalled at or below 20% for most of the year, down from 39 % in 2009.

It is interesting to see what the major polling organizations have to say, but always take polls with a grain of salt.

“Green?” I Say It’s Spinach, and I Say the Hell With It! * by The Elephant's Child

James Hansen appeared before a U.S. Senate committee in June of 1988 to tell the collected senators that the sky was falling that the earth was warming (It was a hot day in Washington D.C.) and it was probably due to all the carbon dioxide arising from our profligate use of foreign oil, or driving cars, or something like that.

His star rose, and he became a climate adviser to the U.S. President, Al Gore and Lehman Brothers. The UN founded the IPCC, Al Gore wrote a book and did a slide show, and the world got over-excited about the natural exhalations of the human race — carbon dioxide — one of the basic building blocks of all life.

Chapter 5 of IPCC AR4 (Humans Responsible for Climate Change) in the fine print, noted that it was based on the opinions of 5 independent scientists and their computer models. Governments got over-excited and decided that the problem of the earth overheating meant that they had to do something, so they appropriated all sorts of taxpayer money to give to anyone who wrote a good grant proposal to study the situation and tell the bewildered politicians what to do about this catastrophe.

Suddenly scientists in all sorts of different disciplines discovered a passionate interest in the science of global warming.  It paid well, advanced careers and increased the prestige of the universities where they were employed.  Some scientists got over-excited with all the prestige and attention, and skipped a few important steps here and there.  The planet started cooling a little, which upset several plans.  Politicians, however, remained committed to environmental caring.

Plentiful government money has been flowing to anything labeled “green”, like “green” houses, “green” appliances, “green” wind farms, “green” lightbulbs, “green” solar arrays, “green” fuels and “green”cars.  That all this greenness didn’t seem to work, was beside the point. The planet was being saved, and politicians couldn’t be blamed for not trying.

Then you had ClimateGate, and GlacierGate, AmazonGate, the Arctic wasn’t melting, the polar bears were just fine.  They even found some extinct species that turned out to be not extinct after all.  Scientists were discredited, IPCC reports were discredited, and temperature records were discredited, and the earth continued to cool.

The people got a little fed up with all the hype, and lost interest.  Governments, however, do not make mistakes.  Therefore if all these green things don’t work (which they don’t) what they need is the investment of lots more money.

So we arrive at current government efforts to change American driving habits by bribing people to buy an electric lemon of a car ($41,000 + tax, license and registration) that will go for 40 miles (maybe) on a charge, take 7 hours to recharge, when for the same money you could get a small Mercedes.  Not much of a bargain.

So the Feds have added a $7,500 bribe — of your money — and Left Coast states like California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington have tacked on another $5,000.  Now Tennessee — red state — has tacked on a $2,500 tax rebate to buyers of the first 1,000 electric vehicles sold.  (This seems to be a nod to their auto company, Nissan — which received $1.4 billion of your money from a Department of Energy loan program —to retool a factory to build its new Nissan Leaf as an all-electric competitor to the Volt).

This is a dramatically shortened, somewhat snarky but not entirely inaccurate, account of how we got here.  It really makes you understand public anger over public spending.  They have spent us into the poorhouse, and it was all wasted. Squandered on projects unsupported by evidence.  The public should be very, very angry.

*Caption from a long-ago, but famous New Yorker cartoon.

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