American Elephants

Let’s Just Soak the Rich: The Liberal Answer! by The Elephant's Child

We don’t really have to cut spending, they say.  Just raise taxes on the rich and on those obscenely rich corporations.  Bill Whittle takes the theory on, with the help of IowaHawk.  Here’s the way the world really works.

Obama Receives Award for “Transparency” in Secret Meeting! by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama received a “Transparency Award” from the organizers of the Freedom of Information Day Conference in a secret meeting at the White House on Monday. The award, scheduled to be presented at the White House by “five transparency advocates” a couple of weeks ago, was postponed  because of events in North Africa and Japan, and rescheduled for March 30.

The award was presented to the President—behind closed doors.  The press was not invited and no photos from or transcript of the meeting have been made available.The event was not listed on the president’s schedule. That was the same day when he went on TV to tell us why he had transparently decided to start bombing another country a couple of weeks previously without bothering to tell Congress.

The award is not mentioned on the page on the White House website  that is devoted to transparency and good government.  The only evidence that the award took place was from the testimony of the transparency advocates who delivered the award.  They didn’t know, though, that the White House has neglected to tell anyone about the transparency meeting.

Kevin Underhill, a San Francisco lawyer who blogs about the funny side of the law, had a very funny post at Forbes Magazine.  Gary Bass, who was allegedly part of the alleged meeting  said:

“It’s almost a theater of the absurd to have an award on transparency that isn’t transparent. The irony is  that everything the President said [about transparency] was spot-on. I wish people had heard what he had to say.”

A Tsunami of Debt, and the Democrats Refuse to Pay Attention. by The Elephant's Child

You may already have seen this video of the Tsunami ravaging Kesennuma Port.  It seems almost unimaginable, yet it  happened before our eyes.  Japan’s Cabinet Office on Wednesday estimated the cost of the catastrophe  as causing losses between ¥16 trillion ($198 billion) and ¥25 trillion ($309  billion).

At American Thinker, writer Lee DeCovnick made a very important observation:

“Do I understand this correctly; all those coastal cities and towns that were leveled, the tens of thousands of cars and homes that were pulverized, all the stores, shops, factories, warehouses, schools, freeways, roads, ships, aircraft, trains, port facilities and infrastructure reduced to rubble and it will only cost as much as the US Federal deficit for a couple of months.”

First a quick look at the Congressional Budget Office report for February, 2011. Two sentences stand out.

[The] CBO estimates that the deficit in February 2011 was $223 billion, which is very similar to the deficit recorded in February 2010.

[The] CBO estimates that the federal government incurred a budget deficit of $642 billion for the first five months of fiscal year 2011, $10 billion less than the shortfall recorded in the same period last year. [emphasis added]

With a war in Libya, an effort to help the earthquake and tsunami ravaged Japanese, continuing war in Afghanistan, rising gas prices damaging our economy, and a devastating unemployment rate, the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democrat leadership are refusing to accept  a modest agreement to fund the federal government through the end of the year. Senator Reid is fussing over possible budget cuts of a mere $51 billion, which amounts to just a few days of government deficit spending.

Democrats in Congress refused to pass a budget (their duty) when they were in charge of both houses. Congress has until April 8 to reach an agreement on a long-term budget (only through the end of the 2011 fiscal year in October), pass another short-term stopgap budget, or face a partial government shutdown.

Last May then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that for the first time since 1974, the House would not pass a budget resolution. Rather than curb government spending, liberals in Congress opted to keep on spending, and borrowing.  They are simply putting politics before the national interest.

House Republicans passed a FY 2011 budget which cut spending by $61 billion.  Yesterday Senator Schumer, on a conference call didn’t realize that reporters were already listening, and instructed his fellow Democrat Senators to tell reporters that the GOP is refusing to negotiate.  Make sure, he said, “to label any GOP spending cuts as extreme.” Democrats hope to engender a shutdown and blame it on Republicans.

This is disgusting.  The nation is in desperate financial straits, and Democrats cannot get beyond their usual political games. The Obama administration tripled the debt left by the Bush administration with useless stimuluses, bailouts, and subsidies for every improbable scheme.  We had a recession, but it didn’t have to be this bad, and we didn’t have to have unemployment this high. They thought that they could fix everything just by spending money—borrowed money.

It’s like the pimply kid you send off to college for his first year with his first checkbook. You were sure he had some sense.  He didn’t.

Morning Cute by American Elephant
March 31, 2011, 7:02 am
Filed under: Heartwarming | Tags:

Just cute — that’s all. Nice way to start the day.

Europeans Are Growing Restive Under the Heavy Green Thumb of the European Union by The Elephant's Child

The European Commission on Monday announced a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.

Their list of future wishfulness begins with eliminating all cars and trucks from the future cities of the European Union.  They are getting desperate in their urge to eliminate any emissions from fossil fuels. They mean business.  They will put new taxation on fuel to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.  No cars or trucks in cities. None.  Zero. Zilch.

The European Union Commissioner for Transportation Slim Kallas. said “That means no more conventionally fueled cars in our city centres. Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behavior.”  He has denied that the EU plan to cut car use by half over the next 20 years, before a total ban in 2050 will limit personal mobility or reduce Europe’s economic competitiveness.

Cutting mobility is not an option, neither is business as usual.  We can break the transport system’s dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility.  It can be win-win.

A spokesman for the Association of British Drivers said “I suggest that he goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum.”

Christopher Monckton, Ukip’s transport spokesman said: “The EU must be living in an alternate reality, where they can  spend trillions and ban people from their cars.  This sort of greenwashing grandstanding adds nothing and merely highlights their grandiose ambitions.”

British councils have begun to raise the cost for parking for diesel vehicles. According to a paper  prepared for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, diesel vehicles, which were thought to be more environmentally friendly, may emit too many small polluting particles which damage local air quality. Diesels now account for 1 in 4 vehicles on the roads. A motorist with a typical family diesel faces paying more than £150 a year to park outside his or her house.

Mr. Cameron made a big deal of opening a factory in Coventry to build electric-powered vans.  Last week, after making only 400 vehicles in four years, the firm sacked half its workforce and went into “administration” with debts of £40 million. For every new “green” job, nearly four are lost.

Der Spiegel has a long survey on Environmentalism in Germany. Germans, it seems, are very concerned about the environment and will obey the rules, pay any price, and observe all restrictions faithfully. “Germans usually obediently go along with environmental measures, in fact they’re a model people when it comes to green living.  They carefully sort their rubbish, take their bottles back to the supermarket and put their batteries in special containers.  When they were told to have carbon filters fitted to their cars, they did so without complaining.  And of course they’re at the forefront when it comes to attaching solar panels to their roofs or insulating their homes.”

Germans only rarely question environmental policies. The light bulb ban was one example. Most didn’t see the need to scrap conventional bulbs when the simplest way to save electricity was just to turn off the light. And Germans have been unusually stubborn about the biofuel E10 — the name refers to the 10 percent ethanol admixture. They would prefer to pay a few more cents for a liter of gas than put their car engines at risk.

Many haven’t yet fully realized that E10 is an ecological swindle. People who want to help the environment shouldn’t use it. Nine large European environmental associations recently conducted a joint study which concluded that the bottom line impact of the fuel on the environment is negative. Rainforests are being clear-cut in Brazil and Borneo to make room for sugarcane and oil palm cultivation. At the same time there’s a shortage of arable land for food production, which is leading to the threat of famine in parts of the world. Last year, the price of grain rose sharply in the global market.

A single full tank of bio-ethanol uses up as much grain as an adult can eat in a whole year. In order to cover the German requirement for biofuel, an arable area of around one million hectares would be needed. That is four times the size of the south-western German state of Saarland, which would need to be fertilized, treated with pesticides and intensively farmed. Environmental groups say that across Europe, farming for biofuels would create up to 56 million tons of additional greenhouse gases— an environmental crime they say must be stopped immediately.

Not everything that looks green serves the environment, says der Spiegel. German garbage doesn’t really get recycled, the plastic gets burned and they import more plastic to burn. Extreme efforts to save water is damaging the sewage systems beneath cities, and utilities are forced to pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water through the system to keep it operating.  This results in high water bills.  The EU made a big deal about fine particulates, ordered people to put filters on their cars,( is that where the EPA got it?) but particulate counts are increasing. Germans don’t like CFL bulbs any more than we do.

The treasured green dreams of environmentalists, as usual, do not take account of unintended consequences. Bright ideas turn out to be not so bright.  Pellet stoves required to replace fireplaces, now require filters to be added.  Major environmental initiatives aren’t just ineffective — they are counterproductive. No one is calculating whether all the billions invested in protecting the environment are actually being spent wisely.  The experts have no interest in shedding light on the problems because it is their livelihood.  It is far worse in the EU because the European Union is not accountable to the people.  Most people want to treat the environment well. The heavy hand of a poorly informed government is not the best guide.  Big Government simply doesn’t work.

It’s “Sustainable” Silly Time at the White House. by The Elephant's Child

Obama’s Green Egg, was the title of a short piece “Sustainability” about the upcoming White House Easter Egg Roll.  The White House e-mailed:

In a continued effort to make the Easter Egg Roll more environmentally friendly, all eggs have again been crafted in the United States from Forest Stewardship Council-certified hardwood. The packaging has also been designed to minimize waste and environmental impact, helping to create a ‘greener’ Easter Egg and Easter Egg packaging.Below is information on the packaging:

Made from Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) – certified paperboard. SFI® paperboard uses no wood fibers from controversial sources. The printed carton is easily recyclable when collected and processed in a municipal or community Paperboard Recycling Program. Features vegetable oil-based inks and a water-based coating.

I really hate buzz-words.  “Sustainability” is high on my list as a nonsense word.  Isn’t the unemployment rate high enough without Obama putting a bunch of poor laying hens out of business? Imagine the energy and work hours, and costs involved in shaping  eggs from “certified hardwood.”

Do the kids get to take home their environmentally friendly Forest Stewardship Council-certified hardwood eggs home with the as souvenirs? I can’t imagine why they would want to, what do you do with a wood egg?  You mean that ordinary hen’s eggs are not environmentally friendly? The hens would be astonished.  This is just sick. They did this last year too, didn’t they?  Almost as silly as “earth hour.”

How Do You Solve a Problem Like the EPA? Here’s a Solution! by The Elephant's Child

The economy is still in the doldrums and unemployment remains at a troubling 8.9 percent, gas prices are high and creeping higher, consumer confidence is falling and nothing is expected to improve anytime soon.  This would seem to be the ideal time to reduce rules and regulations on the economy that might threaten growth and new jobs.  Not this administration.  They simply do not seem to understand the connection.

So, naturally, this is the time that the Environmental Protection Agency has chosen to increase their regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.  Like all EPA rules, the new regulations will adversely affect traditional power plants and prop up administration-favored renewable energy.

According to the EPA we will all be able to breathe easier, while up to 17,000 premature deaths per year will be prevented.  This is absolute nonsense. “Reducing toxic power-plant emissions will cut fine-particle pollution and prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of heart attacks, bronchitis cases and asthma attacks.  The EPA estimates the value of the improvements to health alone would total $59 billion to $140 billion in 2016.  This means that for every dollar spent to reduce pollution from power plants, we get $5 to $13 in health benefits.”

When economist Christina Romer went back to Berkeley, she must have left her computer programs that came  up with “numbers of jobs created and saved” to the EPA, where they are coming up with all sorts of mythical deaths prevented.  I have never seen a single article that points out an epidemic of people dying from fine-particle pollution.

The EPA says the annual cost to meet the new regulation will be about $11 billion in 2016, and it will only increase customers electric bills by three or four dollars a month. Only.

The American Council for Capital Formation puts the cost of the EPA’s rules at 46,000 to 1.4 million lost jobs and $25 billion to $75 billion in lost capital investment by 2014, along with a $500 billion reduction in GDP, while boosting gasoline and electricity costs by 50%.

Sen. Max Baucus has introduced a bill to exempt agricultural sources from the rules, which should take care of EPA’s push to regulate farm dust.  Sen. Mitch McConnell’s amendment would strip the EPA of authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  His amendment has a chance of passing the Senate,  but it probably does not have enough votes to override a presidential veto.

Our commenter Rachel Jimenez suggested that the EPA should be defunded and sent to China. That sounded like such a good idea that I went to the EPA website to investigate.  The interactive timeline they have of EPA activities certainly shows a big increase in EPA regulation and rules under Administrator Lisa Jackson, which seemed a little odd since reports of the quality of our air and water have been remarkably positive.

In prowling around a little more,  I found that Administrator Lisa Jackson has a staff of 17,000 busy workers. Seventeen thousand!  Some 30 EPA employees shared a Nobel Peace Prize in October, 2007 for their work with the IPCC on global warming. There are 15 Offices under Administrator Jackson, 10 Regional Offices, 7 Research and Development Labs, 3 Air and Radiation Labs, 4 Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Labs.

There is a Chesapeake Bay Program, a Great Lakes Program, A Gulf of Mexico Program.  There are 10 Labs supporting the 10 Regional Offices.  There are 8 Science Advisory Organizations, and a Columbia River Basin Program, a Puget Sound Georgia Basin Program and a U.S. Mexico Border Program to start next year.  That is a very large organization, and impressive.

Most of our nation’s major environmental problems have been solved.  The EPA  in searching for something more to regulate,  is down to very fine particles in the air, unnoticed up to now, and I’m sorry, but I don’t buy all the deaths they are going to prevent.  Sounds like bureaucratic busywork to me, and pretty ephemeral busywork at that.

China, on the other hand, has enormous environmental problems: thick smog, poisonous air, poisoned lakes, you name it. Their problems are so severe that other nations complain that their own good works hardly matter with China belching out huge amounts  of noxious fumes.

China needs the Environmental Protection Agency to solve their enormous environmental problems. The EPA needs a real job to do.

This is what the EPA was designed for: fixing the environment. They’re good at that. They could go on finding ever more microscopic particles to regulate, but it simply costs too much and is too damaging. Sell them to China.

Our economy improves from reduced debt and the absence of the EPA.  The Chinese economy improves from a cleaner environment and healthier workers.  It is a Win—Win solution for both nations.

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