American Elephants

Another WTF Policy Move for the Obama Campaign. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is releasing 30 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum reserve.  ?  “We are taking this action in response to the ongoing loss of crude oil due to supply disruptions in Libya and other countries and their impact on the global economic recovery,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.  Another 30 million will be released over the next month, to Win the Future.

“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an emergency lifeline to protect our nation against critical shortages in our oil supply and shouldn’t be sued as a Strategic Political Reserve to boost the popularity of elected officials,” said Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee said that the Obama administrations “anti-American energy policies have left the United States increasingly vulnerable to the whims of the world oil market and OPEC’s erratic decisions on oil supply.” Hastings and other Republicans called for increased production of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and in public lands.

Oil prices dropped Thursday, the same day the IEA announced the plan to release a total of 60 million barrels of oil and a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that the U.S. economy was recovering more slowly than expected. Obama is open to releasing more oil from U.S. reserves, an official said on condition of anonymity, though no decision on doing so has been made.

The Heritage Foundation clarifies:

The problem is that releasing reserves from SPR does not pass legal, rational, or economic muster. A much more prudent move for the Administration would be to open access onshore and offshore for drilling and exploration. Doing so would minimize the impact of foreign supply reductions and help stabilize future energy prices.

The President’s authority to release reserves from the SPR, which holds about 727 million barrels, is limited by law. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act requires a presidential finding that there is a “severe energy supply interruption.” Three conditions must be met

  1. “An emergency situation exists and there is a significant reduction in supply which is of significant scope and duration;
  2. “A severe increase in the price of petroleum products has resulted from such emergency situation; and
  3. “Such price increase is likely to cause a major adverse impact on the national economy.”

Libyan production of oil has been offline for quite some time (almost three months), but Libya produces 2 percent of the world’s oil (about 1.5 million barrels per day) with most of its oil going to Europe. Does this constitute a significant reduction in supply? Or a severe increase in price? No. Rising demand for the better part of a year has steadily increased oil prices, and prices have since leveled off.

Releasing some reserves now allows the Obama administration to avoid addressing the underlying problems with U.S. energy policy that have been created by the Obama administration’s artificial constriction of domestic oil. We have plenty of oil, the Administration doesn’t want Americans to have access to it.  High gas prices call attention to the policy. Releasing reserves is meant to make high gas prices less of a campaign issue.  It’s all about the campaign, not about the country.

The Afghanistan Speech! by The Elephant's Child

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The Fabulous Michael Ramirez strikes again.  He is the master of the visual metaphor, and continually marvelous.

Obama’s Political Pullout in Afghanistan. by The Elephant's Child

Deeply unimpressive  speech.  The magic is gone.  This is a political drawdown in Afghanistan, that is not about foreign policy or our military, but about trying to win back his anti-war base.  He shows no more understanding of geopolitics than he did as a candidate.

So now we’re going to “join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban.” And how is that to be accomplished?  He lectures the Afghan government telling them what they must do.  And he tells the ‘Pockistahn’ government what they must do as well.  Obama is given to meaningless platitudes, and pretty words no longer suffice:

We must chart a more centered course.  Like generations before, we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events.  But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute.  When threatened, we must respond with force –- but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas.  When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own.

In all that we do, we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power -– it is the principles upon which our union was founded.  We’re a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens.  We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others.

I’m sorry, but that is not clear thought, but garbled nonsense. It is unfortunate that he is not listening to his generals, but apparently to Samantha Power who thinks that America must only get involved when genocide is threatened.  So we’re getting out of Afghanistan and spending $100 million a day in Libya, where our national interest is?

The worst line?

America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.

Liberal reporter Thomas Friedman has been sticking that line in every column for weeks.  We’ve already had too much governmental attempts at nation building, and it certainly doesn’t work here.  Our problem is lots of government interference in the economy by people who don’t know what they’re doing.

Hating and Bribing and Payback and Bailouts: No Way to Run a Country! by The Elephant's Child

I cannot remember any time when the divide between Republicans and Democrats was so wide and so deep.  The ways of thought in each camp are totally different. Republicans are deeply concerned with the economy and ideas about how to relieve unemployment, revive the economy and stop the overspending.

Democrats don’t seem to believe that there is a budgetary problem. The numbers are pretty obvious, but they’re not very good at math. They refuse to produce the budget that the law requires for the current fiscal year. There is no spending problem, they say, and President Obama still demands increased spending— which he now calls “investment.” What we need is more “investment” to create “green jobs” which will put people back to work.  We just need to tax the rich a little more to make up for the Bush tax cuts which all went to the rich.  It’s a nice myth, but the rich just don’t have enough money.

While Republicans are concerned with ideas, liberalism  is increasingly about “how do we beat the Republicans.” They are defined more by what they are against than what they are for. They hate Republicans and whatever they stand for.  They hate Republicans so much that they refuse to read, listen to, or watch anything tainted by Republicanism. News sources like the Wall Street Journal are omitted, even though it’s only the opinion pages that have a conservative leaning, and include op-eds from noted Democrats regularly.

They hate Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glen Beck passionately, so they never listen and have no idea what these talk show hosts have to say. They hate Republican candidates— some prominent lefty publication called Michelle Bachman “bats—crazy” this morning., though they clearly know nothing specific enough about her to object to. They hate Republican think tanks, and believe firmly that anything their scholars come up with is a lie. If you talk to and listen to only people who think just like you do, it gets a little incestuous after a while.

A  poll of progressive voters a decade ago found that racism was the country’s single most important problem, followed by diversity, and economics.  Interestingly enough, they define economics as corporate power, which must be curbed. The influence of corporations in society should be restrained with more regulations, more rules, and capitalism should be focused less on profit and more on the public interest. They’ve acted on the first part of that.

What is the matter with these people?  Do they simply not understand that we are broke? Keynesian economics has been proven, once again, to be a complete failure. This has never been the worst economy since the Great Depression, as Mr. Obama is so fond of claiming.  It didn’t have to be as bad as it is.

The current state of the economy is due directly to Democrats’ overspending.  Obama took the debt left to him by the Bush administration and promptly tripled it, whining all the time that it wasn’t his fault — it was Bush’s fault.   There has probably never been a president who took such great care to make the transition as easy as possible for his successor as George W. Bush.

Democrats’ strategy for winning is to divide  the electorate into interest groups. They promise things to each interest group, and in return receive campaign donations and votes.  But then they have to deliver.  Delivering on promises is often not as easy as it was expected to be.

The Unions have been demanding, and the NLRB attempt to keep Boeing from opening an aircraft plant in South Carolina is the greatest attack on private enterprise in living memory. Clearly unconstitutional, but the unions gave a lot of money to the Democrats.  What are the proper immigration rules for a country in recession with high unemployment? Whatever La Raza wants them to be.  Obama needs Hispanic votes in his reelection campaign.

The anti-war Democrats are up in arms and threatening to withdraw support.  So we have a speech to the Nation today to say that Obama is drawing down our troops in Afghanistan. The Generals are livid, there is real progress in Afghanistan though it is still fragile, but reelection trumps victory every time.

The “Greens” and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week! by The Elephant's Child

Things  have not been going well for the climate change alarmists.  It was revealed that a prominent Greenpeace activist, Sven Teske, had been a lead author of a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change renewable energy report.

A press release from the IPCC on May 9, contained the following statement:

Close to 80 percent of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.

The study on which this remarkable statement was based was not released until a month later.  By then the claim was out there, but the media had moved on.  Steve McIntyre looked into the study and found that the scenario in the press was derived from a report issued by Greenpeace and the European Energy Council.  In other words,  green activists and lobbyists collaborated to disseminate something pretending to be “science.”  This is usually termed a conflict of interest.  Aside from just being wrong.

Then the University of Colorado”s Seal Level Research Group decided in May to add 0.3 millimeters every year to its actual measurements of sea levels, causing criticism from experts who called it an attempt to exaggerate the effects of global warming.

“Gatekeepers of our sea level data are manufacturing a fictitious sea level rise that is not occurring” said James Taylor, a lawyer who focuses on environmental issues for the Heartland Institute. “There is really no reason to do this other than to advance a political agenda.”

But that’s not all.  The Bishop Hill Blog reveals the incestuous relationship between the EU and governments, quasi-autonomous organizations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations).  Organizations such as Friends of the Earth and WWF are paid by the EU to lobby the EU in favor of the policies that the EU wants, and the IPCC  takes research that benefits the agendas of governments.  It is the sheer scale of this shameless enterprise that surprises.  But to ask questions about this incestuous process is to be labeled as a “denier” supposedly paid by fossil fuel interests.  Pointing out the implications for democracy and the economy is characterized by “denying scientific evidence.”

Then the Supreme Court dismissed a frivolous and novel “global warming” lawsuit.  Radical environmentalists are in trouble when a unanimous court rules against you and Ruth Bader Ginsburg  writes the opinion.  Eight states and several land trusts sued five of the largest American power companies, including the Southern Company and the TVA.  They claimed that carbon dioxide emissions of the companies’ power pants are a public nuisance that violate federal common law.  They wanted a federal judge to set emissions standards.  Alito and Thomas wrote a short concurrence in which they questioned  the erroneous conclusion of the Court that carbon dioxide is even a “pollutant” that is covered under the Clean Air Act.

And to top it all off, a federal court has sharply rebuked the EPA for exceeding its statutory authority.  On May 26, 2011, Judge Ricard Leon of the federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled that the agency’s regulatory process cannot trump a clear Congressional mandate, not override judicial authority to compel EPA’s compliance with the law. At  issue was the statutory maximum time frame for EPA’s final decision to issue a Prevention of Significant Deterioration air-quality permit, a fundamental authorization for large industrial sources such as power plants and refineries.  The EPA readily admitted that it had violated the one-year statutory deadline, but essentially that the EPA had made a regulatory process created for the convenience of the Administrator.  A kind of arrogance that is characteristic of this administration.  The Judge called the EPA claims “horsefeathers” and said “their argument was too clever by half.”  “That dog won’t hunt,” he added.

Such is the recent activity in the environmental bureaucracy.  It was a good week for common sense. There are enormous amounts of money involved and misleading media reports, and attacks on democracy and public welfare.

The picture above has nothing to do with the stories here, but I love seeing Russian cops carrying off a Greenpeace activist. Makes me laugh from sheer pleasure.

Junk Science Exposed! by The Elephant's Child

The Canadians have an enlightening discussion about junk science and how it comes about.  Ignorance.  Bad math.  Misunderstanding. Foolishness.  But people believe junk science all too often, and sometimes make bad decisions based on bad evidence. Here’s what to watch for.

Jobs Are Not Obama’s First Priority! by The Elephant's Child

According to the Daily Caller:

President Barack Obama’s administration is quietly offering a quasi-amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, while aiming to win reelection by mobilizing a wave of new Hispanic voters, say supporters of stronger immigration laws if illegal immigrants are enrolled in an education center or their relatives have volunteered for the US military.

…The Hispanic vote could be crucial in the 2012 election, because the Obama campaign hopes to offset its declining poll ratings by registering new Hispanic voters in crucial swing states, such as Virginia and North Carolina.

The document offers ICE officials new reasons for refusing to deport illegal aliens. It is estimated that there are roughly 10 million illegal immigrants in the United States, of which roughly 7 million are working.  Some businesses and Democrats have opposed any efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants. This is sort of a stealth DREAM Act (which Congress has refused to pass)  through non-enforcement.

At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and looking for work, this is an interesting approach from the Obama administration.  If the administration cared about putting Americans back to work, they would be vigorously enforcing the immigration laws.  Instead, potential Hispanic voters  (legal or illegal) are more important than a 9.1% unemployment rate.

Hispanic immigrants should beware. Many African-Americans believed that a black president would improve their lives and offer them more benefits. Instead the unemployment rate for African-Americans is 16.2%, and even higher for black males, and 41% for black teens.

The administration has been unusually determined to do exactly what they want, while ignoring the separation of powers, and however Congress happened to vote. Tradition says the President proposes, Congress disposes.

La Raza is pleased.  After all they spend around $500,000 a year lobbying the administration.

How to Wake Up Your Girlfriend or Wife: by The Elephant's Child
June 20, 2011, 6:45 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Fun n Games, Humor

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)

Happy Juneteenth! by The Elephant's Child

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Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865.  Abraham Lincoln, Republican, the 16th President of the United States, Issued the Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863.  It had little immediate effect on most slaves day-to-day lives, particularly in the Confederate States.  Texas, a Confederate state, was resistant to the proclamation.

Slavery was prevalent in East Texas, but not as common in the Western parts of the state, especially in the Hill country, where many German-American settlers were opposed to the practice. Juneteenth commemorates the day when Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of slaves. On June 19, 1865 General Granger read the contents of General Order No. 3, from the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Former slaves rejoiced in the streets, and Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year.  39 states have officially passed legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth.

Mindlessness! And They Vote Too! by The Elephant's Child

The intellectual climate of the nation today came from the public schools, where almost every one of us was schooled in the work of the mind.  We are a people who imagine that we are weighing important issues when we exchange generalizations and well-known opinions.  We decide how to vote or what to buy according to whim or fancied self-interest, either of which is easily engendered in us by the manipulation of language, which we have neither the will nor the ability to analyze.  We believe that we can reach conclusions without having the faintest idea of the difference between inferences and statements of fact, often without any suspicion that there are such things and that they are different.  We are easily persuaded and repersuaded by what seems authoritative, without any notion of those attributes and abilities that characterize authority.  We do not notice elementary fallacies in logic, it doesn’t even occur to us to look for them: few of us are even aware that such things exist. We make no regular distinction between those kinds of things that can be known and objectively verified and those that can only be believed or not.  Nor are we likely to examine, when we believe or not, the induced predispositions that may make us do the one or the other.  We are easy prey.
Richard Mitchell: The Graves of Academe

Also, affirmative action had a disastrous effect.  We created two universities during affirmative action.  We had a super-elite university of people who were admitted on the most competitive criteria in the history of the university, but then we had this other university of people who could not have been admitted on those criteria, and who had to have special courses and special departments set up for them.
Now affirmative action meant two completely different things.  When it first started out the definition was that we were going to take affirmative actions to see that people who would never have tried to get into the university before would be encouraged and trained so that they could get admission.  I was all for that —that we were going to get people into the competition.  What happened though, and this was the catastrophic effect, is that race and ethnicity became criteria, not for encouraging people to enter the competition, but for judging the competition.
John R. Searle, Professor of Philosophy, Berkeley

We are telling students what to think, not teaching them how to think.  Without teaching them how to draw meaning, significance and wisdom from those facts, we are teaching mindlessness. Teaching kids how to think means teaching them how to weigh and consider ideas, see implications, follow an argument to a logical conclusion, integrate knowledge, and apply creative and critical thinking to solve problems and make decisions.
Vincent Ryan Ruggerio: Warning: Nonsense is Destroying America

Happy Father’s Day! by American Elephant
June 19, 2011, 2:40 am
Filed under: Pop Culture | Tags: ,


Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Obama Gets in Trouble Without His Teleprompter! by The Elephant's Child

The new media, the internet, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, cellphone cameras and recorders have changed the political conversation permanently. You can’t get away with stuff as easily anymore. Politicians are a little slow to recognize this. It is hard to realize that something you say offhand will turn up as a parody on YouTube within hours. The video will circulate and be commented on in hundreds of blogs, reaching a far larger audience than your original speech.

President Obama, always not at his best without his teleprompter, made an offhand remark about ATM machines being an example of how machines were taking away the jobs of people who wanted to work.  The Luddites return. Here is his original remark, with the parody already posted on YouTube.

More troublesome, is the fact that he is just plain wrong. A local grocery store has the machine check-out that allows you to check out your own groceries and save time — it does save time, and  removes one checker, but it adds a wine steward and people at the deli and the bakery counter. A factory made the ATM machine and somebody services it and controls it, and it is very convenient fur customers.

Here’s another example of a very modern mechanized operation. I’ve toured sawmills before, a long time ago, when we had sawmills here in the West. There are more people employed here by far. Not only that, but the productivity increase is phenomenal. Each piece of the machinery used here was made in a factory that employed many people.

Besides, it’s really fun to watch an industrial operation and see how things are made.

Of course I’m not even including Obama’s unfortunate “shovel-ready” joke, that many found so unfunny. All of the president’s previous speeches and remarks about how the shovel-ready projects were going to supply so many jobs have been preserved, combined, and are now providing humor for Republicans.  But never fear, Republicans will misspeak and create humor for all.

The very young will not know, but when George H.W. Bush (41) was president, much was made of his visit to a grocery store and never having seen a scanner before. This was meant to show how patrician Bush 41 was, and how remote from ordinary people.  Never happened. The New York Times made it up. That’s not so likely to happen anymore. They tried to claim that Tea Party people were yelling racist remarks outside the capitol building as a group of black Congressmen passed by. Never happened, and proved by any number of videos of the moment. Everything has changed.

(h/t: Sippican Cottage)

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