American Elephants

Chris Christie Asks Obama:”What the Hell Are We Paying You For?” by The Elephant's Child

The outspoken Governor of New Jersey speaks out! Assertive. No Pussyfooting around.  Do we admire it so much because we’re too timid to speak out ourselves?

The EPA’s Outrageous Power Grab! Lisa Jackson Must Be Stopped. by The Elephant's Child

The Obama EPA has decreed that “America’s fleet of passenger cars will have to meet an average mileage of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which will double today’s requirement of about 27 mpg.” The EPA’s director Lisa Jackson is way out of line, and assuming powers not granted to her or her agency.

Lisa Jackson has tossed aside some 35 years of Congressional prerogatives.  In 2007, Congress raised the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard with a bill requiring the U.S. fleet to hit 35 mpg by 2020, which was a 40% increase.  The theory is that the EPA has declared carbon dioxide a “pollutant,.” and because cars emit CO2, Ms. Jackson is depending on the Clean Air Act in her bid to issue commands to Detroit.

The issue of CAFE standards was previously the charge of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  NHTSA was charged by Congress with taking into account vehicle safety and a rule’s effect on the economy and consumer demand. The rule would reduce the mass of a car by 15% tp 25%. decreasing safety. Vehicles that cost $15,000 or less would be regulated out of existence.

The only way Detroit can hit these averages will be by turning at least 25% of its fleet into hybrids, which is undoubtedly the intention.  Hybrid sales peaked two years ago at 3% of the market and are declining.

Humans also emit CO2, every time we exhale. With something like 330,000,000 of us breathing out, that must be a fair amount of CO2.  Ms. Jackson has no authority to overrule Congress. The whole thing is silly — since carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant, but a colorless, odorless gas that helps plants to grow and resist drought. The Clean Air Act is designed to curb pollutants, not to make up out of whole cloth claims that benign things are damaging to health, in order to increase the power of the EPA.   Other than that, the Wall Street Journal reports that even the EPA’s low estimates show that the rule would cost $157 billion and raise the price of cars by about $3,100 per vehicle.

This is an outstanding example of the general wrongheadedness of the Obama administration. There is no respect for the Constitutional separation of powers, no respect for the rule of law. The normal legislative process is viewed as an inconvenience that is to be avoided or gotten around, so that the administration can achieve their aims without interference. The arrogance of the administration assumes that the administration knows best, rather than the American people.  Congress needs to respond to this power grab, to restore the rule of law, and put the out-of-control EPA in its place.

The rationale behind this move seems to be a firm belief in a nonexistent global warming, caused by our cars’ emissions of CO2. But  any alarming warming exists only in the computer models of climate, not in the real world. The CO2 in the atmosphere arises from the oceans, and the small amounts of warming precede the rise in CO2 by as much as 300 years.  We have had far greater amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere in the past, and are currently at a low point. We need more CO2, not less, to help feed the hungry people of the world.

Iran Again: Attacking Two British Embassy Compounds. by The Elephant's Child

In Iran:  protesters stormed two British diplomatic compounds in Tehran, smashing windows, throwing petrol bombs and burning the British flag in protest against the sanctions imposed by London.

Britain, Canada and the United States have imposed new unilateral sanctions on Iran this week, while the EU, France and Italy have all said  financial measures against Tehran should be strengthened.  London banned all British financial institutions from doing business with their Iranian counterparts — including the Central Bank of Iran.

Iran is the fifth biggest oil exporter in the world.  The embassy storming is a clear sign of greater political infighting within Iran’s ruling hardline elites.  The conservative controlled parliament is trying to force the hand of President Ahmadinejad and expel the British ambassador. The hardliners in Iran will use the crisis to unite people and to blame the crisis for the failures of their own economy.

Iran, of course, claims that it only wants nuclear plants to create electricity. That is why the mysterious explosions at known missile development sites is international news. And why they have sought help from North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia.

Several dozen protesters broke away from the crowd of a few hundred people outside the main British embassy compound in downtown Tehran, climbed over the gates, broke the locks and went inside. They pulled down the British flag and burned it, and raised an Iranian flag in its place. They smashed windows, took a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth, carried off the royal crest as  police stood by, and set a car on fire.

Another group broke into a compound that was once the embassy’s summer quarters, and is now used to house diplomatic staff.  Six embassy employees were held briefly. A German school next to the Qolhak compound was also damaged.

Britain is outraged. Nations are required to protect the embassies of other countries. Iran has clearly indicated that it has no intention of giving up its nuclear efforts. The question is whether sanctions can make a difference. The Iranian government has attempted to keep channels of negotiation open in an effort to limit the worst effects of sanctions, but shown no sign of backing down.

I wish I had more confidence in the understanding and capability of my government.

R.I.P. Lana Peters: Stalin’s Only Daughter Dies at Age 85. by The Elephant's Child
November 29, 2011, 6:52 am
Filed under: Communism, History, Russia, The United States | Tags: , ,

Lana Peters was born Svetlana Alliluyeva Stalina. She was the only daughter of Joseph Stalin. She grew up in the Kremlin, where she was Stalin’s “Little Sparrow.”Her life was spent in the shadow of the man who helped to establish Soviet communism., and killed far more people than Hitler, who gets far more public opprobrium.

Her mother shot herself when Svetlana was 6, after her parents argued at a banquet, although Svetlana didn’t learn that until she was a teenager.

In 1929 Stalin demanded “the eradication of all kulak tendencies and the elimination of the kulaks as a class.” It was in effect a war declared on a nation of smallholding farmers. More than 2 million peasants were deported, 6 million died of hunger, and hundreds of thousands died of deportation.  That was followed by the Great Famine, when more than 6 million people in the Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus died of forced starvation in one of the darkest periods of Soviet Russia.

That was followed by the Great Terror, which in turn was followed by the Great Purge of the Red Army, which left Soviet Russia very short of experienced military officers for their battle against Nazi Germany.  Svetlana described seeing her father die of a stroke in 1953.  As the USSR began reforms under Khrushchev, her life became increasingly difficult and she dropped her father’s name in favor of her mother’s, Alliluyeva.

In 1967 Ms. Alliluyeva defected to the U.S.,with a manuscript of her memoir in hand.Her memoir “Twenty Letters to a Friend” was an international best seller, as was a sequel “Only One Year” which described her defection to the U.S. via India.  She had traveled there to deposit the ashes of her third husband, a prominent Indian communist, in the Ganges.

She became a U.S. citizen, and settled in Princeton N.J. She visited Taliesin West on an invitation from Frank Lloyd Wright’s widow, where she met and married architect William Peters, a Wright protégé. They had a daughter, though they soon split. In 1984, Ms. Peters returned to the USSR, reuniting with her son, a physician. She denounced the West as starkly as she had once denounced her homeland. She stuck that out for two years, and then returned to the US.

She eventually settled in Richland Center, Wisconsin, where she lived in obscurity in a one-room apartment.  She lived always in the shadow of her father’s life. It was not an easy history to bear.

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