American Elephants

We Wish We Were ready for Christmas, We wish… by The Elephant's Child
December 21, 2011, 12:22 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Humor, Liberalism | Tags: , ,

I apologize for being a little erratic with the blogging. Behind with Christmas. Everything takes longer than expected, traffic is bad, parking is troublesome, stores are crowded and once again I will swear to have everything done by the end of October.  To make sure of that, I will start right in January.

How many years have I been making that pledge? Let me count the ways.

With Christmas carols playing and at least a little Christmas spirit, I’m reluctant to spend the few days before Christmas complaining about Liberals, but I may not be able to help myself.

Are you efficient?  Been done for ages? I don’t want to hear about it.

For your Christmas Viewing Pleasure… by American Elephant

Remember back when TV didn’t suck? Yeah, neither do I.

BUT, these first two videos had me briefly believing that such a time existed — then I remembered the third video.

The first is from my new favorite (old) show. I didn’t even discover Good Neighbors (alternately titled The Good Life) until a few years ago. It’s a show about a couple, the Goods, who drop out of the rat-race to live a simpler, self-sustaining life. (Don’t worry, it’s not a preachy environmental show at all) while their neighbors and friends maintain their affluent ways.

This is their Christmas show from 1977. The characters will charm your socks off, and you will probably end up watching the entire series as I have. Each show is less than half an hour and all are also available to view instantly, in much better quality, on Netflix. But YouTube works just fine, if you dont mind the show being split into three parts. See parts 2 and 3 here.

The second video is one you may remember. Schmaltzy tear-jerker, as Little House on the Prairie so often was. Warm, fuzzy family-viewing from back before networks had altogether eradicated Christ from Christmas in favor of Santa Claus. Here’s part one, the rest can be viewed here.

And the third video is one that I saw for the first time since 1978 last year. I remember seeing it then. I was nine years old and a GINORMOUS Star Wars fan. Even so, I think I remember thinking how bad this was even then. If you have not seen the Star Wars Christmas Special, you must. It truly is must-see-TV because watching is the only way to appreciate how utterly dreadful it is. Chewbacca’s wife and kids? Princess Leia singing, and what Star Wars Christmas Special could be complete without appearances by Harvey Korman, Jefferson Starship, Dianne Carol and Bea Arthur dancing with Greedo?


In all sincerity, this may very well be the worst thing ever broadcast in any format at any time. George Lucas has said he wishes he could hunt down and destroy every last copy. I wish he would.

WordPress wont allow us to imbed Google videos, so you can watch it here. So painfully, uncomfortably bad, it’s hardly to be believed. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Merry Christmas!

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Has Died. by The Elephant's Child
December 18, 2011, 8:17 pm
Filed under: Politics

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital.  His designated successor is believed to be his third son Kim Jong-un, who is thought to be in his late 20s. North Korea’s state-run news agency urged people to unite behind the younger Kim.

All party members, military men and the public should faithfully follow the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un and protect and further strengthen the unified front of the party, military and the public.

Mr. Kim’s death will cause huge shock waves across North Korea, an impoverished, nuclear-armed nation with few allies or friends.

Catching Up With Some News You May Have Missed: by The Elephant's Child

Here are a couple of important polls that clarify what people are thinking:

From Gallup: “In the U.S., Fear of Big Government at Near-Record Level”
Sixty-four percent of Americans say that big government will be the biggest threat to the country. The Occupy Wall Street movement, focused on “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations” made a lot of noise and mess, but the majority of Americans are not particularly concerned about big business or even big labor.  They’re worried about Big Government.

Also from Gallup: The vast majority of Americans believe that they are members of the “haves” rather than the “have-nots” Sorry, Occupy movement the “99%” is only about 34% of the population. Even 52% of the unemployed consider themselves “haves.”

Obama’s Keystone XL Indecision is Already Costing Jobs:  60 employees at a Little Rock, Arkansas steel pipe manufacturer are now out of work as a result of the president’s indecision. This is aside from the 20,000 union construction jobs that are shovel-ready at no cost to the government and U.S. Taxpayers. Obama’s Big Green supporters are opposed to the pipeline — just because.

Big Green Groups’ Attack on Fracking Based on Bad Science. After admitting that there is no documented evidence of groundwater contamination from a technique used to extract oil and gas from shale deposits, the EPA tries to manufacture a crisis in Wyoming.

Václav Havel, former president of Czech Republic, Champion of Liberty, man of great courage, has died at age 75. Havel spent years behind Communist prison bars for resisting the Party’s dogmas. He was catapulted from prison to the presidency of post-Communist Czechoslovakia in 1989, he resigned the office in 1992 because the country’s break-up into its Czech and Slovak components had not been put to a popular vote. Returned to the presidency of the Czech Republic in 1993, he served another decade andbecame a statesman-celebrity and spokesman for freedom. R.I.P.

— “Fact-Checking President Obama on “Trickle-Down” Economics
Democrats simply cannot let go of this mischaracterization of conservative tax policy, but the facts refute Obama’s claim that these policies were a failure. Here’s ammunition for that argument with the Liberal in your family.  Just the facts.

The Horrifying Chart that Democrats and RINOs Don’t Want You To See, from Doug Powers.  The Obama/Pelosi/Reid “one-time Stimulus Package” was built into the baseline so each year that the Obamacrats can avoid writing a budget is another year that this cash furnace can continue to burn your children’s and their children’s money.

Air of Desperation in Democrats’ Attempts to Roll Back Voter Laws. You and I have to show our driver’s licenses every time we go to the grocery store, cash a check, buy a ticket, pay for something, or dozens of other times in ordinary life. Democrats are attempting to claim that requiring photo I.D. is tantamount to Jim Crow laws, that it is an infringement on the right to vote, and that somehow minorities or people of color are incapable of obtaining free photo identification cards because Republicans don’t want them to vote. Democrats have a strange tendency to claim that minorities are stupid and helpless right before an election.  If I were a minority it would really annoy me.

Did the U.S. Government Try to Hide Climate Data from American Citizens? by The Elephant's Child

The original ClimateGate emails — correspondence derived from servers at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia — were released on the Internet in late 2009.  Posted on a Russian server, they shook up the field of climate research. They showed collusion among climate scientists to hide their data, to  suppress skeptical views and prevent their being published.

The CRU was one of the very small number of climate monitoring stations.  Skeptical climate scientists found the CRU’s published climate data questionable and wanted to see the raw data — and how it had been adjusted.  Freedom of Information requests — a legal procedure — elicited only the claim that they had lost the data, it was proprietary data, they could not share it.

Anthony Watts, a meteorologist and proprietor of the popular website, said:

In every endeavor of science, making your work replicable by others is a basic tenet of proof.  If other scientists cannot replicate your work, it brings your work into question.

Climate scientists who did not agree with the findings of the CRU were dismissed as “deniers”, which was patently untrue. The climate skeptics did not deny that the earth had warmed, nor that it had warmed and cooled in the past. They were skeptical of alarmist conclusions based on computer programs that claimed to represent the entire climate of the earth — about which we still know very little.

Now a new batch of emails posted in late November to a Russian server shows that scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit refused to share their U.S. government-funded data with anyone they thought would disagree with them.  In 2009, the then head of the Research Unit, Dr. Phil Jones, told colleagues repeatedly that the U.S. Department of Energy was funding his data collection — and that officials at the Department of Energy agreed that he should not have to release the data in spite of FOIA requests.

“Work on the land station data has been funded by the U.S. Dept of Energy, and I have their agreement that the data needn’t be passed on. I got this [agreement] in 2007,” Jones wrote in a May 13, 2009, email to British officials, before listing reasons he did not want them to release data.

Two months later, Jones reiterated that sentiment to colleagues, saying that the data “has to be well hidden. I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.”

A third email from Jones written in 2007 echoes the idea: “They are happy with me not passing on the station data,” he wrote.

The released emails show only correspondence between Jones and his colleagues, not his correspondence withe the U.S.Department of Energy.  Anthony Watts said “What’s missing is a …directive from DOE that they should withhold station data gathered under their grant.  The email may be there, but … still under lock and key.

Attorney Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wants that key.  He has filed FOIA with the DOE, requesting the emails they exchanged with Jones.They have until December 29 before they must legally respond to Horner’s request.

“So far no administration department has bothered to respond, indicating they…believe the time bought with stonewalling might just get them off the hook for disclosure,” Horner said. “Not with us it won’t.”

Since the emails were made public, Phil Jones has changed his tune. He has accepted that he should have been more open, and has made the station data discussed in these emails publicly available.  Anthony Watts said that while much of the data is now available, the methods of adjusting it — statistical modification meant to ‘normalize’ the data and potentially highlight certain trends — remains a secret. “The fact that they are trying to keep people from replicating their studies — that’s the issue,” Watts said.  “Replication is  the most important tenet of science.”

The CRU at East Anglia, once exposed, has been careful to refer to the emails as “stolen,” “illegally hacked,” attempting to emphasize that the emails that exposed their wrongdoing were revealed “because of a crime.”  Yet the collusion, the use of clearly false data [Michael Mann’s hockey-stick graph], reveal that there is way more at risk here than a little embarrassment for the climate scientists at East Anglia. There is government funding, attempts to hide data that might be damaging, reputations, university appointments, big money grants,  the reputation of Science itself, and inevitably — the search for truth.

And as far as the “thief” or the “hacker” — that may well have been a member of the CRU team acting as a whistleblower.  There is another release yet to come, we are told, containing even more damaging material, which is undoubtedly the reason for the U.S. DOJ signing up with the UK police to try to find the “hacker.” Trying to get other scientists fired, their papers rejected, a scientist’s PhD rescinded simply because they do not agree with your conclusions, is far more ‘criminal’ than a release of incriminating emails.

This is not the way that science is supposed to work. Science is meant to be always skeptical, always ready to leave all data open to others so they can reproduce the conclusions. That is the only way science can progress.

Bill Whittle’s Voter’s Guide for Republicans! by The Elephant's Child
December 16, 2011, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economy, Election 2012, Liberalism, Politics

The Department of Justice Is After The Wrong Person, for The Wrong Reason! by The Elephant's Child

ClimateGate 2.0 has been even more revealing than the first round of exposure of emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and Professor Michael Mann and his cohorts. Politicized science, coverups, falsification of evidence, and attempts to suppress the work of those who disagree. It just is not the way Science is supposed to work.

The revelations contained in the emails is increasing public doubt in the extravagant claims of global warming. The percentage of people who accept the warming theory is plummeting. Now Bishop Hill reports that the IPCC has declared itself above the law.The meeting of IPCC WGII lead author meeting in San Francisco has ruled on freedom of information legislation:

…the IPCC member states have ruled on freedom of information legislation. Specifically, it has been decided that FoI does not apply to IPCC material. This is false. FoI is national legislation. These laws can only be interpreted by the relevant courts. These laws can only be changed by the relevant parliaments. The civil servants that speak on behalf of their countries have no right to usurp FoI legislation, and the IPCC has no say in this matter.

Now the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is working with the United Kingdom police to pursue the leaker of the 2009 and 2011 “ClimateGate” emails.  Last week the DOJ sent a search-and-seizure letter to the host of three climate-change-“skeptic” blogs.  Last night, UK police raided a blogger’s home and removed computers and equipment.

The leaked ClimateGate records derailed the Obama administration’s much desired ‘cap-and-trade’ legislation in the U.S. and internationally as well as climate talks for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. The emails and computer code were produced with taxpayer funds and held on taxpayer-owned computers both in the US and the UK and all were subject to the UK Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and state FOIA laws.

They were also being unlawfully withheld in both the UK (by the University of East Anglia) and in the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for more than two years.  Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General of the state of Virginia is pursuing specific anti-fraud authority to seek records from University of Virginia following up on revelations from the first release of ClimateGate emails, for evidence of possible fraud against the taxpayers.  So far University of Virginia has spent upwards of $1 million fighting Cuccinellli’s request, and opposing every effort to produce the requested documents.

Now the Department of Justice is, with the UK police, attempting to find the leaker.  The ClimateGate  email release has suggested that there is yet a third, and even more revealing batch of emails to come. Yet authorities are pursuing the leaker, rather that those who unlawfully refused to release records  that were unlawfully withheld under Freedom of Information laws.  They are on the wrong side of this one, which suggests that they are desperately trying to prevent a further release of records that might further expose the faulty science upon which the White House’s embrace of global warming, subsidies for alternate energy, regulations from the EPA and the Energy Department that are meant to replace the cap-and-trade that they couldn’t get past Congress.

The text of the DOJ request to the ISP is here.  The extent of the information they want to attempt to prosecute the leaker is quite breathtaking, and their interest in the fraud on the taxpayer that has been revealed is even more so.

The climate is always warming and cooling. It is a natural process. Over the past century the climate warmed by about one degree — in a hundred years. Surely we can adapt to that.  Now it has been cooling since 1998. Perhaps we don’t need to spend billions in futile efforts to change from cheap, plentiful energy to alternate energy sources that simply don’t work. When or if wind and solar energy technology is capable of providing cheap dependable energy, the government won’t have to be involved. The market will support it.

The Sun is Setting on the Highly Subsidized Solar Industry. by The Elephant's Child

Solar power companies in Germany don’t go’ bankrupt,’ they become ‘insolvent’ and file for creditor protection.  The pioneer German power company Solon filed for creditor protection on Tuesday. Germany is cutting back on the subsidies, the political backing is dissolving. There had been massive overexpansion, and popular support is diminishing.  Some venture capitalists and financial heavyweights have been riding the global climate change scare for every dollar of subsidy that they can get out of it.

Germany determined to phase out its nuclear energy, but the resulting power gap will be filled by coal and gas rather than solar and wind. Vogt Group has slashed more than a third of its workforce in one day. SPA Solar, Germany’s top solar group is laying off up to 1,000 temporary workers by the end of the year.  Q-Cells is laying off 250, and SolarWorld has shut down production at one of its U.S. based solar plants to save costs. Overcapacity, uncompetitive,  and dependent on government subsidy, there will be a continuing shakeout .

We had $535 million Solyndra; the Germans have Solon, which has been  slashing costs and staff for months, but still needs protection from a $375 million loan from Deutsche Bank AG.

In Oregon, the notorious Shepherds Flat, the world’s largest wind farm, last week received a positive credit rating from Fitch, but with a negative outlook on $1.2 billion in loans.  The project calls for $1.9 billion in General Electric turbines to be installed with $1.2 billion in subsidies. Terence Corcoran says in his Financial Post article:

Fitch says the operation is  “bankruptcy remote” since the government guarantees the loans.  But it attached a negative watch because the U.S. government is on negative watch.

Fitch didn’t say that the U.S. government is on negative watch because of spending on such things as wind and renewable energy.  Since enaction as part of the 2009 Obama stimulus program, renewable power has cost $9.6 billion, which Time magazine says is three times what Congress had expected.

The renewable energy lobbyists are hard at work trying to convince the Senate finance committee to extend the subsidies to their industry.  Biodiesel relies on a $1 per gallon tax credit which expire Dec. 31, and ethanol subsidies expand at the same time.  The tax credit for wind at 2.2¢ per kilowatt hour of electricity also expires at the end of he year.

The pitch is that their operations create jobs and provide clean energy, but numerous reports and studies show that the cost of the tax breaks and subsidies destroys at least as man obs as are gained.  With all of these nations facing financial problems, the bubble is bursting and the industry is losing support and logic. In Canada, Ontario is cutting back on subsidies as well.

There is a lesson, as Matt Ridley says,—  cheap energy is an employment multiplier, while costly energy is an employment divider.  Governments would do well to recall that fact, for the green jobs myth will cause far more unemployment.

Jobs Just Aren’t At the Top of the Obama Agenda! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has said that he will veto the bill extending the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment benefits — if it includes approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, which offers an immediate 20,000 ‘shovel-ready’ jobs at no cost to the government.  It’s all private enterprise. Yet the president says his most important priority is creating jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says “My job is to create jobs.” Well, no it isn’t. The government has no money of its own, it just takes money from taxpayers to give to other people in the government. But Harry Reid says that the Keystone XL pipeline approval is a sticking point and the bill cannot be passed — if all that job creation is in it.

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring Canadian oil south to American Gulf refineries. The pipeline has been vetted by every applicable agency, the route has been approved, and with the president’s signature, would start hiring, start work, offering union jobs and creating spin-off jobs as it gets going. High-paying jobs as well.

The problem for Mr. Obama seems to be his re-election campaign and the funding usually offered by the big environmental organizations. Remember that the only qualification to be an environmentalist is a professed love for the environment.  As the far left believes in a Utopia, if they can just make capitalism “good,” so the environmentalists believe in an environmental Utopia, if they can just get people and all their works out of the environment and leave it pristine, as nature intended.

All fine, except there are major problems with those ideas. Utopians do not grasp human nature as the flawed, messy, sinful nature that is, and assume they can fix it.  Environmentalists believe in an idealized Nature, and do not grasp the dangerous, wild, fierce, destructive reality of the ‘natural’ world.

The president and Harry Reid don’t really care about jobs. You cannot believe the words of their mouths — because their consistent actions over the past three years prove that politics and political contributions trump job creation every time. Their a-historical understanding of economics tells them that the financial crisis was caused by insufficient regulation. They have attempted to correct that with regulations that cripple business and do nothing to address the causes of the financial crisis.

The government defines “economically significant” regulation as rules that impose more than $100 million in annual costs on the economy, although there are hundreds if not thousands of new rules that fall well short of that. According to an analysis of the Federal Register by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, Cabinet departments and agencies finalized 84 such regulations annually on average in President Obama’s first two years.  The annual average in the Bush administration was 62, and  under the Clinton administration 56.

There is a government document called the Unified Agenda, which details all proposed or final rules and is compiled twice a year by the federal Regulatory Information Service Center. The current number of major new rules this year is 146 — an historic high. Regulation began to grow after 9/11, and surged when the Pelosi House came in 2007. Not every rule in the Unified Agenda will eventually go on the books. The Unified Agenda is a lagging indicator.

Regulatory czar Cass Sunstein estimates the total cost of the first two years of Obama administration regulation  as somewhere between $8 billion and $16.5 billion.  The Heritage foundation estimates the total, including the agencies, at $40 billion for the two years, compared to $60 billion for the eight years of the Bush administration.

It is very clear that the regulatory surge is responsible for the lackluster economic recovery compared to previous recessions.

Rather than attempting to improve the business climate to encourage job creation, the Obama administration has pushed through liberal policies on health care, financial services, energy, housing, education, student loans, telecom, labor relations, transportation.  Businessmen, companies, corporations, small businesses and business organizations have complained about the paralyzing effect of the blizzard of new rules. The government pays no attention.

Anyone who thinks that this deluge has no effect on job creation has never worked in private enterprise.  Oh wait! The Obama administration has fewer people who have ever worked in the private sector than any administration in history.

(click to enlarge)

The Lightbulb Ban Will Begin On January 1, If You Do Not Make Your Voice Heard! by The Elephant's Child

House Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner are working to overturn the ban that was passed in 2007, by a Democrat Congress, on incandescent light bulbs. Many people are unaware that the ban begins on January 1, 2012, when 100-watt bulbs are outlawed.

A key House committee staffer emailed today that “It looks like light bulbs are one of the final sticking points on the Omnibus Appropriations bill that would block the light bulb ban from taking effect.

The replacements available for the standard lightbulb include two versions of bulbs that are not really ready for prime time — the twisty compact fluorescent with its eye irritation, slow warm-up and generally bad light, or the LED bulb which has baffles to attempt to get it to spread its light in the right direction. The ban was instituted at the behest of the major bulb-making companies, GE, Sylvania and Phillips, who found they could make way more money on CFL bulbs made in China, and claim energy savings as the rationale. With the exposure of the global warming fraud, this is a little hard to swallow.  The lost jobs when the U.S. bulb factories were closed are just more additions to the long list of jobs lost because of Obama administration regulation.

You can make a difference. Please email your two Senators and your Congressman immediately. Tell them to support language in the Omnibus Appropriations bill that would block the light bulb ban.  email and to find the email addresses for your representatives. Urge your friends and family to join you in the effort.

Even better, is a phone call.  The Capitol Switchboard number is (202) 225-3121. A live operator will direct you to the right offices if you give them your State and zip-code. Your representatives are more impressed if you make the effort to phone — it tells them that you’re serious.

“The Little Bell” by The Elephant's Child
December 13, 2011, 7:28 am
Filed under: Entertainment, Heartwarming, Music, Russia

The Kremlin Capella sings a beautiful Russian Folk Song, with wonderful pictures of Moscow in winter. The song is popularly called “The Little Bell.” In Russian Однозвучно гремит колокольчик.  We posted this  last year, and now it’s winter again.  This is perfectly beautiful.  Enjoy.

How Come Caring About A Clean Green Planet Ends Up Putting So Much Green In Supporters’ Pockets? by The Elephant's Child

I mentioned briefly in a recent post that the U.S. Navy and the Agriculture Department had announced plans to buy 450,000 gallons of biofuel at $16 per gallon.  As little government announcements go, it has gradually become even more interesting.

The Army is beginning to cut 36,000 jobs, mostly civilian, and as much as possible through early retirement and  voluntary departure of one kind or another. These cuts to the military that Democrats want, as they refused to take the SuperCommittee seriously, may number as high as $1 trillion. If there have to be cuts, Democrats want it to be from the military.  That’s why our military was small and unprepared at the beginning of World War II, and slashed again so that we were completely unprepared for Korea. Has no one noticed that much of the world is nearly at war now?

The Navy is teaming up with the Agriculture Department to spend about four times the price of standard marine fuel JP-5, which goes for about $4 a gallon. What may not surprise you is that a member of Obama’s presidential transition team, T.J. Gaulthier, is a “strategic advisor” to Solazyme, the California company that is selling a portion of the biofuel to the Navy.  Gaulthier worked on the energy-sector portion of the 2009 stimulus bill.

Solazyme has previously managed to get a $21.8 million grant from that very 2009 stimulus bill.  Just all sorts of amazing coincidences here.

The announcement of this “largest single purchase of advanced drop-in biofuel in government history” is a part of “an effort to reduce dependence on imported oil.” The biofuel is made from a blend of non-food waste, including algae produced by Solazyme and used cooking oil from Louisiana-based Dynamic Fuels — who was induced to develop biofuel by a combination of subsidies and tax breaks.

That reducing dependence on “foreign fuel” could be reduced by depending on our own resources, by oil from the Keystone XL pipeline that Obama won’t approve because his environmental supporters don’t like it.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said last week that “We are doing this for one simple reason.  It makes us better fighters. Our use of fossil fuels is a very real threat to our national security and to the U.S. Navy ability to protect America and project power overseas.” There’s a very politically correct statement. The Beltway seems to operate in something of a bubble, isolated from the news.

Big Government says that 80% of the Department of Energy green loans are tied to President Obama’s most prolific donors, including Solyndra and Robert Kennedy Jr.’s Brightsource solar energy company.  Whitney Pilcher has more information about Gaulthier’s roots in the Clinton administration where he was a Deputy Energy Secretary following a term as Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science for the OMB.  Gaulthier’s associated grants and funding amount to half a billion dollars.

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