American Elephants

Mandate? Mandate? What Mandate? by The Elephant's Child

Peter Suderman of the Reason Foundation remarks on the ObamaCare mandate:

The Obama administration has repeatedly and somewhat counterintuitively argued that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is not, in fact, a requirement that compels anyone to purchase health insurance. Arguing the case in front of an appeals court in Atlanta, Neal Kumar Katyal, the Obama administration’s former acting solicitor general,told judges that the government is “not asking people to buy something they otherwise might not buy.”

Eventually, Katyal argued, everyone will need health care. Requiring individuals to purchase health insurance merely regulates how that care will be financed.

Katyal and other defenders of the mandate have used this idea that the provision merely regulates financing as a response to the concerns about the mandate’s novelty and the scope of congressional action it might allow. Congress already regulates the financing of health care, the argument goes; this would simply be a new way to regulate that financing. By minimizing the provision’s novelty, the law’s defenders can sidestep concerns about the breadth of power granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause should the mandate be ruled constitutional.

There’s a big difference between regulating commerce in which an individual has chosen to participate, and compelling someone to participate in a specific form of commerce in which they have chosen not to participate. The protestations that the pig in the poke is not a pig are getting increasingly weird.

The mandate doesn’t regulate commerce, it requires commerce. Unwanted commerce.


A Warning Voice from Across the Water: by The Elephant's Child

As the Supreme Court hears arguments about the fate of ObamaCare, it is useful to once again take a look at the country with the longest experience with socialized medicine. Britain adopted their National Health Service just after World War II.

When we read the accounts of NHS care in the British papers, we are told that they are only “scare stories.” They would never happen here, we are told. Yet, we were told, Obama’s health care advisers — Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Peter Orzag, Tom Daschle, and Dr, Donald Berwick — were all extravagant admirers of the National Health Service.  They talked a lot, we were told,  about the fact that the highest costs of medicine came in a person’s final years.

That’s where the ideas for the Independent Pay Advisory Board (IPAB) that Congress is trying to repeal right now, came from.  That’s where “comparative effectiveness research” came from. Obama even referred to it when confronted with a woman in one of his campaign events, who wanted to know what value ObamaCare would place on ‘zest for life’ when deciding on a procedure for an older person (in this case, her mother who needed a pacemaker at age 100 — got it— and has enjoyed 5 more years and is still going strong). Obama mumbled a little and said something about there was a time when radical expense maybe wasn’t worth it, and pain pills were more in order.

Monday, March 25, 2012, The Telegraph reports: Elderly Dying due to Despicable Age Discrimination in NHS.

A lack of treatment or insufficient treatment is contributing to 14,000 deaths a year in people over the age of 75, Macmillan Cancer Support has found, in what it called an ‘unacceptable act of discrimination’.

Deaths from cancer are reducing in most age groups but at a slower rate in those aged 74 to 84 and are increasing in people aged 85 and over, the report said.

Professor Riccardo Audisio, Consultant Surgical Oncologist at St Helens Hospital, said: “It is despicable to neglect, not to offer, not to even go near to the best treatment option only on the simple basis of the patient’s age. “This has been a horrible mistake that, particularly in the UK, we have suffered from.”

According to research published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, there would be 14,000 fewer deaths from cancer in those aged over 75 per year if mortality rates from cancer matched those in America.

Keep in mind that this is just, we are told, a “scare story” from England, and has nothing to do with ObamaCare.

Free market medicine is based on competition, which helps to keep the costs down, and rewards excellence. Socialized medicine, which offers all things pretending to be “free,” encourages overuse, because nobody really knows what anything costs. It’s just that the taxes keep going up. And both the providers and the administrators focus becomes reducing the cost. Providers try to receive adequate recompense for their efforts; administrators make more rules to slash expenses. The incentives have changed, and excellence goes by the wayside. It’s just the way of the world.

Obama’s Secret Exchange Caught On ‘Hot’ Mic by The Elephant's Child

The President of the United States takes a solemn oath at his inauguration,.  to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. The American people place a fundamental trust in a President that he will do all within his powers to defend the country from foreign military threats. That trust applies as well to the threats posed by ballistic missiles.

This is not the first time this President has been caught off guard, by a microphone still ‘hot’, making comments not intended to be heard by the American people. The President met today, March 26, with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Seoul, South Korea.

Baker Spring of the Heritage Foundation sketches the background:

President Obama has been willing to subordinate the missile defense program to his policies for arms control and nuclear disarmament for a long time. One need go no further than to read a portion of the preamble to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is the new strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, on the subject of missile defense. It states that U.S. missile defense capabilities must come down as the numbers of strategic nuclear weapons come down under the treaty.

The Obama Administration spared no effort to defeat an amendment in Senate to strike this language in the New START preamble. The President’s comments in Seoul are completely in keeping with this past behavior. What is now evident is the scope of the manipulation he is pursuing to fool the American people about something essential to their security. It is now undeniable that President Obama is breaking the most basic trust the American people put in any President.

The exchange caught by the ‘hot’ microphone was as follows:

President Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”

President Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you.…”

President Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

President Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin].”

Russia’s definition of missile defense cooperation is problematic to say the least. Regardless of the level of knowledge Russia has of the U.S. missile defense program—a result of hours of unilateral U.S. briefings—Moscow insists on having veto power over Washington’s decision to shoot down a missile on its way toward its victims. On other occasions, Russia demanded binding limitations on speed or geographical coverage of U.S. interceptors.

Due to the pressure of concerned Senators, the President certified that “it is the policy of the United States to continue development and deployment of United States missile defense systems to defend against missile threats from nations such as North Korea and Iran, including qualitative and quantitative improvements to such systems” in New START’s resolution of ratification. It appears the President is ready to walk away from his own commitment.

After all, it would not be the first time that he failed to honor his promises made pursuant to New START ratification. He already failed to provide funding for U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure, deemed essential at the time of ratification. If left unchecked, the Administration’s policies will lead to America’s becoming increasingly vulnerable. This is the wrong posture for the United States. North Korea is preparing to launch its long-range missile, and ballistic missile proliferation is growing worse. Heritage research shows that a “protect and defend” strategy—which would combine offensive, defensive, conventional, and nuclear weapons—is the best response for this uncertain environment.

Obama has already betrayed our allies Poland and the Czech Republic, abandoning plans for ground-based interceptors and missile defense radars needed to defend against Iranian missile launches. He has also demonstrated that he has no problem with lying to the American public. He has his own goals for the nation, and he prefers to keep those hidden — until he is reelected and there are no more restraints on his actions. This is an appalling  betrayal of the American people — and not even the first one.  We’ll just have to see that there is no second term.

Energy Facts, Energy Lies. by The Elephant's Child

Gas prices here in the Seattle area are over $4.00 a gallon, but we have high taxes as well — 55¢ a gallon. Taxes are even higher in New York and Connecticut. Remember back in 2008 when Obama was on the campaign trail.  “If everybody in America inflated their tires to the proper level,” he said, “we would actually save more oil than we’d get from drilling.” uh huh.

Only 3 percent of federal lands are currently leased for oil production.

In North America alone there is enough oil to fuel every passenger car in the United States for 430 years.

— The Obama administration’s permitorium in the Gulf has resulted in 57 percent fewer deepwater permits, a 68 percent reduction in shallow-water permits, and a 50 percent reduction in plans that gain approval in the year-to-date.

The U.S. is the third largest oil-producing nation in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia and Russia. Our total recoverable resources are more than six times the proved reserves of Saudi Arabia.

In fiscal year 2011, oil production on federal lands decreased by 11 percent, while oil production on private and state lands increased by 14 percent.

Obama keeps repeating the canard that while we use over 20 percent of the world’s oil resources, we only produce 2 percent of the world’s oil.  And though he showed up in Cushing, Oklahoma to have his picture taken with some oil pipes, he did not “approve” the lower part of the Keystone XL pipeline. His approval was neither needed or wanted.

Obama  says that it was essential to refuse to approve the Keystone XL from Canada, because the Republicans wouldn’t give him enough time to make sure that it was safe for the American people,  and to  protect the great Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska. The Keystone XL had been approved by every applicable governmental agency. There are all sorts of pipelines running through the aquifer already, quite safely. Trans Canada was quite willing to move the pipeline route.

He’s on the campaign trail again. If he wanted the Keystone XL pipeline and the jobs that it promises, he would move heaven and earth to make it happen. Note all the silly solar energy arrays that he flies all over the country to promote.  Ignore what he says. Watch what he does.

Student-Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion: Guaranteed by You. by The Elephant's Child
March 26, 2012, 6:55 am
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Election 2012

The amount American’s owe on student loans is far higher than earlier estimates indicated. It could be a real burden on some consumers leading them to postpone buying homes and  slowing the housing recovery officials said last Wednesday.

Total student loan debt seems to have surpassed $1 trillion late last year, said officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new agency created by the Obama administration. That’s 16% higher than earlier estimates. And it’s growing at $40 to $50 billion each month.  Now it seems that as many as 27% of all student loan borrowers are more than 30 days past due.  That means that at least $270 billion in student loans are no longer current.

This is happening at a time when interest rates are at record lows.  As Tyler Durden says, “This is a loud wake-up call that it is not rates that determine affordability and sustainability— but general economic conditions — which may make the popping of the student loan bubble inevitable.”  If the climb in interest rates continues, then the bubble will pop that much faster and bring down another $1 trillion in unintended consequences down on the shoulders of the U.S. taxpayer, who once again will be footing the bill.

The Bureau  of Labor Statistics estimates the current unemployment rate for 18–24 year–olds at nearly 14% and for those 25– 34 years old, 8.7%. No, it’s way worse than that. The employment rate is barely above half at 54%—the lowest in 64 years, and 7% worse than when Obama took office promising change
(click to enlarge)

This technically means that 46% are unemployed, but this is the age group where wages have dropped the most. So they’re not only in very big debt, they’re poor as well. And Obama has been urging those who are unemployed to go back to school, get retrained for a new green job.  Oh wait!

Government Causes Catastrophes: Ordinary People Solve Them. by The Elephant's Child

hu–bris  n.Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance.

Headline from Scientific American:Effective World Government Will Be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe.”

The author says:

Almost six years ago, I was the editor of a single-topic issue on energy for Scientific American that included an article by Princeton University’s Robert Socolow that set out a well-reasoned plan for how to keep atmospheric carbon dioxideconcentrations below a planet-livable threshold of 560 ppm. The issue came replete with technical solutions that ranged from a hydrogen economy to space-based solar.
(um— greenhouses keep their atmospheric carbon dioxide at 1,000 ppm. planet remains livable, plants grow more enthusiastically).

If I had it to do over, I’d approach the issue planning differently, my fellow editors permitting. I would scale back on the nuclear fusion and clean coal, instead devoting at least half of the available space for feature articles on psychology, sociology, economics and political science.

The problem to be fixed, you see, is all the damned people. They’re not cooperating. We need a “constitutional moment” at the upcoming 2012 U,N,Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in June to reform world politics and government. Among the proposals: a call to replace the largely ineffective U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development with a council that reports to the U.N. General Assembly, an attempt to better handle emerging issues related to water climate, energy and food security.

To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers. There would have to be consideration of some way of embracing head-in-the-cloud answers to social problems that are usually dismissed by policymakers as academic naiveté. In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere.

The whole global-warming/sustainability has fallen into such disrepute that the true believers are getting quite desperate. The largely ineffective U.N. will have to get really “heavy handed”with “trans-national” enforcement to scare the people enough that they will continue to fork over their money and their support. Unexpectedly, all the wind farms and solar arrays, electric cars haven’t eliminated any carbon dioxide. Cap-and-trade is dead as a dodo. Carbon sequestration is over. The Carbon market is out of business.

“Those who claim to care about a livable climate for the future,”says Master Resource, “should strive to understand the mechanisms by which industrial capitalism has already created the most livable climate in history.”

The mass-production of sturdy, weather-proof buildings … the universal availability of heating and air conditioning … the ability to flee the most vicious storms through modern transportation … the protection from drought through modern irrigation … the protection from disease through modern sanitation–all of these have led to a 99 percent reduction in the number of climate-related deaths over the last century.

It has been enormous hubris that has led some scientists to assume that they can duplicate, in a computer program — even very large computers — the nature of worldwide climate. The climate programs cannot successfully “predict” today’s climate, let alone 50 and 100 years into the future. Meteorologists can predict the weather by studying weather patterns, and get it right, maybe for the rest of the week, and they don’t always get that right.

Politicians are elected on their ability to impress a crowd, and be generally what my father use to call “glad-handers”— amiable, glib, likeable and able to give an effective speech. Some rely on props like Grecian columns and special logos, others rely on flags and bunting. This is no indication of their understanding of science, history, world affairs or economics. And it is unfortunately often absent. Those marble halls and the attention of “the Media”is inclined to imbue politicians with hubris — presumption and arrogance.

There are very few things that government can do well, and protecting us from changing climate is not one of them. It was only 40 years ago that the panic was about a new ice age, and “nuclear winter.” Our government’s record of trying to force us into a “clean energy economy ” is rife with fraud, waste and debt, and the worst of crony capitalism.

Individuals, on the basis of profit and loss calculations, do pretty well at deciding what changes they need to make in their businesses and in their personal lives to adjust to the situation. They require only freedom to solve big problems. Think the settling of North America, the settlement of the American West, the transition from a horse and buggy society to the internal combustion engine. We didn’t need the federal government to ban horses, nor to license wagon trains. The Greenies grew fat and comfortable on the bounty of taxpayer money that flowed to them. Now those funds are drying up, and they are in a major panic as to how to keep the funds flowing.

In their overweening arrogance, they think they are smarter than you are, and they should be able to set the terms and direction for your life. “Effective World Government” is an oxymoron.


Monday, March 26. 2012— It Begins! by The Elephant's Child

The arguments begin on Monday, as attorneys representing 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and a few of its individual members square off against U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verilli, Jr. and one of his deputies.  Other attorneys appointed by the Supreme Court will  join the fray on two issues.

Heritage spells out the schedule — six hours of oral arguments which will be conducted in four sessions, spread over three days. That’s an unusual amount of time that the Supreme Court has allocated to the cases challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which we all know and detest as ObamaCare.  The schedule is here.


They Say “Don’t Mess With Texas” For a Reason. by The Elephant's Child

The State of Texas has a program called Women’s Health Program (WHP) which provides  family planning and women’s health examinations to low-income women who earn too much to qualify for regular Medicaid.

State legislators set funding priorities for the agencies that disburse federal funds. Texas adopted a rule last year to prevent any of the WHP funds from going to clinics that provide or refer for abortions — notably planned Parenthood franchises, which had received 40 percent of the program’s funding.

The problem is the same one that was raised in the Komen kerfuffle. Planned Parenthood was ostensibly being reimbursed for providing health services like mammograms and cancer screening, but Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms nor cancer screening, but just refers patients to someone who does.

In December, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) informed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission that , in its opinion, Texas restrictions on the program were unlawful. CMS said Texas cannot restrict the distribution of its WHP funds because patients have the right to choose a Medicaid provider — and threatened to withdraw the funds entirely unless the restrictions were removed.

The battle is about Texas Right to Life and pro-life legislators efforts to defund the state’s abortion industry. Planned Parenthood believes they are entitled to government funding, and intend to lash out. The legislature’s rules and funding priorities have reduced the federal funding by 37% over the past year, resulting in the closure of twelve Planned Parenthood branches. The funding has merely been redirected, and thus has not restricted poor women’s access to necessary and preventive care.

The Obama administration has indicated that it would reduce its support for health care in Texas rather than let the state decide that the money shouldn’t go to supporting abortion providers. The administration has withdrawn $30 million worth of funding from the Texas Medicaid program. Kathleen Sebelius even traveled to Texas to announce  the withdrawing of funds. The federal government favors abortion, and expects Texas to recognize that fact.  Heavy hand of government.

Texas says they will fund the program themselves. Of the more than 1.000 certified WHP providers across the  state, Texas law excludes fewer than 100 Planned Parenthood providers. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has issued an opinion declaring that federal law allows states to exclude abortion providers and their affiliated organizations from Medicaid. Texas considers Planned Parenthood a poor allocation of public funds.

Taxpayers are certainly not in agreement with the idea that they should fund, through the federal government, a major abortion provider. Some people find that morally repugnant. The federal  government’s powers are limited. Why can’t Obama grasp that simple fact?

“Free Medicine” or Free Market Medicine? Hype or Hope? by The Elephant's Child

The case of ObamaCare will be argued before the Supreme Court next week. The Court has given it an unusual five hours for arguments over three days, then the decision is expected to come down some time in June.

The administration plans a coordinated campaign to force an unwilling public to accept ObamaCare. As usual, they will not present evidence, but instead focus on ” better messaging.” Focusing attention of their target audience on dramatic stories of the wonderfulness of the Affordable Care Act and Patient Protection ( I can never remember what comes next). Hopefully not the false story of Obama’s mother’s insurance again. The White House has a lot of persuading to do. Americans don’t like it.

Now events have put it back on the front page: the case brought by 26 states reaching the Supreme Court, the  issuance of a compulsory contraception mandate, and a new cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The bill came with all sorts of budget gimmicks so President Obama could trumpet 10-year costs of $938 billion. Now the CBO is estimating costs for 2013 through 2022 at $1.76 trillion, nearly double the phony original number, and even that is probably understated.  Annual gross costs after 2021 are more than a quarter of $1 trillion forever, every year.  Added to our $16 trillion in debt, of course.

Aside from lying to us about the costs, they lied to us about the need for reform. The cost of health care was NOT spiraling out of control, it had been declining for ten years back towards the normal rate of inflation — caused by advances in medicine, treatments, medicines and management. The part about evil insurance companies was hooey too, as was Obama’s claim that his mother’s insurance denied payment. He got several Pinocchios for that.  The big problem is simply that it won’t work.

Liberals get all excited when they want to accomplish single provider insurance. They want to cover everything to prove how nice they are. After all, their aim is to make you completely dependent on them. But things are not free. Somebody has to pay for them, and the only somebody around is taxpayers. When they generously offer to pay for your contraception, the cost goes up.

The Medicare Drug program was designed to cost less than was estimated because of the “donut-hole” provision that gave seniors an incentive to keep their own costs down by using generics and avoiding unnecessary drugs. When a senior’s cost for drugs reached a certain level, they had to pay for their own (incentive) unless they could not afford it, in which case the plan picked it up. Liberals were horrified, and eliminated the provision that kept costs down, which is insane.

President Obama claimed that his health-care plan would lower annual family health insurance premiums by $2,500 before the end of this term. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that the average family premium has increased by $2,200. The promised long-term care program, called the CLASS Act has been eliminated because it was financially unworkable, but the loss of the premiums that would have been collected wiped out $70 billion of supposed deficit reduction.

Around 50% of employers plan to stop offering health insurance to their employees once the law is implemented. Their choice is to pay $20,000 per family for care or a $2,000 fine. The incentive is to drop coverage. The plan was devise to become single payer.

But nevermind, there won’t be enough doctors anyway. The nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The U.S. now has 352,000 primary-care physicians now. Four new medical schools have opened and have enrolled about 190 students. Some 18,000 students entered U.S. medical schools in the fall of 2009. The big blockage is the three-year residency period; there are about 110,000 resident positions, and teaching hospitals rely on Medicare funding, which Congress capped.  It will probably take 10 years the AAMS’s chief advocacy officer says, to even make a dent in the number of doctors needed.

Add to that the fact that most doctors would now advise their own kids not to go into medicine. And more than 43% of doctors say they are considering retiring within 5 years. Used to be that many families had lots of doctors, but the profession, under ObamaCare, is no longer so rewarding.

Under a program like ObamaCare, the #1 problem becomes cost. When the government has promised all things, they have to find ways to cut those costs. The first choice is to cut the cost of senior citizens, for the highest costs come in a person’s final years. It would be much more convenient if they would not demand (or get) expensive procedures, and expensive care. Obama already took $500 billion out of Medicare payments to providers. The consequence: fewer doctors will accept Medicare patients, more emergency room use. The focus of the entire enterprise becomes eliminating cost.

Under the American health care system, before Obama got his hands on it, the focus was on getting people well, making them healthier, or more comfortable. That’s what all those new treatments, new procedures and innovation was all about. Doctors and hospitals were rewarded for excellence.

I think that’s what they called “the free market.”

When Along Came a Spider Which Did All Sorts of Amazing Things by The Elephant's Child

(photo by mbarrison)

This is a Golden Orb spider, in the news because of a gorgeous cloak now being exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The cloak took 8 years to make, with the silk from 1 million Golden Orb spiders, and the fabric is extraordinary. Some American museums are showing pieces of the fabric. The spiders are big — the legs are as wide as your hand, and the body roughly the size of a thumb.

Even more recently, a Japanese researcher has used thousands of strands of spider silk to spin a set of violin strings. The strings are said to have a “soft and profound timbre” compared to traditional gut or steel strings. We earlier wrote a post on Genghis Khan, and added a video of a Mongolian musician playing a traditional horsehead fiddle with horsetail strings and a horsetail-stringed bow.

The interest in spider silk is not new, but currently more intense, for the possibilities seem endless. Spider silk is stronger than steel, though not as strong as fibers spun from carbon nanotubes. It is waterproof. It will stretch 30-40 percent before it breaks. It is stronger than Kevlar, and would make far more protective bulletproof vests. It has antibiotic qualities. It conducts heat as effectively as metal, and its thermal conductivity increases when stretched. No wonder scientists are interested: the possibilities seem endless.

One of the primary interests, of course, is to analyze the structure and composition of spider silk in order to be able to duplicate it in a laboratory. Even a million spiders spinning is a slow process. The antibiotic and waterproof qualities along with the strength of the fibers suggest medical uses, like silk scaffolds to repair damaged musculature and broken bones, antibiotic bandages, artificial tendons.

An engineer at Iowa State University has discovered that the draglines used to anchor the golden silk orbweaver webs conduct heat better than most other materials, including aluminum, silicon and pure iron. Spider silk could become a key component of flexible electronics such as wearable computing devices and prototype folding displays. It could be used as thermal transfer material in computers.

The problem up to now with trying to produce spiderweb material was in building and maintaining spider farms that could produce silk in sufficient quantities to make it cost effective. Now a new partnership is looking for ways to create spider silk without having to use actual spiders. AMSilk is teaming up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research to figure out a way to mass produce the stuff.

Here is the fabric from the cloak on display at the Victoria & Albert:

(photo by Paul Grover/Rex Features)                                  (click to enlarge)

Obama’s Clean Energy Policy Makes No Sense. by The Elephant's Child

Oh my. The clueless Jay Carney, press secretary, slammed Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget, taking particular aim at cuts to renewable energy programs.— a top priority for the Obama administration.

“You have to be aggressively and deliberately ignorant of the world economy not to know and understand that clean energy technologies are going to play a huge role in the 21st century.”

Jeff Zients, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said in a blog post that cuts to clean energy programs in Ryan’s plan would ruin “efforts to put a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, retrofit residential homes to save energy and consumers money, and make the commercial building sector 20 percent more efficient  by 2022.

GM’s Volt factory is shut down until the supply of Volts actually sells, if they can convince the public that it doesn’t catch on fire.  The Fisker Karma keeps just quitting, refusing to run.  The Tesla Roadster apparently turns into an unmovable  brick if the charge runs down. Other than that we’re supposed to have a million on the road by 2015. They are all nice looking, maybe they could retrofit them with gasoline engines.

The larger electric car problem is that they all run on electricity from coal-fired power plants which produce roughly half of our energy, and which Obama is aggressively trying to bankrupt or forcibly shut down. I don’t know if our current grid would support recharging a million electric cars, that is if they can get them running.

Headline: President Obama doubles down on efforts to boost solar energy. From today’s column from Michelle Malkin, by Doug Powers:

“Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn’t gone bankrupt,” Obama said. “But understand: This was not our program per se.”

“Congress — Democrats and Republicans — put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries, it’s easy to raise money for start-ups, but if you want to take them to scale, oftentimes there’s a lot of risk involved, and what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to help start up companies get to scale,” he said.

Remember all those cheering Republicans standing behind Obama as he signed the stimulus bill? Me neither. And now “This was not our program per se.”

The free market is messy. There are winners and losers. But the free market has a long record of creating wealth, making countries prosperous, and raising the standard of living for all. We also have long evidence of administrations, dictators and kings choosing the winners and losers in the marketplace, and it never, never works.  There are no experts that clever. But the decisions of millions of people in a free market —that’s real expertise.

Obama’s Energy Strategy: Posture, Pretend and Prevaricate! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s refusal to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline will go down in history as one of the dumber decisions ever made by an American president.  According to a recent Gallup survey, Americans favor the pipeline by 57% to 29%. Even a majority of Democrats favor the pipeline 44%-39%, Independents 51%-35%, and Republicans favor the pipeline by 81% to 9%. Obama does not change his mind; but he’s posturing, pretending and prevaricating as fast as  he can.

He has gone to Cushing, Oklahoma which is a kind of junction of pipelines. There is currently a glut of oil at Cushing because the pipelines to the coast are too small to carry all the oil from Oklahoma. The last third of the Keystone will remedy that.

So Obama has visited Cushing to “authorize” the lower third of the Keystone XL which goes from Cushing to Texas refineries. But this portion is an interstate pipeline and doesn’t need the president’s authorization nor any oversight by the federal government at all. The Army Corps of Engineers gives a perfunctory review, but any other permitting is done on the local level. Obama’s appearance is all for show. There is political pressure for the White House to appear to be doing something about high gas prices, so there he is— showing off. This is not a good-faith endeavor, and the people know it.

He uses the same canned energy speech. We’re producing more oil than ever before (due entirely to permitting done in the Clinton and Bush administrations) (and it is being produced on state and private land where the president has no control). He suddenly claims he has directed his administration to open up millions of acres for oil and gas exploration in 23 different states, and directed them to open up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources. There’s a big difference between saying you can look on these millions of acres (which may contain not a drop of oil) and approving the permits to drill that oil drillers have actually applied for.

He says “If you hear anybody on TV saying that somehow we’re against drilling for oil … they’re  not telling the truth. We’re drilling all over the place. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to reduce our dependence on foreign oil every year since I took office.  Whoah.

The reason “our dependence on foreign oil”is down, is because our economy is in the tank, and the number of unemployed who are so discouraged they are no longer looking for work keeps growing.

 [O]ver the last 36 years, there has been no connection between the amount of oil that we drill in this country and the price of gasoline.  There’s no connection.  And the reason is that we’ve got a worldwide oil market.  And so even if we produce more, the fact of the matter is we use 20 percent of the world’s oil.  And even if drilled But even if we drilled every square inch of this country, we’d still only have 2 or 3 or 4 percent of the world’s known oil reserves.

Major whopper. See here.

So what ends up happening is the price is impacted not just by us, but by everybody, in the amount of oil that’s used worldwide.  And that means if we don’t develop new sources of energy along with oil and gas, and if we don’t develop technologies to use less energy for the same amount of output, we’re always going to depend on other countries for our energy needs.

The world price of oil is determined by the futures price on the commodities market. Not on “speculators” as Obama would have it, but by the estimate of what the future price will be by people looking at events in the world that may affect the price of oil.  When Iran threatens to close the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil supply passes, investors worry. When instability in the Middle East increases they worry, and the price goes up.

The price at the gas pump is not based on how much the station owner had to pay for the last tanker load, but on what he will have to pay for the next one — else he would not be able to pay for the next one. If the president had approved the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, the price would go down because the future outlook had just improved.

What the president actually believes about energy is a mystery. He talks about alternative sources of clean energy, and rushes off to a solar array which the government is subsidizing in one way or another. (Has wind finally lost favor?)

He talks about biofuels, but the only one we have is corn ethanol which is more polluting than gasoline, contains less energy, and is doing damage to the food supply. Biofuel from forest waste and plant material or switchgrass is mandated, with big fines if not, yet there isn’t any. The process hasn’t yet worked.  Solar energy heats water successfully, but produces little electricity, wind produces little electricity. The electric cars are so far a flop.  He’s now big on algae, but that is probably 30 years away from development, and unlikely anyway because producing any quantity just takes too much land.

Solar remains wishful thinking. Master Resource explains the history of the wishful thinking that over and over goes nowhere. The president is claiming a great accomplishment by extending the Keystone XL from Cushing to the Gulf, and the compliant media dutifully reports his words. He adds that he simply couldn’t allow the northern part to be built until it was not a danger to the American people. What an absolute crock.

“This administration’s record speaks for itself. For more than three years, President Obama has implemented a three part energy strategy: delay, deny, and deceive.”  — IER President Thomas Pyle

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