American Elephants

Historic New York City As You’ve Never Seen It Before by The Elephant's Child

New York City’s Municipal Archives have just released over 870,000 images from its photographic collection. It is, as the Atlantic describes  it,”a visual coming-of-age story, documenting its maturation into one of the world’s most influential cities.”

The Atlantic’s Alan Taylor has sifted through the images, and come up with 53 early and mid-20th century images for their magazine. The Atlantic has done a number of these spectacular photo essays, and they are always worth your time. There is a link to the whole collection, but they warn the website is swamped, and you may have difficulty reaching it. I loved this early street sweeper. Click on the image to enlarge.

Free Enterprise Does Not Fit Into Obama’s Vision for America by The Elephant's Child

Once upon a time, in the first days of November of 2010, all that was right about the world was shattered by one of the biggest electoral swings in congressional history. Democrats are still trying to grasp what has happened.

Conservatives don’t particularly dislike Liberals, but they detest their ideas. Liberals detest Conservatives and don’t understand their ideas at all.

Conservatives believe that reality suggests we are all flawed human beings, who must be set free to learn from our mistakes and grasp for opportunity. We make a lot of mistakes, but we turn around and correct them, muddle through and do amazing things in the process. The great innovations usually originate in a single mind, not in a committee.

A transaction in the free market does not happen unless both parties find it to their advantage. Competition keeps prices low and fosters innovation. Competition increases the quality and choices of products and services. Competition is hard work for businesses, and they have to fight for customers. They  have to keep track of what their competitors are doing, and find ways to innovate. Because it is hard, they lobby lawmakers to constrain the free markets in which they originally achieved success.

The most effective way to control capitalists is through competition, not regulation. Liberals are sure that rapacious big business will cheat customers, abuse workers and charge too much if  uncontrolled. In the free market, who wants to be a customer of such a business? They’ll go where they’re treated well.

Liberals offer to control the forces let loose in the free market. But control is seldom evenly applied. Those in control will, because they are human, favor one business over another. Or they will favor the unions, or  pick winners and losers, and subsidize a favored business while ignoring the competition.

Liberals are suspicious of competition. They have tried hard to stamp it out in the schools, eliminating winners and losers. Everybody gets a medal and nobody is a winner— lording it over the others.  But if there are no winners, there is no point in trying to be best. It is failures that make us work harder to succeed.

President Obama said that “the free market is the greatest force of economic progress in human history,” but he didn’t mean it. No president in history has worked so hard to expand state control over health care, energy, the environment, the financial sector, education, and American business. If the free market fits into Obama’s vision of America, he hasn’t explained how.

Obama assumes that progress begins with the administration of government money to jump-start a business. Government investment will somehow foster innovation and create jobs and prosperity. “Government money” is not taken as seriously as is the money from the pockets of individual investors. If you run short, there is usually more government money to be had, because failure would make the giver of government money look bad. Individual investors do more due diligence in the first place, and monitor operations more carefully— it’s their money at stake.

Nobody ever said that the free market is easy. It’s hard, but it works. We have evidence over and over— from history, from developing countries, from our own successes and failures.

We are fallible human beings, yet we rise to opportunity. One fallible human being’s success opens doorways for many more. The United States of America has been a beacon to the world in demonstrating the freedom and possibilities of the free market, and more and more nations are growing and prospering because of it.

How very odd that in” the worst recession since the Great Depression,” we should forget the simple rules that made us Americans.

THIS is what a bully looks like! by American Elephant
April 29, 2012, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Education, Media Bias, News, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , , , , ,

This is Dan Savage. Dan Savage makes me ashamed to be gay. Dan Savage is a vile [warning: when I say vile, I mean it], loathsome human being, far more hateful than any Christian I’ve ever known, and I know many.

Here, he proves that he does not seek to END bullying, but seeks TO bully. He also proves that he has no clue what the meaning of the word tolerance is, not to mention the words irony and hypocrisy.

He uses his position of power and authority over these high school kids, as an invited speaker with a stage, a microphone, and a very real “bully pulpit,” to bully those in the audience who dare to be Christian. He willfully misrepresents what the Bible says, knowingly lies about what Christians believe, dishonestly berates their religion (I know he knows better because I’ve seen and heard Christians explain to him exactly how he misrepresents their religion and beliefs, but instead of correcting his arguments, he keeps right on repeating what he knows to be lies.)

I am SO PROUD of all the kids, of every race & creed who got up and walked out on his bigoted, hateful tirade. I’m only sorry that the camera was zoomed in on Savage so that only one aisle could be seen. There were at least three aisles — probably 5 if you count the outsides, and I’m sure just as many kids were leaving via those aisles as well.

Tolerance does not mean that you must agree with people, or approve of what they do — that is the totalitarian leftist definition: “give us more money & control or you are a ‘H8er’.” If everyone agreed with one another, there’d be no need for tolerance. Tolerance means living in peace with people with whom you disagree — even strongly. Something Savage has never shown any evidence of doing. Something Christians do every day.

Tolerance is what these Christian kids did! (assuming they were all Christian, which may not be the case) —  coming to see him speak knowing who he was, knowing he was gay, knowing that he was a hateful, anti-Christian, anti-religious bigot.

And when he started berating them from his bully pulpit, they didn’t protest, they didn’t throw things at him and try to shout him down — as so-called “progressives” regularly do to conservative speakers. Quite the contrary, they let him speak, and quietly left, refusing to sit there and be bullied.

And when these throngs of kids left, what did this “progressive, enlightened, tolerant” man do? He pretended HE is the victim and called these high school kids (guilty of nothing) “pansy ass” (a little self-loathing, internal homophobia there Dan?) for leaving.

The most courageous people in that auditorium were those who stood up and left, in front of an auditorium full of their peers.

Dan was the least courageous. Dan was and is a coward. Bullying Christian kids, knowing full well that the very ‘worst’ thing they would do is possibly pray for him.

He has the GALL to accuse Christianity of teaching that women should be stoned (which shows he doesn’t understand a thing about Christianity Hey Dan! New Testament, Google it!) and to intimate that Republicans might want to do that much or more, cus ‘who knows where they’re going” as he put it — at the very same time his “progressive” president is sending millions to Palestinians who actually DO kill people for being gay.

He picks on high school kids whom he knows will do nothing,  but doesn’t have the balls to criticize the only religion on Earth that actually DOES stone, hang and burn gays to death in the name of their religion. You, Dan, are the “pansy ass”. The kids who laughed & applauded you at least have the excuse of being young and ignorant.

And lastly, I fervently hope it was more than just Christians who left!

I hope students of other faiths, and no faith at all, got up and left too. Most of all, I hope at least a few of those who left were gay kids who recognized the glaring hypocrisy of this “man” spewing hate and lies in the name of tolerance.

They were RIGHT to leave. Dan Savage is the bully. Dan Savage is the bigot.

[PS: He is supported & endorsed by Barack Obama & Democrats.]

Snapple Cap Message of the Day: by The Elephant's Child

“Most lipstick contains fish scales.”  Euww-ww!! Perhaps cosmetics, like sausage, are something that should just be left to the FDA to declare safe, and leave it at that. There are limits to recycling, or should be.

“This Mandate is Going to Wind Up in the Supreme Court” by The Elephant's Child

When Obama spoke warmly about  hope and  bipartisanship and cooperation in Congress, both houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats. When the 2010 election put Republicans firmly in control of the House of Representatives, Obama lost interest in cooperation.

Instead he determined to accomplish what he wanted done by executive orders, presidential memoranda and proclamations, and of course, regulations and mandates from the various agencies that were more or less authorized by some legislation. He just wouldn’t bother with Congress anymore.

Ruling by decree was just the way Obama wanted it. In February, President Obama announced his intention to order private insurance companies to provide contraception and abortion drug coverage free, as his way of accommodating religious institutions’ conscientious objections to being forced to provide coverage of those items for their employees, under the terms of ObamaCare.

The president just doesn’t get to rule by decree, taking over private industry,  installing his own people to carry out his wishes.  Oh, wait….

Back in 1952, during the Korean War, Harry Truman, an unpopular president, conducting an unpopular war, was faced with a political problem in a presidential election year. A looming steelworker’s strike could shut down the country’s steel production for months. The industry was under wartime price controls and could not raise their prices, yet could not meet the demands of labor without raising steel prices. The federal Wage Stabilization Board recommended a wage increase, but the federal Office of Price Stabilization denied the companies’ request for a price increase. Nobody would budge, and a strike was imminent.

Steel production was important to the war effort. Congress had rejected the idea of direct government interference in labor disputes. Truman ordered his secretary of commerce to seize and take over operation of the nation’s steel companies, in order to give steelworkers a wage increase and avoid a strike threatening steel production in the middle of a war. This became one of the most famous and most important of all modern Supreme Court decisions: Youngstown Steel & Tube Co.v. Sawyer. The Supreme Court held that the president may not rule by decree, conscripting private industry to carry out his commands. The chief executive may only execute laws passed by Congress, according to their terms. He may not make up laws of his own and then enforce them.

The presidents of three evangelical colleges have filed suit with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Alliance Defense Fund against the mandate, which is clearly in violation of the religious clause of the First Amendment.

In addition, it appears that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius did not consult Supreme Court decisions on religious liberty, nor have a legal memo prepared before she drafted the mandate. On Thursday Secretary Sebelius appeared before the House and was questioned by Congressman Gowdy (R-SC) a former federal prosecutor.

I suspect that Obama’s overreaching mandate may be in trouble.

Obama Will Inaugurate His Reelection Campaign on May 5 by The Elephant's Child

Stop laughing. Yes, this guy that has been flying all over the country in Air Force One, raising money at campaign events, beginning nearly a year ago. Over 100 fundraisers and another one last night — admission $35K on up. All those rallies at schools are just to see the kids science projects or something. The attempts to sell the “Buffet Rule,” those were “official” forays, or “official” travels designed to influence Congress.  But Obama knew the so-called Buffet Rule would never get by Congress.

The trips this week to talk to college students about lowering the interest rates on college loans? Those were obviously “official” business, even though the kids don’t have to worry about their loans until after they graduate — but they do get to vote before then — don’t they?

Air Force One costs $182.000 an hour— apparently of taxpayer money, since they are being so careful to indicate that he is only starting to campaign on May 5. Does he really need the helicopters as well, and the 20 car motorcade?

I think presidents should have vacations, enjoy some golf or whatever relaxation they need, spend time at Camp David. The work can be very stressful. We provide a president with lots of perks out of respect for the office. But it seems to be the Czars who are doing all the work, and this imperial president lavishes in the most expensive of the perks without the slightest concern for the enormous budget deficit and the 88 million unemployed. As the press is fond of saying — the optics are, um, unfortunate.  You can look up the president’s schedule on the White House website. It includes all his campaign events too.

We’ve been paying for his personal fascination with things solar, his personal enthusiasm for electric cars, his romance with light rail, and his personal distaste for any and all fossil fuels, not to mention his very obvious unconcern for the pocketbooks of American citizens. All those fundraisers that pretended to be “official” events should have raised enough money to pay for the presidential campaign travel, shouldn’t they?

You Will Behave, and We Will Monitor Your Behavior. by The Elephant's Child

You can always tell when the Democrats have come up with a bill by the name. I thought the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” was a pretty pretentious name as ObamaCare neither protects patients nor makes anything affordable. Now comes the prospective Senate Bill 1813 the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.” I reject anything named the 21st Century anything, but “Moving Ahead for Progress”— oh, puhleeze.

It gives the IRS the power to revoke passports belonging to those who are delinquent with tax debt in excess of $50,000. (That keeps a lot of Obama administration people safely at home). The potential law may also be used to measure your carbon footprint each time you get in your car.

The  legislation makes it mandatory for all new cars in the  U.S. to be fitted with black box-like recorders beginning in 2015. Called “Mandatory Event Data Recorders,” the devices would be capable of monitoring your speed, driving habits, braking habits, miles driven, location and distance of travel. Removal of the device would be a civil offense. The measurements would remain the property of the vehicle owner, but the government would have the authority to retrieve the data.

This is most probably another innovation of the Greens. They are very anxious to control your use of energy, and shutting down most sources of energy in favor of what they conceive of as clean energy continues unabated. Just wait till you get your Smart Meter and are connected to the Home Area Network.

The Crushing Weight of an Intrusive Government by The Elephant's Child

EPA Area Administrator Al Armendariz’s speech, captured on video, proposed the example of crucifying the first five people among the non-compliant to get everyone to fall in line. Supposed to be amusing. The video was quickly removed by the environmental activist who uploaded it. The White House is not pleased about the “crucify” bit. But what is important to notice, is not the immediate effect upon the non-compliant who quickly get in line, but the larger effect on the economy in general.

American business, Small Business Association, Chamber of Commerce, all the organized groups of small businessmen have complained publicly and privately about the fear and uncertainty created by government regulation and uncertainty about increasing taxes and healthcare mandates. Federal officials see that they have not added regulations for Widget Makers, or packaging people, or any of hundreds of different occupations and do not understand.

The Widget Maker, however, looks at the Gibson Guitar Company attack and expects that the next time it may be widgets. He sees no reason, no justified assault, other than a grasp for power. He reads about the waivers from ObamaCare being granted to unions and wonders how he can pay for sharply higher health care costs for his workers. You have a whole government with no understanding that small business is constantly worried about their ability to stay in business, get a business loan, and increase sales — and the government clearly informs him that they are not on the side of business, have no understanding nor respect for the free market, and no understanding of the problems that businesses face.

The Widget Maker watched when the government decided that the auto industry could not be subjected to our usually successful bankruptcy laws, and took over the industry, handing off portions to the unions and to Italian car makers,  putting the separate businesses who were linked to the car companies out of business, and putting their own buddies in the executive suite. That told thousands of businesses across the country that there was no limit to what this particular government felt free to do. Time to hunker down and avoid getting noticed.

Preliminary GDP reports mean that the growth outlook for the second quarter is even worse than expected, and the ratio  of Debt/GDP was 100.8%. Not a pretty picture, but the report is only preliminary and will be revised a couple of times, probably downward.  Businessmen keep an eye on this sort of thing as well. Hope is all very well, but businessmen worried about the bottom line will take the risk of hiring and growing when the risk seems promising.  The cost of hiring and growing has gone up sharply under the Obama administration.  This administration has no clue that is the result of their efforts.

Farm Kids v. Labor Department. Kids Won. by The Elephant's Child

An article appeared in the Daily Caller about the Obama administration proposal to prevent farm children from doing anything that might be dangerous, like doing farm chores. That had been revised down to not doing chores anywhere but on their parent’s property. City newspapers didn’t notice, but the proposal, in all its variations, struck a sour note in farm country. The general response could be described as — “Are they nuts?”

The best thing for the children of America would be to spend some time on American farms and doing farm chores. When I was growing up rural, we often got a high school age kid from a disgruntled city parent, with the request to place him on a ranch to work for the summer, so he could learn some life lessons.

Child labor laws were passed in the U.S. starting in 1916, but were not firmly established until the Great Depression. The Fair Labor Standards Act placed limits on many forms of child labor. According to Wikipedia, Human Rights Watch in a 2009 petition claimed:

Hundreds of thousands of children are employed as farmworkers in the United States, often working 10 or more hours a day. They are often exposed to dangerous pesticides, experience high rates of injury, and suffer fatalities at five times the rate of other working youth. Their long hours contribute to alarming drop-out rates. Government statistics show that barely half ever finish high school. According to the National Safety Council, agriculture is the second most dangerous occupation in the United States. However, current US child labor laws allow child farmworkers to work longer hours, at younger ages, and under more hazardous conditions than other working youths. While children in other sectors must be 12 to be employed and cannot work more than 3 hours on a school day, in agriculture, children can work at age 12 for unlimited hours before and after school.”

This may be true for migrant farm workers, but applied to all rural children on all American farms — it is ridiculous. It may have helped some children who were forced to work, but was tough on thousands of children who no longer got to pick berries or apples.

But the Daily Caller piece was this morning. This afternoon, the Labor Department withdrew their “proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations. The withdrawal statement was interesting as well. AllahPundit at Hot Air contributed an alternate headline:

Obama administration decides against picking pointless, hugely politically perilous fight in election year.

The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.

As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.

The decision to withdraw this rule,  including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption,’ was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.

Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H  to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.

The press release apparently said: “To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.” (translation,Hot Air added: please forget this).

The Environmentalist War on Rural America by The Elephant's Child

Oh, Oh! EPA Official Explains His Totalarian Philosophy of Enforcement. Crucify Them! by The Elephant's Child
April 26, 2012, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Energy, Environment, Law | Tags: ,

Every once in a while. a government official blurts out the truth about departmental activities in a way that gets picked up by the media, and it goes viral. Ans so it was when EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz confirmed the widespread suspicion that the EPA is at war with the oil and gas industries.

Oil and gas is an enforcement priority. It’s one of seven, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time looking at oil and gas production.

The top-ranking EPA official goes on to explain his philosophy of policy enforcement:

I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff…the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

Ans so you make examples of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.

And companies that are smart see that they don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.

And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.

That’s what these companies respond to is both their public image but also financial pressure. So you put some financial pressure on a company, you get other people in that industry to clean up very quickly.

“So, that’s our general philosophy,” he adds.

Exactly. And it isn’t just the Romans, the SS used to do that too. It’s how totalitarians act. And it’s why we’ve been calling the EPA an out-of-control agency that needs to be abolished. We have the examples of the Sacketts who were going to build their dream home with a view of the lake— and the EPA descended on them calling their suburban lot a “wetland” and fining them $75,000 a day until they had returned their graded lot to its natural state, and $37.500 a day for violating the law, and another $37,500 for something or other. The Supreme Court put an end to that.

And then there is Gibson Guitars who were shut down because the wood they imported with the full approval of Madagascar for frets didn’t comply with the American interpretation of Madagascar law. And the threat endangered every guitarist with a Gibson guitar.

EPA Administrator Armendariz took on Texas’ Range Resources with an emergency order issued by EPA Region 6 which it justified by making unfounded claims that because of fracking “houses could explode.” Interviews with the EPA warned  repeatedly of the “danger of fires and explosions.” That case was another legal embarrassment for the EPA.

In attempting to shut down coal-fired power plants, the EPA has claimed that their efforts to cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions would yield $290 billion in health and welfare benefits in 2014, and that it would prevent up to 36,000 premature deaths, 26,000 hospital and emergency-room visits and 240,000 cased of aggravated asthma. This is absolute hooey. Physicians don’t know the cause of asthma, and giving a number of “premature” deaths to be prevented is absurd.

This is the way the EPA operates, with lies and made up statistics and enormous fines. They intend to scare their victims into instant compliance with the EPA grab for power. They need to be stopped.  Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) has launched an investigation into the Obama-EPA tactics towards domestic energy production in the light of their recent efforts to frighten the public about safe hydraulic fracturing.


Would You Do It Or Wouldn’t You? by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2012, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Fun n Games, Sports | Tags: ,

This is the Insano (well named) Water Slide in Brazil’s’Beach Park. It is 41 meters high — the height of a 14 story building. You go down at a 105 kilometer/hour speed. Looks popular! It is the world’s tallest water slide.  You may click to enlarge and see the scary descent even bigger. The landing is not shown.

(h/t: Vanderleun)

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