American Elephants


An Embarrassing Exercise in Budgeting. Obama Should Be Ashamed. by The Elephant's Child

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Progressives have a vision of money circulating through the economy, creating offspring wherever it goes. I find it very odd, but that’s what they get out of Keynesian economics. You give somebody food stamps, and the grocery store pays their providers and their sales clerks, and the clerks and providers  buy other stuff, and so on and on, and somehow it grows and multiplies on the trip.

They are not very good at math either, which shows up clearly in their spending and budgeting.  President Obama has released the final budget plan of his lame duck presidency and it will be ignored by Congress, as it should be. He wants to expand the federal government which is already obese, and he wants big tax hikes to pay for it.

But 70% of federal spending amounts to taking money from one set of pockets and putting it into another pocket. In spite of their constant claims of fighting income inequality, very little of this money goes to help the poor. There is housing assistance, food stamps, welfare programs and Medicaid — programs that comprise only 25% of all the payments to individuals.

It all starts with an enormous $2.7 trillion tax increase over ten years. This is on top of the increases Obama has pushed over previous years. In ObamaCare, the tax hikes totaled $1.2 trillion over a decade, and then right after his re-election in 2012, he demanded a $600 billion tax hike on upper-income earners as the price for not imposing bigger hikes on the middle class. If he were to get away with this disgraceful budget, it would add somewhere around $4 to $5 trillion over a decade or at least $400 billion each and every year. Of course the standard reply is a trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money! So why shouldn’t we tax the one percent even more? What we want — is to tax everybody less.

The federal government is not thrifty, nor is it a careful or honest custodian of the money they collect. Government waste is an ongoing scandal. There are somewhere around 45 different job training programs in as many different departments that are remarkably good at failing to increase employment. Excess regulation wraps businesses in a web of expense and wasted time in compliance. And there is less money and less confidence for expanding or hiring or growing. Top that off with higher taxes — and what you get is the kind of sluggish economy we have today.

The more sluggish the economy, the more the Progressives will try to fix it — with more regulation and probably more taxes. There does not seem to be an agency of the federal government that has not been politicized under this president, and the scandals mount.

Obama’s budget relies on “deep and unsustainable reductions in defense spending to make the deficit look smaller than it would otherwise be given his policies.” Defense spending is already at historically low levels, but then Obama sees little need for defense spending. He firmly believes that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon, though what they want with those intercontinental ballistic missiles is a puzzlement.

Mr. Obama does insist that “one of the greatest challenges of our time is climate change”and he wants to double funding for clean energy research and development by 2020. I’m sure that a 50 percent increase in funding for the EPA will go over well.

Environmental organizations raise bundles of money by featuring baby animals, starting with harp seals, and settling finally on polar bears. Baby polar bears are cute, and American are suckers for cute animals, but the polar bears are not endangered but are thriving. Federal funding for subsidies and grants are a rich source of money for big investors.

Al Gore’s global warming activism has increased his net worth from $700,000 in 2000 to an estimated $172 million by 2015. “He has also had a remarkable record of investing in companies right before they get huge grants from the federal government.”

The billionaire Elon Musk is chairman “of a number of companies such as Tesla Motors and Solar City which rake in billions in green energy subsidies. In 2014, Musk received $1.4 billion from Nevada taxpayers to build a ‘gigafactory’ for his electric car company Tesla Motors.” The MSRP for a Tesla is reportedly over $100,000. SolarCity also got a large payout to move to Nevada. When Nevada changed the way it subsidized solar power in a way that didn’t favor Musk or SolarCity, the company pulled out of the state.”

Tesla also sells lithium ion-battery Powerwalls for a mere $7,340 to store electricity for homes. The original intention of a Powerwall was to make rooftop solar panels economically viable for consumers. Powerwalls are estimated to take approximately 40 years to pay for themselves. Naturally, Tesla only offers five to 10 year warranties and predicts they will last for only 15 years.

Nice work if you can get it, though I cannot understand why taxpayers should be subsidizing billionaires’ playthings. That’s what hedge funds and angel investors do, not what the federal government should be doing with taxpayer money.



Willful Ignorance In The White House, Rising Danger in the World. by The Elephant's Child

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This is the time of year when President Obama has to come up with his 2017 budget request. Reports have said that the president is planning to ask Congress for billions and billions more to spend on controlling the uncontrollable natural warming and cooling of the earth.

In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama repeated once again his belief that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, which he has said repeatedly, at least 22 times, insisting that it ranks higher on the danger list than terrorism, which he plans to defeat with windmills. Last week he proposed a $10 a barrel tax on oil production, since the price of gas at the pump has dropped and you probably won’t notice if it goes right back up.

His formal request is for $5.2 billion for Department of Energy Green programs — like all the ones that have already gone bankrupt like Solyndra. $1.8 billion would go to making green energy storage more economical. DOE would also get $880 million to make green transportation more affordable and push green fuels. The big drop in the price of gasoline is playing hob with the sales of electric cars, which aren’t all that green anyway if you consider where they get the electricity from.

The EPA’s budget is supposed to get a 50% increase, while 20 states are asking the Supreme Court to challenge their climate rule, which the states say “would cause “irreparable harm” were it allowed to be implemented.”

The National Science Foundation would get $512 million to study green energy. and the USDA would get $105 million for “competitive and intramural research funding to support development of bio-based energy sources that range from sustainable and economical forest systems and farm products to increased production of biofuels.”Even HUD gets more money to get more low-carbon energy into residential homes.

Biofuels don’t work, ethanol should be banned, and Obama wants to put more wood products or anything at all that could replace fossil fuels into your gas tanks. He believes that carbon dioxide is a pollutant (which it isn’t) that it is the cause of the tiny rise in the temperature of the Earth over the last century (it isn’t). We need more CO2 in the atmosphere, because it is a natural fertilizer for plants and is greening the world.

The EPA has released a finding that aircraft (except for Air Force One) carbon emissions contribute to climate change. This will be coordinated with “the International Civil-Aviation Organization, a branch of the United Nations, which is drafting a global standard for airline carbon emissions.”

And terrorism? The bigger threat to America’s security is that the military has not made climate change its number one priority.” A new Pentagon directive says that climate change must be a part of all Defense Department “programs, plans and policies.”

A huge new defense climate bureaucracy is being born after years of defense cutbacks. Our Army is the smallest since 1940. The Navy is the smallest since 1915. Willful stupidity. Obama’s former CIA deputy director Mike Morell told PBS’s Charlie Rose “We didn’t go after oil wells…that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage.” ISIS just cut their fighter’s salaries in half, because of the drop in the price of the oil that supports their activities.

In the meantime, North Korea just conducted a test of a three stage Taepodong that could potentially carry a nuclear weapon to the U.S. just a month after they said they had detonated a hydrogen bomb. Iran is working on a “Mysterious new installation that’s tied to its nuclear weapons program.” Iran is using North Korea to develop their nuclear program and are cooperating on their missile program. North Korea calls it a “satellite launch” which doesn’t fool anybody but Obama.

Investors says: “Closer to home, there have been at least 81 major terrorist threats against the U .S. since 9/11, the most recent just last month, according to the Heritage Foundation.” The administration tries to palm off their passivity with the term “strategic patience.” Obama has always hidden behind a carefully constructed web of clever words. Sometimes it works.



Social Justice, The Attack on Freedom, and The Drive for Control. by The Elephant's Child

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— Under the United States Constitution, laws are supposed to be made and changed by the legislature, not by the president and his unelected bureaus and agencies and departments. They call laws issued by the president or one of his minions “administrative law,” which sounds innocuous unless you really stop and think about it.

Most presidents, facing defeat at the polls, make an effort to  try for  bipartisanship. Obama does not operate that way. He despises Republicans, and has set all his legal people to work trying to find ways to pass everything he wants on his own authority.

So here we go again. A proposed rule from the Department of Labor would compel businesses to reveal the names of outside attorneys or labor relations consulting firms with whom they contract. Then the consultants and attorneys contracted would be required to publicly disclose all other similar clients and how much they were paid for their services. George Leef says:

There is nothing illegal in contracting with attorneys and consultants who advise management on the legalities of and tactics relating to fending off unionization. But with time running out in the Obama administration to do favors for Big Labor, the Labor Department wants to do as much as it can to deter companies from dealing with such specialists.

The applicable federal law is the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. That law was catalyzed by the explosive McClellan Committee hearings in 1957-8, which disclosed, as the statute recites, “a number of instances of breach of trust, corruption, disregard for the rights of individual employees, and other failures to observe high standards of responsibility and ethical conduct….” The thrust of the law, therefore, was to increase transparency on the part of both companies and unions.

One provision of the LMRDA requires employers to name consultants they hired who directly spoke to workers, to solve the supposed problem of workers not realizing when they were being sweet-talked by management allies. But the law also includes an exception (Section 203c) for those who simply give advice to the company.

— If you can’t confiscate America’s guns because the public and the Congress won’t approve, there must be another way:  It’s called “Operation Choke Point” which is a Justice Department effort to require, through the FDIC — forcing banks to stop providing financial services to certain industries.

The businesses in ill favor are lawful firearms dealers, payday lenders, escort services and other companies. Justice has encouraged banks to provide services to others like illegal marijuana sales, marijuana shops, abortion clinics, or radical environmental organizations.

Banks find the restrictions onerous, and require extraordinary amounts of due diligence and excessive paperwork. The government  hasn’t been successful at ammunition restrictions, or with false claims about gun shows, so they’re trying a more oblique attack. Congress has passed a bill attempting to end this improper, illegal run-around.

— The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) wants to know just how much you are getting paid. The administration is chasing “Income Inequality” not to make sure that some people are being treated unfairly, but for control.

‘The EEOC announced changes to its required EEO-1 report requiring employers to submit employee W-2 earnings and hours worked. All employers with at least 100 employees would be required to comply. EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) would jointly have access to the data for enforcement purposes.”

“Pay data will be reported in 12 pay bands (e.g. pay band 5 is $39,000 – $49,000) and by race, ethnicity, sex and job category (e.g. 13 black female professionals in pay band 5).”

The Obama Progressives talk equality, but they mean equality for the hoi-polloi  (which is you and me). They don’t mean themselves — such a big mass of hoi-polloi would require skilled administrators and executives and rulers to whom such pedestrian social justice laws do not apply.

Republicans talk about Big Government, and this is what they mean, but they are quite guilty themselves in sending their laws on to agencies and bureaus and commissions to administer. It will take a very able and experienced president who understands the problem of administrative law, and is willing to fight to do something about it.

You mostly don’t slip into Socialism and lose your freedom and autonomy overnight, it’s a long process, and you wake up one morning and it’s gone.



A Brief Comment on Obama’s Rose Colored Glasses by The Elephant's Child

President Obama: press briefing, Friday, February 5, 2016, on the just released jobs report:

TGIF, everybody.  I wanted to stop by, because as you’re aware by now, America’s businesses created another 158,000 jobs last month.  After reaching 10 percent in 2009, the unemployment rate has now fallen to 4.9 percent — even as more Americans joined the job market last month.  So this is the first time that the unemployment rate has dipped below 5 percent in almost eight years.  Americans are working.

All told, over the past six years, our businesses have added 14 million new jobs.  Seventy-one straight months of private-sector job growth extends the longest streak on record.  Over the past two years, 2014 and 2015, our businesses added more jobs than any time since the 1990s. …

So, as I said at my State of the Union address, the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.  I know that’s still inconvenient for Republican stump speeches as their doom and despair tour plays in New Hampshire.  I guess you cannot please everybody.

Zero Hedge: 02/05/2016, 10;14 a.m.
Headline : “70% Of Jobs Added in January Were Minimum Wage Waiters and Retail Workers”

For those curious where the big jump in earnings came from, the answer appears rather simple: the reason, according to the BLS’ breakdown of jobs added in January (per the Establishment survey), of the 151,000 jobs added in the past month, retail trade added 58,000 jobs in January, while employment in food services and drinking places, aka waiters and bartenders, rose by 47,000 in January.

Simple: state regulations demanding higher wages for minimum wage workers starting January 1, which as discussed previously will promptly lead to employers passing on wage hikes costs to consumers in the form of 10% higher food prices starting in NYC and soon everywhere else.

This is the full breakdown of January job gains:

  • Retail Trade: +58K
  • Leisure and Hospitality, which includes food workers: +44K
  • Professional and business service workers, excluding temp workers: +34K
  • Manufacturing workers posted a curious rebound, rising by +29K. We are confident this number will be revised promptly lower.
  • Construction +18K
  • Wholesale Trade: +9K
  • Education and Health saw a big and unexplained drop from 54K to 6K
  • Information services added just 1K workers
  • As for sectors losing workers included Temp Help workers, Transportation and Warehousing (courtesy of the truck and train recession), Mining and Logging, and Government workers.


“The lady doth protest too much, methinks” by The Elephant's Child

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“I  take classified information seriously. People are selectively leaking and making comments that have no basis in anything I’m aware of.”

“There is nothing here. It’s a little bit like what the Republicans and others have tried to do with respect to Benghazi.”

“Rules should change to keep people from doing what I did with my emails.”

I didn’t generate any ‘top secret’ e-mails.”

“None of the e-mails were labeled “classified”

“Nothing was marked ‘classified'”

“No classified material was ever sent over my private server”.

“She had never stored classified documents or transmitted them via her private server.”

“Her campaign smeared Inspector General McCullough as a ‘partisan'”.
(he was an Obama appointee.)

“I did not send or receive anything that was classified at the time.”

“I have never received anything marked ‘classified.'”

“A silly inter-agency food-fight about over-classification.”

“She did not ‘originate’ the offending documents.”

“She wants all of her top secret documets released for the public to judge.”

“When you receive information, of course there has to be some markings, some indication, that someone down the line had thought that this was classified, and that was not the case.”

“Well, It was allowed then!”

“She compared her situation to someone driving the speed limit, but then being ticketed retroactively after the speed limit was lowered for something that wasn’t speeding at the time.”

ADDENDUM: 2/05/2016, New Hampshire
We’ve got this absurd situation of retroactive classification”
Added that she was “100% sure the FBI would exonerate her.”



It’s Not About Clean Water. Another Big Lie From the EPA. by The Elephant's Child

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The House has joined with the Senate in voting to overturn the EPA’s attempt to extend their control of “navigable waters” to every creek, stream, ditch and trickle to exert control over privately owned land across the United States.

The EPA has been acting with Congressional authority over “navigable waterways” since the 1972 Clean Water Act became law. Earlier this year they extended without any input from Congress their “clean water rule” as authority to control dry creeks, potholes and puddles. The intent was that private individuals or businesses would require government permission to do anything on their own property that was remotely related to water — like digging a drainage ditch, for example —that would give Washington sweeping powers over private land.

A federal judge told the EPA in August that it had gone too far, but the EPA shrugged and said they would continue to impose the rule in the 37 states that were not part of the lawsuit.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the EPA’s attempted rule a “power grab’ last Wednesday —the day the House voted 253-166, with the support of 12 Democrats to overturn the rule. It is the same resolution that was passed by the Senate in November. Now it will go to President Obama’s desk. He will undoubtedly veto the bill.

I’m not sure just when the current crop of Democrats decided that they could be Socialists without actually using the name — by controlling everything with regulation instead of owning the means of production. They are, however, well on their way to extend a web of federal power over everything, including private property.

I don’t know how the Navajos’ lawsuits against the EPA are proceeding over the agency’s toxic spill into the waters that serve the Navajo Nation for drinking water, irrigation and stock feed, but it is simply further proof that the EPA’s efforts are just a power grab, and have nothing to do with clean water — nothing at all.



Recovery From a Recession is Likely Unless Lawmakers Gum it Up With Ill-Conceived Stimulus Policies. by The Elephant's Child

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Obama likes to compare his recession to Franklin Roosevelt’s GREAT Depression under the mistaken belief that the GREAT Depression was long because it was a particularly bad one, and the reason that Obama’ recession has gone on so long is simply because it was an unusually bad one— which is all a bunch of hooey.

FDR’s Great Depression was bad because FDR  had no real idea how to deal with it and attacked it with the idea of constant experimentation with ways to end it. There was the NRA, the WPA, the RFC, the CCC, and the OPA to mention just a few. Two UCLA economists announced back in 2004 that they had figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect thought by all good Progressives to be beyond reproach— Franklin D Roosevelt himself. The Wall Street Journal reminds us in a “Notable and Quotable” column:

After scrutinizing Roosevelt’s record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

“Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump,” said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA’s Department of Economics. “We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.” . . .

“The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes,” Cole said. “Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened.”

What? Non-intervention as policy? Works pretty well. Economies like to recover. Freedom and prosperity go together. Consult Calvin Coolidge.




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