American Elephants


It’s Not About American Safety, It’s About a “Legacy” For Obama by The Elephant's Child

CAVSZGZU0AAe8F1The key to understanding current events seems to be President Barack Obama. Who is this man, and what does he stand for? He has been our president for over six years and we don’t even know him at all.

Richard Epstein who knew him at the University of Chicago and through his next door neighbor who was a close friend of Obama, said he has the most perfect disposition for a politician. He is in complete control of himself, and wants to be in control of his situation, which, for example, is why he always uses a teleprompter. He keeps all of his thoughts to himself. In the Senate he was the farthest left of all.

Epstein said he has a good mind, but it is a clever means-ends mind. He is very dogmatic in his essential positions, and does not change his mind. Yet he does not have the skill set to deal with the complex problems he wants to address.

Bret Stephens writing for the Wall Street Journal today, called him “The Capitulationist,” with the subhead “The Obama administration refuses to negotiate openly, lest the extent of its diplomatic surrender to Iran be prematurely and fatally exposed.”

Victor Davis Hanson called it a “Chicago Presidency” and said “Malice is a valuable political tool for Barack Obama” The point is not that all this is outrageous, but rather that it is deliberately outrageous, again begging the question, “So what are you going to do about it?” …

“What then is the full Obama presidency? It is the quest for extralegal power not just by ignoring the law, tradition, or custom, but by doing so flagrantly and without concern, to the point of rendering critics impotent — and thereby accruing even more power to enrage and embarrass them.”

Seth Mandel at Commentary “The Obama administration’s official perspective on the Middle East currently engulfed in brutal sectarian conflict, civil war, and the collapse of state authority is: Let it burn. Nothing matters but a piece of paper affirming a partnership with the region’s key source of instability and terror in the name of a presidential legacy.”…

Obviously the president wants a deal, and he’s willing to do just about anything for it. The Obama administration long ago abandoned the idea that a bad deal is worse than no deal, and only recently began hinting at this shift in public. Officials have no interest in even talking about Yemen while they’re negotiating the Iran deal. It’s a singleminded pursuit; obsessive, irrational, ideologically extreme.

Yukia Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency: “Without Iranian disclosure of past illicit activities, including nuclear enrichment and weaponization research, it’s hard to see how the Obama Administration can honor its core pledge to strike a deal that would give the West a one-year warning if Iran decides to build a bomb. As Olli Heinonen, the former Deputy Director-General for Safeguards at the IAEA, told us, “you need to have that baseline. You want to understand what they were doing.” An Iran that has the know-how to rapidly weaponize highly enriched uranium or plutonium may need only months to assemble a bomb.” …

The U.S. may also accept a verification plan that would grant the IAEA access to “some” of the sites that Iran has so far closed to the IAEA. But any verification program that doesn’t give inspectors unfettered and immediate access to any place they want to see does little more than create the illusion of inspections while giving Iran the opportunity to cheat.”

IBD: “At the eleventh hour before the Tuesday deadline, Tehran negotiators predictably changed positions and demanded new concessions. Unfortunately, unlike Ronald Reagan, President Obama won’t be walking away. …Americans should think back nearly three decades ago to a low-key former British Embassy in northern Reykjavik in Iceland.

Americans should think back nearly three decades ago to a low-key former British Embassy in northern Reykjavik in Iceland. It was there, in October 1986, that Ronald Reagan picked up his papers and walked out on a U.S.-Soviet summit, not caring a whit what the media or the Washington establishment would say.

He had won the Cold War by standing his ground that day, as many ex-Soviets confirmed. Striking a note familiar today, Gorbachev adviser Anatoly Chernyaev’s notes show that the Russian ruler believed “Reagan needs” a deal at Reykjavik “as a matter of personal ambition, so as to go down in history as a ‘peace president.'”

But Reagan needed nothing of the sort. He knew his job was to protect the nation and the Free World and that those seated across from him were representatives of what he wasn’t afraid to call an Evil Empire.



Hard Choices: What’s Right Or What Will Buy Votes. by The Elephant's Child

Expectations about public policy have an enormous impact
on the market price of gasoline.

Holman Jenkins, writing in the Wall Street Journal, points out that candidate Gingrich’s energy  plan would put “the U.S. government unambiguously in favor of cheaper gasoline. He’d arguably be the first president since Reagan who didn’t believe gasoline is a bad, obsolete product and priced too low.”

Don’t underestimate the psychological and political upheaval this would bring about. For decades, U.S. policy has been riven with a costly ambiguity about Washington’s real aim for gasoline prices. In 2008, both parties nominated climate warriors for president, and both parties at times have favored dramatically increased fuel-mileage mandates, which imply higher gas prices unless Washington intends auto makers to go broke selling vehicles consumers don’t want.

For decades, too, the EPA, in pursuit of relatively small air quality gains, has been allowed to balkanize the U.S. refining market with “boutique” fuels, driving up the price everywhere. For decades, environmentalists have been empowered to put domestic resources off-limits not just to preserve pristine nature, but to express disapproval of our energy “addiction.”

Every once in a while these urges even threaten to coalesce into coherence with an outright policy of higher gasoline prices, as when the Clinton administration flirted with a BTU tax or the Obama administration plumped for cap and trade.

Back in the real world, politicians are in a state of panic when faced with the higher gasoline prices that are a direct result of their policies. President Obama was confronted with this paradox  at the White House press conference this week. His response was interesting: “Do you think the president of the United States going into re-election wants gas prices to go up higher? Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?”

When Obama took office, gasoline prices averaged $1.89 a gallon.  Today, here in Washington state, the average is hovering right around $4.00, though the national average is lightly lower. Democrats in Congress are considering ways to go after “oil speculators.” The president is more interested in going after the oil company CEOs. The 1%, you know.

On Thursday, the Senate voted on an amendment that would fast-track the $7 billion, shovel-ready Keystone XL pipeline. Eleven Senate Democrats crossed the aisle to vote to eliminate the need for a federal permit and addressed environmentalists concerns by allowing Nebraskans to determine the route. Senate Republicans voted unanimously for Keystone, which would bring 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta to gulf refineries, easing supplies and creating thousands of much-needed jobs.

The president put his press conference response aside and worked the phones hard, lobbying Senate Democrats, The final vote was 56–42, meaning a majority voted to strip the president of authority to block the pipeline, but it was 4 short of a filibuster 60-vote threshold to make it stick. Obama owns the Keystone XL Debacle.

Obama’s constant refrain “There’s no silver bullet” does not hold. Here are just a few things that could bring the price of gasoline down.  State and federal taxes on gasoline average 45.7 cents a gallon, with the  highest in New York at a combined 67.4 cents a gallon, and the low in Alaska at 26.4 cents.  A number of analysts have noted that the Fed’s devaluation of the dollar has led directly to higher oil prices, adding as much as 56 cents a gallon.

Federal and state rules require about 18 separate boutique fuels, or local blends, about what can be and can’t be in their fuels. Sen. Roy Blunt has offered a bill to give the EPA more authority to waive these local rules. There are a long list of environmental rules— in 1999 the EPA required refiners to drastically cut the amount of sulfur in gasoline and diesel which cost the industry almost $5 billion and $1.5 each year. Environmental rules have driven smaller refiners out of business, closing 4 on the East Coast which makes gas more expensive in the region.

Environmental rules require refiners to add 6.6 million gallons of “advanced biofuels” to their product. The law has cost refiners almost $7 million in fines, since these advanced biofuels don’t exist commercially and nobody knows if they will, which means bigger fines as the mandated amount increases.

So, there is not much that a president can do about the world price of oil, but there’s a lot that is quite possible to do in this country to lower the cost — if one so chose.




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