American Elephants


Free enterprise or social democracy? It shouldn’t even be a question. by The Elephant's Child

In an interview with NPR, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, gives her perspective (and her boss’s) on the car companies.

Jackson: The President has said — and I couldn’t agree more — that what this country needs is one single national road map that tells auto makers who are trying to become solvent again, what kind of car it is that they need to be designing and building for the American people.

NPR reporter: (interrupting) Is that the role of the government, though?  I mean that doesn’t sound like free enterprise.

Jackson: Well, it it, it is free enterprise in a way.  Umm uhh you know, first and foremost the free enterprise system has us where we are right this second (laughs) and so some would argue that the government already has a much larger role than we might have when Henry Ford rolled the first cars off the assembly line.

In the Wall Street Journal, Arthur C. Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, points out that the real culture war is over capitalism.  The new divide centers on free enterprise — the principle at the core of American culture.

You can see the beginnings of this schism, he says, in the “tea parties” that have sprung up around the country, with the count now greater than 800,000 people expressing their opposition to government deficits and bailouts that prop up those who engaged in mortgage fraud and corporate malfeasance.

They worry about the massive debt that will affect the lives of their grandchildren.  They paid their mortgages,  they were small business owners who don’t want  corporate welfare, they were bankers who made prudent loans.  They are watching elected politicians hand their tax money over to reward the people who did all the important things wrong.  And they don’t like the casual distribution of taxpayer money by the members of Congress who caused the problems in the first place.

The Pew Research Center asked people in March 2009, if we are better off  “in a free market economy even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time.”  Fully 70 percent agreed, compared to 20 percent who disagreed.

Under President Obama’s tax plan, fully 49 percent of American adults will have no federal income-tax liability.  Another 11 percent will pay less than 5 percent of their income in taxes and less than $1,000 in total.  The other half will pay for everything — your own health care, and theirs, their education and  the “tax-cuts” that simply give the untaxed welfare money.  You will pay for all the volunteers who will do make work jobs in the name of “community service.”

“Social Democrats ” says Brooks, “are working to create a society where the majority are net recipients of the “sharing economy.”

Advocates of free enterprise must learn from the growing grass-roots protests, and make the moral case for freedom and entrepreneurship.  They have to declare that it is a moral issue to confiscate more income from the minority simply because the government can.  It’s also a moral issue to lower the rewards for entrepreneurial success, and to spend what we don’t have without regard for our children’s future.

Do read the whole thing.  It’s important to understand the real basis of today’s culture war.



The king of France went up the hill, with forty thousand men; The King of France came down the hill And ne’er went up again. by The Elephant's Child
April 30, 2009, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Economy, Freedom, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Economist Veronique de Rugy warns President Obama that while France is admirable in many ways, economics is not one of the ways.



The H1N1 flu strain by The Elephant's Child

The Swine, Mexican, H1N1 flu, will be relatively mild scientists say, according to genetic data, and won’t be as deadly as even the average winter flu. Scientists are working on a new vaccine, but it won’t be ready until around December.  Because of  Hillary Clinton’s insistence on removing the profit motive from vaccine manufacture, there is now only one company that makes vaccines in the United States.

The World Health Organization says that only 7 8 people worldwide have died from the H1N1 flu.

Janet Napolitano warned youngsters released from schools closed in fear of the flu, that school closure didn’t mean they should go the the mall, but that they should stay home.

Somebody or other announced that the flu was caused by a virus — as the flu always is — and you cannot get it by eating pork chops or bacon.

According to the media, this flu is closely related to Seattle’s own winter storm watches.  All panic, few flakes.



A few insights from Obama’s press conference. by The Elephant's Child

In his televised press conference last night, celebrating his first 100 days, President Barack Obama claimed that his $787 billion deficit spending stimulus package “has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs.”  It’s just that nobody can figure out where these saved or created new jobs are, and a lot of policy wonks are trying to figure it out.

“This crisis is neither the result of a normal turn of the business cycle nor an accident of history.  We arrived at this point as a result of an era of profound irresponsibility that engulfed both  private and public institutions from some of our largest companies’ executive suites to the seats of power in Washington D.C.”

Well, no. This crisis is the result of regulations put in place by Congressional Democrats, and of Democrats refusal to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While we have inherited record budget deficits and needed to pass a massive recovery and reinvestment plan to try to jump-start our economy out of recession, we cannot lose sight of the long-run challenges that our country faces and that threaten our economic health…”

Well, guess what happened while our attention was diverted by the debate about torture?  Congress passed an enormous budget without a single Republican vote. The graph below shows the ” inherited deficits,” and estimates of Obama’s spending.

wapoobamabudget11

“We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals, by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and banning torture without exception.”

And where did the detainees go?  Obama also acknowledges that the harsh interrogation techniques he has banned might have yielded useful information.

“I don’t think we should micromanage.”

This is what the President says about the automobile companies after describing just how he plans to micromanage the automobile companies.

“We have to lay a new foundation for growth.”

The Treasury Department announced yesterday that it is going to step up the issuing of 30-year bonds to cover the hundreds of billion of dollars the Obama administration is spending on bailouts, budget and stimulus.   An advisory committee warned that domestic and foreign investors are going to demand significantly higher interest rates in exchange for buying the vast number of new bonds.  Higher interest rates will strangle the economic recovery.

At the Reason Foundation, economist Jeffrey Miron explains the financial crisis, and why we would have been better off to have done nothing at all.



100 Days, 100 Mistakes by American Elephant

Only 100? The New York Post has the rundown.



100 Days — NO accountability! by American Elephant

Good ad by the NRSC highlighting just some of the major lies, hypocrisy, corruption and incompetence that have marked the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency.



President Obama had demanded that his cabinet come up with some significant budget cuts. by The Elephant's Child
April 28, 2009, 2:33 am
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Liberalism, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

Here’s another visualization of the enormous budget cuts that President Obama has asked his cabinet for.  I suggested nixing the Kobe beef, the flown-in pizzas, and losing the full-time make up artist.  A little here, a little there and it all adds up, just not very much.



Using kids to accomplish political goals is child abuse. by The Elephant's Child

According to an Earth Day survey of schoolchildren, one in three children between the ages of six and eleven think that the earth will have been destroyed by the time they grow up. The telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research polled a national sample of preteens, 250 boys and 250 girls.

Kids worry about the state of the planet, especially about clean air and clean water, regardless of their parents actions to recycle or make other efforts to be green. 50 percent say that hurricanes and tornadoes are the natural disasters that scare them the most.  28 percent say that they fear that animals such as polar bears and penguins will become extinct and disappear from the planet.

Minority kids are even more anxious. 75 percent of black children and 65 percent of Hispanic children believe that the planet will be irrevocably damaged by the time they grow up. Urban children are more anxious than suburban children.

Thank you, Al Gore, the Sierra Club, and all the green propagandists in the education establishment. This is child abuse. Kids write about polar bears for class projects.

I wrote a short post last December about DNA studies that determined that polar bears had been around much longer than estimated. It had been assumed that they evolved from brown bears fairly recently. Genetic studies determined that the polar bear had been around for at least 130,000 years, through warmer periods and cooler periods, and we probably didn’t need to worry about their surviving the slight warming that we have had. We could probably take them off the “might become endangered” list.

The post was illustrated with a really cute picture of a polar bear cub. We have had 26,000 hits on that one post — mostly from school children working on class projects. I hope that some of them read it to find out that the bears are probably not endangered, but I imagine that most of them were simply after the picture of the cub. I know it’s kid’s homework, because the hits stop during school vacations.

In England, the High Court ordered schools to give an equal amount of time to the scientific proof that many of Al Gore’s claims in “An Inconvenient Truth” were unsupportable, false, and just plain wrong.  We have had no such luck in this country, and his celebrated propaganda powerpoint is constantly shown in the schools.  The polar bear was chosen by environmental activists specifically to arouse worries about extinction, and by extension to use their habitat needs to prevent any possible drilling for oil.

Unnecessarily scaring kids seems like a particularly sleazy way to try to accomplish green fantasies.



Liz Cheney takes on the “torture” controversy and Norah McDonald as well, and wins. by The Elephant's Child

Liz Cheney, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, is here interviewed on MSNBC, on the interrogation memos and the question of “torture.” Norah McDonald gives a wonderful example of media bias. She can’t quite believe that anyone would have the gall to disagree with President Obama. For an example of disagreeing with a president, see “Afterburner“, a video we posted earlier. Hilarious.



The West Coast Plot and “criminal prosecutions:” A study in political inexperience. by The Elephant's Child

Click to view full size

(click image to view full size)

“The Obama administration is confused.” writes Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard.

The president says harsh interrogation techniques “do not make us safer,” but his top intelligence adviser says the same techniques produced “high-value information” that gave the U.S. government “a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.

Obama White House officials routinely boast that theirs is “the most transparent administration in history,” but then they release Justice Department memos about the interrogations in which the assessments confirming the value of those techniques are blacked out.

Attorney General Eric Holder tells a congressional committee that he is unaware of memos about the information gleaned in harsh interrogations that have been requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney, but his boss, the president, not only knows about those memos but also describes their contents to members of Congress.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the administration could support an independent investigation of interrogation techniques based on the 9/11 Commission.  Then he says that Obama decided long ago that such an investigation would be too political.

In the National Journal Stuart Taylor Jr. says “The review should start by taking seriously the views of the people with the most-detailed knowledge.  They say that the coercive interrogation program was highly effective.

Michael Hayden, Bush’s last CIA director and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently wrote, “As late as 2006, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.” Former CIA Director George Tenent has said,”I know that this program has saved lives.  I know we’ve disrupted plots.  I know this program is worth more than [what] the FBI, the [CIA], and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said, “We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened.”

Marc Thiessen notes that: Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’

to use East Asian East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast.  The memo explains that “information obtained from KSM also led to  the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave’.”In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York.

“Admiral Dennis Blair, the top intelligence official in the United States” says Stephen Hayes,

believes that the coercive interrogation methods outlawed by his boss produced “high-value information” and gave the U.S. government “a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” He included those assessments in a letter distributed inside the intelligence community last Thursday, the same day Obama declassified and released portions of Justice Department memos setting out guidelines for those interrogations.

That letter from Blair served as the basis for a public statement that his office put out that same day.  But the DNI’s conclusions about the results of coercive interrogations — in effect, that they worked — were taken out of Blair’s public statement. …

The letter included this language: “From 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to Executive Branch policy makers and to members of Congress and received permission granted by “members of Congress” — permission that came from members of Obama’s own party.

Dick Cheney: “This is the first time that I can recall that we’ve had an administration come in, take power, and then suggest using the power of the government against their predecessors, from a legal standpoint.  Criminal prosecution of lawyers in the Justice Department whose opinions they disagreed with on an impor”crimitant issue.  Criminal prosecutions.  When was the last time that happened?”

Porter J. Goss, former CIA director: “Since leaving my post as CIA director almost three years ago, I have remained largely silent on the public stage. I am speaking out now because I feel our government has crossed the red line between properly protecting our national security and trying to gain partisan political advantage.  We can’t have a secret intelligence service if we keep giving away all the secrets.”

It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.  In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.

  • We understood what the CIA was doing.
  • We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
  • We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
  • On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.

Should the winner of a  presidential election attempt to use the enormous powers of his office to investigate and prosecute his political adversaries? Will this begin a cycle of retribution in which policy disputes are to be criminalized?   And will this tear the country apart?



Transparency, truthtelling and torture. by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2009, 6:03 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Law, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , , ,

Today’s tremendous, essential, must-read article is from Noemi Emery in the Weekly Standard.

Some Democrats, from the White House on down, are pushing the idea of a “truth commission,” à la South Africa, to deal with the “harsh measures” used by the Bush administration in interrogating al Qaeda detainees.  Good.  Let’s have lots of truthtelling.  Please bring it on. [...]

Also dropped down the memory hole — along with the names of all the Democrats who thought Saddam was a menace who cried out for removal — is what the ambience was like in late 2001 and 2002, when fears of anthrax and suitcase bombs ran rampant, and people on all sides tried to seem tough.  Let’s tell the truth about all the liberals who went on record supporting real torture, not to mention the Democrats in Congress, when it was cool to want to seem tough on our enemies, who couldn’t be too warlike.  Then war and tough measures stopped being cool, and “world opinion” became more important.  Nothing like statements under oath to revive ancient memories! And rewind the tapes.

Let’s get at the truth too about the word “torture,” which to different people, means different things.  Some think “torture” means standing on the 98th floor of a burning skyscraper and realizing you have a choice between jumping and being incinerated.  Some think torture is being crushed when a building implodes around you.  Some think torture is not thinking you might drown for several minutes, but looking at burning buildings on television and knowing that people you love are inside them.  They remember that being crushed, incinerated, or killed in a jump from the 98th story happened to almost 3,000 blameless Americans (as well as a number of foreigners), and that 125 Pentagon employees were killed at their desks, while many survivors suffered terrible burns.  They think the choice between stopping this from happening again by slapping around or scaring the hell out of a cluster of brigands, or leaving the brigands alone and letting it happen again, is a no-brainer.

I remember the members of Congress standing, quaking, on the steps of the Capitol building and spontaneously singing “God Bless America” in quavering voices, a bipartisan moment not seen since.  Nancy Pelosi has conveniently forgotten what she was told about interrogation, and many Democrats also conveniently suffer from selective memory.  Lets have a truthtelling session.  After all, this was supposed to be the most transparent administration in history.

Do read the whole thing. My excerpts don’t begin to capture the whole article.  Noemie Emery is a gem.



MSM Deathwatch by American Elephant
April 25, 2009, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Media Bias, News | Tags: , ,

The New York Times is now $1.26 billion in the hole.




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