American Elephants


Petty, Petulant, Unpopular President Repositions Poorly by American Elephant
August 31, 2010, 5:42 pm
Filed under: Economy, Iraq, Military, News

Immediate reaction? Blah.

A deeply petty president tries to appear, by mentioning President Bush by name, as though he is giving him credit without actually giving him any credit, while insinuating, without ever directly stating, that the credit belongs instead to himself.

A petulant president refuses to acknowledge that he was flat wrong about the war, about the surge, and about virtually everything, even while begrudgingly confessing the war has made us safer, and turned an enemy into an ally.

An unpopular president tries to blame the failure of his economic policies on the war, the “past decade” and everyone but himself, even as other nations that rejected his policies are enjoying robust growth.



Putting Things into Perspective. by The Elephant's Child

From Richard Fernandez, blogging at Pajamas Media:

With regional enemies challenging the new Iraqi government by sending car bombs against the police it is interesting to note that in many ways the upheavals are worse even closer to home.  Seventy two persons, perhaps illegal immigrants drawn by a border which politicians refuse to close, were found dead in a Mexican ranch close to the US border.

Things are much, much worse than Mexico in that socialist paradise Venezuela, which the NYT says is far more dangerous than Iraq.  So bad in fact that the government has ordered the newspapers not to report any more killings.

In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,544 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year the number of murders climbed above 16,000.

Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives.

Sometimes a few statistics help to put things in perspective.   It is a complicated, difficult world out there; and it is incumbent on us to struggle to understand what is going on.  A  job most of us have far too little time for.



Christa Branch: “I am America” by The Elephant's Child
August 31, 2010, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, Music, Pop Culture | Tags: ,


Must Reading to Accompany President Obama’s Iraq Speech. by The Elephant's Child

— President Obama will address the nation today on the close of combat operations in Iraq.  In that context, this article from The Wall Street Journal, “Why We Fought and What We Achieved” by Stephen Hadley, President George W. Bush’s National Security Adviser from 2005–2009, is an important historical reference.

— Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, who contributed so much to our success in Iraq writes in The Washington Post that “Iraq needs U.S. engagement, and a slower clock.” Ryan Crocker was an outstanding representative of our country, and deserves our gratitude and massive credit.  We were extremely lucky in his selection for the job.

— Ambassador John Bolton, George W. Bush’s former ambassador to the UN, is deeply worried about the coming regional arms conflict, and fears that Obama has not learned the hard lessons of American security in the world of international geostrategy.  He says that “Obama Wrecked Iraq.  He believes that an Obama policy that continues the withdrawal of American forces down to zero in Iraq will only strengthen Iran.

— In the Washington Examiner, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, “Previewing Obama Iraq speech, Gibbs won’t credit surge.” Gibbs says he would point you to the many comments that the president has made throughout a number of years about the role that increasing the number of our troops has played, just as a Sunni Awakening has played, just as a better political environment has played…”  Reporter Byron York quotes the president’s earlier comments.

— Daniel Foster reports that the”CBO: Iraq War Was Cheaper Than the Stimulus.” As President Obama prepares to tie a bow on U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Congressional Budget Office numbers show that the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009.



Everything Old is New Again. by The Elephant's Child

There is something rather charming in an administration that is constantly talking about how we “must not return to the failed policies of the past,” but move boldly into the new green economy.

So they turn to windmills that have been around since roughly 2000 BC; famously in Greece, in Spain where Don Quixote fictionally tilted at windmills; in Holland, where the windmills produced about the power of a modern lawnmower; on the American prairie and now in massive wind farms. Always limited by a simple fact of nature.  They turn only when the wind blows at the right speed, which happens only a small fraction of the time, even in the windiest places.

The sun has been keeping people warm as long as there have been people, but it has the annoying habit of sinking beneath the horizon for part of every day.  We have managed to capture solar heat under some circumstances, but it remains costly, and we just cannot store it effectively.

Electric cars have been around since the beginning of the 20th century, always with enthusiastic supporters, but the limitations of batteries have always been their downfall.   We have new materials for batteries, but the  breakthrough that has always been needed — is still needed.

Keynesian economics was adopted enthusiastically by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s. Didn’t work then.  Made things worse.  Roosevelt was also very big on public works projects and enlarging government.  If World War II had not come along to make FDR a successful wartime president, the failure of his economic policies would have been more apparent.

But we must not return to the failed policies of the past.  Anyone have any new ideas?



Worst Football Play Ever, Caught on Video. by The Elephant's Child
August 31, 2010, 7:49 am
Filed under: Politics

This is so absolutely pathetic!  The video came with no sound, and no team identifications — not that that is surprising.  Who would want to be identified?  But it is funny!

(h/t: Hot Air)



You Don’t Get Businessmen to Hire by Making it Hard for them to Conduct Business. by The Elephant's Child

This will be “Recovery Summer” they claimed.  Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wrote in early August, how the $862 billion government stimulus was still rolling out, business investment was booming, and the economy was poised for sustainable growth.  “Welcome to the Recovery,” he said.

Mr. Geithner and President Obama really believe that government spending can stimulate growth by boosting private “demand,” that tax-rates don’t matter to investment decisions, that scads of new regulations have no impact on costs or on hiring for business, and that politicians can badmouth capitalists without having any effect on the movement of capital.

This quotation from the late Walter Wriston, who was once CEO of Citibank, would be worth printing out and framing, or sending to your Congressman, since they don’t seem to get it.

Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated.
It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value or use
and no government policy can restrain it for long.

The downward revision for the second quarter was expected, with a big drop in home sales, more jobless claims and weak corporate profits.  Many economists believe that third quarter growth could be negative.  The pace of growth is very sluggish, and will not create many new jobs.

If government spending stimulated growth, the economy should be booming by now.  Trillions of dollars of spending, loan guarantees, tax credits, grants and much more.  Even taking over whole industries and paying people to buy cars and appliances hasn’t worked.  Democrats always think anything can be fixed with more spending.

The 1982 recession is the last one with a jobless rate exceeding 10 percent.  The path to recovery was steady.  Companies will take the risk to invest and hire when they know what government plans to do to them — what costs, what regulations.

Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated.  It will invest and hire.  Perhaps we need to start treating the people who actually create jobs well.  Free markets and free people have always worked for America.  We need to stop hoping that more spending will fix things,  and go for some real change.




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