American Elephants


Reactions: Pride, Dismay, Surprise, Vengeance, Confusion. by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama signed off on a daring pre-dawn raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, believed to be the hideout of Osama bin Laden. The raid by the Navy’s SEAL Team Six ended the long search for the al Qaeda leader and evoked a great sense of pride and gratitude from the American people.  It was, perhaps, President Obama’s finest moment. It was a courageous act on the part of the president.

Liberals have been overwhelmed. The president they were beginning to think would not properly stand up to the hated Republicans exhibited a daring that was a shock to the system of any card-carrying  leftist. E.J. Dionne Jr. expressed it in a column titled “After the Raid We Find Out Who Obama Is.”:

Barack Obama is not the man many Americans thought he was. This sudden realization has transformed American politics. The sheer audacity of the successful operation against Osama bin Laden has forced Obama’s friends and foes alike to reassess what they make of a chief executive who defies easy categorization and reveals less about himself than politicians are typically drawn to do.

Obama is hard to understand because he is many things and not just one thing. He has now proved that he can be bold at an operational level, even as he remains cautious at a philosophical level. …

The president’s rhetoric has often emphasized caring, compassion and community, the language one expects from a moderately liberal politician. Yet as one of his close aides told me long ago, there is inside a very cool, tough, even hard man.

The American people celebrated with emotions ranging from finality to euphoria to vengeance satisfied.  Long overdue, it was universally hailed as a very good thing. But the management of the aftermath began to fall apart. The raid was flawless, after a dramatic firefight, bin Laden was found cowering behind a woman, presumed to be one of his wives, and as he tried to get off a shot, he was killed with a double-tap to the head.

Then the story started changing.  No firefight, no returned fire, wasn’t hiding behind a woman. Everyone was unarmed.  Everyone was watching in real-time from the Situation Room in the White House.  We saw pictures of the President and his Security team watching. No, there was no real-time video.  Of course there was video. The body was evacuated on the helicopter, treated with all reverence and buried at sea with full Muslim ceremony. A daughter says Osama was shot right in front of the family. Some suggest that he was already dead.  The Pakistanis were surprised to find that bin Laden was there. The Pakistanis have known he was there since 2009.

Whew!  The raid may have been elegantly managed and executed by our very capable military. The management of the aftermath — explaining to the American people what happened — has been so incompetently bungled it is astonishing.

The indecision and dithering about releasing pictures of Osama have taken two days. They need to be released to prove to the world that he is dead. They are too gruesome to behold. Because they are disturbing they might provoke Muslim reaction.  We must beware a violent Muslim reaction.  Osama’s attacks on Muslims in Iraq were the last straw and he is no hero.

Hot Air had a wide-ranging column on liberal reactions to bin Laden’s death, and IowaHawk has a hysterical piece, as usual.

The Justice Department is still trying to investigate the CIA personnel who had anything to do with the enhanced interrogation (waterboarding) that produced the intelligence that led to the final location of bin Laden.

Obama will go to Ground Zero tomorrow to lay a wreath. President Clinton and President Bush declined to accompany him.



DOE Bureaucratic Brilliance On Full Display by The Elephant's Child

This time it’s the Department of Energy.  They issued an “interim final rule” that mandates the test procedures that manufacturers must adopt to measure the minute amount of electricity used by microwave ovens when in “standby mode” and “off mode.”

First they have to define just what is meant by “standby mode” and what the parameters are, and how it is to be distinguished from other modes such as the “off mode,” which also has to be defined.  Theoretically when they are off, there are still the energy-using elements such as the clock (if any), the timer, and the indicator light that may remain lit when the microwave is not in use.

The task of setting energy standards for appliances that are turned off could involve hundreds of hours of testing, let alone all the time it would take to define the meaning of “off”.  According to DOE documents:

The department noted that if the microwave oven is equipped with a manual power on/off switch, which completely cuts off power to the appliance (i.e., removes or interrupts all connections to the main power source, in the same manner as unplugging the appliance), the microwave oven would not be in the “off mode” when the switch is in the “off” position. … But DOE revises its determination … and tentatively concludes that zero energy consumption due to activation of an on/off switch would be indicative of off mode rather than a disconnected mode.

Yes, of course we laugh at regulatory language, partly because it takes itself so seriously, and it’s hard to imagine some faceless bureaucrat in a federal cubicle devising the language that will have to be vetted by the lawyers and by the technology people, and proofread, and signed off on by the entire chain of command. We are paying for all of this, but the amount of taxpayer money is not the problem.

The problem is that we have been asleep, allowing government like some enormous amoeba cancer cell to grow and divide again and again. That is the nature of bureaucracy. The question is how do we stop it— do we establish another bureau to weed out unnecessary laws?  Do we demand that our representatives in Congress establish a committee to clean up the entire federal register? As if that would happen!  Yet the meddling has reached proportions that intrude ever more into our lives and interfere in our choices. The folks at Heritage explain further that:

The DOE contends that energy consumption by microwave ovens in “standby mode” represents a “significant” portion of microwave oven energy use. But a typical U.S. household consumes about 11,000 KWh of electricity per year. Based on testing done by the department, a microwave oven in “standby mode” consumes an average of just 2.65 watts of power. On an annualized basis, that constitutes a mere .006452 KWh of electricity.

Initially, DOE regulators wanted manufacturers to test each microwave oven model over a 12-hour period to capture the amount of power used to display the full range of lighted units. However, representatives of Whirlpool pointed out that every number of lit segments could be measured in just 10 minutes from, say, 3:33 to 3:42, thereby saving manufacturers considerable time and cost for testing.

For all the work that’s gone into devising the energy conservation standard for microwave ovens not in use, DOE officials offer another remedy for our supposed energy profligacy: The department’s Web site advises us to unplug  every appliance when not in use.

correction: “amoeba” just wasn’t strong enough!




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