American Elephants


A Parade of Chinese Women in the Military. by The Elephant's Child
December 4, 2011, 9:19 pm
Filed under: China, Europe, Military, Statism | Tags: , ,

Why is it that — what shall we call them — more authoritarian forms of government seem to go for goosestep marching? This is clearly perfection of the form, but try it — it’s really hard to do. Give me ordinary American natural  marching every time.

The Chinese women are very impressive, but why? Here is the last big American victory parade in New York City at the end of World War II, which I find very moving.

Here are the Germans, circa WWII.  I never understood the reason for the goosestep. Looks odd, and must be hard.



That Democracy Thing is Not All It’s Cracked-Up to Be! by The Elephant's Child

Reuters reports:

Russian voters have dealt Vladimir Putin’s ruling party a heavy blow by cutting its parliamentary majority in an election that showed growing unease with his domination of the country as he prepares to reclaim the presidency.

Results are not complete,  but they show Putin’s  United Russia party as struggling to even win 50 percent of the votes in today’s election, compared with 64 percent four  years ago.  Opposition parties said even that outcome was inflated by fraud. This election is for the Duma,the lower house of Russia’s parliament; presidential elections come in March.

Putin is still expected to win the presidential election, but the decreased majority in the Duma could damage the authority of the man who has ruled Russia for almost 12 years.  Putin has ruled Russia with a mixture of hardline security policies, political smarts, and showmanship.  He has recognized, one observer commented, that allowing complaints and grumbling to flourish did not harm the state, and gave the people an outlet for their feelings. His flat tax has been popular.

Results for 70 percent of the voting districts showed United Russia with 49.94 percent of the vote.  But the elections were held in a climate of a lack of trust in Putin, Medvedev and United Russia. Putin restored order in a country suffering from a decade of chaos after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He rushed a separatist rebellion in the Muslim Chechen region, restored Kremlin control over wayward regions, and presided over an economic revival. Yet many voters refer to United Russia as the party of swindlers and thieves and resent— the gap between rich and poor.

[Putin] has maintained a tough man image with stunts such as riding a horse bare chested, tracking tigers and flying a fighter plane. But the public appears to have wearied of the antics and his popularity, while still high, has fallen. …

Putin and Medvedev, who took up the presidency in 2008 when Putin was forced to step down after serving a maximum two consecutive terms, made a brief appearance at a subdued meeting at United Russia headquarters.

Medvedev said United Russia, which had previously held a two-thirds majority allowing it to change the constitution without opposition support, was prepared to forge alliances on certain issues to secure backing for legislation.

From everything I read about Russia, many still deplore the downfall of communist rule. The communist vote almost doubled to 20%. Russia has always been an extremely authoritarian country. Those who expected a democracy as we know democracy were probably too gullible. Russia is an enormous country spanning 5,600 miles. Complaints of election irregularities spanned the country in spite of a Western-financed electoral watchdog.  Two liberal media outlets said that their sites had been shut down by hackers intent on silencing allegations of fraud.

Nevermind the naive ‘reset button.’ Though Russia has long considered itself a European country, it shows no signs of particular friendship with the West. It has been an active participant on whatever happens to be the “other side.”

 



Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy by The Elephant's Child

The U.S. Has Become a Net Fuel Exporter! by The Elephant's Child

The conventional wisdom says that America is declining because we import so much foreign oil, and we get it all from foreign states like Saudi Arabia, who are not really our friends.  Well, no.

U.S exports of gasoline, diesel fuel and other oil-based fuels are soaring, and America is exporting more fuel than it imports. According to the latest information from the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. exported 753.4 million barrels of fuel in the first nine months of this year, while it imported 689.4 barrels.  The dynamic is changed— and is expected to remain that way for the next decade.

As recently as 2005, the U.S. imported almost 900 million barrels more of petroleum products than it exported. Note that this is fuel, not crude oil.  We are still importing nine million barrels of crude oil per day, but as an overall exporter of fuels made from crude, it gives us more influence in the global energy market.  Our principal sources of crude are Canada and Mexico.

Our current recession, unemployment, and slower economy mean that we are using less oil. The trend of increasing exports should continue.  But American drivers aren’t seeing much in the way of lower prices because our refineries on the Gulf Coast are shipping much of their output to places were demand is high, like Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina, Peru, and Singapore. Refineries are making more fuel than the market here needs.

In spite of administration efforts to curb our domestic supplies by slowing the pace of permits in the Gulf and closing public lands to drilling, new supplies of oil from new sources of oil in Texas and North Dakota.  North Dakota’s oil production of 425,000 barrels per day in July was up 86% over the same period in 2009.

Obama will continue to complain the we import too much foreign oil. The collapse of Obama’s green energy fantasy with increasing numbers of solar bankruptcies is becoming obvious, as is the scandal of taxpayer subsidies going to Obama supporters as payback becomes recognized. Peter Schweizer’s new book Throw Them All Out details how 80% of our  green energy subsidies are going to companies run by, or whose primary investors are Obama bundlers.

The Keystone XL pipeline remains a huge scandal. Obama has put off deciding whether to approve this pipeline until “after the election” when he doesn’t run the risk of offending his environmentalist voters. This huge project with its thousands of new high paying jobs doesn’t cost U.S. taxpayers a cent, and increases our supplies of crude.




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