American Elephants


An Embarrassing White House Flashback by The Elephant's Child

“Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No, I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.”



Governing: Scaring People to Get Your Way? by The Elephant's Child

I think most people know that Obama was a “community organizer” when he first moved to Chicago. His teachers said he was the best student of Saul Alinsky’s principles they had ever had. I’m not so sure that many have given any thought to what a community organizer is, or what he does. Saul Alinsky’s book is called Rules for Radicals. Obama was an enthusiastic disciple of the old lefty.

Essentially, it’s a course in how to manipulate people and get them to do what you want. Alinsky was dead long before Obama got to Chicago, but Obama took right to the rules. His organizing efforts were devoted to getting home loans for minorities.  Protestors picketed banks and put pressure on bankers, which of course was in line with Democrats’ efforts to build on the Community Reinvestment Act, which ended up in the housing bubble that caused the financial collapse. This is the reason why Obama went to such lengths to blame Bush for the financial crisis. If people discovered that it wasn’t due to Bush’s two wars, they might look for the real reason for the collapse.

See Saul Alinsky’s Rule 3: “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty., or in other words— Spread disabling fear far and wide. Rule 8: “Keep the pressure on, Never let up.” Rule 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Rule 10: The major premise of tactics is the development of operations that will maintain constant pressure on the opposition. Rule 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.” In other words —personalize the target; pick out hate figures and demonize them.

So Jay Carney demonized the right every day last week for allowing a “tax break” for corporate jets. Peggy Noonan’s column this week was “Government by Freakout.”

It is always cliffs, ceilings and looming catastrophes with Barack Obama. It is always government by freakout.

That’s what’s happening now with the daily sequester warnings. Seven hundred thousand children will be dropped from Head Start. Six hundred thousand women and children will be dropped from aid programs.Meat won’t be inspected. Seven thousand TSA workers will be laid off, customs workers too, and air traffic controllers. Lines at airports will be impossible. The Navy will slow down the building of an aircraft carrier. Troop readiness will be disrupted, weapons programs slowed or stalled, civilian contractors stiffed, uniformed first responders cut back. Our nuclear deterrent will be indefinitely suspended. Ha, made that one up, but give them time.

Mr. Obama has finally hit on his own version of national unity: Everyone get scared together.

The president has apparently sent out orders to every department and agency and told them to inform the public of the very worst thing that could happen as a result of  slashing 5% from their budget—the particular thing that would inconvenience the public the most—and see that the media expresses the scariest part.  (I wonder what the actual orders were?) And see that it is all blamed on the Republicans in Congress.

Obama tried hard to blame the automatic cuts in the sequester law on Republicans, but it was his idea. That is confirmed by Polifact, the Washington Post, and in particular by Bob Woodward who detailed the account of meetings, interviews with key participants and contemporaneous notes — which make it clear that sequestration was a proposal advanced and promoted by the White House.

The whining and keening by the administration is nearly deafening. Global grind said that  meat processing plants would be crippled as inspectors were furloughed, threatening the food supply, and risking food borne sickness. Thousands of teachers would be laid off (excuse me, teachers are not employees of the federal government) and thousands of parents would struggle to find child care. Six hundred thousand pregnant women and mothers of small children would be cut from WIC. 1,000 federal law enforcement officials, 1,500 corrections officers furloughed and 5,000 border patrol and customs officers at points of entry.

The Christian Science Monitor bemoaned the parks: fewer rangers, locked restrooms and visitor centers, trash cans not emptied — more bears in campgrounds! Cuts would be implemented over 7 months so it would hit families during vacation season. The New Republic, newly hard left, said “cancel the sequestration or Virginia gets it” with 10% of all job losses as a result of sequestration. Virginia state economy ravaged.

At the Huffington Post, Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said there’s a right way and a wrong way and sequestration was the most boneheaded way that could be concocted. (Speak to Mr. Obama).  Public safety, military readiness, FAA operations, food safety, Medicare and Medicaid services, no cancer screenings, and anyway it wouldn’t even reduce the deficit significantly.

Yuval Levin, writing at National Review:

The Congressional Budget Office (on page 11 of its latest budget outlook, published earlier this month) estimates that while FY 2013 spending will ultimately be reduced by $85 billion, “discretionary outlays will drop by $35 billion and mandatory spending will be reduced by $9 billion this year as a direct result of those procedures; additional reductions in outlays attributable to the cuts in 2013 funding will occur in later years.”So in this fiscal year, we would actually be looking at a $44 billion spending cut, or less than a 1.5% reduction from what federal spending otherwise would have been.

President Obama does not want to reduce spending. He refuses to acknowledge that spending is a problem, and apparently cannot conceive of doing government without ever-increasing spending. He is fiercely competitive, and has moved decisively to expand government authority. It is clear that budgetary decisions will dictate the national defense profile. His desire to control the withdrawal of most international commitments will be a response to fiscal needs. Since Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are ‘untouchable’, that makes defense the target for dramatic retrenchment. He implies that the U.S. can no longer meet international commitments and cannot afford to be a superpower.

Herbert London wrote: “To achieve his goals, the president must regain control of the House. All efforts over the next two years will be deride, embarrass, and undermine Republican leadership. Republicans will be the target and divide and conquer will be the strategy with the encouragement of a third party a distinct possibility.”

“In another four years—should Obama be able to carry out his agenda—America will look like a very different country. The government will be the primary source of all economic activity. …And the U.S. bilateral defense agreements will have as much value as the paper they are written on. The U.S. will have been Europeanized just as Europe enters the dustbin of history.”

And you thought “fundamentally transforming America” meant efforts to end dissension between the parties— a better atmosphere in Washington D.C.



Politics And The Words That Move Your Opinion by The Elephant's Child

This week we have been getting a real display of politics in action. Politicians learn there are certain words that get a more agreeable emotional response than others. Certain visuals that appeal directly. Many an environmentalist drive for funds or membership has been fueled by pictures of baby animals.

It’s not fair, of course, but surely you didn’t expect politicians to be fair. An excellent example of ‘good’ words is ‘balance.’ President Obama has been using ‘balance’ steadily in reference to avoiding the sequester that he dreamed up. Can’t have across the board cuts, we need a “balanced approach” which means if I give you a cut in anything at all—I want more tax revenue. Sounds ‘fair,’ which , by the way, is another ‘good’ word.

President Obama is in a bad spot. He proposed the sequester and got it passed into law in 2010, with the idea that Republicans (warmongers, you know) would be so averse to cutting defense spending that they would give in on other cuts, and he would be left with all the spending money he wanted. Republicans realized that they weren’t going to get the president to cut anything willingly, and sequester cuts would at least rein in spending a little. The administration is livid. Even some in the media are noticing:  Here’s abc News:

Listening to the White House, you’d think the key to averting the across-the-board spending cuts (the dreaded “sequester”) set to in place on March 1 is closing the tax break for owners of private jets.

Here was White House Press Secretary Jay Carney last week: “How do you explain to a senior that we’re doing this, asking you to sacrifice, but we’re not saying that corporate jet owners should lose their special tax incentive.”

On Wednesday, Carney summed up the Republican position this way: “We’d rather see our national security undermined than corporate jet owners, God forbid, give up their tax break.”

And President Obama in an interview Wednesday with KAKE-TV in Wichita: “What we don’t want to do is give somebody who’s buying a corporate jet an extra tax break.” Carney has brought up the corporate jet tax break at every single briefing this week.

But the Senate Democrats’ plan protects corporate jets. Heh.

‘Corporate jets’ is a negative term, like fur coat, or diamond tiara. It says — excess, and undoubtedly wretched excess as well. If you remember, when Obama spent TARP money rescuing the auto industry, he made a big deal about GM’s corporate jets, and forced them to get rid of them.

But what is this “special tax incentive” that corporations get for their corporate jet? The tax break allows owners of private jets to depreciate their airplanes over five years instead of the standard seven years for commercial airplanes — and would raise less than $300 million a year. That’s a teeny fraction of the across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect this year. According to the CBO, it isn’t $85 billion, but only $44 billion,  or in household budget terms, cutting out a daily latte.

The big deal about the tax break for corporate jets, is simply the negative impact of the words themselves. The White House also frequently mentions the tax break for oil and gas companies which simply refers to ordinary business deductions that sort of organization is entitled to. It’s nothing special like enormous subsidies for unproven technologies like Solyndra.

A corporate jet amounts to a moving corporate office with WiFi, desks, satellite communication systems, and saves hours of time and inconvenience for major business travel. They utilize a network of more than 5,000 airports in the U.S. while commercial airlines only reach 550. One flight-department manager for an East Coast company makes the point that “we often operate our jet (a Dassault 7X) almost like a shuttle, carrying program managers and engineers to numerous locations in South America,” he says. “Some of the places we fly to are not served by airlines.”

Long-range jets have a full-fuel range of 7,800 geographical miles, or 12 to 13 flight hours, or New York to Tokyo. (best case) There are 11,261 private jets authorized for use in the U.S. and 7.997 in the rest of the world. Medium size private jets carry up to 8 or 9 passengers.

Barack Obama was a skilled community organizer, and knows how to rouse your emotions with the use of special words and pictures that will influence how you feel about a policy. You just need to be aware that you are being played, and try to find our what the real facts are.




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