American Elephants


“American Decline” Did You Know That’s What He Meant by Hope and Change ? by The Elephant's Child
February 28, 2014, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Politics

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I am worried about the Obama administration’s efforts to diminish our military presence in the world. The Shiites and the Sunnis are embroiled in trying to kill each other, al Qaeda is a growing presence, Iraq is troubled and al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah, Iran — relieved of troublesome sanctions — is embarked on finishing up it’s nuclear weapons, Syria is a catastrophe, Russia is embarked on something or other in the Crimea, and President Obama has embarked on a grand strategy to relegate the United States to the status of just “one nation among many.”

He has rejected the idea of America as “exceptional” and the status of the United States as “the indispensable nation” that provides security for the world. His overspending and conspicuous consumption and the growth of the welfare state “have made it difficult, if not impossible, for the United States to increase defense spending in the future if such a response becomes necessary. This is a radical shift and a dangerous one,” according to Mackubin Thomas Owens, who is a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, and editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He was a Marine platoon commander in Vietnam and retired as a Colonel.

In the wake of the widespread belief that we should not have been involved in the First World War, we whittled down the military and when Hitler came to power and began invading his neighbors, the isolationist movement and the Great Depression left us with a military that was 16th in the world. The total strength of the U.S. Marine Corps in 1939 was 1,308 officers and 18,052 enlisted men, fewer men than in the New York Police Department.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked and Hitler declared war, we were woefully unprepared., not just in trained men, but with old equipment. A lot of fine young men died because we were so unprepared. It took time to  ramp up the factories and start turning out “the arsenal of democracy.”

We built the arsenal the free world needed. and in 1945 the Army strength was 8,266,373 men (including the Army Air Force), the Navy was 3,319, 586 and the Marine Corps 469,925. Peace dividend. World at Peace. United Nations. So when the North Koreans invaded South Korea in 1950, we were again woefully unprepared with an Army of 593,167, an Air Force 411,277, a navy of 660,695, and a Marine Corps of 74,279,  all untrained, poorly equipped. And the North Koreans had the Red Chinese backing them up.

A lot of fine young men died because we were unprepared. You perhaps remember when roadside bombs began blowing up American Humvees in Iraq and there was an outcry about up-armoring them. Don Rumsfeld said “you go to war with the Army you have,” to anger from the press. But it’s true, over and over.

It boils down, of course to basic beliefs. Is the natural state of the world peace or war. If you believe the world is naturally peaceful, you can count on being unprepared. If you believe that cantankerous nations and people are too often in conflict with their neighbors, you need to be prepared, and if we are prepared, those cantankerous people are apt to think twice before they start shooting at their neighbors — because a prepared United States of America might just react.

Most colleges and universities do not require students to take courses in American history.  If you have a college student, you might make sure they understand that you require it.

Colonel Owens writes for National Review as well. His article “Obama Chooses National Decline: But the Pentagon has chosen a path that may buy some time,” is invaluable. It’s worth your time.



Russians Move into the Ukraine, but Deny Any Such Move. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama just spoke on the situation in the Ukraine. Deeply concerned. Destabilizing. Profound interference. Situation remains fluid. We will continue to communicate.

Do you suppose President Putin noticed that President Obama wants to cut our military down to pre-World War II levels? Of course. The world pays attention to these things. Wire reports say that Russia has seized the government buildings in the Crimea, and taken control of the airport. The Russian Defense Ministry says it is taking measures to guarantee the safety of the Black Sea Fleet, which is based at Sevastopol in the Crimea. (It is helpful to look at Google maps if you are as fuzzy on geography as I am.)

The questions are — will Putin take the Crimea by force? And if so, will his ambitions be limited to simply securing the Black Sea Fleet’s bases or does he have greater ambitions?

What else, besides issuing statements of concern, is President Obama prepared to do? The new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, described it as a military invasion and occupation, and asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian forces denied any involvement.

Charles Krauthammer suggests that Putin’s mission is restoration. Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century. The 2008 war with Georgia returned two of its provinces to the bosom of Mother Russia, and last year pressured Ukraine to reject a long-negotiated deal with the European Union. Putin, Krauthammer says, wants Ukraine back.

The New York Times says that Obama wants stability. He sees Ukraine as merely a crisis to be managed rather than an opportunity to change the autocratic trajectory of the region. Krauthammer says:

Sure, Obama is sympathetic to democracy. But it must arise organically, from internal developments. “These democratic movements will be more sustainable if they are seen as . . . coming from within these societies,” says deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes. Democracy must not be imposed by outside intervention but develop on its own.

But Ukraine is never on its own. Not with a bear next door. American neutrality doesn’t allow an authentic Ukrainian polity to emerge. It leaves Ukraine naked to Russian pressure.

Obama says he has assigned Vice President Biden to talk to the new Prime Minister of the Ukraine, whose name Obama couldn’t remember. Secretary of State Kerry said a vague something or other about Russian action being a mistake. That should be helpful.

This is a difficult situation. President Obama has staked his credibility on being the president who ended the dumb war in Iraq, got bin-Laden, and is getting us out of Afghanistan. He sees America as a world bully that needs be restrained, and Americans as “war-weary.”

Others see Obama as embarrassingly passive and demonstrating American weakness before an increasingly violent world. I am not surprised by Putin’s actions. He has told us that he regrets the demise of the Soviet Union — have people forgotten the Cold War?



The Failed State ObamaCare Exchanges: by The Elephant's Child

The disastrous rollout of ObamaCare continues apace, but the federal government spent more on broken stat-run exchanges than it did on its own troubled system. Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia established their own health insurance coverage under ObamaCare. Of those fourteen, seven remain dysfunctional, disabled or seriously underperforming. The development of those exchanges was funded by the federal government through a series of grants that totaled more than $1.2 billion —almost double the $677 million cost of the federal exchange.

Oregon: Spectacular failure. $48 million “early innovator” grant from the federal government, which hoped the exchange would be a model for other states. Delays, delays, delays. Consultants warned that it was headed for disaster. Total federal grants —$303 million.  I’m not sure that they have signed anyone up yet.

Maryland: Obama used Largo, Maryland as the background for a speech touting the benefits of ObamaCare. Maryland promptly turned out to be one of the worst in the nation. Announced this week it was terminating $193 million contract with Noridian Healthcare Solutions, its IT contractor. Officials now say the existing system is so flawed they may dump the whole thing.

Massachusetts: The state’s 2006 reform supposedly helped inspire the design of ObamaCare. They hired CGI, the same contractor who built the federal exchange. Technical glitches from day one. By January the state lagged further behind their original enrollment goal than any other state. Only 5,428 people signed up during the first 3 months, 0.8% of the first year goal. $135.6 million in federal grants, and an early innovator grant.

Vermont: The Affordable Care Act is not progressive enough for Vermont. State officials said they would pursue a single-payer program beginning in 2017. Failed launch, $165.2 million in federal grants, still not working. Calls for an investigation.

Minnesota: Exchange was glitchy on rollout, problems persisted for the next few weeks. 14 exchange officials received bonuses prior to launch, the director took a tropical vacation while the site struggled. Officials and contractors blame each other. Outside assessment warned that problems would not be fixed by the end of open enrollment on March 31. Total federal grants $153.7 million.

Nevada: One official described the failure of the exchange as ‘catastrophic’. The system enrolled just 16,000 of the 118,000 expected. Projections have been reduced to 50,000. State officials are said to be thinking of ditching their own exchange in order to join the federal system. Federal grants $83.7 million. (All lies, according to Harry Reid)

Hawaii: Hawaii’s exchange was taken down right after the launch, but enrollment remains exceedingly low. The state has signed up just 4,300 people for coverage, the lowest of all the states. Total federal grants $205 million.

All Democrat-run states, but that is surely just a coincidence. We can probably assume that those who have signed up are those most in need of health insurance, those with pre-existing conditions, and the healthy folks will wait for a better offer.  Those who signed up early will be the most costly.

 



Republicans Tell The Health Care Stories of Real People by The Elephant's Child

The Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Harry Reid, is one of the most corrupt politicians in the country.  He has used earmarks and influence to enrich himself and his family. He seems to have reached the point where he will announce anything he can think of to attack Republicans. Remember his nutty claim during the 2012 presidential claim that Mitt Romney didn’t pay any taxes.

Now he’s back with an hysterical rant against those who criticize the Democrat’s signature legislation:

Across the country Americans who were once denied insurance because they suffered for something like cancer or as simple as acne have been able to buy affordable health insurance they could afford and could trust. Despite all that good news, there’s plenty of horror stories being told. All are untrue, but they’re being told all over America.

Every “horror story” about ObamaCare is a lie? Five million people have lost their existing coverage and they are all liars?

The leukemia patient whose insurance policy was canceled could die without her medication. Mr. President, that’s an ad being paid for by two billionaire brothers. It’s absolutely false.

Harry Reid is obsessed with the Koch brothers. Billionaires are supposed to be Democrats, belong to George Soros’ Democracy Alliance and give money to Democrat campaigns, not to curing cancer.

The problem is that Republicans have the gall to use a favorite tactic of the Democrats against them. The Republicans are using “anecdotes” or stories of people who have been hurt by ObamaCare to explain the failures of ObamaCare.

Edie Littlefield Sundby, the stage-four cancer patient who lost her team of physicians, parents who can’t take their sick kids to the hospitals at which they were formerly treated. It is clear that ObamaCare is poorly devised, that Obama’s promises of keeping your insurance and keeping your doctors, and paying $2,500 less were all pure hooey, and that the vast number of Americans who receive their health care through their employers are being gulled until “after the election.”

As they usually do, Democrats were interested in getting people signed up, dependent on government for their health care, and in income redistribution. There is clearly little interest in the law about the actual health of the American people. Read the whole thing, for the response of Americans.

The “anecdotes” that Democrats used at the time to try to drum up enthusiasm for their plan — that our health care cost too much (costs had been declining for several years); the uninsured could not get insurance (the uninsured didn’t want insurance, and apparently still don’t); all the folks with pre-existing conditions (That seems to be the only anecdote to which they are still clinging) were not exactly true.

All the warnings about cost and incentives and unexpected consequences went unheeded. The Democrat politicians who drummed this stuff up have never done anything but politics, but locked in the back rooms of Congress they were sure that they could order one-sixth of the American economy, and it would all be ever so wonderful. Well, hubris.  They’ve made a mess of it, but they will not give up. It has passed unworkable, descended into uncaring, and more horrors will be revealed as we get past Obama’s illegal executive revisions. They will attempt to revise it into a single-payer plan, which is what they really wanted all the time.



Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws by The Elephant's Child

The House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on executive overreach. Members of Congress and constitutional law experts testified yesterday, warning that the legislative branch is in danger of ceding its power in the face of an “imperial presidency.”

The hearing, “Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws,” focused on the multiple areas  where President Barack Obama has bypassed Congress, ranging from healthcare and immigration to marriage and welfare rules.

Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, testified that the expansion of executive power is happening so fast that America is at a “constitutional tipping point.”

My view [is] that the president, has in fact, exceeded his authority in a way that is creating a destabilizing influence in a three branch system,” he said. “I want to emphasize, of course, this problem didn’t begin with President Obama, I was critical of his predecessor President Bush as well, but the rate at which executive power has been concentrated in our system is accelerating. And frankly, I am very alarmed by the implications of that aggregation of power.”

“What also alarms me, however, is that the two other branches appear not just simply passive, but inert in the face of this concentration of authority,” Turley said.

Jim Gerlach (R-PA) said “The ACA has been revised, altered and effectively rewritten by the president and his administration 23 times since July.”

Representative Tom Rice (R-SC) said, “When we have these constant changes at the president’s whim, think about what that does to businesses’ planning capabilities and hiring capabilities and their expansion capabilities. We shouldn’t wonder why our economy is struggling.”



Thursday Morning Cute by The Elephant's Child

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For more, visit www.zooborns.com, but warning, it can be addictive.



The Syrian Catastrophe by The Elephant's Child

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The Obama administration’s Syria policy has been a blunder of historic proportions. When he might have intervened effectively, he dithered, When he did intervene it was ineffectual. When the situation was manageable, it was neglected. Nevertheless, this is not the responsibility of the U.S. government. It is the responsibility of Bashar Assad and his supporters, al Qaeda and other radical Muslims who have forcibly taken over the opposition to Assad.

This photograph was taken late last month. The scene is Yarmouk, a district of Damascus that is populated mostly by Palestinian “refugees” and has been the scene of heavy fighting. The U.N. is passing out food packages and the starving people are hoping to get something to eat. This is truly an example of a picture being worth more than a thousand words. (Click to enlarge)

(h/t: Powerline)




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