American Elephants


The President Spoke To The Graduating Cadets at West Point. by The Elephant's Child

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What coalitions? President Barack Obama’s speech to the graduates at West Point was a defense of his foreign policy against detractors. America must lead the world by example, through coalitions and  collective action.  NATO and the UN will dominate American foreign policy, Obama said; ‘This is American leadership, American strength.” Wrong speech, wrong audience.  The speech was less a foreign policy speech for graduates of the military academy than a defensive response to critics.

He bravely attacked an army of straw men and subdued them to tepid applause from the cadets. “I’m not weak,” he said firmly. He also repeated the tired refrain that he was not elected to start wars but to end them. Wars are fought to achieve some goal. As a result of his feckless foreign policy, his belief that foreign policy should be subordinate to partisan politics, the war which was won in Iraq has become a sad loss due to an inability to get a status of forces agreement, and Afghanistan looks to follow in that path.

Obama spoke confidently of diplomacy as a resolution to all problems, but diplomacy only works when reaching an agreement is more desirable than the alternative—which means a perception of American power standing firmly behind the offer to talk. Iran’s mullahs  are confident that there is nothing to prevent their continuing effort to build a bomb.

“Power in world politics is perceived power , and perceived power is a vector that results from perceived military capability and perceived political will”l………………………………………………(Michael Lind)

The president has been cutting back on our perceived military capability and our perceived power because  there is no political will. The credibility of American power has diminished because of distinct choices which he has made.

I was looking up that quotation in my homemade quotation book, and I ran across the following:

The President and his advisers have been desperately eager to maintain good relations with Russia and China and willing to overlook almost any transgression to do so. Confronted by compelling evidence that North Korea is still building nuclear weapons, that China is exporting missile components to Pakistan that Russia is doing the same to Iran, Clinton officials have repeatedly lapsed into denial and distortion. The Clinton inner circle is in the grip of misguided faith in arms control. Preserving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has become an end in itself despite the need to build a national missile defense system. ………..(Bill Gertz)

Here is the President’s speech at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony on May 28, 2014,  in its entirety.



The Federal Government is Incapable Of Managing a Health Care System by The Elephant's Child

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About time. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held field hearings in Billings, Montana. And they got an earful from representatives of seven Montana and Wyoming reservations. Rusty Stafne, chairman of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of northeast Montana’s Fort Peck Indian Reservation. said:

We have lost fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and future leaders because they were unable to get the health care they need.

Yvette Roubideaux, acting director of the Indian Health Service said federal health care spending on American Indians lags far behind spending on other groups such as federal employees, who receive almost twice as much on a per-capita basis.

In Montana, life expectancy for Native American women is 62 years, compared to 82 years for white women. Native men have a life expectancy of 56 years in contrast to 75 years for white men. There are 566 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, with around two million members.

The tribes have been complaining for years about a shortage of trained medical personnel in government-run clinics, misdiagnosed illnesses, denied payments. They described an agency with a bloated bureaucracy that could not perform its basic duty of providing health care for more than 2 million American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Health care is part of the U.S. government’s trust responsibility.

This is not new, but publicity at the same time as the government’s complete failure in the case of America’s veterans may help to get some action. Tuesday’s hearing followed complaints about delayed and poor care on reservations from the Crow Tribe.

Former Indian Affairs Chairman Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota conducted a similar investigation in 2010. Dorgan found that a “chronic state of crisis” plagued health care services for American Indians. Problems included a lack of providers, hospitals at risk of losing their accreditation, improperly licensed staff and missing or stolen narcotics.

This is how bureaucracies work. Hearings are held, complaints registered, apologies, promises, more hearings, investigations, growing files, published reports, and nothing changes, nothing at all. The federal government does almost nothing well, and many things badly. Encouraging an incompetent government to take on more tasks is an exercise in futility.




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