American Elephants


Would You Pay $200,000 to Hear Hillary Speak? by The Elephant's Child

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As a woman, I have never understood the idea of “the first woman” and why that would seem important to any voter. The highest office in the land depends on qualifications and proven competence. Whether it is a woman, a man, or the first person of any particular race, ethnicity or sexual preference should not make the slightest difference. I have opposed Barack Obama, not because of his race, but because he had no real qualifications. To assume that there is something special about a president because of his race is absurd. You would have to be remarkably racist to assume that skin color has anything to do with qualifications and competence.

By the time someone aspires to the presidency, they need to have a solid record of accomplishments. I’m never enthusiastic about senators as presidential candidates. Their accomplishments are largely in making speeches and in their voting record. Those who champion an important bill and push it through have an accomplishment. Those who just vote aye or nay haven’t got much.

Hillary originally thought that being married to the president qualified her to be his co-president, until the people rose up and said ‘Wait just a minute—we didn’t elect you.’ When Patrick Moynihan died, a safe Democratic senate seat opened up, and Hillary quickly bought a home in the district and ran for the Senate. Her qualifications were that she had been first lady. Members of Congress who die in office are often replaced by their widows, who get elected on name familiarity or sympathy, not qualifications. Hillary’s senate career was unremarkable. Her tenure as Secretary of State was unremarkable and tallied up only in air miles.

The Benghazi scandal was typical Hillary. She didn’t know, she wasn’t informed, she met the parents when the bodies were returned and told them that they would get the guy who made the video — which she surely knew at the time was a complete crock. Hillary has remarkably poor political instincts— understanding instinctively how something will play with the public. And she’s always stepping in it. When she does, she reacts poorly as “What difference does it make” demonstrates.

An ambassador killed because he does not have the protection he requested. Two former SEALS who ran to the sound of the guns, saved 30 people and waited and waited for seven hours for help that never came. How can anyone have such abysmal political instincts that they do not understand how that will play out with the American people. But she didn’t. And there are dozens more examples of the same lack.



The Decline and Fall of Another Socialist Paradise by The Elephant's Child

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Another socialist paradise is crumbling away. This time it’s Venezuela. They have already run short of milk, flour, vegetable oil, sugar and even toilet paper. They can’t manage to even keep baby formula in the stores. Now it’s drinking water. Residents in the capital of Caracas must wait for hours in line to fill jugs of water for drinking, cooking and keeping clean. Even the 5-liter bottles the government mandates are scarce. That’s what you get —5 liters for everything. There’s very little bottled drinking water.

Drought and crumbling infrastructure are blamed, but the socialist state also owes tens of billions to international bondholders and they couldn’t pay their debts and also import bottled water. They were afraid foreign creditors would seize their oil shipments, so they elected to pay $2.8 billion in interest on their foreign debt.

Blaming a drought caused by El Niño, the state-owned water company, Hidrocapital, began rationing tap water in Caracas in May. The Table of Democratic Unity (MUD) opposition party was having none of it, noting “the lack of responsibility and improvisation with which the government acts, postponing investments, maintenance, and opportune decisions.”

The government owes over a billion dollars of debt to foreign companies that provide its medicine, operate the telephones and import the food. Things have been falling apart for some time, thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest. and many have been killed.

When Hugo Chavez died a year ago, he left an estate of $2 billion, which seems to be typical of socialist paradises. He, at least, had some ability in management as evidenced by the size of his estate. Actually he left a mess for his even less competent successor, Nicolás Maduro. Corruption, rampant crime and  economic mismanagement are driving protesters into the streets, not to mention hunger and need.

The Diplomad summed it up clearly back in February when things began really falling apart. This brilliant former diplomat is usually spot on:

A question for us, of course, is where is the United States? Nowhere. While our incompetent Secretary of State dashes about trying to convince Assad to give up power, and the Palestinians to stop being Palestinians, and the Iranians to stop being Iranians, and to convince us that “global climate change” is the gravest threat to our security, our neighborhood is on fire. Events are now transpiring in friendly and hostile Latin American countries with little or no regard or concern for the views of Washington. For the first time in some 150 years, the United States government (not so the private sector) is essentially irrelevant to much if not most of Latin America. In essence, we have no official views of any consequence re Latin America coming out of the White House, no functioning Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at State, and no active and calming US Southern Command at the Pentagon.



When Socialists Promise a Utopian Paradise … by The Elephant's Child

Gutted Yellow Building Havana

We have people out protesting about the minimum wage. They seem to think it is right and proper for the government to decide what employers should pay their employees, no matter what skills the employees may possess.  Seattle has just decided on a $15 an hour minimum wage, to be reached gradually. In the socialist paradise of Cuba, they don’t have a minimum wage. They have a maximum wage. Nobody gets to earn more than $20 — but that’s a month, not an hour. Doctors and lawyers get an extra $10 to bring them up to $30 a month.

Fidel Castro declared that his salary was about 900 pesos per month, or $36. But Forbes magazine included the Cuban ruler in its 2006 list of the 10 richest “Kings, Queens, and Dictators.” Interesting revolutionary ethics.

Now Fidel Castro’s former bodyguard has written a book that says Castro’ claim that he lived a life of exemplary revolutionary frugality was a pack of lies. Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, 65, served as a bodyguard for the Cuban leader for 17 years and has published a memoir that portrays Fidel as a sort of feudal lord who ran the island like a personal fiefdom.

Castro controlled about 20 luxury homes, a Caribbean island getaway with a pool and dolphins, at Cayo Piedra south of the Bay of Pigs, where he kept the 88 foot yacht Aquarama II, several fishing vessels whose catch was sold to fatten his bank account. Like most dictators, there were several numbered bank accounts, as well as the finances of several state enterprises including a small gold mine. There were a couple of other large yachts, one a floating hospital. Only special friends like the Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Márquez and CNN owner Ted Turner were invited. And there was a complex of Havana buildings and grounds, including a basketball court, a fully equipped medical center, rooftop bowling alley.

It isn’t just socialist paradises, but apparently Islamic paradises as well. Saddam Hussein was well equipped with palaces and luxury. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has been found to control a financial empire worth an estimated £60bn. An empire which includes businesses as wide-ranging as an ostrich farm, a birth control pill factory, oil and telecommunications.

The big-shots in charge always talk a good game about caring for the poor, and helping the middle class, serving the people, but when you lift up the covers and peek underneath, they all seem remarkably intent on enriching themselves.




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