American Elephants


In the Movies, the Music Warns You. In Real Life, You’re On Your Own by The Elephant's Child

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You know the moment in the movie when the music turns anxious, the lighting changes subtly and you are struck with a feeling of dread? Something really bad is about to happen. In real life, you don’t often get those warnings. The people of Honolulu were enjoying another sunny day on December 6, 1941, oblivious to what was going to happen the next morning. And sometimes we get all sorts of warnings, and pay no attention, sure that things will turn out fine. Is there a name for the music of dread — I think I hear it rising in the distance.

General Ray Odierno, Army Chief of Staff, has said “the rapid spread of threats around the world and growing demands on the U.S. military should prompt a review of deep cuts scheduled in the size of America’s ground forces.” The active-duty Army still has 510,000 service members, but the Army is due to shrink to 490,000 by the end of next year, then to 450,000 by the end of 2017 and to 420,000 by the end of the decade.

“Many lawmakers and military advocates consider the planned cuts untenable, but no reconsideration of the reductions is under way.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey testified that he, unlike Obama, is not ruling out ground forces if the strategy of airstrikes and reliance on Iraqi and Kurd forces, and “moderate: Syrian rebels fails, which is likely.

General Lloyd Austin, CENTCOM commander has recommended combat troops.

Robert Gates, Obama’s first Defense secretary and a former CIA Director told CBS that in repeating that there won’t be U.S. ground forces, Obama, “in effect, traps himself” because ground forces will be needed.

Retired Marine General James Mattis, who also served under Obama accused the president of tying the hands of the military by taking a major military option “off the table, up front.”

Russia Bear bombers are probing the West’s Arctic borders, and NATO and U.S. fighters have scrambled to turn them back.

Leon Panetta, Obama’s former Secretary of Defense told CBS that ISIS has flourished because the U.S. left Iraq too soon, and involved Syria too late.

Robert Samuelson writes in The Washington Post of America’s neglected defense. Defense makes a tempting target for budget-cutters. A unanimous report from a congressionally mandated task, the National Defense Panel. It warns that defense cutbacks “constitute a serious strategic misstep [that has] caused significant investment shortfalls in U.S. readiness and…have prompted our current and potential allies and adversaries to question our commitment and resolve.” The panel was co-chaired by William Perry, defense secretary  1994-1997 under Clinton, retired four-star general John Abizaid, and Michele Flournoy, Obama’s undersecretary of defense from 2009 to 2012.

Higher defense spending is in our national interest because global order is in our interest. Global order is not guaranteed, but without a strong U.S. military, the odds of global disorder are much greater. The current concern seems to be with short-term political interests rather than National Defense.

Obama says he will take a very hands-on approach to the campaign against Islamist militants in Syria. He has repeated his phrase “no boots on the ground” and “no combat mission” many times. He has indicated that “he will exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential signoff for strikes in Syrian territory.” The Federalist noticed  parallels with Lyndon Johnson and the bombing of North Vietnam. “Interference from Washington seriously hampered the campaign. President Johnson allegedly boasted on one occasion that “they can’t even bomb an outhouse without my approval.”

Hear the sinister music rising in the background and getting slightly louder….?



Overregulation Costs Manufacturers Over $2 Trillion a Year! by The Elephant's Child

American business has been telling the federal government regularly that they are overdoing the regulation, and it is damaging the economy. The federal government yawns and says uh huh. Obama’s attitude seems to be that is what business does — complain about regulation — pay no attention to them — it isn’t important.

Now the National Association of Manufacturers has stated firmly that manufacturers are the backbone of our nation’s economy and employ more than 12 million men and women who make things in this country. To maintain manufacturing momentum and encourage hiring, the United States needs government policies more in tune with the realities of global competition.  Our regulatory system produces unnecessarily costly rules, duplicative mandates, impediments to innovation and barriers to our international competitiveness.

That’s straightforward talk from Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. So they put their money where their mouth is, and produced a new report that shows the macroeconomic impact of federal regulations.

The burden of regulation falls most heavily on small manufacturers who employ less than 50 employees— at $34,671 per employee, per year. The burden on medium size manufacturers who employ 50 to 99 employees — $18,243 per employee per year, and  for large manufacturers who employ more than 100—the cost per employee is $13,750 per employee per year. The total cost of federal regulations in 2012 was $2.028 trillion (in 2014 dollars). The annual cost burden for an average U.S. firm is $233,182 or 21 percent of the average payroll. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said that federal regulations are a top challenge for their firm.

Everybody has talked about “the worst recovery since World War II,” but the White House seems to have no understanding at all of why it is so slow. They have kept pumping money into the economy, giving out more benefits, and that money is supposed to circulate and multiply as it passes from hand to hand. Nancy Pelosi was quite certain that unemployment benefits paved the way to recovery all by themselves.

Democrats don’t much like manufacturing or businesses who expect to earn profits from their activity. They have always regarded profit as a bit of a dirty word, money only earned by greed. Because business is greedy, it needs a firm hand and careful regulation. That’s why they have such a hard time trying to figure out how to create more jobs (infrastructure!) and jump-starting a growing economy.

Well, it matters what kind of business it is. If it is building wind farms and making solar panels, it is good. If it’s making guitars that are hugely popular with rock stars, you had better not be using any endangered wood for the frets. Your stock will be confiscated by the SWAT team that will arrive to shut down your business. (Enter Gibson Guitars in the search function just above Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar).

The business of regulation is handed off by Congress to various agencies, and the agencies’ underlying business is to assure their own continuing employment at high government salaries — so they are careful and thorough in devising regulation and oversight of the regulation, and continued monitoring of each business involved.

That in turn means forms and paperwork and legal requirements, which means that each business has to hire an extra bunch of people to comply with the paperwork requirements. The biggest cost of regulation is the full-time equivalents hired to do the paperwork. And it is serious business. Most of the agencies now have their own SWAT teams to burst into your business and make sure that you are really complying. So it really isn’t funny when the first lady decides that restaurants should show the calorie counts of each ingredient on their establishment’s signage and menus in the interest of reducing obesity.

That’s just the regulation. The tax system for American business has increased the burden to such an extent that we have moved down to 32nd in the ranking of heaviest burden on business and loss of competitiveness.  Obama thinks he is taxing rich CEOs and greedy businesses, but it is the workers who bear the burden of high taxes. We are chasing capitol out of the country to go where it is more welcome and will be better treated. Democrats call this “tax inversion” and are trying to devise laws to keep companies from moving. (Economic Patriotism!) They could just lower the taxes, which would bring in more income)

Economies don’t grow because of nice nonprofit organizations that care about people. They grow because of hardworking businesses who turn a profit and are able to hire and grow and expand.  It’s called Capitalism, which has made America the most prosperous and innovative country in the world. Prosperity is created by free markets and free people, not by the heavy hand of government.



Struggling to Understand This President. by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama
Another day, another attempt to figure out who our president is. Today, it’s Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. Peter Baker had a long piece in the New York Times, on the 13th, with some excerpts from a series of off-the-record dinners while he was weighing action in Iraq. And another from Walter Russell Mead on the 14th in The American Interest. All are interesting and worth your time. Peggy Noonan’s piece destined for the Friday paper already has 260 comments, many rude, some not.

Americans have a long history of disagreeing with their presidents, loving them, hating them, believing the end of the world is nigh, and wanting desperately to make them stop doing what they are doing. Does it all mean anything?

I read somewhere today that the majority of Americans cannot name the three branches of government. Are we all terminally stupid and need smarter people at the helm to manage us and our affairs? The conclusion I reach is that people are puzzled by Barack Obama and do not understand why he is doing what he is doing,

“I was not here in the run-up to Iraq in 2003,” he told a group of visitors who met with him in the White House before his televised speech to the nation, according to several people who were in the meeting. “It would have been fascinating to see the momentum and how it builds.”

In his own way, Mr. Obama said, he had seen something similar, a virtual fever rising in Washington, pressuring him to send the armed forces after the Sunni radicals who had swept through Iraq and beheaded American journalists. He had told his staff, he said, not to evaluate their own policy based on external momentum. He would not rush to war. He would be deliberate.

“But I’m aware I pay a political price for that,” he said.

That’s from Peter Baker. Well, yes. It’s clear that he intends to be deliberate, probably for a long time. He also intends to control everything himself. He is ignoring any and all advice from his military advisors and generals with long experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will approve every strike of our Air Force in Syria personally. Is this back to “I’m probably a better general than my generals,” kind of thing—like when he said he was a better speechwriter than his speechwriters? Certainly there is a degree of hubris there.

There are levels of knowledge that we usually don’t acknowledge. We credit academic degrees, and summa’s and magna’s, and titles and positions but that doesn’t really get down to the nitty-gritty of what a person really knows. We all know of academics with grand degrees who are so narrow and ideological that they’re essentially dumb as posts.

What about those generals whose advice the president does not want? They probably attended one of our nation’s military academies, which are some of the best schools in the country. Today’s officers usually get advanced degrees while they are serving, and the military has its own intensive schools like the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. They may be sent to language school and they learn how to apply all the training they get in practice by leading troops, and by making mistakes and learning from that. And many lead troops in combat and learn the lonely role of command, and victory and loss. And some will be very good generals whose depth of knowledge resulted in wisdom, and some will never reach that point. But there is a lot of knowledge behind their advice, which doesn’t mean that they are always right — just that there is a lot of knowledge behind their advice — and it pays to listen.

I think that pretty much explains the problem, without further explication. In his first term Obama surrounded himself with some strong advisers. Having won a second term, he feels more confident and has chosen sycophants who make him more comfortable because they inevitably agree or because they share his outlook, and a sorry bunch it is. The president looks at the world through a narrow political lens, and all is calculated on  the basis of how it will reflect on him.

But what about America?



Critics Complain About Obama’s Leadership. Does Obama Grasp Why? by The Elephant's Child

Obama ArroganttPresident Obama spoke today at MacDill Air Force Base. But he wanted everybody to know that there would be no boots on the ground. He is still talking about is grand coalition, but he doesn’t mention who is actually in it, and he’s not going to have any boots on the ground. Somebody else can do that. But the American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.

All his generals and advisors have told him that he cannot succeed with ISIS without having boots on the ground. Isis fighters will shelter among civilians, and use those civilians as shields. It is hard to know what he has in mind, it apparently is a personal political decision. Certainly the last of the anti-war left is part of his base and those who are sure that peace is natural state of mankind in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Obama seldom attends his national security briefings, and seems totally unfamiliar with the realms of strategy and intelligence.

Mr. Obama has a bad habit of telling the enemy just what he will and won’t do, leaving nothing to the imagination. There are no plans for the outcome, no contingency plans for the time when the terrorists merge into the civilian population, nor for when the actual fighters fail to take Fallujah or Tikrit. Then what?

We have heard him speak before on situations like this. He is a more qualified field commander than his generals, a better planner than that bunch in the Pentagon. Or it’s all about politics and only politics matters. His constant emphasis that he will have no troops on the ground seems the ultimate in a warped Bush-hatred

I think Obama thought he was riding to election on the basis of giant waves of Bush hatred. Nancy Pelosi said something dumb today about Democrats never having been as rude and nasty to President Bush as Republicans were to President Obama. When Republicans recovered from raucous laughter, and were able to stop giggling, they thought gratefully of Minority Leader Pelosi and DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with runaway mouths and little sense — gifts that keep on giving.

The emphatic “no boots on the ground” came along awkwardly with the other announcement that the president was sending 3,000 troops to Africa to fight Ebola. Many found that announcement preposterous. However, the 3,000 number is  heavy on corpsmen, medics, and the experts who can build field hospitals and erect intensive care units.

The situation in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is dire. Hospitals are overburdened and there are not enough beds, What health system there is is near collapse. The military command center will be in Liberia to support civilian efforts across the region. Personnel from the U.S Public health Service will deploy to the new field hospitals. New isolation units and more than 1,000 beds. More than 2,500 men, women and children have died, and patients are being turned away. People are dying in the streets.

ISIS is to be degraded and disrupted— not defeated, at least not yet. If ever. To put “boots on the ground” Obama would have to admit that he was mistaken, and that he does not do. That would take something over 25,000 boots on the ground. Investors remarked that “Liberals always want to wage war by not admitting war is war.”We’ll see. I’m deeply unimpressed with Obama’s politicized ideology, his complete inability to admit fault of any kind, and his tendency to overrule his best advisers because he knows better.  I’m betting on the White House deputy who said they’d leave this mess for the next administration.



What If You Have A Party and Nobody Comes? by The Elephant's Child

World leaders are expected to meet as at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 21 to announce plans for reducing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, world leaders are staying home. It’s turning into a bit of an embarrassment for President Obama and UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott can’t make it because he has a country to run. Chinese President XI Jinping and new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they won’t attend. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be attending. And even Angela Merkel, President of very, very green Germany just can’t make it.

Well, some people do pay attention to the news. The Antarctic ice is at the greatest extent ever measured. Arctic ice is expansive and growing. There has been no warming at all, none, for seventeen years and eleven months. We’ve had snow in September in the northern Midwest and New England. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to grow—which supposedly means that world climate is getting warmer—but the climate is not getting warmer, but cooler.  So possibly the increase in the benign gas that we exhale each time we breathe, the one that is a natural fertilizer for plants, is not the cause of the 1º of warming that occurred over the last hundred years? Well, yes. Exactly.

The sun, which does have a lot to do with climate, has gone quiet, and all the vast dollars and crony capitalism that have gone into finding an alternative source of energy in solar and wind energy has been for naught? Yep.

“There is essentially zero evidence that carbon dioxide from human activities is causing catastrophic climate change:” Australian geologist Dr. Bob Carter.

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry warns of decades of possible global cooling: Suggests the “current cool phase will continue until the 2030s.”

Leonardo DiCaprio: “How we respond to the climate crisis in the coming years will likely determine the fate of humanity and our planet.”

Nancy  Pelosi: “Republicans winning the Senate would be the end of civilization.”

Activist green groups are drumming up a way to use the federal courts to force Americans to drastically reduce their energy consumption whether or not Obama signs a new climate change treaty in Paris next year.

The EPA plans to propose and finalize regulations establishing first-ever carbon dioxide (CO²) regulations for jet aircraft.

The Obama administration is reading the Clean Air Act to require a climate policy never intended or approved by Congress, and intends to negotiate an international agreement that would not survive a Senate vote on ratification.

Green organizations are planning a big climate march in conjunction with the UN Climate meeting. They are concerned about “climate justice” which seems to have nothing to do with climate (which they can’t affect anyway) and everything to do  with ‘justice” which seems to be about putting the people in charge, destroying large corporations, and redistributing income. They are particularly interested in the particular large corporations who extract energy from Mother Earth and use it to power civilization, but that is secondary to “justice.”

Emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act show that Obama’s EPA is in collusion with “green” lobby groups — the report details the conflicts of interest, “unalterably closed minds,” internal activism and influence of outside interest groups on the Obama Administration EPA. Documents raise questions about the legality of EPA rules.

The EPA also wants to garnish your wages if they accuse you of something, without any court order. How do they get that power? They just announce that they have it. That is apparently the way that some 30 government agencies have granted themselves the power to garnish your wages.  There are more problems with big government that we ever knew.



Putin Warns Europe That Winter Is Coming. by The Elephant's Child

Putin in Darkness

“the space between war and peace is not an empty one—but a landscape churning with political, economic, and security competitions that require constant attention.”   Nadia Schadlow

Well, we haven’t been tending to that landscape, and it is telling. “Right after President Obama traveled to Estonia and gave a public address warning Russia not to meddle further in its near-abroad and pronouncing the  U.S.-led Nato coalition’s vow to protect Estonia, and other such countries in the neighborhood, from Russian aggression. Putin has gotten quite creative in his demonstrations of contempt for Obama.”

Putin has watched Obama offer mostly empty words, self-contradictions, and confused backtracking on foreign policy and decided that Obama is not someone to fear or respect. Putin is not alone in this assessment of Obama. He’s just the only leader currently using Obama’s weakness and indecision as an excuse to invade Europe.

Russian officers abducted Estonian security official Eston Kohver, and tossed him in a Russian Jail, accusing him of spying for Estonia and running afoul of Russian gun-possession laws. They took him to Moscow and paraded him in front of television cameras.

The New York Times is reporting that Russia is in talks with Iran to help Iran get around sanctions intended to curb its nuclear program. The Polish government has said that Russia’s state gas company, Gazprom, has been cutting supplies to Poland by at least twenty percent.

The NATO summit approved the creation of a rapid-response force to counter Russian aggression in NATO countries — and suggested headquartering it in Poland. Putin looked to prove Obama’s promises to Estonia to be empty, he apparently plans to show that promises to Poland are equally empty, even if Poland is a NATO ally.

Seth Mandel says that Russia is “unlikely to just cut energy supplies to a whole swath of Europe. Moscow needs the revenue and the influence the revenue buys.” On the other hand, “Putin in not above reminding his neighbors that Obama has not proved himself willing to defend them, and they ought not bite the hand that feeds, especially if there’s no alternative.”



Early Snow. Colder Winter? Looming Power Shortages. by The Elephant's Child

mt-rushmore-snow

Los Angeles is sweltering under 100º+ temperatures, but in other parts of the country they are having a very early winter. Temperatures are forecast to dip into the 50°s from Boston and New York City to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Some areas in northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and northwestern New England will see temperatures in the 30ºs. An inch of snow at Rapid City on the 12th was the earliest recorded snowfall since 1888.

There has been no global warming for 17 years and nine months.

Obama administration officials intend to sign a “politically binding” agreement to drastically reduce U.S, greenhouse gas emission at the U.N. climate change conference in Paris next year and have a legal strategy to turn any non-binding accord into federal law. Chris Horner, senior fellow and attorney at CEI  says activists are planning to use the sue-and-settle strategy they have used in the past to impose drastic energy restrictions on all Americans. But India, China and Germany have already said they won’t be attending the conference. The major aim of the less developed countries is to force the Western developed countries to pay for the misery inflicted on the poorer world.

Antarctic sea ice extent, September 13, 2014—a new all-time record : 1,121,000 square km., breaking the past record by 48,000 sq. km.

So what’s going on here? Author Greg Easterbrook calls it “collapse anxiety.” He defines it as “a widespread feeling that the prosperity of the United States and the European Union cannot really be enjoyed because the Western lifestyle may crash owing to economic breakdown, environmental damage, resource exhaustion, …or some other imposed calamity.

These are the descendants of English economist Thomas Malthus who forecast a dire future in “An Essay on the Principle of Population” which was published in 1798. He believed the increasing global population would result in starvation for many people as the world would not be able to feed itself. Malthusians are still with us in the persons of Paul Ehrlich and “The Population Bomb,” and Obama’s science advisor John Holdren, who advocate for radical approaches to forestalling catastrophe, including what they call “de-growth.”Nuclear energy is bad, Genetically modified foods are bad. Coal is awful. Oil is bad. Natural gas is bad, and fracking is bad. Renewable energy is good. Organic food is good. Locally grown organic food is better. “¹

The assumption is that we are running out of every essential commodity—food, oil, copper, iron ore. We are sinning against the planet. Directly in the face of the facts —”people are living longer, healthier, freer, more peaceful, lives than in any other time in human history.” Human ingenuity and creativity are triumphing all over the world. The big environmental groups like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year by scaring people about coming disaster.

Climate science was once a quiet corner of university science departments, but the creation of the IPCC and important meetings on climate held at all the world’s nicest resorts meant departmental growth, fame, more students, and lots and lots of grants. Governments invested mightily in protecting their citizens from the rise of the oceans, and helping the planet to heal. Those who have been riding that gravy train are not likely to give it up gracefully.

But there has been no warming whatsoever in 17 years and nine months.

Last winter the Great Lakes froze over. New England has obediently been on a hell-bent drive to rid itself of any form of “dirty” non-renewable energy, and has been closing down coal-fired plants for the last decade. Last winter when the real record temperatures hit, there wasn’t enough natural gas to go around. The EPA is planning to shut down 300 coal-fired power plantsfor which there is no replacement. Residential electricity prices in New England are up by 11.8%.

We hear about the horrors of a warming world, but cold is far more dangerous. People die from freezing to death. Some scientists are predicting a new “Little Ice Age,” Nobody, and no computer program, can predict the future. We just don’t know.This looks to be a colder winter, and the president, his science advisor and the EPA are still chasing carbon dioxide, though CO² has continued to increase as warming has failed to increase for nearly 18 years.

¹ Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper by Robert Bryce.




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