American Elephants


Some Week! Is This What We Have Come To? by The Elephant's Child

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I recommend this article and the video that accompanies it for your edification.  Those who managed and directed the disgraceful spectacular organized for a number of world leaders and small numbers of elderly veterans returning for a last look at Sword Beach, the beach where the British landed in 1944, have a lot to answer for.

The article enumerates the lip service the Western world pays to the sacrifices of military veterans and what they suffered so the rest of us might live free of such suffering.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson confirmed that another 18 veterans can be added to the death toll, now 35, of those who died because of a culture of callous indifference to the needs of veterans put on wait lists that never resulted in appointments. Cover-up and hidden or discarded lists to ensure that administrators got their bonuses and promotions. Bad publicity, not ended by jettisoning the VA secretary.

To get that off the front pages, the President announced the swap of five Taliban terrorist commanders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, which the administration assumed would be an heroic story of the return of a Taliban POW to the arms of his family. The White House once again tried to distract from a major scandal by instituting another major scandal. When the “honor and distinction” suggestion surfaced, Bergdahl’s platoon comrades confirmed that he had deserted his post, a court-martial offense at best. When that one didn’t work, administration nit-wits tried attacking the members of Bergdahl’s platoon as “psychopaths,” Think Progress asked “Did Sergeant Bergdahl desert the Army or did the Army desert him?” Some spin!

Notice has gone out to the military overseas about the heightened danger of kidnapping as a result of Obama’s trading 5 Taliban leaders for the American deserter. Even Taliban leaders said they would be looking for more Americans to kidnap.

Some week! Capped off with a weird  ceremony where hundreds of performers descended on Sword Beach, where they gesticulated and gyrated in something that was intended to be evocative of the struggles endured by the soldiers who slogged their way across the battlefields of Europe. The level of crass obliviousness that dreamed up this display is hard to fathom.

The high point of the video is the expression on the face of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth as she watched the performance. That was a royal “what the hell?” expression if I’ve ever seen one. People should not forget that Princess Elizabeth enlisted and served with honor and distinction herself when her country stood alone against Nazi Germany.



The Armed Forces Sweetheart of World War II by The Elephant's Child

Dame Vera Lynn, the armed forces sweetheart of World War II, celebrated her 93rd birthday last year. Her songs: We’ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover, When I Grow to Old to Dream, When the Lights Go On Again, You’ll Never Know, As Time Goes By, and There’ll Always Be an England and many more, were not just the great standards of the war years, but remain standards today.

Music was important, as it is in all wars, and the troops loved her.  Memories of long ago.   Reposted from 2011



Remember the Men of D-Day, June 6, 1944 by The Elephant's Child

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Reposted from 2013 ……..………………………………………….(click to enlarge)

Major Werner Pluskat in his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach had heard nothing from his superiors. He was cold, tired and exasperated. He felt isolated. He couldn’t understand why there had been no reports from either regimental or division headquarters. …Once more he swung the artillery glasses over to the left, picked up the dark mass of the Cherbourg peninsula and began another slow sweep of the horizon. The same low banks of mist came into view, the same patches of shimmering moonlight, the same restless white flecked sea.

Behind him in the bunker his dog Harras, was stretched out asleep. Nearby , Captain Ludz Wilkening and Lieutenant Fritz Theen were talking quietly. Pluskat joined them. “Still nothing out there,” he told them.” I’m about to give it up. But he walked back to the aperture and stood looking out as the first streaks of light began to lighten the sky. He decided to make another routine sweep.

Wearily, he swung the glasses over to the left again. Slowly he tracked across the horizon. He reached the dead center of the bay. The glasses stopped moving. Pluskat tensed, stared hard.

Through the scattering thinning mist the horizon was filling with ships — ships of every size and description, ships that casually maneuvered back and forth as though they had been there for hours. There appeared to be thousands of them. Pluskat stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, moved as he had never been before in his life. At that moment the world of the good soldier Pluskat began falling apart. He says that in those first few moments he knew, calmly and surely, that “this was the end for Germany.”      Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day

ADDENDUM:  The Greatest Generation is passing into history. The youngest who turned 18 in 1943 will be 95 years old in 2014. Honor them, for they saved the world at enormous cost.  Think too, of those on the home front who built the ships and planes and made the materials that won the war. They built the arsenal of Democracy.

They were slogging, unglamorous men that no one envied. No battle ensigns flew for them no horns or bugles sounded. But they had history on their side



D-Day, June 6, 1944. “The Boys of Point Du Hoc.” by The Elephant's Child
June 6, 2014, 6:22 am
Filed under: Canada, Europe, Freedom, History, Military, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,
From the Archives: D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Boys of Pointe du Hoc.

June 6, 2010

Here is Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, speaking on that windswept coast at the very spot where Allied soldiers waded ashore to liberate Europe from the yoke of Nazi tyranny.  He spoke to the veterans of Pointe du Hoc where he unveiled memorials to the 2nd and 5th U.S. Army Ranger battalions who stormed the cliffs.

The President and Mrs. Reagan greeted each of the veterans after the speech.  Other Allied countries represented at the ceremony by their heads of state and government were Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Olav V of Norway, King Baudouin I of Belgium, Grand Duke Jean Of Luxembourg and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau of Canada.

You can read the speech or listen.  Might be a good one to share with the kids, as this is one of the great speeches. Such things are no longer a usual part of the curriculum in school, and kids need to know what their country is about, and a little about the men who fought to preserve their liberty.  The youngest of the Rangers are 95 now, and all too soon there will be none left.



Obama’s Delay of the Keystone XL Pipeline is All About Politics. by The Elephant's Child

Last month at a press conference after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President Obama was asked about his delay in approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

Harper has been urging Obama to do the right thing and approve the pipeline that would pump oil from Alberta, Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The president is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. He has claimed that all the jobs are just “temporary.” The State Department has approved the pipeline twice, both Hillary and Kerry. It will not increase greenhouse gases. Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer has promised $100 million to the Democrats if they just keep opposing global warming. Green activists are continually demonstrating against the Keystone, for unknown greenie reasons. Unions badly want the jobs involved. The oil is being moved by rail at present, which is more dangerous.

By delaying a decision, Obama is hoping to get past the 2014 election without hurting the re-election chances of several Senate Democrats running in red or purple states that strongly support the Keystone XL and the energy industry.

Those candidates include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, plus two open seats in Montana and West Virginia held by two retiring Democrats.

Think about the political problems facing these Democrats.

Montana, where Democratic Sen. Max Baucus just retired, will be able to ship 100,000 barrels a day of oil from the Bakken shale formation. If Obama kills the Keystone XL, he kills Montana jobs and may hurt the chances of a Democrat holding that Senate seat.

TransCanada has released a detailed job breakdown in response to critics who argue that the company’s job creation estimates for the project are too high and will lead only to ‘a few hundred’ temporary jobs. They presented a detailed account of employment potential in the U.S. right down to the number of oilers, labourers and welders needed for the  U.S. $7 billion project.

Their claim (January 2012)breaks the project into 17 pipeline segments with 500 workers per segment —8,500 jobs. Thirty pump stations, each station requires 100 workers—3,000 jobs. Six hundred jobs for the six construction camps at Cushing, Oklahoma.Construction, management and inspection oversight — 1,000. That’s 13,000 construction employment opportunities and 7,000 in manufacturing. The spin-off jobs for materials, steel pipes, related services would generate all sorts of indirect jobs and revenue for suppliers.

If the vulnerable Democrats can waffle on the issue, and Obama continues to deny the project, he gets money from the green activist lobby, and they have a lot to donate.

Democrats biggest claim in an election year is that they care about the little people. They don’t. ObamaCare is a clear example. Once they get  you signed up and dependent on their program, they don’t care what kind of health care you actually receive. Evidence: “If You like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” “Your insurance will cost $2,500 less,” VA insurance. Indian Health Service. Medicaid.

It’s all about politics. Not the “little guy.”



Daniel Hannan on the Anglo Saxon Tradition by The Elephant's Child

In “Inventing Freedom”, Daniel Hannan reflects on the historical origin and spread of the principles that have made America great, and their role in creating a sphere of economic and political liberty that is as crucial as it is imperiled. Hannan argues that the ideas and institutions we consider essential to maintaining and preserving our freedoms — individual rights, private property, the rule of law, and the institutions of representative government — are the legacy of a very specific tradition that was born in England and that we Americans, along with other former British colonies, inherited.

 



Canada Ranks Lower than Latvia In A Survey of Energy Sustainability? by The Elephant's Child

About those national rankings: A new World Economic Forum (WEF) survey on the world’s “best sustainable energy systems” places energy self-sufficient Canada below Latvia, Costa Rica, Columbia and Romania.  Huh?

The Geneva-based think tank’s latest survey of countries with the most “sustainable energy systems” put Norway as the country with the best energy system in the world. You always have to watch out when they start throwing that “sustainability” word around. It is an ever-so fashionable word, always to be thrown in to any paper deemed to be truly “serious.” And Geneva is always to be considered “serious.”

Canada, our neighbor to the north, producer of one of the world’s largest amounts of crude oil, natural gas, wind, nuclear and hydroelectricity, suddenly finds itself ranked below Latvia, which is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its fossil fuel supply. It had, however, “diversified” enough to warrant a ranking four places above self-sufficient Canada.

“The WEF,” the Financial Post says, “arrived at its befuddling conclusion after ranking countries on economic growth, environmental sustainability and energy security performance, and ‘analysing the complex trade-offs and dependencies that affect country efforts.’”

This report is absurd, of course, but governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have fallen into a pattern of using words that are fashionable but essentially meaningless to show that they are “with it,” to be taken seriously. Call them navy blue pin-striped words, or Rolex words. And “sustainable” is one of the worst. Sustainable means it will last over time, and we clearly have no idea. Tomorrow is unknown.

“Diversity” is more popular in academia than in the energy business, but a way of sneaking in a bunch of unaffordable “alternate energy”systems, beloved by environmentalists, yet only exist with ongoing governmental subsidies. In either case, it is nonsense. In academia it is supposed to be desirable to have students of varying races and ethnicities, but undesirable to have diversity in their thought or politics. All will conform.

Other words that fall into the same general category are “fairness,” (who decides?), “equality,” (how?) “tolerance,”( regarding what?). The words become more meaningless as they are used to excess, and no thought is dedicated to what they really mean in the context where they are used.

Silly report. Canada ranked a paltry 14th, and the United States, soon to become the world’s number one energy producer ranked a distant 37th out of 124 countries.



A Glimpse of the Future of Obamacare: Everything You Wanted to Know. by The Elephant's Child

People all over the country are being dropped by their insurance plans and  the replacements offered have shocked them with increased monthly cost and way bigger annual deductibles. The question is if this is a planned ObamaCare effect designed to push people into ObamaCare or if it is possibly innocent. The conclusion is almost certainly that when the President said “If you like your insurance you can keep your insurance,” he lied, quite deliberately. Ditto keeping your doctor.

As far as that goes, the claim that the website crashes were due to high traffic volumes was a lie too. And the claim that the Affordable Care Act is affordable quality health insurance made available to everyone — that’s a lie as well. Will anything about ObamaCare be an honest improvement? It’s very doubtful.

The basis on which they tried to sell this was that our health care was the most expensive in the world, and our outcomes weren’t even as good. But that was a lie too. In Canada, if you need a CT scan, you might have to wait for weeks to get an appointment. Here it takes maybe 25 to 35 minutes. You need to see a specialist, an appointment might take a few days or even a couple of weeks — in Canada it can take months, and worried Canadians can cross the border to find a specialist here.

Survival rates are influenced by the fact that we consider all babies born alive — as born alive. Most countries consider only those likely to survive as born alive, while we try to save them all. Because we are a very large country with many vehicles and highways, we have lots of traffic accidents. Those things skew the statistics. On the other hand we pay more for medicine because we like private rooms and short waits for care. And the idea that poor people could not get care was a lie as well. Emergency room treatment is available for all — by law, and hospitals give lots of charity treatment which makes it more expensive for the rest of us.

ObamaCare was modeled after Massachusetts’ 2006 healthcare law. It is worth understanding just how  that law has worked out. Romneycare pioneered ObamaCare’s now familiar individual mandate, government-built health exchanges and Medicaid expansion. Romney in 2012 said that reform should be state-based and not centrally-planned from Washington. Romneycare was tailored for the known demographics of Massachusetts’ uninsured population. Henry Payne takes a careful look at how Romneycare has fared in the last seven years in his column. It is not pretty, but as clear an indication of what will happen to Obamacare as you will get. Do read the whole thing, it is important, and an excellent column.

The Canadians are trying to figure out how to return their health care to a doctor-patient relationship that is not government controlled. Britain’s National Health Service is going broke, as well as killing lots of its patients and mistreating others. Go to any of the British papers and enter NHS or National Health Service in the search function. I’ve been following it for years and it just gets worse and worse.

Government-run healthcare doesn’t work. We should have known that without having to go through all this mess simply by looking carefully at the Indian Health Service and Veterans’ Health Care. Most of what is wrong with heath care in this country is because of government interference in the marketplace.

Yet many say that ObamaCare was designed to fail, and in failing to force you into single-payer government-run socialized medicine. But that does not work successfully anywhere either. To use the favorite liberal buzz word — it’s not sustainable.



Jobs for the Middle Class, Revisited Again, and Again. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama went to Chattanooga, Tennessee last Wednesday for a big speech on jobs at the Amazon fulfillment center.  Let’s just say it was not one of Mr. Obama’s better efforts. He wants a “better bargain” for the middle class. He has this weird idea that the economy grows “from the middle out,” which nobody understands, but he’s trying to make the middle class feel important.

He said that “over the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting our way back from the worst recession since the Great Depression.” He’s used this line over and over, but that does not make it true. It was a sharp recession, others have been worse, but we usually recover more quickly from a sharp recession. The recession ended in June 2009. It is the recovery that has been the problem.

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From Zero Hedge: “Of 953,000 jobs created in 2013, 77 percent or 731,000 are part time. The U.S. is slowly being converted to a part-time economy.” According to Obama, it is because of the “long-term erosion” that it’s so hard to get the economy growing again. (Not His fault). “Together we’ve righted the ship. We took on a broken health care system.” The health care system was not broken, but the best in the world. There were something like 35 percent who had no health insurance. And we have learned that when Obama Care fully takes effect, there will still be about the same number who have no health insurance.

As Thomas Sowell said “It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”That’s what  they did not understand. And what has happened is that businesses who have large numbers of low wage people cannot afford what ObamaCare demands that they pay, so they are switching to part time employees, and they will have to hire twice as many part-time workers. There are always consequences.

Obama is going to fix the middle class with lots of construction jobs. You probably remember that he said that “those shovel-ready jobs really weren’t shovel-ready.” Construction jobs are complicated. First you have to get the agreement of the concerned governmental unit. Plans must be drawn up. Long approval process. Environmental impact statement. Long approval process. Legal battles with those who don’t like the project, and there are always those who don’t like the project. Repeat approval process. Construction jobs are not permanent jobs. They attach to a project.

The president added that “we invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil.”Sigh. We were never “addicted” to foreign oil. We had a government that wanted to buy foreign oil instead of allowing drilling for our own resources, and a government that extended the ban on offshore drilling in the case of Deepwater-Horizon to an absurd extent that sent ten big rigs off to other countries that were more cooperative, with their crews, and shut down the economy in the Gulf for months for no particular reason except that the President was ideologically opposed to fossil fuels, and subsequently forbade any drilling anywhere else, like offshore Alaska, onshore Alaska, West Coast, East Coast, Florida coast.

You don’t make the economy grow from the middle class out. A reviving economy will provide opportunity for all. ObamaCare is the biggest drag on the economy, but the”green jobs” in new 21st Century technology are nonsense. Spain and Portugal are dying from excessive investment in green technology. In Germany, Siemens burned through 21 Billion Euros and is out of the solar business. Wind and Solar are old, old technologies, and sexy new turbines or solar shingles seem like wonderful new technology, but the inherent problems of wind and solar remain the same. Wind is too intermittent, Solar is too diffuse.

How about doing some of the things that actually help businesses to create jobs? Obama has in mind a new “Grand Bargain.” He will reform the corporate tax code. His willingness to cut back the U.S. corporate tax, which is the highest in the developed world which taxes businesses on the income they earn in other countries. It destroys jobs and lowers wages for American workers and is way overdue for reform.

The central purpose of tax reform is to invigorate economic growth. Broadening the tax base (closing loopholes) and subsequently lowering tax rates is a good thing. But Mr. Obama wants to use some of that revenue to increase spending, which turns the whole thing into just another tax hike. He can’t give up the spending, and he needs more revenue to do it.



Ooops! An Unfortunate Interview With the New York Times. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama did a rare interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, and there was this interesting exchange:

NYT: The “Keystone XL pipeline — Republicans talk about that as a big job creator. You’ve said that you would approve it only if you could be assured it would not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon in the atmosphere. Is there anything that Canada could do or the oil companies could do to offset that as a way of helping you to reach that decision.”

MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that is true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a (sic) economy of 150 million people.

NYT: Yet there are a number of unions who want you to approve this.

MR. OBAMA: Well, look, they might like to see 2,000 jobs initially. But that is a blip relative to the need.

So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.

Now, having said that, there is a potential benefit for us integrating further with a reliable ally to the north our energy supplies. But I meant what I said; I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.

          ———————————————

Keystone XL— In December, 2010, TransCanada Corporation released a detailed job breakdown for the Keystone XL pipeline, and said it will create 13,000 construction employment opportunities, and 7,000 manufacturing jobs in America.

In response to critics who argue that the company’s job creation estimates for the project are too high and will lead to ‘a few hundred’ temporary jobs, the company shot back with a detailed account of employment potential in the United States, right down to the number of oilers, labourers and welders needed for the U.S. $7 billion project.

“These are new, real U.S. jobs. Thirteen thousand American would be put to work constructing our Keystone XL project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer in a statement. “Seven thousand more jobs would be created in the U.S. manufacturing sector, making materials needed to build Keystone XL.”

The project would also need millions of dollars of materials such as steel pipes and related services, which would generate indirect jobs and revenues for American suppliers.

Construction of the 1,600 mile pipeline is broken down into 17 U.S. pipeline spreads or segments, with 500 workers per spread — that’s 8,500 jobs.

Keystone XL also needs 30 pump stations worth tens of millions of dollars. Each station requires 100 workers — that’s 3,000 jobs. Add another 600 jobs that would be needed for the six construction camps and tank construction at Cushing, Oklahoma.

The project would need construction, management and inspection oversight — that would create 1,000 jobs, bring the overall Keystone XL total to 13,000 direct on-site jobs.

If I remember correctly Mr. Obama went to Cushing, Oklahoma for a photo-op in front of piles of gleaming steel pipe. He was going to approve the southern portion of the Keystone that stretched from Cushing to Texas or Louisiana, I forget which.  I never read anything further about that, so perhaps it never was started. The president did get his picture taken though.

So, there is some evidence that there’s a little more than somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs (chuckle) in an economy of 150 million people.  (150 million? )

Granted this was a 2010 estimate, but I feel confident that the President of TransCanada published an accurate summary.

Unfortunately, I cannot trust information from the American administration. All is political, at all times.

And there is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is a natural fertilizer, Makes plants grow, feeds the hungry people of the world.  If there were no carbon there would be no life. “Carbon pollution” indeed.



Tragedy in Canada: A Runaway Train Derailed and Exploded: by The Elephant's Child

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A runaway train carrying 73 cars of crude oil derailed and four cars under pressure exploded sending a huge fireball into the sky over Lac-Méganatic, Quebec about 1:00 am last night. It destroyed much of the center of the 6.000 resident town. The train was apparently parked while the engineer waited for his replacement. Flames have been too hot for rescuers to get closer or determine the extent of the damage. More of the tanker cars may be under pressure and liable to explode.

It is not known if anyone was killed or injured in the blast. There are sixty missing and scores feared dead, but no one knows who was home or just away. At least thirty buildings were destroyed, including shops, homes and the library and newspaper office. About 250 residents have taken shelter in a Red Cross center set up in the town’s high school.

Some crude oil has spilled into the lake and the Chaudiere River, but the extent of the spill is not yet known. What a horror to wake in the middle of the night with your town exploding. Plumes of smoke can be seen from 10 km away. Our thoughts are with the stricken townspeople. More here.



Our Northern Border is More Complicated Than You Thought! by The Elephant's Child

With a new Immigration Bill being battled in Congress, we’re hearing a lot about the southern border and all its problems, but we don’t hear as much about our northern border. It too is a long border, but with some surprising history and  odd facts. That straight line you see on maps is not quite as simple as it looks.

Borders are complicated. We had wars over our southern border which we won, and some Mexicans want a do-over. That’s not the way it works. We had several wars over our northern border, our Revolution, the War of 1812, and don’t forget the Pig War  and 54-40 or Fight!  If you don’t know that history, you’ll have to look it up. This is a fun video.

(h/t Vanderleun)




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