American Elephants


Americans Deserve Better Than This! by The Elephant's Child

Jim Geraghty has a simple closing message: Americans Deserve Better Than This.

“The American people deserve to be treated better than the way their government treats them.”The

People who like their doctors and health insurance deserve to keep them. Our veterans deserve care in a timely manner. The American people deserve the truth about illegal immigrants released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They deserve straight answers from the Centers for Disease Control, and when a promise is made, it should be kept. Americans deserve a secure border, and when there is overwhelming support for restricting flights from countries with severe Ebola outbreaks, the option deserves careful consideration, not arrogant dismissal.

Americans of all political stripes deserve to be treated equally in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, with no special targeting based upon political views. Our ambassadors and those serving our country overseas deserve protection when they ask for it. If American taxpayer money is going to be used to save a car company, the people deserve to know whether that company is making unsafe cars.

They deserve to send and receive e-mails, texts, and calls without the National Security Agency peering over their metaphorical shoulder without a warrant. They deserve a director of national intelligence who does not lie in testimony to Congress. For the amount of money we spend on gathering intelligence, we deserve better performance — or for an administration to act upon that intelligence more promptly. In a dangerous world, we deserve leaders who don’t fool themselves into thinking jihadists on the rise are just “the JV team.” They deserve a Secret Service that takes its job seriously and corrects its mistakes.

Republicans are not perfect, to be sure. They are ordinary people like us. You may have noticed that the big tent contains a lot of argument and disagreement, usually about who is a true Republican or a true Conservative, and who isn’t, which is silly. We are meant to argue and disagree because that is how we gradually find our way to better governance and better laws.

Democrats, on the other hand, speak with one voice, or at least one talking point, which has been analyzed for voter appeal in all sorts of focus groups and subjected to the best of skillful wordsmiths who pick just the right words to influence most widely. They are willing to excuse most problems of government, or announce some bold-sounding reform that proves to be a self-serving catastrophe like ObamaCare.

Republicans tried to tell the nation that you really can’t criticize health care for costing too much, impose 20,000 pages of rules and regulations for the medical establishment and the insurance industry, add all sorts of untested ideas that you’re just sure will save money, top it all off with a vast Federal bureaucracy that has to be paid for, and expect it to cost less and be more efficient. We haven’t even begun to see the depths to which this appalling law will reach, and the cost of it in both money and human health and well-being. Americans deserve better from their government.

There’s ISIS, which is being dismissed as a generational problem— and thus not worth our serious efforts, an attempt to make a “deal” with Iran, an apparent plan to flood the nation with millions of illegal immigrants in hopes of a permanent Democrat majority, which tells the world that we are not serious about our immigration laws, and the border is open to all, including ISIS.

The refusal to place any kind of travel restrictions on those coming from Ebola central beggars common sense. There’s the insistence on refusing to call terrorists — terrorists. And that does not begin to even touch the enormous numbers of well-known scandals. The American people do deserve better than this.

If Republicans capture the Senate, then there is a real possibility of defunding some of the policies that should never have been enacted.



Here’s Some Good News For a Change! by The Elephant's Child

The price of crude oil is tumbling downward towards $80 per barrel. The Brent crude price of $82.60 is the cheapest since 2010.”On October 1, Saudi Arabia’s  national oil company announced that it had abandoned a policy of price protection and would start to focus on protecting its market share. Combined with falling global demand and rising supplies elsewhere, oil prices have fallen accordingly.

Natural gas supplies are plentiful and warm weather so far means weak demand, which means lower costs for natural gas.

For our fracking, the break-even price is around $50-$70 bbl. Supply is bulging. Gasoline prices will come down, transportation prices will come down, which means that costs at the grocery store will ease.

States like Iran, Venezuela, and Iraq can only balance their budgets at oil prices ranging from $110 to $135 per barrel. This is good. If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, there will be real financial squeezes, and even regime change in Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq or Libya and would give Vladimir Putin some real trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

It’s not clear what Saudi Arabia is up to, but they are definitely not approving of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor of ISIS’ ambitions either. They may be just protecting their market share, as we are close to surpassing them in production.

If we start exporting natural gas to Europe, that would relax the strangle hold Russia holds over their energy supplies.

It’s good news, just when we need some.



Nobody’s in Charge, Nobody Knows Anything, Incompetence Reigns. by The Elephant's Child

The world is in flames, and those in charge don’t seem up to the job of taking charge. The CDC can’t get their information straight, and can’t seem to talk straight. Panic is allayed with calm, correct information, and knowledge of the facts. The Wall Street Journal addressed the question by saying “the fire-brigade approach clearly isn’t working. A sustained, coherent policy is vital to preventing pandemics.”

The spokesman who attempts to soothe the population with platitudes only makes matters worse. Straight talk, good information. When President Obama declared Ebola a National Security issue, he didn’t calm people’s fears, he inflamed them.

Americans are debating the wisdom of sending several thousand troops rather than asking whether U.S. assistance is organized as efficiently and effectively as it should be? Rather than an effort to deliver effective risk information, we were told that it was unlikely anyone with Ebola would ever enter the country and chances of an epidemic were extremely low.

ISIS is approaching Baghdad, taking precautions to avoid attack with our airstrikes, just as we were told that they would, melting into the population, ending their long parades of armored vehicles. There is some evidence they are using chemical weapons. The Kurds fight on, but desperately need the weapons we have not bothered to give them. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that:

Kobani is just one community, and it’s a tragedy what is happening there…but we have said from day one it is going to take a period of time to bring the coalition thoroughly to the table, to rebuild some of the morale and capacity of the Iraqi army, and to begin to focus where we ought to be focusing first, which is in Iraq.

Enterovirus D68 is raging, and we are calmed with claims that it goes away in the winter, so don’t worry. Every mother knows that kids bring everything home from school, so people worry.

But never fear. “The Pentagon released a report Monday asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security with  increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster response as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.”

The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” Mr. Hagel said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration….

While foreign policy experts have for years warned that climate change could present a future risk to national security, the Pentagon’s characterization of climate change as a threat demanding immediate action represents a significant shift for the military.

Never one to be outdone in the absurdity category, Secretary of State John Kerry  declared “Life as you know it on Earth ends if climate change skeptics are wrong.”

“But even if climate alarmists are wrong, nothing bad can come of enacting their taxes, restrictions and regulations,” Kerry said in a speech at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Another Democrat who never took a course in economics:

The worst that could happen to us is we create a whole lot of new jobs, we kick our economies into gear, we have healthier people, healthier children because we have cleaner air, we live up to our environmental responsibility, we become truly energy independent, and our security is stronger and greater and sustainable as a result. That’s the worst that happens to us.

Eighteen years of a complete lack of warming, and nobody seems to notice that the more immediate danger is a very cold winter and the EPA trying to shut down all of our coal-fired power plants with nothing — nothing — to replace that electricity. Numbers of hurricanes are way down, Numbers of  tornadoes are way down. But those are weather, not climate.

We are in the best of hands. When everybody is completely incompetent, what can possibly go wrong?



The New York Times is Astonished At Republican Concern About Secret Service Failings by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times, the “paper of record,”is apparently astonished to find Republicans, who regularly criticize the president, showing concern for Secret Service failings in protecting the president and the White House. They assume that is merely a political ploy of some sort. They hate Republicans, want them permanently defeated, jailed, put in camps, killed, gone. They are unable to tolerate dissent, and believe that Republicans hate the president, and not only that, hate him because he is black. That is the theme they try to impress on blacks. If we don’t like the president’s policies, then we must wish him dead? Astonishing.

The headline today was “Showing Concern for the President, Even While Criticizing Him.” Even?

President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.

“The American people want to know: Is the president safe?” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the Republican committee chairman who has made it his mission to investigate all sorts of Obama administration missteps, solemnly intoned as he opened a hearing into the lapses on Tuesday.

Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy. Although the target of the legislative scrutiny is the Secret Service, not the president, the furor over security has left the White House on the defensive.

The American Interest noticed as well “GOP Taking Advantage of Events to Make WH Look Incompetent?”

Those horrible, mean, nasty Republicans are apparently “using” the revelations that the Secret Service isn’t being managed very well to create an impression of general incompetence at the White House. Here’s the money graph from the New York Times:

So unfair! Botch the public rollout of your most important domestic political program, fail to reform the VA after campaigning on a promise to do exactly that, and then make serial misjudgments about world affairs while Russia launches a war against Ukraine even as the U.S. goes back into Iraq—and those awful Republicans start a whisper campaign about your competence. Right before midterms, too! Have they no shame?

I am very critical of the president’s policies, and the Democrat Party’s policies. I believe they are responsible for the worst economic recovery ever.  The recent recession was not the worst recession since the Great Recession of the 1930s. It ended, officially, in 2009. ObamaCare is a badly conceived disaster. Immigration is an unfolding disaster. Federal agencies are corrupt and show no signs of improvement. Foreign policy is one misjudgment after another. I think Obama was unprepared for the office and mistook his ability to sway audiences with his speeches for qualification for the highest office. But I don’t hate him personally. I don’t wish him harm. I don’t know of any Republicans who do. I oppose his ideology with all my being, but he is the president, and I respect the office.

Democrats hated George W. Bush and wanted him dead, because he was a Republican and because he was president. They hated everything about him. They said so. They hated the way he walked. They hated the way he talked. They hated his “squint.” They hated that he was from Texas. Doubt me? Here is the evidence, if you have forgotten.



Time Favors ISIS. They Are At the Gates of Baghdad. by The Elephant's Child

A new Report from the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) reveals that President Barack Obama has attended only 42.1% of his daily intelligence briefings during his entire presidency. In his first term the president attended 42.2% of his Presidential Daily Briefs (PDPs), and 41.3% in his second term. This finding comes on the heels of Obama’s 60 Minutes comments in which he blamed his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for any lack of awareness of ISIS rapid rise.

Obama said “I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”

Members of the Defense establishment were “flabbergasted” by Obama’s attempt to shift blame, according to Eli Lake of the Daily Beast. Members of the intelligence community said that Obama has shown longstanding disinterest in receiving personal Daily Briefings that allow the Commander-in-Chief the opportunity to ask questions, clarify that which is not clear, and challenge flawed intelligence assumptions. He gets his briefs in writing.  A Security staffer told The Daily Mail that the president has not taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since 2009.

Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIS and NSA, said it was dangerous for President Obama to only read intelligence briefings instead of getting a briefing with an agent he can have a “human engage” with during a back-and-forth questioning session. On Tuesday, on Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show,  Hayden explained that could lead to the policymaker only seeing what he would like the world to be, and not recognizing the reality of events. He said it was not merely a matter of style, but dangerous.

With the delivery of only a written report, it is not known whether the president reads it or sets it aside, nor if the report was understood as it was meant to be understood.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) said the intelligence community had warned President Obama about the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria for “over a year. “This was not an Intelligence community failure, but a failure by policy makers to confront the threat,” Rogers said in a statement on Monday. “For over a year, U.S. intelligence agencies specifically warned that ISIL was taking advantage of the situation in Syria to recruit members and provoke violence that could spill into Iraq and the rest of the region.”

Rogers said his committee had formally pressed the administration to act against the terror threat in 2013. “Additionally, national security experts — both inside and outside the government — repeatedly warned, a year before ISIL’s drive into Mosul, that the Iraq Security Forces faced severe pressure; the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing on that very issue in early 2014.”

It has long been reported that President Obama prefers to get reports from his cabinet members, his czars, and staff members in short written summaries.

I prefer written information to videos or radio. Even when it comes to speeches, I would rather read the transcript, so I can go back and re-read sentences as necessary. But reports suggest that Mr. Obama doesn’t want reports either, but just brief summaries. This speaks to a particular mindset, someone impatient with having to read anything lengthy — a lazy reader. Sometimes a piece is too long, the writer does not get to the point, and the material is longer than the time available — but the importance of the information should trump laziness. It is particularly odd for a former law student. The law depends on careful reading of every word, for an entire case can be built on careless words.

But there’s ideology as well, and Mr. Obama clearly has a particular ideological view of the world that many of us on the right find problematical. The Left envisions humanity as perfectible, once they get the right regulations and controls in place. And once they have fixed the people, we will have peace permanently. War is unnatural and should be prevented. Those of us on the Right recognize human nature as messy and quarrelsome, and though we would certainly prefer peace, we recognize that nations have as much trouble getting along as members of a family do.

Obama has a seeming inability to accept blame for anything. Whatever it is is definitely not his fault. His failure to attend daily intelligence briefings, in view of current events, is a major flap in the media. Will this be sufficient to make him realize that more attention is needed? He is famously indecisive, and inclined to dither and procrastinate. Yet time favors ISIS. The more we dither, the more entrenched ISIS will become. They are reported to be only a mile from Baghdad.

You can’t bomb this into a “manageable problem,” Mr. President. The number one task for a Commander-in-Chief is to decide. George W. Bush said “I’m the decider.” Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said “The buck stops here.”



Reminder: Iran is Not On Our Side, Not Now, Not Ever. by The Elephant's Child

Iranian_Supreme_Leader_Ayatollah_Ali_Khamenei

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that the “new world order is emerging” and that “Iran will have a strong role in creating it,” according to a Farsi language transcript of Khamenei’s remarks late last week to the country’s Assembly of Experts.

Iran will lead this “new world order” that will replace American influence as capitalism and Western influence collapses, according to Khamenei, who underwent surprise prostate surgery on Monday.

“Iran will have a strong role in creating the new world order,” Khamenei said, explaining that Tehran will expand its already growing influence in Latin America and even Asia.

We have important potential outside Iran, we have supporters, we have strategic depth, in the region, some because of Islam, some because of language, some because of Shia religion, they are our strategic depth, these are all our strengths, we should use them all.”

And it is not only in the region, outside the region, in Latin America we have strategic depth, in some important parts of Asia we have strategic depth, we have the tools to use these opportunities and we have to use these opportunities, using them makes the country strong.

A sign of the West’s waning power came when “the Zionist regime of Israel” supposedly “lost the battle against the small population of the Muslims in Gaza” according to a separate recounting of Khamenei’s remarks published by the state-run Fars News Agency.

The recent war in Gaza was an example of miracle; a small region with limited capabilities accomplished a task that brought the Zionist regime, as the symbol of the West’s power, to its knees” he was quoted as saying. “The current world order cannot continue and a new order is emerging.”

Back in the real world, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer warned against including Iran in any coalition to derail the jihadist group. “A nuclear Iran would be a thousand times greater threat to the world than ISIS, he told guests at a pre-Rosh Hashanah reception at his residence. He also cautioned the U.S. against accommodating Iran during the current effort to degrade ISIS. He praised the American president for leading a coalition to defeat the terror group, but warned that Iran must not be a partner in this effort.

Now I know there is still some absurd talk in certain quarters about Iran being a partner in solving problems in the Middle East,” Dermer said. “They are not a partner, they were not a partner, they never will be a partner. Iran as a nuclear power is a thousand times more dangerous than ISIS.”



When It’s a Hard Question, Whose Advice Matters? by The Elephant's Child

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Michael Ramirez, as usual, gets it right. To whom do you listen? Who do you trust? Who is the best qualified? When do you change your mind and why?

(h/t:Investors)




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