American Elephants


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.



Root Causes: Here’s Why Ferguson Rioted: by The Elephant's Child

There is always an answer for every problem. In the case of Ferguson, Missouri, everyone has been searching for the cause of this summer’s violence. We just weren’t looking in the right place. The violence was clearly caused by climate change.

350.org Strategic Partnership Coordinator Deirdre Smith wrote:

To me, the connection between militarized state violence, racism, and climate change was common-sense and intuitive. Oppression and extreme weather combine to ‘incite’ militarized violence.

Smith explained that poor minority communities have fewer resources to deal with the impacts of climate change, but that “people of color also disproportionately live in climate-vulnerable areas,” which makes climate change a race issue.

The 350.org Strategic Partnership is behind the big climate march this weekend at the UN Climate meeting that everybody important is skipping. And of course, their real interest is the doctrine of “environmental justice,” a notion used by the EPA whenever it seems to be helpful in their legal arguments.

The EPA defines “environmental justice” as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies,” according to the EPA website.

That makes it a civil rights issue, which brings in a whole different body of laws and regulations. It suggests that power plants or “excessive” car exhaust can be considered civil rights violations — if they occur in poor or minority neighborhoods. The object is not to improve anyone’s life, but control, which is accomplished with a maze of regulation and red tape, and gigantic fines for those who offend the EPA.

Climate, which is a statistic representing worldwide temperatures, affects everyone equally, and since in the last one hundred years it has only warmed by about one degree, we can all adapt fairly well, even the folks in Ferguson. Weather can affect some people more than others because of where they live—in Tornado alley, near the beach where Hurricane Sandy hit. We just had a small earthquake yesterday, but earthquakes are not climate or weather. This one was only a .4 and we didn’t feel it at all.

The National Weather Service says the St.Louis area was not noticeably warmer this summer than it has ever been. At 80.3 degrees F. this August’s average temperature was only the seventh-warmest of the last 20 years, substantially cooler than the high of the last two decades of 83.9 in August of 1995. It got up in the 90s here in the Seattle area as it usually does once or twice a year.



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.



Our Public Schools Are Being Flooded With Sick, Infectious Children by The Elephant's Child

immigrantchild

The “mystery” virus that is hospitalizing children all over the U.S. seems to be closely related to “Human rhinoviruses and entroviruses in influenza-like illness in Latin America.” The federal government has been anxious to get the illegal alien children creating chaos near the border indiscriminately distributed around the United States. Since the object is amnesty for all, and putting all into our public schools, they want to get them out of the inadequate facilities where they are first “processed.”

Too many embarrassing pictures are being posted. It is noticed that no one is being shipped back home. They’re not getting medically screened, but just put on buses or planes to another part of the country, and theoretically told to report back for their hearing in 15 days, but only a miniscule percentage actually turn up.

Twin Cities internist Chris Foley wrote to Powerline to address the case of the mystery virus.

This is basically the same virus commonly seen in the equatorial Americas and South America. The very odd emergence of this virus at this time – especially just prior to the new school year and now fueled by the congregation of children in schools – demands an explanation. The only plausible one is that this has been brought here from south of the – now non-existent – border.

Although there will be a good deal of epidemiological work to be done before this can be scientifically associated, there is a deafening silence on the part of public health officials and the mainstream media in even speculating about this association. This is not simply a case of being politically selective about the news, it is downright dangerous and could be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the emergence of diseases long absent from daily life in America now suddenly popping up “inexplicably.” By the way the article from the Journal that I cited [linked above] likely represents gross underreporting which is typical in South America.

Obama has been so anxious to regularize the influx of illegals, particularly children, that he has ignored one regulation or law after another— apparently making it up as he goes along. The kids have been shipped out all over the country, and local public schools have been told to accept them without asking any questions. Like have they been medically screened? How old are they? (There are reports of 31 year-old ‘children’). They do not speak English. Who is going to pay for this influx? Have they reported back for their formal immigration hearing? Are they going to be deported or returned to their home country? School districts are beginning to scream about how they are to cope and who is going to pay.

All is based on the illusion that Hispanic voters want illegal aliens to receive amnesty, but that seems not to be the case. Sixty-four percent of Hispanics say they want them sent back home, and 77 percent of Americans also want them returned home. Only 11 percent of the people favor amnesty. Obama is getting a slight inkling that amnesty is not popular—he is putting it off till after the election. That grab-bag of unpopular ideas put off till later when, hopefully, no one will notice.

This is seeming like a political move, poorly thought out, that is showing more and more evidence of turning into a colossal catastrophe. And the now-open borders promise terrorist attacks. This is not just simple incompetence, it’s far, far worse.

The United States will never have control of its borders, and the influx will not stop until we say our laws have clear meaning, and illegal aliens must return home. After that, our immigration laws can be rewritten with work permits for those who want only the opportunity to work, and perhaps some leeway for those who have been here for years through no fault of their own. But at some point you must demand that the laws be obeyed — in spite of all protestations. There is no other way.



It’s Simple. Democrats Do Not Know How to Do Growth. by The Elephant's Child

“A prominent Democratic polling firm has found that voters don’t view reducing income inequality as a top priority. Instead, they want economic growth.”
(emphasis added) WSJ columnist William Galston has the story:

Surveys of 3,000 Americans conducted between January and March of 2014 by the Global Strategy Group found that fully 78% thought that it was important for Congress to promote an agenda of economic growth that would benefit all Americans. Support for policies that help the middle class and bolster equal opportunity for everyone were also highly rated. Strategies to spread wealth more evenly and reduce income inequality received the least support. 53% believe that fostering economic growth is ‘extremely important,’ compared with only 30% who take that view about narrowing income inequality.” (emphasis added)

Well, well, well, well. But I thought that reducing income inequality was the bright shining goal of all Democrats. This is a leftist polling group! The results didn’t receive much attention when they were released in April, nor since. James Freeman suggests that  “the findings would have rudely interrupted the months-long media celebration of Thomas Piketty and his error-filled and widely unread book on income inequality. And the survey data suggest that the core message of President Obama and his political outfit Organizing for Action is off target. From increasing the minimum wage to forgiving federal student loans to mandating more pay for women, the Obama economic message is all about redistributing wealth, not creating it.”

Specifically, Mr. Galston notes that by “a remarkable margin of 64 percentage points (80% to 16%)” voters “opt for a candidate who focuses on more economic growth to one who emphasizes less income inequality.”

Trouble is, there is a deep secret on the Left. Democrats do not know how to create growth. The basic idea behind this version of the Democratic Party is that all good things are done by government, and only by government.  All the stuff that Obama has done to benefit his cronies — the wind farms, the solar arrays, the rejection of the Keystone pipeline extension, the rejection of private enterprise are meant to create growth, but to reward Obama’s bundlers and supporters first. Cast your mind back across the Obama administration’s efforts at progress. Any rapid economic growth there? Anywhere?

Have you not noticed that whenever the subject comes up, Obama starts talking about roads and bridges or infrastructure—apparently with no recognition of the fact that such governmental projects require layers and layers of permissions and plans and approvals and fundraising that would put any such project off for at least five years, probably more with the usual environmental lawsuits. Any jobs involved go only to union workers, but that is by design. Jobs for ordinary people seem not to be involved. Who listens to the people anyhow?

War on Women. ObamaCare. Minimum Wage. Renewable Energy. Building from the Middle Class Out. More Government Job Training. Economic Patriotism.

Their new focus on “economic patriotism” is exactly the problem. They cannot conceive of allowing American companies to escape any taxes by moving, and the only solution is to devise laws to prevent their doing so. I rest my case.



War Talk — Exposed! by The Elephant's Child

The internet is alive with War Talk.  Not, unfortunately, talk about aims and principles, but talk about the use of the word “War.” President Obama did not use the word “war” in his ISIS speech, except to say what the American effort against ISIS is not. “This is not a combat mission—we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq…I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

He did say that the Islamic State “is not ‘Islamist’ and “is certainly not a state.” John Kerry, who theoretically engages in affairs of state, said the war is not a war. “What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation.”

Since Democrats don’t believe in principles, but react to events on a case-by-case basis — they spend a lot of effort in parsing language. Republicans and possibly most Americans react to the event of beheading a couple of American journalists on You Tube with the straightforward principle that ISIS obviously just declared war on us, and they will not get away with that.

Obama believes that he was elected to get us out of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe he was elected because a large percentage of the American electorate believed it would be a very good thing to have the first black president, especially one who was so cool. One thing we have learned in the intervening years is that Barack Obama is never, ever to blame, and he will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid being blamed.

The choices, from the very beginning, have all been bad. We sympathize, but that’s part of the deal. Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk saying “The buck stops here.” George W. Bush said ” I’m the decider”— he meant that as president, the messes arrived on his desk and he had to accept the difficulty and the blame if things go wrong. That’s why presidents have a lot of national security advisers, and regularly scheduled  briefings on the situation all over the world. Those two presidents had to make some very big decisions that are still questioned today. But they decided.

The fear of being blamed and the fear of being accused of going to war in Obama’s case has led to delay, and more delay. Mona Charen wrote:

Obama is particularly rigid in his adherence to leftist beliefs, but he is hardly an outlier in the Democratic Party. Democrats tend to believe that the natural state of the world is peace, and that if the U.S. is modest and unthreatening, it will be rewarded with happy allies and docile adversaries. Obama’s conviction that the U.S. should act only in support of allies in very limited circumstances, and seek accommodation with adversaries like Russia and Iran, is widely shared in the Democratic Party.

Even the appearance of ISIS couldn’t shake Obama’s belief that wars are “optional” and that, as he said in 2013, “This war, like all wars, must end.” As if the enemy doesn’t get a vote. Asked in January whether the specter of ISIS didn’t cast doubt on the wisdom of pulling every last U.S. soldier out of Iraq, Obama waved it off by calling them the “JV” team.

Obama’s six years of outreach to the Muslim community have yielded only the most chaos in the region since World War II. Mixed messages are the rule of the day. Joe Biden’s promise to go to the Gates of Hell to punish the beheaders doesn’t go comfortably with the President’s plan to reduce ISIS to a manageable problem, and everybody notices. Our allies and our enemies parse the words from this presidency, and they have pretty uniformly refrained from Obama’s broad coalition, on grounds that strong leadership is just not there.

After a day of riotous humor at the squirming avoidance of the word “war,” the administration will —very carefully — use the word.

You cannot help, however, finding it amusing at how frequently the Democrats bandy about the phrase “War on Women,” which seems to be about battling to get equal pay for women, which has been settled law since 1963. And of course they are up in arms about the Hobby Lobby decision which does not require businesses who have a conscientious objection to providing abortofacients for their employees to do so. Doesn’t prevent anyone from buying them over-the-counter. But if one employer escapes being forced to pay for something repugnant to their religion — it’s WAR?




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