American Elephants


White House Correspondent Ed Henry Asks — Why? by The Elephant's Child

During today’s press briefing, Fox News White House Correspondent Ed Henry inquired of Press Secretary Josh Earnest whether it was prudent for the president to spend the weekend fundraising for his party and golfing while terrorist acts are being committed against the United States. Obama has stated that his administration has no strategy for dealing with ISIS. Henry asked Earnest:

I wonder what you think about the optics of the president, from that podium yesterday, does not have a strategy to deal with ISIS in serious military, and then next day, without that strategy, goes out and raises campaign money?

Is he detached? Does he feel like the critics coming after him, it just doesn’t matter anymore?” Henry asked. “Why is he still raising campaign money, playing golf, when he’s acknowledging he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with this?

Josh Earnest:

The job of any U.S. president is to be able to handle a lot of different responsibilities at the same time,” Earnest replied, in defense of Obama’s fundraising and golfing. The secretary added that Obama has a national security team, to whom he has outsourced the job of looking after America’s national security challenges.

“Outsourced.” There’s a remarkable lot hiding behind that word.



“They’re Coming” and “Another 9/11 is Imminent” by The Elephant's Child

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An editorial from the Washington Post last Friday was headlined “Obama’s authorization of Iraq airstrikes isn’t connected to a coherent strategy.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA was right to order military action to prevent a potential genocide in northern Iraq and to stop forces of the al-Qaeda-derived Islamic State from advancing on Baghdad or the Kurdish capital of Irbil. However, the steps the president authorized on Thursday amount to more of his administration’s half-measures, narrowly tailored to this week’s emergency and unconnected to any coherent strategy to address the conflagration spreading across the Middle East. …

Yet by the White House’s own account, the measures ordered by Mr. Obama are not intended to defeat the Islamic State or even to stop its bloody advances in most of the region. Instead they are limited to protecting two cities where U.S. personnel are stationed and one mass of refugees. The hundreds of thousands of people in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere threatened by the al-Qaeda forces will receive no U.S. protection.

That’s the Washington Post’s Editorial Board, not usually leading the charge in criticism of the president.

President Obama is trapped in his self-created bubble. He was elected, he believes, to end the war in Iraq, and sees doing so as possibly his greatest achievement. He regarded getting out as the goal, rather than a gradual turnover as Iraq became more able to deal with problems on their own. Even now, he doesn’t understand that there is a genocide in progress, that is endowed with billions stolen from all the banks in Iraq, the world’s best and most modern weapons which which we outfitted the Iraqis, and gullible jihadis are flocking from all over the world to join up in the bloodletting.

Europe assumed that it was a good idea to replace their declining birthrate by admitting immigrants, for they had seen how immigration enriched America. But they didn’t get the assimilation part. They got a lot of Islamist immigrants, but they didn’t turn them into real citizens. It looks like over 900 French nationals have answered to call to jihad in Iraq, and volunteers in significant numbers are coming from Britain and most European countries. Even young women are flocking to become ‘jihadi wives,’ unaware they will end up as sex-slaves and either dead or in the brothels of the Middle East.

I cannot imagine what visions of “the Caliphate” attract them— the opportunity to kill with abandon, long trains of battle-hardened jihadis bristling with guns and tanks, flying the black flag of the Islamic State? Is it an ideal of suddenly being powerful? Too many romantic movies?

We see the primitive blood-lust, the sheer barbarianism and fail to take it seriously at our peril. The Middle East is more unstable today than it has been in years. Global energy supplies are at risk and with that, the entire world economy. The Islamic State seizes vast swaths of land and resources, murders and terrorizes whole nations and recruits thousands of new fighters with Western passports and plots another attack on the United States. Its much more comfortable to blame the failures of your own society on the west than to fault your own backward society.

Ali Khedery is an expert on the Middle East, CEO of the Dubai-based Dragoman Partners, and previously worked the U.S. State and Defense departments, and served as an American official in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, special assistant to five U.S. ambassadors and senior advisor to three commanders of U.S. Central Command.

When he says “They’re coming” and “another 9/11 is imminent” we need to pay attention. He wrote a letter to President Obama in Politico on Tuesday, attempting to warn the president that he needs new advisors, and a “Middle East Czar.” “Someone who can help contain and quell separate conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq before they merge into a full-fledged regional war.” This is not the J.V. team, but the most virulent form of transnational jihad the planet has ever seen. Here he is, being interviewed by Jake Tapper.



Some Are True Believers, Some Are Skeptics, Nobody Is “A Denier.” by The Elephant's Child

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Here’s a new video from the White House, (sorry, I can’t embed it.) President Obama’s Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren explains—in less than three minutes — how climate change is making America’s wildfires more dangerous and why we must act now.

President Obama is deeply in awe of Dr. Holdren. He said breathlessly the other day that when he had a question about anything about science, he could just call up Dr. Holdren and he would explain it. “And he’s a real Physicist,” Obama said.

From the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho: “Outside of the West Coast, there is very little forest fire activity in the U.S. this year. Burn acreage is much less than half of normal.”screenhunter_1655-aug-04-06-59

(click to enlarge)

Forest fires are caused by lightening strikes, or occasionally by careless campers. They are not caused by global warming.



Recovery? What Recovery is That? by The Elephant's Child

In January, 2009, when Barack Obama took office, the number of Americans of working age who were not in the labor force was 80.529.000. Since that time, that number has increased by 11,472,000 to 92,001,000 as of July 2014.

The participation rate measures the percentage of the civilian non-institutional  population that participates in the work force by either having a job, or actively seeking one. It’s just a snapshot, and subject to revision, but at this state in a supposed “recovery” it should be far better.

President Obama tries to put a good face on it and speak as if the recovery is chugging along just fine, but it really isn’t. Microsoft announced the layoff of 14,000 workers in July. The Army is shedding another 1,500 captains and majors.

A lot of coal-fired power plant workers are going to lose their jobs because of ridiculous regulations that will accomplish nothing at all, and a lot of coal miners as well, as this president tries to shut down the industry that produces nearly half of America’s electricity cheaply and dependably under the illusion that solar and wind can produce a significant amount of expensive energy, if some unexpected miracle just makes the sun stop being diffuse and the wind stop being intermittent.

And just to help out the faltering job market, Obama has issued an executive order allowing the spouses of workers here on H-1B visas to go to work. The next executive order is expected to allow the “children,” who are mostly young men of working age, arriving at our southern border to receive work permits. Doesn’t anyone notice that all these things are connected?

We’ve had lots of recessions in the past. There is a business cycle. As things get better and unemployment eases, the economy starts to grow and offers more opportunity — the better things get, the more risks businesses take. Overworked people get assistants, a new wing is added to the building, new machines are purchased, and so it goes.  (I should add here, that also in the news today was the nugget that many of our civil servants are so bored in their jobs that they are spending their days watching porn.)

Most people are probably unaware that we had another Great Depression in 1920-1921. It was just about as deep as Roosevelt’s depression, but Warren Harding treated it a little differently. World War I had left the nation with runaway inflation and a soaring debt. The national debt had increased from $1 billion in 1914 to $24 billion by 1920. (Yes, it was a long time ago)

So what did Harding do?  A “stimulus”?  A jobs program?  “Targeted” tax cuts?  Government bailouts for ailing companies?  Nope—he cut government spending sharply and rapidly (by almost 50 percent), began cutting tax rates across the board, and allowed asset values and wages to adjust freely as fast as possible.  Harding’s administration, Paul Johnson observed, “was the last time a major industrial power treated a recession by classic laissez-faire methods, allowing wages to fall to their natural level ….  By July 1921 it was all over and the economy was booming again.”

If you remember your history, it was called “the roaring twenties.”



The President Met With Governor Perry. Perry-1, Obama-0. by The Elephant's Child

Texas Governor Rick Perry met with President Obama today in Dallas. After the meeting he released the following statement.

DALLAS – Gov. Rick Perry today met with President Barack Obama to discuss the ongoing humanitarian and national security crises occurring along the Texas-Mexico border. In the meeting, Gov. Perry urged the president to undertake the necessary steps to secure the border and ease the crises.

“Five hundred miles south of here in the Rio Grande Valley there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding that has been created by bad public policy, in particular the failure to secure the border,” Gov. Perry said. “Securing the border is attainable, and the president needs to commit the resources necessary to get this done.”

Among the requests Gov. Perry made to President Obama to secure the border:

  • Visit the Texas-Mexico border to witness firsthand the impact of the border crisis;
  • Deploy an additional 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to immediately enhance border security operations;
  • Direct the Federal Aviation Administration to allow the National Guard to utilize Predator drones along the Texas-Mexico border for identifying and tracking human and drug trafficking;
  • Medically screen all illegal immigrants to ensure their health and the health of our citizens;
  • Direct the Centers for Disease Control or another appropriate federal agency outside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct, in conjunction with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), inspections of facilities in which illegal immigrants, including UACs, are being housed to ensure accepted international and national emergency sheltering standards are met;
  • Modify or rescind policies that serve as a magnet to encourage illegal immigration, including:
  • DHS Catch and Release policies by which DHS issues an illegal immigrant an NTA before an immigration judge and releases them. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 33 percent of those released on their own recognizance failed to appear in FY 2013.
  • Deportation policies and procedures that prohibit UACs from countries other than Mexico and Canada from being immediately repatriated back to their country of origin. After DHS processes these UACs, they are issued an NTA and delivered to a sponsor or relative in the United States, regardless of the relative’s immigration status.
The president said “Right now, there are more Border Patrol agents and surveillance resources on the ground than at any time in our history.  And we deport almost 400,000 migrants each year.” Which is not quite accurate. We have really boosted the funding for the Border Patrol, but according to reports, most of the Border Patrol agents have been called from the border to processing the UAC (Unaccompanied Alien Children), and the border is essentially wide open.
Obama, of course, takes responsibility only for the good things, and the problem at the border is, somehow, the uncooperative Republicans. It would all go smoothly if we had more administrative judges,more administrative capacity and lots more money.
We’ve asked Jeh Johnson to contact his head of Health and Human Services when he comes down for the sixth time at the end of this week to coordinate and make sure that some of the suggestions that the Governor has are technically feasible and what kind of resources might be needed. But what I emphasized to the Governor was the problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem.  The challenge is, is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done.
Another way of putting it — and I said this directly to the Governor — is are folks more interested in politics, or are they more interested in solving the problem?  If they’re interested in solving the problem, then this can be solved.  If the preference is for politics, then it won’t be solved.

The president was asked why he won’t visit the border. He said:

Jeh Johnson has now visited, at my direction, the border five times.  He’s going for a sixth this week.  He then comes back and reports to me extensively on everything that’s taking place.  So there’s nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on.This isn’t theater.  This is a problem.  I’m not interested in photo ops; I’m interested in solving a problem.

Obama has asked for $3.8 billion to feed, house and clothe something like 50,000 UAC, but then as soon as they are “processed” they are put on a bus to take them to their “relatives,” and only 20% will ever turn up for their deportation hearing. Senator Coburn said you could send them all back home, first class air to Guatemala City for just $20 million. So somebody has some problems with math.

What has drawn the sudden influx of unaccompanied alien children, is President Obama’s very own “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA), This was created with an executive order. Obama could rescind it any time he wants. Yet he says now that he cannot act without Congress.



Unintended Consequences: by The Elephant's Child

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Unintended consequences. Someone speaks, or takes an action, advocates a policy, and aside from the immediate political response, the world shifts a little, and all  you can do is hope that if there are unintended consequences, they will not be too bad. President Obama famously said “he has a phone and he has a pen” and even today, announced at Monticello that “He is President of the United States and he can do whatever he wants to.”

That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. There is the oath of office, and a long history of presidential terms in office, and the assumption that a president, any president, will struggle mightily to do the right thing for the people of the United States. Why else did he run for office? President Obama had something quite different in mind. He ran a nebulous campaign full of theatrics and empty words like “yes we can” and “we are the ones,” and people fell for it. But finding that now that he no longer has a Democrat-controlled Congress, but has to actually attempt to debate, discuss and compromise with Republicans in the House, like a petulant child, he announces that he will not compromise on anything, but will just act independently— with his pen and his phone.

Well, if the President of the United States can just act on his own, why not governors? Why do we need laws and customs and rules and tradition? Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, noted empty suit, has decided that while he is in office “During my term we will not be executing people.” He has the authority under RCW  10.10.120to commute a death sentence to life in prison at hard labor, and upon a petition from the offender, to pardon the offender, or to offer a reprieve which is to be issued “for good cause shown, and as the Governor thinks proper.”

Washington State does not have a particularly high murder rate with the exception of a couple of really bad serial killers. Ted Bundy’s case was famous. But the one that raised questions about the death penalty was that of the “Green River Killer,” Gary L. Ridgway. King County prosecutors gave up on capitol punishment  in exchange for his cooperation with providing details that helped solve dozens of open murder cases. He pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first-degree murder  in 2003 and was sentenced to life in prison. Forty-eight murders seemed like a good reason for a death penalty, though there were 48 families who deserved some kind of closure.

Governor Inslee’s actions are again reminiscent of President Obama’s efforts to escape blame for anything. Inslee doesn’t want to be blamed for any executions, and will shove them off on his successor.



The State of The Union: Lawless and Only Selectively Enforced. by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama has curiously made a habit of saying things that it is clear are merely designed to please some voting group, but not to be understood as actual fact. “If you like your health insurance you can keep it, period,” If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, period.” And then on a number of occasions he claimed that “the average family of four will  save $2,500 a year in premiums.” He didn’t think it mattered whether it was true or not.

Now he is approaching the State of the Union Speech with an announced declaration of “universal presidential authority.” Astonishingly, that oath of office he took didn’t matter either. He didn’t mean it — the part where he solemnly swears that he will to the best of his Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. “Mr. Obama” yesterday’s Wall Street Journal tells us, “will emphasize his intention to use unilateral presidential authority —bypassing Congress when necessary — to an extent not seen in his previous State of the Union Speeches.” The “when necessary” part means when Congress does not do what he wants them to do. This is not only astonishing, but deplorable, unseemly and disgusting.

The president intends to explain to his hosts (he is their guest) how he intends to circumvent their power. He is not an elected monarch. The Constitution is designed to be a slow-moving machine in which the president is just one cog. It is intended to be slow to force honest debate and clear thought. With only a few exceptions, the machine cannot legally work without the House and the Senate whose status is equal to that of the president.

At the Philadelphia convention, with exquisite care and with delicate nuances, they devised a complex constitution that would generate the requisite power but would so distribute its flow and uses that no one body of men and no one institutional center would ever gain a monopoly of force or influence that would dominate the nation.
Bernard Bailyn: The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

If I were running the show, which I am not, when the president announces that he will circumvent the power of Congress, in the interest of getting his own way, because he “has a telephone and he has a pen,” the Republicans would rise in a body and respectfully leave the chamber.




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