American Elephants

American voters think that Obama damages national security. by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2009, 12:59 am
Filed under: National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

A new Rasmussen survey suggests that the Democrats have overreached with their obsessive interest in the waterboarding of the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  Voters are just unimpressed with the “torture” theme.

58 percent of voters say that the Obama administration’s release of Department of Justice memos “endangers the national security of the United States.”  Less than half as many think that it “helps America’s image abroad.”

70 percent say that America’s legal system either does a good job of weighing security needs against individual rights, or that it puts too much emphasis on individual rights at the expense of national security.  Only a bare 21 percent say that the legal system is “too concerned about protecting national security.

58 percent said that the Obama administration should not investigate the Bush administration on interrogations, while only 28 percent wanted investigations.  Only 22 percent of independents wanted investigations.  Even democrats, by a tiny margin felt that the release damaged national security.  Independents by an overwhelming majority believe Obama damaged national security — 65 percent to 23 percent.

Americans in every demographic are more inclined to believe that the legal system worries way too much about individual rights rather than national security.

This may suggest that Obama’s apology tour may not have been especially well-received.

Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay is now disapproved of by a 46 to 36 margin, with declining support for Obama’s actions.

Here come the Uighurs, we just don’t know where yet. by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2009, 12:19 am
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

After the Inauguration, President Obama was very anxious to appear to “hit the ground running.”  He hastened to sign all sorts of Executive Orders to undo whatever George Bush did. Believing that one reason for anti-Americanism in the world, was international disapproval  of our detention center at Guantanamo Bay, he ordered Guantanamo to be closed within a year.  Unfortunately, he had no idea what to do with the detainees.

We have released many of the detainees, those who were thought to be less dangerous.  It has been widely stated that those who are left are the “worst of the worst.”  Aside from the fulminations of the human rights crowd, and the not very believable claims of the detainees themselves through their court-assigned lawyers; there have been many visitors to the detention center who describe the place as a model prison run with extreme care for the rights of the detainees.

The Uighurs are Chinese Muslim jihadists, trained in explosives and assassination tactics, and anxious enough to be trained that they traveled from China to Afghanistan to become more effectively lethal.  They were trained by Abdul Haq, a member of al Qaeda’s inner circle.  They were sent to Guantanamo in 2002 after being captured in Pakistan.  Some former U.S. officials have said that government information indicates that the Uighurs may pose a danger if released.  Other officials and human rights organizations insist they pose no threat to Americans.

They cannot be returned to China; they oppose the Chinese government, and presumably the Chinese government returns the favor.  The position of “detainee” is apparently incomprehensible.  (The idea is to keep them from returning to jihadism and killing Americans).

Guantanamo Bay was chosen and developed as the best possible solution to a difficult problem, after a great deal of searching and study.   I find the administration’s exquisitely delicate feelings for the opinions of European journalists a little hard to stomach.

The Uighurs are to be released in this country, probably in Virginia suburbs where some Uighur immigrants from China have settled.  The thought is that they should be near others who speak their language and understand their customs.  I don’t know if anyone has asked the immigrants if they want the detainees.

This is now Obama’s problem, and his risk.

There is often more than one way to do things. by The Elephant's Child
April 24, 2009, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: ,

Victor Davis Hanson, on “trashing your predecessor,” from The Corner on National Review Online:

From a July 2002 Bush Press Conference, when GWB was asked about the topic of the recklessness and re-regulation of the 1990s:

Q.  Sir, you said in your speech tomorrow you’re going to talk about some of the excesses of the 1990s when a lot of money was flying around, people were playing a lot of games…money.  You weren’t president then.  Bill Clinton was president.  Do you think in some way he contributed to that?  Set a moral tone in any way?

A. No.

Volunteerism is no longer free. It just got very, very expensive. by The Elephant's Child

About a month ago, I wrote a post   called “Obama’s Civilian Mandatory “Volunteer” Brownshirt Corps. ” The title probably indicated pretty clearly that I didn’t think much of the idea.  Since Americans lead the world in their altruism, their unpaid volunteer giving of time and money, I thought it was probably not a good idea to try to turn it into another government funded bureaucracy.  I was right.

“The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act”, was signed into law on Tuesday by President Obama.  I assume that this is the same bill, since it has the same sponsor, and I can find no trace of the original GIVE Act at Thomas, the Library of Congress site.  It will triple the number of AmeriCorps members from 75,000 to 250,000.  Officially it:

reauthorizes and expands national service programs administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency created in 1993.  The Corporation engages four million Americans in result-driven service each year, including 75,000 AmeriCorps members, 492,000 Senior Corps volunteers, 1.1 million Learn and Serve America students, and 2.2 million additional community volunteers mobilized and managed through the agency’s programs.

Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine says: “The law shovels out $5.7 billion of taxpayer dollars over the next five years to “boost volunteerism at AmeriCorps and elsewhere.  In an era of  trillions of dollars in wasteful spending, that’s a real bargain.”  He also notes that they already got an extra $200 million from the stimulus bill.

At the time, with a little cursory research into AmeriCorps, I found it lived up to my skepticism.  But now, I have found more — much more — from Nick Gillespie and from James Bovard who is not only a splendid researcher, but has 8 fine books to his credit. They don’t like AmeriCorps either, and pull no punches in explaining why. Jim Bovard’s piece can be found here.  Here are the dirty little secrets that the liberals don’t want you to know.

As far as I am able to tell, no program or policy ever introduced by Democrats is a failure.  Programs that take welfare recipients off the streets and send them into classrooms as reading tutors have “taught millions of children to read.”  Never mind that many of the tutors have only an eighth-grade education.  These programs are all a success, and with a little reorganization and a lot more money, will be an even greater success. That’s why it doesn’t matter what the results are.

Democrats appreciate the goals or intent of legislation. They mean well, and  they are quite unconcerned about the consequences. It is enough if the law promises the requisite amount of hope and change.  Doesn’t matter if the promises are empty. The intent is all.

UPDATE: We had a bad link here.  It’s fixed now.  Sorry.

Apologizing for America. Again. by The Elephant's Child
April 23, 2009, 2:03 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,


It is not clear just what President Obama hopes to gain from his overseas efforts to apologize  for America’s supposed misdeeds in the recent and distant past.  Apology has been the centerpiece of his strategy.  Those of us who differ with Obama’s approach have a different set of assumptions and beliefs.  He has spent an amazing portion of his time speaking of the grievances of our allies and adversaries. He explains his approach in this way:

If we are practicing what we preach and if we occasionally confess to having strayed from our values and our ideals, that strengthens our hand; that allows us to speak with greater moral force and clarity around these issues.

Obama seems to believe that anti-Americanism arises entirely from the terrible actions of that cowboy George Bush, and if he just apologizes enough, everyone will like us.  Or at least think that he is an improvement over his predecessor. But Obama needs a better understanding of history.

Anti-Americanism has been around since the earliest days of our country.  Think of what a threat America has been to the countries of Europe. We founded this country in opposition to a continent of Kings and Princes.  We denied the divine right of Kings, and created a democratic republic.  No authority of Princes here.  Even at the time of the War of Independence, our soldiers volunteered, they were not conscripted; and when it was time for Spring planting, they might just pack up and go home to get the crops in.  They were fighting, in part, mercenaries conscripted by one Prince or another and sold to fight for the British.

Our Declaration of Independence was a direct threat to the rule of a nobility.  “All men are created equal” was a reproach to their established order.  Americans had nearly one hundred and fifty years of personal independence before their freedoms were challenged by their British rulers.  George Washington had a time teaching them to be soldiers and obey orders. They were ready to fight, but the obey part came harder. What if that idea of “equality” were to be transported to the old country. What mischief  would that cause.

And it did. The French, inspired by our Revolution, not only threw off their King, but they chopped off his head and those of another 20,000 Frenchmen as well.  Certainly that must have made the nobility of Europe sit up and take notice.

Bernard Bailyn describes in his splendid book The Peopling of British North America what we seldom recognize:

The westward transatlantic movement of people is one of the greatest events in recorded history.  It’s magnitudes and consequences are beyond measure.  From 1500 to the present, it has involved the displacement and resettlement of over fifty million people, and it has affected the foundation of American history and is basic, too, in ways we are only now beginning to understand, to the history of Europe, Africa, and even, to a lesser extent, of Asia.

We think proudly of our immigrants, our forbears.  But for Britain and Europe that was fifty million people rejecting the old country and all that it stood for.  Reproach.

What is it like for other countries when their country is inundated with American goods. Starbucks, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried, jeans and tee shirts.  And in the world capital of fine food, people line up at McDonalds.  Reproach.

What is it like for the citizens of Indonesia when an American battle group arrives with hospitals (plural) and a capability of not only flying rescue missions, but of producing vast quantities of fresh drinking water from sea water.  Competence beyond their reach.  They are grateful, of course, but it is still a reproach to them.

The Pakistani people are deeply proud of their nuclear weapon. It says that they are competent in a world that has so modernized that it has left them behind, out of history.  Someone, and I forget who, said that they couldn’t even make a bicycle chain.  It is not that they are envious or jealous, but that our freedom and independence and invention and competence are a reproach to them.  They focus on our mistakes and failures, for it lessens the reproach for their lack of freedom and invention and competence.  And when we make mistakes, we not only tell the whole world about it, we noisily turn around and try to fix it.  And worst of all, we are happier than they are, and we’re noisy about that too.

Slavery is our great sin. We fought a great war to end it, and we are still struggling to eliminate its traces.  The whole world knows of our guilt.  Yet South America imported nearly 12 slaves and the West Indies 10 slaves for every one slave that went to North America.  Slavery did not end in Brazil until 1888.  But we don’t spend any time reproaching Brazil, we just get on with criticizing— ourselves.

So the “apology tour” is essentially pointless.  It just makes us seem weak to bow down to petty tyrants and dictators, and to invite their insults. And appearing weak is dangerous.

After passively listening to a 50 minute diatribe against the United States by Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Obama said “I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”  Obama made much of an offer by Raul Castro to talk with the U.S. Government, but Fidel wrote today that Obama not only misunderstood Raul, but he was “conceited, superficial,” and that he had no right to dare suggest that Cuba make even small concessions.

Obama won a campaign with his personal charm and unusual history. Perhaps he believes that he can win over the world the same way.  Apologies don’t seem to be working so well.  So far he has come home empty-handed.

What do Americans know about energy and the environment? by The Elephant's Child

What do Americans believe about energy and the environment?  The Manhattan Institute undertook a poll, with the help of Zogby, to find out with a survey in January of 2009 of 1,000 Americans, chosen to be representative of public opinion generally.  Some examples:

  • 49 percent of respondents believe that Saudia Arabia exports the most oil to the U.S., while only 13 percent correctly identified Canada as our major supplier.  Only 16.1 percent of our imports came from the Persian Gulf region.
  • More than 67 percent believe that we can meet future energy demand through conservation and efficiency.  Historically, energy demand increases with efficiency gains.  The Energy Information Administration projects U.S. energy use to increase 11.2 percent from 2007 to 2030, while global energy consumption will increase by 50 percent.
  • Only 37 percent correctly answered that no one has ever died from the actual generation of nuclear power in the U.S.  The U.S. has not built a nuclear -power reactor since the meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979, 104 active reactors safely generate roughly one fifth of our nations electricity.
  • 63 percent of those surveyed believe that human activity is the greatest source of greenhouse gases.  In fact, such emissions are significantly  smaller than natural emissions.  Most of the CO2 that enters the atmosphere comes from the oceans and the biosphere — 41.46 and 55.28 percent respectively.  The burning of fossil fuels accounts for only 3.27 percent  of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere.
  • Fewer than 28 percent believe that U.S. air quality has improved since 1970.  The six most common pollutants have decreased by more than 50 percent.  Air toxins from large industrial sources have fallen by nearly 70 percent, and new cars are more than 90 percent cleaner.  During the same period, GDP tripled, energy consumption increased 50 percent and motor vehicle use increased almost 200 percent.

Offshore oil drilling can be accomplished in an environmentally sensitive manner.  Spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely. 91 percent of our electricity is generated by fossil fuels and uranium.  Renewables will not soon make any significant dent in that.

Happy Earth Day! But don’t tell me any good news. by The Elephant's Child

Happy Earth Day!  Steve Hayward, author of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators (14th edition) which mostly consists of the good news.  Today, at NRO,  he points out his favorite tidbit from this year’s edition:

Elizabeth Rosenthal reported in the New York Times of a recent estimate from the Smithsonian Institution research in Central America suggesting that “for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster… The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction by absorbing carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, one crucial role that rain forests play.  They could also, to a lesser extent, provide habitat for endangered species.”  The next sentence, however, has a drearily predictable beginning: “The idea has stirred outrage among environmentalists,” not because it might be untrue, but because it might blunt support for “vigorous efforts to protect native rain forests.”

Mr. Hayward adds: “Imagine, Environmentalist outrage over potentially good news.”  But then they have a lot of outrage over good news.  The news that the globe is cooling, not warming, has sent them into paroxysms of fury.  Suggest, correctly, that the Arctic and Antarctic have the normal amount of sea ice, or that  polar bears are just fine and adapting to cooler and warmer weather just as they have done for at least 130,000 years, and you have a berzerker on your hands.  They are not interested in good news — or perhaps it’s just that their definition of what is good news is different.

Meet the Firecrackers. Jump rope as an extreme sport. by The Elephant's Child
April 22, 2009, 1:20 am
Filed under: Entertainment, Heartwarming, Humor, Sports | Tags: ,

The Firecrackers are a team of elementary and junior high school girls from Ohio. This demonstration was at halftime of an Army/ Navy basketball game. Both sides gave the girls a standing ovation, and then some.

The girls practice for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, and they have to keep their grades up too. And each girl must pass an etiquette class before joining the team. Enjoy.

(h/t: Kim Komando)

“Renewable energy” is bunk. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. by The Elephant's Child
April 21, 2009, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Just got home from the bank, and I was following a Toyota Pious with a bumper sticker that said “Renewable Energy is Homeland Security.” And on the radio, the host was talking about a poll that  showed that a majority of Americans believed that “renewable energy” was cheaper and more efficient than our current energy sources.  Sheesh!  We have some educating to do.

The term “Renewable Energy” is applied to wind energy, solar energy, thermal energy, and biomass energy. Environmentalists most often leave out hydroelectric energy, although it is clean, renewable, efficient and cost effective, because they don’t like it.  They like “wild rivers”.  They pretend concern for the fish, but it is the dams they hate.

During the last 4 years the true facts about wind energy are beginning to appear.  Wind turbines in Europe do nothing for CO2 emissions reduction.  Nothing.  Denmark, the nation with the most wind turbines, has more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its energy, but it has never been able to close a single fossil-fuel plant.  It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover the times when the wind does not blow at the right speed.  Denmark’s electricity costs are the highest in Europe.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in 2008, on a dollars per MWh basis, the US. Government subsidizes wind at $23.34 — compared to such reliable energy sources as natural gas at 25¢; coal at 44¢; hydro at 67¢: and nuclear at $1.59.

President Obama and Vice President Biden toured the solar array at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado on February 17, 2009.  The solar panels that they inspected will take 110 years to pay for themselves.  These particular panels are expected to last for 20-25 years.

Some of the newest wind turbines are 50 stories tall.  (That’s stories, not feet). Note the picture of the turbine with the landing pad for a helicopter.  That’s big! For more information on wind energy, see here, and here, and here.

Brazil is often cited as leading the way in biofuel production, and there are suggestions that we should achieve “energy independence” by imitating Brazil.  Think again.  Der Spiegel exposes the lie.

And for an article on the true goal of the greens, go here.

The reason for all the current push (“global warming is speeding up”) on energy is that the entire case for global warming is falling apart.  The earth is not warming.  There has been no significant warming in the last 10 years, and it has been cooling for at least 5 years.  Cap-and-trade would enrich a few companies, but be disastrous for the American people.  A huge tax on each and every taxpayer. Beware.

Obama, smarting under “overspending” complaints, has requested a budget cut from his cabinet. by The Elephant's Child

It’s not the orange circle, it’s that teeny black dot.

Harvard University Economics Professor Greg Mankiw commented:

To put those numbers in perspective, imagine that the head of a household with annual spending of $100,000 called everyone in the family together to deal with a $34,000 budget shortfall. How much would he or she announce that spending had to be cut? By $3 over the course of the year–approximately the cost of one latte at Starbucks. The other $33,997? We can put that on the family credit card and worry about it next year.

Obama said that a little bit here, a little bit there… So where could we pare off a few dollars?  How about going to Europe without an entourage of 500 people?  Surely you could get by with a few less.  How about serving chicken instead of Wagyu steaks?  Or order pizza locally instead of  having it flown in?  And lose the make-up artist.  I bet you would save quite a bit right there.  Just a thought.

Is there bias in the media? Perish the Thought. by The Elephant's Child

Many people by now have seen the videos of CNN reporter Susan Rosegen demonstrating, for the uninitiated, media bias at it’s most blatant, at an Illinois Tea Party last week.  Poor Susan made headlines herself for her perfect portrayal of political bias.  Objectivity anyone?  Bill Whittle explains Media bias, at Pajamas Media TV.

A Lesson in Socialism by American Elephant
April 20, 2009, 6:20 pm
Filed under: Economy, Education, Politics, Socialism | Tags: ,

An economics professor gives his students a stark lesson in socialism:

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student, but had once failed an entire class.

The students insisted that socialism worked since no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.”

“All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade.”

After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who had studied hard were upset while the students who had studied very little were happy.

But, as the second test rolled around, the students who had studied little studied even less and the ones who had studied hard decided that since they couldn’t make an A, they also studied less. The second Test average was a D.

No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average grade was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling, all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for anyone else.

To their great surprise all failed. The professor told them that socialism would ultimately fail because the harder people try to succeed the greater their reward (capitalism) but when a government takes all the reward away (socialism) no one will try or succeed.

Author unknown.

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