American Elephants


Completely Unprepared to Consider Using Common Sense. by The Elephant's Child

Mark Steyn is always brilliant, sometimes he’s just more brilliant than usual. Today he pointed out the specific arrangements we have put in place to make sure that terrorist attacks were unlikely, because an alert citizenry was on the case.  And yet, there was evidence that Major Nidal Hasan deserved attention:

You didn’t have to be “alert” to spot Maj. Nidal Hasan. He’d spent most of the last half-decade walking around with a big neon sign on his head saying “JIHADIST. STAND WELL BACK.” But we (that is to say, almost all of us — and certainly almost anyone who matters in national security and the broader political culture) are now reflexively conditioned to ignore the flashing neon sign. Like those apocryphal Victorian ladies discreetly draping the lasciviously curved legs of their pianos, if a glimpse of hard unpleasant reality peeps through we simply veil it in another layer of fluffy illusions.

“The truth is we’re not prepared to draw a line even after he’s gone ahead and committed mass murder,” Steyn said.  “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy,” said Gen. George Casey, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, “but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a tragedy here.”

“Diversity” is more important than 14 dead, dozens wounded?  That is undoubtedly not what he meant, but “diversity” is the ultimate meaningless politically correct notion.

If you have an African-American who immigrated 5 years ago from Ethiopia, and an African-American whose family has lived in America for 150 years, the important thing to them is the color of their skin?  The latter person may have far more in common with someone whose origins were in Mexico, but who was also raised as an army brat. Mothers of toddlers care a lot more about playmates of the same age than their ethnicity.

The differences within ordinary people are far larger than ethnicity.  Political, disinterested, scholarly, cannot read, abused as a child, handicapped, twin, mountain climber, pianist. hunter, animal trainer,potter, vegetarian, homeless, chemist. artist — but only their ethnicity matters?  Please.

The notion that what is important about a person is their race or ethnicity may result in checking off the right little boxes on a census questionnaire but has little to do with the lives of real people. Are those diversity numbers so important?  When it comes to lawsuits, or publicity or promotions the checked-off boxes may matter.  When counting boxes becomes more important than real people,  political correctness does more damage than it is worth.

And shame on you, General Casey.



Obama’s Bowing Again. by The Elephant's Child
November 14, 2009, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History | Tags: , ,

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He’s at it again.  Obama goes abroad to puff up himself and disparage his country.  In Japan, he proclaimed himself “America’s first Pacific president.” He spoke of the importance of “multilateral organizations that can advance the security and prosperity of this region.”

I know that the United States has been disengaged from these organizations in recent years.  So let me be clear; those days have passed.”

What?  Yes, this was intended to be the now-routine dig at President Bush.  It has never mattered whether the blame-Bush bit is true.  “Let me be clear” is always an indication that Obama is making things up again. This one is particularly classless in view of President Bush’s long history in the region.

The “first Pacific president” hooey is the back to the me, me, me theme. Born in Hawaii, kid in Indonesia, “colorful personal narrative.”  And he once again ignores American protocol that American presidents never bow to royalty, nor dip the flag except when warships may dip their flag in response to a dip from another. Ideological multiculturalism.  Sigh.

ADDENDUM: Hot Air Pundit has assembled pictures of other heads-of-state greeting the Emperor of Japan. Somebody should show this to President Obama.



The Stimulus Isn’t Creating Any Jobs Here, But It’s Creating Lots of Jobs in China by The Elephant's Child
November 14, 2009, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

Since the beginning of September, of the $1 billion in clean-energy stimulus money, $850 million has gone to foreign wind companies.  Doesn’t take a hastily planned “jobs summit” to discuss why this possibly isn’t the way to create American jobs.

The eleven U.S. wind farms that received money from the Treasury are importing 695 of the 982 wind turbines to be installed, creating 4,500 jobs — overseas.  That’s way more than the number of jobs created in the United States.

A joint venture of American and Chinese companies  has unveiled plans for a new $1.5 billion, 36,000 acre, wind farm in West Texas consisting of 240 Chinese-made turbines.  The project is seeking government stimulus funding for 30 percent of its costs.  Best estimate is that all this money will create a grand total of 30 permanent jobs.

Bailouts and stimulus funds always fail to work as advertised.  (There is a history to be studied).  And they always cause more problems than they solve.

Wind energy is always subject to vast amounts of hype.  They talk in “rated-capacity” instead of actual energy. Jon Boone explains at Master Resource:

A wind project with a rated capacity of 100 MW, for example, with 40 skyscraper-sized turbines, would likely produce an annual average of only 27 MW, an imperceptible fraction of energy for most grid systems. More than 60% of the time, it would produce less than 27 MW, and at peak demand times, often produce nothing. It would rarely achieve its rated capacity, producing most at times of least demand.

William Tucker explains that the “Age of Renewables” will really be an age of natural gas, or we’re not going to have much electricity:

Windmills and solar plants generating base-load power are little more than a nuisance to electrical-grid operators. They’re very difficult to incorporate because they’re intermittent and unpredictable. It’s like trying to walk a high wire and having somebody shake the wire…

Wind, however, comes and goes. It’s hard to predict for more than a few hours in advance — an unpredictability aggravated by the physics of windmills. Electrical output varies with the cube of wind speed.

There’s a simple solution, however — couple wind and solar with natural gas turbines. These are basically jet engines bolted to the ground. They don’t boil water so they can be started and stopped in just a few seconds. It’s a very expensive and inefficient way to generate electricity but good for short-term output.  Most utilities have “peakers” that sit around all year waiting to meet those few hours during the summer when utilities strain to meet peak demands.

So the solution to wind and solar’s intermittency is to put a natural-gas turbine next to each windmill and solar panel. They can even be hooked up by computer. Then every time the wind dies down or the sun goes behind a cloud, the gas turbine can be fired up. That way consistent voltage balance can be maintained. (If voltage on the grid varies by more than 5 percent it can either cause blackouts or damage electrical equipment.

This works only with very large subsidies.  No big subsidies, no renewable energy.  Across the world without government subsidy, wind farms shut down.  But they are such a lovely Utopian ideal.  Trouble is the hopenchange crowd just do not learn from facts, physics  or history.  They keep insisting that this time it will work!



Unbelievable! by The Elephant's Child
November 14, 2009, 2:24 am
Filed under: Economy, Law, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

The deficit for the month of October — only this last month, $1.5 billion more than was expected by economists — is $176.4 billion.  In one Month!

ADDENDUM:

Here’s the Wall Street Journal with more details:

 



Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to Be Tried in New York City. by The Elephant's Child

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo detainees will be tried in New York in civil court, presumably with the same rights as common American criminals. The decision is not only shocking, but entirely unnecessary.

Mr. Holder said that these people should be tried in court where they committed their crimes, a statement that suggests that the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor should have been tried in civil court in Honolulu. This is absurd.

Rudy Giuliani, who knows a thing or two about New York and 9/11 and the law, runs through the problems of Obama’s decision in a video from Neil Cavuto’s show. It’s long, but worth it, for all of the consequences are not readily apparent.  And there are real consequences.

Andy McCarthy, who prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombing trial, observes:

Today’s announcement that KSM and other top al-Qaeda terrorists will be transferred to Manhattan federal court for civilian trials neatly fits this hidden agenda. Nothing results in more disclosures of government intelligence than civilian trials. They are a banquet of information, not just at the discovery stage but in the trial process itself, where witnesses — intelligence sources — must expose themselves and their secrets.

A major problem seems to be that the Left just doesn’t get “terrorism”.  They sneered constantly at Bush’s “fearmongering,” for clearly 9/11 was a “one-off” event that would never be repeated.  Victor Davis Hanson points out their error and their flawed assumptions, in an essay on our 9/10 mindset.



Most of the Pessimism About Afghanistan is Only Half-Truth. by The Elephant's Child
November 14, 2009, 12:29 am
Filed under: Middle East, Military, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

President Obama is apparently going to throw out whatever was undecided after all his meetings with everyone concerned, and unconcerned, with Afghanistan except General McChrystal.

Mr. Obama is trapped between a rock and several hard places, with his supporters on the hard left urging him to abandon the whole thing on one side; the General who is the world-renowned expert in counterinsurgency and the other Generals who have been fighting this war on the other side, and everything in between.

The President would like to find a nice middle road that will please everybody and reflect well on him — and that undoubtedly doesn’t exist.  The choices are all crappy.  Unfortunately, making hard choices  is the job of the President.

President Obama seems to want a clear “exit strategy.”  He wants to know when the Afghan army and police will be up to the challenge, so he can make a promise to his very, very angry left about how soon we will leave.

The far left wants us out of Iraq and Afghanistan right now, as far as I can tell, because they hate George W. Bush, and they want to repudiate his wars to prove how much they hate him.  Bush Derangement Syndrome is still very much alive, particularly in the White House.

There are all sorts of spurious arguments about why we should abandon Afghanistan immediately.  The length of the war is usually mentioned, as if all wars were expected to last 5 years and not a moment longer.  Doesn’t work like that. Historically we have a range from the Hundred Years War, to the Six Day War.  Wars begin when someone is attacked and end when someone surrenders.  Endings (“exit strategies”) cannot be planned in advance, war is an uncertain activity.

There is the “graveyard of empires” argument, the we can’t do “nation-building” argument (counterinsurgency is not “nation-building).” You can’t create a democracy in the Middle East argument. (We did. You may not have noticed, but we won in Iraq.  General Petraeus says it’s more like “Iraqracy,” a form of their own.   They are increasingly having their fights and arguments in their Parliament rather than shooting each other).  That’s what we wanted.

What is important about Afghanistan are the consequences.  And the consequences should not arise from domestic popularity polls.  There are consequences that arise from an undefeated al Qaeda, there are consequences that arise from either al Qaeda or the Taliban undefeated and becoming bigger and stronger because they drove the Great Satan out. We have already experienced the consequences of a strong and resurgent al Qaeda.

David Kilcullen, one of the world’s leading authorities on counterinsurgency and a key adviser to NATO as well as the British Government and the U.S. State Department said that Obama’s delay in reaching a decision over extra troops has been “messy,” and creates uncertainty the Taliban could exploit. He said:

Obama, in a speech to troops in Jacksonville , Florida, a fortnight ago, had said he would never lightly put them in harm’s way.

That’s not the situation we are in.  As an analogy, you have a building on fire, and it’s got a bunch of firemen inside.  There are not enough firemen to put it out.  You have to send in more or you have to leave.  It is not appropriate to stand outside pontificating about not taking lightly the responsibility of sending firemen into harm’s way.  Either put in enough firemen to put the fire out or get out of the house.

Before his Fort Hood trip this week, Obama said the visit “absolutely has an impact because it reminds me that these aren’t abstractions.”  He needs reminding?

If the American people are opposed to sending more troops, or to our being in Afghanistan, a good part of the opposition is directly due to the indecision and lack of leadership from the White House. The more Obama dithers, the more the public doubts that he will give our troops wholehearted support, and those doubts are also consequences.




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