American Elephants


A Nuclear Summit that Yields — Not Much. by The Elephant's Child
April 13, 2010, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, National Security, Statism, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

President Obama has checked off another little item on his list. He has saved the world from the horrors of nuclear weapons. As The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank began his piece today:

World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow.

They entered a capital that had become a military encampment, with camo-wearing military police in Humvees and enough Army vehicles to make it look like a May Day parade on New York Avenue, where a bicyclist was killed Monday by a National Guard Truck.

In the middle of it all was Obama — occupant of an office once informally known as “leader of the free world” — putting on a clinic for some of the world’s greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press.

Reporters for foreign outlets, admitted for the first time to the White House Press pool were ushered out after Obama’s eight-minute opening statement — which ended with the words: “I’m going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session.”

Obama’s official schedule for Tuesday would have pleased China’s Central Committee. Excerpts: “The President will attend the Heads of Delegation working lunch. This lunch is closed press. . . . The President will meet with Prime Minster Erdogan of Turkey. This meeting is closed press. . . . The President will attend Plenary Session II of the Nuclear Security Summit. This session is closed press.”

President Transparency has believed since his undergraduate days in the Nuclear Freeze movement, that nuclear weapons kill people.  So he has signed a START treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear weapons — that includes a long list of just when Moscow will ignore the treaty. The Russians were apparently adamant about excluding tactical weapons, where they have a 10-1 advantage,  from the treaty.

The big Nuke Summit doesn’t yield much of anything at all.  Canada and Chile agreed to send some uranium to the United States. ( We were really worried about Canada).  The Ukraine will send some to Russia.   Obama insulted some more allies and bowed to despots once again.

And surprise, surprise, our greatest nuclear threat is not addressed at all by the uranium transfers announced with such fanfare.  One would think that someone in the administration might take seriously Iran’s announced threat to America, Israel,and Europe, but that might take something more than pretty speeches, and summit meetings that promise to meet once again — just like the eternal and useless climate meetings.

The threat of Islamic terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapons more likely comes from Iran, Pakistan or North Korea than any other source. But this was not addressed at all.  Of course if we actually got any nuclear material from one of the 47 nations in attendance, what would we do with it?  We have no place to put it, since President Obama shut down Yucca Mountain.

But is our greatest threat terrorists?  Or is it the mullahs who lead the chant of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and proudly announce how many centrifuges they have operating?  And does President Transparency have any intention of doing anything at all about Iran?  Even encouraging the dissidents who want to overthrow the government?  Didn’t think so.  Big speeches, not open to the press, are more his speed, and banning words like jihad, and  Islam, and terrorist.



Is Congress Beginning to Have Some Buyer’s Remorse? by The Elephant's Child

Some members of Congress have apparently asked the Congressional Research Service — an arm of the Library of Congress that does research for members and staff — to explain how the new health-care reform law would affect their own health insurance and that of their staffs.

The CRS says, in a new report, that the law may have significant unintended consequences for the “personal health insurance coverage” of senators, representatives and their staff members.  The report says that the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.

As the New York Times says:

The confusion raises the inevitable questions:  If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans? …

And even if current members of Congress can stay in the popular program for federal employees, that option will probably not be available to newly elected lawmakers, the report says.

I have written several times that Congress went to great lengths to exclude themselves from the law, but I may have been mistaken.  They certainly didn’t do it on purpose, for their intent, as is true for most Americans, was to keep the health insurance they had and liked, and we probably won’t get to either.

I believe the word is Schadenfreude, a German word for which there is no real English equivalent.  It means taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others, which I freely admit.  I hope it’s true.  The law is a horrendous mess, and it’s past time Congress realized that as well.  Bwa ha ha ha.



Capital, Taxes, Regulation and Consequences, and Oh Yes, Jobs. by The Elephant's Child
April 13, 2010, 12:26 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Taxes | Tags: , ,


Walter Wriston, former chairman of CitiCorp, was among the most innovative financiers of our time, and among the first to recognize the tumultuous changes reshaping the world in the information  technology revolution. He said, in his 1992 book The Twilight of Sovereignty, that:

Capital will go where it is wanted, and
stay where it is well treated.
It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation
of its value or use and no governmental power
can restrain it for long.

Walter Wriston is talking about consequences.  Legislatures often think that they can raise taxes at will, impose mandates and regulations, and nothing will change  except that more money will flow in.  A Democratic Congress, fondly remembering FDR, is  sure that raising taxes is no big deal because under Roosevelt the top marginal tax rate was 94 percent on all income over $200,000, and we got along with that, didn’t we?

Companies are exiting California, and the same is true for other high-tax states.  Doctors are leaving Massachusetts where mandates and restrictions take both pleasure and profit out of their work.   When the business climate turns sour, sensible businessmen go where the climate is better and there is opportunity. When ObamaCare enacts a tax on companies that manufacture medical equipment that  makes it impossible for that business to make a profit, that business will probably look for a way to manufacture in a location where costs are lower, often overseas. Capital will go where it is wanted, and stay where it is well treated.

The farmer in a rural area who always depended on a buyer who traveled through the region, with the availability of a telephone can learn about prices in the city, in the country, and is no longer dependent.  The politician, who once was protected by his dignity and his office, now finds that his words and actions can be captured and exposed on YouTube and in his opponent’s campaign commercials almost overnight. When people have more information, they can act on it.

ObamaCare is built on a house of cards.  It takes hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare to fund ObamaCare, then claims that those cuts will make Medicare more solvent, even though the money “saved” will be spent on ObamaCare instead of being used to close the gap between income and outgo in Medicare.  It is largely a sleight of hand arrangement that spends the same money more than once.  Voters who are becoming informed increasingly are demanding repeal.  50 percent of likely voters “strongly” support repealing ObamaCare, 58 percent support repeal, while only 32 percent “strongly” disagree.

Information matters.  It changes the world. That is one reason why so much regarding politics and taxation takes place in back rooms.  They don’t want you to be informed — even if they talk about “transparency.”




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