American Elephants

Remembering. Memorial Day, 2010. by The Elephant's Child
May 30, 2010, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, Military | Tags: , ,

There is a story my mother told to me, and her grandfather told to her.  When he was small — about my mother’s age at the time — he was sitting at his grandmother’s knee.  She told him the story of the time when she was small, and about his age, in Connecticut.  It was a beautiful spring day,  her father was plowing, and she was walking in the furrow behind him, smelling the sweet earth as the plow turned the soil.

They heard the sound of a horse galloping up the lane, and a man shouting.  Her father dropped the reins of his horse and ran for the house. Catherine gathered up her skirts and ran after him.  She met him at the door, his musket in hand.  He gathered her up and kissed her goodbye and ran for his horse.  He was a Captain of Minute Men.  The British were raiding.  She never saw her father again.  They brought his body  home after the battle.

Men have been dying for freedom and home, their comrades, and friends and family for a very long time.  Today we remember them all, from all the wars, with sorrow and gratitude.

(video via Blackfive)

Uncommon Knowledge’s Guest is John Podhoretz. by The Elephant's Child

This past week’s guest on Uncommon Knowledge has been John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary Magazine.  Mr. Podhoretz begins with a defense of political combat — the necessity for public debate — proceeds to the danger of the pursuit of normalcy, a lesser global role for the United States, to the deteriorating U.S. Israel relationship.

He goes on to address the Iran question, and the very real threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and in that context why Obama was able to secure the Jewish vote — and why he may not be able to keep it.

If you have not watched the Uncommon Knowledge videos before, each is roughly 7 minutes long, or one a day for a week.  The host is Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution, who is a wonderful and provocative interviewer who leads a conversation that provides uncommon knowledge indeed.

Previous interviewees are Fouad Ajami, Mark Steyn, Victor Davis Hanson and John Arquilla on the U.S. military and contemporary global challenges, and many more, all available at the NRO website.  They are well worth your time.

Why Are We Drilling in 5,000 Feet of Water In the First Place? by The Elephant's Child

A bit of history — June 27, 2009, The White House — President Barack Obama said:

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a historic piece of legislation that will open the door to a clean energy economy and a better future for America.

For more than three decades, we have talked about our dependence on foreign oil.  And for more than three decades we have seen that dependence grow.  We have seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardize our national security.  We have seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet.  And most of all, we have seen other counties realize a critical truth: the nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy.

The only true part of that entire statement is that the House passed a piece of legislation.  Even the “historic” word is false.

Our “foreign” oil mostly comes from Canada and Mexico.  Our reliance on fossil fuels has not “jeopardized” our national security. Every airplane, tank, Humvee and truck  runs on fossil fuel, every piece of equipment is lubricated with fossil fuel and there is, for the foreseeable future, no alternative.  Our national security has been jeopardized by the environmental movement who attempt to block every attempt to increase our domestic supplies of energy.

Since June of 2009, we have had ClimateGate, and the exposure of the fraudulent nature of the global warming scheme.  Spain has exposed the false dream of green energy and green jobs.  Denmark has exposed the high cost of any dependence on wind energy.  And even the IPCC is giving up on global warming and shifting their emphasis to biological diversity — the next enthusiasm.

Our air is largely clean.  The planet is not endangered, and the alarmist global warming theme has been debunked by the fraudulent actions of the warmists themselves. There is no prospect for a so-called “clean energy economy.” Wind and solar, inefficient as they are, produce only electricity, and cannot replace even one Deepwater Horizon well.

Wind power is a bunko scheme.  Without huge subsidies the wind industry does not exist.  Each wind turbine must be backed 24/7 with conventional energy, because the wind blows only very intermittently, seldom at the right speed, and usually not when it is needed.   As far as solar is concerned, the sun sinks slowly in the west, and it gets dark at night.

Electric cars have a long history.  They are clean and quiet — too quiet — for the government has demanded that manufacturers add noise to warn pedestrians of their approach.  The problems are the same as they were in the early 1900s. A battery charge won’t take you far enough.  Batteries are too expensive.  There are no charging stations, and it takes too long to charge a battery.  I have seen figures of 7 hours, but I don’t know if that is accurate.

There may be a clean energy economy in the future, but there is not in the present.  Shutting down drilling, trying to tear down hydropower dams and refusing permitting for nuclear plants does jeopardize our national security, and endanger our planet.  And in the midst of a recession, with unemployment at high levels, you probably don’t want to waste taxpayer money on schemes that experience teaches are wasteful drains on an economy.

The Top Kill Effort Continues. Not Yet Successful. by The Elephant's Child

I said yesterday that the “Top Kill” effort was succeeding.  It has not as yet, but reports from the Times Picayune say that Top Kill will continue until it works or they are sure that it will not.  The report from the BBC was too optimistic.  The above picture is from BP and is of the actual scene.

As Charles Krauthammer reminded us yesterday:

Here’s my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?

Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama’s tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we’ve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So we go deep, ultra deep — to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. That’s a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from barren areas to populated ones, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism, and recreation?

Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that they’ve escaped any mention at all.

Try to imagine the scene, for those of us far from Louisiana.  Those who know what they are doing, are doing it as fast as they can.  Swirling around them is an army of reporters, each looking for a new angle to convey what is happening.  In a way,too much news.

Before I wrote a word, I went to the Times Picayune website. My second sentence described the situation.  By the time I had returned for a link, the news had changed, as an executive from BP spoke about the next thing they will try. For the latest uptake, the Times Picayune website is delivering up-to-the-minute coverage.  You will find links there to all the latest details.

Government Spending! Can They Be Stopped? by The Elephant's Child
May 29, 2010, 8:30 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Cool Site of the Day, Economy, Humor | Tags: , ,

Here’s your weekly Must Read piece from Mark Steyn, writing in Macleans, the Canadian magazine.  Mark Steyn is funny, witty and incisive; and under all the humor, he always has some important things to say, and we do well to pay attention.  Anyway, this is a particularly good piece entitled “We’re Too Broke to Be This Stupid.”  It’s worth your time.

The Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill is a Big (Expletive) Deal, Mr. President. You Need to Get It Right. by The Elephant's Child

Did you watch Obama’s press conference? The first one since July, 2009. Angry, defensive, demanding that everyone recognize that he was completely, fully, absolutely, in charge, and he had too been, ever since Day One. His attitude towards BP was belligerent, as if as President he had to show us how angry he is and how much BP will be punished. It would have been much better if he showed just how much he is trying to help BP.

BP is quite aware of the damage, and quite aware of the enormous costs they will have to pay. They are trying desperately to cap the well, and devise alternative solutions in case the current effort fails. It is very much their goal to get it fixed as soon as possible with little damage to the environment. They have been negligent, or careless, but this is a time to help them out, not excoriate them.

The President’s statement that he was in charge and BP was not allowed to do anything until it had been approved by the government, was a mistake. Forgive me, but the government doesn’t know anything about capping oil wells, and I rather suspect that Secretary Chu with his Nobel Prize and his best and brightest theoretical physicists don’t know much about capping oil wells 5000 feet down either.

I do understand.  The president is trying to show how angry he is on behalf of the American people.  But you don’t demonstrate concern by playing golf or going on a short vacation.  It may be perfectly innocent, but it just looks bad.

“Top Kill,” BP’s Most Recent Effort to Stop the Spill Seems to Be Working! by The Elephant's Child

— “Top Kill” seems to be working.  The “top kill” procedure, which began on Wednesday, has pumped enough drilling mud to block all oil and gas escaping from the well.

Admiral Thad Allen told the US Media that “They’ve been able to stabilize the wellhead, they’re pumping mud down it.  They’ve stopped the hydrocarbons from coming up.”

It was the first positive official assessment of BP’s latest attempt to plug the well after previous efforts failed.

Admiral Allen said there was still pressure from the well, although at very low levels.  Once engineers have reduced the pressure to zero, they will begin pumping cement into the hole to seal the well, he added.

— There is much talk comparing the Deepwater Horizon Disaster to Hurricane Katrina.  This is beyond silly.  Hurricanes are acts of nature. President Bush was criticized for waiting for four days before going to New Orleans. The Coast Guard followed the storm in and started rescuing people.  But the federal response to Katrina was governed by the 1998 Stafford Act, which says that in the case of natural disasters, the on-shore states are in charge, not Washington.  The federal obligation is to support the State and local efforts by providing whatever resources a governor requests, and paying for the cleanup.  Mr. Bush had to deal with a New Orleans mayor and a Louisiana governor who were,in charge, according to federal law.

There was an oil crisis that went along with the hurricane, with many platforms in the gulf, and refineries and pipelines on shore.  President Bush, according to someone with family members in the industry, was in daily communication with oil companies and suspended all kinds of regulations to facilitate pipeline and refinery repair.  Work that was expected to take months was completed in days and weeks.  When the job was done, Mr. Bush  made personal phone calls and wrote letters of commendation to those who have worked around the clock to get it done.

The BP Deepwater Horizon well was in federal waters.  Washington is in charge, and is Mr. Obama’s responsibility.  He eventually turned up after 12 days.  The law requiring spill-controlling booms to be in place was ignored, there were no booms and they had to be located all over the world.  Governor Jindal’s requests for federal help in protecting Louisiana marshes with sand berms have still not been answered.  You don’t start investigations and recriminations until the well is under control.

Louisiana begged the EPA and BP not to use dispersants below the surface because they prevented oil slicks from forming, and the oil lingers. The EPA overruled Louisiana, then a week after BP released 55,000 gallons of dispersants, did an about face ordering BP to find a “less toxic” one.

Now Mr. Obama has ordered a moratorium on all new deep-water oil wells, and new permits will be reviewed, and some will be canceled. Arctic drilling has been suspended until 2011.  Robert Bryce, managing editor of Energy Tribune reminds us:

For all of the myriad problems that oil creates, it also provides us with unprecedented mobility, comfort, and convenience. While we think of oil primarily as a transportation fuel, it’s also a nearly perfect fuel for heating. It can be used to generate electricity. When refined, it can be turned into an array of products ranging from cosmetics to shoelaces and bowling balls to milk jugs.

The addiction meme inflames the masses and makes for convenient talking points for ambitious politicians, but the reality is that oil remains an absolutely critical commodity in the global economy. And that’s why BP and Transocean were out there in the Gulf of Mexico drilling in 5,000 feet of water. …

While American voters are being inundated with talk about addiction, the reality is that the U.S. oil market has quit growing. Since the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, global oil demand has increased by nearly 20 million barrels per day. But the U.S. accounted for just 1.6 million barrels per day of that new demand.

— An environmental group is asking a federal appellate court to halt 49 offshore drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico that were approved without full environmental review.  The Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit challenges exploration and drilling plans approved within the past 60 days that were exempted from full environmental analyses required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

President Obama Sends 1,200 National Guard troops to Border, but They Are Not to Enforce Immigration Laws. by The Elephant's Child

— President George W. Bush  sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border as a temporary measure, while the numbers of the border patrol were being built up.  His administration significantly increased the number of border patrol agents by 20,000, and then removed the troops.

— Janet Napolitano, former Arizona Governor and now Secretary of Homeland Security, says the Southern Border is secure. But that’s what she claimed when she was Governor too.

— A team of Justice Department attorneys has written a recommendation challenging the Arizona immigration  law.  The draft claims Arizona exceeded its authority, or there might be abuses based on race, but no formal recommendation has been sent to the White House.  If the administration eventually does sponsor a challenge to the Arizona law, the president’s move to send 1,200 National Guardsmen to the Arizona border does begin to look like a bit of political theater.

— The Mexican embassy released a statement on the Guard deployment: “Additionally, the Government of Mexico expects that National Guard personnel will strengthen US operations in the fight against transnational organized crime that operates on both sides of our common border and that it will not, in accordance to its legal obligations, conduct activities directly linked to the enforcement of immigration laws.

— The administration has clarified the role of the 1,200 National Guard troops it is sending to the Arizona border.  They will not be enforcing immigration laws.  “US National Guard troops being sent to the Mexican border will be used to stem the flow of guns and drugs across the frontier and not to enforce US immigration laws, the State Department said Wednesday.”

— State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said “We have explained the president’s announcement to the government of Mexico, and they fully understand the rationale behind it.” … “The extra troops would be used to free up civilians engaged in support functions so that law enforcement personnel can be increased along the 2,999 mile-long border.”

Let’s see, we have immigration laws, but Mexico doesn’t like them, so we won’t enforce them.  Russia doesn’t like the anti-missile defense against Iran that we arranged to deploy in Eastern Europe, so we canceled that.  Russia said it would agree to some mild sanctions on Iran, but they didn’t like the restrictions on their sales of missiles and weapons to Iran, so we said go ahead and sell them.  South Korea is incensed at North Korea’s torpedoing their ship and killing over 40 South Korean personnel, but we’re not willing to throw our weight around.

Do you think that there is a pattern here?

Governor Christie’s Town Hall. Difficult Questions? No Problem! by The Elephant's Child

Governor Christie is showing the way to getting control of the New Jersey budget.  He’s not firing people, not closing needed programs.

(I don’t know about your state, but in mine — the first thing they claim is necessary is to close state parks — especially the most popular ones).  They don’t freeze salaries, they don’t let go the obscene number of people they hired, they shut down those things that will most disturb the taxpayers, with the claim that if we just raise taxes, then we wouldn’t have to inflict these troubles on you.  Got a popular program for the kids — cancel that and show those voters just who is in charge!

That is possibly why I am so impressed with Governor Christie.  The people of New Jersey should appreciate what they have.

The Doctor Who Linked Autism to Vaccine Has Been Banned in Britain. by The Elephant's Child

The doctor whose flawed study which purported to link the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine with autism, has been banned from the practice of medicine in Great Britain.

AP medical writer Maria Cheng talks about the implications of Andrew Wakefield’s claims.  She notes that as a result of Wakefield’s study, ” legions of parents abandoned the vaccine, leading to a resurgence of measles in Western countries where it had been mostly stamped out.”

Parents, fearful for their children, took these steps without realizing that Wakefield’s study was flawed and his conclusion wrong.  Wakefield’s “central claim — that there could be a link between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine — has largely been discredited,”  reported Jeannie Whalen in the Wall Street Journal.  Outbreaks continue in Europe every year, and there are sporadic outbreaks in the U.S.

Celebrities lent their names to his cause, and many in the media devoted far more coverage to Wakefield’s paper and shoddy scholarship than to numerous peer-reviewed studies that showed no relationship. The media, always ready to print stories about new studies, often neglects to find out if the study is reliable.

Tevi Troy points out U.S. vulnerability in our efforts to fight bioterror.  Vaccines are a key component in our efforts to protect against weaponized agents such as anthrax and smallpox.  Effective vaccines and citizens willing to take those vaccines are essential in our ability to combat such threats.

Here’s What They Are Doing at the Deepwater Horizon Spill Site: by The Elephant's Child
May 26, 2010, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Politics

If you are trying to follow the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil rig disaster  and the efforts of BP to stop the leak and cap the well;  here is a diagram that explains how the maneuver works.  I do love a nice clear diagram.

In all the blame game,  we really need to pause and give a little credit to the engineers and  oil-spill specialists who are devising their best solutions to the problem and then subsequent solutions if that one doesn’t work.  Remember, this is a mile down, in uncharted territory where humans cannot go.

Governor Chris Christie Explains His Style. by The Elephant's Child

After Governor Christie finishes cleaning up New Jersey, perhaps he can take on out federal government. Like New Jersey, we don’t have a problem with too little taxation, we have an immense problem with way too much spending.

Governor Christie’s candor, his straight talk, his bluntness and his sense of humor are entrancing people across the country. Which only demonstrates how rare such qualities are in the public arena. The contrast with another state in financial trouble on the left coast is immense. California is broke, and simply cannot stop throwing money away on one green scheme after another.

I am entranced. Watching this story as it unfolds may explain America to Americans in a way that they have not seen before.

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