American Elephants

Pop Quiz! (Revisited) by The Elephant's Child
June 2, 2010, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Education, Fun n Games, History | Tags: , ,


This is a quiz I posted a few years back.  Makes a nice change from politics.  Do you like quizzes?  I can’t resist.  Not the kind where you’re sweating it out for a grade, but the fun kind in magazines in the doctor’s office.   Just a little series of questions to see what you know.  Here’s one, just for fun.  What do you know about the famous ships of the world, and why they were famous?  I’ll bet it’s more than you think.  Identify as many as you can (click links for answers):

  1. HMS Victory
  2. Speedwell
  3. HMS Repulse
  4. USS Lexington
  5. Graf Spee
  6. USS Hornet
  7. Mayflower
  8. USS Enterprise
  9. USS Constitution
  10. USS Arizona
  11. Monitor
  12. Pinta
  13. RMS Titanic
  14. HMS Prince of Wales
  15. Akagi
  16. USS Maine
  17. Rainbow Warrior
  18. Flying Cloud
  19. Mary Rose
  20. Soryu
  21. Lusitania
  22. Empress of Ireland
  23. Andrea Doria
  24. Edmund Fitzgerald
  25. HMS Bounty

Don’t Let a Crisis Go To Waste — Make it Worse! by The Elephant's Child

Since the BP Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded, the response of the White House has struck many Americans as somewhere between off-the-mark and completely incompetent.  This White House, it seems, can look at things only through the lens of politics.

The administration apparently thought the explosion might be a short-lived disaster, and they should hunker down and wait for it to blow over.  After some nine days, it revealed itself as a very big deal indeed, and the administration hastened to claim that they were completely on top of it.  It became almost comical as each representative of the administration appeared on television assuring the public that they had been “on top of it from Day One.” And the White House published a time line to demonstrate just how on top of everything they had actually been — including gallons of oil sopped up and feet of oil boom located.

I may have looked in the wrong places, but the only place I could find that listed the names of the men who lost their lives was a piece in Forbes.  Plenty of mention elsewhere on the potential effects on wildlife.  As Investors pointed out:

In crisis, character is inevitably revealed. That this president has looked so inept in handling both the spill itself and the negative public opinion it was bound to bring is a testament to his lack of preparation for the office.

No executive experience, virtually no private-sector business experience, no military service, no real responsibility for decision-making that has real-world consequences — this was President Obama’s resume when he was sworn in.

Now it shows in his botched response to the BP spill. From the April 20 explosion that blew up the well and killed 11 oil workers to now, the steps Obama has taken have been strangely political.

Obama first welcomed BP’s efforts, assuming that when they were successful the credit would be shared with the administration.  Then frustration, “Just plug the damn hole,” Obama said, and as one solution after another failed, polls showed the president’s support dropping, even Democrats began urging Obama to do something.  Obama came out hostile.  I’m in charge, he said.

Now the White House is “distancing itself” from both BP and the oil spill.  Instead of trying to offer all possible assistance to the oil industry who are after all, the ones who know what remedies can potentially work.  Obama’s angry pose is supposed to assure angry Americans that he is on their side.  Eric Holder has sent a team of lawyers down to search for possible criminal behavior.  Just when you want full BP attention on solutions, they need to lawyer up?

Some are urging massive fines, boycotts, anything to punish BP.  Democrats in Congress are pushing for new taxes on oil companies to “pay for” the disaster, as a way to pass the unbelievably disastrous cap-and-trade bill.

We need a little common sense here.  BP is expending millions of dollars and engineering expertise in trying to stop the spill.  No one has more invested in finding a solution than BP.  They need support in their efforts.  And the last thing the people of the Gulf states need is for the administration to shut down their entire oil industry, when forces beyond their control are damaging so many other industries — fishing, shrimping, tourism and their economy.

President Obama has a vision in his head of a “clean energy economy.” This apparently occurs when he makes petroleum prohibitively expensive, and shuts down the coal industry.  He has said that he wants to bankrupt the coal industry. One half of our electric energy is generated by coal-fired plants.

There is no hope that half of our electric energy can, in the foreseeable future, be supplied from wind, solar, geothermal, or biofuels.  It would be a very long time before it could be supplied by nuclear power plants — if there were a complete change in permitting, lawsuits, environmentalist objections and expense.

It is clear that Obama wants to force everyone into electric cars, but they are years from being even feasible, let alone suitable for the mass market.  I guess it is the messiah complex.  He has only to end dirty fossil fuels and he will, what?, snap his fingers and make all these unworkable, unaffordable, economy-destroying fantasies become reality?

The disastrous experience of Spain and Denmark who have most heavily invested in wind power, serious studies by energy industry experts — nothing seems to make the slightest impression.  He is not letting this Gulf crisis “go to waste,” he is using it to shut down oil exploration and drilling in Alaska, and his allies are attempting to put all of Alaska, including the National Petroleum Reserve out of reach, permanently.  What can he possibly be thinking?

Dog Bites Man: Democrats Raise Taxes by American Elephant
June 2, 2010, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Politics, Taxes | Tags: , ,

When all you have is a hammer, as they say, every problem looks like a nail. In that vein, when you are a leftist so-called “progressive”, which by definition means you don’t know how to do anything but use government force, then the answer to every problem becomes using that force to take more and more power, more liberty and more life’s-work away from the American people.

Washington State Democrats, desperate for more money to pay their own exorbitant salaries and benefits, have now added brand new “sin” taxes on soda, candy, beer and bottled water.

Coincidentally, unemployment can now be expected to increase in the local soda, candy, beer and bottled water industries.

When government spending is the problem, how stupid do you have to be to think more government spending is the solution?

Politics is Messy, It’s Supposed to Be That Way. by The Elephant's Child

Conflict has always been the nature of American politics, and in spite of all the demurrals, that is the way it is supposed to be.  But “except for the era of the Civil War, the last few years of the eighteenth century were  the most politically contentious in United States history.  With no George Washington in office to calm the emotions and reconcile the clashing interests, sectional antagonisms became more and more bitter.  … As the Federalist and the Republican parties furiously attacked each other as enemies of the Constitution, party loyalties became more intense and began to override personal ties, as every aspect of American life became politicized.  People who had known one another their whole lives now crossed streets to avoid confrontations.  Personal differences easily spilled into violence, and fighting erupted in the state legislatures and even in the federal Congress.”

Matthew Lyon had arrived in America in 1764 as a fifteen year-old indentured servant.  In 1773 he bought land in what became Vermont.  He took every advantage that the Revolution offered, and eventually became a wealthy newspaper owner and served in the Vermont assembly.  And he became a devout Democratic-Republican.  He managed to get elected to the U.S. Congress in 1797, and arrived seething with resentment at the aristocratic Federalist world.  Words flew. Nasty words, but a limit was reached when a Federalist newspaper editor brought up the fact that Lyon had been court-martialed for cowardice during the War and had been forced to wear a wooden sword as punishment.

During a brief recess in 1798 Lyon was regaling others that the conservative people of Connecticut needed someone like him to come in with his newspapers and turn them into Republicans.  Federalist Roger Griswold of Connecticut interrupted to tell Lyon that if he were going into Connecticut, he had better wear his wooden sword.  A furious Lyon spat in Griswold’s face, and the scene evolved into the melee pictured above, fireplace tongs and all.

Not since 1977 had the political balance in Washington been tilted so completely to the advantage of one of the two parties.  Democrats won a 50 seat majority in the House and the 50 seats in the Senate needed to enact legislation at will.  It should have been smooth sailing and partisanship should have gone by the wayside.  But that’s not what happened.  After only a few months it required procedural tricks and backroom deals to get anything accomplished at all.

Liberals were baffled at the surprisingly perilous position in which Barack Obama and the Democrats found themselves.  The election had seemed to be so decisive and such a rejection of the unimaginably morally failed Republicans that Obama and his party should have had a free hand.  Conservatives were done, invalidated, over.

John Podhoretz, in a brilliant essay on “The Purposes of Political Combat” said:

The great military strategist Clausewitz once said that”war is the continuation of politics by other means,” but the opposite is true as well.  In a stable republic like the United States, in the 145 years since the end of the Civil War.  Americans have managed not to war with each other because we have come to accept implicitly that we handle our disagreements in the arena of politics.

Peter Wehner wrote:  “Chief political aide David Axlerod, according to a passage in The Battle for America 2008 said to Obama: “It goes to your willingness and ability to put up with something you have never experienced on a sustained basis: criticism.  ,,, You care far too much what is written and said about you.  You don’t relish combat when it becomes personal and nasty.  When the largely irrelevant Alan Keyes attacked you, you flinched,” he said of Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate opponent.”

Wehner goes on to point out that: “Obama is among the most thin-skinned presidents we have had, and we see evidence of it in every possible venue imaginable, from one-on-one interviews to press conferences, from extemporaneous remarks to set speeches.”

The president is constantly complaining about what others are saying about him. He is upset at Fox News, and conservative talk radio, and Republicans, and people carrying unflattering posters of him. He gets upset when his avalanche of faulty facts are challenged, like on health care. He gets upset when he is called on his hypocrisy, on everything from breaking his promise not to hire lobbyists in the White House to broadcasting health care meetings on C-SPAN to not curtailing earmarks to failing in his promises of transparency and bipartisanship.
The two essays together illuminate some of the puzzles of the current political combat.  Doesn’t illuminate everything, but I found them helpful.
The current situation where besieged Democrats have a voting majority (if they can twist enough arms) results in backroom deals, and procedural tricks.  The end legislation  means little debate, no consideration for the other side and bills like the Health Care monstrosity, which has been called “the worst bill ever produced by any Congress.”
Surely we can do better.

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