American Elephants

Entering The Nanny Zone. by The Elephant's Child

The White House Understands Your Anxiety! They Will Cut The Budget By an Infintesimal Amount, to Make Obama Look Good. by The Elephant's Child

Public anxiety about government spending is becoming noticeable. Or at least, the White House  has finally noticed.  They are directing governmental agencies to develop plans for trimming a whole 5 percent from their budgets by identifying programs which “do not advance their missions or President Obama’s agenda.”

Peter Orzag and Rahm Emanuel are sending a memo to federal agencies, asking them to find spending cuts.  The memo says, gracefully, according to the Washington Post:

“The American people deserve a government that spends every taxpayer dollar with as much care as taxpayers spend their own dollars — where money is spent not out of inertia, but only when it contributes to achieving a clear national priority,” Emanuel and Orszag write in the memo, according to an early draft.

Oh my. Read that one again.  This is the government that spent $862 billion in a stimulus bill that did not stimulate, on Keynesian multipliers that didn’t multiply, on shovel-ready projects that weren’t shovel ready, and on projects that resulted in new jobs only by the mysteries of double and triple counting of imaginary people.  “Spends taxpayer dollars with as much care,” oh my.

To encourage cooperation, Obama also will ask Congress for new authority to let agencies keep half the savings they identify, administration officials said. The agencies could then put the cash toward higher priorities rather than surrendering it all for deficit reduction, as is typical.

Economist Veronique de Rugy puts it in terms that we can all understand:

Basically, it’s as if I tell my bank “I am massively in the red, I know, and from now on I will be reasonable. See, my plan is to cut $5.00 out of the $100 I spend per week. $2.50 will go to reducing my $300,000 deficit and $2.50 I will spend on more stuff. I need a little incentive after all my efforts.”

This is absurd, a joke.  Congress is attempting to pass a “jobs bill” or stimulus 3.0.  It won’t create any jobs either.  Then they want to ram through a cap-and-trade bill, and just before the election they want to send out another check for the seniors who always vote, and seem to be well represented at the Tea Party rallies — at least if the grey hair in the crowds is accurate.  Of course you can never tell with those violent tea-party activists. “Clear national priority indeed!”

This is a feel-good pretend effort to sway the masses, whom they think are too dumb to grasp the complicated details of budget trimming. The very painful exercise that millions of families are having to go through at the kitchen table as a result of President Obama’s agenda.

Perceptions of Power and Weakness. by The Elephant's Child
June 8, 2010, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Europe, Foreign Policy, History, Military | Tags: , ,

The anniversary of D-Day is just past, but it always gets me thinking about World War II, and how it came about.  About power and weakness, diplomacy, and the interests of nations.  Michael Lind wrote some time ago, in a book about Vietnam, that:

Power in world politics is perceived power, and perceived power is a vector that results from perceived military capability and perceived political will.

1933 was an interesting year.  The world was mired in the Great Depression.  Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor.  The U.S. Congress voted independence for the Philippines.  Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 32nd President of the United States, Hermann Goering was named the Prussian Prime Minister, Goebbels was named Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda.  Japan withdrew from the League of Nations.  Hitler was granted dictatorial powers.  The first Concentration Camp opened in Germany.

The U.S. Army numbered only 137,000, 16th in the world —  smaller than Czechoslovakia, Poland, Turkey, Spain, or Romania.  92 percent of the German electorate voted for the Nazi Party.  The 21st Amendment repealed prohibition. And that was just 1933.

There were 5 million French under arms with a good air force.  The French were prepared to fight  World War I.  They had good planes that never got off the ground. The French had good and heroic soldiers and very bad generals.  England and France had agreed by treaty to protect Poland, but they had no ability to do so — the distances were too great.

The great Maginot Line that was to protect France was never finished.  It never went into Belgium or Holland.  The forests of the Ardennes were perceived as too difficult for an army to pass through. Heinz-Guderian, father of the blitzkrieg, moved rapidly through the Ardennes.  The Italians attacked France from the South, and were decimated by the French.  But the French, in the first month of the war with Germany lost 94,000 KIA, and 2 million were taken as POW.  France fell in 1940.  Spectacular incompetence.

Stalin attempted to move into the Karelian Peninsula (Finland).  The Finns fought back fiercely.  Hitler observed and determined that Russia was a paper tiger.  Stalin had eliminated his generals in the Great Terror.  Stalin did not use tanks and infantry together. Of 13,000,000  Germans invading, 10,000,000 were lost fighting Russia. Russia put women to work in factories, in every way — even as beasts of burden, and ruthlessly as slave labor.  Perceived military capability.

The isolationist United States, with its tiny army, by 1943  had 7 million under arms.  We had built 296,000 planes and 100,000 ships.  By 1943 Henry J. Kaiser was turning out a Liberty ship every 3 hours.

Victor Davis Hanson remarked yesterday:

When the U.S. loudly proclaimed a reset diplomacy, and by appointments, rhetoric, and policy began to criticize Israel while reaching out to Syria and Iran, the proverbial floodgates were opened. Now everyone from the Europeans to Hamas and Turkey will outdo each other in trashing Israel, as most grasp that is no longer any downside to seizing upon a new P.R.-inspired incident; they may even perceive empathy in Washington for anti-Israel acts.

And when a liberal member of the White House press corps calls for the deportation of Jews from Israel to Poland and Germany and the Turkish ambassador (a newly found advocate of human rights) goes to the pages of the Washington Post to demand an apology from Israel (no doubt buoyed by 15 months of appeasing outreach from the administration), one gets the impression that the flotilla incident is the beginning, not the end, of such provocations. Note that Israel’s status as a long-time ally, its constitutional government and freedom of expression, and its cultural and scientific contributions count for nothing. The Gaza flotilla was the harbinger of far, far more to come.

I am very troubled by the foreign policy of the Obama administration.  We have insulted our friends, and attempted to woo our enemies — who are little interested in relationships.  The reset diplomacy with Russia has resulted in elimination of our missile defense in Eastern Europe, and increased Russian sales of arms to Iran.  We have appeased and apologized our way around the world.  We have exposed our military secrets to our enemies for no real purpose at all.  Our financial problems and our environmental disaster are headline news all over the world.  We appear weak, indecisive and incompetent.  The world remains a dangerous place, and perceptions matter.

“The Left Flunks Econ 101.” by The Elephant's Child

“Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country — liberals, conservatives or libertarians?  According to a Zogby International survey…the answer is unequivocal:” says Daniel B. Klein, a professor of economics at George Mason University,  in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal. “The left flunks Econ 101.” (emphasis mine)

How could I possibly resist posting about this article?  The researchers considered 4,835 American adult respondents’ answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. They also asked the respondents about their political leanings.  Instead of focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, they looked at whether they answered incorrectly.  Do read the article.  See how you would do on the questions, and how the survey was structured.

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