American Elephants

Iran, Nuclear Weapons, Arabs and the Middle East. by The Elephant's Child

Unless you are one of the elite who goes to the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival, you probably did not hear of the ambassador of United Arab Emirates words in a discussion on the Middle East. The ambassador was asked whether the UAE would support a possible Israeli air strike against the Islamist regime in Tehran.  Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said: “A military attack on Iran by whomever would be a disaster, but Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a bigger disaster.”

These were unusually candid words.  Iran is just across the Strait of Hormuz from the UAE and trade between the two nations is an ordinary everyday occurrence.  Business relationships between the people on each shore have been ongoing for centuries.  But Both Israel and the Arab states around the Persian Gulf recognize a common threat in the regime in Tehran.

The diplomat added, it would lead to a backlash.  “There will be problems of people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country.” He said, “Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran, my answer is still the same.  We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.  I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the U.A.E.”

Otaiba was merely expressing in a public forum the standard position of many Arab countries, said Jeffrey Goldberg. who moderated the discussion.  “The Jews and Arabs have been fighting for one hundred years,” added Goldberg.  “The Arabs and the Persians have been going at [it] for a thousand.”

Next to Jordan, the UAE is the only Arab country with soldiers deployed in Afghanistan — fighting on the side of the United States.  Abu Dhabi, the richest of the seven emirates, has been pressuring Dubai to keep closer tabs on the influential Iranians living there. The Arab nations on the Gulf are pursuing realpolitik in their dealings with Iran.  They come down on the side of the Americans, but they would prefer to pursue the route of negotiation and trade.

Isn’t this odd.  What we hear about is the administration’s reluctance to use the word ‘Islam’ or “Islamist,” and reference to “man-caused disasters” instead of terrorist attacks.  That may change now that President Obama has noted that al Qaeda is “racist.” Though it is not my impression that al Qaeda attacks people based on the color of their skins.  They just kill people indiscriminately. Any people.

The People Must Be Given a Choice! by The Elephant's Child

The must-read column of the day is Daniel Henninger’s superb column on Dr. Donald Berwick, the ideological leftist who President Obama has —  incredibly — appointed to single-handedly control Medicare and Medicaid.  Appointed without investigation, without debate, without questioning, and without a vote, and by a recess appointment that avoids any of those annoying things like the possibility of someone asking questions or raising an objection.  As the subhead on Henninger’s column says:

If the American people want the health-care world Dr. Berwick wishes to give them, that’s their choice.  But they must be given that choice.

Dr. Berwick would direct an agency that has a bigger budget than the Pentagon.  Decisions by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shape American medicine.  Here are some of Dr. Berwick’s ideas from his speeches and articles:

“I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care.  That is for leaders to do.”

“The unaided human mind, and the acts of the individual, cannot assure excellence.  Health care is a system, and its performance is a systemic property.”

“Health care has taken a century to learn how badly we need the best of Fredrick Taylor [the father of scientific management].  If we can’t standardize appropriate parts of our processes to absolute reliability, we cannot approach perfection.”

I would never have thought that anyone would be raising the long–discarded theory of “Taylorization” in 2010.  This was a theory of time and motion studies, back around the turn of the 19th century, in the pursuit of “efficiency” that dehumanized manufacturing and assumed that there was one “best” way to do anything.  It was the enemy of creativity and growth, whether economic, social or individual.  Liberals have tried to claim that “Progressive” policies are something new.  They are not.  They are made up of old tired ideas that have not stood the test of time.

The idea that in the United States of America, an arrogant president can just skip over the customary confirmation proceedings for a candidate for a job that will control over one-sixth of the economy — control decisions of life and death — with no input from the medical profession and no input from the citizens whose own health care is the focus of his decisions is so far beyond repugnant it is breathtaking.

Barack Obama seems to have all the natural instincts of a tyrant.  As he keeps telling us — he is the President of the United States.

George W. Bush used to say that he was “the decider.” What he meant was when those hard decisions came down, and all the conflicting advice was heard, the agonizing decision rested on his shoulders, and he accepted full responsibility.

Obama is different.  He’s President and he gets his way, and if you don’t like it, it’s Bush’s fault.

Palette Cleanser by American Elephant
July 15, 2010, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Cool Site of the Day, Music | Tags: ,

Dulux proves you’re never too old to color:

No photoshops here. The locations are real, the people are real and the paint is real. This particular part of the campaign was shot in Brazil, France, London and India.

Maybe I can get them to do my house next!?

You can watch other ads from the campaign here. The song, which I love, is “Go do” by Jónsi.

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