American Elephants

Petty, Petulant, Unpopular President Repositions Poorly by American Elephant
August 31, 2010, 5:42 pm
Filed under: Economy, Iraq, Military, News

Immediate reaction? Blah.

A deeply petty president tries to appear, by mentioning President Bush by name, as though he is giving him credit without actually giving him any credit, while insinuating, without ever directly stating, that the credit belongs instead to himself.

A petulant president refuses to acknowledge that he was flat wrong about the war, about the surge, and about virtually everything, even while begrudgingly confessing the war has made us safer, and turned an enemy into an ally.

An unpopular president tries to blame the failure of his economic policies on the war, the “past decade” and everyone but himself, even as other nations that rejected his policies are enjoying robust growth.

Putting Things into Perspective. by The Elephant's Child

From Richard Fernandez, blogging at Pajamas Media:

With regional enemies challenging the new Iraqi government by sending car bombs against the police it is interesting to note that in many ways the upheavals are worse even closer to home.  Seventy two persons, perhaps illegal immigrants drawn by a border which politicians refuse to close, were found dead in a Mexican ranch close to the US border.

Things are much, much worse than Mexico in that socialist paradise Venezuela, which the NYT says is far more dangerous than Iraq.  So bad in fact that the government has ordered the newspapers not to report any more killings.

In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,544 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year the number of murders climbed above 16,000.

Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives.

Sometimes a few statistics help to put things in perspective.   It is a complicated, difficult world out there; and it is incumbent on us to struggle to understand what is going on.  A  job most of us have far too little time for.

Christa Branch: “I am America” by The Elephant's Child
August 31, 2010, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, Music, Pop Culture | Tags: ,

Must Reading to Accompany President Obama’s Iraq Speech. by The Elephant's Child

— President Obama will address the nation today on the close of combat operations in Iraq.  In that context, this article from The Wall Street Journal, “Why We Fought and What We Achieved” by Stephen Hadley, President George W. Bush’s National Security Adviser from 2005–2009, is an important historical reference.

— Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, who contributed so much to our success in Iraq writes in The Washington Post that “Iraq needs U.S. engagement, and a slower clock.” Ryan Crocker was an outstanding representative of our country, and deserves our gratitude and massive credit.  We were extremely lucky in his selection for the job.

— Ambassador John Bolton, George W. Bush’s former ambassador to the UN, is deeply worried about the coming regional arms conflict, and fears that Obama has not learned the hard lessons of American security in the world of international geostrategy.  He says that “Obama Wrecked Iraq.  He believes that an Obama policy that continues the withdrawal of American forces down to zero in Iraq will only strengthen Iran.

— In the Washington Examiner, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, “Previewing Obama Iraq speech, Gibbs won’t credit surge.” Gibbs says he would point you to the many comments that the president has made throughout a number of years about the role that increasing the number of our troops has played, just as a Sunni Awakening has played, just as a better political environment has played…”  Reporter Byron York quotes the president’s earlier comments.

— Daniel Foster reports that the”CBO: Iraq War Was Cheaper Than the Stimulus.” As President Obama prepares to tie a bow on U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Congressional Budget Office numbers show that the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009.

Everything Old is New Again. by The Elephant's Child

There is something rather charming in an administration that is constantly talking about how we “must not return to the failed policies of the past,” but move boldly into the new green economy.

So they turn to windmills that have been around since roughly 2000 BC; famously in Greece, in Spain where Don Quixote fictionally tilted at windmills; in Holland, where the windmills produced about the power of a modern lawnmower; on the American prairie and now in massive wind farms. Always limited by a simple fact of nature.  They turn only when the wind blows at the right speed, which happens only a small fraction of the time, even in the windiest places.

The sun has been keeping people warm as long as there have been people, but it has the annoying habit of sinking beneath the horizon for part of every day.  We have managed to capture solar heat under some circumstances, but it remains costly, and we just cannot store it effectively.

Electric cars have been around since the beginning of the 20th century, always with enthusiastic supporters, but the limitations of batteries have always been their downfall.   We have new materials for batteries, but the  breakthrough that has always been needed — is still needed.

Keynesian economics was adopted enthusiastically by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s. Didn’t work then.  Made things worse.  Roosevelt was also very big on public works projects and enlarging government.  If World War II had not come along to make FDR a successful wartime president, the failure of his economic policies would have been more apparent.

But we must not return to the failed policies of the past.  Anyone have any new ideas?

Worst Football Play Ever, Caught on Video. by The Elephant's Child
August 31, 2010, 7:49 am
Filed under: Politics

This is so absolutely pathetic!  The video came with no sound, and no team identifications — not that that is surprising.  Who would want to be identified?  But it is funny!

(h/t: Hot Air)

You Don’t Get Businessmen to Hire by Making it Hard for them to Conduct Business. by The Elephant's Child

This will be “Recovery Summer” they claimed.  Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wrote in early August, how the $862 billion government stimulus was still rolling out, business investment was booming, and the economy was poised for sustainable growth.  “Welcome to the Recovery,” he said.

Mr. Geithner and President Obama really believe that government spending can stimulate growth by boosting private “demand,” that tax-rates don’t matter to investment decisions, that scads of new regulations have no impact on costs or on hiring for business, and that politicians can badmouth capitalists without having any effect on the movement of capital.

This quotation from the late Walter Wriston, who was once CEO of Citibank, would be worth printing out and framing, or sending to your Congressman, since they don’t seem to get it.

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 government policy can restrain it for long.

The downward revision for the second quarter was expected, with a big drop in home sales, more jobless claims and weak corporate profits.  Many economists believe that third quarter growth could be negative.  The pace of growth is very sluggish, and will not create many new jobs.

If government spending stimulated growth, the economy should be booming by now.  Trillions of dollars of spending, loan guarantees, tax credits, grants and much more.  Even taking over whole industries and paying people to buy cars and appliances hasn’t worked.  Democrats always think anything can be fixed with more spending.

The 1982 recession is the last one with a jobless rate exceeding 10 percent.  The path to recovery was steady.  Companies will take the risk to invest and hire when they know what government plans to do to them — what costs, what regulations.

Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated.  It will invest and hire.  Perhaps we need to start treating the people who actually create jobs well.  Free markets and free people have always worked for America.  We need to stop hoping that more spending will fix things,  and go for some real change.

Nancy Pelosi: “Now witness the power of this fully-armed and operational death panel.” by The Elephant's Child

If you are the Speaker of the House of Representatives (D-SF), all-powerful, really big cheese, who promised the “most ethical Congress in history,” and you learn that one of your really big donors is dying of bone marrow cancer, what do you do?

Fred Baron, the “King of Toxic Torts,” built a fortune by suing on behalf of asbestos victims.  A prolific Democrat fundraiser, he served as bagman for his friend John Edwards who also made a fortune with tort law. In 2002, Baron was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.  By October 2008,  his doctors at the Mayo Clinic were telling him that he had just days to live.  But they offered a slight glimmer of hope.

Over the years, the Barons had donated about $1 million to Mayo.  The staff was especially  diligent, said Lisa Blue, Baron’s wife.  They tested a complete arsenal of drugs.  Baron’s cancer responded in the lab, to a drug called Tysabri.

Mayo had a supply, but the drug was approved only for treatment of multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.  Biogen, the manufacturer, refused to give permission, even under “compassionate use” rules that protect a drug-maker from a black mark in the case of an adverse reaction.

Blue worked Fred’s Rolodex calling every politician, and every celebrity pleading for help.  She hired a lawyer and prepared to sue Mayo.  She bought Tysabri online from Australia, intending to send her stepson to smuggle it into the country.  Bill Clinton, Senators Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Tom Harkin and even the head of the FDA had urged the company to reconsider.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi “put her heart and soul” into the cause.  She “cajoled” the FDA to find a legal justification that let Mayo administer the drug, even without Biogen’s consent.

The drug beat back the cancer for a few days, but it wasn’t enough.  Baron died the week before election Day 2008 at the age of 61. As the Dallas News says:

Blue has no illusion that a typical family could pull such strings.

“There are so many cases like Fred’s” she said.  “One thing he taught me was politics matters.  What a personal experience for me to understand how politics matters.

And no, she added, “It’s not fair that other people can’t pick up the phone and make the government give them a drug. …It was just such an awakening about how the drug companies have so much power.

It is clear that ObamaCare will ration access to expensive new drugs.  The NHS has already banned Avastin for late-stage breast cancer patients, and is disallowing it for bowel cancer patients because it is too expensive.  There is already a drive here to have its FDA approval removed.  Drug companies are scared to death of — Tort lawyers — who drive up the cost of medicine and get away with it, because Democrat politicians refuse to rein them in.

Dallas’ biggest Democrat donors will sign big checks to have dinner later this month with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  It’s nice to know that if you give big money to a Democrat they will pull strings to get you an illegal drug.  But most of us can’t afford to buy a politician.

(h/t: Moe Lane)

500,000!!! by American Elephant
August 30, 2010, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Blogging, News | Tags: ,

Thanks to all of you, sometime earlier today, American Elephants hit half a million views! We are very excited and very grateful! Thanks to all of you for coming by and helping us grow! As always, keep the comments and suggestions coming, we love to hear from you! Now if only we can hit a million twice as fast! 😀

Obamacare Makes Health Care Rates Go UP — Way Up! by The Elephant's Child

In California, state regulators have allowed Anthem Blue Cross to move ahead with rate hikes, which average 14%.  Blue Shield of California is allowed by regulators to move ahead with rate increases — averaging 19% and as high as 29% — for 250,000 individual California policyholders.  Anthem’s original plan was to increase premiums as much as 39%, but they got a lot of criticism from consumers regulators and even President Obama.   A consultant found math errors.

Here in Washington State, we just got notification of a 16% rate hike.  Welcome to ObamaCare.  Eventually government insurance will begin to look cheap — but that was the plan all along. They promised that ObamaCare would save money, their ideas would make health care more efficient, everyone would be insured, preventative care would save money,  computerizing health care would save money.  All lies.  All Lies.  All Lies.

[ed: slightly altered headline ‘cus we like this one better]

Here’s the Suck-up View of the Stimulus: by The Elephant's Child

TIME magazine, August 26 issue, contains an essay by one Michael Grunwald called “How the Stimulus Is Changing America.”  Let me be clear.  I don’t read either Time or Newsweek even in the Doctor’s office when there is nothing else on offer but elderly issues of Motor Sports, Parenting and Road and Track.  I can remember Time when it was a thick magazine, and interesting.  But I was referred to this article by Dr. Sanity, and I read it.

I gather one of the reasons that Time has become such a thin magazine, in more senses than one, is that they no longer do fact-checking.

But in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, Obama’s effusive Recovery Act point man, “Now the fun stuff starts!” The “fun stuff,” about one-sixth of the total cost, is an all-out effort to exploit the crisis to make green energy, green building and green transportation real; launch green manufacturing industries; computerize a pen-and-paper health system; promote data-driven school reforms; and ramp up the research of the future. “This is a chance to do something big, man!” Biden said during a 90-minute interview with TIME.

For starters, the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history, converting the Energy Department into the world’s largest venture-capital fund. It’s pouring $90 billion into clean energy, including unprecedented investments in a smart grid; energy efficiency; electric cars; renewable power from the sun, wind and earth; cleaner coal; advanced biofuels; and factories to manufacture green stuff in the U.S. The act will also triple the number of smart electric meters in our homes, quadruple the number of hybrids in the federal auto fleet and finance far-out energy research through a new government incubator modeled after the Pentagon agency that fathered the Internet.

Liberals get an idea that appeals emotionally, and then fund it to make it work. Conservatives consult evidence, studies and experience before deciding on an idea.  I hasten to add that nobody’s perfect — I’m generalizing here.  Some conservatives vote for foolish things. But the world’s largest venture-capital fund is basically full of it.

For the price of a Volt, GM’s electric car, that will go for 40 miles (does this include rush-hour-traffic?) on a charge and takes at least 7 hours to charge, you can get a Mercedes.  The electric battery factories subsidized by the venture-capital fund will produce far more batteries than can be used by the Volt or any other electric car proposed.  There is a worldwide glut of electric batteries, and most of the factories will go out of business, but the government is enthusiastically funding them.

There is no evidence that smart meters will save energy or money.  Sun, wind and biofuels will not represent a significant part of our energy supply for the foreseeable future. Both wind and solar must have 24/7 backup from regular (probably coal burning) power plants.   There is no green energy.  Computerizing the health care sector does not save costs.

Most of this is devised to reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the mistaken belief that CO2 is the cause of global warming which will end life as we know it on earth.  But increases in CO2 in the atmosphere follow increases in temperature by as much as 300 years, and cannot be causative.  Global warming is a natural phenomenon.  The seas are not rising.

CO2 is one of the building blocks of life.  No CO2, no life.  These people are living in a fantasy world, where the promises of promoters are taken as gospel,  promises of breakthroughs are accepted without evidence,  grants of federal money go to those who can write an effective grant proposal or those who are friends of the grant makers, rather than to proven technology.

The essay is a gullible paean to the brilliance of Obama and the success of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  They couldn’t even get the cost right.  (It wasn’t $787 billion but $816 billion.)  This paragraph is more revealing than was intended:

Biden recalls brainstorming with Obama about an all-in push for a smarter electrical grid that would reduce blackouts, promote renewables and give families more control over their energy diet: “We said, ‘God, wouldn’t it be wonderful? Why don’t we invest $100 billion? Let’s just go build it!’ “

Do read the whole thing with a skeptical eye.  This is what they are trying to sell, and their lack of respect for hard-earned taxpayer dollars is fully in evidence.  That’s what happens when you put people in office who have no private sector real world experience and no familiarity with math or science.

Andrew Klavan Takes On The Ground Zero Mosque Controversy. by The Elephant's Child

It is attack Republicans season, but one would think they would come up with something with a little more sense to it than the current cries of Racist! Bigot! Islamophobe!  Yes, there are many moderate Muslims.  Yes, the attack on the Twin Towers was perpetrated in the name of Islam. Yes, that was 10 years ago. Yes, Major Nidal Hassan killed 13 and wounded 32 in an attack in the name of Islam at Fort Hood. Yes, Canada just broke up a homegrown terrorist cell with ties to other terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Dubai.  The Christmas Day bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab and Major Hassan were both radicalized by al Qaeda cleric  Anwar al Awlaki, called an example of moderate Muslim imams when he was in Virginia.  The list is very long.  America remains a very tolerant country.  We can be tolerant and welcoming and yet remain alert.

(h/t: Pajamas TV)

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