American Elephants

Obama Unintentionally Reveals His Failure to Understand His Country. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is back on the campaign fundraising tour, in San Francisco today, and self revealing in ways that he perhaps did not understand. Here’s how abc News described the event:

At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a painful era of self-reliance in America.

OMG! Self-reliance! Well, lets parse that sentence. At a million-dollar fundraiser, the supporters have to pony up a big check just to get in the door. These are not the folks who are “recession-battered.” They are Obama’s favorite “fat cats.”And how revealing that Obama sees self-reliance as “painful” and a bad thing.

He is living in a world where the money is government money, and he— the God-like being in charge of it all, running America like he owns it— will, as David Freddoso described it  “behind a thin veneer of concern about average Americans, display aggressive favoritism to the groups that got him elected.  This favoritism comes at average Americans’ expense, and at the expense of government integrity and effectiveness.”

So Obama is trying to play the class-envy game by claiming that the Republican idea that government spending is the primary problem, is a hands-off approach harmful to middle class families who deserve government help. And yet all that spending  that cannot be cut  has come from middle class taxpayers, and been distributed to the unions, to campaign supporters, to cronies, and to groups whose votes can be bought. How many straw-man arguments can you find in these remarks of Obama’s?

I reject an argument that says we’ve got to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from exploiting people who are sick. And I reject the idea that somehow if we strip away collective bargaining rights, that we’ll be somehow better off.

We should not be in a race to the bottom where we take pride in having the cheapest labor and the most polluted air and the least protected consumers..

I count seven straw-man arguments in those three sentences. It’s a pure appeal to emotion. Love me because I am the source of all bounty, and you can feel good about helping the middle class and the poor and the little children if you just give me your money to reelect me so that we can all prove how nice we are — with other people’s money.

He has no understanding that self-reliance is what Americans have always been about. Americans just want government to get out of the way and leave us free to work without interference. The notion that we are all children and must be helped and controlled and made to behave in the approved way by our betters in the federal establishment. He doesn’t understand this country at all.

The event was Obama’s eighth fundraiser in California in the past month. He billed his bus tour of the Carolinas to the taxpayers. Wonder if these fundraisers go on our tab as well.

Are You Sleepwalking Through History or Fully Alive and Conscious? by The Elephant's Child

I have been reading An Empire of Wealth by John Steele Gordon, which has been the most exciting book I have read in a long time. It is a history of American power and how it arose. America has dominated the world, not through force of arms and political power, but through the continuing creation of staggering wealth.  It is history with the thrill of free market invention and creation of things absolutely new to the world.  The economics and the pursuit of profit have changed the nation and changed us in ways once unimaginable.

I finished the final chapters last night — the book ends with 9/11— which led me to realize that I am less familiar with the history of my own time than I am of history that I had to learn about from books.  Reading about what past presidents accomplished and where they blundered, the bills Congresses passed for good or ill— a lot of blunders there—has made me feel as if I’ve been sleepwalking through history.

We need historians to point out to us the motives behind the regulations and the trends that led us astray. Some policies that seemed so important at the time really weren’t, and some bills that passed quietly have made a huge difference.  There are times in your life when you were busy with daily personal problems and  just didn’t know what was going on. The sense of not knowing or understanding the time through which you lived is disturbing.

It also made me stop and think about the inventions and new products that we take for granted, without realizing how lucky we are to have them.  If you lived in the late 1800s, and suffered from headaches, a cup of really strong coffee was the best relief you could find, or cool cloths or ice— if you had it. Aspirin didn’t appear until around 1899.  If you got a bad infection, good luck! Penicillin didn’t become available until the middle of World War II.

It wasn’t until 1992 that Tim Berniers-Lee of Cern came up with the web browser that made the world-wide web (www) possible, yet it’s hard to remember the time before we had all the electronic stuff we so depend on today. But imagine life without the telegraph or the telephone. (Did you know that Thomas Edison coined the word “hello?”) — me neither.

My grandfather was a pioneer horse-and-buggy doctor, and he was also a pharmacist, which amazed the writer of a local history. But in granddad’s day there weren’t many pharmaceuticals to dispense.  He simply had to pass a written test with the state, but it wouldn’t have included very much. Fortunately they had stopped bleeding people to help make them well, and ether was available for operations. And many of the remedies of the past had vanished, for which we can be grateful. At one point it seemed like anything that tasted bad enough was used as a medicine.  Before they invented internal combustion engines to put oil and gas into, crude oil was used in small amounts as a medicine— though I’m not sure for what.

So when I observe the pathetic “Occupy” crowd whining about the rich and their own student loans, and what they want —as I observe their expensive tents, sleeping bags and all the electronics, laptops, cell phone, tablets they have, it’s hard to feel much sympathy. The nylon for those lightweight tents and sleeping bags didn’t appear until after World War II, and began with surplus parachutes. Before that it was canvas— heavy and wet.

The Tax Reform Act of 1978 lowered the Capital Gains tax, (The New York Times argued for raising the tax to 77%— the Left has always wanted higher taxes).The bill passed.  The immediate effect: in 1977 the venture capital industry raised $39 million to invest— in 1981 the venture capital industry raised $1.3 billion.  Money, freed up with lower taxes, went to work creating economic growth and millions of jobs.

The sweep of history is not just enlightening, but encouraging.  We have muddled through some dreadful times. A good sense of history gives you armor against the bad times and a common sense appreciation of the good.

Points to Ponder! by The Elephant's Child

In San Francisco, a teenager is not allowed to visit or use a tanning salon; but a teenager can get an abortion without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

In San Francisco, you may eat all the sushi you want: but if the regulation passes, you cannot keep a pet goldfish.

Old growth trees are noble and precious and protected from harvest; people grown old, are denied medical treatment deemed too expensive by the government.

Go figure.

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