American Elephants


Oh Swell, Those Twisty CFL Bulbs Linked to Increased Eye Disease. by The Elephant's Child

Liberals seldom investigate the unintended consequences of their good ideas. They do get enthusiastic about new ideas to improve the world, increase control of the bitter clinging masses, and just neglect to look at the details.

Saving the planet has ranked very high on their agenda, particularly since Obama promised to halt the rise of the oceans, so anything that promised to cut down on CO2 emissions, or energy use, seemed like a good idea right off the bat.  Who would have suspected that people would get indignant over changing their lightbulbs to a different kind that would save them money in their electric bills?

Well, as usual, unintended consequences rise up.  CFL bulbs — the twisty fluorescent kind— have not only gotten much more expensive, but now scientists say that they can harm the eyes.  New research from the Australian National University has warned that the global trend toward using fluorescent bulbs may cause a 12 percent rise in UV-related eye diseases like cataracts and pterygia.

So does all the saving on our electricity bills, which energy secretary Steven Chu insists is good for us whether we like it or not, outweigh the cost of all the cataract operations? I have no idea what pterygia is, or what medical attention it might require.

So many liberal solutions turn out to be worse than the original.



Obama Tries to Put a Good Face On a Big Blunder. by The Elephant's Child

The storyline that plays in Obama’s head is clearly different than the one that plays in mine.  Peter Wehner, who served in the Bush administration and writes now frequently at Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog, wrote recently that he thought that Obama has a heroic vision of himself in his head which just doesn’t allow reality to intrude.

This is so odd.  Does he really think he’s doing a good job? Is he telling a story that he hopes the rubes will believe? Does he believe what he says?  Does he think this story is the one that his base will like and thus believe?  Is he just trying to put a good face on an administration blunder, for public consumption?

This article from the New York Times gives some of the back story, and suggests that negotiations are ongoing, but Iraq needed a clear break to signify Iraq’s own sovereignty.

Here is the transcript of the Weekly Address, should you want to consider what the president had to say more closely. Here’s how Scott Johnson of Powerline describes the address.

 Obama fits both Libya and Iraq into a “larger story.”  In this address he is bringing it all back home, you might say.  To the themes of R2P, collective action, and strategic retreat, Obama adds the clear McGovernite note that America is coming home to turn its attention to the important things involving projects in which we have “invested” too little.  He really couldn’t be much clearer.

Pretty depressing.



All U.S. Troops In Iraq Will Be Home By the End of the Year by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has declared his strategy of removing all American military forces from Iraq by the end of the year a success, and he said “Ensuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities ” since taking office. “Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of the, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home.  The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.  That is how America’s military effort in Iraq will end.”

Funny, last week he was saying that we are still negotiating with the government in Iraq for American troops to stay longer and help Iraqis to train their military. And in February 2009, to an audience of Marines at Camp Lejune, he stated:

This strategy is grounded in a clear and achievable goal shared by the Iraqi people and the American people: an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant. To achieve that goal, we will work to promote an Iraqi government that is just, representative, and accountable, and that provides neither support nor safe-haven to terrorists. We will help Iraq build new ties of trade and commerce with the world. And we will forge a partnership with the people and government of Iraq that contributes to the peace and security of the region.

That clear and achievable goal has not been met.  Iraq is not sovereign, stable or self-reliant. Their difficult next door neighbor, Iran, keeps interfering.  They had a successful parliamentary election in February 2010, with a not so successful outcome.  There were all sorts of political parties, and the government has not been completely formed, there is no agreement on how the state will be run, or just who will run it. Iraq may not be able to protect its territory or its airspace. The government is not just, representative or accountable, and those new ties of trade and commerce with the world—never mind.  But the surge worked.  We won.

President Obama, back when he was just a senator from Illinois said” I have been a consistent and strong opponent of this war.” Of the surge, he said “I cannot in good conscience support his escalation.  It is a policy which has already been tried and a policy which has failed.”  Harry Reid, leader in the Senate, said of the surge when it was underway “This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything.” So, there is some confusion here about attitudes and aims.

Democrats simply could not overcome their seething emotion about the Iraq War. The cries of Bush Lied, People Died, they accepted as gospel truth, though Bush lied about nothing. Every cooperating government’s intelligence services agreed that Iraq had WMD. There was a very large coalition that went into Iraq and fought together. The deposing of Saddam and his brutal government followed by free elections were like an earthquake in the Middle East. To assume that the current protest and revolt in the arab Middle East is unrelated to Iraq is naive in the extreme.  Yet the war in Libya, in which we had no national interest whatsoever, entered on a president’s say so without any approval of Congress is a valiant effort with a successful conclusion that Democrats are celebrating.  Consistency is not one of their strong points.

The administration had a real opportunity in Iraq, and they blew it.  They did not focus on helping Iraq to meet the opportunity. I don’t know if they ever understood the difficult position of Iraq situated between Iran and Syria, both bent on increasing their influence in Iraq and forcing removal of the U.S. military from the Middle East. They got their fondest wish.  Now Obama is concentrated on his reelection effort, and bringing the troops home will appeal to his anti-war base. So much for American goals and objectives. Let us hope that the price is not too high.

Here’s the Foreign Policy take on “How the Obama administration bungled the Iraq withdrawal negotiations.” Christian Whiton’s commentary for Fox News: “Obama Ignores that U.S.Won in Iraq—Twice.” Carl M. Cannon’s essay on: “The Obama Doctrine, Made Plain at Last in Libya, Iraq,” is here. Fredrick M. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan were among the most perceptive commenters on the entire War in Iraq, their piece is “Retreating With Our Heads Held High.”



Americans Have Not Gone Soft, Mr. President. We Are a Resilient People and We Are Exceptional. by The Elephant's Child

The American “Misery Index” rose last month to a 28 year high as Americans struggled with rising inflation and high unemployment.  Not  an official gauge of any kind, but simply the sum of the inflation rate and the unemployment rate.  “The data underscores the extent that Americans continue to suffer even two years after a deep recession ended, with a weak economic recovery imperiling President Barack Obama’s hopes of winning reelection next year,” according to Reuters.

Reuters hauls out the obligatory case history of someone who had to give up their car because of rising costs for gasoline and groceries.

 “The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the US government began recording it five decades ago,” says the Christian Science Monitor. “ The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession — even though the recession ended, technically speaking in mid-2009″.

Sourness is the tenor of the times.  Sea of Despond.  People fear a declining America. We have lost our way. Things will only get worse. We can no longer compete.  America is no longer the leader of the world.  Disaffected young people. China in the ascendency, Relentless economic decline.  Doldrums.”Barack Obama has left the world’s dominant superpower on its knees, with faith in US leadership now being questioned across the globe.”  (This last sentence from Nile Gardiner’s column in the Telegraph yesterday) Standard and Poors lowered the credit rating for the first time in 70 years.  The country hasn’t been so down since the late 70s, when Ezra Vogel claimed that Japan was Number One, and American’s needed to learn from Japan.

Angelo Codevilla, foreign policy analyst, writing in the Claremont Review of Books said:

Although in 2001 many referred to the United States as “the world’s only superpower,” ten years later the near-universal perception of America is that of a nation declining, perhaps irreversibly. This decade convinced a majority of Americans that the future would be worse than the past and that there is nothing to be done about it.

What’s going on here?  People have a tendency to straight line thinking.  If we have too much unemployment today, then there will be no jobs for young people, America doesn’t manufacture anything any more, there will not be good jobs, education costs too much and isn’t worth the price.  Disaffected people. America in decline.

Even our president is out claiming that” we have gone soft.” We are the generation that’s going to stop building. He tells  us that we can no longer compete with China who is building the best schools and the best airports.  The vice president of the United States is out claiming that if we don’t pass the jobs bill, then people are going to be raped and murdered because there won’t be cops and firemen to protect you. That’s just because Republicans oppose his unworkable jobs bill, which he intends to use as proof that it’s the Republicans’ fault. Whew!

Wretched excess. President Obama has slavishly followed the Keynesian idea that what the economy needs is a “jolt” with a big stimulus to create jobs.  $827 billion did not work.  It is an idea that has never worked. Obama does not change his mind. He wants more money for stimulus jr. which he calls The American Jobs Plan. President Obama set the agenda. He got what he wanted, and it didn’t work.

Obama has taken great pride in claiming that his recession was the worst since the Great Depression. That is nonsense. This should have been a short, if severe, recession, but Obama has done exactly the wrong thing in each and every case. There are proven ways to help recover from a downturn.  Obama rejected all. 

America has had bad recessions. The Great Depression was in a class by itself, again made into a double dip recession with slavish following of Keynesian economics and endless experimentation. The Panic of 1893 was very bad. We have had inept presidents before.  There is a business cycle with inevitable downturns. We have a press that does not fulfill its intended role of holding the government’s feet to the proverbial fire.

Americans are a resilient people. We have a special talent for muddling through. We will muddle through this and emerge stronger and better.  In the meantime, read some history. See how well we have done in good times and bad. Stand up for liberty. That’s what makes us exceptional, and a beacon of hope to the world.  



Private Sector Employment is Just Fine, Says Harry Reid. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is winding up his presidential tour on his campaign bus — oops, I have that backward.  He’s out on his taxpayer-financed campaign tour on his new taxpayer-financed  presidential bus. He claims it is not a campaign tour because he is the president and he’s talking to the people about his jobs program. Uh huh.

The Senate could not pass Obama’s American Jobs Act, because Majority Leader Harry Reid could  not get enough Democrat votes to pass it. So the new idea is to divvy it up in little pieces and pass the pieces one by one. The first bit is a $35 billion bailout for state and local governments who have decided that they have more teachers and other public-service sector workers than they need. Well, can’t have state or local governments laying off members of the teachers’ union, or the firemen’s union or the police union.

Debating the bailout, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) argued that :

It’s very clear that private sector jobs have been doing just fine.  It’s the public sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation is all about.

The states are afflicted with requirements to balance their budgets, something that doesn’t trouble the federal government.  Only 4.7 percent of government employees cannot find jobs — half the national unemployment rate.  Government employees have the lowest jobless rate of any industry.

And where do you find the highest income of any metropolitan region in the country? Not silicon Valley, and not the metropolitan areas where the occupy people are hanging out, shrieking about corporate greed, but in the hallowed halls of the federal government.  The median household in Washington D.C. is $84,500 a year, compared to a national average of $50,000.

If President Obama could forego his constant effort to pay back the unions for their support,  long enough to recognize that there are a lot of Americans out of work because of the policies he promotes, the real unemployment rate might come down out of the double digits.

Nevermind. Obama says “The Economy is not where it wants to be. We’ve made all the right decisions.” President Obama does not change his mind. Wealth is to be redistributed, not to the poor — but to government workers.



Jobs Are Created by a Growing Economy, Not Government Spending. by The Elephant's Child

In a brief speech to the Western Republican Conference in Las Vegas, Texas governor Rick Perry announced his upcoming “economic pro-growth package that will create growth and encourage investment in America.  The plan will involve major tax reform, entitlement reform, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and abolishment of earmarks, and a recommitment to energy exploration in the United States.”

Our long term growth requires a fundamental tax reform. Perry said. Therefore, his plan “starts with scrapping the three million words of the current tax code — starting over with something simple: a flat tax.  I want to make the tax code so simple that even Timothy Geithner can file his taxes on time”. 

Much of Perry’s  speech was dedicated to promoting his already released energy plan.  He pointed out the importance of energy independence and exploration in boosting economic growth.  The Environmental Protection Agency has played too large a role in American’s lives, he said.  More localized, state-based solutions to environmental problems would solve the problem of the EPA’s overreach.

“Let’s get Washington out of the way in order to save and preserve the American way.  Let’s do it.  Let’s roll,” he concluded.  



More Words of Wisdom from a Brit: by The Elephant's Child
October 19, 2011, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Liberalism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Daniel Hannan, member of the European Parliament for Southeast England is a marvelous speaker.  His speeches in the United States have left people in awe and wondering how come so many British politicians can speak so much better than out politicians can.  Certainly their “Question Time” in Parliament when the Prime Minister has to answer questions from the members is good training, but I rather imagine that their universities have something to do with it as well. Perhaps we could ship our politicians over for a short course?

It isn’t just speaking well though. As we know by now, a mellow baritone voice is not enough to compensate for an absence of thought.  Here’s something from Mr. Hannan that has stuck in my mind.

I have struggled for years to explain that politicians who cant about fairness don’t mean equal treatment or justice, or, indeed, any practical outcome whatsoever.  What they really mean is that they’re nice people, and they’re prepared to prove how nice they are with your money.

 



“The World Needs a Powerful United States that is a Beacon of Hope to the World” by The Elephant's Child

It can be helpful sometimes to listen to the views of nationals of other countries. Case in point, today’s column in the Telegraph from Nile Gardiner, Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator for the Telegraph.  This is his report to the British people, titled “Barack Obama’s disastrous first 1,000 days.”

Since taking office in January 2009, President Obama has ushered in a period of relentless economic decline for the United States. His administration has added $4.2 trillion to the national debt (now standing at $14.9 trillion), lost 2.2 million jobs, introduced a vastly expensive health-care albatross, and spent nearly $800 billion on a failed stimulus package. At the same time, house prices across the country have tumbled at an unprecedented rate, consumer confidence has plummeted, and millions more Americans are now dependent upon food stamps. International confidence in the US economy has fallen to its lowest levels in decades, with credit agency Standard and Poor’s downgrading of America’s AAA credit rating for the first time in 70 years in August this year. …

The biggest failure of this administration, and there have been many, has been its central belief that government knows best, and that the way to prosperity is to spend ever greater amounts of taxpayers’ money on the backs of hard-working Americans. As a result, the United States is a nation on a precipice, facing towering debts and the threat of a double dip recession at a time when 14 million Americans are already out of work. Ultimately, it is economic freedom, minimal government intervention, and greater individual liberty that can put America back on its feet, rather than endless bailouts, higher taxes and suffocating government regulation, all hallmarks of the Obama experiment. Ultimately, the world needs a powerful United States that is a beacon of hope to the world, rather than a basket case of failed liberal policies.

Do read the whole thing. Mr. Gardiner pulls no punches, but politely.

 



The Words of Obama’s Mouth Don’t Match His Record! by The Elephant's Child

On December 7, 2009, the Office of Information Policy in the Justice Department headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, convened a secret meeting on transparency in government.  The purpose of the meeting was to train Freedom of Information Act officers from federal agencies in how to respond to FOIA requests, including instructions on how to resolve disputes over what government documents can be made public.

Judicial Watch obtained a series of pre-conference emails in which Justice officials sought approval from White House media officials for closing the meeting to reporters.  OIP’s director said in one of the emails that she has “always held parallel meetings, one for agency’ees and then one that is open.”

Obama said on his first day in the Oval Office that he wanted people in the executive branch to respond to FOIA requests “with a clear presumption’ In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton said:

Only in Washington would political appointees think it appropriate to keep secret a government workshop on transparency. 

Getting the records of the Solyndra scandal, finding out what happened and who knew what about the Fast and Furious debacle, has been a struggle.  Obama’s appointees have held back thousands of documents legitimately sought by congressional investigators.

Obama’s secretary of labor, Hilda Solis, has gutted the regulations that required labor unions to release information about the organization’s financial state, including the total compensation packages for union leaders.  The requirement that unions were required to report on positions for which the union is paid but nobody actually does the work are gone as well.  The biggest losers are union members.  Union members by very large majorities believe that union officials and executives should have to disclose their salaries and benefits as a way of making them accountable to their members.

Very big on openness until somebody wants information that you don’t want them to have.



The Pitiful Occupy People’s Wealth Is Getting Redistributed! by The Elephant's Child

                                                                                photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman
The Occupy Wall Street crowd, Zuccotti Park chapter, are indignant!  Their wealth is getting redistributed.  Somebody is stealing their stuff, and they don’t like it one bit!  Their iPods and iPads and iPhones are getting ripped off by thieves in the night. Snort.  I find this endlessly amusing.

Gosh, here they are demanding that “the rich” give them their wealth so they don’t have to pay for their college loans and work at jobs they don’t like, and when their own wealth gets redistributed, they don’t grasp the hypocrisy at all.

They talk idealistically about their feeling of belonging, being part of a community— but don’t recognize that in the vast array of human nature, people aren’t perfect and some are real lemons.  “Community” in the idealistic sense, where  you all agree, is a fantasy and communitarian societies end up executing those who don’t toe the line.  There are lots of examples— the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, Cuba, North Korea and more. Proof?  More than One Hundred Million mass graves.

Well, the revolution is not arriving fast enough. They are not getting enough attention. They’re wondering if they should take on the World Series, streak on the field and demonstrate at the gates. There’s a reason why people find the Occupy “movement” pathetic, rather than inspiring. Life is hard, and we are incredibly fortunate to live in a country where freedom and opportunity are so readily available.

Sorry folks, there is no such thing as social justice. They lied about that too.



Obama Spent More this Year Than Any Year Since 1945! by The Elephant's Child

Washington D.C. has wrapped up its biggest spending year ever for a new record! We’ve really gotten somewhere with all our complaints about spending. This is a record — the government spent an astounding $3.5 trillion according to the Congressional Budget Office.  This beat the $3.52 trillion in 2009 when the Democrats began their ill-informed effort to spend America back to prosperity.

All that whining about the impossibility of cutting back on spending — they were apparently right.  Federal receipts grew a little by 6.5%, which would have been bigger if Obama hadn’t gone for that temporary payroll tax cut, which cut the social insurance revenue by 5.3% but didn’t do anything for the jobless rate. The budget deficit was bigger than any year since 1945, and if I remember correctly there had been some important things to spend on that year, like defeating Hitler and ending the war with Japan.  Take a good look at these numbers.  The budget was nearly balanced in 2007.  Receipts were higher that year than in any year since, with the same tax rates.

Obama has been adamant that there is nothing in the entire government that can actually be cut.  In the past three years he has racked up the largest deficits ever, and he just can’t find anyplace to cut. He’s out campaigning in the Beast — the enormous presidential campaign bus — but he can’t even pay for that out of the campaign, instead claiming that because he is talking about jobs, it is simply presidential duty of talking to the people.  Three trillion six hundred billion dollars and he can’t find anything to cut.

Governments cannot spend their way to a growing economy. You don’t create jobs and then get growth as a bonus. It’s the other way around. You have to create the conditions for growth, and the jobs will happen.  Growth means more jobs, more revenue, more creativity, more risk taking. more new businesses.   I guess spending is exciting for the people who get to do the spending. President Obama has certainly looked like he’s having fun looking at all those solar panels and sitting in the new electric vehicles.



New and Exciting or Just Plain Tiresome? by The Elephant's Child
October 17, 2011, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Education, Politics, Statism | Tags: ,

Here in Seattle, the “Occupy” people were rousted out of their tents and sleeping bags at 7:00 am, removed from Westlake Park, those resisting were arrested, and parks workers moved in to clean up. The assorted Occupy something-or-other protests continue to dominate the news, apparently largely because the mainstream media have been helping the Occupy movement all along.

MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan has warned occupiers that they shouldn’t issue demands: “the focus on simple shared principle  and intent to align with all who agree with that principle is a unique strength” he advised.  The rest of the unbiased media has been helping as well. You will not find mainstream media accounts of incidents of anti-Semitism, verbal abuse of Jews and signs like the ones cited by Investors: “Google the following: Wall St. Jews, Jewish billionaires, Jews & Federal Reserve Bank.”The Press has been attempting to magnify their significance. Of course, demonstrations provide some excitement and something different, but emails advising them what to say, is perhaps a little questionable?

The celebrities who routinely turn up at any demonstration are out in force.  They apparently see the Occupy protests as a counter to the Tea Party protests. But the Tea Party protests had time limits because the participants had to get back to their jobs, so they cleaned up everything and left the venue as tidy as it was before they demonstrated.

The Occupy spokesmen selected to speak seem earnest, sincere and remarkably ill-informed. They emote Marxist propaganda, undoubtedly learned in their universities and bleat about the horrors of Capitalism, without any grasp of what Capitalism is — which is simply Karl Marx’s name for the natural workings of the free market. Communism has been tried in one country after another at a cost of way more than one hundred million of their own citizens, executed in an attempt to make their brave new world work by force.

It is always interesting when a protest starts with some angry young people with cardboard signs and drums, then the anarchists turn up, Michael Moore turns up, and Susan Sarandon, then the communists arrive — especially the old line true-believers, and eventually the Nazis, and the homeless, and it gradually becomes an incoherent mess, well equipped with computers, cell phones, expensive tents, cardboard signs and drugs — and they expect us to accept their ramblings as “significant.”

There are somewhere around 330 million people in this country, each pursuing their individual self interest. There are trillions of financial transactions taking place each day. None of those take place without a willing buyer and a willing seller. We put a government in place to try to keep all that reasonably honest, safe and fair, without infringing on anyone’s liberty. And a bunch of kids who have taken on too much in student loans, and have no jobs, want the economy fixed so the rich people have to give them their money, so things are fair.

Steve Jobs is supposed to have left a 7 billion fortune.  How is that fair? Well, other than helping his company to develop those ipads and iphones and laptops that the protesters are using, and making his company the most successful in the world, why is it not fair? His contributions were large. What are the contributions of the protesters? Each one of them has the same opportunity to get a job, work hard and try to make something of themselves. Why is that not fair?

Zuccotti Park has a media center, and a kitchen center. Last night’s dinner was prepared by a dumpster-diving group.  It is a tourist attraction. I wonder how long it will continue to be fun? Probably just till the weather turns.




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