American Elephants

Worse Than Carelessness. Needless, Heartbreaking and Just Wrong by The Elephant's Child

U.S. and NATO troops have fallen to attacks by Afghan insiders— trainees or  Afghan police — in increasing numbers.   The troop deaths from so-called green-on-blue attacks have climbed past 100, and it is only now becoming clear why it is happening. There has been a standing order from military brass requiring troops to remove the magazines from their weapons while quartered inside their bases with their “trusted Afghan partners.”

Jihadist Afghan soldiers or police have easily gotten the jump on their trainers, shooting them in cold blood with the rifles and ammunition issued by the United States. Ten of our troops have died in just this way in the past two weeks.  Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 32 attacks that have resulted in 40 deaths.  Last year there were 21 insider attacks.

Earlier this month, an Afghan security commander ambushed U.S. troops. The officer, who was helping U.S. special forces train the local police force, lured elite U.S. soldiers to a Ramadan meal at his outpost to talk security. He then opened fire on them at close range, killing three and wounding one.

The Taliban took credit for the attack. The terror group released a video indicating it has heavily infiltrated the Afghan national army and police force.

“I opened fire on three Americans who were sitting together,” a rogue Afghan soldier, identified as Ghazi Mahmood, says while smiling for the camera. “The reason I killed them is because they have occupied our country. They are enemies of our religion.” He said that there are many other uniformed Afghans “looking for the opportunity to kill infidels.”

This was conceived as a “gesture of trust” toward Muslim partners.  Commanders ordered U.S. soldiers to remover their magazines from their weapons while training and working alongside them. The Afghans were allowed to remain armed. Most troops generally removed their heavy Kevlar body armor once they got inside the base, making them even more vulnerable to “friendly fire.”

Investors says:

Disarming the Afghans would have been the obvious solution. But of course that would expose this whole “training partnership” as the farce it really is. Training and standing up a national security force in Afghanistan is the linchpin of President Obama’s withdrawal strategy. He has set a 2014 deadline for troop pullout.

But the Pentagon is already reducing troop presence by 30,000 by the end of the summer. Many of the remaining soldiers will switch from fighting to training and advising Afghan forces. This means even more of them will be exposed to insider attacks.

But we’re not just training Afghans to replace soldiers. We’re hiring them to protect our soldiers right now, and many of them have also turned on our soldiers. Obama has insisted on using Afghan security guards for base security as a way to limit the size of the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan.  Hiring local Afghans to protect troops obviates the need to deploy some 20,000 additional troops as MPs, or to move existing troops out of combat roles.

Obama’s rush to withdraw has needlessly cost at least 100 soldiers’ lives and wounded countless others.

The Important Campaign Issues: Illustrated. by The Elephant's Child

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The Marvelous Michael Ramirez strikes again. Always right on.  See all of Mr. Ramirez’ work at Investors.

This is Why Obama Isn’t Doing Press Conferences. by The Elephant's Child

The White House press corps has become increasingly restless as the president has been unavailable for questions for more than two months. Apparently the president noticed, and today he popped in to the regular press briefing to take a few questions.

The president insisted that “Nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon.” Other than deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, who suggested just that back in July when the campaign insisted that his signature on a SEC document proved that he was still in charge at Bain Capital when he claimed  to have been working on the Olympics. In other words, I’ll just get the accusation out there once more while saying it’s not my fault, but I won’t denounce it.

President Obama maintained that “I don’t think Governor Romney is somehow responsible for the death of the woman that was portrayed in that ad— where Joe Soptic claimed that Romney was somehow responsible for his wife’s death from cancer six years after Romney had left Bain Capital.  But keep in mind, this is an ad that I didn’t approve, I did not produce, as far as I can tell, has barely run.  I think it ran once.” Oh yes, it’s that super PAC that my campaign has nothing to do with at all, except you have Stephanie Cutter on tape thanking Joe Soptic for sharing.

Then the questions turned to welfare reform. Obama said that Romney’s ad was a lie, it was just that five governors had asked for some flexibility in how they manage their welfare rolls as long as it produces 2o% increases in the number of people who are getting work.” So they did their usual trick of redefining words: they will let  oh, babysitting or going to meetings count for work if the state promises to reduce the welfare rolls by 20%.

Obviously, it’s been so long since he was confronted with real questions that he had trouble answering them. In a debate, it wouldn’t be pretty.

The President’s Still Pushing Expensive and Inefficent Wind Energy. by The Elephant's Child

Last week, the President dropped by a farm in Haverhill, Iowa, because they have 52 newly installed  wind turbines, to tout wind energy subsidies as the way to economic recovery with jobs and energy. Even though other countries are fleeing wind energy in droves, or trying to figure out how to, Mr Obama does not change his mind. What he believed 4 years ago, he believes today.  And he believes in wind.  Cost-benefit analysis isn’t in it.

Math isn’t his strong point.  Obama goes on at great length about the undeserved subsidies for oil and gas, but look at the differences. The president constantly complains about the undeserved subsidy that goes to the production of oil and gas, but they are dwarfed by the subsidy for wind and solar.

Between 2007 and 2010 total energy subsides rose 108% but solar subsidies increased six-fold and wind’s were up 10-fold.

The Energy Department did not compare taxpayer handouts compared to their share of total energy production. They said that many facilities are still under construction.  In other words they didn’t want you to compare.

The folks at the Institute for Energy Research calculated the subsides per megawatt hour. Natural gas, oil and coal received 64¢ , hydropower 82¢,  nuclear $3.14, wind $56.29, and solar a whopping $775.64 per megawatt hour. In 2010, wind and solar combined produced a rousing 2.9% of energy generation.  “Renewables” thus contributed 10.3% of electricity generation— but 6.2 of that is hydropower, and may I remind you that the Greens are anxious to tear down all the dams— with some blather about letting the rivers run free.  As the Wall Street Journal suggests, why not eliminate all federal energy subsidies? This would get the federal government out of the business of picking winners and losers, not one of the skills of government.

In Britain, Professor Gordon Hughes, University of Edinburgh, teaches courses on the Economics of Natural Resources and Public Economics. He concludes that wind power would increase household electricity bills by 40-60% by 2020,  to meet the government’s target for renewable generation. To meet that scenario, the investment would amount to about £124 billion. The same electricity demand from combined cycle gas plants would cost  around £13 billion.

Wind energy is often misunderstood. We have invented new kinds of turbines, though there have been many kinds of windmills through the centuries.  It is a very old technology, from the picturesque windmills of the Greek islands down to the windmills that stood on many farms  in the Midwest, usually to pump water. The most famous were the beautiful windmills that were long a symbol of Holland.

Henk Tennekes, the Netherlands’ famous engineer and research director of the Dutch National Weather Service explained the problems of wind power.  Wind mills, or turbines, have changed a lot over they years, but wind itself hasn’t changed at all. It is intermittent, often way intermittent. It may not blow for days. This graph from the Bonneville Power Administration shows the power generated by wind from August 15 to August 19 (the green line at the bottom).  It just didn’t blow at all. Which is why wind needs 24/7 backup from a conventional power plant, and if you have to have a regular power plant running all the time— what is the point of the wind farm?

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