American Elephants

A Notable First! Hillary Takes Responsibility for Benghazi by The Elephant's Child

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “I take responsibility” for the protection of U.S. diplomats., today in Lima, Peru. She said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened in the attack that left four Americans dead.

Clinton said President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions. “I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha” she added, noting that it is close to the election.

This is what you might call “symbolic responsibility” as head of the Department that is at fault. The public usually respects showy professions of “the buck stops here” statements, something the president has never mastered. “This lets the president accept symbolic responsibility, while continuing to shunt actual responsibility onto State,” said Allahpundit.

In anticipation of unpleasant questions in tomorrow’s debate about foreign policy in general and Libya in particular, Obama wants you to know that he is prepared, if necessary, to make another “gutsy call.”

 The White House has put special operations strike forces on standby and moved drones into the skies above Africa, ready to strike militant targets from Libya to Mali — if investigators can find the Al Qaeda-linked group responsible for the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya.

But officials say the administration, with weeks until the presidential election, is weighing whether the short-term payoff of exacting retribution on Al Qaeda is worth the risk that such strikes could elevate the group’s profile in the region, alienate governments the U.S. needs to fight it in the future and do little to slow the growing terror threat in North Africa.

All these details were made by officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, and were not authorized to discuss the high-level debates publicly. Uh huh. I can recognize a planned leak, and I imagine you can too. The White House declined to comment.

I wish some of the concern was for ambassador Chris Stevens, and Sean Smith, and the two former SEALS, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and their families. But this is an administration that sends form letters to the families of fallen heroes.

Fiscal Disclipine by The Elephant's Child

The Office of the President of the United States of America. by The Elephant's Child

The office of the President of the United States has a long and complex history.  Over the past 220 years, it has been occupied by just 44 different men.  George Washington was the first and undoubtedly will remain the last to be elected unanimously.  He came to the office reluctantly.

He had been Commander-in-Chief long before he was elected President.  He was elected to that position by the Continental Congress in 1775 when he was forty-three years old.  There was not yet an army for him to command, only the militias surrounding Boston. And when he said he farewell to his troops in 1783, he was fifty-one. He had only a few years as a civilian before his country called upon him again.  His prudence and restraint set the country on a firm basis, and in his farewell address he said:

In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that, if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

The office of the presidency, with its obligations of duty and commitment, takes a toll on the men who temporarily occupy the position.  They owe a debt to those who have held the office before them, and to the history left to them by previous occupants. Treaties and alliances have been laboriously created, relations with other countries, whether in trade or good will, carefully nurtured.  A knowledge and awareness of that history is essential.

Thomas Jefferson said:

Most bad government has grown out of too much government.  [and]
Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have…The course of history shows that as government grows, liberty decreases.

President James Polk remarked:

No President who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure.

President Harry Truman:

I have tried my best to give the nation everything I had in me.  There are probably a million people who could have done the job better than I did, but I had the job, and I always quote an epitaph on a tombstone in a cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona.  “here lies Jack Williams, He done his damnest.”

Dwight Eisenhower said:

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations.  To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people.  Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict on us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Conservatives, independents, pundits and even many Democrats are trying to understand President Barack Obama.  There are so many questions.

He is clearly not the centrist that he portrayed during the campaign.  Is he a radical leftist? He has described himself as a communitarian, for whatever that is worth.

Barack Obama has never, we have been told, had much interest in history.  A knowledge of and respect for history are essential to the presidency. Without that you repeat the mistakes and failures of those who have gone before.  Depression, inflation, stagflation, debt, unpreparedness or trust in the wrong adversaries.  The demands of the office require humility, not hubris.

Nations have interests. Relations with other nations are not popularity contests.  Years of  carefully nurtured relationships based on fair dealing and fair trade are being discarded in the hope of deals with long-term antagonists who wish our destruction. Speeches, however charmingly delivered and meetings are unlikely to sway them from their purposes.

When a new president temporarily takes on the most important office in the world, he becomes the president of all Americans, not just the unions who supported his campaign.  He must suffer criticism and mockery in the understanding that it is the right of the American people and his role to bear it.

He takes on an obligation to preserve, protect and defend the nation.  The savings that represent the life’s work of its citizens cannot be spent wildly in some misguided attempt to achieve progressive goals that have been proven over and over not to work.  The American people, 38 percent, want the budget deficit cut in half in the next four years.  Only 23 percent think health care reform should be a top priority.

I just don’t think that Barack Obama understands the office of the presidency. Oh, he gets the prestige, and he clearly likes the perks and trappings, some of which he adopted before he was elected.  He keeps reminding us that “I won!” Yet he seems not to have understood the obligation, the duty, the sacrifice of the office and the weight of the burden that a president must bear. He and Michelle keep complaining about how hard he has to work.

There’s a lot more to it than being surrounded by admirers and sycophants attending to every need, than having AirForce One at one’s beck and call. I just don’t think he gets it.

(Reposted from 2009. Seemed appropriate in view of the debate tomorrow night)

We Are Not In The Midst of a Huge Recovery! by The Elephant's Child

Since Barack Obama became president, ten times as many people have been added to the numbers of folks who are no longer in the labor force, who have given up hope, quit looking. Michelle Obama said today that we are “in the midst of a huge recovery.” But people are leaving the labor force faster than they are entering it. This stark chart from the Senate Budget Committee highlights what is really going on in this dreadful economy. Those who have dropped out of the labor force, are no longer counted as unemployed, even though they might still want a job and are available for work.

(click to enlarge)

Some “huge recovery.” Mrs. Obama claims we are adding jobs every month, but as the chart above shows, for every person added to the labor force, ten drop out. That is not progress.

And the president keeps making it harder for businesses to keep going. Markwayne Mullin, who is running for Congress in eastern Oklahoma, explained the impact of federal regulation on his family plumbing business, Right now, he spends more than 40 cents of every dollar his company takes in on complying with regulations. Not taxes, just what he spends on regulation. That is shocking.

The Small Business Administration recently revealed that federal regulations cost America’s small businesses $1.7 trillion each year. And that’s before most of ObamaCare takes effect. Altogether, Mullin says, there are 4,000 new regulations in the pipeline. And people wonder why some companies ship jobs overseas. Over and over we are blithely told by the EPA and other agencies that they don’t have to account for the effect of their regulations on employment. The House has passed several common-sense bills to address excessive regulations that impose unnecessary costs and increase unemployment, but they die in the Democrat-run Senate.

We will not have a recovery until we have someone in charge who understands what is holding back businesses ability to hire.

Excuse Me, But The Auto Bailout Was a Failure. by The Elephant's Child

Vice President Joe Biden’s favorite line on the campaign trail is:”Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” Good soundbite, bad analysis. Bin Laden is dead, but al Qaeda is alive, active, and recruiting. Some economists have warned that GM may soon be facing bankruptcy again.

Economist Dan Mitchell emphasizes that “any company can be kept afloat indefinitely with taxpayer subsidies.” GM is spending scads of money on the Chevy Volt because of pressure from Washington, not because of consumer demand. And the CEO is advocating higher gas taxes in order to make the poor unwanted Volt more attractive to consumers.

Obama seems to believe that bankruptcy is a bad thing. But our bankruptcy courts and bankruptcy laws are designed to save companies by helping them to reorganize. One of the biggest reasons for GM’s failure in the first place was the burden of their overgenerous union contracts and overgenerous pensions.

The video doesn’t really get into the costs to bondholders who legally are supposed to have first call on company funds in a bankruptcy. Nor does it deal with the auto dealers — private businesses whose only connection to GM is that they buy their stock of cars from GM, who were just shut down by the government, and who each had up to 100 employees. Talk about a heavy boot descending on a business. Boom, you’re out of business, your businesses are worthless, your people are unemployed. Welcome to Obamaworld, where everything is always politics.

ADDENDUM: The auto bailout may have been a failure in the eyes of taxpayers. For Obama, it was a big win. Time for gangster government to call in the markers. The United Auto Workers donated $1 million  to President Obama’s super PAC and another million to super PACs that support Congressional Democrats in September, with totals for October yet to be announced. Whatever union members happen to think, that’s where their dues are going.

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