American Elephants

Coast Guard Officer Killed In Attack By Drug Runners by The Elephant's Child


Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Home III of Redondo Beach, California was killed in the line of duty, when his boat was rammed by a drug smuggler’s panga. Petty Officer Home and three others were in an inflatable boat in pursuit of suspected drug smugglers running dark with no lights on when it was spotted near Santa Cruz Island around 2 a.m. Sunday.

Coast Guard cutter Halibut deployed it’s small boat and the crew chased after the smugglers with its law enforcement lights on.  The suspects suddenly turned and rammed the Coast Guard inflatable head on at a high rate of speed, throwing two members into the water.

cgofficerkilledHome, 34, sustained a traumatic head injury, and was pronounced dead at the Port of Hueneme. The other crew members suffered minor injuries. The suspects, Mexican nationals, have been arrested.  Drugs were recovered on the panga, including large amounts of marijuana.

The U.S.Coast Guard is out there in all sorts of weather saving lives and protecting the rest of us. We sometimes forget that they are facing real dangers on our behalf.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Chief Petty Officer Home. His wife is expecting their second child.  A sad loss.

There’s Plenty of Revenue: The Problem is Spending! by The Elephant's Child

No wonder the White House hates Fox News so much. They ask real questions and don’t accept administration prevarication. Awkward. This administration has an unusual propensity for getting caught telling whoppers, and the media arm of the White House usually tries to cover up.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner appeared on Fox News Sunday yesterday to talk about the rude and uncooperative Republicans who were not agreeing promptly to raise taxes on the rich the way Obama wanted.

The problem is that Chris Wallace is usually very well-informed. He challenged Tim Geithner on the lack of real spending cuts in the proposal he brought to Capitol Hill last week.  Geithner objected, claiming that the White House has trillions of cuts in their proposal — from ending the wars.

Wallace reminded Geithner that no one planned to keep fighting those wars in the first place. Geithner lost his cool and started complaining about Republican gimmicks.  That’s funny. These are the people who double count the same savings, create imaginary ones, anything in order to keep from cutting spending at all. They have no intention of cutting spending. None.

WALLACE: Or they now say because you’re not willing to cut spending enough.

GEITHNER: No, but that’s not true. Again, if they want to do more on the spending side than the $600 billion we proposed on top of the trillion already enacted, in top of the savings from the wars, then they can tell us how they propose –

WALLACE: Savings in the wars that we were never going to fight?

GEITHNER: No, that’s not true. We’re — as you know, we’re winding down two wars.

WALLACE: I understand that.


WALLACE: And you are thinking savings that nobody thought that you were going to spend that money anyway. It’s a budget gimmick, sir.

GEITHNER: No, that’s not right. You know, let me say it this way, those were expensive wars, not just in Americans lives but in terms of the taxpayers’ resources. And when you end them as the president is doing, they reduce our long term deficits and like in the Republican budget proposals, the world should reflect and recognize what that does in savings.

And we propose to use those savings to reduce the deficits and help invest in rebuilding America. We think that makes a lot of sense.

WALLACE: But it was money that wasn’t going to be spent anyway, and –

GEITHNER: If those wars have gone on, they would be spent.

WALLACE: I understand. But you’re not saving — you’re not ending the wars for budget purposes. You’re ending the wars because of a foreign policy decision. The wars weren’t going to be fought. You’re not really saving money.

GEITHNER: Chris, we all agree –

WALLACE: I mean, it’s a budget gimmick, but it’s money never intended to spend.

GEITHNER: No, it’s not a budget gimmick unless you are — when Republicans propose, it’s a budget gimmick?

WALLACE: Sure, absolutely.

GEITHNER: And you should address that to them. But what it does is –

WALLACE: Well — so, I’m addressing it to you.

Watch for the attempt to use the $716 billion that Obama already took out of Medicare payments to providers, and the funds saved by not invading Canada. That should be a lot. Geithner has already insisted that there will not be a fiscal-cliff deal unless Republicans agree to hike taxes on the Rich. How embarrassing to have to try to sell this phony stuff. Geithner knows better.

The rich already pay far more than their “fair share.” The top 10% of taxpayers pay 70.5% of all taxes.The bottom 90% of taxpayers (the rest) pay 29.5% of all taxes. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay just 2.3% of all taxes. So who’s not paying their “fair share?” American income taxes are among the most progressive in the world.

The problem is not a lack of revenue. It is the spending habits of this particular president. He is way out of his depth, and it becomes more obvious every day. Better go back to the drawing board, Mr. Secretary.

Maybe if the House could revoke that $4 million the president is going to spend on his vacation, it would get his attention.

Playing Politics While The People Suffer. by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal this weekend featured an interview with Harvey Mansfield, the great teacher of government and longtime member of the Harvard faculty. He offered this comment:

But if we get serious about what it means to vote, we immediately go to the notion of an informed voter. And if you get serious about that, you go all the way to voting as a wise choice. That would be a true voter. The others are all lesser voters, or even not voting at all. They’re just indicating a belief, or a whim, but not making a wise choice. That’s probably because they’re not wise.”

[T]he electorate that granted Barack Obama a second term was unwise—the president achieved “a sneaky victory.” The Democrats said nothing about their plans for the future. All they did was attack the other side. Obama’s campaign consisted entirely of saying ‘I’m on your side’ to the American people, to those in the middle. No matter what comes next, this silence about the future is ominous.

The president’s dishonest approach to bargaining, is to go out campaigning for a proposal that is not new. It is the budget he presented to Congress this last year that was rejected by 100% of the House and 100% of the Senate. When the president’s chosen negotiator, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the president’s offer, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the Minority Leader burst into laughter.

Mr. Obama and Harry Reid are trying to wreck the Republican Party politically by destroying its credibility as an enemy of high taxation. They are trying to get Republican fingerprints on the tax hikes they need to transform America into a European welfare state that will eventually require a value-added tax and/or a massive energy tax paid for by the middle class.

Even the New York Times is noting that Obama “has barely discussed how he would pare back federal spending, focusing instead on the aspect of his plan that plays to his liberal base.” The Los Angeles Times said that Obama “hasn’t said anything publicly about his targets for entitlement savings or cuts in discretionary spending. Instead, he’s tacitly stuck with the proposals in his fiscal 2013 budget, which Congress has already rejected.”

That is because Mr. Obama has no intention of cutting back entitlements, except perhaps cutting back on Medicare benefits or paying Medicare providers less.

A little known fact is that revenues are just about where they were before the financial crisis hit. Revenues are as high as they are because of the Bush tax cuts. When you raise taxes, particularly on high earners, you are apt to get less revenue, because the rich have choices. They can hire the best tax advisers, they can put funds into tax-free bonds, they can move money abroad, or just choose to receive less income.

The roughly 990,000 small businesses whose owners report their business taxes as individuals with incomes over $250,000 are increasingly pessimistic about the future. Uncertainty is even worse for them than for the rest of us, for they must make careful plans for the future. They know their taxes are going up, their energy costs will go up and thus transportation and the cost of goods will increase. They expect regulations to increase, and they expect to have to lay off employees and struggle to stay in business. So the president is out campaigning for raising taxes on the rich.

According to the exit polls, the public thought that Mitt Romney would do better with the financial problems the country faces, with the budget, and with the deficit; but they thought Mr. Obama cared for them. That’s where they got it wrong.

Obama’s tax hikes would reduce the rise in federal debt over the next 10 years by 15%. The president is silent about the other 85% of the debt. The real issue is federal spending. To describe the bottom line:

When this year’s kindergarteners enter college, just 13 years away, spending on Social Security and Medicare plus Medicaid and interest on the debt will devour all tax revenue. There would be no money to pay for anything else.

It’s not just being bad at math, it is a cynical not giving a damn about the American people. One in seven American people now live in poverty. We have massive unemployment out there, and small businessmen, the usual engine of growing employment, are absolutely pessimistic about their prospects. They don’t expect to hire, and may have to lay off people. U.S. manufacturing contracted in November, falling to its lowest in over three years. New orders have fallen, and prices paid were down.

As Edward Klein reported in The Amateur, “Shortly after Obama entered the White House, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warned him, “Your legacy is going to be preventing the second Great Depression.”

To which Obama boasted, “That’s not enough for me.”


The Strange Beauty of Planned Cities Seen From Space by The Elephant's Child


Wired features a fascinating series of pictures of planned cities seen from space. A planned city is laid out all at once and built from scratch. They are designed with a definite purpose, to formalize a capitol city, to maximize green space, or just to organize people into their proper places. Some were designed as a compromise between two cities vying to be their country’s capitol. Some are built to keep workers near a nuclear plant or a copper mine in the middle of nowhere. Some are designed to be a kind of Utopia—with public gardens, promenades, throughways and harmony— to improve on what city design has been before or what other cities have grown to become.

City planning is not just contemporary, planned cities can be found throughout history. The pictures from space are beautiful, and somehow haunting. Imagine the architects or planners seeing their original plans and drawings newly visualized in reality—what was once only a dream.  See all ten here.

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