American Elephants

The Alternate Universe of Barack Obama by The Elephant's Child


Daniel Henninger, who writes for the Wall Street Journal, has frequent flashes of genius tinged with marvelous humor. His column today is an example. The sense is growing in Washington, he says,  and this includes Democrats, of living in an alternative universe.

The sequester looms, and the president flies around the country at $180,000 an hour, giving speeches, rather than talking to Congress. He hasn’t really had any contact with the legislative branch, but after the sequester happens, then he will meet with them.

If Washington is looking like an alternative universe, that’s because the president is creating an alternative universe—the Obamaian Universe (pronounced Oh-buh-mayan, as in the recent famous calendar).

This is a pre-Copernican world. Copernicus’ heliocentric system  overthrew what was known then as geo-centrism— the belief that the universe revolves around the earth. Beautiful maps exist depicting geocentrism, and this lovely construction. At the center of the Obamaian universe exists an ever-growing government, and the rest of the country is there to feed ever more revenue to the central government. The function of the central government is to spend, forever, to encourage the flow of revenue, which will merrily multiply.

In the Obamaian universe, the life force is a fairly weird contraption known as the Keynesian Multiplier. As explained by its adherents, for every $1 of public spending, the whole economy will rise by $1.50 or even $2.

As life forces go, the Keynesian Multiplier would be really remarkable. Alas, Copernican economists such as Robert Barro have been asking repeatedly the past four years for the evidence that all this spending in Mr. Obama’s public universe has been expanding the economy at this rate. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office just said that in 2013, which will be the fifth year of Obama budgets that spend about $3.5 trillion annually, the economy is only going to grow 1.4%.

For that, Mr. Obama has an answer: more spending, which would be made possible by ratcheting up the volume of revenue flowing into the spending machine via whatever cats-and-dogs tax increase he can get through Congress.

Maybe the Keynesian Multiplier, like green ooze, just doesn’t work.

It doesn’t matter, Mr. Henninger says. The president’ pre-Copernican political economy is based in religious belief. He doesn’t want to cut spending. He wants more of it. Forever.

If it’s not behind the subscription barrier, read the whole thing.

Nanotechnology Delivers Potent Anti-Cancer Agent to the Target. by The Elephant's Child

So how about a little good news? One of the most promising near-term applications of nanotechnology is in targeted drug delivery to treat cancer. Challenges remain, which involve the stability of the nanoparticles in the circulatory system, getting them into the cancer cells, releasing the cargo to kill the cancer cells, and the fact that cancer cells often have defenses against anti-cancer drugs.

A team of researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and

Applied Science has developed a degradable nanoscale shell to carry proteins to cancer cells and stunt the growth of tumors without damaging healthy cells.

In a new study, a group led by Yi Tang, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA,  report developing tiny shells composed of a water-soluble polymer that can safely deliver a protein complex to the nucleus of cancer cells to induce their death. The shells, which at about 100 nanometers are roughly half the size of the smallest bacterium, degrade harmlessly in non cancerous cells.

This is potentially a new way to treat cancer that does not present the risk to healthy cells caused by chemotherapy, which does not effectively discriminate between healthy cells and cancerous cells.

It’s all very complicated, and not ready for manufacturing, but it’s nice to know about the exciting developments going on in the laboratories of America.

The Media Misses the Point; The White House Looks Bad. by The Elephant's Child

Everything today is about sequestration, in one way or another. The White House is seriously angry with journalists who are nor falling properly in line. Bob Woodward has tangled with the White House before, rather famously, and is not cowed. But in all the talk, only Walter Russell Mead has noticed what Bob Woodward was actually saying.

The MSM didn’t miss a beat jumping into the he said/she said story of an alleged retaliatory threat from the White House. But once again, the media is completely missing the real Bob Woodward story: In an appearance on MSNBC yesterday, he delivered a reproof of the President’s decision not to deploy an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. The Navy’s policy has been to have two carriers in the Med, as security for each other.
The sequester talks about cutting back on funding, but does not specify how or where the specific cuts are to come.  If the President asked Congress for emergency funds to maintain America’s fleet in the Gulf, he would get them.

Reports that the United States cannot afford it, suggest that Obama is not serious about military action, nor that Obama has the will to stop Iran. If he was serious about the threat of Iran’s nuclear adventures, he wouldn’t be posturing about keeping carriers tied up in port.  Woodward said:

“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’” Woodward said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need’ or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did when Clinton was president because of some budget document?” Woodward added. “Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement. ‘I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country.’ That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

But that all got lost in the he said/she said of presidential spokesmen threatening the famed journalist, and it turned out that other journalists who had neglected to praise the president’s position on the sequester got angry phone calls as well.

Messages for the Department of Peace! by The Elephant's Child

The Government of the United States of America Has Slipped its Moorings. by The Elephant's Child

Flags At Half Staff In Washington After Tucson Shooting

— Well here we Go! “Democrats Propose Department of Peacebuilding.” Why didn’t anyone think of this before.? The DOP would be an executive-level department “dedicated to peacebuilding, peacemaking and the study and promotion of conditions conducive to both domestic and international peace and a culture of peace.

Representative Lee explained the rationale for her bill in a press release last week: “We invest hundreds of billion each year in the Pentagon, in war colleges, military academies, and our national defense universities all to develop war tactics and strategies. Now we need that kind of investment in peace and nonviolence here at home.”

The Department of Peace would have its own Peace Academy modeled on the military academies, which would provide a four-year education in peace. The DOP would also be responsible for everything from ending bullying in schools to declaring “peace days” in America to “encourage citizens to observe and celebrate the blessings of peace.” DOPE!

—President Obama has repeatedly identified nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism as key dangers to the United States and its allies. His big idea, the center of his response, is declaring America’s commitment to eliminate its own nuclear weapons on the way to “nuclear zero.” This probably featured in his selection of Chuck Hagel, who also favors nuclear zero. In the meantime, the president has neglected to modernize the weapons that most consider essential to American security.

Reducing the American arsenal would be more apt to cause instability. Many  other nations depend on America’s nuclear security assurances. An American political leadership that prizes posturing over disarmament over the hard work of counter proliferation would encourage others to develop their own nuclear arsenal, and we’re off to the races.

—Ahhh. Our new Secretary of State, to no one’s surprise, has already declared that we are “not just” Americans, but “citizens of the world.” What did you expect? It’s John Kerry, in London.  And globalism comes before “protecting the country from catastrophic attack”. says our top general, General Martin Dempsey, who informed Coast Guard cadets that there are now four “national interests” guiding the military. And in that ranking “our contribution to the stability of the global economic system” comes before our armed forces’ duty “to protect the country from a catastrophic attack.”

Ooops! Chicago Politics Intrudes at the White House. by The Elephant's Child

Bob Woodward said this evening on CNN that a “very senior person” at the White House warned him in an email that he would “regret doing this” the same day he continued to criticize President Barack Obama over the looming sequester cuts.

“It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters,’You’re going to regret doing something that you believe in.'” Woodward said.

“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?'” Woodward said on MSNBC.

“Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need?'” Or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ … because of some budget document?”

Last weekend, Woodward called out Obama for what he said was “moving the goal posts” on the sequester by requesting that revenue be part of a deal to avert it.

Presidents have often had quarrels with the press, but calling a reporter and threatening him is not a good idea.  Not new though. When a critic panned a concert by his daughter Margaret, Harry Truman called the critic and let loose a little profanity.


Janet Napolitano on The Devastation of Sequestration by The Elephant's Child

Run for your lives. Or not. Obama has certainly put the word out that all parties are to go forth and scare the public, but unfortunately most of the public has never heard of sequestration. Come On. If you see an article about “sequestration,” do you listen attentively, or change the channel? Read the article or skip it and move on to something more interesting? Obama has pulled out all the stops, and painted himself into a corner.

It’s called “the Washington Monument Strategy”— turf-protecting government bureaucrats go out of their way to make spending cuts as painful as possible. The object is to convince the public that every penny the government spends is essential. If you use budget cuts as an excuse to shut down the Washington Monument, then every tourist will be reminded of how terrible it is to cut spending.

Presidential advisers said the cuts would mean 350 teachers and teacher aides could lose their jobs in Ohio, 4,200 children in Georgia wouldn’t receive vaccines and 400 victims of domestic violence in Kentucky might not receive services. Uh huh.

Even the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward said the President’s decision not to deploy an aircraft carrier because of budget cuts is a “kind of madness.” Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement”I can’t do what I need to do the protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

The Pentagon announced earlier this month the USS Harry Truman which was supposed to leave for the Persian Gulf “will remain stateside due to budget concerns.”

Even under sequestration, the TSA (inflation adjusted) budget is projected to be more than $500 million (11 percent) higher than it was in 2008. The FAA’s (inflation adjusted) budget for operations, facilities, and equipment would still, under sequestration be about $500 million higher than it was in 2008.

A September 2012 report from the House Committee on Homeland Security took TSA to task for its “counterintuitive hiring practices during an economic downturn” which has resulted in a “net decrease in the number of people traveling each year in the U.S.  Ms. Napolitano has a lot to answer for.

According to polls though, the president’s “fair and balanced” rhetoric is playing  well with the public, who assume we should have an equal amount of tax increases on “the rich.” And as for that lie:


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