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:


A Demagogue Spreading Fear and Terror by The Elephant's Child


The President is out on the campaign trail, trying desperately to spread fear and terror in hopes that the people will rise up and keep the Congress of the United States of America from allowing an automatic cut to programs that have increased more than 17% on average over the Obama Presidency — automatic cuts proposed and signed into law by President Obama himself.

According to the president and his budget office, the sequester cuts are indiscriminate, and spell out specific percentages that will be subtracted from federal projects, programs and activities. The White House claims it must now cut across the board regardless of how important the program is. Today he was in Newport News, Virginia to tell the people at Newport News Shipbuilding that  their jobs are in jeopardy “because Congress might allow a series of immediate, painful, arbitrary budget cuts to take place—known in Washington as the sequester. Now that’s a pretty bad name — sequester. … Instead of cutting out the government spending we don’t need — wasteful programs that don’t work, special interest tax loopholes and tax breaks — what the sequester does is it uses a meat cleaver approach to gut critical investments in things like education and national security and lifesaving medical research.”

This is such a monstrous, disgusting, pile of hooey. These are cuts in budget authority, cuts in the increased amount that Congress has authorized an agency to spend under specific programs. It allows an agency the legal authority to make contracts, plan spending, much of which may come in subsequent years. Budget outlays are monies the government will spend during the fiscal year. The sequester will force the government to trim around $40 billion in outlays over the next seven months between Friday and the 30th of September.

Mike Flynn draws an excellent analogy: “You have a credit card with a $10,000 limit. You currently have a $5,000 balance of the card. On Friday the credit card company cancels your card and demands immediate payment. You adjust your budget to pay off the $5,000 balance. To the media, however, the credit card company has just cut your budget by $10,000 since that was the amount you had been authorized to spend.”

There is so much absolute. stupid, abysmal waste in government that taxpayers should get out their pitchforks and storm Congress. As far back as I can remember, presidents have been appointing commissions to identify waste and corruption in government. Commissions and committees and even individual congressmen carefully identify wasteful programs, programs that don’t accomplish what was intended, misguided policies, and things that just plain don’t work. They are inevitable in a large bureaucracy, and the larger the bureaucracy, the more wasteful programs are. Always more commissions, promises tocut the waste, and it never happens.

Obama could have found hundreds of useless programs to cut, without harm to his earnest desires to spend more money. He has the legal power now to avoid spending-cut damage. He knows that, and we know that. This is posturing. He’s doing the same thing that cheesy County Commissioners do when their budget is threatened— parks will be closed, bathrooms locked, library hours slashed.  Obama has Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano out today claiming that with the threat of these disastrous budget cuts she could no longer protect the American people.

Even after the sequester, the federal government will spend $15 billion more than it did last year, and 30% more than it spent in 2007. Instead of protecting civilian defense workers, the president will continue to force the Pentagon to buy biofuels at $27 per gallon to promote his useless green agenda. The president has identified $2.7 billion of fraud and mismanagement in the food-stamp program.  Instead of protecting Medicare from a 2% cut, the president will ignore the $62 billion in annual waste that his administration has found in Medicare and Medicaid.

Are We Sheep? Needing to Be Told What to Do? by The Elephant's Child

Flock of sheep, New Zealand, Pacific

Professor Cass Sunstein of Harvard  cites research showing “that people make a lot of mistakes, and that those mistakes can prove extremely damaging.” He needed research to figure that out? Most of us have made mistakes, often big mistakes. Where Professor Sunstein goes awry is the assumption that there is some superior class of people who can override our bad decisions and fix everything for us.  This is the basic theory and agenda of the left.

They, educated at our most prestigious universities, clearly know better than we do what is right and good. As ordinary fallible human beings, we need be told how to manage by our betters. All of the troubles of the world perhaps descend from the unwarranted hubris of people who simply do not understand the human condition and accept the fallible nature of humanity.

Fredrich Hayek, the Austrian-American economist and Nobel Laureate devoted much of his brilliant career to describing how rationalism could never work. How can anything good happen, Hayek asked, if individuals cannot think and act for themselves. Rules preclude initiative. Regimentation precludes evolution. Letting accidents happen, mistakes be made, results in new ideas. Trial and error is the key to all progress. The Soviet system of rules and central planning is doomed to failure, Hayek stated fifty years ago, because it kills the human faculty that makes things work.

Justice Lewis Brandeis (Supreme Court: 1916 to 1939) said “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent…The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.

Thomas Sowell reminds us today of the hubris of big government:

Government policies in the 1930s led to crops being plowed under, thousands of little pigs being slaughtered and buried, and milk being poured down sewers at a time when many Americans were suffering from hunger and diseases caused by malnutrition.

The Great Depression of the 1930s, in which millions of people were plunged into poverty in even the most prosperous nations, was needlessly prolonged by government policies now recognized in retrospect as foolish and irresponsible.

One of the key differences between mistakes that we make in our own lives and mistakes made by governments is that bad consequences force us to correct our own mistakes. But government officials cannot admit to making a mistake without jeopardizing their whole careers.

He adds: “Too many of today’s intellectual elite see themselves as our shepherds and us as their sheep. Tragically, too many of us are apparently willing to be sheep, in exchange for being taken care of, being relieved of the burdens of adult responsibility and being supplied with “free” stuff paid for by others.


A Quotation for Today: by The Elephant's Child
February 26, 2013, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

“Finally, Americans must answer the Islamic world bluntly, and with pride rather than reticence, about why we support and always will protect the Israelis. Our sympathy is not attributable to some mythical Jewish lobby, a CIA plot to put down Islam, or a worldwide conspiracy of Zionists, It is simply because they are the Middle-Eastern state most like ourselves in their commitment to a free society-based on the rule of law and the consent of the governed. Our special relationship with Israel is open equally to an Islamic country that accepts the idea of democracy and the essence of freedom. We must, as a nation, cease the apologetic tone we have developed with the Arab world, and make it clear that their ministers who hector us are not legitimate without elections, their spokesmen are not journalists without a free press, and their intellectuals are not credible without liberty. The right to admonish Americans on questions of morality is not an entitlement, but something earned only through a shared commitment to constitutional government.”
……………………………………….Victor Davis Hanson: “War on all Fronts”

Are We Becoming Europe? by The Elephant's Child

Why anyone would want to imitate the catastrophe into which Europe has been descending is beyond me.  Food for thought.

An Unfortunate Day for the Country. by The Elephant's Child


Chuck Hagel has been confirmed as Secretary of Defense. In a Democrat-controlled Senate, it was always dubious that Republicans would be able to prevent it. There seems to be a sense in the Senate that a president is entitled to have his choices approved, at least when it is a Democrat president. If it is a Republican president’s nominees, all bets are off. I don’t get that.

Mr. Hagel is clearly not qualified for the office. The only thing his proponents were able to offer as a qualification was that he had served as an enlisted man in Vietnam and had received the purple heart for being wounded. Having served in combat may plausibly make a Secretary more concerned for the effect of combat on the troops, but the Hagel nomination should have been rejected on its own merit. He lacks the necessary executive skills and experience, embraces naïve and dangerous foreign policies, empathizes with our enemies, and completely misunderstands our relations with Israel.

The Defense Department is concerned with management, strategy, world affairs, readiness, development, procurement, supply. Mr. Hagel has shown no competence or understanding of in any of those sectors. President Obama has been quietly ridding the Pentagon of officers who dare to disagree with him, or offer advice he doesn’t like — some of our most outstanding generals. Mr. Obama wants to fund his welfare state, and a cooperative Secretary who will do his bidding without questioning, will make it easier.

President Obama, now that he has secured re-election, is ready to have as his cabinet appointees people who are completely in line with his own view of the world. Nuclear zero; the central problem in the Middle East is Israel; al Qaeda has been decimated; and if we are just less of a bully in the world, and stop throwing our weight around we will achieve some kind of world peace that the warmonger George W. Bush prevented— or something like that. We just need to talk to Iran and North Korea and stop picking on them and they will stop their attempts to get nuclear weapons to attack Israel and America.

Mark Bowden’s new book The Finish about the bin-Laden raid  discloses President Obama’s desire to capture bin Laden rather than kill him so that he could be tried in court. He quotes the president as saying he thought he would be in a strong political position to argue in favor of giving bin Laden the full rights of a criminal defendant if bin Laden went on trial for masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Frankly, my belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al-Qaeda, in preventing him from appearing as a martyr,” Obama is quoted saying in an interview with Bowden.

Obamabelieved that affording terrorists “the full rights of criminal defendants would showcase America’s commitment to justice for even the worst of the worst,”

Obama’s warped view of Islamic terrorism; his idea that the Israeli conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah is the cause of Middle East troubles; his idea that Egypt is a potential friend and sending 20 F-16s to them is a bright idea, is beyond troubling. That he is carefully selecting cabinet secretaries who will carry out these damaging policies should not get automatic Senate approval, just because a president is entitled to his choices.

The Founding Fathers, when they said that the Senate should advise and consent to a President’s appointees surely meant that they were to seriously consider the caliber of the appointees and when they were unqualified, fail to consent.

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