American Elephants


Obama’s Dangerous New Hubris by The Elephant's Child

A number of sources have remarked on Obama’s new self-confidence, new hubris. The most frequent word in the State of the Union speech was “I”. It is, as always, all about him.

Sweetness and Light picked up on a New York Times piece by Jackie Calmes:

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday night, the president will address the nation and Congress on the state of the union. But many will watch as well for signs of the state of Barack Obama.

Inside the White House and out, advisers and associates have noted subtle but palpable changes in Mr. Obama since his re-election. “He even carries himself a little bit differently,” said one confidant who, like others, asked not to be identified discussing the president. He is relaxed, more voluble and even more confident than usual, these people say, freer to drop profanities or dismiss others’ ideas — enough that even some supporters fear the potential for hubris

That may be the laugh line of the decade. Is it possible that there is anyone who hasn’t noticed that Obama is somewhat self-concerned?

As the president prepares to outline his second-term agenda, it is clear from these personal accounts as well as his public acts, like his bold Inaugural Address, that he has shown an assertiveness, self-possession, even cockiness that contrasts with the caution, compromise and reserve that he showed for much of his first term…

His bold Inaugural address? He has shown an assertiveness, even cockiness that contrasts with the caution, compromise and reserve? What? Compromise? Caution?

Obama’s campaign team decided early over a year ago that he could not run on his record. They chose, instead to run on Obama’s best community organizing skills and attacking his opponent. Their task was to convince their base that Mitt Romney was scary, rich, uncaring, rich, anti-woman, and uncaring and rich. And they succeeded. Exit polls showed that voters thought Romney was better on the economy, the debt, the deficit, almost anything that one would think voters would care about, but they thought Obama cared about them, and Romney didn’t. An odd reversal of the facts. There is apparently more to community organizing than we realized.

Obama did not run on his first term record, his accomplishments, and he did not run on the agenda for his second term. If you remember, one thing after another was hidden “until after the election.” Having won a second term, however dishonestly, he has translated that into the concept that “voters chose his vision of government’s role and responsibilities over the opposition’s, and he is extending it on his terms.“again quoting Jackie Calmes. Unfortunately, voters did not choose his vision of government’s role; they thought he cared about them, and they are beginning to learn that he does not.

Obama is clearly annoyed when Congress does not instantly pass his ideas. He has become even more careless, as has his administration with due-dates. He hasn’t turned over his budget yet, and of course the Senate has not produced a budget for over three years— all in defiance of the law. HHS is way behind on due dates. If the president ignores his, there can’t be much pressure on other departments to step up to the post. He sets the example. He makes no effort to consult with Congress, even his own supporters.

Mr. Obama seems to have a different movie running in his head, one in which he is the star. Calmes finishes her piece with this bizarre statement:

While polls consistently show that Mr. Obama’s positions are more popular than Republicans’, that is not true in many of the Republicans’ districts and states…

That is not even remotely true. Every one of Obama’s policies is unpopular with the American public: ObamaCare, same-sex marriage, higher taxes, increased spending, amnesty, gun control, Benghazi. The polls are quite clear. His hubris is leading him astray. Executive orders are only intended to affect those things that are the clear responsibility of the executive. He doesn’t get to make law. That’s why we have a legislative branch. The executive branch is supposed to carry out and enforce the laws made by Congress.

Obama was not a professor of Constitutional Law. He was a part-time instructor in civil rights law. The difference is important.



Obama, Ill-Conceived Executive Orders, And The Internet. by The Elephant's Child

On Tuesday, before 4:20 p.m., the White House emailed reporters that President Obama had signed a highly anticipated Executive Order aimed at protecting cyber security. The order is aimed at setting up new programs aimed at stopping online espionage and terrorism, was embargoed until after the State of the Union speech was delivered. The White House summary of the Executive Order is here.

The Heritage Foundation’s “The Foundry’ suggests that based on drafts that circulated, the executive order is apt to be highly flawed in its efforts to impose regulations on the dynamic cyber realm. It is a poor policy choice. Obama, the Foundry suggests, seems set on burning bridges with Congress by circumventing them on this issue.

The House easily passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which was designed to improve the sharing of information on cyber threats and vulnerabilities. The Senate and the administration insisted the cybersecurity regulations be the main feature of any bill. Many Senators thought regulations might actually hurt security, and impose large costs, encourage compliance, and failed to pass a regulatory bill. They wisely decided that regulation was not the way to go.

The president intends to go around Congress if they won’t pass what he wants them to. The Supreme Court, in the past, has indicated that laws are to come from Congress, that is their Constitutional function, and the White House does not get to make law. There’s a reason why the Constitution does not give that function to the Executive. Obama has made it clear that he has no respect for the constitutional separation of powers. Will this come to a showdown? Or will the new “regulations” subject us to an even worse attack, with no courageous group of computer geeks to take up the digital sword to defend us.?

I just finished reading Mark Bowden’s 2011 book: WORM: The First Digital World War. The Conficker worm infected its first computer in November 2008. Within a month, it had infiltrated 1.5 million computers in 195 countries. Banks, telecommunications companies and critical government networks, including the British Parliament and the French ad German military were infected. By January 2009, Conficker lay hidden  in at least eight million computers, and the botnet of linked machines it had created was so large that an attack might crash the entire world internet, with unimaginable consequences.

Mark Bowden, of Black Hawk Down fame, has written of a gifted group of hackers, researchers, millionaire Internet entrepreneurs and computer security experts who took on the task of confronting the threat, tracking it down, and defending the world. He has managed to take the unintelligible world of computer language and turn it into a gripping tale of espionage and defenders in the first digital world war. There is, thank God, an extensive glossary, and a cast of characters (volunteers all), a great help to one whose eyes glaze over when the brilliant post I’m in the middle of crashes, amid cries of “help.” It’s a great read, and as compelling as any thriller.

The book also makes it crystal clear just why Congress was correct to refuse to pass a regulatory bill and why the President is completely wrong, and has undoubtedly damaged the security of the computer world. I recommend WORM highly.



Milton Friedman Takes On the Minimum Wage by The Elephant's Child

The do-gooders believe that by passing a law saying that nobody shall get less than $9 per hour (adjusted for today) or whatever the minimum wage is, you are helping poor people who need the money. You are doing nothing of the kind. What you are doing is to assure, that people whose skills, are not sufficient to justify that kind of a wage will be unemployed.

The minimum wage law is most properly described as a law saying that employers must discriminate against people who have low skills. That’s what the law says. The law says that here’s a man who has a skill that would justify a wage of $5 or $6 per hour (adjusted for today), but you may not employ him, it’s illegal, because if you employ him you must pay him $9 per hour. So what’s the result? To employ him at $9 per hour is to engage in charity. There’s nothing wrong with charity. But most employers are not in the position to engage in that kind of charity. Thus, the consequences of minimum wage laws have been almost wholly bad. We have increased unemployment and increased poverty.

Moreover, the effects have been concentrated on the groups that the do-gooders would most like to help. The people who have been hurt most by the minimum wage laws are the blacks. I have often said that the most anti-black law on the books of this land is the minimum wage law.

There is absolutely no positive objective achieved by the minimum wage law. Its real purpose is to reduce competition for the trade unions and make it easier for them to maintain the higher wages of their privileged members.



Happy Valentines Day! by American Elephant
February 14, 2013, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

Happy Valentines Day!

Being of the male of the species, I’ve never much understood the importance some place on the holiday. Let’s face it, Valentines Day is nothing more than a concoction of the greeting-card industry to promote the sales of schmaltzy valentines. And as a holiday, its kind or a rip-off — if even the most perfectly executed Valentine’s Day gesture doesn’t excuse one from being romantic the rest of the year, then, really, what’s the point?

That said, I should point out that Elephants are known to be very partial to chocolate truffles.




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