American Elephants

About Drones: by The Elephant's Child

Bruce Feirstein in the Wall Street Journal:

…I’m reminded of an interview I did in the summer of 1999 with a B-2 Stealth bomber pilot at Whiteman Sir Force Base near Knob Noster, Mo. Noting the seeming invincibility of the B-2, I asked what he thought would be the Air Force’s greatest challenge in the future?

Well before the age of drones, the bomber pilot’s answer was prescient: “I worry about antiseptic warfare, when you remove the blood component and can wage war without fear of taking any casualties. I’m concerned that our leaders won’t fully understand the consequences of what they are doing, because what seems cheap and clean is anything but.

The American people seem to approve the president’s drone strikes. Some reports have indicated that the controllers really have no idea who or how many they are hitting. It seems cheap and clean to eliminate al Qaeda leaders, but when we are eliminating whole families, and children, there will be consequences.

After four years of Barack Obama’s “diplomatic leadership” and billions of dollars in attempted friendship aid, a new public opinion poll reveals that 92% of Pakistanis now disapprove of the United States.

The results could have been worse. Not much. But a little.  Fully four Pakistanis out of 100 do approve of the United States, President Obama and his policies. They, however, seem to keep kind of quiet about their views in that rowdy land. That’s the lowest favorable rating Pakistan’s citizens have ever given their ostensible North American ally.

The recent high point was 27% approval but then public opinion went south. Something to do with a pack of stealth aircraft advancing toward the city of Abbottabad carrying a posse of Kevlar-coated heavily armed SEALS in night-vision goggles.  All without notice to Pakistan officials, elected or otherwise.

Since then, CIA drones have lingered inside Pakistan air space, watching and waiting until commanded to direct a large explosive device onto a car or two or some houses where residents were gathered. More than 350 times that’s happened.

Often, some of the people vaporized in such raids were on a list of terrorist suspects targeted for extinction by the American president.

I’m all for protecting the lives of our troops, but enacting “rules of engagement” that leave our troops open to enemy attack, and then blowing up people and cars and houses willy-nilly troubles me. There will be consequences, there are always consequences.

Many in the U.S. intelligence community also believe the drone war is contributing to the al-Qaeda presence in Yemen. Robert Grenier, who headed the CIA’s counter-terrorism center and was previously a CIA station chief in Pakistan, told The Guardian in June that he is “very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”

“We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield,” he said regarding drones in Yemen.


Obama’s Big Government Vision for American Decline by The Elephant's Child

In his weekly remarks, Obama said he has been traveling across the country talking about reigniting the true engine of America’s economic growth — a rising thriving middle class. How does he get a rising, thriving middle class by raising their taxes ever higher? Where did you think he’s going to get all that money he’s going to “invest?” Did you know there are 21 new taxes on ObamaCare, the greatest of which is the massive sales tax increase on the purchase of health insurance?

“Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions; How do we bring good jobs to America? How do we equip people with the skills those jobs require? and how do we make sure your hard work leads to a decent living.

I believe all that starts by making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three. What we need to do now is simple. We need to accelerate that trend. We need to launch manufacturing hubs across the country that will transform hard-hit regions into global centers of high-tech jobs and manufacturing.

We need to make our tax code more competitive, ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and rewarding companies that create jobs here at home. And we need to invest in the research and technology that will allow us to harness more of our own energy and put more people back to work repairing our crumbling roads and bridges.”

Is it possible that anyone would believe this claptrap? Obama has stuff that he says all the time, that is simply meaningless. “put people back to work repairing our crumbling roads and bridges?” He has been saying this for 5 years now, and it has never happened. The roads and bridges are still crumbling. If new money is appropriated, it will probably be wasted in environmental impact studies, engineering studies, Most roads and bridges are state responsibility or county responsibility, not federal. Any jobs would come with the caveat that they have to be union jobs.

“Ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas?” There are no tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. None. What does he mean making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing? We have not been shedding jobs for more than 10 years, this is just Obama trying to shift blame to GW Bush, once again.

“We need to invest in the research and technology that will allow us to harness more of our own energy.” There is no better example of the falsity behind Obama’s words. “Investing” is Obama’s word for spending more taxpayer money. He has “invested” it in one useless  “green” project after another, and one after another they have gone belly-up. Nobody knows how to make a battery suitable for electric cars or for storing wind or solar energy that is adequate to the task. They have experimented with every rare earth and every crackpot notion and they need a true breakthrough with unknown technology or unknown components. Obama’s bundlers and supporters get rich on federal largess, and the companies go bust.

Obama has so few ideas about how to create jobs that he is reduced to training up new generations with pre-school for all, or redesigned high schools that supply graduating students with “skills” that employers are looking for — when our high schools are having trouble graduating students who understand basic math, can speak clear, proper English, and write a coherent sentence.

These are not steps that will help our businesses expand and create new jobs. Business has been telling the administration what they need for over four years. They need tax relief—American business pays the world’s highest corporate tax. They need regulatory relief —a foolish regulation that requires a pizza parlor to list the nutritional values of each ingredient in a pizza demands millions of dollars across a chain of restaurants, hours of paperwork, and finding ways to get along with fewer employees.

There’s a reason why people now put gas in their own gas tanks and wash their own car windows, bag their own groceries and hardware. Government makes it too expensive to hire people. The numbers of people unemployed because of ObamaCare far surpasses the numbers who have found decent paying jobs.

Economist Stephen Moore explains: “For years the left has argued,’But why can’t we be more like progressive Europe, which has a super-generous welfare state? The safety net covers people from cradle to grave. It gives five weeks of vacation, free health care, early retirement, free day care, no-layoff rules to protect workers, and on and on. Workers in France now get additional paid vacation if they get sick on their vacation. The workers support the nonworkers. But that model has imploded right before our very eyes. Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France are melting down. Sweden has always been held up as the socialist welfare state paradigm. And Sweden is doing relatively well today. But they are dismantling, not building up, their welfare state policies. As they move toward markets, the citizenry has seen their economic circumstances improve.

Administration watchers tell us that Obama’s agenda is to talk about all the wonderful benefits the administration wants to give people if only the Republicans in the House of Representatives didn’t stand in the way, giving favors to the rich and, once again, harming the poor and needy. Obama just needs to get rid of the Republicans in 2014, so he can put through  the rest of his agenda to transform America. Let’s not help his do that.

Good Intentions Usually Aren’t Enough, A Little Common Sense Helps. by The Elephant's Child

One of the great paradoxes of the Obama Presidency is how it has continued to have  the support of young people and minorities in spite of the damage its policies have done to their economic prospects.

The left firmly believes in big government, and in government’s ability to improve the lot of the poor by providing them with benefits.  It doesn’t always work that way. When government pushes banks into giving loans to those who, under prudent rules of banking, could not afford to repay the loans; they are creating a situation where many, unable to repay the loans, lose the houses.

Now Obama is pushing for a higher minimum wage, in the belief that if businesses are just forced to pay a higher wage to low-income workers, they will be better off. Instead what happens when the minimum wage is raised is that the least competent are shut out of the market.The push for a higher minimum wage has often been called “the Minority Youth Unemployment Act.” It will instead just hurt Obama’s most loyal supporters.

UC Irvine economist David Neumark has reviewed more than 100 major academic studies on the minimum wage. about 85% of the studies find a negative employment effect on low-skilled workers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently released 20,000 words of regulation to direct businesses to hire more felons and other ex-offenders. The EEOC began stretching Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to sue businesses for practically any hiring practice that adversely affected minorities. In 1989, the agency sued Carolina Freight Carrier Corp. of Hollywood Fla, for refusing to hire as a truck driver an Hispanic man who had multiple arrests and had served 18 months for larceny. The EEOC argued that the only legitimate qualification for the job was the ability to operate a tractor-trailer.

U.S. District Judge Jose Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. ruled against the agency, saying EEOC’s position that minorities should be held to lower standards is an insult to millions of honest Hispanics. Obviously a rule refusing honest employment to convicted applicants is going to have a disparate impact on thieves.” The Agency was not going to give up that easily. Last April the agency unveiled its “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions” declaring that such exclusions have a disparate impact based on race and national origin.

The agency is demanding that a convention and corporate events planner — pay compensation to rejected job applicants who lied about their criminal records. Businesses complying with state or local laws that require employee background checks can still be targeted by EEOC lawsuits, as was G4S Secure Solutions  after the company refused to hire a twice-convicted Pennsylvania thief as a security guard. The EEOC is sure that this will boost minority hiring, but businessmen are much less likely to hire minority applicants when background checks are banned. Since the majority of black and Hispanic job applicants have clean legal records, the EEOC’s regime will probably decrease opportunities for minority applicants.

Two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights have warned President Obama that granting illegal immigrants effective amnesty will “harm lower-skilled African-Americans by making it more difficult for them to obtain employment.” Research from U.C. San Diego economics professor Gordon Hanson, has found that from 1960 to 2000, immigration was responsible for 40% of the 18% plunge in black employment rates.

New regulations issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designed to prevent housing discrimination, would effectively increase discrimination and require that mortgage lenders, insurers, and landlords abandon economically sound business practices. HUD’s regulation also violates the principle of equal protection under the law, enshrined in our Constitution by the Fourteenth Amendment. Lenders could relax their loan approval standards to ensure there’s no disparate impact violation. This would revive the economic insanity of providing loans to those who can’t pay, and encourage landlords to lease based on race,ethnicity, sex or some characteristic other than credit worthiness.

It takes more than good intentions. You have to take a careful look at what works and what simply makes things worse. After four years America remains in a jobs depression as great as the Great Depression. False hope and wrongheaded programs just make things worse, and the hardest hit are the least skilled. Making it harder for businesses to hire has been a consistent effect of administration policies.

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