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.

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