American Elephants

It’s The Optics, Mr. President. It Just Doesn’t Look Good. by The Elephant's Child

The Sequester has famously deprived school children from their hopes of touring the White House, although 1). Sequester cuts are in the upcoming budget, not the current one, and 2). The White House tours are conducted by volunteers. The Sequester, you see, is about drastic cuts to the federal budget engineered by tightwad Republicans, although it was designed by the White House as a trap for Republicans.

Republicans recognized it for what it was, spat it out and said fine, let’s sequester.

Obama is a fierce competitor, and decided to embark on a war of politicized public relations. He would show those nasty Republicans by making the public feel the pain of Republicans’ lack of consideration for his spending habits.

This president is a waster, a spendthrift, a scattergood. He likes the perks of the office, and it doesn’t occur to him how his extravagance appears to the millions of people who are suffering without a paycheck and out of a job. He is President of the United States and he doesn’t want you to forget it for a minute and he is entitled to the good things.

So he flew his 747 jumbo jet Air Force One on a four-hour round trip to Chicago as Andrew Malcolm notes  “at a cost of $182,000 per flight hour for a 15 minute teleprompter speech that could have been delivered from anywhere on the subject of —wait for it— reducing our use of oil.”

Joe Biden flew to London  in February with an unusually large entourage for an overnight stay at the Hyatt Regency for $459,388.65. Then on to Paris for a single night at the Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grande for $585,000.50.  Must have been a good-sized entourage. I haven’t had occasion to stay in a hotel for a while, but this is ridiculous.

The royal daughters are spending their spring break in the Bahamas. There is enough money in President Obama’s FY 2013 federal budget to provide Secret Service protection for his daughters, but not enough to keep the White House open for school children’s tours given by unpaid volunteers. It’s “the optics,” an annoying phrase that has displaced “the way it looks.”

The president made a big deal about the potential closing of restrooms in our National Parks, and not having rangers available to conduct tours, perhaps even shutting down some facilities. So today he found it possible to commit the federal government to acquiring five new national monuments.  Just coincidental, I’m sure, but all five are located in blue states that voted for Mr. Obama’s re-election.

Doc Hastings (R-WA) said “this is the government spending money it doesn’t have on properties it doesn’t own.” The new monuments are in Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington State. The President managed this by using the Antiquities Act to circumvent Congress. He must have had some glimmer that “the optics” weren’t too good because they chose to bar the press from the signing ceremony.

Over Three Years and No Trial for Major Hasan. by The Elephant's Child


It was on November 5, 2009 at Fort Hood Texas when Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded 30 others — the worst shooting ever on a military base. He has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder, and 32 counts of attempted murder.

Three and a half years later, the military has still not tried Hasan. Hasan has asked, through his attorney, to plead guilty to 13 counts of premeditated murder. Army regulations prohibit a judge from accepting a guilty plea to charges that carry the death penalty. Hasan then tried to plead guilty to 13 counts of unpremeditated murder. The judge ruled that Hasan cannot plead guilty to these lesser charges, or to 32 additional counts of attempted premeditated murder, because these pleas could be used against him in the trial of the premeditated murder counts.

No one has doubted the identity of the shooter, Major Hasan. No one has doubted that he acted intentionally. So how come there has been no trial?

The reason it has taken so long is that Major Hasan has discovered that his religion, Islam, requires him to grow a beard. Members of the military are not allowed to have beards, and the judge of the military trial ruled that he cannot have a beard and has threatened to have it forcibly removed. This has been litigated for a good part of three years.

We revere our military, and the men and women who volunteer to serve; but we should not forget that the military is a very large bureaucracy that floats on a sea of paper and rules.

What has happened in recent years is that lawyers have become deeply integrated in the military decision-making process, down to the brigade level, with two or three lawyers deployed with every brigade. They not only apply their view of the law, but constrain action through the rules of engagement they write, and how things will appear to network TV.

The federal government does not understand terrorism. We don’t know how to treat it, we don’t know what the rules are. Islam is a religion that permeates all aspects of believers’ lives, from personal grooming to food, to war-making, to sex and marriage. When you get to religious believers who want to destroy the West and all its peoples as opposed to religious believers who belong to a religion of peace, it gets very complicated.

So we get down to Guantanamo, and terrorism, release of prisoners who immediately return to the battleground, and demonstrating our benevolence with civilian trials for terrorists, and military trials where the religious commandment to grow a beard can delay a trial for three years, and we can’t accept the prisoners’ legal admission that he killed 13 people, something everyone knows is true.

Throw in the “trusted traveler” status for Saudi Arabia. Nobody has thought through our relationship with the violent part of Islam and how the usual rules do or do not apply. Americans don’t get beheading, or amputating hands for a crime. We don’t understand veiled women and what to do with that in this country, nor “honor killings,” nor the repression of women and marrying little girls to old men.

These are questions that need answers, and the answers aren’t going to come from the JAG corps. Their “rules of engagement” have succeeded in getting a lot of our soldiers killed. And misplaced political correctness led the entire group of military doctors at Fort Hood to ignore all the warning signs, and there were many, of Major Hasan’s descent into jihad and a mass shooting.

Ethan Uslan Plays “The Tin Roof Blues” by The Elephant's Child
March 25, 2013, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Freedom, Music | Tags: , ,

Blues, but in Ethan Uslan’s hands, it’s happy music. Enjoy.

The Slow Collapse of the Democrat Party, Continued. by The Elephant's Child


From our excellent neighbor to the North, Small Dead Animals, a juxtaposition:

March 1, 2013

USAF Announcement: The implementation of across-the-board cuts in federal spending has caused the curtailment of the Thunderbirds 2013 show schedule. Effective April 1, all of the team’s performances have been cancelled.

March 3, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Sunday that the United States would provide $250 million in assistance to Egypt after Egypt’s president promised to move ahead with negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over economic reforms.

P.S. Here’s what it costs to keep the Thunderbirds flying annually.

Be sure to click on the links. Mr. Obama does want to be sure that the public feels his real pain. His strategy is completely obvious, and so small and spiteful.

Here in the Seattle Area our big summer festival is Seafair, which is centered around the hydroplane races and the Blue Angels performance, but includes everything from the milk carton derby, the usual queen and princesses, pirates,  parade, street performances, Navy visit and ship tours — plus all the usual and unusual summer festival stuff.

One of the highlights for me is when the Blue Angels pass right over my house in formation. Scares the hell out of the cats, but I love it.  Sound of Freedom! So that is going away too. If the choice is to get to see the Blue Angels or fuel our aircraft carriers, I can live without the Blue Angels.

But that is not the choice. The choice is between an arrogant president’s belief that he cannot under any circumstances cut back on government waste, sell empty government buildings, dump programs that don’t work, discontinue unnecessary duplicate programs,  or stop subsidizing cronies who supported his campaigns. Instead, he wants more money to spend to influence voters. He wants to win back control of the House in the next election so he can put the rest of his misguided agenda into effect.

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