American Elephants

Strange Liberal Fundraising Tricks! by The Elephant's Child

Harry Reid glum

John Podhoretz wrote a while back about Democrat’s fundraising efforts:

It’s been years in the making, but all the hard work has paid off: “Koch,” as in the surname of the energy-billionaire brothers David and Charles, has become the liberal “abracadabra” of 2014 — the magic word that mesmerizes liberals into parting with their money and giving it to Democrats.

What’s especially interesting about it is how conscious Democrats appear to be that they’ve helped create this two-headed monster to scare their own people into coughing up dollars they might not give otherwise.

“Koch” now joins “Rove” and “Newt” in the Liberal Fund-raising Hall of Fame — in the very exclusive Demons of the Right-Wing Wing.

No one has been more indefatigable at smearing and demonizing the Koch brothers than Harry Reid.  Most Americans have never even heard of them. The Koch family mining and energy business is privately held. They do not seek the limelight. They are libertarian in outlook, and although they do give to some Republican causes, they spend far more on civic institutions and cancer clinics, and libertarian causes like the Cato Institute.

When they donate to Republicans, they are far from the largest donors. The fear of the Koch brothers dates back to an ultra-partisan hit piece by Jane Mayer, who tried to make the ridiculous case that the Tea Party was a sinister creation of these horrid fossil-fuel plutocrats. Harry Reid has become so absurd in his accusations that the Kochs are causing global warming, killing people that people are beginning to wonder if Reid is losing it.

When the Kochs donated a $100 million cancer clinic to New Your Presbyterian Hospital, SEIU goons turned out in a large group to protest. The Brothers have shocked journalists by—talking back, correcting shoddy reporting and  refusing to allow reporters to lie about the Kochs as the subject of a news story. They  have even taken out ads lambasting reporters who distribute false information.

In a move that is guaranteed to enrage the left, the Koch brothers have donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the foremost source of financial support to African-American students. The donation will provide nearly 3,000 merit-based awards to African-American undergraduate, graduate, and post doctoral students seeking scholarship assistance. The donation will also help fund 37 historically black colleges which have struggled with financial shortfalls in recent years. This donation is not a one- time gift, but the continuation of a long association between Koch industries and the UNCF.

According to a new George Washington University poll, 52 percent of likely voters had never heard of the Kochs. The poll also found that more Americans have a negative view of Harry Reid (35 percent) than of the Koch Brothers (25 percent). For Democrats, fundraising emails that bash the Kochs bring in three times as much money as those that don’t. Democrats are deeply afraid of the Tea Party! They demonstrate and even carry signs.

Is The Economy Getting Better? Where Is The Evidence? by The Elephant's Child

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James Pethokoukis, writing at AEI, points out that there is concern about the quality of the U.S. jobs recovery:

While the economy has generated 2.369 million jobs over the past year, a major concern remains the quality of these jobs. Of these jobs, 388,000 were in administrative and waste services (which include temporary help services); 317,000 in retail; and 311,000 in food and beverage establishments – all low-wage sectors. Key higher-paying sectors, such as manufacturing, government and financial services contributed very little to this annual growth.

Employment growth in the construction and manufacturing industries continues to lag other major sectors. About a quarter of May’s job growth came from the professional and business services sector, with about half of this from professional and technical services and the other half from administrative services. The healthcare sector generated another 33,600 jobs, but a majority of these can be traced to the social assistance category, and are therefore neither high-paying nor indicative of future employment growth. These two sectors underscore the importance of services in driving solid economic growth.

We’re back at the point when the recession began in 2oo7. The economy has recaptured all the jobs that were lost during the recession and is now beginning to show incremental employment growth from over six years ago.

On the other hand, the percentage of American civilians 16 years of age or older who do not have a job and are not actively seeking one remains at a 36 year high in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In December, April and now May, the labor force participation rate has been 62.8 percent. Last there in February 1978 under Carter. There are 92,oo9, 000 people who are of working age and not disabled that do not have jobs.

What the chart above says to me is that the ObamaCare regulation that all businesses must pay for health insurance for employees who work 30 hours or more, means that thousands of businesses who employ low wage people have cut back on their hours, and hired more part-time people to work less than 30 hours. But economists don’t mention that at all.

A McKinsey analysis from 2011 says that globally competitive companies have made relentless efforts to improve efficiency. In classic cyclical recessions, companies sacrificed some productivity and profitability until demand returned. Today, they respond to downturns primarily by reducing employment. 65% of the businesses they surveyed have made operational changes to improve productivity and reduce employment. More job losses are expected to be permanent, and new jobs will emerge in different industries.

Economists occasionally mention regulation, but every time we hear of a new regulation, there’s a disturbing estimate of how many jobs will be lost because of it. And the Obama administration cannot stop spewing out new regulations, the latest is Obama’s effort at cap-and-trade accomplished by executive order and agency regulation. The extent to which human workers are being replaced by machines also doesn’t enter into the discussions. We have a lot of quiet inflation to which businesses are responding in ways that they hope we won’t notice.

The statistics seem less meaningful, and the economist’s responses don’t satisfy. Business practices change rapidly in response to events. But I’m not sure anyone is really keeping track of that. I don’t think I understand  anything.

Government cannot create wealth, jobs or income. Because government has to take money from somebody before it can spend it, there is no economic gain from anything the government does.

Might send that one to Mr. Obama.

No Gitmo Detainees to Trade For This Marine by The Elephant's Child


As President Obama said last week when he held a photo-op in the Rose Garden with the Bergdahl parents:

As I said earlier this week, we’re committed to winding down the war in Afghanistan, and we are committed to closing Gitmo.  But we also made an ironclad commitment to bring our prisoners of war home.  That’s who we are as Americans.  It’s a profound obligation within our military, and today, at least in this instance, it’s a promise we’ve been able to keep.

I am mindful, though, that there are many troops who remain missing in the past.  That’s why we’re never going to forget; we’re never going to give up our search for servicemembers who remain unaccounted for.  We also remain deeply committed to securing the release of American citizens who are unjustly detained abroad and deserve to be reunited with their families, just like the Bergdahls soon will be.

It amazes me that our foreign relations with our close neighbor to the south are so poor that the U.S. Marine, Andrew Tahmooressi, has been held in Mexico for more than two months after taking a wrong turn at a confusing border crossing with registered guns in his car.  He was held for seven hours in custody, but without charges, at the border between San Ysidro, CA and Tijuana. According to Andrew he felt something was fishy when the military showed up and wanted to arrest him after customs officials were willing to accompany him back to the U.S. He felt there was an implied expectation of a bribe of some sort, but nothing was directly requested.

Extortion in such cases is not unusual. Help from our federal government has not been forthcoming, in spite of Mr. Obama’s deep commitment.


National Security Is Too Serious To Turn Over To Political Hacks. by The Elephant's Child


Kim Strassel, in The Wall Street Journal, has turned a judicious eye on the National Security Council and how it’s nature and composition have changed in the era of Barack Obama.

If the Bergdahl uproar feels creepily reminiscent of the Benghazi uproar, or the Syrian “red line” uproar, or the choose-your-own-Obama-foreign-adventure uproar, it’s because they all have a common denominator. This is what happens when political hacks formally take over foreign policy.

It’s the “formal” point that bears some meditation. Barack Obama isn’t the first president to make foreign-policy decisions on the basis of domestic political calculations. He does, however, win the distinction of being the first president to utterly disregard—to treat with contempt—the institutions and procedures that were designed to help the commander in chief insulate the serious business of foreign policy and national security from baser political concerns.

At the heart of this effort is the National Security Council, which has served presidents since its inception under Harry Truman. Made up of the president, vice president, a national security adviser, various Cabinet secretaries, and representatives from the military and the intelligence agencies, the NSC has been by procedure and fierce tradition a rare apolitical forum, a place for the president to hear hard reality. NSC staff are foreign-policy grownups, and its meetings are barred to political henchmen.

At least that was the tradition. In spite of his assured air of competence, the new president seemed to know where he needed more expertise, hence the influx of czars or advisers in every policy venue. It was reported that the president preferred to have advice tendered simply in 3 short choices, so he could pick the one he wanted for execution. No long meetings, no lengthy reports.

David Axlerod, campaign guru, became a senior adviser, and was to be found  attending meetings of the National Security Council. Obama’s first NSC adviser, former Marine General and NATO Commander Jim Jones left after only two years after clashes with Mr. Obama’s inner circle. He was replaced by a Democrat political operative and former lobbyist, Tom Donilon. And also included were Tommy Vietor, an Obama press aide from his senate run, and continuing political operator and spin master, and Ben Rhodes, a former speechwriter as Deputy National Security Adviser.

Mr. Obama’s first instinct is to rely on the old “Obama loyalists” for advice— his former campaign manager, David Plouffe, his former press secretary Robert Gibbs, a former speechwriter and Mr. Vietor who has left the NSC to do political consulting. All political operatives. We are told that Valerie Jarrett is always consulted.

Obama did have some experienced hands once in Bob Gates followed by Leon Panetta as Secretaries of Defense, but they were replaced with Chuck Hagel, whose qualifications seem to be that he was an enlisted man in Vietnam, a Republican,( bipartisan credits) and opposed the Iraq War just like Obama did.

It is becoming ever more apparent that all decisions are political, and politics is everything. The news is to be managed, and that which turns sour is to be spun or moved off the front pages with something more interesting. Deep knowledge of past history is missing, and how events will affect America is just another notion to be spun. The new national security adviser is Susan Rice who will say whatever the teleprompter tells her to say, which becomes a little preposterous in someone who is supposed to advise on national security. We are told that Obama consults only with his narrow group of closest advisers. There is no evidence he has learned from the few grownups he has had as advisers, nor no evidence he knows that informed advice is missing.

The National Security Council is not the place for speechwriters and political hacks. They may offer advice, but it is not about National Security.

I didn’t think much of Bill Clinton as president, but I think he was trying to do the best he could for the American people. I thought Jimmy Carter was incompetent, but he was an incompetent patriot. I don’t know exactly what Barack Obama’s aims are, but they do not involve an a belief in American exceptionalism, nor is there any evidence that Mr. Obama even understands what most Americans mean by that term.

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