American Elephants


Why Should We Remember Pearl Harbor? It was 75 Years Ago! by The Elephant's Child

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[Reposted and revised from last year.]

Every year on December 7, we say “Remember Pearl Harbor” but fail to point out why we should be remembering. John Steele Gordon in his essential history An Empire of Wealth: the Epic History of American Economic Power, outlines the state of the world:

In a fireside chat on December 29, 1940, Franklin Roosevelt first used  a phrase that would prove enduring when he called upon the United States to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”
…..War had broken out in Europe on September 1, 1939, after German troops invaded Poland, and France and Great Britain stood by their pledges to come to Poland’s aid. Few Americans thought the Nazis anything but despicable, but public opinion in the United States was overwhelmingly to stay out of the conflict.  Many newspapers…were strongly isolationist. In 1934 Senator Hiram Johnson of California had pushed through a bill forbidding the Treasury to make loans to any country that had failed to pay back earlier loans.  That, of course included Britain and France.  On November 4, 1939, Congress had passed the Neutrality Act, which allowed purchases of war materiel only on a “cash and carry” basis.
…..Seven months later France fell to the Nazi onslaught, and Britain stood alone.  In the summer of 1940 Germany proved unable to defeat the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain and thus gain the air superiority necessary to mount an invasion across the English Channel. It tried instead to bludgeon Britain into submission with the blitz and to force Britain into submission by cutting off its trade lifelines across the Atlantic. It nearly worked. …
…..At the time American military forces were puny.  The army had about three hundred thousand soldiers—fewer than Yugoslavia—and was so short of weapons that new recruits often had to drill with broomsticks instead of rifles. The equipment it did have was often so antiquated that the chief of staff, General George C. Marshall, thought the army no better than “that of a third-rate power.” The navy, while equal to Britain’s in size, lacked ammunition to sustain action, and much of its equipment was old or unreliable.

Roosevelt realized what was at stake in terms of America’s own security, but he felt that Britain must survive long enough to hold the Nazis at bay while the U.S. rearmed and he was able to  bring the American people around to see where their own true interests lay. This was easier said than done.

On September 16, 1940 Congress approved the first peacetime draft in American history and 16.4 million men between the ages of 20 and 35 registered. But it specified that none was to serve outside the Western Hemisphere and that their terms of service were not to exceed twelve months. In 1941 Roosevelt was able to get Lend Lease through Congress, and after Pearl Harbor, isolationism vanished from the American political landscape.

Japan ran loose over the Pacific for the next six months, taking Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, the Dutch East Indies, and Burma while threatening Australia and India.

The rearming of America was one of the most astonishing feats in all economic history. In the first six months of 1942, the government gave out 100 billion in military contracts— more than the entire GDP of 1940. In the war years, American industry turned out 6.500 naval vessels; 296,400 airplanes; 86,330 tanks; 64,546 landing craft; 3.5 million jeeps, trucks, and personnel carriers; 53 million deadweight tons of cargo vessels; 12 million rifles,carbines, and machine guns; and 47 million tons of artillery shells, together with millions of tons of uniforms, boots, medical supplies, tents and a thousand other items needed to fight a modern war.

We weren’t ready for Pearl Harbor, nor for Africa, nor the European front. We disarmed after World War II and we were once again not ready when North Korea invaded the South. We weren’t ready when Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait and we weren’t ready for 9/11. America’s national character is perhaps always ready to assume that the war just finished was the last — ever.

Does anyone assume that now, we would have six months to a year to begin to produce the necessary equipment and round up and train the necessary troops? I seem to remember Donald Rumsfeld saying, to vast scorn from the American media—”you go to war with the army you have.”

It’s quite true, and the threats don’t always come from the direction you expected. Victor Davis Hanson recently explained:

We are entering a similarly dangerous interlude. Collapsing oil prices — a good thing for most of the world — will make troublemakers like oil-exporting Iran and Russia take even more risks.

Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State feel that conventional military power has no effect on their agendas. The West is seen as a tired culture of Black Friday shoppers and maxed-out credit-card holders.

NATO is underfunded and without strong American leadership. It can only hope that Vladimir Putin does not invade a NATO country such as Estonia, rather than prepare for the likelihood that he will, and soon.

The United States has slashed its defense budget to historic lows. It sends the message abroad that friendship with America brings few rewards while hostility toward the U.S. has even fewer consequences.

The bedrock American relationships with staunch allies such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, and Israel are fading. Instead, we court new belligerents that don’t like the United States, such as Turkey and Iran.

No one has any idea of how to convince a rising China that its turn toward military aggression will only end in disaster, in much the same fashion that a confident westernizing Imperial Japan overreached in World War II. Lecturing loudly and self-righteously while carrying a tiny stick did not work with Japanese warlords of the1930s. It won’t work with the Communist Chinese either.

Radical Islam is spreading in the same sort of way that postwar Communism once swamped post-colonial Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But this time there are only weak responses from the democratic, free-market West. Westerners despair over which is worse — theocratic Iran, the Islamic State, or Bashar Assad’s Syria — and seem paralyzed over where exactly the violence will spread next and when it will reach them.

Will the next threat be in the form of Iran’s finally completed nuclear weapons? Or a cyber attack from Russia or elsewhere? Or the EMP attack that will paralyze the nation? There are always threats, but preventative vigilance can stop it. But where is the preventative vigilance?

We must remember Pearl Harbor as a warning from the past. The troubled world keeps sending us reminders, and we fail to pay attention.



The American Spirit by The Elephant's Child

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Economist Steven Moore has an interesting article in The Washington Times:the-blue-state-depression.” The deep blue states where Hillary won her largest percentages are in an economic depression. California, Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Connecticut have lost residents and businesses over the last 10 years (2004-2014).  (excluding immigration) Nearly 2.75 million more Americans left California and New York than entered those states.

They are the loser states. They are all progressive. High taxes rates. High welfare benefits. Heavy regulation. Environmental extremism. Super minimum wages. Most outlaw energy drilling. The whole left-wing playbook is on display in the Hillary states. And people are leaving in droves. Day after day, they are being bled to death. So much for liberalism creating a worker’s paradise.

Now let’s look at the 10 states that had the largest percentage vote for Donald Trump. Everyone of them — Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Idaho — was a net population gainer.

This is part and parcel of one of the greatest internal migration waves in American history as blue states especially in the northeast are getting clobbered by their low tax, smaller government rivals in the south, southeast and mountain regions.

The same pattern, Moore says, holds true for jobs. Why? Cost of living, record high taxes, forced union policies. They are going to states with low taxes, affordable living, lower crime and more jobs. Silicon Valley is booming, as are cities like Boston, and Manhattan but other areas of these states are deep pockets of poverty and wage stagnation. The red states also have about twice the job creation rates.

Americans have a long history of picking up and going somewhere where there is more freedom and more opportunity. That’s what the Pilgrims and the Puritans sought. Succeeding generations fought wars and  pushed on through the Appalachians and crossed the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. There was “Go west young Man,” and the California Gold Rush, and pushing railroads and telegraph wire across the great plains and across the mountains. That goes deep into the American spirit, and will not be denied. There are no safe spaces.



I’m Continually Updating the Post on Trump’s Cabinet Nominees by The Elephant's Child

As President-elect Trump nominates more interesting people to lead federal agencies and offices, I’m adding them to my previous post. Follow the link or just scroll down to the picture of the White House in the snow. Democrats are beside themselves because the Republican President-elect seems to be choosing people who are opposed to Obama’s policies. He has picked three retired Marine Generals, He wants a war!! He has picked someone to head the EPA who doesn’t even believe in the Paris Accords!! We’re all going to die from an overheating Earth. More nominations to come, with constant speculation by the media, but you can’t believe a nomination unless announced by Donald Trump.

Marine General Jack Kelly (ret) has been nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He formerly led Southern Command, and has been concerned with the terrorists and drug smugglers crossing our southern border, and the release of the “worst of the worst” from Guantanamo.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican, has done successful battle in the courtroom with the EPA and is very familiar with the energy industry. He has been nominated to head the EPA, and Democrats are having a hissy fit.

It’s 36° here at the moment and we had lots of frost this morning. We may get snow later in the week, and the Earth, by the way, is currently cooling.

Dr. Ben Carson, nominated to head HUD (Housing and Urban Development) is being criticized in the media because he has never been in government. This is a bad thing?

Not a federal office, but JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, a Wall Street heavyweight will take over the chairmanship of the Business Roundtable. As an organization of the top business leaders, Mr. Dimon will be uniquely placed to consult with the president on BRT’s agenda of tax, regulatory and immigration reform. This is a good thing. Business is not the enemy, they are the ones who hire and innovate and make the economy grow.

Democrats hate Marine Generals, Business CEOs, and “Climate Deniers”. That should tell you something.



The Miracle of Compound Interest! by The Elephant's Child

deirdre-mccloskey-university-of-illinois-at-chicagoFrom Economist Dierdre McCloskey:

In the countries that most enthusiastically embraced capitalism, some two hundred years ago, real per-capita economic growth has increased by 1.5 percent annually. Owing to the miracle of compound interest, this increase has meant a 19-fold  increase in living standards over the past two centuries, which, she contends, is a “change in the human condition” that “ranks with the first domestication of plants and animals and the building of the first towns”…this enormous economic result had a cause that was cultural rather than economic. Humans did not suddenly become more acquisitive or creative. Rather, “when people treat the  marketers and inventors as having some dignity and liberty, innovation takes hold.”

The new respectability of bourgeois life, the belief that the creativity of capitalism’s creative destruction more than offsets its destruction, was the decisive attitudinal change that rendered human life in the past two centuries decisively different from what it had been throughout the preceding millennia.




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