American Elephants


I Think The Times And Obama Are Wrong. Can I Possibly Be Right?

Gutted Yellow Building Havana

The New York Times is, as usual, a little off. When ideology trumps journalism, you get these embarrassing slip-ups. The headline is “As Cuba Shifts Toward Capitalism, Inequality Grows More Visible.”

What shift toward capitalism? Raul Castro has stated firmly that Cuba is not moving one centimeter away from Communism.

As Cuba opens the door wider to private enterprise, the gap between the haves and have-nots — and between whites and blacks — that the revolution sought to diminish is growing more evident.

That divide is expected to increase now that the United States is raising the amount of money that Cuban-Americans can send to the island to $8,000 a year, up from $2,000, as part of President Obama’s historic thaw with Cuba.

This was not any kind of agreement with Cuba. Cuba offered nothing, and was pleased that America surrendered to them. If Cuban-Americans send more remittances, they will only enrich the Communist government. Cuban citizens are limited to a maximum income of $20 a month, and anything over that goes to the government.

This was just another of Obama’s big ideas. He was going to liberate Cuba, expand trade, and the tourist business will improve the Cuban economy.

Remittances, estimated at $1 billion to nearly $3 billion a year, are already a big source of the capital behind the new small businesses. The cash infusion has been one of the top drivers of the Cuban economy in recent years, rivaling tourism revenues and mineral, pharmaceutical and sugar exports.

Fidel Castro has been estimated in the past by Forbes to be one of the world’s wealthiest men, and I’m sure that covers his little brother as well. Cuba has been trading the use of their doctors to Venezuela in trade for oil. The reason Cuban’s maximum income is so low is because they are offered free medical care and a ration card for food. If they have to go to the hospital, they need to supply their own sheets and blankets, their own medicine and even iodine, if needed. According to the Times:

The river where Jonas Echevarria fishes cuts through neighborhoods brimming with new fine restaurants, spas and boutiques, springing up in Cuba’s accelerating push toward private enterprise.

Tattered mansions and luxury apartment blocks speak of old wealth and new. A bounty of private restaurants known as paladares serve pork tenderloin, filet mignon and orange duck to tourists, Cuban-Americans visiting relatives and a growing pool of Cuban entrepreneurs with cash to spend.

I’m sure the Cuban government is building tourist facilities in expectation of lots of tourist business, bringing more revenue to the government, but this report from the New York Times has no relation to what I have read elsewhere about Cuba. Previous tourist hotels are run by a Spanish company, who pays the government for their Cuban workers. The government gives the workers their $20 a month, and pockets the rest.

The Times article extolls the Obama effort and assumes that everything in Cuba will improve as a result —in spite of Raul Castro’s firm declaration that nothing whatsoever was changing.  Interesting. Somebody is very wrong. We’ll see.



A Reminder, In Your Words Mr. President: “That’s Not How Democracy Works”

childhood-immigration-flood-620x396

The year is 2011, and election coming up, the president is making lots of speeches and fundraising. On May 10, President Obama spoke at Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso Texas. He vowed to “keep up the fight” to pass comprehensive immigration reform through Congress, because the immigration system was broken. (Not broken. The immigration laws simply are not enforced).

He assured the audience that the border fence was essentially complete, (if  “essentially complete” means that 84 miles of the mandated double fencing have been built of the 1,933 miles of our border with Mexico). That pertains to compliance with the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

Then he added:

“Sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself, but that’s not how a democracy works,” Obama said. “What we really need to do is to keep up the fight to pass genuine, comprehensive reform. That is the ultimate solution to this problem. That’s what I’m committed to doing.”

Back in the halls of Congress, it is Jeff Sessions who once again spoke of constitutional government in defense of American workers in a clarifying speech yesterday on the Senate floor:

A number of things have been happening today with regard to the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. There’s been a lot of spin about that and that somehow the Republicans are blocking the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. This gives new meaning to the word “obfuscation,” I suppose, or “disingenuousness.” The truth is, the House of Representatives has fully funded the Department of Homeland Security. It’s provided the level of funding the President asked for. It’s kept all the accounts at Homeland Security as approved through the congressional process. It simply says, but, Mr. President, we considered your bill, this amnesty bill that will provide work permits, photo IDs, Social Security numbers, Medicare benefits. You can’t do that. We considered that and rejected it. So we’re not going to fund that.

Now, the President has told us and his staff that they have across the river in Crystal City, they’re leasing a new building and this building is going to hire a thousand workers, paid for by the taxpayers of the United States, part of Homeland Security. Are those thousand workers going to be utilized to enforce the laws of the United States? Are they going to process applications for citizenship or visas? No. Those 1,000 people, costing several hundred million dollars, in truth, those people are going to be processing and providing these benefits to people unlawfully in America… (Read on below)

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Petulant President Vetoes Pipeline, Promises Permits to Illegals

Texas Governor Greg Abbott told CNS News that already in this calendar year, since January 1, we have had more than 20,000 people who have come across the border with Mexico, apprehended and  unauthorized.

In fiscal year 2014, U.S. immigration officials removed 213,719 individuals who were caught while attempting to enter the  United States unlawfully. Texas already has some 800,000 illegal aliens living in their state.

Abbott has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 26 states challenging Mr. Obama’s decision to go around Congress by unilaterally giving millions of illegal immigrants permission to stay in the US. and to give them Social Security numbers, and work permits.

A federal judge has put President Obama’s amnesty plan on hold, and Abbott said he expects the case to continue through the court process all the way to the Supreme Court. Abbott added that the president has violated the rule of law and is actually making up the law himself and imposing his own standards in immigration.

Government data , as of December 2014, show 9.3 million new jobs have been added since January 2000. In the same time period, data show 18 million new immigrants (legal and illegal). So for every new job, there have been two new immigrants. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) says:

Government data  reveal that more than 7.4 million work permits (formally known as Employment Authorization Documents) were issued to aliens from 2009 to 2014. Because neither lawful permanent residents (green card holders) nor temporary work visa holders need a work permit, this amounts to a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the numerical limits and categories set by Congress. The huge number of work permits being issued above and beyond these limits inevitably reduces opportunities for U.S. workers, damages the integrity of the immigration system, and encourages illegal immigration.

Obama has been talking about the improving economy and all the new jobs, without including the downside of the long-term unemployed, nor the jobs lost or turned part-time. You get better numbers if you just talk jobs created, and forget to subtract the jobs lost—a regular Obama trick.

He also does not include all the work permits he has granted to illegals. Nor will he count the potential jobs that were included with the Keystone XL pipeline bill that he vetoed today. In every way, the Keystone XL pipeline would be a boon to the American economy. His veto has nothing to do with the merits of the project.

The application to build the pipeline was filed more than 2,300 days ago. It has been approved by the Clinton State Department, and the Kerry State Department, and Obama’s excuses are getting more and more embarrassing. He claims the bill would “cut short” the process for approving the project — over 6 years and climbing. It’s purely political. (Tom Steyer’s money) Keystone has passed every environmental test, and the recent derailment of an oil tanker train has demonstrated, once again, that pipelines are safer than the alternative.

According to TransCanada, the pipeline means at least 20,000 new high-paying jobs. They are only temporary, sneers Obama. All construction jobs are temporary until the construction is complete then the workers take their newly learned skills on to the next job. And by the way, the Keystone pipeline IS infrastructure. Besides the 20,000 construction jobs in pipeline construction and material production, the State Department projects 42,000 jobs and the addition of $3.5 billion to the economy.

This is just Obama being childish and petulant. Remember that when he starts telling you about all the new jobs, or the improving economy. Any improvement has not come from Obama initiatives, but by going around the president. The economy keeps trying to break out, but this president keeps standing directly in the way.



A Winning Strategy or A Seriously Stupid Sellout?

ISIS-tankI want to talk a little about strategy. Do I have some expertise to share? I have sailed the world with the Royal Navy at the turn of the century (the 19th); served in the Revolution with Kenneth Roberts; and the Civil War with James McPherson; Martin Gilbert took me through the First World War and the Second; I witnessed the Rape of Nanking with Iris Chang; and starved in Leningrad with Harrison Salisbury, and Stalingrad with Anthony Beevor; but I have never been in the service and have no expertise at all.

Stephen Coughlin, a leading expert on national security, says that our foreign policy community is absolutely incoherent and has lost the ability to think. Government bureaucrats, he says, have become focused on fighting narratives consistent with a post-modern, politically correct worldview rather than the facts on the ground.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka holds a Chair in Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. He points out that President Obama’s three-day summit on violent extremism empowers ISIS, by emphasizing the real grievances the Muslim world has with the West, the danger of Islamophobia in the U.S. and the need for community outreach.

ISIS’ recruiting message ” is a story of Islam under attack by the West, a perpetual Holy War against the infidel until the House of Islam—Dar al Islaam—covers the world and all live under sharia in a new Caliphate. They are indoctrinating and training 5-year-olds in Islam and weapons.

Strategy 001: You don’t tell the enemy what you are going to do, nor just when you are going to do it. It is better to keep them guessing and surprise them. Why is this so hard to understand?

While successful military strategy in wartime often hinges on surprise, the U.S. military took an unconventional path Thursday in announcing a plan to wage an early spring campaign to try to drive ISIS forces from the key city of Mosul in northern Iraq. The U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, which oversees the military coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq outlined the size and makeup of a force that the U.S. hopes will be ready for the offensive within five weeks at the earliest, as reported by Defense One and other news organizations.
They told them approximately when the attack would begin, the composition of the coalition’s attack force, what we’re doing to train the forces.
Unless you’re fooling – unless this is an elaborate feint – it’s not normal practice to warn somebody that you’re coming,” Gordon Adams, a military historian and analyst at American University, said. “This is a little bizarre, it seems to me.”
Monday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said she was mind-boggled at what the Pentagon has done. One of the officers speaking to the media revealed that one of the Pentagon’s training camps was located in Jordan, and Jordan had made it clear it wanted that information kept private. Jordan is furious. Gabbard has served in the Iraq war in a medical unit where she saw the cost of war.

When  you realize that you don’t know very much about a current threat. the response should be to study up. Put aside the stuff that doesn’t matter, and read and investigate. I don’t have any indication that anybody in the White House is actually doing that. They do have a narrative, and they are sticking to it.

Investors Business Daily offers “Know Thy Enemy: A Crash Course in Radical Islam” by Paul Sperry, in five short parts. It seems useful.



America Reinvents Automaking: Future Present
February 24, 2015, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Engineering, Politics, Taxes | Tags: , ,

I guess if you making cars for millionaires, you can buy a lot of robots with which to make them — but this process is pretty cool. The times they are a changing.  Henry Ford would be astonished to see how his ideas have developed.

Elon Musk’s Tesla is currently the No. 1 electric car maker — with vehicles ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 — and Google is working on George Jetson-like driverless cars. But neither is close to cornering the market on mass-affordable electric cars.

Elon Musk is the biggest parasite in the world. Tesla does not exist without tax payer money. The driverless car is a solution in search of a problem and it is far from being practical.

An interesting post from The Z Blog, on Apple, Google,Tesla and trends.

And here’s Bjorn Lomberg explaining why there are NO benefits whatsoever to electric cars.

It is time to stop our green worship of the electric car. It costs us a fortune, cuts little CO2 and surprisingly kills almost twice the number of people compared with regular gasoline cars.

Electric cars’ global-warming benefits are small. It is advertised as a zero-emissions car, but in reality it only shifts emissions to electricity production, with most coming from fossil fuels. As green venture capitalist Vinod Khosla likes to point out, “Electric cars are coal-powered cars.”



The Propaganda Wars: Unfamiliar Strategy

ISIS is depending on their videos to appeal to young Muslims who may be convinced to join the fight. The violence portrayed in many of them has encouraged hundreds to make their way to Syria to join ISIS. The Islamic State’s best recruiting tool is youth boredom. ISIS is offering excitement, a chance for young Muslims in the West to get back at the prejudice against Muslims that they may feel, and they find the extreme violence portrayed on the video thrilling and exciting. Just as we find movie portrayals of special effects exciting. But the reality is something else.

There are currently 3 young women, teenagers, from Britain currently making their way to Turkey and Syria to become brides of ISIS. There are at lest 8 impressionable schoolgirls that were attracted by websites recruiting brides, who have disappeared. A couple of them are already widows. Hundreds are proposing to ISIS fighters.

Have you ever been a member of the military, and gone through basic training? If so you will enjoy this newest ISIS recruiting video meant to strike fear into the hearts of the West. I can’t embed the video, so you will have to follow the link. The music is annoying, but the camouflage is priceless.

We need some evidence and videos of the setbacks being inflicted on ISIS and al Qaeda to counter their propaganda. But that may be another part of the Obama strategy that isn’t understood.



Pretend, for a Moment, That It Is 1939, Once Again

Victor Davis Hanson imagines “President Franklin Delano Obama Addresses the Threat of 1930s Violent Extremism”

Imagining Obama as the American president in 1939 makes what’s wrong with the Obama approach to national security clear in a way that a straightforward discussion will not.

“The United States has made significant gains in our struggle against violent extremism in Europe. We are watching carefully aggressions in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and in Eastern Europe. My diplomatic team has made it very clear that aggression against neighbors is inappropriate and unacceptable. We live in the 20th century, where the 19th century practice of changing borders by the use of force has no place in the present era.

“Let me be perfectly clear: Mr. Hitler is playing to a domestic audience. He adopts a sort of macho shtick, as a cut-up in the back of the class who appeals to disaffected countrymen. Our task is to demonstrate to Mr. Hitler that his current behavior is not really in his own interest, and brings neither security nor profit to Germany.

“As for acts of violence in Germany itself, we must express our worry to the German government over apparent extremism, but at the same time we must not overreact. As far as these sporadic attacks on random civilians, as, for example, during the recent Kristallnacht violence, we must keep things in perspective, when, for example, some terrorists randomly targeted some folks in a store. My job is sort of like a big-city mayor, to monitor these terrorist acts that are said to be done in the name of the German people. Let us not overreact and begin to listen to radio commentators who whip us up into a frenzy as if we were on the verge of war. We must not overestimate the SS, a sort of jayvee organization that remains a manageable problem.

Do read the whole thing. One of the greatest attributes of ordinary Americans is their sense of humor. If we lose that, we’re in real trouble.




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