American Elephants

Artisanal Firewood by The Elephant's Child

This is That profiles Smoke & Flame, a Vancouver artisanal firewood company that is selling bundles of kindling for $1,000 a bundle. For more, visit  Craftsmanship!

(Well-crafted joke)

So it’s Sunday. You Should Have a Good Laugh! Here it Is. by The Elephant's Child

Donald Trump
Through the Ages

 By Jonathan Flowers

The ancestry of Donald Trump stretches back to the Ancient World. Listen, as several of Trump’s forebears recount some of the most famous moments in history.

The Death of Julius Caesar

So this is, maybe, a week after the Ides of March. I’m in Rome. I got a new coliseum there. Great coliseum. I build a lot them. Make a lot of money. Very successful.

So I’m in Rome. And Brutus and his cabal ask me to say a few words about Caesar. Really, begging me to say something about him. And Brutus is an honorable guy. So, I’m like, “Sure. Whatever.”

But then right before my speech, Brutus comes up to me — he’s real nervous, Brutus — and he says, “Whatever you do in your speech, don’t blame me for Caesar’s death.”

The whole thing is here, and Funny! He captures “the Donald” to perfection.

(h/t: Powerline, and thanks)

Best Headline Of The Week! by The Elephant's Child

Economist Mark J. Perry, wrote at the American Enterprise Institute:

Why do progressives hate Walmart for low prices and its 3% profit margin but love high-priced Apple and its 24% profit margin?

Evil Walmart makes a lot of money, right? We hear that all the time even though the retail giant’s profit margin was only 3.12% in the most recent quarter. Interestingly, we never seem to hear as much about the much higher profit margin of Apple, the “darling of the progressives.” In the most recent quarter, the computer behemoth with a market capitalization ($725 billion) that exceeds the value of the entire stock markets of Mexico, Thailand and Russia, had a whopping profit margin of 24.2%. No wonder its market cap is so astronomical.

Here’s one way to put Walmart’s 3.12% profit margin in perspective. Over a typical 31-day period like the month of March for example, Walmart generates about $40.5 billion in sales revenue (roughly $1.3 billion per day). To generate that amount of sales, it costs Walmart about $39.3 billion every 31 days to pay for all of its expenses: merchandise to stock its stores, shipping expenses, the cost of labor including fringe benefits, utilities, corporate income taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes, interest expenses, advertising, etc. After incurring all of those costs to provide the merchandise for consumers over a 31-day period, there’s about $1.26 billion left over for profits, which is also 3.12% of the $40.5 billion in sales revenue.

In contrast, Apple’s whopping 24.2% profit margin means that the company can typically cover its costs to operate for 31 days in a little more than three weeks (23.5 days) and it then usually has 7.5 “profit days” every 31 days. That is, for more than an entire week every month, all of the sales revenue collected by Apple during those 7.5 days turns into profits for Apple’s shareholders.

Do read the whole thing. There’s lots more, and a good lesson in both politics and economics. And Progressivism as well.

Today’s Must Read Essays. Matters of Strength and Weakness. by The Elephant's Child

Michael Doran, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. He specializes in Middle East security issues. “I Don’t Bluff..”

President Obama has repeatedly promised to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. If there is no other choice, he says, he will resort to force. In a March 2012 interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, the president famously rejected the alternative policy, namely, allowing Iran to go nuclear and then trying to contain it. He emphasized the point dramatically: “[A]s president of the United States,” he said, “I don’t bluff.”

Really? Suppose this statement was just a show of toughness, timed to keep supporters of Israel on his side during the 2012 campaign season. Suppose that, when it came to Iran, in his heart of hearts, the president actually preferred a strategy of containment to a strategy of prevention. Suppose that was actually his policy aim from the outset—but, for obvious reasons, he couldn’t say so. How would he proceed?

He would proceed exactly as he has been proceeding—trumpeting his intention to roll back the Iranian nuclear program while actually avoiding confrontation at all costs.
Read the whole thing:

Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution: “What are the Metaphysics of Islamic Denial?”

After six years, it is no surprise that the Obama administration does not see the Taliban as “terrorists” or that it will not associate “violent extremism” with radical Islam or just Islam.

After all, when Maj. Hasan murdered U.S. soldiers it was nothing more than “workplace violence,” as if he were a disgruntled post office employee of the 1970s. Our two top intelligence chiefs assured us that the Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular” and that jihad “was a legitimate tenet of Islam.” Add in “workplace violence” and the old “overseas contingency operations.” Do we remember that Ms. Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security warned us about right-wing returning veterans as the most likely to terrorize us? When someone blows up people at the Boston Marathon, beheads a woman in Oklahoma, or puts a hatchet in a NYPD officer’s head, he is not a terrorist or proselytizer fueled by Islamic hatred of non-Muslims as much as mentally confused. (I suppose in a way that a Hitler or Stalin was not.)      Read the whole thing:

Again, Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution: “Obama Does Have a Strategy

The Wise People of American foreign policy — Madeleine Albright, General Jack Keane, Henry Kissinger, General James Mattis, George Shultz, and others — recently testified before Congress. Their candid and insightful collective message dovetailed with the worries of many former Obama-administration officials, such as one-time defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, as well as a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Their consensus is that the U.S. is drifting, and with it the world at large: The Obama administration has not formulated a consistent strategy to cope with the advance of second-generation Islamic terrorism. It is confused by the state upheavals in the Middle East. It is surprised by the aggression of Putin’s Russia and the ascendance of an autocratic China. Our allies in Europe, much of democratic Asia, and Israel all worry that the U.S. is rudderless, as it slashes its military budget and withdraws from prior commitments.

While I think the symptomology of an ailing, herky-jerky United States is correct, the cause of such malaise is left unspoken. The Obama team — with its foreign policy formulated by President Obama himself, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, White House consigliere Valerie Jarrett, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and present Secretary of State John Kerry — is not in fact befuddled by the existing world. Instead, it is intent on changing it into something quite different from what it is.

So far from being chaotic, current U.S. foreign policy is consistent, logical, and based on four pillars of belief.
Read the Whole Thing

The Machines Are Taking Over, Doing Things On Their Own! by The Elephant's Child

Bwa ha ha ha. I just started to go to to get the text of the speech, entered the website, and this is what I got:


What Was Missing In Obama’s Foreign Policy by The Elephant's Child

From Defense analyst Nadia Schadlow writing at — via the WSJ’s Notable & Quotable column Sept. 7, 2014:

President Obama’s commitment to reducing America’s reliance on the military instrument of power is well-known. It has been a constant theme of his presidency—from his first presidential campaign through his major speech on foreign policy at West Point earlier this year. It is therefore paradoxical that the administration’s foreign policy outlook and operational style have made use of the military instrument almost unavoidable. By failing to understand that the space between war and peace is not an empty one—but a landscape churning with political, economic, and security competitions that require constant attention—American foreign policy risks being reduced to a reactive and tactical emphasis on the military instrument by default. . . .

The tactical mindset that dominates national security decision-making prioritizes military means over political ends and confuses activity (such as the bombing of enemy positions) with progress. Because the use of military force is not connected to operational plans for subsequent political consolidation, the United States vacates the space between war and peace. And because they cannot match American military power directly, it is in this space—battlegrounds of perception, coercion, mass atrocity—that America’s enemies and adversaries prefer to operate.

“the space between war and peace is not an empty one—but a landscape churning with political, economic, and security competitions that require constant attention.” I love it when someone calls to our attention something seemingly obvious to which we pay little attention, and changes the pattern of our thought.

Excellent website. Add warontherocks to your  choice website list!

A Must-See Collection of Historical Photographs. by The Elephant's Child

Here is a fascinating display of historical black and white photographs — colorized for modern eyes. Up until the 1970s color photography was somewhat rare and the color prints did not always age well anyway. Admitting my vast age, I was far more familiar with black and white photos than color, and as far as that goes, the color was not always accurate, so I can’t quite understand the idea that “colorizing” old photos “gives us our only chance at seeing what the world really looked like back then.” But it is a theme I have heard often, so it must be true for those for whom black and white photos are — weird.

The colorizing is beautifully done. You will enjoy these 53 historical photos.


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