American Elephants


Should America Be the World’s Policeman? by The Elephant's Child
May 27, 2015, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, National Security | Tags: , ,

Bret Stephens is the foreign-affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal where he is also deputy editorial page editor, responsible for the editorial pages of the Journal’s European and Asian editions. From 2002 to 2004, he was editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. I recommend his 2014 book America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder unreservedly. Here he is for Praeger University:



You Can’t Fool Mother Nature With Your Cries Of “Sustainable” and “Renewable.” She Has Her Own Natural Cycles. by The Elephant's Child

If you are seeing a few more articles about wind energy, it’s because there was a big Windpower 2015 Conference last week. We know, from Obama’s graduation speech to the Coast Guard Cadets, that our greatest national security threat is the dangers of global warming climate change. ISIS, Iran’s Nukes, Russia’s growing expansionist interests, China’s domination of the South China Sea all pale into insignificance when compared to the threat of a warming climate. “Renewable energy” is a major part of Obama’s defense posture.

It has long been observed that wind farms and solar arrays exist because there are government subsidies which support the risks of a new business. Remove the subsidies and wind and solar stop. So the question seems to be more about whose pocket is getting lined, rather than about saving the country.

The Obama administration’s solution for expanding wind power nationwide — is to construct taller, more technologically advanced wind turbines that will be more expensive and difficult to build. This is the 21st Century, and whatever isn’t working — technology will fix. The trouble is the nature of wind itself. Even in the windiest spots, wind is intermittent. It blows in occasional gusts, stops, wafts, gentle breezes. What a turbine needs is a consistent stream of wind at a consistent power. That doesn’t happen in nature. We solve that problem with a 24/7 backup power plant switching on whenever the wind fails. Please explain how it makes sense to shut down all coal-fired power plants to get our energy from the wind, which has to have a conventional power plant running all the time to make your belief in wind energy work? Consistency is not a hallmark of the Left.

The American Wind Energy Association says scaling up wind from conventional 80 meter towers to bigger 100-130 meter towers enables something or other that couldn’t be achieved with standard towers. A 130 meter tower is about 426 feet or 120 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.

The Energy Department reports that the cost of wind turbine towers increases rapidly with increasing height creating a trade-off between tower cost and the value of added energy production. There are “wildlife considerations” about the “interaction” between taller turbines and eagles. The American Bird Conservancy issued new research showing how wind turbines are threatening many species.

vortex-1024x576A Spanish Company is proposing a radical new way to  generate wind energy with a bladeless wind turbine called a Vortex that looks like a giant rolled joint shooting into the sky. It takes advantage of what’s known as vorticity, an aerodynamic effect that produces a patter of spinning vortices. With enough wind, vorticity can lead to an oscillating motion in structures — which, to bring it closer to home — caused the spectacular collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

The Germans had converted almost 30 percent of their electric grid to solar and wind energy in 15 years from near zero. Tom Friedman gushed that “it has been a great contribution to the stability of our planet and its climate… a world-saving achievement.” One that has come at the expense of sky-high electricity rates and  a yearly bill of $1,700 per person for a median household income of $33,000.  For the poor, a brutal cost to stay warm in a cooling world. Fearful of Fukushima, Germans are shutting down their 20 GW capacity of nuclear power. And to avoid energy blackmail from Russia, they are turning back to coal. Climate change is not caused by too much CO² in the atmosphere.

We have had over 18 years of no warming at all — a fact that escapes those deeply, emotionally invested in “natural” and “free” and “renewable.” Winters are getting colder. And cold kills.



Taliban Commanders Headed Back To Afghanistan. Nice Going, Mr. President! by The Elephant's Child
May 13, 2015, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, National Security | Tags: , ,

gitmo-detainees-bergdahl-575x261

The five senior Taliban Commanders who were released from Guantanamo in exchange for the return of army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are set to be freed from their confinement in Qatar effective June 1. The hardened terrorist five were classified as some of the most dangerous Taliban commanders held at GITMO, according to Thomas Joscelyn of  The Long War Journal. Qatar helped to broker the deal. This is what we expected.They are deemed “high risks” by the US and its allies. Two have been wanted by the UN for war crimes. They will soon be back on the battlefield.

The naivety of the Obama administration has long been obvious.  They have sought to coax the Taliban into meaningful peace talks, which have been fruitless. A key goal of talks has been to get the Taliban to renounce al Qaeda, something Mullah Omar’s group has declined to do. All five were closely allied with al Qaeda, and undoubtedly now with ISIS.

Bowe Bergdahl willingly walked away from his post while deployed in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. Six months after Bergdahls desertion in November 2009, according to his platoon mates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admiral Mike Mullen knew the details of his desertion. As Chairman, Mullen had to report  the details to the Secretary of Defense and to the President. Why the President decided to trade the five high risk prisoners for the return of Bowe Bergdahl remains a shocking affair. Why he expected Qatar to retain the terrorists indefinitely is unknown. Bergdahl has been charged with one count of “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty” and one count of “misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place.” Hearings are set for July 8, 2015 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Huston. The hearing similar to a grand jury hearing in civilian court will determine whether to try him in a court-martial.

If you wonder why Obama acted as he did, Daniel Pipes’ article from the Middle East Forum is the clearest statement I have seen anywhere. Still hard to stomach.



Here’s What Close Air Support Looks Like by The Elephant's Child

Let’s hear it for the venerable A-10 Warthog. Old and ugly, but beloved by the troops for it can get up close and personal with the enemy. The Air Force wants to retire the planes, which are currently needed, in favor of turning the upkeep funds towards the next generation F-35, which seems to constantly be in need of more money. This video gives an idea of what it can do. Put it on full screen and enjoy.  Representative Martha McSally (R-Arizona) a retired Air Force Colonel who has been an A-10 pilot is fighting to keep the Air Force from retiring the A-10 thirteen years ahead of schedule.

ADDENDUM: 5/14 – Detachments of U.S. warplanes are operating throughout the Baltic region, sending a reassuring message to our allies—and a warning to Russia. Defense wonks call it a theatre security package or TSP. This is a first in Europe. Previous ones have been deployed to Asia. They are actively conducting surveillance and intelligence gathering missions, which we know because a Russian SU–27 almost collided with an American surveillance airplane, the Boeing RC–135U. Its specialty is collecting intel on opposing radar, by spotting and analyzing emissions from the ground. It provides a vital map of the location and types of radar that guard Russian borders.



Why Is Freedom of Speech So Hard To Understand? by The Elephant's Child

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and
to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.

So, naturally, Hillary Clinton, who has desperately wanted to be President ever since she failed to be co-president with Bill (because the people of the United States reminded her that she was not elected) announced as the item of first importance in her quest to be the first woman president 23 years later, that she wants to rewrite the First Amendment to get rid of that annoying bit about “freedom of speech.”

If you need extreme evidence of the failure of our schools to teach the history of our country — there you go. Were you taught why the founders came to believe that the Bill of Rights was an essential part of the Constitution that had, at first, been overlooked?  That’s a dramatic story in itself.

The clear lesson of history is that individual liberty,
the basic underpinning of American society, requires
constant defense against the encroachment of the state.¹

Far too many people simply do not understand what the First Amendment is about. They like the idea of free speech until they find out that it means that people can say unpleasant, offensive or even hateful things, and you can’t get the police or the government to force them to stop. (The faculty will probably help). But “hate speech?” Triggering? Free-Speech Zones? Have American universities become only places of indoctrination rather than citadels of free thought?

The Left today has little use for free speech. After all, they used to be plain “Democrats,” then they became “Liberals,” and when that name fell into disrepute they became “Progressives.” They are deeply concerned with the use of language to sway minds. That’s why they are so careful about “talking points.” They don’t want anyone to foul up the conversation by not using the approved words. They get very annoyed when conservatives respond with pure logic, or even facts.

You have probably noticed that Leftists don’t like to be disagreed with. It depends on the particular subject, but in general, the Left approaches problems emotionally. They are deeply troubled by inequality, overflowing with empathy, and want to take all the extra money the rich have tucked away and give it to the unfortunate.

Free speech is under threat today as never before, especially on our college campuses, where students are often too fragile to hear a speaker who might deliver words uncomfortable to tender ears. Banned speakers have been George Will, Condoleeza Rice, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali — brilliant people who have important things to say.

Pamela Geller is a courageous woman who is trying to expose the reality of radical Islam. She helped to plan a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that was attacked by two gunmen in Garland, Texas over the weekend. Organizers knew they’d be targeted, but refused to back down.The contest was designed to show the importance of freedom of speech and the savagery of the Islamic State. A policeman was shot, and the two shooters were killed by the police.

Pamela Geller has been threatened with an anonymous message boasting of “71 trained soldiers in 15 different states, ready at our word to attack.”  That’s serious. Judicial Watch has identified an ISIS training camp just 8 miles south of the border in Mexico. Homeland Security denied any such camp, though Mexican authorities authenticated it to Judicial Watch.

What is particularly disgusting is the American media, who attacked Pamela Geller for staging a contest that would offend Muslims, rather than attacking the shooters who claimed to represent ISIS.

That the American media should be so lacking in understanding of the importance of free speech is astonishing, for they are extremely conscious of the freedom of the press, another part of the First Amendment, and depend on it for their livelihoods. But conformity with Leftist talking points trumps liberty every time.

And certainly they are aware of the Charlie Hebdo murders, and the beginning of the cartoon controversy in 2005 as the Danish newspaper published a series of cartoons on September 30, some depicting the Prophet Mohammad as a terrorist with a bomb. If you missed that whole thing, or didn’t understand what the fuss was all about, The Telegraph has published a complete timeline from the beginning at Jyllands-Posten down to today and the shooting at Garland, Texas.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. “The belief that Islam prohibits drawing Prophet Mohammed pervades public debate over what causes “cartoon” violence.

At the root of Muslim protestations is the false belief that Islam prohibits the depiction of Prophet Mohammed. There is no prohibition on creating images of Prophet Mohammed in the Qur’an. Up until the 14th century; such depictions were common in the non-Arab Muslim world. On my website, www.tarekfatah.com, I have posted many depictions of Prophet Mohammed, drawn mostly by Muslim artists. Even if it were true that such depictions were prohibited, the prohibition would not be applicable to non-Muslims.

That article was published in The Toronto Sun, not in the “mainstream” American press. Do read the whole piece from the Middle East Forum. The key sentence: “On the contrary, many Muslims rejected Geller’s right to freedom of expression, admitting that even as Americans they believe there should be limits to free speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”

“Here is the hard truth; that the world contains many cultures inured to tyranny from time out of mind. There are peoples who may long for freedom, but have no practical idea how it can be got and maintained; or if they know, no energy for the task.” ²

¹ Walter Wriston: Risk and Other Four Letter Words
² David Warren
three-man-imprisoned-nearly-40-years-thanks-teenagers-lie


The Immigration Problem Is Far Bigger Than You Ever Imagined. by The Elephant's Child

video-shows-women-climbing-u-s-mexico-border-fence-in-less-than-18-seconds

Immigration is a touchy subject — minefields in every direction. We are a nation with borders and immigration laws, or at least we used to be. The president of the United States believes that American Immigration policies are not determined by the Constitution, nor by the laws of our country, but by his personal preferences. He apparently hopes to admit enough poor, non-English speaking illegal aliens from Central America and give them driver’s licenses, and thus the right to vote—to guarantee the next election, and future elections.

“Progressive,” “socialist,” and “liberal” are today interchangeable terms that describe participants in a moral crusade with a political agenda, usually referred to as “social justice.” It can be summed up as equality imposed by the state.The quest for a utopia of equals forges progressive alliances, defines their allegiances, and justifies the means they are willing to use to get there.They may differ on policies and tactics to advance the cause. But they are ever ready to subordinate their differences to achieve the common goal. Since the Democratic Party has become a party of the Left, progressive missionaries view it as the practical vehicle for making their idea a reality. They are willing to follow its marching orders because a political party that controls the state is the only way to achieve the goal. (David Horowitz: Take No Prisoners)

“Social Justice,” defined by the left as equality imposed by the state, is equality of the ordinary people out there, but the “progressives” proposing it view themselves as the state, those who impose equality, not those who actually participate in it. See the case of Hillary, who charges $300,000 for a half-hour speech (Bill gets $500,000) is clearly a paid-up member if the 1%, and excoriates corporate CEOs for making too much money, Which is not just silly, but major hypocrisy.

If we are going to have immigration laws, who should we let in? Everybody that wants to come? People who bring desirable skills? Refugees from the hell-holes of the world? The president can’t even get around to admitting the translators who worked with the U.S,Army in Iraq — whose lives are in danger from ISIS. That’s a disgrace. How many of the relatives of a new citizen should be admitted? People with significant assets? Degrees? Business owners? English speakers? People with no assets who will require welfare, food stamps, housing? Diversity? Ethnic origin? A large portion of the countries in the world are hell-holes.

A large percentage of the people of the world would like to come to America. If no immigration curbs are enacted, another 14 million immigrants will come to the U.S between now and 2025. That means adding a new population almost four times larger than that of Los Angeles in just 10 years time. But empathy, compassion, caring?

Businesses claim to need new immigrants, claim that immigrants have added much to American society, but when examined more closely, high-tech workers are being forced to train their replacements who will work for less money. One Silicon Valley company was paying legal Indian immigrants $1.24 an hour to work 100 hour weeks. There is currently a program that converts foreign college graduates back into foreign students so they can stay and work legally. That number soared to nearly 100,000 in 2013. Since they are defined by ICE as “students” neither the employer or the alien has to pay payroll taxes —so the United States pays a bonus of as much as $11,600 to an employer when they hire an alien graduate rather than a U.S.graduate with the same qualifications and the same salary.

Conservatives usually say they want the border controlled before we reform immigration laws and set quotas. They want the border fence completed. Scroll through this Google Images portrayal of the “Border fence With Mexico.” Mexico, by the way, is extremely offended by any border fence of ours, but anyone crossing into Mexico without permission may spend months in jail. They depend on remittances from illegals who have crossed into the U.S. to work  to support their economy.

I welcome legal immigrants with open arms. Immigration is not a suicide pact. We have a right to determine who and how many and when we will admit immigrants. But deciding who and how many and under what circumstances needs to be decided on the merits — not by ;politicians who are trying to appeal to particular voting groups. And Legal immigrants must assimilate, renounce their former country and become Americans. Barack Obama is doing wrong, and doing great damage to the country. He needs to be stopped.



Hillary, Searching for a Political Advantage, Takes On Fortune 500 CEOs , Who She Thinks Make Too Much Money! by The Elephant's Child

hillary clinton

The news today seems to be mostly about Hillary, and about income and wealth distribution. But I repeat myself. The phrase that sticks in my mind from Hillary supporters goes something like “Don’t you want a really powerful woman to be our next president?” Well, no. And Hillary is not a “powerful woman.” She’s a celebrity — famous for being famous. Powerful women are deemed to be powerful based on their accomplishments. We can all recite a number of Hillary’s scandals, but accomplishments are harder to come up with.

(Reuters) – Hillary Clinton, under pressure from the left-wing of her Democratic Party to aggressively campaign against income inequality, voiced concern about the hefty paychecks of some corporate executives in an email to supporters.

Striking a populist note, Clinton, who announced on Sunday she was running for president in 2016, said American families were still facing financial hardship at a time “when the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.

That’s an old phony statistic derived from an ABC News article citing a 2009 study, comparing the income from the CEOs of S&P 500 companies (which are only a part of the largest companies in the country, many of which are privately owned). And who is the average worker? Does this compare union longshoremen in west coast ports with McDonalds workers? Is the comparison with average workers in those S&P 500 companies? This is a favorite theme of the left, trying to drum up class envy and then promising to help everyone on the lower end. They talk a lot about income inequality. What they don’t talk about is human nature.

Some people are born with the proverbial silver spoon in their pampered lives. Some people desperately want to be rich, really rich. Hillary charges $300,000 a speech for a half-hour of platitudes, often to Universities who are sticking kids with huge student-loan bills. She adds on amenities due to one in her position. Some people would like to make a little more, but prefer a life that is not centered on a drive for money. They value other things in life more.

What amazes me is that Hillary’s life has been centered on becoming the first woman president. I simply don’t understand that kind of goal. Hillary has been in the public eye for 23 years. One would assume that she would have some pretty definite ideas about what she would want to accomplish as president. Apparently not. She is being urged to champion income inequality by supporters of Elizabeth Warren who like Warren’s attacks on big banks.

Most first ladies have had a philanthropic cause that they champion, though there is no formal need to do so. Laura Bush championed books and reading as a former librarian. Lady Bird Johnson chose highway beautification. There are a number of websites that tell the story of the President’s wives and their accomplishments. You can look up Hillary.

We are always fascinated by the lives of the very rich (consider Downton Abbey and the struggle to maintain that great architectural pile and avoid bankruptcy). Most people who appear on the Forbes 500 move off the list within a few years, and most people who are among the poor move up. The top 20% of the income pile pay 85% of all taxes. The bottom 20% don’t pay any taxes and are subsidized with 2.3% of national income.

Think of the kid who gets his first real job and moves out of his parents’ home. Shares an apartment, eats lots of Top Ramen and macaroni and cheese. As he gains experience and skills, he moves up. In a bad economy some move back into the parents’ home. Most of us have known someone whose drive to make money trumps everything else. Or there are those who choose to marry money. Or musicians who work dumb jobs to support their music, hoping to someday make it pay. That’s real life. It’s all very well to cite data, but real human beings are not data. Life happens.There is such a thing as luck. Some people fall into a situation where their abilities and ideas are highly valued, and some people get fired.

Real people are not statistics. Statistics and data can tell us some things, but they are not very useful in describing human nature. Some people are sure they can regulate social justice, make everything fair, end poverty, stop crime, end wars. Life doesn’t work that way. On the whole, poverty is declining everywhere. Capitalism and free markets are making everyone’s lives better, while at the same time religious fanatics are chopping off heads and throwing people into the ocean to drown because they believe in a different religion. If you don’t understand human nature in all its strengths and flaws and go on a fevered crusade to pretend to make everybody equal — it’s not going to work out too well for real people.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,107 other followers

%d bloggers like this: