American Elephants


Obama Does His King Canute Imitation, Or Is It the Emperor with the Mythic Clothes? by The Elephant's Child
April 18, 2015, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, National Security, Politics | Tags: , ,

President Obama said today in his Weekly Address that “Wednesday is Earth Day, a day to appreciate and protect this precious planet we call home. And there is no greater threat to our planet than climate change.” So never mind Iran’s bid to eliminate Israel and America with nuclear weapons. Never mind Putin’s agreement to supply them with advanced missiles. Never mind Putin’s worrisome efforts to do a little expansion among his neighbors. Pay no attention to China’s interesting efforts to expand their control over the China Sea. Use the federal agencies, the EPA. CEQ and others to fundamentally transform America. Obama said:

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.  Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.  This winter was cold in parts of our country – as some folks in Congress like to point out – but around the world, it was the warmest ever recorded.

And the fact that the climate is changing has very serious implications for the way we live now.  Stronger storms.  Deeper droughts.  Longer wildfire seasons.  The world’s top climate scientists are warning us that a changing climate already affects the air our kids breathe.  Last week, the Surgeon General and I spoke with public experts about how climate change is already affecting patients across the country.  The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.

And on Earth Day, I’m going to visit the Florida Everglades to talk about the way that climate change threatens our economy.  The Everglades is one of the most special places in our country.  But it’s also one of the most fragile.  Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure – and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry – at risk.

Would you like to wager that there’s a nice golf course in Florida near wherever he is making his Everglades speech? One would think that someone in the White House would make a small effort to see if the presidential facts had some tiny bit of truth to them. It’s not hard. The facts are widely available.

He recently announced his big effort to claim that human health was being affected by climate change, and global warming gave his daughter Malia asthma, except Michelle had explained that Malia had an allergic attack at the circus because she has a peanut allergy.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N’s Framework Convention on Climate Change admitted at a news conference a couple of weeks ago in Brussels, that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from an ecological catastrophe, but to destroy capitalism.

There has been no warming for over 18 years. None, nada, zilch. If there are widely differing opinions about something in the news, is there no impulse to see what the other side is talking about? Wouldn’t you hesitate to push a vast new program enlisting the medical profession and giant corporations in a completely phony effort? I guess if you can destroy capitalism and dispense with all the “deniers”, what’s not to like?

I guess you put on your Tyrant hats, attempt to deny, as Hillary did, the value of free speech, and just say whatever you feel like. The rubes out there haven’t got a clue anyway.



There Is No Deal. There Is No “Framework” Deal. There Is No Truth! by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times headline claimed “Iran Agrees to Detailed Nuclear Outline. The Washington Post followed up with: “Iran agrees to nuclear restrictions in framework deal with world powers.” All hogwash. The “historic agreement” that President Obama is trying desperately to sell is pure fantasy. There has been no agreement on any of the fundamental issues that have led to international concern about Iran’s highly secret nuclear activities and have led to 13 years of diplomatic thrusts and talks and six mandatory resolutions by the United Nations Security Council.

What we have is a bunch of contradictory statements by the assorted  participants in the latest round of talks in Switzerland and an ignored deadline. Everybody is trying to make positive statements that spin things in a desirable manner without exceeding the boundaries of reality. So there was a 291 word joint statement in English by Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif and the EU foreign policy leader Federica Mogherini who led the so-called P5+1 group of nations including the US in the negotiations.

Then there was the official Iranian text in 512 Persian words, and the text from US Secretary of State John Kerry who has put out a 1,318 word document which acts as if all is a done deal. The three different documents not only do not agree, they are frankly contradictory. The Mogherini and French texts are vague and not even good spin.

The Persian text carefully avoids any words that might in any way give the impression that anything has been agreed by the Iranian side or that the Islamic republic has offered any concessions whatsoever. The Iranian text is labelled as a press statement only. It opens insisting that it has no “legal aspect” and in intended only as a “guideline for drafting future accords.” Last April they were caught cheating on the amount of oil they were allowed to export under the relaxed sanctions.

The American text pretends to spell out “parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” and claims that key points have been “decided” — and what remains to be done is  to work out the “implementation details.” The U.S.version claims that Iran has agreed to certain restraints for example reducing the number of centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,500.

The Iranian text, however, says that Iran “shall be able to …” or “qader khahad boud” in Farsi to do such a thing. The same is true about enrichment in Fordow. The Americans say Iran has agreed to stop enrichment there for 15 years. The Iranian text, however, refers to this as something that Iran “will be able to do,” if it so wished. Sometimes the two texts are diametrically opposed.

The American statement claims that Iran has agreed not to use advanced centrifuges, each of which could do the work of 10 old ones. The Iranian text, however, insists that “on the basis of solutions found, work on advanced centrifuges shall continue on the basis of a 10-year plan.”

The American text claims that Iran has agreed to dismantle the core of the heavy water plutonium plant in Arak. The Iranian text says the opposite. The plant shall remain and be updated and modernized.

The American text talks of “sanctions relief” while Iran claims that the sanctions would be  “immediately terminated.” Which is it? This is not a small matter. Remember that Obama is a fierce competitor and determined to build a legacy, and get his way.

In his Rose Garden statement, Obama said:

Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today’s framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.  And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, and that we could not verify their compliance and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended. Iran has met all of its obligations. It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material.  Inspections of Iran’s program increased. And we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.

Today, after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal.  And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.  This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

According to the Persians, they have agreed to no such thing. Iran has said clearly that Obama is lying. Iran has cheated on every single restriction ever placed on them. There have been 20 years of nuclear deal-breaking. In 2003, after Iran came clean, inspectors kept finding new and undeclared sites within Iran. In December they were caught shopping for components for its heavy-water reactor which can produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Iran says plainly that they will not shut down a single facility, will not dismantle a single centrifuge, and will not ship it’s stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country. The UN inspections people say they really don’t know just what the Iranians have, and won’t know without being able to do surprise inspections.

But Obama wants you to know that the deal he has not made is a good one. He claimed that the only alternative to his deal was another ground war in the Middle East. Yet anyone who has been paying the slightest attention could come up with several alternatives. Obama is regarded as completely weak. The Arab nations have joined together with Israel to protest the deal he seems so determined on. He says “this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” But he also says that ” Iran wants to join the community of nations” just at the moment that they are sponsoring genocide in Syria. He seems to think the Iranian people want to be part of that community, without any understanding that Iran is a dictatorial theocracy, and if the people dared to speak out, which they don’t, they would swiftly be executed.

Willful ignorance, and a frightening fantasy. When they shriek “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” — they actually mean it.



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.



A Curious And Appalling Agreement to Keep Talking by The Elephant's Child

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With many of the policies our president announces, you know it’s not going to work and I know it’s not going to work, so why is he doing it? I’m certainly not a psychoanalyst, and you probably aren’t either. Congressmen are quick to oppose something and say why, but the White House itself is very close-mouthed. I pay a lot of attention to Richard Epstein’s comments, because I’m a great admirer of Mr. Epstein, and I think he’s an unusually careful observer. (If you haven’t watched the video, it’s helpful if you are curious. Short segment at 20:36).

With all the news about the Iraq nuclear talks, it’s pretty clear that Sec. Kerry and Sec. Moniz have their marching orders. Obama wants a deal. So far the tentative agreement seems to be just what we laughed at for its absurdity. It’s an agreement to keep talking for a few more months, with some very disturbing guidelines. Neither side agrees to what the other said they agreed to.

“Negotiators have a tentative agreement on the rough outline of a possible public statement on the progress they have made so far that would also highlight areas of disagreement, diplomats close to the talks said.”

What I believe would be an acceptable deal bears no relationship to what Obama has in mind, and what he has in mind is frightening in its possible outcome. The questions multiply. (Epstein: He is very dogmatic in his essential positions, and does not change his mind.) But Obama said the Iranians want to be part of the community of nations, or something like that. Well, no, the mullahs have no interest in a community of nations, unless it is a restored Persian empire, and whatever the Iranian people want is of no concern. This is a theocracy, not a democracy. Obama has said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. (No one anywhere can find any evidence of such a fatwa) From Raymond Ibrahim:

First, the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. Islamic prophet Muhammad himself regularly lied to his infidel enemies, often resulting in their murder (such as the case of Ka‘b ibn Ashraf). He also proclaimed that lying was permissible in three contexts, one being war. Moreover, throughout the centuries and due to historic circumstances (discussed here), taqiyya became second nature to the Shia — the sect currently ruling Iran. …

Indeed, during a recent speech, supreme leader Khamenei — whose fatwa Obama is now citing — boasted about Iran’s uranium enrichment, even as his military commanders shouted, “Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”

Back in October of 2008, Martin Kramer, President of Shalem College in Jerusalem wrote a primer on the Middle East for the new president. It’s long, but worth your while for understanding where Obama’s ideas about the Middle East came from, and why they are fixed and unassailable — and mistaken.

Here are a couple more excellent short pieces explaining the present situation. “This Is Not a Deal” by Abe Greenwald. And “The Tricks Obama Is Trying to Play with the Iran Announcement” by John Podhoretz, both from Commentary. And here’s “The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw” by Charles Duelfer from Politico.

People react differently to great policy changes or errors — some just don’t want to think about it, and others want to learn everything they can. Painful either way.



Desperately Seeking A Legacy, Perhaps in Solar? by The Elephant's Child

pic_giant_042314_SM_The-Adolescent-President-Barack-Obama_0Interesting. President Obama’s Rose Garden speech on the wonderful deal they are working on with Iran has not yet appeared on the White House website under “Speeches and Remarks.” They are usually much more forthcoming. It’s possible that Mr. Obama doesn’t want anyone parsing it too closely. We’ll see.

In the meantime, President Obama flew out to Utah to Hill Air Force Base, apparently to talk about solar energy.

Since I took office, solar electricity has gone up twentyfold.  And our investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency haven’t just helped to cut carbon pollution, they’ve made us more energy independent.  And they’ve helped us create a steady stream of high-wage, good-paying, middle-class jobs. …

And what I’m doing here today is to highlight the fact that the solar industry is actually adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.  They’re paying good jobs — they’re good-paying jobs that are helping folks enter into the middle class.  And today what we’re going to try to do is to build on the progress that’s already been made.

I’m announcing a new goal to train 75,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020.  As part of this, we’re creating what we’re calling a “Solar Ready Vets” program that’s modeled after some successful pilot initiatives that have already been established over the last several years.  It’s going to train transitioning military personnel for careers in this growing industry at 10 bases — including right here at Hill.

The Air Base is getting 20% of its energy from renewable sources, he said, and he’s going to work with states to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get solar job training.

The Washington Examiner clears up the issue:

A new White House initiative to train veterans for jobs in the solar energy industry could turn into a rout if its key federal solar energy subsidy is phased out on schedule next year — a problem for the industry is that it’s dependent on the subsidy for hiring. The plan may also face challenges as the administration’s plan for heavy energy industry regulation is coming under fire from courts, Congress and state governments.

Without federal subsidies (taxpayer dollars) the solar industry would die. The sun goes down at night and it gets dark — and everybody turns on their lights. So the solar arrays need full-time back-up from conventional power plants. The federal subsidies expire in 2016, and Obama has written continuing subsidy into his absurd budget, but the GOP Congress is fervently opposed to the rules, and Majority Leader McConnell is advising states not to comply with the rules.

According to the U.S . Energy Information Administration, solar power accounts for just 0.4 percent of American electricity production, compared to 66 percent from fossil fuel sources. The EPA is expected to force new regulations that will help the industry. The EPA rules, also known as the Clean Power Plan, are very controversial. Legal scholars argue that the rules may be illegal under the Clean Air Act. The plan currently faces a legal challenge in federal appeals courts by around a dozen states.

Obama’s Legacy is not faring too well. The Progressive program, drummed up in faculty lounges and Think Progress and the lunchroom at the New York Times, has always been heavy on utopian wishful thinking and short of practical steps and proven economic policy. As always. it’s stuff that sounds good in the abstract, but doesn’t work in the real world.

Most of Obama’s policies are already abject failures, but he’s going to make a valiant effort to get a legacy of some sort with executive orders. He is attempting to embed his policies in the political culture so that it would appear too extreme to strike them down. He believes his vision will win out, and voters would punish anybody for trying to scrap his policies.

I don’t know that “existence bias” would trump a recovering economy and recovering employment. At Hill Air Force Base he bragged about our businesses creating another 129,000 new jobs in March, saying that added up to 12 million new jobs over the past 5 years. Unmentioned is that it is the smallest job gain since December of 2013.  January and February jobs numbers were also revised downward. An all-time record of 93,175,000 Americans are no longer in the labor force. A record of 12,202,000 black Americans are not in the labor force — they did not have a job or actively seek one in the past four weeks. ——



There are more important things in the news! by The Elephant's Child

Another small addition to the idea that we may have way too many aspiring newsmen. It is the first week of April, and we have one announced candidate for the office of President of the United States. Yet the news daily is filled with commentary on the presidential campaign. Most viable potential candidates have already had attacks of one sort or another as reporters strive to be the first one to find a real flaw to knock someone out of the race.

April 1, from The New York Times (not an April Fools Joke): “Scott Walker, Allergic to Dogs, May Run Against Political History:”

The attention to Mr. Walker’s likely candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination has focused on weighty matters such as his battles with the left, faltering forays into foreign policy and conservative stances on social issues including abortion and gun rights. But little notice has been given to an area in which he faces a different sort of constitutional challenge: overcoming his aversion to man’s best friend.

Jeb Bush can lament how he lost a Labrador (named for his brother Marvin) to cancer. Marco Rubio has a Shih Tzu, with a name like a gift from heaven: Manna. Ted Cruz goes one better: His rescue mutt is called Snowflake. (“Dear Jesus, please, please, PLEASE bring us a puppy,” his daughters prayed, according to Mr. Cruz’s Facebook page.) And if Mr. Walker makes it to November, he could face Hillary Rodham Clinton and her toy poodle, Tally.

Mr. Walker, who gives a gloomy stump speech filled with “worry,” perhaps could use a four-legged image softener of his own. But he is allergic to dog dander, an aide confirmed.

Well, says the Times, in that he’s running against the long sweep of American political history. If there was a handbook for candidates, “must love dogs” would be right up front.



Manipulating Domestic Opinion. Do You Believe Him? by The Elephant's Child

What was going on yesterday? A media frenzy so focused on the possibility that someone might be offended that it wiped all other news off the page? A full-throated attack by the Big Gay Hate Machine to discourage anyone from objecting to their choices? Oddly enough, the RFRA laws that were passed did not even mention sex, Gays, intolerance, or anything else related to discrimination, but merely said that religious beliefs needed to receive consideration.

Or was this media frenzy called out by the White House to take media attention off the nuclear discussions in Switzerland? Was it a mere coincidence that Senator Menendez (D-CT) (who was a sponsor of two different bills, one putting the sanctions back on Iran if they didn’t fully allow inspections, and the other forcing any agreement to come to the Senate for confirmation) was suddenly indicted for supposed corruption just when his bills might come to the attention of the public?

See how suspicious I’m becoming? Obama is a fierce competitor. The Republicans may have won control of Congress, but Obama has no intention of changing his strategy from doing exactly what he chooses by executive orders— to consulting and cooperating with Republicans to try to accomplish something. Obama believes the ends justify the means. Obama wants to be in control of his situation. Obama is dogmatic in his essential positions and does not change his mind.

We are told that Mr. Obama only sees his closest associates. That he requires from his czars and advisers a short list of 3 choices from which he will choose. That sounds like that he does not have the skill set he needs to deal with the complex problems he wants to address.

There is no Iran deal yet, but Obama was speaking of a pact in the past tense, as if it was a done deal. “He claims  ‘It has succeeded exactly as intended’—pretty much what he says about ObamaCare.”

You will notice that today, the media frenzy of yesterday has virtually disappeared. Obama has made his big statement for domestic purposes, and, as Investors says, “Nothing, apparently, will stop Obama from accepting the inevitability of a nuclear Iran and absurdly claiming that it makes the world safer.”




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