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.



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.



James Mattis Once Wrote a Letter on the Importance of Reading by The Elephant's Child

29firstdraft-mattis-tmagarticlePresident-Elect Donald Trump has announced his choice of Retired Marine General James Mattis to be his Defense Secretary, to wide acclaim. Mattis is widely respected in the military, loved by his troops, and is an outstanding choice.

The Daily Caller published a famous letter today that General Mattis wrote on the “importance of reading and military history for officers” “who found themselves too busy to read.” His response to the lack of time went viral, with good reason. It’s a clear testament to the General’s character, and a good lesson for all of us.

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.



It’s Been a Really Bad Month for the Left: Fidel Castro Finally Dead at Age 90 by The Elephant's Child

trudeau_transparency_20140611Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately gathered the mockery of the internet as he issued praise for the dead Cuban tyrant.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie [Trudeau’s wife] and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader,”

He also called 90-year-old dictator “larger than life” and a “legendary revolutionary and orator.” Uh huh.  Twitter had great fun with that:

Go here for the long, long list of people not impressed and having fun:

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Who Voted For Donald Trump Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

construction-worker-hard-hatFirst it was Hillary with her sneering reference to “the Deplorables,” then others began to speak of the “uneducated white working class.” Almost sounds like the old line about “poor white trash.” So who did vote for Trump? The media has insisted that it’s people who worked in dying industries and have lost their jobs. Both Bill and Hillary actually expressed their contempt for coal miners— on the stump. The media talks about manufacturing jobs that are ending and will never come back.

On October 20, 2008, Senator Barack Obama declared “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” President Obama set about fundamental transformation. First they transformed key institutions, shifting power from the people’s sovereignty, ignoring the Constitution and separation of powers, to a centralized administrative state, where an elite exercised executive, legislative and judicial powers without the consent of the people or their elected representatives. The progressive worldview bases its civic morality on the centrality of ascribed group identity and group consciousness, particularly race, ethnicity, and gender. Group interests get priority. Professor John Marini  writes:

The new, transformed civic morality of the progressive narrative also divides Americans between dominant or “oppressor” groups—whites, males, native-born, Christians, heterosexuals—and victim or “oppressed” groups—racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities; women; LGBT individuals, and “undocumented” immigrants. Progressive politics doesn’t seek the national interest or the common good. Its purpose is to promote “marginalized” or “oppressed” groups against “dominant” or “oppressor” groups.

“This strategy,” Marini notes “requires the systematic mobilization of animosity.” Progressive identity politics, camouflaged under the rubric of “diversity,” is “a new kind of civil religion,” he says. Its enforcement takes the form of political correctness, carried out by the administrative state and private sector bureaucrats and activists within those institutions of a politicized civil society progressives have captured, which includes the media, universities, schools, major corporations, and even, apparently, professional athletic associations.

Global concerns come before national interests. American sovereignty should be surrendered to supranational authority, like UN treaties on the environment, children’s rights and the laws of war. Hillary promised her first 100 days would look for legislation to provide work permits for millions of border crossers and amnesty legislation. She supported all of Obama’s executive orders and plans to bypass Congress just like Obama did. Who could object to that?

Not just out-of-work uneducated working class. How about policemen who have seen their fellows gunned down by Black Lives Matter Marxists? Firemen, small businessmen whose businesses have been ruined with foolish regulation. Three of my favorite small businesses have disappeared. Hairdressers, crane operators, plumbers and electricians, landscaping contractors, builders, insurance salesmen. There are folks who found out they couldn’t keep their doctor, and the big jumps in cost for ObamaCare voided a lot of Obama promises. How about soldiers who returned from securing Iraq to see Obama waste their efforts and the efforts of their friends who did not make it back, by failing to secure the peace. Or veterans who, seeking medical help from the VA, found themselves unable to get a timely appointment or who saw friends die while on a wait list.

The list of people whose lives and occupations have been directly affected by blundering, backward, progressive ideas is long and growing, and not really accurately described by terms such as “the deplorables” or “uneducated  white working class.” The media is inclined to latch on to convenient catch-phrases, shorthand for people of whom they disapprove, add in political correctness and a goodly supply of empathy to show how caring they are, and you have our current journalism.

The media was shocked when Mr. Trump called in the leaders of the major news organizations to bawl them out for their campaign coverage.  The media executives agreed that the meeting would be off-the-record, and promptly described the event to the rest of the media. Reporters were shocked, but the people cheered. The underlying assumption from progressives and pundits was that “Trump’s voters were angry because the government was not doing enough for them, not that it was doing too much to them.” Big difference and big and important lack of understanding.

So the progressives continue to indulge their fury that Hillary, for whom they may or may not have voted, didn’t win and Trump did. Democrats are attacking Electoral College electors who are not committed by law — with death threats. Jill Stein, who attracted a teeny percentage of the vote, is attempting to lead a demand for a recount, though why she would have standing is a question.

The Left has frequently behaved badly when they have lost elections, but this year they seem to have exceeded all bounds. Democrats haven’t behaved this badly since Republicans told them they couldn’t own slaves any more.



Boo Hoo! They Lost! We Won. Riots in the Streets! by The Elephant's Child

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ABC News on the radio is talking about the protests, and counting up the popular vote for Hillary, with apparently no understanding of how an American election works.  We really need to make plain to the media just what their role as “the fourth estate” is. They are not supposed to be the cheering section for their personal preferences.  If they got into the news business to change the world, they need do some serious re-thinking. If that’s their choice, they need to sign on with a political campaign, and forget trying to be a news media star.

The protests are supposedly because Hillary won the popular vote, and thus she should have won the election.  That’s Not the way it works. See the video on the Electoral College. This is the fifth time in American history when the candidate who won the election lost the popular vote. Here’s historian John Steele Gordon:

The first time this happened was 1824. Then, there were four candidates. John Quincy Adams won 30.9 percent of the popular vote to Andrew Jackson’s 41.4 percent. But neither received a majority in the Electoral College, and the decision went to the House. The fourth candidate, eliminated from contention, was Henry Clay–the Speaker of the House and as wily a politician as this country has ever known. He threw his support to Adams, who was elected by the House. Adams then made Clay his secretary of state, a move that Jackson called a “corrupt bargain.” Four years later, Jackson clobbered Adams, winning 56 percent of the popular vote to 43.6 percent for Adams.

Do read the whole article, it’s not long, but the history is quite interesting. Here’s another.

The protests are something else, however. The pre-printed signs come from International A.N.S.W.E.R. They are advertising for ‘activists’ on Craig’s List, and will pay protesters $15 an hour.

Front Page Magazine: “The Communists Behind the Anti-Trump Protests” by John Perazzo

The Daily Caller:Anti-Trump Protests Funded By Left-Wing ‘Charity'” by Peter Hasson

Commentary: “Democrats Embrace Their RadicalismBy Noah Rothman

Front Page Magazine: “The Left Responds to Trump Win BY Ranting about “White People”

 




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