American Elephants


The Pursuit of a Foreign Policy Legacy Is Not Going Well by The Elephant's Child

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Back at the beginning of his first term, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton announced a foreign policy “pivot” to Asia. The road of good intentions chose another direction, and the big events continued to happen in the Middle East. Civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS with accompanying terrorism and brutality, regime change in Egypt and Libya, and the continuing Iranian quest for nuclear weapons and regional dominance are the problems that have dominated the news and Obama’s response to those events has comprised his foreign policy record, and it is not a record that makes much of a legacy.

Obama dismissed ISIS as a “JV team,” was angered by the coup in Egypt, made a botch of Libya with the help of his Secretary of State who dismissed the whole thing with “We came, We saw, He died” and a round of laughter, when reporters told her he was dead. It is slowly becoming clear Obama has lied extensively to the American people about his “Iran Deal.”

The Mullahs in Iran really had no interest in a deal. They are interested in destroying Israel and in destroying America, and do not intend to be delayed or restrained. Obama believes that they care about their people and will use the funds returned to make life better for Iranian families. He believes he can turn the Middle East over to the Persians to run, and remove all American interference in that part of the world, which will mean peace. He apparently believes that all the problems in that part of the world are Bush’s fault for invading Iraq, and he has no interest in being disabused of his fanciful notions.

You can’t build a foreign policy legacy out of trying to avoid any confrontation at all. Obama’s playing his last hand and betting on the  Paris Climate Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, by pretending they are not treaties, but some kind of deal that does not require the consent of Congress. But that has been his operating plan for some time.

So far on this trip, Obama has insulted Teresa May, Britain’s new Prime Minister, telling her that Britain would have to go the the back of the line for any trade deals since they didn’t pay attention when he told them to vote BREXIT down. Face-conscious China insulted President Obama by failing to provide the red-carpet stairway provided to all heads of state, forcing him to descend from the belly of Air Force One, a clear snub. Irwin Stelzer reported in the Weekly Standard:

When Obama raised the issue of China’s militarization of the islands it has constructed in the South China Sea, President Xi Jinping told him China would “unswervingly safeguard” its claims in the area. When the American president raised the issue of human rights, Xi told him not to interfere in China’s internal affairs. Perhaps the unkindest cut of all came when Xi praised the Paris agreement to limit carbon emissions, the issue on which Obama had come to take a victory lap, “It was under Chinese leadership that much of this progress was made.”

Xi was wrong on both of these counts: the Paris accord will not limit emissions, and China was a reluctant signatory to the agreement forged in Paris, largely by Obama, and whereas America agreed to drastic cuts in emissions, China made no such promise. All it agreed to do, at some date in the distant future—perhaps 2030 if that proves convenient—is to begin slowing the rate of increase of its emissions relative to the growth in the country’s GDP. Not a word about ending China’s financing coal plants in other countries—92 in 27 countries is the current count of the San Francisco-based Climate Policy Initiative, enough new coal-fired capacity to offset all the plant closures and emissions reductions planned in the United States for the next decade. No surprise that Xie Zhenhua, China’s senior climate change negotiator in Paris, says the deal struck there is “fair and just, comprehensive and balanced.”

The Senate will not ratify the treaty. Even if all the nations who have signed actually implemented their plans, it would reduce the growth of emissions only about half as much as the claimed 3.6º Fahrenheit which some scientists claim would reduce drought, floods, and other catastrophes which are not caused by increases in temperature. The Coalition of the Least Developed Nations agreed to go along because the rich nations agreed to give them at least $100 billion, but no one has started raising any money yet anyway. The panic about climate occurs only in the computer programs of the climate scientists who depend on climate panic for their jobs, their grants, and their reputations.

Obama  apparently insulted the new Philippine president who then called President Obama the ‘son of a whore,’ so in general the big G-7 meeting didn’t go too well. Obama is off to Laos as the first U.S. President to visit that country.

ADDENDUM: Reports in from Laos, and snippets of President Obama’s speech, suggest that he’s up to his old tricks of apologizing for his country  with little understanding of what actually went on in Laos, which was not as he suggests indiscriminate bombing. He actually said:

Over nine years — from 1964 to 1973 — the United States dropped more than two million tons of bombs here in Laos — more than we dropped on Germany and Japan combined during all of World War II.  It made Laos, per person, the most heavily bombed country in history.  As one Laotian said, the “bombs fell like rain.”  Villages and entire valleys were obliterated.  The ancient Plain of Jars was devastated.  Countless civilians were killed.  And that conflict was another reminder that, whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children.

Our planes were bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail to prevent supplies coming down that trail to kill American troops from reaching Vietnam. It was a  purposeful effort to save American lives, not indiscriminate and trying very hard not to kill civilians. Ask anyone who was there.



Once Again, Free Markets Work Their Magic by The Elephant's Child

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Let’s turn to some really good news:

This year marks the 25th anniversary of liberal reforms in India that led to the dismantling of many socialist economic policies and the end of the draconian License Raj.  Liberalization has changed life for many in India over the past couple of decades, although much more remains to be done. Just the middle class alone has exploded from 30 million people in 1991 to 300 million in 2014.

So this is a good occasion to tell the story of perhaps the most unexpected beneficiaries of these reforms: the rising Dalit millionaires. In recent years, many thousands of so-called “untouchables,” or Dalits, members of the lowest group in the Indian caste order, have risen out of poverty to become wealthy business owners, some even millionaires.

Westerners are often unable to grasp just what it has meant to be born into a caste of the poorest of the poor without hope of ever moving out of the caste. Caste was determined by birth, and being born an untouchable meant a lifetime of being trapped in low income “dirty” jobs. Marriage could only be within a caste, and there was no hope of advancement for one’s children. Systematic discrimination locked in place for generations.

The opening up of production processes to market forces created new opportunities never before possible. “Starting small and scraping together resources and capital, many of these Dalits now run business empires that actually provide employment to upper caste members.”

There is Thomas Barnabas who was born into a family of bonded laborers, all eight of whom lived in a one-room house. Thomas recalls being thrown out of an upper caste friend’s home as a child after eating and drinking there because he was “untouchable.” They then proceeded to purify and wash the floor where he sat and threw away the dishes from which he ate.

Thomas saw the unmet demand for the processing of industrial waste that was generated by large corporations like Dell, Samsung and Mercedes that had set up manufacturing plants in India after liberalization. He now owns an industrial waste recycling and disposal business that has an annual sales revenue of $2,3 million, and employs 200 people, including many from upper castes.

Do read the whole thing. Shows what can happen with free markets and free people. Not perfect by any means, but improving.

Meanwhile, back in the Americas, thousands turned out, with their pots and pans, crying “We Are Hungry!” in Venezuela and chased President Nicholas Maduro down the street. Only last week some broke into the zoo and killed a starving horse for the meat. Socialism sometimes sounds good, but it is always a lie.



Clinton Cash: The Movie. Everything is For Sale. by The Elephant's Child

I’m sure you  have heard of the movie “Clinton Cash” but have you watched it? Peter Schweitzer is an American author, and political consultant. He is president of the Government Accountability Institute, and a former William J. Casey Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. If you are curious about Mr. Schweizer, here he is for a speech at Hillsdale College. talking about “Money and Politics.

Hillary famously claimed that they left the White House “dead broke,” which is, of course absurd. Congress, shamed by Harry Truman’s plight when he left the presidency with only his Army pension to rely on, has provided a generous pension for former presidents as well as provision for an office and office help, whatever an ex-president needs. Hillary’s silly claim was the source for many a cartoon, but she now lives on a gated estate, and all her pantsuits are designer creations. Curious. You should see the movie before you vote.



“Why is the World So Dangerous?” by The Elephant's Child

“Herbert  E. Meyer (Herb) served as vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council under President Reagan. He was one of the few people in the 1980’s to perceive that the U.S. and its allies might have turned the corner and were on the way to winning the Cold War.”

You may not have noticed, but the media seldom talks about facts. It’s almost all opinion. Herb Meyer talks facts, and gives you the evidence on which the facts are based.  That original paper: “Why Is The World So Dangerous?” from 1983 has long since been declassified, and is available to be downloaded here. Most of his speeches are different versions of “Why is the World So Dangerous”— because that’s what we need to hear. This one was delivered to the Northwest Business Club on March 9th this year. He gives us his version of history, and explains what we need to know to cope. The address is a little over an hour and worth every minute, so try for some time this weekend. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll think a little differently about the world today. He is a great speaker, funny, charming, and utterly fascinating.

ADDENDUM: If you go to You Tube, there are lots of Herb Meyer’s speeches, many with the same name. I picked this one as one of the most recent. and they are similar because Mr. Meyer has to put you in the right historical frame of mind to grasp the changing nature of the trends. His basic argument does not change, because, well, he’s clearly right, and a little repetition merely reinforces the point.



Trade Between China and Iran Is Renewed Along the Ancient Silk Road by The Elephant's Child

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Last Monday, the first train to connect China and Iran arrived in Tehran, and it was said that the Silk Road was open again.

Taking up much of the space between China and Iran is the Taklimakan desert, one of the most hostile environments on earth. Almost no vegetation, almost no rainfall, frequent sandstorms, much loss of life. Surrounded by some of the highest mountains,—to the North is the Gobi desert, almost as hostile, but with a few oases, to the South are the Himalayas, Karakorum and Kunlun ranges with only a few dangerous icy passes.

The first meetings of East and West took place somewhere around 125 B.C. Calling it the”Silk Road” is misleading, for there was no one defined route, and certainly no road.  All routes started from Changan, headed up the Gansu corridor and reached Dunhuang 201311111053567950on the edge of the Taklimakan. One route skirted the Northern edge of the Taklimakan at the base of the mountains, the southern route skirted the southern edges. It was not a trade route that existed solely for the purpose of trading in silk, but gold, ivory, exotic animals and plants. Silk was the most remarkable trade good in the West.

Bandits soon learned of the trade routes, and caravans had to arm up, and forts were built along parts of the route. But trade also took place in fashion, religion, art and custom. Religion may have been the most important. Mongols, Buddhists, Muslims, and assorted Chinese dynasties. Silk began to be moved by sea, but there were pirates and hurricanes.

Renewed interest in the Silk Road emerged towards the end of the nineteenth century, as the British were interested in consolidating some of the lands north of their Indian territories. There were tantalizing rumors of ancient cities lost in the desert, which led to exploration, discovery, archaeology and treasures carted off to British museums.

The demise of the Silk Road began some six to seven hundred years ago. What new interest will bring is an unknown. There is oil under the desert in some places. There are thirteen different races of people in the area, and now a railroad, a private, not a state operation.

f39ca0087eacb867f987499613ec9e8fa27eade0The train carried 32 containers of commercial products from Zhejiang province and the 5,900 mile trip took 14 days.  This was 30 days shorter than the sea voyage from Shanghai to Bandar Abbas in Iran.  The railway is planned to extend on to Europe. It will leave once a month and the frequency might be increased if necessary. China is Tehran’s top customer for oil exports. The distance is roughly comparable to a trip from San Francisco to New York and back again., though it sounds like more hostile territory.

Chinese President XI Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed to build economic ties worth up to $600 billion within the next 10 years. We’ll see what comes of this new trade along the ancient Silk Road.

For more, go to Google Images, enter “the Silk Road” and see all the photographs and maps of ancient sites, forgotten cities, art and religion, and desert.  Fascinating.



Paris Agreement, American Leadership, and Pure Fantasy. by The Elephant's Child

The report of the President’s response to the jihadist attack in San Bernardino should give you pause. As soon as he realized that some would classify the killing in San Bernardino as a terrorist attack, he called together his National Security Council and the heads of federal law enforcement agencies to discuss a public relations strategy. A designation of the killing as a terrorist attack would threaten to upset his “strategy” in Syria.

The President of the United States has declared publicly, 22 times, that climate change is a greater threat by far than Islamic terrorism: Jan. 15, 2008; Jan 26, 2000; May 2010; Sept.6, 2012; Jan 23, 2013; Feb. 16, 2014; June, 2014; Sept. 2014; Sept 24, 2014; Oct. 29, 2014; 2015 State of the Union address; Feb. 2015; Feb. 09, 2015, Feb. 10, 2015, April 18, 2015; May, 2015; May 20 2015; July 13, 2015; Defense Dept report, July 29, 2015; Aug 28, 2015; September UN 2015; Sept.28, 2015 at the United Nations, he said “No country can escape the ravages of climate change.”

The Big Climate Meeting: COP 21, has concluded. The negotiators have thrashed out their final details. The agreement will make no difference whatsoever to “climate change,” and the total effects will be another very expensive meeting to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco  next year.

As James Delingpole, who is always correct, said, “All that stuff you’ve read and heard about “time running out,”  “deadlock,” “last minute deals,” — it’s all a charade, everything was pre-ordained. COP is not really about saving the planet, it’s a massive jobs fair for activists, shyster politicians, bureaucrats, and people with otherwise worthless degrees in “sustainability,” “conservation biology,” and “ecology.”

He adds that “No serious person in the world believes in man-made climate change any more. They just don’t. Only people like Secretary of State John Kerry — who has staked the reputation of the Obama presidency on how well it deals with this non-existent problem.” Delingpole adds “If you live by fairies you will die by fairies.”

We said in the beginning that China and India aren’t about to sign on to any plan eliminating or reducing their efforts to industrialize and their need for cheap energy. China is building one new coal-fired power plant every 7 to 10 days, while Japan plans to build 43 coal-fired power projects to replace its Fukushima nuclear plant, which killed 19,000 people and destroyed 150,000 buildings. India has some 500 coal-fired power plants planned.

The stated aim of the meeting was to prevent the earth’s temperature from rising more than 2º C. above pre-industrial levels. If all the world’s leading nations stick to the carbon-reduction commitments they will make (which are totally not binding) then they will stave off ‘global warming’ by the end of this century by 17 one hundredths of one degree C. (0.170º C.) That is the “optimistic scenario,” assuming that nobody’s lying.

The annual cost to the global economy is approximately $1.5 trillion. As Ebeneezer Scrooge said, Bah Humbug!

“We met the moment,” Obama said. “We may not live to see the full realization of our achievement but that’s OK,: he said. “What matters is that today we can be more confident this planet will be in better shape for the next generation.”

So there you go. Nothing binding. Opt-outs written in. Totally fake agreement. What more could you ask for, if you are trying to decorate your legacy? But they will have another big meeting next year, and the year after…

Nevertheless, the press, totally invested in saving the earth, as you hear from them constantly, erupted with delight:

(h/t: T. Becket Adams)



Big Climate Agenda in Paris: What to Expect. by The Elephant's Child

WCS header-0“Next week I will be joining President Hollande and other world leaders in Paris for the Global Climate Conference,” Obama said at a press conference on Tuesday. “What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children.” His remarks came a day after the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert urging American citizens not to travel abroad for fear of increased terrorist activity. The travel advisory will expire in February.

The President seems completely sure that climate change is destroying the world, and to preserve it we have to switch to alternate forms of energy and put large amounts of corn into our gas tanks, and in general worship at the altar of pure environmentalism. The opposition are so-called “deniers” who are to be scorned for disagreeing. The problem is that the “global warming” in which the president believes so firmly exists only in the computer programs of the UN’s IPCC. They start with what we actually know about today’s temperatures, add a lot of informed guesses, some ill-informed estimates and  a lot of maybes and what ifs. We’ve had centuries of worry about the winters getting colder or warmer and everything melting. This is not the first time we have been through this. In the 70s they worried about cooling, and nuclear winter.

The so-called “Deniers” (intended to associate with Holocaust Deniers) or Skeptics believe that the climate is always changing, that it has been much warmer in the past, and much colder as well. Man and animal species are adaptable and have successfully adapted to changes. No need for panic.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change has admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity — but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

I have no idea if this is Obama’s underlying belief, or if he is a true believer, like Prince Charles and Bill McKibben. The true believers are sure that the drought in Syria is the cause of terrorism, yet scientists say there is no drought. This gets us to the very awkward place where the people cannot agree on reality which is the increasingly common state of affairs between right and left.

There are increasing accusations that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has cooked the books in a scientific paper which they prepared. They denied that there has been a “pause”  in the warming, which other scientists put at 18 years and 9 months of a quiet sun and no warming. History shows that scientists are not above doctoring the data to further an agenda, and there are very big bucks riding on a warming climate. Climate change activists are begging for the “deniers” to be scared to death to further their goals.

The Obama administration expects to update a controversial standard for ethanol levels in gasoline. Researchers say there is no benefit from including ethanol in gasoline, and it actually increases the CO2 in the atmosphere. The farmers in the Midwest want more ethanol so they can sell more corn at higher prices. The greens want more ethanol because gasoline is evil.

There’s a report from CFact that the Obama administration may be prepared to shut down the entire U.S. government unless Congress appropriates funds for the UN’s “Green Climate Fund.” This fund was created as a mechanism for the transfer of funds from  prosperous nations to  “developing countries.” Naturally the developing countries are anxious to blackmail the prosperous nations into funding their development, and much of UN funds are apt to fall into the outstretched hands of dictators and strongmen. They see no reason to agree to anything unless they get a major payout.

The newest bright idea is a demand for member countries to cut down on meat consumption to help them stem global warming. The livestock sector is responsible for  7.1 GtCO2  a year of greenhouse gas emissions (burps and flatulence), and equivalent to tailpipe emissions from the world’s vehicles. Adoption of a healthy diet (vegetarian) would generate over a quarter of the emission reductions needed by 2050. Raising the price of meat, or removal or subsidies for the livestock sector and substituting ‘plant-based alternatives.’ Uh huh.

The annual UN Conference of the Parties (COP-21) on climate change brings together over 191 countries and over 100 heads of state. Estimates are of around 40,000 in attendance to reach a legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so that global temperatures do not rise more than 2 degrees C. over pre-industrial levels. A legally binding treaty would require signatures of 190 or more nations. Unlikely to happen.

There are not 67 supporting votes in the Senate, the Democrats are increasingly unwilling to vote for higher energy costs in an election year. European nations need higher levels of economic growth, and they are currently devastated with a massive influx of refugees and migrants.

Developing countries face real poverty, with need  for potable water, commercial electricity, and cure for diseases. They want a higher standard of living which means the use of fossil fuels. Windmills and solar panels aren’t going to do it.

The pursuit of significant emission reductions represents an agenda of the arrogant and crony capitalists who want to further enrich themselves by promoting subsidies, mandates, and loan guarantees to encourage solar, wind, and electric vehicles—even though these vehicles are not commercially viable and have no near-term prospect of being so.

That’s where we stand right now. Lots of hype and threats, and hard work to sort out reality. Britain is backing off from unworkable climate schemes, and looking to go for fracking to get at the natural gas in their shale deposits. Germany is building more coal-fired power plants, as are Japan, China, and India and all the smaller nations in between. Looks as if Obama is the one who is completely out of step.




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