American Elephants

Add Another Triumph to the Obama Legacy List by The Elephant's Child

BN-HV516_0411ob_J_20150411183828Just the headlines alone are funny:

June 7, 2015: The Secret Life of Fidel Castro A member of Castro’s security guard tells all.

August 18, 2015: Obama circumventing Congress to loosen Cuba travel ban Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the effort is one more example of the president abusing his executive power and trying to circumvent Congress.

August 20, 2015: What Does the U.S. Get Out of Obama’s Restored Ties to Cuba? Nothing Good The 54 year communist military dictatorship has gotten the full benefit of restored U.S. ties without conceding anything.

September 9, 2015: Coddling Castros Has Made Cuban Regime More Vicious than Ever Far from loosening up, the Castro brothers are cracking down on Cubans harder than ever. It’s as if the fresh attention is a perk for them alone, and the Cuban people not invited.

October 08, 2015: Cubans Have FLOCKED To The US Since Obama Renewed Relations The pace of immigration from Cuba is up 78 percent this year.

October 15, 3015: Cuba-based musical group performs at White House for the first time in 50 years Members of Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club perform at a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month

October 15, 2015 ‘A SLAP N THE FACE TO OBAMA:’ CUBAN TROOPS FIGHT FOR ASSAD IN SYRIA Cuban special forces are operating on the ground in Syria in defense of dictator Bashar al-Assad, and are expected to operate Russian tanks in battles against anti-Assad rebels.

Just another bright idea scratched off on the to-do list.

About Fences and Priorities. by The Elephant's Child

mexico-wall-pedestrian-image1According to the Washington Examiner, only 36 miles of effective double-layer fencing has been erected along the U.S.– Mexico border.

Sixty-six percent or 1,300 miles have no fencing. This is despite repeated congressional demands, and a congressional bank account of $2,5 billion. Congress has asked for 700 miles of fencing.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says that different types of fencing has been put up along the border, the cost so far is  $7.1 million per mile.

— 1,300 miles have no fencing (66.5%)

— 299.8 miles have vehicle fence (15.3%)

— 316.6 miles of pedestrian fence (16.2%)

— 36.3 miles of double-layer fencing (.02%)

— The current total for primary fencing to be 352.9 miles. 316.6 single layer plus 36.3 miles of double layer = 352.9 miles of primary fencing.

What’s more, no fencing is currently being erected on the empty 1,300 miles.

A Senate official said that the 2006 Secure Fence Act required 700 miles of double-layer fencing because Border Patrol members said double layer works best. Reports indicated that illegal immigrants can easily scale single fences.

Donald Trump is not going to build a great big wall, and Mexico is certainly not going to pay for it. That’s just braggadocio. But an accurate count of what we have, how much it costs and what is being done may be useful. Checking in with what other countries are doing may be more useful as would details of what works and what doesn’t.

It Was Just 100,000. Only A Minor Misstatement Of Fact. by The Elephant's Child


U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen who blocked  President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty action on immigration, has ordered the Justice Department to respond to allegations that the government has misled him about part of the President’s plan.

The judge has ordered federal government lawyers to appear in his court on March 19 in Brownsville, Texas. The hearing is in response to a filing last week in which the government acknowledged some deportation reprieves were granted before Hanen’s February 16 injunction. Government attorneys has said that officials wouldn’t accept requests for reprieves for DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals) illegals until February 18, and would start DAPA (deferred action for parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) in May of 2015.

On March 3, Obama’s lawyers admitted to the judge that officials had already given three-year DACA amnesty to 100,000 younger people. Only off by 100,000.

Out of an abundance of caution, however, Defendants wish to bring one issue to the Court’s attention,” said the administration’s document given to the judge. “Between November 24, 2014 and the issuance of the Court’s [Feb. 16] Order, USCIS granted three-year periods of deferred action to approximately 100,000 individuals who had requested deferred action under the original 2012 DACA guidelines.”

The government claimed that the 100,000 illegal immigrants who were granted three-year reprieves and work permits were already eligible under a previous immigration plan from 2012.

The 26 states suing over Obama’s amnesty plan requested more information.

It’s not nice to fool U.S. District Judges. They may be annoyed.

Estimates of the cost of Obama’s amnesty program run from half a billion to expand the workforce by more than 3,000, up to $2 trillion over the long term in benefits and increased government expenditures. That’s just for the federal government, there will be billion of dollars for costs for the states.

A Reminder, In Your Words Mr. President: “That’s Not How Democracy Works” by The Elephant's Child


The year is 2011, and election coming up, the president is making lots of speeches and fundraising. On May 10, President Obama spoke at Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso Texas. He vowed to “keep up the fight” to pass comprehensive immigration reform through Congress, because the immigration system was broken. (Not broken. The immigration laws simply are not enforced).

He assured the audience that the border fence was essentially complete, (if  “essentially complete” means that 84 miles of the mandated double fencing have been built of the 1,933 miles of our border with Mexico). That pertains to compliance with the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

Then he added:

“Sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself, but that’s not how a democracy works,” Obama said. “What we really need to do is to keep up the fight to pass genuine, comprehensive reform. That is the ultimate solution to this problem. That’s what I’m committed to doing.”

Back in the halls of Congress, it is Jeff Sessions who once again spoke of constitutional government in defense of American workers in a clarifying speech yesterday on the Senate floor:

A number of things have been happening today with regard to the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. There’s been a lot of spin about that and that somehow the Republicans are blocking the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. This gives new meaning to the word “obfuscation,” I suppose, or “disingenuousness.” The truth is, the House of Representatives has fully funded the Department of Homeland Security. It’s provided the level of funding the President asked for. It’s kept all the accounts at Homeland Security as approved through the congressional process. It simply says, but, Mr. President, we considered your bill, this amnesty bill that will provide work permits, photo IDs, Social Security numbers, Medicare benefits. You can’t do that. We considered that and rejected it. So we’re not going to fund that.

Now, the President has told us and his staff that they have across the river in Crystal City, they’re leasing a new building and this building is going to hire a thousand workers, paid for by the taxpayers of the United States, part of Homeland Security. Are those thousand workers going to be utilized to enforce the laws of the United States? Are they going to process applications for citizenship or visas? No. Those 1,000 people, costing several hundred million dollars, in truth, those people are going to be processing and providing these benefits to people unlawfully in America… (Read on below)

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Once Cubans Get a Taste of Prosperity? How Does That Work? by The Elephant's Child

President Raúl Castro, Fidel’s little brother, declared victory for the Cuban Revolution in a televised speech before Parliament and a group of favored guests —including Elián Gonzales (remember him?) — reaffirming that any restored relations with the United States did not mean any change in Communist rule in Cuba. He added “We won the war.”

Obama didn’t check in with any of the Cuban community here or with the Cubans who are fighting for freedom in Cuba. They are pretty unanimous in saying that the way Obama has gone about this is a major mistake. The Ladies in White who march in support of political prisoners each week in a major display of courage, said “betrayal” and didn’t understand why Obama had gone back on his statement that “significant steps toward democracy” must precede any liberalization.

As usual, Obama does not learn from history. Engagement does not necessarily promote freedom — see China, Vietnam, and increasingly less freedom in those countries.

In an official announcement in the state newspaper Gramma. government officials announced a system in which employees of corporations with foreign capital will be paid two Cuban Pesos for every Convertible Cuban Peso (CUP) which are used exclusively for tourists and is the equivalent of an American dollar and 26.5 Cuban Pesos. The 24 Cuban Pesos that workers will NOT receive amount to 92% of their salaries. So 92% of the value of Cubans’ work will go to prop up the Communist state. How that is supposed to be an important entry in the history books for Mr. Obama is not clear.

Cuba’s major benefactors —Russia and Venezuela — are in deep trouble from the declining price of oil. The current price is far below their ‘break-even’ point. Some Conservatives welcome the change in policy, believing that free trade will make great changes in Cuba. Raúl Castro doesn’t think so. “Once they see better goods and services” they say, but at roughly 67¢ a day in income Cubans cannot buy “better goods.” I don’t know what they have to trade. Reportedly, even their cigars aren’t that good any more.

Will Cuba suddenly allow their people to travel to the U.S.? Not likely. Any visitors to the U.S would be likely to seek asylum. The Cuban Adjustment Act says that any Cuban who is granted parole into the U.S. may, after one year apply for adjustment to permanent resident status. In the past every Cuban who made it here got parole and a green card.

I firmly believe in free markets and free people — but the “free” part seems to be completely missing here.

Here’s Some Good News For a Change! by The Elephant's Child

The price of crude oil is tumbling downward towards $80 per barrel. The Brent crude price of $82.60 is the cheapest since 2010.”On October 1, Saudi Arabia’s  national oil company announced that it had abandoned a policy of price protection and would start to focus on protecting its market share. Combined with falling global demand and rising supplies elsewhere, oil prices have fallen accordingly.

Natural gas supplies are plentiful and warm weather so far means weak demand, which means lower costs for natural gas.

For our fracking, the break-even price is around $50-$70 bbl. Supply is bulging. Gasoline prices will come down, transportation prices will come down, which means that costs at the grocery store will ease.

States like Iran, Venezuela, and Iraq can only balance their budgets at oil prices ranging from $110 to $135 per barrel. This is good. If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, there will be real financial squeezes, and even regime change in Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq or Libya and would give Vladimir Putin some real trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

It’s not clear what Saudi Arabia is up to, but they are definitely not approving of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor of ISIS’ ambitions either. They may be just protecting their market share, as we are close to surpassing them in production.

If we start exporting natural gas to Europe, that would relax the strangle hold Russia holds over their energy supplies.

It’s good news, just when we need some.

Is The Public Health Response in the U.S. Adequate? by The Elephant's Child

It’s gone this far. The Wall Street Journal today:

Frantic to hold the Senate, Democrats are now claiming Republicans are pro-Ebola—really. Anything is better than having to defend White House competence or even the adequacy of the public-health response, though this election debate would benefit from a fact or two.

Well, yes. Straight talk would be helpful. But it took ten months after Ebola broke out for the administration to start “working on protocols.” The first case of the new Ebola strain broke out on Dec. 28, 2012. We have had one death from Ebola of a patient who came here directly from Liberia.

At least five children infected with the respiratory illness known as enterovirus D68 have died in the U.S. in the past month. The latest confirmed victim was a four-year-old New Jersey boy, Eli Waller. He died at home on September 25. Health officials have no idea how he contracted the virus.

The CDC reports that in from mid-August to October 9, 2014, at least 678 people in 46 states and the District of Columbia have lab-confirmed enterovirus D68. Most are children and some have developed into paralysis, though it is unclear what is paralysis and what is only muscle weakness. The numbers indicate only that at least one case has been confirmed in each state, not how many.

The numbers of EV-D68 infections is probably much higher than reported, since health officials are not testing every suspected case.

Enteroviruses commonly circulate in the summer and fall, and EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962. I would guess there is a jump in cases when school starts, as every mom knows that kids bring every virus home from school. But over the past thirty years only small numbers of cases were reported in the U.S.

Because it has been reported that there were many cases of illness and disease among the numbers of accompanied and unaccompanied children among the influx of illegals, it has been suspected that to be the source of the uptick in numbers of cases. The administration clamped down on reports of illness among the illegals, and has kept secret the locations of illegal immigrant children who have reportedly been sent to every state in the union. There are significant numbers of them in the cities where the current outbreak was first identified, Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois according to locals and press reports.

EV-D68 has been found, according to a study published in Virology Journal,  among some of the 3,375 young, ill people tested in eight Latin American countries including El Salvador and Nicaragua in 2013.

The origin of the outbreak may be entirely unrelated.

There are no available vaccines, antiviral medications or specific treatments for EV-D68.  Most cases are mild with flu-like symptoms. We are currently in the middle of the enterovirus season. Children with asthma may be more susceptible. The good news is that enteroviruses are usually not deadly.



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