American Elephants


A New Year. No Resolutions, Only Hope. by The Elephant's Child

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A new year. I’ve always resisted the idea that the change of the numerical designation of a year on the calendar is a big deal. I don’t do resolutions. Not sure if I ever did, but I have too frequently promised myself that tomorrow I will …, and next week I will …, and you probably know how that goes. I have discarded a lot of stuff that should have been discarded long ago, but that was another broken resolution.

I do have an extensive picture file on my computer, and I deleted Hillary, which took some doing. I had a lot of pictures of Hillary, only some of them flattering. I deleted the rest of the Clintons as well. I took great pleasure in deleting Harry Reid, and Barbara Boxer, and at least the first term of President Obama—the ones with the halos. Don’t try to tell me those were accidental. I could have believed it with 3 or 4, but dozens?

Democrat operatives try not to miss any chance of swaying public opinion. It’s been said that the 2012 election was decided by Hurricane Sandy and the picture of Obama hugging Donna Vanzant, who had just seen her marina destroyed. And I was struck by the White House photo of President Obama being pensive in the Green Room with the good light from the window. That meant he had to leave the Oval Office, go to the Green Room, lean on the back of a red chair with green wallpaper in the background, to look pensive. Uh Huh. It would be nice if opinions were meant to be influenced by deeds rather than visual propaganda.

President Obama has said that he wants to make the transition as easy and helpful as he can, that he plans to stick around in Washington and fight every move of the new president, and is embarked on a program to flood the administration with as many executive orders and regulations as he can, since Mr. Trump has threatened to eliminate as many of the executive orders and cancel as many of the regulations as he can.

Obama’s going to make the job as difficult as he can, and he is ramping up his supporters to try to save ObamaCare. The administration’s contempt for the Constitution could not be more obvious. He clearly learned nothing, nothing at all, from George W. Bush’s graceful and helpful exit. And continued to blame everything on GWB for the next four years. Character counts.



Exit Stage Left: Whiny, Self-Justifying, With Elaborate Excuses by The Elephant's Child

obama-olderIn Juno of 2008, a younger Barack Obama spoke eloquently about his future role as a transformative president.

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

The caring for the sick part didn’t work out so well, The Obama bureaucrats could not conceive of a plan where the decisions were left to physicians, and wrapped the medical establishment in a cocoon of regulations; for example, an encounter with a patient was supposed to last just 7½ minutes. Keep an eye on your watch and think that one through.

Young Emily Smith has an unexplained itchy rash, prescription written easily within the time limit. Mrs. Grundy, however, has been having chest pains and is running a fever, is about 40 pounds overweight, and may well have heart disease. 7½ minutes? The failures of ObamaCare, Medicaid, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and VA hospitals have a lot in common. The administrative state, over-regulation, silly rules, and the inability to hold bureaucrats to account adds up. There’s a reason why so many doctors will not accept patients with these versions of government insurance.

The good jobs that were promised have also gone a glimmering. Obama has proudly enumerated all the new jobs created each month, but it turns out that almost all the new jobs created during the Obama administration were part time or temporary jobs. The administration’s conviction that they are smarter than the ordinary people out there has meant an overweening impulse to control and regulate. In 2016, the lame duck administration has added 3,853 regulations, 18 for every law — a record 97,110 pages of red tape. Small business is drowning in them. Three of my favorite small businesses have given up the ghost, and I’ll bet that several of your favorites have too.  All too often, bureaucrats invent new regulations with no idea of how they affect business in the real world. This description of “the Administrative State.” shows clearly how it all happens.

The [Federal Trade] Commission promulgates substantive rules of conduct. The Commission then considers whether to authorize investigations into whether the Commission’s rules have been violated. If the Commission authorizes an investigation, the investigation is conducted by the Commission, which reports its findings to the Commission. If the Commission thinks that the Commission’s findings warrant an enforcement action, the Commission issues a complaint. The Commission’s complaint that a Commission rule has been violated is then prosecuted by the Commission and adjudicated by the Commission. This Commission adjudication can either take place before the full Commission or before a semi-autonomous Commission administrative law judge. If the Commission chooses to adjudicate before an administrative law judge rather than before the Commission and the decision is adverse to the Commission, the Commission can appeal to the Commission. If the Commission ultimately finds a violation, then, and only then, the affected private party can appeal to an Article III court. But the agency decision, even before the bona fide Article III tribunal, possesses a very strong presumption of correctness on matters both of fact and of law. (this comes from Steven Hayward, quoting Boston University Law Professor Gary Lawson in an article for the Harvard Law Review)

The Obama Administration has put forth 25 “midnight regulations” rules that are published between Election Day and before the next president in inaugurated on January 20. According to the American Action For4um, they will cost the economy $44.1 billion. Obama’s eight years in office did not include even one year of economic growth at the normal 3% historical average.

Obama has ordered the EPA to proceed with its controversial Stream Protection Rule—which would make mining so difficult it would make 85 percent of the nation’s coal reserves unrecoverable. On Tuesday he designated most federally owned land in the Arctic Ocean and large swaths off the Atlantic Coast closed to drilling, which would prevent any production of huge reserves of oil and gas.

George W.Bush went to great lengths to make the transition easy for the incoming Obama administration, recognized that his time in the spotlight was over, and refused to comment on his successors failures and mistakes. And even in spite of being blamed for everything that didn’t work out, Mr. Bush remained a gentleman. Mr. Obama learned nothing from his predecessor, and will exit—whiny, self-justifying and full of excuses. In his “exit interview” on CNN with his former advisor David Axlerod, Obama pledged he would abide by tradition and retire with dignity as ex-president. We’ll see about that.



A Vaccine For A Virus: Burying Ebola by The Elephant's Child

How about a little good news for a change? An invention has come along that has changed the landscape completely.

A vaccine invented in Canada was tested in a large scale inoculation in Guinea and Sierra Leone by the World Health Organization to assess just how well it protected people against Ebola—the dreadful virus that ravaged Africa in 2014, killing 60 percent of the people who were infected. What happened? It succeeded spectacularly. It protected 100 percent of the people who received it. This is the first and only therapy for Ebola other than the previous supportive measures.

The vaccine, which is a glycoprotein (1) called rVSV-ZEBOV, was tested in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The group gathered samples from an individual, either alive or dead who had a positive lab test for Ebola, and then identified a cluster of their contacts, contacts of the contacts, and the contacts of the contacts who weren’t around when the team arrived. Each uninfected person got a single injection of the vaccine in the arm. The results are stunning.

The group identified a total of 4539 people in 51 clusters between March 2015, and January 2016. About half (2119 people) received the vaccine immediately, and another 2041 got it 21 days later.

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The name of the vaccine sounds daunting, but it’s really not. The “r” means recombinant—formed by alteration of viral DNA, which can be done using standard molecular biotechnology techniques. VSV stands for vesicular stomatitis virus—the virus that was modified (2). ZEBOV is short for Zaire Ebola virus, which was the most deadly circulating strain.

This is a very big deal. The safety profile is excellent, and only two adverse effects were attributed to the vaccine itself. It is an enormous achievement, and could rid the world of a very scary, very dangerous disease.

The epidemic in 2014-15 claimed the lives of 11,300 people in West Africa, spread the virus as far as New York and Texas, and demonstrated the failures of the world public health system.”The public health bureaucracy resists therapeutics, which threaten traditional manpower-heavy quarantines and tracking.” By 2015, cases were low and declining and researchers were able to gather real world information on an accelerated schedule. The study was so successful that it was stopped early since not providing the vaccine to the control group was unethical.

Ebola is a complex and mutating pathogen, and no scientific triumph is ever final. But the public-health bureaucracy demonstrated no such humility, and its overconfidence showed how unprepared the world is to respond to biological threats. Developing and deploying more vaccines like rVSV-Zebov may be the best defense.



The End Of the Obama Administration Or Just the Beginning of Something Very Different? by The Elephant's Child

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As we leave 2016, it becomes the time when journalists attempt to sum up the past year. I’m afraid that Obama’s desperate flurry of executive orders and regulations as he leaves the White House will merely add to the recriminations as he tries to finish up the wrong-headed promises he made upon being elected. He has completely disgraced himself and his administration with instructions to abstain from the Security Council’s vote on Israeli “settlement policy”— a vote intended to tilt the “peace process” towards the Palestinian terrorists.  He is attempting to empty Guantanamo, sending the “worst of the worst” to other countries so they can quickly go back to terrorism, as they are doing. The funerals of their victims will be Mr. Obama’s real legacy, and real journalists are already writing the epitaphs.

Here’s Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal: The betrayed: Obama’s decision to allow the UN to censure Israel, Iranians, whose 2009 Green Revolution whose protest of a stolen election Obama failed to endorse. Iraqis, who were promised a diplomatic surge to secure the gains of a military surge, Syrians, Ukrainians, and most of all, and most betrayed: Americans.

Mr. Obama promised a responsible end to the war in Iraq. We are again fighting in Iraq. He promised victory in Afghanistan. The Taliban are winning. He promised a reset with Russia. We are enemies again. He promised the containment of Iran. We are witnessing its ascendancy in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. He promised a world free of nuclear weapons. We are stumbling into another age of nuclear proliferation. He promised al Qaeda on a path to defeat. Jihad has never been so rampant and deadly.

These are the results. They would be easier to forgive if they hadn’t so often been reached by disingenuous and dishonorable means.

Perhaps you remember back in the change of administrations in 2000, when the departing Clinton administration left the White House in a mess, and the “W”s missing from all the computer keyboards, out of pure spite. The Bush administration took a bipartisan tack, and tried to be helpful to the incoming Obama administration. George W. Bush recognized the change, that his time was past, and the real assessment would be done by future historians. He has refused to comment on his successor’s policies and actions, and simply continued with his efforts to help returning veterans in any way he could.

Mr. Obama has not only not appreciated the help he was provided, but not grasped the gentlemanly way the transfer of power took place. There were major lessons there, but Obama didn’t get it. He told David Axlerod today that if the Constitution didn’t prevent him from running again, he could have won the election. A snide comment on Hillary’s campaign.

As always, it is all about him. I doubt that he could have persuaded the American people to give him another term to run our national security into the ground. Though the American people like Mr. Obama as a person, they think the country is going in the wrong direction, both economically and internationally. ObamaCare is collapsing. Terrorism is increasing, and Obama has been more interested in increasing the numbers of Syrian refugees in expectation the they would become Democrat voters, than in any possibility that they might be members of ISIS.

The Obamas will remain in Washington D.C. for the next year at least, and Mr. Obama has said he will spend the time “rebuilding the Democrat Party.” He will use his community organizing skills to build a hard-left version of the old Democratic Party, and with his old “Organizing for Obama” Team which has become “Organizing for America,” and now “Organizing for Action.”

Daniel Greenfield says that Obama wants to force radical change, building networks across the urban elite and into the halls of power. He intends to force radical change from outside the White House by using the network he’s built. Obama believes that he can rule America from outside the White House, and he may be right.

The Democrats are ceasing to be a national party. Instead they are becoming a nationalizing party. They are losing their presence in much of the country, from state legislature to state legislature, and becoming the party of major cities and the national government. Their agenda is to move power from local areas to central ones, from the villages and the suburbs to the cities, from states to D.C. and from locally elected legislators in D.C. to the satellite bureaucracies of the Federal government.

Obama sees Hillary’s defeat as an opportunity to burn the Dem’s last bridges with the larger country and its “bitter clingers”, to double down on nationalizing power and to define the political narrative around the agendas of urban elites. The left crippled the Democrats. Now it wants to utterly consume them.

The election was a catastrophic disaster for the Democrats, but it opened all sorts of doors for Obama.

You need to read the whole thing. Daniel Greenfield is a columnist, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He has his own blog, and writes at David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine as well as many other outlets.  He is very perceptive, and in this case, very scary. But Mr. Greenfield’s writing seems to follow closely with everything we know about Obama’s character. You read “Obama Plans to Rule America Outside the White House” and see what you think. Forewarned is forearmed.

Angelo Codevilla, writing in the Claremont Review of Books explains:

But whenever progressives have gained power, all manner of contradictions have remained and new ones have arisen. Progressive movements have reacted to this failure by becoming their own reason for being. Theoretically, the Revolution is about the power and necessity to recreate mankind. In practice, for almost all progressive movements it is about gaining power for the revolutionaries and making war on those who stand in their way.

This is a long, but important article, widely recommended. You will be glad you read the whole thing.



It Snowed in the Sahara Desert! by The Elephant's Child

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This image was taken Monday afternoon. The Sahara Desert experienced its first snowfall in 37 years. It is the first time since February 1979 that snow has fallen in Ain Sefra, Algeria. The last time it snowed in the area, the snow only lasted for about an hour. Told you it was getting colder.



Green Dreams Cost the Democratic Party by The Elephant's Child

Patrick Moore was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace and is a former president of the organization. He has sharply and publicly differed with many of the policies of the Green groups, including Greenpeace itself, and is a spokesman for common sense.

From the Wall Street Journal’s “Notable & Quotable” column: Being Green Costs the Democrats

Josh Kaushaar: “Democrats Pay a Price for Being Green” in the National Journal on Dec.6:

Let me offer a piece of unsolicited advice, one that Democratic strategists have discussed privately but are reticent to promote publicly for fear of alienating green activists. Taking a more moderate stand on energy policy—whether it’s supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, championing the fracking boom that’s transforming regional economies, or simply sounding a more skeptical note on the Obama administration’s litany of environmental regulations—would do wonders for the Democratic Party’s ability to compete for the working-class voters who have drifted away from the party.



The Electoral College Votes Donald Trump 45th President of the United States by The Elephant's Child

Sorry, Democrats—Donald Trump is the President-Elect. The Electoral College has voted, and your death threats, protests and total unfamiliarity with the Constitution have gone for naught. It got a little odd here and there, one woman in Wisconsin screamed at electors “You don’t Deserve to Be in America”, and “This is My America” as the Police dragged her out.

Here in Washington State, although Hillary Clinton won the state, 4 faithless electors voted 3 for Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle. (?) The electoral College ended up 304 for Donald Trump and 227 for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump actually gained votes in Jill Stein’s recount. Hillary got the defectors. (numbers corrected)

Michael Barone, a long-time close observer of the political campaign business, said that this year the rules seemed to change. As technology is changing our lives in unexpected ways, it is also changing the political scene.

  1. Money doesn’t seem to matter so much. The Trump campaign spent somewhat more than half as much as the Hillary campaign, but won nearly half again as many electoral votes.
  2. TV spots don’t matter as much any more. A tweet gets more attention and a YouTube video gets more votes than a $10 million ad buy.
  3. Celebrities don’t matter. Lady Gaga and Beyonce did concerts for Hillary. Monmouth County NJ voted for Trump.
  4. Outrageous statements don’t matter. Voters were looking for change.
  5. Polling and big data don’t automatically advise the right moves.
  6. Understanding how the opposition thinks is enormously important. The Trump campaign got Hillary, but the reverse was not true. Hillary’s campaign people blamed their defeat on racism, Comey and the Russians.

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