American Elephants


Obama Goes to Australia, Offends Everybody. by The Elephant's Child

There didn’t seem to be much news from President Obama’s trip to Australia for the G20 meeting. The media made a lot of his climate accord with China at his previous stop in Beijing. The commentary recognized that Obama set a path for America to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, and China would go ahead building coal-fired plants at a tremendous rate until 2030 when they might start paying attention to their emissions. The general assumption is that China will pay no attention the agreement anyway, but Mr. Obama seems to believe it to be a great accomplishment.

President Obama ruffled feathers by demanding to make a speech to young people at Queensland University, where he offended everybody with what they called “an ill-informed, insulting speech from Barack Obama about climate change, the Great Barrier Reef and coal.”

The U.S. Embassy carefully had advised the president not to couch his climate change comments in a way that would be seen as disobliging to the Abbott government. “Historians of the US-Australia relationship are unable to nominate a case of a visiting president making such a hostile speech to the host government.” Heads of State just don’t go to other countries and insert themselves into political debates in that country.

Queensland is a coal mining state. Mr. Obama said that climate change “here in Australia” means “longer droughts, more wildfires”  and “the incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened.” Well, no it doesn’t, but it has been a contentious point in Australian politics. Climate change does not cause wildfires, nor does it harm the Great Barrier Reef.

Prime Minister Abbott has been critical of Obama’s Green Climate Fund, and points out that the “four-fifths” of the developed world that had used fossil fuels to develop could not deny “the other fifth” access to coal to generate electricity for the hundred million people who were without it.

Queensland officials are so angry at Mr. Obama’s remarks about the Great Barrier Reef and his attack on coal production in a resources state that they are considering a formal complaint. Informal messages were sent to the U.S. delegation that the president’s speech was not in keeping with that of a guest and ally.

Hopes for a positive G20 summit meeting crumbled abruptly when Obama called Vladimir Putin a jackass. At a joint press appearance President Obama blurted “Everyone here thinks you’re  a dick.” Mr. Obama then unleashed a ten-minute tirade at the Russian President.

Look, I’m not just talking about Snowden and Syria,” Mr. Obama said. “What about Pussy Riot? What about your anti-gay laws? Total jackass moves, my friend.”

As Mr. Putin narrowed his eyes in frosty silence, Mr. Obama seemed to warm to his topic.

“If you think I’m the only one who feels this way, you’re kidding yourself,” Mr. Obama said, jabbing his finger in the direction of the Russian President’s face. “Ask Angela Merkel. Ask David Cameron. Ask the Turkish guy. Every last one of them thinks you’re a dick.”

Mr. Putin released  a terse official statement reading, “I should be afraid of this skinny man? I wrestle bears.”

After one day of meetings, the G20 nations voted unanimously on a resolution that said perhaps everyone should just go on home.

The American press, for the most part simply reported that Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper told Putin that he wasn’t sure about shaking Putin’s hand, and Putin “should get out of Ukraine.” For Obama’s tirade I had to go to the Daily Mail and Zero Hedge.  Interesting omission.

ADDENDUM: I ‘m told that the conversation between Obama and Putin comes from a parody in the New Yorker last year, and has inadvertently been picked up by many bloggers as accurate. Apparently it is not. I apologize. It seemed to fit right in with his speech that so offended the Aussies. That was quite real, and reported in the Australian newspapers, as well as in the text supplied by the White House. Mr. Obama has seemed particularly angry since the election, and short tempered, but that’s just the view from partial glimpses.

 



The Fall of the Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989 by The Elephant's Child

This video included the thrilling moment when the first people spilled across the border, twenty-five years ago.  The wall was erected to keep the people in the Russian Sector of a divided Berlin in. And so it did for forty-four years. The Wall stood 13 feet high and was augmented with watchtowers, alarms, trenches, mines, guard dogs and guards with machine guns all to keep the people of East Berlin in. More than 100 people were killed trying to cross the wall.

In Berlin, Christopher and Marc Bauder, light artists,  created ten miles of lighted white helium balloons to mark the route of the wall through Berlin, as a reminder of how the city used to be.The 8,000 balloons began at Bornholmer Street border crossing, one of the former checkpoints between East and West Germany, and were released into the night sky as a symbol of liberation.

As former National Review editor John O’Sullivan has noted “Communism had failed to retain enough true believers who would murder on its behalf.”

At the end of the War in Europe, a ruined Berlin was occupied by the three Allied powers: Britain, France and the United States, and the Soviet Union. A discovery of archival photographs in 2010 demonstrates the ruined, starving city and signs of life in the struggle for survival. The devastation of war was nearly complete. Here is the gallery of 20 pictures from der Spiegel. Here is a post from 2009 recounting German Chancellor Angela Merkel who spoke before a joint session of Congress  remembering the American and Allied pilots who flew food to a starving Berlin.

Does anyone remember the Berlin Blockade and the answering Berlin Airlift today? It was an incredible accomplishment made possible with courage and split-second timing. On June 24, 1948, Soviet forces blockaded rail, road and water access to the Allied-controlled sector of Berlin. The United States and United Kingdom responded by airlifting food and fuel to Berlin from Allied Airbases in western Germany.

It was a very tense time. The Soviets wanted to drive the Allies out of Germany. Airlifting food and fuel seemed nearly impossible to meet the desperate need. But Allied efficiency saved the day. Gradually the number of aircraft increased, At the height of the campaign one aircraft was landing every 45 seconds at Templehof Airport. Timing was so strict that a plane that was not able to land  had to turn back to make way for the next. As the Allies showed that they could maintain the airlift indefinitely, the blockade fell apart. Moscow lifted the blockade on May 11, 1949.

Mikhail Gorbachev spoke in Berlin today, warning of the potential for a new Cold War. It was the ordinary people of Eastern, Soviet controlled Europe who rose up in protest and deserve pride of place.  But history records, for different reasons, two major figures: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. John Fund notes the Reagan effect:

Reagan first saw the Wall in 1978, when he told his aide Peter Hannaford: “We’ve got to find a way to knock this thing down.” After he became president, he returned in 1982 and enraged the Soviets by taking a couple of ceremonial steps across a painted borderline. Then, in 1987, he overruled his own State Department by giving a momentous speech in which he implored the Soviet general secretary directly: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

lightbarrier

Here’s the lighted balloon wall. It must have been very moving to see them drift away, one at a time.

They did tear down the Wall and Berlin was unified only two years later.  In the wake of learning that a number of students at Texas Tech have no idea who won the Civil war, a little history seems appropriate. It’s a day and a history worth celebrating.



Serious People With Real Talent to Offer! by The Elephant's Child

222990_5_

Weren’t we told after the 2012 election about the high-tech ground-game of Obama’s election team? They just knew how to do elections, and the stodgy Republicans would never be able to catch up?  Yes, I thought that was the conventional wisdom.

And wasn’t there supposed to be a fatal war in the Republican party between stodgy, conventional Conservatives and the radical, extremist Tea Party? I think even Homeland Security has the Tea Party on their watch list of dangerous extremists.

The Tea Party (TEA—Taxed Enough Already) cheerfully took inspiration from British colonists fed up with British taxes who dressed up as faux Indians, and threw a lot of bales of tea into Boston Harbor. Great fun, hardly dangerous extremism. The tea-party wave sent 87 new Republicans to the House  in 2010, and a steady group of reformers to the Senate. Harry Reid has kept the Senate from accomplishing anything, but the influence of the tea party on the Republican caucus has been important internally.

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel is paying  close attention:

The Senate is about to change in ways that go far beyond GOP control. Voters aren’t just sending a bumper crop of Republicans to Washington in January; they are sending an A-Team. …

It happens that most of the incoming Republican freshmen are experts in, and passionate about, the issues that are about to dominate Washington. The country hasn’t witnessed a real foreign-policy debate since at least 2004, but President Obama’s mishandling of ISIS has made it inevitable. Joining the fray will be folks like Arkansas’s Tom Cotton. The 37-year-old Harvard-educated, former Army platoon leader has in his few short House years positioned himself as a leading voice on foreign policy.

Add Iowa’s incoming senator, Joni Ernst, who served in Iraq and Kuwait, and who made her opponent’s votes to defund the Iraq war a prominent part of her campaign. In Alaska, Dan Sullivan, who looks to win that Senate race, ran on his military service and his time working on foreign policy for Condi Rice in the White House. The voices of these younger veterans are going to resonate in any coming debate over the president’s cuts to the Pentagon budget. Expect, too, an interesting new dynamic vis-à-vis the Rand Paul wing of the GOP.

Cory Gardner, Dan Sullivan and Montana’s Steve Daines know their way around energy and the environment. Nebraska’s Ben Sasse ran on a fully thought out replacement for ObamaCare, Thom Tillis, and David Perdue are both former businessmen who are deeply interested in tax-code overhaul and budget reform.

Last Tuesday, the voters said clearly that they wanted a change in direction of policy, but it was more than just complaint about the way things were going. They did something about it. They elected men and women of real substance.



Judge Jeanine Pirro States the Obvious, Clearly and Succinctly by The Elephant's Child

You Pushed Pure Partisanship and Made a Prodigious Mess Of It! by The Elephant's Child

obama-angry-8-560x350

October 2014. Americans are worried. The world is heating up and our government seems utterly clueless at best, and quite unable to understand just why Americans are so worried.

Much of what the Obama administration and the Center for Disease Control initially told us about the Ebola crisis was false. The virus did infect Americans here at home. The CDC protocols did not protect the nurses. Nobody else would arrive with Ebola because we now have Ebola screening at five airports, which means taking temperatures and asking travelers where they have been, which we are told is useless. The president says travel bans would do more damage, but does not explain how, and claims that people might go “underground” but does not explain what “underground” might be if there is no air travel. Seems to be spin.

The terrorists of the Islamic State could have been contained if only we had left some peacekeepers in Iraq in 2011 when it was mostly quiet, to help train up the Iraqi Army. Politics, not strategic logic, explained that reckless action. Confronted with the Islamic State, we try to understand why they are so angry. Obviously, it must be our fault. We are racist, Islamophobic, religious bigots, Zionists, insensitive or perhaps just socially unjust.

We have had six years of piling on debt, piling on regulations, growing deficits, raising fees and penalties, slashing defense just as Russia is trying to reconstitute the old Soviet Union, and China is trying to claim the entire South China Sea as their private territory. We are newly told today that North Korea has finally figured out how to miniaturize a nuclear weapon to fit on a missile.

Trusted federal agencies have turned out to be crooked fiefdoms right out of “Yes Minister,” the British comedy about eternal bureaucracy. No one can trust the IRS any more, whether you are audited will depend on your political activity. The Department of Veterans Affairs has imposed callous wait times on veterans needing treatment, and in some cases our veterans have died while waiting for help. The Justice Department has played politics, incited race riots, accused any state of calling for voters to show photo ID  of voter-suppression, and covered up any administration indiscretions. The EPA in a lawless grab for power may be dooming New England residents to freeze in the coming winter.

The Democrats have tried every treasured progressive idea and we are still left with a jobless economy, more people on food stamps than ever before in history, more poverty, and more billions invested in “renewable” energy only to find that the wind is incurably intermittent, solar energy is incurably diffuse, and ethanol does more damage than plain old gasoline. The pursuit of biofuels may do more damage to the military than the enormous budget cuts that are slashing military readiness just when the world heats up.

Republicans have a bulging quiver of time-tested remedies for what is wrong with the economy, but while Republicans in the House have passed more than 200 bills, Harry Reid has twisted himself into contortions to avoid allowing any of them to reach the president’s desk. He has passed only 59, the lowest number since the 60s, yet Democrats claim the absence of legislation is due to Republican intransigence. Uh huh.

But Obama will still be president for two more years, even if Republicans do take over the Senate. With a big enough majority they can override a veto. With control of the  Senate, they can defund bad policies.

With all the problems facing us right now, President Obama’s number one interest remains politics, which trumps all else. Democrat candidates running for office want Mr. Obama to stay away from their campaigns, he is poison at the polls. Yet he cannot keep himself from hints of what he will do “after the election.” Amnesty for illegal aliens, 100,000 Haitians admitted to the country and given work permits. More illegals from Honduras and other Central American countries who will become Democrat voters in gratitude for citizenship.

It’s the things that don’t seem to be on his list that are worrying. Eliminating the threat of ISIS, securing the border, a travel ban on Ebola Central, eliminating wasteful spending, there’s Enterovirus D-68 which has killed more kids in this country than Ebola. We have a government that cannot talk straight, that covers up anything that does not reflect positively on itself, or grow the Democratic Party.

We have had partisan administrations before, but never one that put the welfare of its own political party ahead of the welfare of the nation and its people.



Nobody’s in Charge, Nobody Knows Anything, Incompetence Reigns. by The Elephant's Child

The world is in flames, and those in charge don’t seem up to the job of taking charge. The CDC can’t get their information straight, and can’t seem to talk straight. Panic is allayed with calm, correct information, and knowledge of the facts. The Wall Street Journal addressed the question by saying “the fire-brigade approach clearly isn’t working. A sustained, coherent policy is vital to preventing pandemics.”

The spokesman who attempts to soothe the population with platitudes only makes matters worse. Straight talk, good information. When President Obama declared Ebola a National Security issue, he didn’t calm people’s fears, he inflamed them.

Americans are debating the wisdom of sending several thousand troops rather than asking whether U.S. assistance is organized as efficiently and effectively as it should be? Rather than an effort to deliver effective risk information, we were told that it was unlikely anyone with Ebola would ever enter the country and chances of an epidemic were extremely low.

ISIS is approaching Baghdad, taking precautions to avoid attack with our airstrikes, just as we were told that they would, melting into the population, ending their long parades of armored vehicles. There is some evidence they are using chemical weapons. The Kurds fight on, but desperately need the weapons we have not bothered to give them. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that:

Kobani is just one community, and it’s a tragedy what is happening there…but we have said from day one it is going to take a period of time to bring the coalition thoroughly to the table, to rebuild some of the morale and capacity of the Iraqi army, and to begin to focus where we ought to be focusing first, which is in Iraq.

Enterovirus D68 is raging, and we are calmed with claims that it goes away in the winter, so don’t worry. Every mother knows that kids bring everything home from school, so people worry.

But never fear. “The Pentagon released a report Monday asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security with  increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster response as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.”

The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” Mr. Hagel said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration….

While foreign policy experts have for years warned that climate change could present a future risk to national security, the Pentagon’s characterization of climate change as a threat demanding immediate action represents a significant shift for the military.

Never one to be outdone in the absurdity category, Secretary of State John Kerry  declared “Life as you know it on Earth ends if climate change skeptics are wrong.”

“But even if climate alarmists are wrong, nothing bad can come of enacting their taxes, restrictions and regulations,” Kerry said in a speech at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Another Democrat who never took a course in economics:

The worst that could happen to us is we create a whole lot of new jobs, we kick our economies into gear, we have healthier people, healthier children because we have cleaner air, we live up to our environmental responsibility, we become truly energy independent, and our security is stronger and greater and sustainable as a result. That’s the worst that happens to us.

Eighteen years of a complete lack of warming, and nobody seems to notice that the more immediate danger is a very cold winter and the EPA trying to shut down all of our coal-fired power plants with nothing — nothing — to replace that electricity. Numbers of hurricanes are way down, Numbers of  tornadoes are way down. But those are weather, not climate.

We are in the best of hands. When everybody is completely incompetent, what can possibly go wrong?



Too Much Politics, Too Little Strategy and Determination. by The Elephant's Child

obama-1Iraqi officials have issued a desperate plea for America to bring U.S. ground troops back to Iraq. Islamic State fighters have advanced as far as Abu Ghraib, a town that is  within eight miles of the Iraqi capital. A senior governor claimed there are up to 10,000 fighters from the movement now poised to assault the capital. The warning came from the president of the provisional council of Anbar Province, the vast desert province west of Baghdad that has largely fallen to the jihadists.

If Anbar is fully controlled by ISIS, it gives their ground forces a springboard to mount an all-out assault on Baghdad, the nation’s capital. A team of 1,500 U.S. troops are in Baghdad acting as mentors to the Iraqi army.

International attention has been focused on the Syrian border town of Kobane, where Kurdish fighters are battling to keep the ISIS fighters at bay, but Anbar is barely holding their own. A senior U.S. defence official said it’s fragile there.”They are being resupplied and the are holding their own, but it’s tough and challenging.”

Obama made bringing American troops home from the Middle East a cornerstone of his administration’s policy. Some suggest he just wants to hold ISIS back with airstrikes until after the election, at which point he’ll just let ISIS have it. With no troops on the ground to identify targets, the airstrikes are having limited effect. They are also much less than we are capable of.

Obama came to the White House with a flawed view of the world, sure that conflict was simply a matter of Republican warmongers and Republican intransigence. Problems could be solved with constructive talks. A “why can’t we all get along” view, which suffers from a failure to recognize human nature and real intent. He’s tried  all sorts of outreach and talks and offers, and promises of peace and understanding — and the world has decided that he is a weak doormat, and they had best charge ahead and take what they can while the taking is good.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,963 other followers

%d bloggers like this: