American Elephants

About Those Tired, Worn-Out, Trickle-Down Ideas… by The Elephant's Child

When Barack Obama first ran in 2008, he claimed his economic policies would “foster economic growth from the bottom up and not just from the top down.” He promised “an immediate rescue plan for the middle class” and would end the “tired, worn-out trickle-down ideologies we’ve been seeing for so many  years.”

With a Democrat controlled Senate and a Democrat controlled House, Obama got everything he wanted in his first two years in the White House. He got a massive stimulus, a bailout for the auto industry, temporary tax cuts for the middle class, vast new regulations on business and capped it all off with ObamaCare, the first big step to socialized medicine, the program that is working so well in the United Kingdom.

Didn’t work. Not any of it. Twenty million people cannot find work. Many workers are being cut back to less than 30 hours a week, the ObamaCare cutoff point. More people on food stamps than ever in history, more people on Disability than  ever in history. That tired, worn-out trickle-down ideology we’ve been seeing for so many years never had results like this.

The actual results of Obamanomics — the rich get richer
and the poor get poorer!

A new Pew report using Census data on net worth found that from 2009 to 2011, the richest seven percent of Americans found their average net worth climb by $697,651 — a 28% gain.

The rest of you poor souls? The other ninety-three percent of us saw our average net worth drop by an average $6,079 — equal to a 4% loss. Since Obama took office, the average income of the poorest twenty percent of households fell nearly 8% to levels last seen in the Reagan era. The Gini index, which measures income inequality has climbed steadily under Obama, after remaining flat during the Bush administration.

But it’s all the fault of those dastardly Republicans. Not sure how that works, but that’s what Obama keeps saying when he isn’t claiming the opposite of reality.

In the meantime — Ain’t we got fun!

Can We Just Talk Straight About Terrorism? by The Elephant's Child

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have charged two men living in Canada with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack against a VIA Rail passenger train inside Canada. The RCMP said the two men planned to carry out an “al Qaeda-supported” terror attack to derail a train, which was also aimed at harming the economy.

The Police said, at a news conference, that the two men were receiving guidance and direction from  al Qaeda related elements in Iran. The men are not Canadian citizens. There was no imminent threat to the public, but had the terror project come to fruiting, innocent people would have been killed or injured.

The Obama administration has gone out of their way to make light of the threat from terrorism, but the evidence merely points out the presidents state of denial about the rising threat. CNN’s homeland security analyst, Juliette Kayyem asserted “We have not had (even) a small-scale terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.”

We have suffered a number of major attacks, and most of them have taken place on Obama’s watch. Since 2009, terrorists have attacked our military bases, assassinated our diplomats, burned our embassies and murdered  innocent spectators at a sporting event and ambushed and shot police officers.

— June 1, 2009: Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad shot and killed a military recruiter and wounded another at a Little Rock Arkansas recruiting station. A convert to Islam, Muhammad identified with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

— September 2008: Afghan native Najibullah Zazi was arrested before he could blow up the New York City Subway.

— September 2009: Police nabbed Jordanian  Hosam Maher Husein Smadi before he could plant a bomb in a Dallas skyscraper.

— November 5, 2009: Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major psychiatrist opened fire at Fort Hood Texas, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” as he killed 13 fellow soldiers and wounded 29. He was advised by al Qaeda operative Anwar Awlaki. Homeland Security has defined this as a workplace incident.

— December 2009: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was tackled by passengers before he could detonate explosives sewn into his underwear. He was trained in Yemen by al Qaeda.

— March 4, 2010: John Patrick Bedell, a Muslim convert, shot and wounded two Pentagon police officers at a checkpoint in the Pentagon station of Washington Metro in Arlington, VA.

— May 2010: A massive bomb was planted by Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan failed to explode in an SUV parked in Times Square. He was trained and funded by the Taliban.

— October 2010: Chicago synagogues discovered explosives packed inside two printer cartridges shipped by cargo planes from al Qaeda in Yemen. The attack failed.

— Sept. 11, 2012: On the anniversary of 9/11, al Qaeda operatives attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. The armed assault targeted the consulate compound, and a nearby CIA annex. The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens was killed along with three others and ten others were wounded in a 7 hour gunfight.

— April 15, 2013: Two Muslim jihadists set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 183.  The terrorists shot two police officers, killed one, and injured several others. One of the brothers is dead, the other in custody.

The administration continues to downplay Islamist terrorism, and proposes talks with the Taliban and with Iran.

The “Arab Spring” was mistakenly assumed to be a movement for democracy in Arab North Africa. The movement was perhaps inspired by televised shots of Iraqis, male and female, proudly voting in free elections. That was considered the equivalent of an earthquake in the Arab Middle East, where oppressive dictatorship was the norm. But Arabs had no experience of Democracy, and the Muslim Brotherhood was ready to step in.

No terrorism here, nothing to see. Just move along.

Dancing on Graves to Get His Way is Ugly. by The Elephant's Child


The President has gone to great lengths to distract American attention with a focus on his gun ban, wringing all of the pathos he possibly can from the dead children of Sandy Hook. He used Air Force One to import a group of Sandy Hook parents specifically to lobby Congress to pass his gun bill. This is wrong, if not illegal. He has given over his “weekly address” to one of the Sandy Hook mothers to beg Congress for action on “gun violence.” There are apparently no limits on this president’s choice to demagogue and play on peoples emotions to get his own way.

It is particularly ugly to pretend to bereaved parents that any gun bill devised by Congress cam make a difference. It cannot. The ACLU long term campaign against anyone being detained in a mental health facility against their will might help if it were removed, but it is difficult for even the most skilled mental health professional to know what is in the mind of a patient, and when someone might turn to violence as a solution.

A survey of 15,000 law enforcement personnel found that the overall attitude of law enforcement is strongly anti-gun legislation and pro-gun rights, with a strong belief that an armed citizenry is effective in stopping crime. Here are some interesting gun statistics. We would do more good by banning hammers, knives and fists. I know that doesn’t appeal to the “do something” bunch, but bad things sometimes happen to good people, and sometimes it cannot be prevented.

There are risks to life. Hurricanes happen, they are weather events, and no  matter how much the greens try to eliminate SUVs and the carbon dioxide they imagine as the cause of global warming, events like the storm surge in New York and New Jersey happen. Maybe some gates to prevent storm surge could sometime help, but CO2 does not cause weather events, and global warming does not cause hurricanes. There are “Black Swan” events.

“Doing something” may make you feel better, but, unfortunately, it’s useless.

It’s The Optics, Mr. President. It Just Doesn’t Look Good. by The Elephant's Child

The Sequester has famously deprived school children from their hopes of touring the White House, although 1). Sequester cuts are in the upcoming budget, not the current one, and 2). The White House tours are conducted by volunteers. The Sequester, you see, is about drastic cuts to the federal budget engineered by tightwad Republicans, although it was designed by the White House as a trap for Republicans.

Republicans recognized it for what it was, spat it out and said fine, let’s sequester.

Obama is a fierce competitor, and decided to embark on a war of politicized public relations. He would show those nasty Republicans by making the public feel the pain of Republicans’ lack of consideration for his spending habits.

This president is a waster, a spendthrift, a scattergood. He likes the perks of the office, and it doesn’t occur to him how his extravagance appears to the millions of people who are suffering without a paycheck and out of a job. He is President of the United States and he doesn’t want you to forget it for a minute and he is entitled to the good things.

So he flew his 747 jumbo jet Air Force One on a four-hour round trip to Chicago as Andrew Malcolm notes  “at a cost of $182,000 per flight hour for a 15 minute teleprompter speech that could have been delivered from anywhere on the subject of —wait for it— reducing our use of oil.”

Joe Biden flew to London  in February with an unusually large entourage for an overnight stay at the Hyatt Regency for $459,388.65. Then on to Paris for a single night at the Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grande for $585,000.50.  Must have been a good-sized entourage. I haven’t had occasion to stay in a hotel for a while, but this is ridiculous.

The royal daughters are spending their spring break in the Bahamas. There is enough money in President Obama’s FY 2013 federal budget to provide Secret Service protection for his daughters, but not enough to keep the White House open for school children’s tours given by unpaid volunteers. It’s “the optics,” an annoying phrase that has displaced “the way it looks.”

The president made a big deal about the potential closing of restrooms in our National Parks, and not having rangers available to conduct tours, perhaps even shutting down some facilities. So today he found it possible to commit the federal government to acquiring five new national monuments.  Just coincidental, I’m sure, but all five are located in blue states that voted for Mr. Obama’s re-election.

Doc Hastings (R-WA) said “this is the government spending money it doesn’t have on properties it doesn’t own.” The new monuments are in Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington State. The President managed this by using the Antiquities Act to circumvent Congress. He must have had some glimmer that “the optics” weren’t too good because they chose to bar the press from the signing ceremony.

The Slow Collapse of the Democrat Party, Continued. by The Elephant's Child


From our excellent neighbor to the North, Small Dead Animals, a juxtaposition:

March 1, 2013

USAF Announcement: The implementation of across-the-board cuts in federal spending has caused the curtailment of the Thunderbirds 2013 show schedule. Effective April 1, all of the team’s performances have been cancelled.

March 3, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Sunday that the United States would provide $250 million in assistance to Egypt after Egypt’s president promised to move ahead with negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over economic reforms.

P.S. Here’s what it costs to keep the Thunderbirds flying annually.

Be sure to click on the links. Mr. Obama does want to be sure that the public feels his real pain. His strategy is completely obvious, and so small and spiteful.

Here in the Seattle Area our big summer festival is Seafair, which is centered around the hydroplane races and the Blue Angels performance, but includes everything from the milk carton derby, the usual queen and princesses, pirates,  parade, street performances, Navy visit and ship tours — plus all the usual and unusual summer festival stuff.

One of the highlights for me is when the Blue Angels pass right over my house in formation. Scares the hell out of the cats, but I love it.  Sound of Freedom! So that is going away too. If the choice is to get to see the Blue Angels or fuel our aircraft carriers, I can live without the Blue Angels.

But that is not the choice. The choice is between an arrogant president’s belief that he cannot under any circumstances cut back on government waste, sell empty government buildings, dump programs that don’t work, discontinue unnecessary duplicate programs,  or stop subsidizing cronies who supported his campaigns. Instead, he wants more money to spend to influence voters. He wants to win back control of the House in the next election so he can put the rest of his misguided agenda into effect.

Bill Whittle Takes On The Sequester and It’s Author by The Elephant's Child

Automatic federal cuts are bringing staffers to the brink of starvation, claimed Debbie Wasserman Schultz,. Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) said he may be forced to lay off a staffer.

As Bill Whittle says, correctly, the sequester cuts barely 2% from increases in the federal budget, not the current budget. They have orders to proclaim the pain, and they are doing their best to lie plausibly— or not so plausibly. Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s staffers earn between $60,000 and $160,000 a year. Surely they could bring peanut butter and jelly from home.

Maybe they are among the federal employees who collectively owe enough in back taxes to the IRS, that if they paid up, it would take care of the sequester.

This Is Not An “Accelerating” Job Market. by The Elephant's Child

The unemployment rate for February has dropped to 7.7%, down from 7.9% last month. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 236,000 in February, which sounds good until you realize it’s not far from the same as it was in February 2012, when it was 271,000— a little higher. Not exactly progress.

Those who are unemployed and are not looking for work are designated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as “no longer in the work force” has climbed to a record high at 89,304,000 up from 89,008,000 in January.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites 6.8 percent declined. The rate for adult men 7.1 percent, adult women 7.0 percent, Hispanics 9.6 percent, Blacks 13.8 percent, and teenagers 25.1 percent.

In February multiple jobholders rose by a record, as full-timers dropped, part-timers increased. The number of multiple job holders increased by 340K. This is undoubtedly a result of ObamaCare rules which are forcing many businesses to shift their workers to part-time. These workers attempt to recover by holding a second job.

The Federal Reserve Beige Book, a report issued eight times a year, details economic activity. Employers in several Districts cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff. Three different Federal Reserve regions have directly linked ObamaCare to slower hiring.

Just saw yesterday that J.C. Penney is laying off 200,000 employees, and that didn’t even make it into the numbers.

Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge points out that $1.2 trillion in debt buys the United State about 61 percent of the jobs created a year ago. And lest you get excited about the record Dow Jones , every “record” Dow Jones point costs $200 million in federal debt.

See, You Can Cut Back on Spending. by The Elephant's Child

House Speaker John A. Boehner announced last Wednesday that members will no longer be allowed to travel by military aircraft on Congressional delegation trips.

The Ohio Republican told members that because of the spending cuts mandated by the sequester, he will cut the costs of the taxpayer-funded trips by suspending the standard military aircraft and making members fly commercial. The airfare costs are still paid by the government, but commercial flights are less expensive than it is to commission a military plane.

“The Speaker believes this is the prudent and responsible course of action, and it goes above and beyond the spending cuts the House will be implementing.,” said a GOP aide. Good example too.

Mr. Boehner has steadily been a proponent of commercial travel. He has long flown commercial between Washington and his home district in Ohio.

Politics And The Words That Move Your Opinion by The Elephant's Child

This week we have been getting a real display of politics in action. Politicians learn there are certain words that get a more agreeable emotional response than others. Certain visuals that appeal directly. Many an environmentalist drive for funds or membership has been fueled by pictures of baby animals.

It’s not fair, of course, but surely you didn’t expect politicians to be fair. An excellent example of ‘good’ words is ‘balance.’ President Obama has been using ‘balance’ steadily in reference to avoiding the sequester that he dreamed up. Can’t have across the board cuts, we need a “balanced approach” which means if I give you a cut in anything at all—I want more tax revenue. Sounds ‘fair,’ which , by the way, is another ‘good’ word.

President Obama is in a bad spot. He proposed the sequester and got it passed into law in 2010, with the idea that Republicans (warmongers, you know) would be so averse to cutting defense spending that they would give in on other cuts, and he would be left with all the spending money he wanted. Republicans realized that they weren’t going to get the president to cut anything willingly, and sequester cuts would at least rein in spending a little. The administration is livid. Even some in the media are noticing:  Here’s abc News:

Listening to the White House, you’d think the key to averting the across-the-board spending cuts (the dreaded “sequester”) set to in place on March 1 is closing the tax break for owners of private jets.

Here was White House Press Secretary Jay Carney last week: “How do you explain to a senior that we’re doing this, asking you to sacrifice, but we’re not saying that corporate jet owners should lose their special tax incentive.”

On Wednesday, Carney summed up the Republican position this way: “We’d rather see our national security undermined than corporate jet owners, God forbid, give up their tax break.”

And President Obama in an interview Wednesday with KAKE-TV in Wichita: “What we don’t want to do is give somebody who’s buying a corporate jet an extra tax break.” Carney has brought up the corporate jet tax break at every single briefing this week.

But the Senate Democrats’ plan protects corporate jets. Heh.

‘Corporate jets’ is a negative term, like fur coat, or diamond tiara. It says — excess, and undoubtedly wretched excess as well. If you remember, when Obama spent TARP money rescuing the auto industry, he made a big deal about GM’s corporate jets, and forced them to get rid of them.

But what is this “special tax incentive” that corporations get for their corporate jet? The tax break allows owners of private jets to depreciate their airplanes over five years instead of the standard seven years for commercial airplanes — and would raise less than $300 million a year. That’s a teeny fraction of the across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect this year. According to the CBO, it isn’t $85 billion, but only $44 billion,  or in household budget terms, cutting out a daily latte.

The big deal about the tax break for corporate jets, is simply the negative impact of the words themselves. The White House also frequently mentions the tax break for oil and gas companies which simply refers to ordinary business deductions that sort of organization is entitled to. It’s nothing special like enormous subsidies for unproven technologies like Solyndra.

A corporate jet amounts to a moving corporate office with WiFi, desks, satellite communication systems, and saves hours of time and inconvenience for major business travel. They utilize a network of more than 5,000 airports in the U.S. while commercial airlines only reach 550. One flight-department manager for an East Coast company makes the point that “we often operate our jet (a Dassault 7X) almost like a shuttle, carrying program managers and engineers to numerous locations in South America,” he says. “Some of the places we fly to are not served by airlines.”

Long-range jets have a full-fuel range of 7,800 geographical miles, or 12 to 13 flight hours, or New York to Tokyo. (best case) There are 11,261 private jets authorized for use in the U.S. and 7.997 in the rest of the world. Medium size private jets carry up to 8 or 9 passengers.

Barack Obama was a skilled community organizer, and knows how to rouse your emotions with the use of special words and pictures that will influence how you feel about a policy. You just need to be aware that you are being played, and try to find our what the real facts are.

Joblessness Is Not a Mystery. It’s Caused by the Government. by The Elephant's Child

Robert J. Samuelson has a column today at Investors, titled “Joblessness is Top Problem, But No One Has An Answer,” Columnists usually don’t write their own titles, but the title reflects the content.

The official jobless rate is 7.9%, but it would be 14.4% if it included part-timers who’d like full-time work and discouraged workers who have stopped looking, notes Janet Yellen, vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board.

Scarce jobs are the nation’s first, second and third most important economic and social problem.

What’s especially disheartening and mystifying is that, until now, job creation was considered an inherent strength of the American economy.

Well, it’s obviously just “The New Normal.” Samuelson is a lefty, but usually a somewhat sensible one. I expected better.

Individual businessmen, small business owners, manufacturers, economists, business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and others  have all been quite vocal about what is keeping them from creating jobs, growing and expanding. It’s the federal government.

We have the highest corporate taxes in the industrialized world. The flow of regulation from almost every federal department has increased dramatically. No one knows what regulation they might suddenly fall afoul of.  And overcriminalization is rampant. Businesses are ruined, and their owners put in jail for regulations they didn’t know existed, or for over-zealous prosecution.

Obama has, through the Interior Department and through Fish and Wildlife and through the EPA destroyed whole businesses, robbed people of their livelihoods. SWAT teams are sent in to terrorize innocent people. And above all, the implementation of ObamaCare is forcing companies to let workers go, or to shift full-time workers to part-time, because of the absolute unworkable mess of a law, and the hugely increasing costs on business. If you increase the cost of doing business, businesses are forced to hire fewer people.

Obama has a fixed idea that global warming is a fact (it’s not), that it is caused by CO2 from fossil fuels (it’s not), and that he must save the world from its depredations by shutting down the oil and gas industry to be replaced by “clean energy” from wind and solar. (not possible).

He said he wants to bankrupt the coal industry, and  I’ve lost track of how many coal-fired power plants he has caused to be shut down, with the communities who depend on them. Coal, he believes, is dirty, However a new process for producing energy from coal promises to be cheap and clean.

Wind and solar energy are not cost-effective, and without massive government subsidy, would not exist. The two combined still represent only a tiny part of national energy needs. Obama’s dream of complete reliance on green energy is a pipedream.

America is awash in cheap energy. Obama has attempted to shut down oil from the Gulf. He has closed off most federal lands from potential drilling, including the land set aside for oil and gas production in Alaska. He has refused to approve the Keystone XL pipeline (20,000 jobs).

If you want a growing, prospering economy, you need cheap energy. Energy drives every sector of the economy. Obama has striven to raise the cost of energy in the belief that higher costs would make people favor wind and solar energy more. His misguided beliefs about energy are a major reason for American unemployment.
Mr. Samuelson quotes Obama’s favorite figure of the economy having generated 5.5 million jobs, but admits that the official jobless rate of 7.9% would be 14.4% if you included the discouraged workers who have stopped looking. What he doesn’t mention is that the potential work force is always growing as the population increases. The economy would have to add a minimum of 200,000 new jobs each month to keep up with the growing number of people in the potential labor force.  It’s not improving.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Climate Change But Were Afraid To Ask. by The Elephant's Child

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha: From the Daily Caller today —On Wednesday morning’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the Center for American Progress’ very own Christie Heffner, former CEO of Playboy Enterprises announced that Chicago’s sky-high murder rate could be blamed — at least in part — on climate change.

Yes, last year we hit a record number of murders from guns [in Chicago], And this year we are already outpacing last year’s numbers. Now there are contributing factors that are not under anybody’s control and may seem odd, but it is factually true. One of them is actually the weather. There is a dramatic increase in gun violence when it is warmer. And we are having this climate change effect that is driving that.

The average high temperature in July, the hottest month in both Chicago and the much-safer New York City is the same for both at 84°. Scarborough thanked her on behalf of conservative bloggers across America.

Meanwhile back in the real world, there is a splendid article at WattsUpWithThat from Australian Climate Scientist Professor Robert (Bob) Carter. He is a senior research geologist who has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers on palaeo-environmental and palaeo-climatic topics, and the author of several books, the most recent  Climate: The Counter Consensus, available at Amazon as well

He introduces Katharine Hayhoe, PhD, who wrote the December AITSE piece “Climate Change: Anthropogenic or Not?” is an atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She is senior author of the book “A Climate for Change; Global Warming facts for Faith-Based Decisions.”

Quite clearly, Dr. Hayhoe and I are both credible professional scientists. Given our training and research specializations, we are therefore competent to assess the evidence regarding the dangerous global warming that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) alleges is being caused by industrial carbon dioxide emissions.

Yet at the end of her article Dr. Hayhoe recommends for further reading the websites and, whereas here at the outset of writing my own article I recommend the websites and (Global Warming Policy Foundation). To knowledgeable readers, this immediately signals that Dr. Hayhoe and I have diametrically opposing views on the global warming issue.

The general public finds it very hard to understand how such strong disagreement can exist between two equally qualified persons on a scientific topic, a disagreement that is manifest also on the wider scene by the existence of equivalent groups of scientists who either support or oppose the views of the IPCC about dangerous anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (DAGW).

Dr, Carter goes on to lay out the common ground between the two, explain how the science works, and then asks:

What evidence can we use to test the DAGW hypothesis? He presents five simple tests. I urge you to read the whole thing. It’s a very clear exposition of the current state of the argument in the climate scientist community.  We’ll leave Ms. Heffner out of it, because there have always been a huge number of silly arguments from people of little understanding, but lots of faith. The list of things supposedly caused by global warming is very, very long, and remarkably senseless.

Dr. Carter here offers a really clear, non-partisan review of the argument for those who don’t know a lot about climate change, without getting into the politics at all. And there is an astounding amount of politics concerned with climate change all over the world.

FEMA Won’t Let Us Rebuild Our Home by The Elephant's Child

The Taylor family lives in the Natomas community in Sacramento, California. On August 24, 2012, Brad and Jennifer were driving home with their two young children when they saw smoke in their neighborhood. As they got closer to home, they realized that their house was on fire. Jennifer jumped out of the car to get the family’s elderly dog and two cats to safety while Brad drove the kids to their grandmother’s house down the street. Though shaken, both Brad and Jennifer were relieved that no one had been hurt. “It’s just a fire,” Brad said. “It can all be replaced.”

Little did they know that, thanks to regulations created by the Federal Emergency Managment Agency in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — which hit land thousands of miles away from Sacramento — their rebuilding nightmare was just beginning.

To learn more, go to the Taylors’ Facebook page, Burned OUT in Natomas:


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