American Elephants

Everything old is new again. by The Elephant's Child

Pirates have seized a Saudi-owned supertanker leaded with more then $100 million worth of crude oil off the coast of Kenya — the largest ship ever hijacked according to U.S. Navy officials. Somali pirates have become increasingly brazen, but this is the first time they have attacked a fully laden oil tanker. “This is unprecedented” the International Herald Tribune quotes a spokesman for the Fifth Fleet, Lt. Nathan Christensen.  “Its the largest ship that we’ve seen pirated.  It’s three times the size of an aircraft carrier.” The supertanker, the Sirius Star, was hijacked more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya, far to the south of previous attacks.  Pirates range over an area from the Gulf of Aden to the Kenyan coast, more than a million square miles.  Most ships do not have heavy security, while the pirates are fast and well armed.  And most are taken for ransom. Shipping firms are usually prepared to pay, for the sums demanded are still low compared with the value of the ships and their cargo. This seems like a remote crime — piracy in 2008? But the International Chamber of Commerce keeps track of Commercial Crimes.  Here is a map of piracy incidents just in 2008. Once it was the Barbary Coast pirates, but now apparently everything old is new again.

Words fail me, but this is just what I needed on a Monday. by The Elephant's Child
November 17, 2008, 2:40 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

(h/t Jonah Goldberg at the Corner)

The sun, the sun. The spots are back. by The Elephant's Child

After a little over two years of a quiet sun and few solar flares, a new-cycle sunspot group has emerged on Halloween, and been seen over a four-day period in early November.

This is good news.  Warmer is actually better than colder.  People are much more susceptible to suffering from cold weather than from heat. Here is the report with moving pictures too.

Congratulations to our new President-elect! by The Elephant's Child

On January 20th of next year, we will have a new president, and I wish him well.  He was not my choice, but he will be my president, and I wish him luck in dealing with the daunting challenges that face us.

We differed sharply on matters of his policies, his associations and his experience.  He will quickly get experience.  We will see who he chooses for his cabinet. We will continue to fight for the policies we believe in.

Please remember that disagreement and arguing are how we arrive at a way forward. That is what the founding fathers intended.  Attempts to silence those who disagree are attempts to destroy the the world’s most durable constitution.  Read The Federalist Papers, and renew your faith in debate, and read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence while you’re at it.  Our founding documents have served us well.

Why is Barack Obama running against George Bush? Because he has no record of his own. by The Elephant's Child

Every Democrat speech includes the obligatory phrase “eight years of failed Bush policies.” This is the old “big lie” technique of propaganda. You repeat something often enough, and people will start to believe it. New York’s senior senator Charles Schumer, chairman of the senate Democratic Campaign Committee, has been in front of every available camera and microphone for the last eight years, bloviating on the “terrible economy”, at least until he caused a bank run and got caught at it.

But what are these “failed Bush policies?” Let’s consider the history. The Clinton administration benefited from a technology boom that became a bubble. The stock market peaked and by the end of 2000 had declined by 8%, and GDP declined from 4.8 to 1.9 percent. Six weeks into the Bush administration the economy was officially in recession.

On the national security front, Saddam Hussein had kicked the weapons inspectors out of Iraq, and was in complete defiance of UN resolutions that he was obligated to obey. His military had fired at US Air Force planes that were patrolling the ‘no-fly’ zones. The US Cole had been attacked in 2000 by Islamists, killing 17 American sailors.

Then on September 11, 2001, just eight months after George W. Bush took office, Islamic terrorists attacked, killing nearly 3,000 civilians and brought down the twin towers and destroyed part of the Pentagon. Not an auspicious start for an administration.

By November the recession was officially over, and the economy never looked back. Under a Republican Congress and a Republican President the economy has grown at a healthy and sustainable pace every year until 2008, with unemployment averaging 5.2%, which is considered good.

Inflation-adjusted personal disposable income grew by 9% in the first six years under President Bush.  The real economy grew by about 20% since the President took office.

Imagine, this was an economy battered by the attacks of 9/11, battered by the devastation of Katrina, and in spite of it all it just chugs along. The Bush tax cuts helped greatly.  They raised the threshold so that way more people owed no taxes at all, and reduced the rates for everyone else, increasing the number of brackets from five to six.  The tax brackets are available here.  Please find the vast tax cuts for “the rich” that were somehow so unfair. Another example of the “big lie” technique in operation. The United States has the most progressive tax system in the world, and collects more income from the top 10 percent than any other country.

Though no one expected it at the time, President Bush has managed to keep us safe here at home for 7 years, while Islamist terrorists were attacking other countries, and attempting to attack us here.  Took a lot of vigilance to accomplish that.

If you look a little deeper than the bumper-sticker slogans from the Democrats, you will find that Guantanamo has been a model prison where no one except the guards was abused.  You will find that no one had any interest in listening to your telephone conversations unless you were chatting with someone in the mountains of Pakistan.  You will find that American troops were restoring schools, rebuilding water supplies, fixing power stations as well as trying to protect Iraqi civilians.

It does require a little effort to find sources like the Long War Journal or learn which reporters can be trusted, or how to find the Milblogs.  It is easier to simply repeat the daily sound bite.

It has been a great disappointment that President Bush has been unable to break through the mainstream media spin. He feels that history will justify him. I agree that it will.  He’s done a pretty darn good job.

Did you need a reason? Here’s a very good one. by The Elephant's Child

How Much is A Trillion? by The Elephant's Child
October 26, 2008, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
  • A million seconds is 11.5 days.  A billion seconds is 32 years.  A trillion seconds is 32,000 years.
  • A tightly-packed stack of new $100 bills totaling $1 million would be about 4 feet high.  A billion dollar stack of $100 bills would be 4,000 feet high, or 3 Sears Towers stacked on top of each other.
    A stack of $100 bills totaling $1 trillion would be 789 miles high or 144 Mr. Everests stacked on top of one another.
  • In 2007, Microsoft generated $51 billion in revenue — sales, not profits.  To reach a trillion dollars in revenue, we’d need 20 Microsofts.
  • A box that holds a case of copier paper will hold about $72,000 one-dollar bills.  It would take 1.4 billion boxes to hold a trillion dollars.
  • With $1 trillion, everyone living in America in 2008 could have 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.                                          (from

One guestimate about future taxes. by The Elephant's Child



0% on home sales up to $500,000 per home (couples) McCain does not propose any change in existing home sales income tax.


28% on profit from ALL home sales.

If you sell your home and make a profit, you will pay 28% of your gain in taxes.  If you are heading toward retirement and would like to downsize your home or move into a retirement community, 28% of the money you make from your home will go to taxes.  This proposal will adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the income from their homes as part of their retirement income.


McCain: 15% (no change)

Obama: 39.6%

If you have any money invested in the stock market, IRA, 401K, mutual funds, college funds, life insurance, or anything that pays or reinvests dividends, you will now be paying nearly 40% of the money earned in taxes if Obama becomes president.  The experts predict that “higher tax rates on dividends and capital gains would crash the stock market yet do nothing to cut the deficit.”


McCain: (no changes)

Single making 30K — tax $4,500
Single making 50K — tax $12,50
Single making 75K — tax $18,750
Married making 60K — tax $9,000
Married making 75K — tax $ 21.000
Married making 125K — tax $31,250

Obama: (allowing Bush tax-cuts to expire)

Single making 30K — tax $8,400
Single making 50K — tax $14,000
Single making 75K — tax $23,250
Married making 60K — tax $16,800
Married making 75K — tax $21,000
Married making 125K — tax $38,750


McCain: 0% (No change, Bush repealed this tax)

Obama: Restore the inheritance tax.  Many families have lost family businesses, ranches, farms and homes because they couldn’t afford the inheritance tax.


New government taxes proposed on homes that are more than 2400 square feet.
New gasoline taxes.
New taxes on natural resources consumption (heating, gas, water, electricity, carbon)
New taxes on retirement accounts and taxes for socialized medicine.

Comparisons are really hard because everyone states things differently. Obama talks only about his tax credits, and doesn’t mention how much taxes you will pay, and it doesn’t really matter because the bill will be written by congress, passed by congress and sent to the President for his signature.  Presidents can only ask and/or veto or sign. Congress (12% approval) is very anxious to raise taxes.

Source: Jennifer Rubin at Commentary Magazine

A few words about greed on Wall Street. by The Elephant's Child

One word that has been popping up in the campaign with frequency is GREED.  They talk about “greed” on Wall Street, and the “greed” of investment bankers.  Did you ever notice that no one speaks of the “greed of Congress?  I didn’t think so.

What is it that money managers do on Wall Street, and investment bankers and ordinary bankers? They try to earn money for their clients and for themselves, just like Earl and Betty do in their little appliance repair store down on Main Street.  Or Joe the plumber does when he hopes to save up and buy a business.  That’s what business is, working to earn a profit so that lives are nurtured and improved with the gain.  No profit, no business, at least not for long.  Frankly, it is fairly hard to earn a profit consistently.

But this should be of concern only if you work for a business, own a business or buy things from a business. But isn’t “greed” something different?  You mean that if you or I earn a profit or make money on something, it is just an exchange, but if someone on Wall Street earns a profit or makes money it is greed?

Then there must be  dividing line, but we don’t know where it is.  Is it $10,000, $100,000, or $1,000,000? Below the line, it’s O.K. and if you earn more than that, it’s greed?  Do you see how silly this is? This is “class warfare”.  Politicians want to point to that fellow over there, and say — envy him, look upon him with rage and contempt, hate him — because he is greedy — for making a profit.

That’s not how America works. Capitalism works. If people have the opportunity to work hard and try to reach the goals that they dream of, they can do it, if they are not burdened with fees and taxes and regulations imposed on them by a (greedy) Congress that didn’t do one thing to earn that money except demand that you give it to them.

So when politicians start talking about “greed”, at least recognize just what is going on.  And set your internal monitor so a little alarm goes off.

Obama’s health care plan? Be afraid, very afraid. by The Elephant's Child

Do you understand that Barack Obama’s health insurance plan will become universal health care ( the euphemistic name for socialized medicine)?  Democrats are committed to converting Americans to some form of universal health care.  They claim it will be cheaper, (it won’t). They claim it will be more efficient (it won’t).  They claim you will be happier with it (you won’t).  It is a power thing.  Democrats want the power over the American economy that the adoption of socialized medicine would provide.

Hawaii has just provided us with an example of how this works.

Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program.  A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

“People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free,” said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services, “I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.”

I have written often on socialized medicine, for many people do not understand why it is to be feared.  I tried to point out why it is doomed to failure for you here, I have often referred to Canadian universal health care and the British National Health Service, but we recently received a comment from “U.S. Frog” who is living in France and experiencing the wonders of the French version of universal health care:

I live in France and I know all about “socialized medicine”. For one thing it’s NOT FREE. When you work, 12.5 % comes out of your pay check for health insurance. That is just the basic. Then you have to pay for a secondary insurance yourself. If you have income from property, you will be subject to a “generalized social contribution” of 10 % on whatever that income is. Now, none of these payments are INCOME TAX. You pay for income tax in addition to these and that is just YOUR part. Then you have Value added tax which is something like sales tax. That is 19.6 % of the cost of most articles except you don’t see it because it is added to the price of the article before you buy it. (It would be a shock to any French person to go to the cash register and have the cashier ring up another 19.6% in sales tax, so they add it on beforehand). So you see, this system is VERY EXPENSIVE and I haven’t mentioned the tax on interest and dividends etc. Saying it is free is a DOWNRIGHT LIE. And we have the same problems as the British in the state of hospitals: long waiting lists, superbugs, underpaid doctors (so they ask for under the table payments) etc. etc. The US health insurance system definitely needs a reform but believe me, socialized medicine IS NOT THE SOLUTION.Do take the warnings of other seriously.

‘Universal Health Care’ and ‘Single-‘Payer Health Care’ are simply alternative names chosen to be more palatable for socialized medicine. A rose by any other name… There is a reason for all those aphorisms and warnings that our mothers and grandmothers gave us.  They represent the guardrails of life, and we ignore them at our peril.

Imagine, the price of oil actually depends on supply and demand. by The Elephant's Child

Last November, a barrel of light sweet crude oil was getting about $147 in futures trading.  Yesterday, oil was fetching $69.85 a barrel, down $4.69 a barrel for the day.  A report from the Energy department said that over the last month, domestic oil demand has fallen to its lowest level since June 1999, at 18.6 million barrels a day.  The economic downturn means  less crude is needed moving the economy.

A lower price for oil will help consumers, lowering winter heating bills and the price of gas at the pump. One of the chief contributors to inflation over the past year has been the rise in oil prices, and declining prices will ease the inflation threat.

OPEC, however, is not happy. Member states will be meeting next week to discuss a production cut in an effort to keep prices firm.  Nigeria and Venezuela have grown heavily dependent on oil.  We will see.

But it’s nice to know that there are some bright spots in the economy.

Bless ’em all. Bless all the bloggers who tell us the truth… by The Elephant's Child

The guys at Argghhh! The home of two of Jonah’s Military Guys post a little article on why they blog, and it is a heartwarming story:

KIRKUK,Iraq — The first class of Iraqi Air Force student pilots were awarded their flying wings as part of a graduation ceremony here, Oct. 13.

Nearly a year after the three trainees, Iraqi 2nd Lieutenants Hassan, Majid and Habeeb, entered the program, the success of the Joint Iraqi Flying Training Wing and 52nd Expeditionary Flight Training Squadron came to a pivotal point in building a credible objective air force capable of conducting sustained operations in defense of the country.

As operations expand and the number of students being trained increases, the Iraqi Air Force will move close to developing the foundational capabilities that will allow it to sustain independent operations and grow to meet future demands.  The new Iraqi Air Force stood up after the invasion in 2003 but, until today, all pilots were veterans who rejoined the force….

That’s what happened, and news, but you won’t find much about it in the mainstream media. But that wasn’t the heartwarming part.  That came after a speech by U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen Brooks Bash, Coalition Air Force Transition Team commanding general. (Try to get all that on a business card!)

The important part came in a speech by a Distinguished Visitor when his speech was interrupted by a standing ovation:

One of the kids nudged me when the DV started getting passionate in his address.  “He is saying that for the first time in our history, we are not doing things for one man, but we are doing it for all the people of Iraq.  He is saying the US has showed us how, and we must not forget when we thank God every day, we must also ask him to bless the US.”

Well, an additional thanks to bloggers who tell us the things that do not grace the elite pages of the mainstream press. Because they’re important. And they’re things we need to know.

Which is one of the reasons that the mainstream media is failing in prestige, influence and readership.  They no longer understand what is important outside of their immediate circle, and we are beginning to really notice.

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