American Elephants


The Great Summing Up by The Elephant's Child

I always hate the week between Christmas and New Years. The Media does the “Great Summing Up.” Lists and rankings, best and worst, biggest news stories, best photos, most notable deaths, the best books, the worst books, the funniest cartoons and the best and worst movies. These are not exactly think pieces.

The American Dream is dying, or dead. Things are really bad and only getting worse. The Least Productive Congress in History? The Do-Nothing Congress has been good for America, and if they pass few new laws, we can breathe slightly more easily.  Congress passed just 70 laws, which may be too many. But Obama and Congressional Democrats planned an array of Big Government initiatives — gun control, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, more job creation, infrastructure (again!), climate change, and education, to name only a few. Congress ended the year with none of those initiatives signed into law. And we are far better for it. No major tax hike, and the probability of a major tax hike in the next year has fallen.

Congress’ approval rating fell to a new low in a November Gallup poll at 9%, and 72% of Americans agreed that “big government” was the nation’s Number One threat. That is an encouraging opinion.

It used to be that a limited government with only modest aims was the guiding principle of nearly every Congressman. Until some sanity is restored to Congress, gridlock may be the best thing we can hope for. A year spent thoughtfully repealing useless laws, wretched excess, and governmental duplication would do us a world of good.

Markets have been encouraged by governmental inaction. Businessmen are not quite so frightened about what government might do next. In 2013, the growth oriented NASDAQ has surged 40%. Markets look six months to a year on down the road.

The EPA is facing real questions about just what ‘science’ they are relying on in their push for power and control. They are backing off their attempt to require 15% corn ethanol in gasoline, which will save many cars and all sorts of small engines. Inaction from the EPA would be a real boon to the economy.

The Democratic majority is running scared from the ObamaCare disaster and its potential influence on the 2014 election. The President is not going to win back the approval of the American people easily. The economy might survive after all. Let’s hear it for gridlock, and root for another do-nothing year in the nation’s capitol.



The Truman Gambit: All About Headlines by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has never been shy about blowing his own horn, to put it modestly.  If you remember, he tried to imitate Lincoln on his way to the inauguration — left from Springfield, just as Lincoln did on the train, ate the same meal, took the oath on Lincoln’s bible. He said he thought he ranked fourth in accomplishments after, perhaps, Lincoln, FDR and LBJ. Others, not so impressed, have compared him unfavorably to Jimmy Carter.  He has compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr. because he has been vilified, just  as King was. Well, now he’s going for Truman.  Call it the Truman Gambit.

In 1948, Harry Truman was expected to lose, and lose badly. The Democrat Party was fragmented, with splinter parties. And the Chicago Tribune was famously caught with it’s headlines down.  Truman ran against a “do-nothing Congress.” Which is what Obama is planning.  Democrats are sure that slogan is what gave Truman a huge win in spite of all the odds. Personally, I think it was Dewey’s mustache.  I strongly suspect that way more people make up their minds about how to vote based on how the candidates look. And Dewey just didn’t look like a really fun guy.  He looked a lot more like a standard movie villain, and post-Hitler, mustaches just weren’t hot fashion. But that’s just my opinion.

We have a Democrat Senate that has not produced the budget they are required by law to execute for 1,019 days, that’s nearly three years.  The president’s budgets have been late every year, and the last one was so dreadful that even the Democrats wouldn’t vote for it. The Republican House has regularly produced their budgets on time, but without Senate compliance with the law, they are stuck with running the government on continuing resolutions. Republicans will not agree to more “stimulus” because it doesn’t work and is a waste of money. If refusing to allow more stimulus and more borrowing from China can be categorized as “do-nothing,” it’s going to take some pretty spectacular lipstick to put on that pig.

Nevertheless, that is what is being attempted. Obama is sending down a budget that is simply unable to find anything to cut back on.  All that huge, enormous, inflated, unmanageable, bulbous and continuing to expand federal bureaucracy can not be cut back.  Evidence that the average federal bureaucrat is paid nearly twice as much as their counterpart in the private sector — an elite island of secure and highly-paid workers — makes no nevermind. They’re just special and they deserve it.

The federal bureaucracy cannot be cut, except for the military and their weapons systems, and their maintenance, and their bases. They are being slashed, but the newer, politically-correct armed forces with gentler, friendlier, climate-conscious manner will be ready to reach out the hand of friendship to all the world. And surely our friends will take over, now that we are scaling back? We can’t be expected to be the policemen of the world. Someone else will have to take that over, but who?

I find that troublesome. In 1933, the army of the United States consisted of 137,000 men.  It was 16th in size in the world, but Hitler was already Chancellor of Germany, and Stalin was engaged in eliminating anyone who disagreed with him, and Asians date the beginning of World War II from the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in 1931. We unnecessarily lost a lot of Americans before the Army was rebuilt and reequipped.

And then, when the War finally ended, the army declined to just 554,000 men and we were completely unprepared for Korea.  Americans are an optimistic people and always believe that the war just completed was the last one — ever. Looking out at the world today, I don’t see a lot of reason for optimism.

Obama can be optimistic though. He has the newspapers of today on his side.  J.E. Dyer, a former Navy intelligence officer, says:

There is no doubt that a significant segment of the MSM has the same peculiar worldview as Obama and his advisors, and takes care to frame everything in the terms of that worldview.  But that doesn’t necessarily explain the behavior of the entire MSM.

Please note:  I am speaking here of how “straight news” is framed in the news pages or broadcasts.  Various opinions may be expressed on the editorial pages, but it matters greatly how the MSM attempt to reflect reality, which is what we all tacitly accept they are doing in “straight news” reporting.  This reporting comes, over time, to write the narratives in our heads about what is going on in the world.  And I have never seen reality so reflexively misinterpreted in the retailing of “news.”…

Congress is gridlocked, unable to exercise its proper role in the separation of powers.  President Obama, besides presiding over a network of executive agencies larger and more powerful than any previous president had at his disposal, is a deliberate political “divider,” constantly – constantly– making divisive appeals to one constituency and rhetorically “flaming” another.  No president has behaved in anything close to this manner since FDR in the mid-1930s.

This president is not Bill Clinton, or even Jimmy Carter; he is not Lyndon Johnson or JFK.  He and his administration have broken with America’s trademark political mindset of gradualism and respect – however grudging at times – for the people.  So why is the narrative by which his administration’s actions are explained the same one the MSM has used for decades?  Why is this administration being interpreted on the same terms as its predecessors, when its actions and perspectives, in both domestic and foreign policy, are so very different?

We’ll see. Can Obama persuade Americans that it only a recalcitrant Congress that is keeping him from fixing the economy.  Will the voters be impressed with the headlines? Can he convince them that all that hope and change he promised will really and truly make everything better and this time will be different, if he just gets another four years to promote more green energy, and fix more crumbling infrastructure and build more high-speed trains? Will the Truman Gambit work?




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