American Elephants


Liberal Delusions, Sheer Incompetence, or Just A Misguided Search for A Legacy? by The Elephant's Child

la-fg-obama-castro-20150411Americans envision the coming storm with pure  dread, wondering why the Obama administration remains oblivious. Walter Russell Mead over at The American Interest zeroes in on the troubled mindset:

It’s hard to predict how events will play out, but the Obama Administration should have no illusions on one count: Iran must be taken seriously when it says it sees this negotiation as part of a struggle with an enemy. Liberal American diplomats often delude themselves that foreigners prefer them to conservative hardliners. They think that American adversaries like the Castro brothers or the Iranians will want to work cooperatively with liberals here, and help the American liberals stay in power in order to advance a mutually beneficial, win-win agenda. Thus liberals think they can get better deals from U.S. opponents than hardliners who, as liberals see it, are so harsh and crude in their foreign policy that they force otherwise neutral or even pro-American states into opposition.

What liberal statesmen often miss is that for many of these leaders it is the American system and American civilization that is seen as the enemy. … For the Iranians, it is our secular, godless culture combined with our economic and military power that they see as the core threat….

The mullahs in other words, don’t see blue America as an ally against red America. It is America, blue and red, that they hate and want to bring down. And while, like the Soviets during the Cold War, they may be willing to sign specific agreements where their interests and ours coincide on some particular issue, they do not look to end the rivalry by reaching agreements.

Things are not all that much different in Panama. Unfamiliar with history, he seems to think that helping Cuba to continue to abuse her people will be an accomplishment for his “legacy.” Raul Castro has already said that Cuba remains proudly communist, and he has no intention of changing the $20 a month allowance for the Cuban people. Obama’s opening up the relationship gives America nothing whatsoever, and expanded tourist revenue will simply further enrich the Castros — the Cuban people aren’t going to get any of it. So much for the Monroe Doctrine!

The days in which our agenda in this hemisphere so often presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity, those days are past,

Obama’s timing, as usual, is off, as is his understanding of events:

Over the last several years Hezbollah and its patrons in Iran have greatly expanded their operations in Latin America to the detriment of inter-American security and US strategic interests. Today, Hezbollah is using the Western Hemisphere as a staging ground, fundraising center, and operational base to wage asymmetric warfare against the United States. Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and other anti-American governments in the region have facilitated this expansion by rolling out the welcome mats for Hezbollah and Iran. US policymakers must increase their attention to this problem, expand their assets in the region, and develop a comprehensive strategy to combat this threat in a sustained and meaningful way.

Hezbollah is closely involved with the Mexican Drug Cartel, teaching them tunneling skills, and transporting Hezbollah operatives into the United States across the Mexican border.

“There is not, nor has there ever been, an Iran deal. The “framework the president announced last week was just a stunt.As yet another negotiations deadline loomed with the president plainly unwilling to walk away despite Iranian intransigence,congress appears poised to end the farce by voting to stiffen sanctions. The “framework” is a feint designed to dissuade Congress and sustain the farce.” That’s Andy McCarthy. He adds:

Iran has built its foreign policy around the goal of “Death to America” for the last 36 years. …With such a rogue state, there is only one negotiation a sensible nation — particularly the world’s most powerful nation — can have. You tell them that until they convincingly disavow their anti-American stance, cease their support for terrorism, release American prisoners, and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, that there is no point in discussing anything else.



Obama Fails His Most Important Job by American Elephant

Obama Days Without Terrorist Attack

[click to enlarge]

Terrorists attacked the United States at home on September 11, 2001, 8 months into President Bush’s first year in office. We now know, from the 9/11 Commission, that one of the major reasons is because the Clinton administration had erected a “wall” that prevented the CIA and FBI from communicating with one another. After that horrific day, President Bush kept Americans safe at home for the rest of his two terms in office.

Five years into his presidency, Barack Obama cannot say the same thing.

America has been attacked again, by people we not only allowed to immigrate, but for whom we provided welfare as well. If the news media were remotely fair or balanced, or if a Republican were president, this failure is all they would be talking about. But it is not, so they are trying their hardest to ignore the administration’s failure altogether.

Our government was warned multiple times and did nothing. Americans deserve answers.



$1.5 Trillion in New Taxes? Desperate or Delusional? by The Elephant's Child

President Obama announced his latest plan for reducing the deficit, which amounts to the same old plan we’ve heard before..  Raise taxes and keep on spending. It is not a serious plan, but only an assurance to his base that he is faithful to leftist rules.

The tax hikes are designed to pay for more stimulus— the $447 billion American Jobs Act— but the taxes are levied on the very folks that create the jobs. The National Association of Manufacturers points out that 70% of manufacturing concerns in the U.S. have owners whose business is taxed at the individual rate.

President Obama calls it a matter of “fairness,” and wants to require that everyone with an income of over $1 million pay the same effective tax rate (the percentage of taxable income paid in taxes) as “middle-income taxpayers.”

People with seven-and eight-figure incomes from wages pay 35 percent on most of that income, the highest marginal rate. It is dividends and capital gains that bring down their effective tax rate, but dividends are paid out of corporate profits that have already been taxed at 35 percent. A large portion of capital gains come from corporate income that has already been taxed.

The intelligentsia of the Democratic Party is growing increasingly enthusiastic over raising the highest federal income tax rates to 70% or more, or having several brackets on incomes above $1 million, and tax capital gains and dividends at those same high rates.

Revenue from taxes is down, way down. Democrat response — we’re not taxing people enough.  We need to raise taxes. Republican response — you’ve got 9.1 percent of the people unemployed and actively looking for work, and almost double that if you add all the folks who have stopped looking, or are working part-time or temporary jobs.  Many businesses have closed.  Of course you have less revenue. Economist Alan Reynolds has pointed out that the income tax brought in less revenue when the highest rate was 70% to 90% than it did when the highest rate was 28%.

Think about what happens when tax rates are low.  A business can invest more in hiring good people, invest more in expanding the business, invest more in taking risks on new ideas.  The same thing goes for individuals. Contrast that with Nancy Pelosi’s strange claim that the best way to increase jobs is more unemployment benefits.

The left has many misunderstandings.  Is low math comprehension a membership qualification? Their most recent claim is that the U.S. has the lowest tax rate as a percentage of GDP since the 1960s. Obama claimed that “we’ve been on an experiment of low tax rates for the last decade, and growth has been anemic. So surely there’s room to raise taxes. Doesn’t anyone check claims against reality?

The OECD has stated that the United States has the most progressive taxes in the industrial world.  We have the highest tax rates for the richest people.

There are apparently no adults in the White House. I don’t know if Obama just has terrible speech writers or if he writes his own. He talks about “scouring the budget for every dime of wast and inefficiency,” yet refuses to cut spending — that means slashing education, surrendering the research necessary to keep America’s technological edge in the 21st century, and allowing our critical public assets like highways and bridges and airports to get worse.  It would cripple our competitiveness and our ability to win the jobs of the future. And it would also mean asking sacrifice of seniors and the middle class and the poor while asking nothing of the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

Read that carefully.  “Slashing” to Obama, doesn’t mean cutting back government, which to him is quite impossible.  “Slashing education” refers to denying him the new stimulus money that he wants to direct to the teacher’s unions.  “America’s technological edge” means he wants to spend more on advanced battery factories and wind power and solar energy— also referred to as “winning the jobs of the future.” And those crumbling highways and bridges and airports — that’s more payback to the unions. There is nothing there for ordinary people who need a job, it’s all payback to democrat constituencies who raise money for Obama.

This is a tax plan that will not pass, that wouldn’t begin to pay for the new stimulus program the American Jobs Program, and that won’t create any jobs.  An example: Obama wants to offer a $4,000 tax credit to employers who hire a new employee who has been out of work.  To the businessman, hiring a new employee at an average of $45,000 a year, with, say half that amount in new costs for benefits and health care, an expense that continues each year.  $4,000 as a tax credit is supposed to be a big incentive to take the risk that the economy will improve, the flow of regulation from the government will ease off, people will have more income to spend.  Doesn’t pass the smell test.

You don’t recover from a recession by raising taxes.  You don’t recover from a recession by increasing spending.  Our current malaise is not a result of too little revenue, it is a result of uncontrolled spending, irresponsible, foolish spending on fantasies, dumb fantasies.  This is demagoguery, sheer demagoguery.



For Some Reason I have The Housemartins’ “World’s on Fire” running through my head by American Elephant
January 28, 2011, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Music, News, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , , , ,

Hmm. Wonder why.

At least Obama is on top of the situation!  Paper: “[events] moving too fast for Obama administration”.

Sigh. The country’s in the very best of hands. “Smart Power!”



Bookmark This Website, You’ll Be Glad You Did! by The Elephant's Child


It was in October of last year that I urged you to get acquainted with David Warren, Canadian journalist.  Consistently thoughtful, with clear thinking and graceful prose, his columns are always rewarding.

In “Ship of Fools,” he tackles the Jones Act:

So while, for instance, the U.S. Coast Guard can accept such help as three kilometres of containment boom from Canada, they can’t accept, and therefore don’t ask for, the assistance of high-tech European vessels specifically designed for the task in hand.

This is amusing, in a way: a memorable illustration of … the sort of stuff I keep going on about. Which is to say, the law of unintended consequences, which pertains with especial virulence to all acts of government regulation.

(…)A large part of the function of all regulatory bureaucracies is granting exemptions to the moronic rules. This, in turn, creates the conditions for massive corruption, and in the case at hand, the phenomenon of “regulatory capture” — regulators and regulatees working hand-in-glove.

In “We Are Inept” he gives us a sermon on incompetence:

It is a little-known fact, or else a well-known fact little acknowledged, that apart from earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, meteor showers, and other disturbing acts of nature, human malice is not at the root of all human suffering. Much of it is caused by human incompetence, or as the incompetent like to call it, “bad luck.” (…)

Politicians try to pass laws against it; to create rules and regulations so complex and cumbersome that (as we saw in the BP disaster) an easily-corrupted “judgement call” bureaucracy must grant exemptions from them, in order for anything to function at all. When disaster strikes, they add more rules and regulations.

But more profoundly, the rules and regulations — once they pass a point of irreducible complexity — create a mindset in which those who should be thinking about safety are instead focused on rules and regulations. To those who see danger, the glib answer comes, citing all the safety standards that have been diligently observed.

And in “Making Martyrs,” he examines the intent and cost of the Gaza flotilla:

From start to finish this was a violent political stunt, designed to inflict as much harm as possible on Israel’s existential interests. To defend it requires obtuse hypocrisy.

Consider: the embargo on Gaza is not Israel’s alone. Egypt also enforces strict controls on what enters and leaves Gaza, and for the same obvious reason. The territory is controlled by Hamas, and they are trying to import lethal weaponry, from Iran and other rogue sources. But Egypt is conveniently left out of the propaganda picture.

The people of Gaza already have access to food, medicine, and even building materials. The bureaucracies that slow the importation of such things, through Israel or Egypt, are indeed unpleasant and constraining — as they must be, for a very large portion of Gaza’s imports are “dual use,” and could therefore strengthen the hand of Hamas one way or another.

Each of these essays is well worth your time.  Browse not only his recent pieces, but explore the archives, there are treasures to be found.



It Wasn’t Anger that We Wanted, Mr. President. It Was Leadership. by The Elephant's Child

In the wake of the oil spill, President Obama asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to come up with a new report on recommendations for drilling safety.  Then, on May 27 Mr. Obama announced a six-month deep water drilling ban. He justified it on the basis of the top recommendation of Mr. Salazar’s report, which was a moratorium. The report noted, to include an air of technical authority: “The recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.”

That was flatly false.  In a scathing statement released this week, the seven experts explained that the report draft they had reviewed did not include a six-month drilling moratorium.   That was added after they had signed off.  “The Secretary,” they said, “should be free to recommend whatever he thinks is correct, but he should not be free to use our names to justify his political decisions,” wrote the seven in a letter to Gulf Coast politicians.

The seven noted that they broadly agreed with the report and even signed off on a proposal to suspend new deep water permits for six months.  They also agreed to a “temporary pause” in drilling to perform additional testing on the Gulf’s 33 deep water wells that have already received permits to drill.

“A blanket moratorium,” the seven said “is not the answer. It will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill.”  If anything, the ban could prove “counterproductive to long term safety.”

The Department of the Interior says the ban was a White House request.  Best guess is that credit should go to energy czar Carol Browner, who has been loudly favoring the ban to show the Administration is doing something.  Mr. Obama has pushed to question off to the commission he has appointed to investigate the spill.  The commission is not fully staffed, and their report is not due for six months.  That will be too late for thousands of Gulf workers who are in danger of losing their jobs within weeks, as deep water rigs prepare to leave the Gulf.

Meanwhile talk of “kicking ass” and demonizing BP has led to a backlash from Great Britain, home country of the oil giant, and the mainstay of many a retirement portfolio.  A Conservative peer, Lord Tebbit, called the American response “a crude bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan, political, presidential petulance against a multinational company.”

British message boards have been full of anger against America and Mr. Obama, a president who has been wildly popular until now, and against the economic costs of American anger.



When Oil is Gushing From A Leak 5,000 Feet Down, Quick, Call In The Lawyers! by The Elephant's Child

Attorney General Eric Holder is visiting the Gulf region. He has announced that he has sent a team of attorneys, including the head of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and the head of the Civil Division to protect not only the people, blah, blah, but the taxpayers, the environment and the abundant wildlife, and especially to protect the president from any allegation that he has not been completely in charge right from Day One. (OK, I added that last part after ‘abundant wildlife’).  Holder added:

As we move forward, we will be guided by simple principles: We will ensure that every cent of taxpayer money will be repaid and damages to the environment and wildlife will be reimbursed. We will make certain that those responsible clean up the mess they have made and restore or replace the natural resources lost or injured in this tragedy. And we will prosecute to the full extent any violations of the law.

Among the many statutes Department attorneys are reviewing are:

—The Clean Water Act, which carries civil penalties and fines as well as criminal penalties;

—The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which can be used to hold parties liable for cleanup costs and reimbursement for government efforts;

—The Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Acts, which provide penalties for injury and death to wildlife and bird species; and,

—Other traditional criminal statutes.

There are a wide range of possible violations under these statutes, and we will closely examine the actions of those involved in this spill. If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be forceful in our response. We have already instructed all relevant parties to preserve any documents that may shed light on the facts surrounding this disaster. As our review expands in the days ahead, we will be meticulous, we will be comprehensive, and we will be aggressive. We will not rest until justice is done.

They just don’t get it, do they?  But it isn’t just the administration.  International Answer is demanding that the government nationalize BP.  (Never mind that BP stands for British Petroleum ). And the administration has asked James Cameron  to join the physicists and the engineering experts.  He is referred to as an expert in underwater photography.

Well, he may have just the skills that they need.  Those waterfalls pouring down from the floating mountains in the sky were pretty spectacular, with no plausible source for the continually flowing water.  If he can do that, why not stop a flow gurgling up from the seafloor only a mile down?




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