American Elephants

President Obama’s Terrible, Horrible, Rotten, No Good, Very Bad Week. by The Elephant's Child

Republican Scott Brown was elected to the formerly Democrat seat in Massachusetts, a shocking defeat.   Union members in Massachusetts turned out for Scott Brown.  The president had delayed next week’s State of the Union address to Congress,in the hope he would get his signature healthcare reform bill passed in time.  The vote deprived the president of his 60 seat majority in the Senate.

Scott Lilley, a senior fellow at the liberal Centre for American Progress suggested that the president’s speech should be short and simple and focus on jobs.

President Obama spent his political capital on health care and climate change as unemployment soared.  Now he sees opportunity in bashing Wall Street to satisfy “public anger.”  The stock market promptly dived by around 5.1%  suggesting that investors across the world didn’t care for populist scapegoating. They’d rather see long-term solutions.

The Senate may not have the votes to confirm Ben Bernanke to a second term before his current term expires. Tim Geithner suggested he might not be on board with the bank-bashing strategy.

Bruce Josten, head of government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said “Obama has to decide whether he wants to be a transformational president, which looks optimistic at this stage, or merely an effective president.”

The Supreme Court upheld the first amendment protections for political speech by striking down a blanket government prohibition on corporate  political speech.  Democrats were horrified, for they were sure that such freedom might benefit Republicans.

Obama continues to believe that a new stimulus and lots of green jobs will be the solution to unemployment.  It has been a very bad week.

Terrorism: A Trivial Nuisance Or A Continuing Threat? by The Elephant's Child
January 23, 2010, 5:23 pm
Filed under: Islam, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

And back on the National Security front, the Justice Department has announced the release from Guantanamo of a terrorist who conspired to bomb Los Angeles International Airport in the 2000 Millennium plot.  As Andy McCarthy notes:

Hassan Zumiri, who was part of an al-Qaeda affiliated terror cell in Montreal, has been repatriated to his native Algeria — a country so rife with terrorists that it was recently placed on the list of 14 countries whose travelers warrant enhanced screening at airports.  Worse, the Justice Department won’t say whether the terrorist, Hassan Zumiri, and another Gitmo detainee who was also sent to Algeria will be in custody there.  They may be free and clear.

Zemiri later plotted against the U.S. from Afghanistan, where he was captured after 9/11 by the Northern Alliance, near Tora Bora. He’d been held at Gitmo since 2003.

The other Guantanamo detainee transferred to Algeria is Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili.  Hamlili is described from his detention proceedings:

Hamlili is a particularly nasty takfiri, which means he is a hardcore ideologue who believes that not only Christians and Jews, but also most Muslims, are infidels.  In fact, Hamlili allegedly killed Osama bin Laden’s personal representative in Pakistan because Hamlili felt he had violated sharia law. Despite this incident, memos produced at Gitmo note that Hamlili worked for the Taliban, al Qaeda and a variety of other terrorist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda has an active hub in Algeria  (“al Qaeda  in the Islamic Maghreb”).  The group was formerly known as the “Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat”, and has stepped up attacks on Westerners, including Americans.

The most transparent government in the history of the world has not released any information on what the standards for release are, nor how and who makes that decision.  At least 60 of detainees previously released have returned to the fight.

The 200 that remained at Gitmo are considered so hardened that even the Obama administration couldn’t figure out what to do with them.  They had planned to return a large number of native Yemenis to Yemen until they recently discovered that there was a very active al Qaeda branch in Yemen.

One year after Obama eliminated the CIA’s terrorist interrogation program, the administration has not put in place it’s supposed replacement the “High Value Interrogation Group (HIG).  Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said that the HIG should have been called in to question Detroit underwear bomber Abdulmutallab, apparently unaware that there is as yet no HIG to call on.

This is low priority since the administration has limited techniques of interrogation to those listed in the Army Field Manual.  Police detectives and district attorneys across the country use more aggressive techniques daily than those in the Army Field Manual.  Obama, according to Marc Thiessen, has “so denuded our terrorist interrogation capability that the Detroit police department has more tools at its disposal.”

This fits right in with all the leftist commentators who have suddenly been comparing statistics on numbers killed by terrorists to the numbers of people killed on the highways or the number dying from cancer to demonstrate that terrorism is not a big deal.  The old “nothing to see here — just move along” ploy.  We try really hard to save the lives of those who have cancer and we try hard to cut the number of highway accidents.  Trying hard to eliminate terrorist attacks is apparently not worth our time.

“Stimulus” that will not stimulate, “Reinvestment” that will not lead to recovery, politicians on the wrong track. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama wants his stimulus bill passed quickly in answer to continuing job loss among the American people.  In just the last few days big layoffs have been announced by Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks.  Ouch!

The big $825 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Action and Action Now!) is working its way through Congress.  There are big gifts to every progressive constituency, and lots of “hopenchange”, but not much stimulus.

The language has changed a little, from “creating jobs” to “creating or saving jobs”, which is a little more difference than is apparent in just the change in wording.

I have been going over the Summary put out by the Committee on Appropriations, and the Summary from the Ways and Means Committee.  They are quite interesting, but not stimulating.

In 2008, government payrolls topped  22,ooo,ooo, and are continuing to climb.  The Recovery and Reinvestment Act “creates” jobs by increasing government payrolls at all levels.  This rests on a vast misunderstanding of how jobs are “created.”

When the government hires someone , whether city government, county, state or federal, where does their pay come from?  Taxes.  Government has no money of its own.  It takes that money out of your pocket in taxes.  Your taxes pay the salaries of teachers, firemen, forest service rangers, soldiers and congressmen.  When Congress puts in a clever bill that gives themselves an automatic pay raise every year, it comes right out of your pocket.

So how are jobs created?  Joe Inventor invents a machine that sticks little gummed labels on all sorts of fresh fruit — apples, tomatoes, oranges, etc..  Soon every orchardist has to put little labels on his crop.  The machines have to be made, all the parts have to be made, and the little gummed labels have to be gummed and printed, and stuck on the fruit.  You  have seen and peeled off the labels.  I don’t have any idea how many people are employed by this invention, but it has to be a lot.

Samuel Smallbusiness has a small company that installs insulation in buildings.  Business is so good that he needs a couple of more workers to keep up with the demand.  He has created two jobs.  The government decides to “create” jobs by creating a “job corps” for underprivileged young people.  You pay for the job corps in increased taxes: Samuel Smallbusiness loses demand as government paid kids are now doing some of the work that his crews used to do.  He lays off three workers.

Most of the creating and saving of  jobs is summed up by these examples, but there is more.  A major targeted effort is for “clean, efficient American energy.”  This effort comes from a belief that global warming is a problem, that global warming is caused by carbon in the atmosphere, and that wind, solar and geothermal power can become a significant source of energy.  This entire statement is a falsehood. The earth has not warmed in the last ten years, and has been cooling for the last five years.  This year it has become particularly noticeable.  It is expected that the earth will continue to cool for around 30 years, but we cannot predict the future.

Vast infrastructure programs are planned, to “modernize roads and bridges, transit and waterways.” The Federal Highway Program spreads millions in bounty to the states each year for modernizing roads, bridges and transit. Potholes get politicians no publicity.  The money gets spent on bike trails and more scenic efforts. Light rail is popular among politicians, but has been shown to neither relieve congestion or pay for itself.

The summary from the Committee on Appropriations is available here. It’s 13 pages to pour through, and hopefully many, many changes will be made before it becomes law.

What is frightening is the absence of anything that will relieve the economic crisis or help the economy to recover.  It is all old-fashioned “pump-priming” left over from John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s. Back then they paid people meager wages to dig ditches and now they want to pay people to computerize  businesses and build windmills — but they are still makework jobs.  When they have shelled out the entire $825 billion and the economy is still in the tank, then what?

There is lots of money for pie-in-the-sky things that may never come to fruition. Experts, those who are not trying to sell wind farms, point out that neither wind nor solar will in the foreseeable future become a significant source of power.  There is money for scientists to cure diseases, solve chronic illnesses, create new fuels and invent electric batteries that have not been invented with vast money from venture capital. All very nice, but this is pure “hopenchange,” not economic stimulus.  They may get results in 2 years or in 25 or never.

President Obama’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, quietly suggested that government would accomplish more by buying things, but nobody was paying attention.  Replacing the military equipment worn out in the war would be a wise purchase as many have recommended, boost the economy immediately,but the Code Pinkies and the Move-Ons would undoubtedly go ballistic.

Is the faith in the Messiah such that people will go for anything, no matter how unlikely?  I sure hope not!

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