American Elephants

Only 6% of Americans Think the World is Getting Better! by The Elephant's Child

So how do you feel about the state of the world? Is it getting better or getting worse? According to Alex Berezow of the invaluable American Council on Science and Health (ASCH), only 6% of Americans think the world is getting better. The question was “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better or worse?”

A majority of people—54 percent—surveyed in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom believe there’s a risk of 50 percent or more that our way of life will end within the next 100 years. Even worse, some 25 percent of respondents in the same poll believe it that likely that we’ll go extinct in the next century. Americans were the most pessimistic, giving those gloomy answers 57 percent and 30 percent of the time, respectively. And younger respondents tend to be more pessimistic about the future than older ones. …

For all the talk from the president and the Democrats, one of our biggest problems is gun violence, yet gun homicides in the U.S. are down 43% from 1993 to 2014, the lowest rate in 24 years.

I wrote in May that two centuries ago, average world income per human (in today’s prices) was about $3 a day. Today is is $33 a day in Brazil, and the level of the U.S. in 1940. Matt Ridley wrote that what happened two centuries ago was that “ideas started having sex.” by which he meant that there is no end to what people can do when they are set free to have ideas and the freedom to act upon them.

Democrats specialize in a gloomy outlook, from which they promise to rescue you by giving you more stuff, but wealth is created by the free market and capitalism. Free people are endlessly inventive, and the hope of improving your financial situation, making a new idea the next big thing, becomes in a free market the opportunity to succeed. Where did Uber come from? Or telephones unconnected to phone lines that do, well, almost everything.

Democrats and environmentalists are endlessly gloomy. Rolling Stone just had a big article about how New York would shortly be submerged beneath the rising ocean waters. If you consult the scientists who actually know about the increase in ocean waters, you find they speak in millimeters not feet. The Obama administration is reportedly promoting Navy Commanders based on their support for Global Warming. This list of Climate Panics may add a little balance to Obama’s current worries.

The world is better fed than ever before, and starvation is rare except in socialist paradises like Venezuela. Major diseases have been nearly eliminated in the United States, although Obama’s refugees are bringing Tuberculosis and measles and others back. Malaria is way down in Africa. People are living longer. There really is a lot to be upbeat about.

Bret Stephens on The Coming Global Disorder by The Elephant's Child

Bret Stephens has been the foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal for nine years. This is a speech he delivered to the David Horowitz Freedom Center Texas Retreat, last June. A very thoughtful speech. It reflects much of the thinking expressed in his 2014 book America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder.

It’s perhaps a little long for a Wednesday night when tomorrow is a work day, but do save it to watch when you have time. You will be glad you did.

Who Me Worry? Congress Is Worried Too! by The Elephant's Child

obama-uh-oh-apThings are going very badly for America around the world. Iran moves steadily toward acquiring nuclear weapons, and the Obama administration seems not to mind. Iraq, where Obama declared ending the war as one of his greatest successes, is now largely occupied by ISIS. Syria continues to be a bloodbath. The government in Yemen, a key ally in the war against Islamic terror, has fallen. Boko Haram continues to slaughter thousands of people and now controls much of the richest country in Africa.

Russian soldiers have invaded Ukraine and are fighting beside separatist rebels. Russia seems to be concentrating their efforts on the eastern half of Ukraine, perhaps only to grab a land bridge to the Crimean seaports, perhaps to annex the whole of Ukraine. Nobody seems to know, and Obama does not seem to be particularly concerned.

Congress is concerned about Iran, and House Speaker Boehner has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress. President Obama is furious that he did not consult the White House first, but the president forgets that the Speaker heads an equal branch of government. What Mr. Obama should be worried about is that members of Congress in both parties have a remarkable lack of confidence in his diplomatic efforts with Iran.

That’s what is behind the invitation to Bibi Netanyahu. Most Republicans and plenty of Democrats want to hear what Mr Netanyahu thinks about the Iran nuclear negotiations. Obama seems to be desperate to strike a deal with Tehran, and they are worried he will give up far too much in order to claim a meaningless victory.

In his State of the Union speech, Obama claimed that his interim agreements with Iran have “halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.” Nobody believes that.

The Obama administration on Wednesday paid $490 million in cash assets to Iran and by the time nuclear talks are scheduled to end in June, will have released a total of $11.9 billion to the Islamic Republic, according to figures provided by the State Department.

These are unfrozen cash assets, accompanied by no restrictions on how Iran can spend the money. They can keep enriching uranium, continue construction of the heavy water plant in Arak, which could function as a factory for plutonium bombs, the interim agreement prohibits only firing the reactor itself, and work continues on Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The media has made much of Saudi Arabia’s continuing to pump oil as an attempt to drive frackers in this country out of business. It seems more likely an attempt by the Saudis to put the brakes on Iran’s economy and its rush to build nuclear weapons. Iran has announced its intention to build two more reactors. Congress has protested the recently announced sale by Russia of an advanced missile defense system to Iran, citing concerns that it would embolden Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Congress is considering a bill to trigger increased sanctions if negotiators miss the June 30 deadline the administration set for securing an agreement. It contains a series of criteria that Iran must meet in a nuclear agreement to avoid sanctions. Obama said he would veto, and he wants to “keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.” This makes no sense, for the bill would simply increase the pressure on Iran to reach an agreement.

Hoover Institution scholar Richard Epstein wrote last August:

The President suffers from two fundamental flaws. The first is that he is unwilling to make decisions. He much prefers to play the role of a disinterested observer who comments on a set of adverse events that he regards himself as powerless to shape… The second is that he fundamentally misunderstands the use of force in international affairs. He handicaps himself fatally by imposing unwise limitations on the use of American force, such as his repeated declarations that he will not send ground troops back into Iraq. …

The President wrings his hands over how difficult it has become to find credible allies in the world to address these problems without ever asking why no one trusts him. So he resolves to hold back on the use of American force overseas. Armed with that certainty, every tin pot dictator and terrorist group thinks it has an open field in which to run.

There is  strong impression that this president would not mind if Iran gets nuclear weapons, since some other countries already have them. Iran has frequently stated objectives, however. They intend to get rid of “the Great Satan” and the “little Satan.” I hope Congress understands the issues more clearly than this president and his advisors.

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