American Elephants


The Friday Night News Dump. Terrifying Incompetence. by The Elephant's Child

Late on Fridays, when everyone is on the way home, getting ready for the weekend and not paying attention to the news is the time that the powers that be in our nation’s capitol choose to allow unpleasant news to emerge.

—Friday night news: President is sending the National Guard to Ebola Central, apparently because the Military isn’t stopping Ebola fast enough. The Military sent so far, have had 4 hours of training in preparation for possible exposure. The expedition to Ebola Central has a name now—”Operation United Assistance.”

—DHS announced that it will be extending Temporary Protected Status to nationals from Honduras and Nicaragua for an additional 18 months and is instituting a new program to bring up to 100,000 Haitians to this country. The program will allow the new immigrants to apply for work permits. The “legal authority” is “family unification” for Haitians and on a case by case basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

—Judicial Watch says that Obama plans to transfer Ebola-Infected foreigners to U.S. for treatment. This is one of those they have information from insiders, but no confirmation, and certainly no official confirmation.

—The World Health Organization reported a rash of cases of Ebola in Guinea on March 25th, the first ever seen in west Africa. At that time there were 86 suspected cases and reports of suspected cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The death toll was 60. Today it has claimed more victims than all previous outbreaks. The current death toll is 4,493, and the WHO fears that it could see 5,000 to 10,000 new cases a week.

—A seventh child has died from Enterovirus D68. So far we have only one death from Ebola. Unlike Ebola, CDC is not publicly addressing the spread of EV-D68. According to the latest update at least 796 people in 46 states have been sickened with the respiratory illness that can cause paralysis in the period from mid-August through October 16. It is simply not known if  the disease is being spread by the presence of tens of thousands of illegal alien children, but the virus has been found in sick people in eight Latin American countries.

—The Pentagon has released a wide-ranging plan to ensure the U.S. military can adapt to and operate in a warmer world caused by climate change, which top Defense officials say exacerbates conflicts around the world and is an immediate threat to U.S. national security. This was last week, but it is so goofy, I’m adding it to the list. There has been no warming for the last 18 full years. Over the past century it warmed about one degree, and we handled it just fine. We are now looking at the possibility of a colder world for which we are drastically unprepared as this administration keeps attempting to destroy our major power source, coal-fired power plants which provide around 40% of our electricity with nothing to replace the power.

—Pilots from Saddam Hussein’s air force are training Islamic State jihadists to fly warplanes captured from the Iraqi army. Eyewitnesses accounts have seen warplanes taking off from the al Jarrah airbase and Syrian regime airbases in Aleppo and Al Raqqa province. The planes are believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 models and have been seen taking off and landing.

Other than that, Saturday is not all that promising either. Take two aspirin and relax with one of our Halloween movies.



Ebola: What to Do, What Not to Do. Understanding the Problems. by The Elephant's Child

International agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) run by the United Nations have become an international irrelevance. The failures of the Centers for Disease Control are disturbing, though they are supposed to be run by the government’s finest. Protocols supposedly put in place months ago were not observed, those exposed were “self monitoring” for symptoms. They weren’t supposed to be traveling on public transportation, and yet did. And it’s fairly clear that people possibly exposed were simply not taking quarantine seriously. Maybe seriously up until it was inconvenient, but then ignored.

There is a clear desire on the part of our government to prevent panic, but apparently little knowledge of how that is accomplished. Evidence that the agency has done their homework, and know what they are talking about is central. If people believe that you don’t know what you are talking about, your usefulness is over. Protocols that simply ask where people are coming from and take their temperature are, according to knowledgeable people, useless, since elevated temperatures are common and not diagnostic. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Since the 1990s, the WHO has gradually transformed itself from a disease fighter to what Dr. Chan calls “a normative agency” that makes international public health rules and promotes political goals like universal coverage. “That represented a very significant change over prior WHO policies,” says Laurie Garrett of the Council on Foreign Relations, who calls the WHO’s response to the epidemic “just shameful.”

Doctors without borders (Médicins Sans Frontiéres), the international aid agency, is recommended as having set the gold standard for Ebola safety, yet 16 of their staff members who have risked their lives in West Africa are infected, and nine have died. The U.S is providing $142 million in aid to the organization.

Paul Sperry reports at Investors that Muslim burial rituals may be to blame for much of the spread of Ebola. The body of an Ebola victim can be more dangerous in death than in life. 73% of Sierra Leone’s and 85% of Guinea’s people are Muslim. Islam is practiced by more than 13% of Liberians.

When a Muslim dies, family members do not turn to a funeral home or crematorium to take care of the body. Relatives personally wash the corpses of loved ones from head to toe. Several family members may participate in this posthumous bathing ritual, known as Ghusl.

Before scrubbing the skin with soap and water, family members press down on the abdomen to excrete fluids still in the body. A mixture of camphor and water is used for a final washing. Then, family members dry off the body and shroud it in white linens.

Again, washing the bodies of the dead in this way is considered a collective duty for Muslims, especially in Muslim nations. Failure to do so is believed to leave the deceased “impure” and jeopardizes the faithful’s ascension into Paradise (unless he died in jihad; then no Ghusl is required). Before the body is buried, Muslims attending the funeral typically pass a common bowl for use in ablution or washing of the face, feet and hands, compounding the risk of infection.

Though these customs are prescribed by Sharia law, they’re extremely dangerous and should be suspended. Mosque leaders must step in to educate village Muslims about the dangers of interacting with corpses.

The practice has led to the spread of the disease. Families must be helped to understand why some practices cannot be done because they place others at risk.

Last month, Red Cross workers in Guinea were attacked by family members while trying to bury Ebola dead safely. In Sierra Leone, moreover, a family took Ebola-ridden bodies secured in body bags from the Red Cross, opened them up and exposed all members of the family to Ebola. They all contracted the disease.

The UN warns that the spread must be contained within 60 days or the infection rate can jump from 1,000 a week to 10,000 a week. Saudi Arabia, the center of Islam,  has banned pilgrims from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

President Obama argues that  ban on travel would do more harm than good, because travelers “might go underground.” Now he’s talking about sending National Guard troops in addition to the 4.000 U.S. Military already there. The military had better take very great care of our troops, and see that none get infected.

 



Nobody’s in Charge, Nobody Knows Anything, Incompetence Reigns. by The Elephant's Child

The world is in flames, and those in charge don’t seem up to the job of taking charge. The CDC can’t get their information straight, and can’t seem to talk straight. Panic is allayed with calm, correct information, and knowledge of the facts. The Wall Street Journal addressed the question by saying “the fire-brigade approach clearly isn’t working. A sustained, coherent policy is vital to preventing pandemics.”

The spokesman who attempts to soothe the population with platitudes only makes matters worse. Straight talk, good information. When President Obama declared Ebola a National Security issue, he didn’t calm people’s fears, he inflamed them.

Americans are debating the wisdom of sending several thousand troops rather than asking whether U.S. assistance is organized as efficiently and effectively as it should be? Rather than an effort to deliver effective risk information, we were told that it was unlikely anyone with Ebola would ever enter the country and chances of an epidemic were extremely low.

ISIS is approaching Baghdad, taking precautions to avoid attack with our airstrikes, just as we were told that they would, melting into the population, ending their long parades of armored vehicles. There is some evidence they are using chemical weapons. The Kurds fight on, but desperately need the weapons we have not bothered to give them. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that:

Kobani is just one community, and it’s a tragedy what is happening there…but we have said from day one it is going to take a period of time to bring the coalition thoroughly to the table, to rebuild some of the morale and capacity of the Iraqi army, and to begin to focus where we ought to be focusing first, which is in Iraq.

Enterovirus D68 is raging, and we are calmed with claims that it goes away in the winter, so don’t worry. Every mother knows that kids bring everything home from school, so people worry.

But never fear. “The Pentagon released a report Monday asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security with  increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster response as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.”

The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” Mr. Hagel said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration….

While foreign policy experts have for years warned that climate change could present a future risk to national security, the Pentagon’s characterization of climate change as a threat demanding immediate action represents a significant shift for the military.

Never one to be outdone in the absurdity category, Secretary of State John Kerry  declared “Life as you know it on Earth ends if climate change skeptics are wrong.”

“But even if climate alarmists are wrong, nothing bad can come of enacting their taxes, restrictions and regulations,” Kerry said in a speech at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Another Democrat who never took a course in economics:

The worst that could happen to us is we create a whole lot of new jobs, we kick our economies into gear, we have healthier people, healthier children because we have cleaner air, we live up to our environmental responsibility, we become truly energy independent, and our security is stronger and greater and sustainable as a result. That’s the worst that happens to us.

Eighteen years of a complete lack of warming, and nobody seems to notice that the more immediate danger is a very cold winter and the EPA trying to shut down all of our coal-fired power plants with nothing — nothing — to replace that electricity. Numbers of hurricanes are way down, Numbers of  tornadoes are way down. But those are weather, not climate.

We are in the best of hands. When everybody is completely incompetent, what can possibly go wrong?



So We Are Fighting A Politically Correct War? by The Elephant's Child

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This last week,  Bill Gertz reported that “The Obama administration is failing to wage ideological war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIS) terrorists over fears that attacking its religious philosophy will violate the constitutional divide between church and state, according to an in-depth inquiry by the Washington Free Beacon.”

“While the government has tried to counter terrorist propaganda, it cannot directly address the warped religious interpretations of groups like ISIL because of the constitutional separation of church and state,” said Quintan Wiktorowicz, a former White House counterterrorism strategist for the Obama administration.

“U.S. officials are prohibited from engaging in debates about Islam, and as a result will need to rely on partners in the Muslim world for this part of the ideological struggle,” he said in an email interview.

In his speech to the UN on September 24, President Obama asked the world body to come up with a plan over the next year designed to counter ISIS and al Qaeda’s ideology. He said ending religious wars through an ideological campaign in the Middle East will be “generational” and led by those who live in the region. No external power, he said, can change “hears and minds,” and as a result the U.S. would support others in the unspecified program of “counter extremist ideology.”

Because officials cannot engage in debates about Islam, it makes it a little difficult to clearly define the religious doctrine you’re talking about. And there seems to be a problem there. Statements by the president and administration spokesmen indicate that they don’t understand ISIS ideology, which would be a needed first step.

Most senior administration officials hold “post modern” or “secular” views, and as a result have almost no ability to understand the religious views of violent terrorists. If you don’t take religion seriously yourself, it is impossible to understand the philosophy of a suicide bomber or someone who cuts off peoples’ heads in the name of jihad.

Senior State Department officials have expressed the idea that ideology does not play a role in Islamist terror which comes from endemic causes like poverty and economic privation or social injustice.

The latest issue of the ISIS English-language magazine Dabiq reveals a bit of their logic. “The Islamic State has long maintained an initiative that sees it waging jihad alongside a dawah [proselytizing campaign] that actively tends to the needs of its people.” The magazine added that the group “fights to defend the Muslims, liberate their lands, and bring an end to tawaghit [the evil corrupt system]. It also sought to legitimize its mass executions, beheadings, and other atrocities as religiously justified responses to all opponents who refuse to submit to its ideology.

President Obama claimed in his September 20 anti ISIS strategy speech that the group is “not Islamic” because it kills Muslims and innocents, something he said no religion condones. A claim disputed by most experts on Islam.

The Obama administration, under pressure from domestic Muslim advocacy organizations, has adopted a politically correct approach toward Islam and terrorism that has removed talk of Islam from current policies and programs — instead they are carrying out policies under the less-specific and DHS-approved title of “countering violent extremism.” If you can’t even call something by its name, you’re not going to have much luck defeating it in the field.

The word Islam has mostly been eliminated from policies and programs, and discussing Islam has been placed out-of-bounds — which means that Islamist ideology cannot be addressed in a significant way. This leads to claims that the U.S. and the West are at war with Islam, which leaves our officialdom tongue-tied. How they have managed to conflate cutting off the heads of American journalists and aid workers with First Amendment constitutional religious issues shown nothing so much as the triumph of either fuzzy thought or no thought at all.

The terrorists, says James Glassman, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, have constructed a phony ideology and are trying to take over a whole region. The president must address that. “It is very late in the game, and he needs to devote resources, not just words, to the war of ideas.”

The administration’s point man for propaganda is Rick Stengel, a former Time magazine reporter who is now undersecretary for public diplomacy said in a recent speech “I wold say that there is no battle of ideas with ISIL. ISIL if bereft of ideas, they’re bankrupt of ideas. It’s not an organization that is animated by ideas. It’s a criminal, savage, barbaric organization.” But, oddly, recruits are flowing to ISIS, moved to join in jihad because they are inspired by their ideas.

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Armed vehicles are mostly Toyota pickups with guns mounted in the back. Not so much on ISIS bases or fighters. I don’t know if Obama is approving each strike,  as he said he might do. But we cannot say “war of ideas” and we cannot do anything to “prohibit the free exercise of religion.” Talk about fuzzy thinking!



Too Much Politics, Too Little Strategy and Determination. by The Elephant's Child

obama-1Iraqi officials have issued a desperate plea for America to bring U.S. ground troops back to Iraq. Islamic State fighters have advanced as far as Abu Ghraib, a town that is  within eight miles of the Iraqi capital. A senior governor claimed there are up to 10,000 fighters from the movement now poised to assault the capital. The warning came from the president of the provisional council of Anbar Province, the vast desert province west of Baghdad that has largely fallen to the jihadists.

If Anbar is fully controlled by ISIS, it gives their ground forces a springboard to mount an all-out assault on Baghdad, the nation’s capital. A team of 1,500 U.S. troops are in Baghdad acting as mentors to the Iraqi army.

International attention has been focused on the Syrian border town of Kobane, where Kurdish fighters are battling to keep the ISIS fighters at bay, but Anbar is barely holding their own. A senior U.S. defence official said it’s fragile there.”They are being resupplied and the are holding their own, but it’s tough and challenging.”

Obama made bringing American troops home from the Middle East a cornerstone of his administration’s policy. Some suggest he just wants to hold ISIS back with airstrikes until after the election, at which point he’ll just let ISIS have it. With no troops on the ground to identify targets, the airstrikes are having limited effect. They are also much less than we are capable of.

Obama came to the White House with a flawed view of the world, sure that conflict was simply a matter of Republican warmongers and Republican intransigence. Problems could be solved with constructive talks. A “why can’t we all get along” view, which suffers from a failure to recognize human nature and real intent. He’s tried  all sorts of outreach and talks and offers, and promises of peace and understanding — and the world has decided that he is a weak doormat, and they had best charge ahead and take what they can while the taking is good.



If I Just Ignore the Headlines, Maybe It Will All Go Away! by The Elephant's Child

Headlines today:

This last was accompanied by a sub-head that said “Obama is backing indirect talks with Moscow aimed at cutting U.S. non-strategic nukes in Europe”. Is there a major disconnect here?

We are waging a casual sort of low-intensity war, one far below our capabilities, and seem uninterested in stopping ISIS’s advance. But we are supposed to assume that the president is thinking hard about the war against jihadists. The White House is drafting options that would allow President Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said.

It is simply impossible to discern the mindset that is guiding this president. What can he possibly be thinking? This is the president who traded five Taliban military commanders for a U.S. military deserter, and released them to the very people who support and pay for the activities of the Taliban— and apparently thought we would be delighted that we got our guy back. And promoted him to sergeant.

It is not just that he doesn’t seem to understand, or even be interested in, world affairs but he’s just disconnected. He’s operating in some other world in which the next speech, the next talks, will change the world to comply with the one in his head — because he has a gift, and he can sway multitudes with the sound of his voice. If he just ignores it, it will all go away? If he just pretends hard enough, he will awaken to find it’s all right? He thought all he had to do was make speeches? Nobody told him about the hard decisions? But who’s going to pay the price?



The President is Seriously Not Involved. A Case of “Whatever.” by The Elephant's Child

Several articles today have questioned the commitment of this administration to the war on ISIS. Jimmy Carter said that Obama has been too slow to act against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and gives his current strategy only “a possibility of success,” provided it involves some ground troops. And there have been many discussions of former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’ new book in which he suggests that the fight against terrorism will be a 30-year war.

Rich Lowry called it  “A War for Show.” He said:

When you are too passive for Jimmy Carter, it’s time for some soul-searching in the Situation Room. The late-1970s are calling and want their foreign policy back.

The war against ISIL so far is desultory and occasional, a campaign of underwhelming force. ISIL has still been on the verge of taking the Syrian town of Khobani abutting the Turkish border and on the offensive in Iraq. The erstwhile JV team is defying all the military might that the world’s lone superpower is willing to muster.

I thought I should check into how that war is going from an official source, so I went to the Department of Defense website. >100 U.S. Marines are in Liberia to handle refueling and supply support for the international response to contain an Ebola outbreak in the country. >Hagel is going to a meeting in South America. >Kendall is encouraged about Defense trade progress with India. And then > Airstrikes target ISIL in Syria and Iraq. And >Troops Support Breast Cancer Awareness.

If you prowl around a little, you can find where all the attack, fighters, bombers and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes. They got two airstrikes on ISIL training facilities, two ISIL vehicles, struck two small units and damaged a tank. There’s far more information there on everything under the purview of the Department of Defense. The War on Ebola ranks higher than the War on ISIS for whatever reason. That will not change until ISIS hits us hard here at home, and Homeland Security is quite certain that no ISIS fighters have crossed the border, though others have counted significant numbers.

The President clearly does not want to be involved in Iraq in any way. His number one concern, as always, is Democratic Party politics — which trumps anything else. He has no experience with anything military other than his grandfather serving in Patton’s army, which he mentions now and then. When even Jimmy Carter is criticizing you, you have some soul-searching to do. But Jimmy Carter was a submariner if I remember correctly.

There are some photo essays with pictures of airplanes, or military activities, but the overall impression is that there’s nothing particularly serious going on. Political correctness, gender awareness, or breast cancer awareness are as important as military lives at risk, and destroying one of the trucks we left for the Iraqi army is about as big a deal as anything else.  Not serious.




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