American Elephants


Here’s Some Good News For a Change! by The Elephant's Child

The price of crude oil is tumbling downward towards $80 per barrel. The Brent crude price of $82.60 is the cheapest since 2010.”On October 1, Saudi Arabia’s  national oil company announced that it had abandoned a policy of price protection and would start to focus on protecting its market share. Combined with falling global demand and rising supplies elsewhere, oil prices have fallen accordingly.

Natural gas supplies are plentiful and warm weather so far means weak demand, which means lower costs for natural gas.

For our fracking, the break-even price is around $50-$70 bbl. Supply is bulging. Gasoline prices will come down, transportation prices will come down, which means that costs at the grocery store will ease.

States like Iran, Venezuela, and Iraq can only balance their budgets at oil prices ranging from $110 to $135 per barrel. This is good. If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, there will be real financial squeezes, and even regime change in Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq or Libya and would give Vladimir Putin some real trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

It’s not clear what Saudi Arabia is up to, but they are definitely not approving of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor of ISIS’ ambitions either. They may be just protecting their market share, as we are close to surpassing them in production.

If we start exporting natural gas to Europe, that would relax the strangle hold Russia holds over their energy supplies.

It’s good news, just when we need some.



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.



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!



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?



Is There Anybody Actually in Charge? by The Elephant's Child

130620_james_comey2_ap_328FBI Director James Comey told Scott Pelley on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday that we know who the dozen or so Americans are who are fighting with the Islamic State are, but we can’t do much more than track them if they decide to return to the United States.

They have given material assistance to terrorists by fighting for the Islamic State which is a federal crime — FBI Director Comey says American jihadis are “entitled” to come home and move about freely.

“Ultimately, an American citizen, unless their passport’s revoked, is entitled to come back,” Comey said. “So someone who’s fought with ISIL, with an American passport, who wants to come back, we will track them very carefully.”

Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) was amazed. “We can revoke a United States passport if …an individual owes arrears of child support in excess of $25,” but the State Department will not commit to revoking the passports of Americans fighting with an army devoted to our destruction.  Because..?

Investors reminds of the case of Abdirahmaan Muhumed. Before he went to Syria to fight and die for the Islamic State, he worked at Delta Global Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. There, his job was to clean aircraft, and he had a security clearance that gave him unfettered access to the tarmac and all passenger jets. Was anyone tracking him? That’s a lot of access for someone devoted to the cause of the destruction of America.

Fox News Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano says that while we can revoke their passports, their illegal activities should be quite enough to arrest them at the gate on their return to this country.

“The issue is their freedom to move around in the United States of America after they have left training for some terrorist organization, which is in and of itself a federal crime,” Napolitano told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. “That is more than enough to arrest them, charge them, indict them and keep them from traveling free around the United States, whether they have a passport or not.”

Napolitano argues that Comey knows “he can arrest them at JFK or Dulles or anywhere they land first in the United States” and that there’s more than enough evidence in these cases for the FBI to file applications for arrest warrants applications that any judge would grant immediately.

We just don’t want to get involved? We might be criticized for a stronger response? We’ll just keep track of them and stop them if they show intent to do something bad.? Well, the 9/11 hijackers came over and took flying lessons. We didn’t do too well with  the Tsarnaev brothers after Tamerlan Tsarnaev went back to the terrorist-infested Russian republic of Dagestan — to learn how to make bombs, and come back and blow up the Boston Marathon.

This administration finds it impossible to face up to any potential unpleasantness, let alone a scandal. It is to be hidden, covered up, disguised, or as a last resort blamed on someone to take the fall who will be tossed under the bus, and then move on to an important position outside the government. Is this just Chicago politics brought to our nation’s capitol?

A little late, but President Obama has appointed someone to be in charge of the nation’s Ebola problems whatever they turn out to be. The White House can shut down flights to and from Tel Aviv at the drop of a hat, but we cannot end flights from Liberia or the other countries suffering from an Ebola epidemic. But we might be checking their temperatures when they land at an American airport.

We have been told that four ISIS fighters have come across the border, or ten ISIS fighters. Homeland Security says there have been no ISIS fighters. There is no straight talk, nobody is in charge. There’s that preserve, protect and defend bit, but the Democrats want to get rid of the Constitution anyway, and “talking for dollars” is more important.



ISIS Is Now Using Food and Water as Weapons. by The Elephant's Child

Airstrikes on ISIS-held oil fields and small mobile refineries have been meant to deny the fighters a major source of income. But we have not been willing to strike the oil fields directly. ISIS now controls an area the size of Pennsylvania, and has another source of revenue — aside from the funds removed from major banks.

The United Nations estimates the land under ISIS control accounts for about 49% of Iran’s wheat production. Many Iraqi farmers depend on government purchases of their crops. This year, Fadel el-Zubi, the Food and Agricultural Organization’s representative for Iraq,  said that this season no farmer in ISIS territory has received his money, which puts their ability to plant for the next season in question.

ISIS fighters have raided government silos stealing more than 40,000 tons of wheat.They’ve even tried to sell stolen wheat back to the Iraqi government through middlemen. They have confiscated fleeing farmers’ grain stores, saying they will return the wheat if the farmers submit to ISIS rule. ISIS has also moved to deprive  Christian and Yazidi minorities of food. Control over the food sources in Iraq and Syria has allowed ISIS to lay down deep roots in the territory it holds, it makes the jihadists difficult to remove.

Syria was recently forced to scrap a June 2014 deal to trade 200,000 tons of wheat to Iraq due to security concerns. This exchange of food for influence makes things far more difficult. Beyond air strikes, the US-led coalition needs to address farmers who are currently fearful that if they flee ISIS territory they will lose everything. Starvation is a powerful weapon. The coalition should look for a way to provide credits to farmers, an additional expense, but without it, farmers will effectively work for ISIS.

ISIS has also shown willingness to deprive communities of water. There are no holds barred. ISIS has no intention of being stopped, nor dissuaded from their goal of establishment of a caliphate. Airstrikes aren’t going to do it alone.

I saw a headline yesterday in passing that said something like “Airstrikes destroy ISIS Arsenal,” but it turned out to be that they had destroyed a truck. Undoubtedly originally ours, supplied to the Iraqi army.



Obama Slams GOP for Catering to Billionaires, Then Heads To Billionaire Rich Richman’s House For Campaign Money by The Elephant's Child

President Obama was out again on Tuesday, “talking for dollars.” That’s Andrew Malcolm’s phrase, but it is so accurate I had to borrow it. In an email Obama chided the Republican Party for catering to “the interests of billionaires,” and then attended a series of Democrat Party fundraisers in one of the wealthiest enclaves around at billionaire Rich Richman’s home at $34,000 a head.  (How can you fail to laugh at that one?) So what do you say to people who have paid $34,000 to hear you speak and bask in your glory?

“We have achieved so much but we still have so much to do.” Obama whined. “So far, we can’t get Republicans to cooperate.” The president told his audience that despite Republican obstructionism in Congress, his administration has had a number of successes, as well. “The reason you don’t hear about them is they elicit hope. They’re good news. The cynical media doesn’t like to promote good news. Cynicism is a choice. Hope is a better choice. I’ve never been more hopeful.”

At another talking for dollars event at the White Street Restaurant in New York, the president told wealthy Democrats that “There’s a sense possibly the world is spinning so fast and nobody is able to control it.”

And yet if you look at what happened at the General Assembly on the terrorist group ISIS and the need to mobilize an international community to push back against their radical violence, it was the United States that mobilized that coalition both in the Middle East and around the world.

When you look at Ebola, a humanitarian crisis in West Africa, but also a public health crisis that has the possibility of affecting people around the world, it was the United States that is committed to building the infrastructure that allows health workers to get in and start saving lives and making sure that children aren’t dying on the streets.

When it came to blunting Russian aggression, it was the United States that mobilized NATO countries and the world community to stand up for the principle that people are independent and have the ability to make their own decisions about their own lives and to seek freedom and prosperity on their own terms.

I don’t know. If I’d just paid $34,000 to hear a speech, I’d ask for my money back. This brought the number of fundraisers up to 56 for the year so far.




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