American Elephants


700 Civilians Killed In Just Two Days in Syria, but The News Is All About Gaza. by The Elephant's Child

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The outrage over Israel’s attempt to end Hamas’ rocket attacks on their civilians has brought demonstrations in Europe and even here. Hamas goes to great lengths to see that any news is slanted to favor Hamas, for to them any opportunity to discredit Israel or even cause them discomfort  is a triumph over a hated enemy. In other words, you cannot believe Hamas’ counts of civilian deaths or deaths of children. Victor Davis Hanson sums it up:

Hamas sees the death of its civilians as an advantage; Israel sees the death of its civilians as a disaster. Defensive missiles explode to save civilians in Israel; in Gaza, civilians are placed at risk of death to protect offensive missiles.

Hamas wins by losing lots of its people; Israel loses by losing a few of its own. Hamas digs tunnels in premodern fashion; Israel uses postmodern high technology to detect them. Hamas’s missiles usually prove ineffective; Israel’s bombs and missiles almost always hit their targets. Quiet Israeli officers lead from the front; loud Hamas leaders flee to the rear. Incompetency wins sympathy; expertise, disdain. …

Democracy and free markets bring Westerners liberty, human rights, and prosperity — but many Westerners scorn these things in Israel, siding with those who deny human rights, ruin their economy, and practice a brutal prejudice against women, gays, and non-Muslims. In Gaza, a gay reporter, a female reporter with bare arms, a reporter with a small crucifix around his neck, the rare journalist who, surrounded by screaming Hamas supporters, dares to broadcast the truth from Gaza — all these in private would admit to being in fear while they are in Gaza in a way they are not when in Israel.

More Muslims were killed in two days in Syria than in the entire Hamas/Gaza War. More than 700 people were killed in Syria over last Thursday and Friday in some of the bloodiest days in that conflict to date. Assad is taking advantage of a media environment in which most everything else is ignored to concentrate on Gaza. That’s what civilian casualties look like in a real war. In Gaza, residents are warned when the IDF is going to demolish a tunnel, they get leaflets telling them what parts of Gaza are perfectly safe. The IDF is not only not interested in killing civilians, they try desperately to avoid it, for they are only interested in destroying tunnels and missile bases. Hamas sends civilians to the sites that are going to be attacked to act as human shields, and if they are killed, Israel can be blamed.

According to Twitter and Google, an NBC journalist reported they had personally witnessed an Israeli drone attack and fire on a he main hospital in Gaza. The report was shortly completely scrubbed. Israelis say they have confirmed that the Gazan hospital was hit by rockets fired in Gaza by Hamas, not by Israel or an Israeli drone. I understand that Gaza has only the one major hospital, the one where Hamas  has it’s leadership’s bunker buried underneath the hospital. One hundred rockets fired from Gaza have fallen within Gaza.

Israel was celebrated by the left when it was represented by socialist kibbutzim, with happy workers tilling the fields. When it fought a war against the Arabs of the Middle East and won, they quit being celebrated. I have a hunch, which may be wrong, that the left is deeply influenced by words like “refugee camps,” “poverty,” “blockade,” ” border fence,”  and conversely odd ideas about the Jews controlling governments or industries.  Oddly, this time around, Israel is supported by Egypt and Jordan, and even the Fatah Palestinian faction that runs the West Bank want Hamas to become weaker.

The picture above is of a pleasant Syrian neighborhood.



Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel, and Kill All Israelis by The Elephant's Child

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“While Gaza is ‘Mired in Poverty,’ Hamas has built at least 36 tunnels at $1 million each.” That was the headline in the Washington Post.

While the Gaza Strip remains mired in poverty — the 2011 per capita income was $1,165 — Hamas is thought to have sunk more than $1 million into the excavation and maintenance of every tunnel. “Much to the misfortune of the people of Gaza, Hamas has invested far more resources in ‘underground Gaza’ than in ‘upper Gaza,’” wrote al-Monitor’s Shlomi Eldar. “The ‘change and reform’ that Hamas offered its voters was invested in its tunnels at the expense of the people of Gaza.”

The tunnel network, and the IDF has so far discovered 36 though there are undoubtedly more,  was intended not just for kidnapping, but for a grand assault on the coming Jewish New Year Holiday, Rosh Hashanah. The plan entailed a surprise attack in which 200 Hamas fighters would be dispatched through dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel , to seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.

Excavation of the concrete-lined tunnels which are elaborate, with arteries, veins and offshoots in intricate and elaborate arrangement has meant the seizure of  tons of Hamas supplies and weapons, as well as plans for attacks. The tunnels  were apparently constructed with the work of Palestinian children, (to get into small spaces?) at least 160 Palestinian children are known to have died in tunnel construction.

Egypt’s army said that they have destroyed 13 more tunnels running between the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip. Hamas uses the Gaza tunnels to smuggle arms, food and money into the Palestinian enclave. Hamas talks often of “the blockade” but all that is blockaded are arms, weapons and tunnel-making supplies. Food, medicine and ordinary goods are checked for the presence of weapons and sent freely into Gaza. Hamas is an affiliate of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, and they have made many attacks on Egypt.

Con Coughlin reports in the Telegraph that Hamas terrorists are attempting to negotiate a new arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communications equipment that will allow them to continue their offensive against Israel.

Israel left Gaza entirely in 2005. Settlers were forced to move. The Gaza territory could have been a thriving seaside resort, they have long beautiful Mediterranean beaches. Israel left a vast array of greenhouses that could have been a source of jobs for Palestinians, food, and income. Instead they destroyed the greenhouses.

Evelyn Gordon noted at the Commentary website that this sentence from a Haaretz news report “that Palestinians have been taught to measure their national self-worth by the amount of pain, or even mere disruption, they can inflict on Jews,” explains why Israel and Hamas go to war every few years.

Here is a translation of the main points of “The Covenant of The Hamas.” It’s important to understand who they are.

European newspapers are full of stories about all the protests against Israel going on across Europe. But one notices that the articles never mention who is protesting, the simply call them protesters. Accompanying pictures make it pretty clear that they are Moslem immigrants, unassimilated.

Now just to escalate the situation a little further — “Freedom Flotilla II” is set to sail for Gaza from Turkey. Same deal at 2010’s ‘Mavi Marmara’ scheduled to take off with Turkish military protection. The ostensible excuse is to bring “humanitarian aid to the Hamas-controlled coastal sector. It’s being organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) the same organization that was behind the previous flotilla that sought to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010. “

” Israeli Navy Commandos boarded the ship, were attacked, and killed nine of the attackers.  So far there has been only  a declaration of intent.” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has long been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel’s blockade of shipments to Gaza is only to prevent military weapons and  tunnel construction material from reaching Gaza. Humanitarian aid gets through just fine.

Hamas hides rockets in schools, hospitals, and in private homes. When the IDF is sure where the missiles are coming from, they call the residents and warn them, send leaflets, and do everything possible to avoid injury to civilian Palestinians. Hamas demands that civilians stay in targeted locations as human shields for their weapons.



The Chaos At The Southern Border Is a “Manufactured Crisis” by The Elephant's Child

It is becoming increasingly clear that the chaos at our southern border is a “manufactured crisis,” initiated by the Obama administration. The surge was directly caused by the impression in Central American countries that unaccompanied children and mothers with young children could be admitted directly and free to America, where they would receive care, and welfare. At least that’s how Obama’s speeches were interpreted.

Earlier this spring the news broke that Health and Human Services (HHS) was advertising  for private contractors to help transport illegal aliens throughout the interior United States. Before the surge. Then there was this:

♦ Between December 2010 and November 2013, the Catholic Charities diocese of Galveston received $15,549,078 in federal grants from HHS for “Unaccompanied Alien Children Project” with a program description of “Refugee and Entry Assistance.”

♦ In 2013, the Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Worth received $350,000 from the Department of Homeland Security for “citizenship and education training” with a program description of “citizenship and immigration services.”

♦ Between September 2010 and September 2013, the Catholic Charities of Dallas received $823,658 from HHS for “Citizenship Education Training” for “refugee and entrant assistance.”

♦ From December 2012 to January 2014, Baptist Child and Family Services received $62,111,126 in federal grants from HHS for “Unaccompanied Alien Children Program.”

On Wednesday, a report from Texas confirmed the above grants. The Baptist Family and Child Services had received a $50 million contract to buy a Texas resort hotel and transform it into a 600 bed facility for juvenile illegal alien unaccompanied children. The post in Gateway Pundit featured pictures of the huge outdoor pool, the tennis courts, and sauna and exercise rooms. Not included in the pictures was the indoor olympic size pool, the simple but ‘well appointed rooms,’ racquetball courts and picnic areas.

They envisioned it as an intake center where children would spend about 15 days, as a sort of emergency room or triage center, for medical and mental health care, educational programs, recreational programs and case management. They planned on building a soccer field and adding a perimeter fence.

Well, one look at the pictures, and the proverbial excrement hit the fan. The monumental inappropriateness and  misplaced and overblown ‘compassion’ provoked a monumental outcry from sensible American citizens, who perhaps reminded them of veterans dying while waiting for simple appointments with a doctor, or the 92,000,000 Americans of working age who have quit looking for unavailable jobs, or the folks existing on help from charitable food banks. Baptist Child and Family Services withdrew their bid for the Palm Aire Resort  because of the ‘surprising’ outcry.  Be sure to take a look at the pictures.

It seems to me that this is related to the brilliant “Fast and Furious” boneheaded gun-running scheme that killed one American Border Patrol officer and hundreds of Mexicans in an attempt to drive gun control in America. Obama invited the flood of Central American children with talk of amnesty and open borders to welcome children and mothers with children. That worked. The flood may have been more than expected.

The media is featuring sad stories of little children and mothers and Border Patrol agents changing diapers, while the border is unattended since the agents have been called away from that job to change diapers. Most of the illegals are working-age males. The media isn’t talking about Mara-Salvatrucha or MS-13, nor human trafficking.

We had Amnesty once before, that was supposed to take care of the illegal immigrant problem. Instead the assumption was that amnesty would always be repeated and there has been a continuous flow of illegals ever since. Some time this year Obama will attempt to unilaterally and illegally amnesty half or more of the roughly 12 million illegal aliens now living in this country.

The immediate response should be tent cities, folding cots, and expedited processing and return of the entire flood to their own countries. And the fence should be built. Fences do work. Israel’s does. The fence around the White House does. It won’t stop the influx, but it would help to make clear that the United States has laws and expects them to be obeyed. One man with a bunch of crackpot ideas about ‘reforming America’ should not be able to get away with this.

  • The Judiciary Committee reports that 65% of Asylum requests are “immediately approved” in FY 2014.
  • About 500 illegal aliens are to be released into American society each week.
  • Only 38 illegal immigrants of the tens of thousand who have flooded the border have been deported. Most who have illegally entered the country since last October are expected to be allowed to stay.


Jihad in Britain, and In The Other Nations of the West by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know if you know Janet Daley. She was born in America, graduated from U.C. Berkeley, and has been living and reporting in Britain for many years. Her column in today’s Telegraph is notable for her outlook on the Islamization of Britain. Elsewhere there is a column noting that France is not a safe place for Jews. We have been warned that without some serious and real change, Europe will be entirely Muslim within fifty years.

In the midst of the deeply unfunny news coverage of the two young British jihadi volunteers who were arrested on terror charges when they arrived back from Syria, there was one moment of comic absurdity. It seems that before setting off on their mission, Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar found it necessary to place orders with Amazon for those invaluable scholarly treatises, Islam for Dummies, The Koran for Dummies and Arabic for Dummies. Hilarity aside, there is something important to be noted here.

First, these 22-year-olds were obviously not the products of some extreme mosque which had drilled them in Islamist fundamentalism. In fact, they were so untutored in the religion to which they were nominally affiliated that they had to equip themselves with a crash course in its basic principles. Nor had they come from families which were inclined to endorse their terrorist fantasies. Indeed, their own parents were so horrified when they learned of the men’s activities that they turned them in to the police. So we need to ask, as a matter of urgency, where it came from, this bizarre determination to be inducted into a campaign of seditious murder that (we can assume from their decision to plead guilty to the terror charges) they fully intended to bring home with them. What causes young men to risk their own lives, and those of who knows how many others, for a cause about which they know so little that they have to mug it up before they catch the plane?

Do read the whole thing. There’s a lot of food for thought there that includes our own present border crisis.  Assimilation matters. She adds:

Contrary to all the educational shibboleths of our time, young men are motivated by aggression and power: their dreams are of glorious triumph over rivals. If they are denied these things – even in the ritualised forms that used to be provided by an education system that understood how dangerous male adolescence was – then they will seek them wherever they can be found. Gang violence, with its criminal initiation rites, or Muslim fanaticism can fill a void, offering not just a licence for brutality but for banding together into hostile tribes. There was a time – before characteristically male behaviour was devalued in favour of the female virtues of empathy and conciliation – when these proclivities were dealt with quite effectively by combative team sports and military cadet corps. Institutionalised aggression was supervised by adult authority until the young men grew up and became responsible for their own impulses.



The Limits to Tolerance: by The Elephant's Child

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated a line that he used in the prepared statement he read at his Friday news conference on Fox News Sunday this morning. It warrants repetition. Israel and Hamas conduct in the current hostilities can be explained:

The difference between us is simple. We develop defensive systems against missiles in order to protect our civilians and they use their civilians to protect their missiles.

Here’s a brief cell phone video of “Summer Vacation In Israel” It conveys a sense of what it is like to live under constant threat of rocket attack, with only seconds to get to shelter.

 



About the Humanitarian Crisis, Not Entirely What You Think! by The Elephant's Child

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Townhall reports that at least 16 unaccompanied illegal minors under the age of 18 are members of the brutal El Salvadorian street gang Mara Salvatrucha—or MS-13. Gang graffiti has been found on the walls of the Nogales Border Patrol processing center, which suggests ties to the organization.

Clearly, those who have been caught by the Border Patrol probably don’t have the highly visible gang tattoos which make identification so much easier. The members identified at Nogales included 13 El Salvadoran males, two Guatemalan males and one Honduran male, who have readily admitted to their gang associations.

MS-13 is “one of the foremost players in [El Salvador's] thriving human-trafficking industry,”according to InsightCrime, says Investors.  The U.S. Southern Command estimates the gang—originally formed in Los Angeles during the Civil War in El Salvador in the 1980s, numbers around 70,000.

Aside from border trafficking, which is highly profitable at $7,000 per victim, they are involved in assaults, homicides and torture using firearms, machetes or blunt objects. Much of the violence in our cities is committed by Mara Salvatrucha. They often target middle and high school students for recruitment. Members are usually over age 11, but under 21.

“Ground zero,” according to Investors, “is El Salvador, which has shipped as much as a third of its population to the U.S. and relies on their remittances for 16% of the nations GDP.” No wonder they are not helpful when we ask for their assistance in keeping their own kids at home.

It has been reported that these MS-13 members, are being held for placement inside the United States. They may be engaged in violent cartel and criminal activity, yet when processed by the Department of Human Services or Department of Homeland Security systems, they are treated as children. Which they are, but not quite what we usually think of as “children.”

But this is a “humanitarian crisis.” They are just kids. Where is your compassion?

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You Should Probably Worry, Or At Least Pay Attention! by The Elephant's Child

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ISIS has now renamed itself as the Islamic State. They claim to have established a Caliphate stretching across parts of Iraq and Syria, but their ambitions are far greater. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, pictured above, has renamed himself Caliph Ibrahim, though the viciousness of their advance is more reminiscent of Saddam Hussein. Nine other jihadist groups have declared the “Islamic State” and the “Caliphate” null and void, legally and logically and everybody else better condemn them too.

The movement of ISIS across Iraq has been ferocious, determined and vicious. In only a month they have swarmed from obscurity to being perhaps the most well-funded terrorist group on earth. Some of the officers from Saddam’s army have reportedly joined them.  Nobody seems to know how many there are in the ISIS army, but some estimates at the beginning were only about 800 people.

They have captured much of the equipment with which the U.S. enforced the Iraqi army, so they have Humvees, MRAPS , rocket launchers, helicopters and I don’t know what else. Some suggest that they won’t know how to operate or maintain the equipment, but they’ve cleaned out the banks in Mosul and any other town they pass through, and get funding from some wealthy Sunnis who are glad to fund jihadist movements. They are estimated now to have over a billion in finances, so they can probably hire a teacher or two, and if the officers of Saddam’s army have joined up they may have more capability than our state department is assuming.

According to the AP, “Iraq has informed the United Nations that the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.” (What? I thought there were no WMD in Iraq?) “Terrorist groups entered the Muthanna site June 11 ans seized weapons and equipment from the protection force guarding the facility.” Secretary Ban Ki-moon “singled out the capture of bunkers 13 and 41 in the sprawling complex, which according to a 2004 U.N. report also contained the toxic agent sodium cyanide, which is a precursor for the chemical warfare agent tabun, and artillery shells contaminated with mustard gas.” Maybe it’s time to start worrying, or at least paying attention.

Why did the Obama Administration ignore all those warnings about ISIS?  Eli Lake describes all the warnings. Team Obama was told over and over, that the Iraqi army could not stop a terror group that was ready to pounce.  It’s a long, sad tale. It probably has the most to do with Obama’s dogmatic positions. Once he makes up his mind, it set in concrete, and Iraq was the “bad war” that he promised to get out of.  Speaking to the foreign press, Ben Rhodes, the White House Deputy National Security Adviser for strategic communication said,”In terms of additional u.S.military action, President Obama again made clear that while he has not ordered any military action, he reserves the right to do so as necessary.”

Obama’s best advisors on Iraq have been saying such military action has been necessary now for months, but Obama is busy with fundraising and golf.

ISIS has begun systematically destroying artifacts and antiquities found in Iraqi museums because they are “against Islam.” They issued a city charter in Mosul and declared that “false idols” would have to be destroyed. For this strain of Sunni Muslim jihadists, representations of the human form or any shrine that might lend  itself to idolatry, or any place of worship dedicated to the Shiia faith must be obliterated. If you remember the Taliban blew up the world’s two largest standing Buddhas—one of them 165 feet high . They had been preserved for 1,700 years.  ISIS has expressed an intent to destroy the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site. More than 15 million Muslims visit Mecca every year, and the Kaaba is the direction of Muslim prayer.
That wouldn’t seem to be a good PR move, but I am not a Muslim.

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Iraq Was The Dumb War, Afghanistan Was The Smart One, And Russia Is Our Friend! by The Elephant's Child

ISIS has now renamed itself as the Islamic State that has established a Caliphate stretching across parts of Iraq and Syria. They have bigger ambitions, however. Here is a map of their intended territory. The westernmost territory labeled Maghreb, is the Western Sahara, and includes Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and several other nations. They are reaching back to the Middle Ages when Muslims controlled Spain. They now incorporate almost every nation between Spain and the borders of China.

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The map surfaced on social media as ISIS made strides in conquering cities in Iraq. They seem to be imitating the ruthless behavior of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. as they execute, murder, behead and crucify — sweeping all before them. The map was widely disseminated as the terrorist group formally announced the caliphate under their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who will be the Caliph.

Nine leading jihadist groups in Syria promptly rejected the claim. Their online statement said “the announcement by the rejectionists [the Islamic State] of a caliphate is null and void,” both “legally and logically.”They warn other jihadists individuals and organizations not to support the Islamic State.

Two of the nine signatories are the Islamic Front, a powerful rebel coalition that includes the al Qaeda-linked Ahrar al Sham, and the Majlis Shura al Mujahideen (MSM) in Deir Izzor. The MSM is an alliance of groups, including the Al Nusrah Front, that is opposed to the Islamic State in eastern Syria.

On its Twitter feed, the MSM posted a link to the statement rejecting the Islamic State’s announced caliphate. The MSM says the Islamic State’s announcement is part of “a systematic campaign to distort sharia terms” and the Islamic State has “distorted jihad, sharia, and [the rules for] punishment, and now they want to distort the Caliphate.”

Seeing pictures of little kids recruited as jihadists with their weapons is a little unsettling. These are kids 9, 10 and 11 years old.. On the other hand, an NGO in Syria confirmed that the Islamic State had crucified nine men who were not vigorous enough in their jihad.

Who knows how this will work out. The battle lines between the Islamic State and its rivals are not new. They are all trying to be the leaders. The Caliphate may not be real, but the brutality is. Their stated aim of attacking the U.S. is not encouraging.

The administration was caught by surprise by the ISIS advance. But then they were caught unprepared by Russian aggression. This is a major intelligence failure that should be sounding alarm bells in Washington. And in Afghanistan.the administration is surprised that the Taliban are moving hard against the democratic government. New York Times correspondents described one of the most sophisticated and coordinated assaults on the government in years. The Taliban have attacked police outposts and government facilities across several districts in Northern Helmand province.

The reporters called it “a new worst-case situation for Western officials, an aggressive insurgent push that is seizing territory even before American troops have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.” Now why do you suppose the Taliban would attack while the Americans are busy elsewhere?



A Nation Grieves. by The Elephant's Child

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Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped over two weeks ago, and murdered by Hamas thugs. One can hardly imagine the grief of a nation. In a remarkably tasteless remark, President Obama urged Israel not to “destabilize the situation,” he warned Israel—not Palestine. Blame the families and friends of murdered kids, but not the murderers. He claimed that “Israelis have the full support and friendship of the United States.” I doubt that many Israelis believe that one.

The sixteen year olds are Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel who is also an American citizen. Our hearts go out to their families, and the Israeli people.

It is President Obama’s radical Mideast policies that have destabilized the entire Middle East. The president’s 2009 Cairo University speech helped to open the door to revolution and upheaval. He came to office with the illusion that all the problems in the Middle East were caused by the “problems between Israel and Palestine.” Obama believed that he could bring the Israelis and the Palestinians to the bargaining table and make a lasting peace agreement between them, and there would be peace in the Middle East, and he would be celebrated as the peacemaker or something like that.

The only flaw in the ointment was that Palestinians had not the slightest interest in peace, and wanted the Israelis all dead and no country of Israel to exist. The Palestinians fire rockets into Israel regularly, kidnap citizens, as they did these three teenagers. They bring up their children to hate Israel, toddlers are given mock suicide vests. The mothers of jihadists who blow themselves up in an effort to kill Israelis celebrate their dead sons as martyrs in a righteous cause.

In 2011, Obama declared out-of-the-blue that Israel should be shrunk back to its indefensible 1967 borders, and warned Israel “the status quo is unsustainable.” He declared “the international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome”, and claimed “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.” This is sheer  ignorance of both the history of the Middle East and the history of the state of Israel.

The U.S led “peace framework” talks broke down earlier this year. The idea seemed to be that Israel would offer all sorts of concessions to the Palestinian Authority, and then the U.S would dangle releasing convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard before Prime Minister Netanyahu in the hope that he would fold.

The State of Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. They are the only country that shares our ideas of free markets and free people. The other guys are talking about blowing up Israel, driving Israel into the sea, preparing to attack the United States, declaring a new Caliphate, and trying to smuggle more weapons into Gaza so they can kill more Israelis. One would think our president and our State Department would notice the difference.



Stop Making Speeches, Mr. President, And Tend to Business! by The Elephant's Child

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Seems like everything is heating up. There are all these enormous problems that are just coming to our attention,  a lapdog media who ignore the problems, and there’s our natural reluctance to stop playing and pay attention. They are collectively going to get a lot worse before they get better, if they do.

— Obama has appointed a man who seems qualified to attempt to fix the problems at the Veterans Administration Health network. Robert McDonald is a former CEO of Proctor and Gamble, so large organizations are nothing new to him. He is a West Point graduate, and served in the military for the required 5 years post graduation. The limited military experience is unusual for the post which is usually filled by a former general or at least a colonel.

The big problems at the VA are 1. unionized employees, 2. a culture that plans to go home around 4:00 and schedules no operations after 2:00 pm and 3. has no way to measure efficiency except by wait-time for appointments. The bigest problem is that it is a big-government 340,000 employee  bureaucracy, which may preclude its ever becoming an efficient health care program.

ISIS , the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, has erupted out of the Syrian crisis and swarmed its way across Iraq, executing and beheading opponents, crucifying members of the opposition, or throwing them alive off cliffs. This is the new Middle East caliphate, a religious and political successor to the prophet Mohammed and sovereign over all Muslims. They have stripped banks, captured military equipment and stockpiles, and captured oil fields. The current al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri once said a new caliphate would signal a turning of world history “against the empire of the United States and the world’s Jewish government.”

A bunch of fanatic thugs, perhaps, but a well-funded and equipped bunch intent on creating an Islamic state as a launching pad for attacking the U.S. homeland, according to a new congressional report. Four analysts at the Congressional Research Service made that assessment relying on intelligence reports and the words of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, (ISIL). Wealthy Sunni sheiks in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have funneled money to the group to help it bring down the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Alawite , an offshoot of Shia Islam. They already have many hundreds of jihadists with Western nation passports. The Russians have sent military advisors to Iraq. This is a crisis of Obama’s own making, and he’s not really prepared to deal with it.

“President Obama’s recently announced energy and environment policies have been tried in many countries with the same result: abject failure. Yet when critics point this out, explaining that “the U.S. economy will lose millions of jobs and billions of dollars in growth,” Obama simply waves their objections away. Every European economy that has followed the same green agenda has faltered badly. In 2013, Germany built six more coal plants. China and India build four new ones every week, yet Obama can’t wait to shut down the coal industry. He remains deeply concerned about global warming.

Canada gave up on getting approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Obama, and is building the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to send their oil to Asia. Major job loss for the U.S. and a major economic loss for the country. Another. Now, inconveniently, scientists and studies are predicting global cooling ahead — Russia’s Pulkova Observatory: ‘We could be in for a cooling period that lasts 200-250 years.’  A new solar theory predicts imminent global cooling. The reason is the dramatic fall in solar radiation that started around 2004.  If the temperature on Earth is entirely controlled by solar effects, the cooling will return us to the temperature levels of the 1950s or even the 1920s, undoing the warming of the last 50 or 100 years in nothing flat. A sharp cooling effect is apt to hit in the next five years. There has been no warming at all in the last 17 years. We will need more power to keep us warm, and it’s a remarkably poor time to start shutting down coal plants for no reason. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and has been much higher in the past, and seems to have little, if any, effect on the climate.

And then there is the crisis on the border. The Obama administration planned ahead for the subsequent flood of illegal children, older teenagers, gang members, Chinese and who knows who else. Homeland Security requested contractors as “escort services” for 65,000 unaccompanied children in January. The government cannot find enough places to put them, seems to have no real intention of returning them. Apparently children who have come across the border can effectively remain in the U.S. for years before they face a risk for deportation. In the meantime the federal government will take care of them?

Obama wants amnesty, and blames the whole surge on Republicans for not “reforming broken immigration laws” that Obama refuses to enforce because he wants amnesty and a flood of Hispanic immigrants. He stubbornly intends to get his way with executive orders.The problems are a direct result of his failure to enforce the borders, forbid the Border Patrol from preventing the influx, and he essentially told the Border Patrol and ICE that they may not do their jobs. This is not going to end well.



The Official Foreign Policy of the Obama Admistration by The Elephant's Child

This is actually a clip from the British comedy series “Yes, Minister,” but it seems so precisely applicable, and funny, that I couldn’t resist. The comedy that captures accurately the foibles of humanity is always the best, though we like the comedy of the other guy’s foibles better than when our own are exposed.



There Are More Than 50 Million Refugees, For the First Time Since World War II by The Elephant's Child

At the end of 2013, The United Nations Refugee Agency’s report released last Friday says, 51.2 million people were refugees. For the first time since World War II we have more than 50 million people driven from their homes, all too often in fear for their lives. And the numbers can only be increasing exponentially as Iraqis and Syrians flee to neighboring countries.

Of the 51.2 refugees— 12 million are being cared for by the United Nations aid agencies. 6.3 million of those have been displaced for more than five years. The largest numbers of refugees come from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria. The exodus from Iraq has just started. The countries harboring the most refugees are Iran, Lebanon and Pakistan. At the time the report was released the greatest numbers came from the Syrian civil war, with more than 2.5 million Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries. Lebanon is only a small country of 4.5 million people— one fourth of those are refugees. They are quickly running out of basic necessities. And the chaos in Iraq only erupted this month. It takes a lot of fear to make you grab a little of your stuff and run.




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