American Elephants


Understanding the Real Enemy by The Elephant's Child

Ottawa-Shooting

We must take ISIS seriously, return to the 7th Century civilization and all. They are serious about it, and want us dead, as they reminded us yesterday in Ottawa. They want to destroy the West. They want to rouse Muslims all over the world to their cause. It is hard for most of us to understand the appeal of chopping off heads and other limbs, but we just had two young teenagers from Colorado grabbed at an airport in Germany as they were on their way to Syria to become brides of Allah.

The real enemy is our own political correctness, passive multicultural relativity, the idiocy of calling the massacre at Fort Hood  “workplace violence,” and refusal to call even the Tsarnaev brothers anything stronger than “extremists.” It is a the worst kind of virus, a worm in the brain, an ideology that prevents clear thought, clear response and clear policy.

The picture above is of Ottawa’s National War Memorial in the moments before Corporal Nathan Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (on the left)  who was guarding the grave of Canada’s unknown soldier, was killed by a petty criminal and recent convert to Islam,  in a shocking act of terrorism.

The terrorist then entered the Parliament building with his weapon and began shooting in the House of Commons. Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former Mountie quickly killed him, saving untold lives. Mr. Vickers received a prolonged standing ovation from the members and a long procession of grateful MPs. Corporal Cirillo will receive a full regimental funeral. He was just 24.



There Will Be Human Error. That is Our Nature. by The Elephant's Child

The unfolding epidemic of Ebola in West Africa has killed more than 4,400 people so far. Everything in Liberia was needed weeks ago, and the newly to be built Ebola treatment centers are very tardy.

Before the outbreak, Liberia’s only lab capable of testing blood for highly infectious diseases was the Liberian Institute on Biomedical Research. It was a bat-infested facility, a compound of World War II-era buildings that could only process 40 blood specimens a day, with electricity that worked only intermittently. The U.S. has sent in workers to rewire the building, fix the plumbing, install Internet access and update testing equipment. The lab can now process 70 specimens a day and are hoping to hit 100 soon.

The military is building the Ebola center in Bomi County, which has two doctors for 89,000 people. The Liberia Government Hospital, next to the Ebola site hasn’t had a working X-ray machine for two years. At the Tubmanburg Ebola site, the U.S. military has gone with tents instead of roofed structures to save time, and avoided laying foundations when possible. The first unit is expected to open in early November, The staff workers have had about two weeks of .intensive training. Soldiers will soon have floodlights to work around-the-clock shifts. They are essentially creating a health system from the ground up, on extreme deadlines.

On top of building treatment centers, they must build at least temporary housing and basic services for 4,000 military. Our federal government may be paralyzed by bureaucracy and political correctness, but the military is trained to pick up and go where they are ordered to go and complete the tasks assigned.

If everything goes smoothly, all will be well, but there’s a lot of room there for human error. And there will be errors. The insistence on claiming that Ebola is not airborne is troubling. Saliva and nasal secretions are bodily fluids. Aerosols are created by sneezing and coughing. The droplets that are really, really fine particles can, according to Dr. Jane Orient, director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, can infect you with one to ten particles. They can go through your mask, around your mask, down into your lungs. Theoretically, she said, it certainly is an aerosol. We cannot rule it out.

Obama’s stubborn insistence on no travel ban is more perplexing, as is the claim that he wants to bring infected patients from Africa here for treatment, but our troops can be treated in Liberia, should they become infected. The situation in Liberia has improved somewhat, there aren’t dead bodies lying around in the streets any more. Out in the villages, who knows.



Everything You Need To Know About Obama’s Response to Ebola: by The Elephant's Child

Judicial Watch, the public watchdog group, says that the president is “actively formulating plans” to admit Ebola-infected non-citizens to the United States just to be treated. “Specifically, the goal of the administration is to bring Ebola patients into the U.S. for treatment within the first days of diagnosis.

President Obama issued an executive order to call up National Guard and Reserve troops to aid in halting the spread of Ebola in west Africa for Operation United Assistance.

About 500 military personnel in Liberia have erected a 25-bed hospital, and are living in local hotels as they build accommodations for  the 4,000 troops on the way.

Deployed troops have received about four hours of training in protocols for protection from Ebola. They will not be expected to come into contact with any Ebola patients, so haz-mat suits are not considered necessary. A team of two from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID)can train as many as 50 personnel over that four-hour time frame. All training is tiered to the level of risk each person may encounter.

If any American soldiers in Liberia contract the deadly Ebola virus, they will be quarantined, stabilized and evacuated to a medical facility for treatment, according to the commander of Operation United Assistance, Major General Darryl Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa.

“The risk of infection is relatively low,” he said.”As long as you exercise basic sanitation and cleanliness sort of protocols using the chlorine wash on your hands and your feet, get your temperature taken, limiting the exposure — no handshaking, those short of protocols , I think the risk is relatively low,” explained the general.

Seems to me there’s a remarkable lot of  “but what if” hanging around in those bits of information. But there you are.



Staying Off the Golf Course Would Be Good Public Relations. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s weekly address was meant to be a calming message about the threat of Ebola. Didn’t work. Mr. Obama seems to think we are in a state of panic about Ebola, and think we are in the midst of an epidemic. We’re not. We are worried because our elected officials, including our president, and appointed officials can’t seem to talk straight about the disease. Reminding us that “our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu,” is not particularly helpful. Thousands of Africans die from Malaria because they are not allowed to spray their huts with DDT. That’s not helpful either. It has no bearing on this particular disease.

“Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.” Well, no, it’s not difficult to catch. We have two nurses who have contracted it while they believed they were following the proper protocols. The hospital just hadn’t figured them out. It is transmitted through the air. Sneezing or coughing transmit bodily fluids in very tiny droplets that can remain in the air.  It can be transmitted through sweat left on airplane armrests, lavatory faucets or bus seats.

That was Obama’s second point. “Third,” he said, “we know how to fight this disease. We know the protocols.”Well, no. We’re learning all the time. 21 days may not be a long enough isolation period. Temperature checks at the airport are probably useless. Teaching people about the protocols may not be enough to overcome natural human carelessness. U.S standards for protecting healthcare workers from Ebola are weaker than those widely used in West Africa, according to the vice president of the aid group Samaritan’s Purse.

When Samaritan’s Purse health workers treat patients in Liberia, they wear two pairs of gloves and spray themselves with disinfectant twice before leaving the isolation ward. They have a three-foot “no touch” policy and hold safety meetings every day.

In U.S. hospitals — such as Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which has had three cases of Ebola — workers don’t have to hose down their gear and are told it’s OK for gloves to expose their wrists.

“If you slip, and you touch your skin on the wrist, you’re going to get Ebola,” said Isaacs, who has worked on-the-ground disaster relief in countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Bosnia. “Can we trust CDC? They said they were going to stop it in its tracks, but I don’t know.”

Does that sound like Ebola is “actually a difficult disease to catch?” Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, has said “any hospital with an intensive care unit” can stop the disease from spreading. The CDC still does not know how the two nurses became infected. Frieden seems torn between trying to pacify politicians and pacifying the people. He must be the source for Obama’s confusion.

The Nurses union, National Nurses United, has been fiercely critical of the hospital this week, saying that the disease spread because of poor training and incompetent management. One nurse said she watched people at her hospital violate basic principles of nursing and medical care. Potentially exposed nurses would go into other patients rooms without disinfectants. All nurses should have been constantly monitored for 21 days because of exposure to Duncan.

President Obama’s Weekly Address is here. What is clear is that he takes as gospel the information he is given, and does not do any further inquiry on his own. Dr. Frieden  is not keeping up with the toilers in the fields of Ebola Central. The next post that pops up after the one about Samaritan’s Purse is from the CDC: “Airborne Ebola possible but unlikely.” Perhaps I misunderstand the meaning of airborne contagion. If it is not sneezes and coughs — what is airborne?

President Obama is so concerned that he spent only five hours on the golf course today, and held a nighttime Ebola meeting, the second in the last few days. His new appointee as Ebola Response Coordinator, Ron Klain, didn’t attend either meeting. Neither did the Ebola Czar, Dr. Nicole Lurie, who remains invisible.

The meeting included members of his national security and public health teams to update him on the response to the domestic Ebola cases. Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Kent Sepkowitz called the selection of Ron Klain as “stagecraft and politics.” He said it was disappointing that this was becoming, not a public health issue, but an optics “how are we going to look?’ issue, and ‘what’s it going to mean to the Senate races? issue.” Dr. Sepkowitz is, at least, clear on the priorities.



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?




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