American Elephants


Obama Can’t Identify the Problem, and Doesn’t Want To Deal With It. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is back from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, and on Monday he spoke at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention. To sparse applause, he said the answer for ISIS’s “evolving terrorist threat” is not for America to “occupy countries and end up “feeding extremism.” …

The answer is not to send in large scale military deployments that over stretch our military, and lead for us occupying countries for a long period of time and end up feeding extremism.

Still blaming Bush, after all these years. The White House is struggling to find a message on the Middle East, any message. Marie Harf, State Department spokesperson, refused to acknowledge ISIS’ declaration of war with the United States of America. A reporter said “The reality is ISIS has announced it’s in a war against America,” adding that “Right or wrong that is what they are saying.”

Harf  emphasized the administration’s view that ISIS does not accurately represent the religion of Islam as a whole.

ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion. The president has been very clear about that, and the more we can underscore that, the better.

The Islamic State is fairly clear on who they believe themselves to be. Max Boot, is also clear:

Want to know what happens when the U.S. retreats from a leadership role in the Middle East? This is what happens–Egypt and the United Arab Emirates together collaborate to stage air strikes against Islamist militias in Libya. And meanwhile Qatar, which is at odds with its fellow Persian Gulf sheikhdom, the UAE, has been funneling arms to the very Islamist militias that UAE’s air force is bombing.

American officials quoted by the New York Times are said to be fuming about these attacks, “believing the intervention could further inflame the Libyan conflict as the United Nations and Western powers are seeking to broker a peaceful resolution…. ‘We don’t see this as constructive at all,’ said one senior American official.”

But guess what? When the U.S. has abdicated its leadership role, there is no reason for anyone–not our enemies and not our allies–to listen to what we have to say. In the case of Libya, the American failure to do more, in cooperation with our allies, to build up central government authority has brought us to a point where this country is fast becoming a failed state consigned to perpetual civil war.

Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson offered the usual mush:

Libya’s challenges are political, and violence will not resolve them. Our focus is on the political process there. We believe outside interference exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition. And that’s why our focus remains on urging all factions to come together to peacefully resolve the current crisis.

You see the problem. Obama believed from the first that American interference  was the cause of all the problems in the Middle East, and if we would just lend our expertise to “peaceful resolutions” then he would deserve the Nobel Peace Prize that he was so prematurely awarded.

Well, Hillary took a magical “reset button” to Russia, and Vladimir Putin decided the time was ripe to recover the Soviet Empire. Secretary Kerry has brokered “peace processes” and “cease fires” and misidentified intentions and misunderstood threats. We cannot even officially call the Fort Hood shooting terrorism, or call anyone a terrorist. This is not just a language problem, but a matter of facing up to reality instead of just wishful thinking.

“Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have said there are no credible threats to the United States from the Islamic State terror group.” according to an intelligence memo  issued to state and local authorities.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel described the Islamic State as “beyond anything we’ve seen.” He called on U.S. intelligence resources to “take a cold steely look” and to “get ready” for a “9/11 level threat” to the United States, and presents a “whole new dynamic” as a national security challenge.

Mush. It is all mush. We have another “cease fire” between Hamas and Israel, until Hamas is ready to fire some more rockets at Israel. The Islamic State has captured a region the size of Belgium, and is recruiting fighters from all over the Middle East, Europe, Africa and America and Canada, and growing exponentially.

They have captured a nation’s American military equipment; a Syrian air force base. aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons. They have demonstrated a brutality beyond imagining, and the State Department carefully doesn’t want to admit that the Islamic State has anything to do with Islam. We are not only unprepared to address the threat, we cannot admit that there is a threat, nor describe it clearly. We’re still babbling about “brokering a peaceful solution.” We are easy prey .



The Feds Are Going to Track “Hate Speech” on Twitter! by The Elephant's Child

Just when the news is full of the depredations of the newly-named Islamic State, we learn that our government is creating a database to track “hate speech” on Twitter. The feds will spend nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and “hate speech” on Twitter.

Watch what you are tweeting, folks. The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” (of course it would be “memes,” not words or ideas)  and what it considers “false and misleading ideas” with a major focus on political activity online. Sorry, free speech is out. Old fashioned nonsense! What we need is control. No unpleasant words allowed. And don’t go ‘denying’ Global Warming!

The university has so far received $919,917 for the project.

“The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly,” the grant states. “Our data will be made available via [application programming interfaces] APIs and include information on meme propagation networks, statistical data, and relevant user and content features.”

“The open-source platform we develop will be made publicly available and will be extensible to ever more research areas as a greater preponderance of human activities are replicated online,” it continues. “Additionally, we will create a web service open to the public for monitoring trends, bursts, and suspicious memes.”

They are calling it “Truthy” a name from Stephen Colbert. It will attempt to catalog how information is spread (and how to shut it down?). They claim to be completely non-partisan, but suggest that some tweets are engineered by “the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns” according to the website.

“Truthy” claims to be non-partisan. However, the project’s lead investigator Filippo Menczer proclaims his support for numerous progressive advocacy groups, including President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action, Moveon.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, and True Majority.

Filippo Menczer is a professor of informatics  and computer science at Indiana University. You can tell that the project is completely non-partisan because it would never even occur to any Republican or Conservative to attempt to trace “hate speech” on Twitter. Republicans don’t even believe there is such a thing as “hate speech”, which presumes to read the mind and intent of the speaker, something quite impossible.

Republicans believe in free speech which is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,” and that even includes political speech, which would suggest that this effort is out of line. The response to nasty speech, which can be distinguished from “hate speech” is Shame.

The government-funded researchers hope the public will use their tool to squeal on other tweeters. They want to know why some “memes” go viral and others don’t. I don’t think it takes $1 million to answer that one.

I find it absolutely astonishing the extent to which Democrats are frightened by those who disagree with them, and struggle to find ways to silence them. But I have a pretty good idea of just why they do it.



Dismantle The Islamic State Suddenly, Swiftly, Surgically by The Elephant's Child

General John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.) led the Marines in Anbar Province and was commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He is a distinguished fellow of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. His piece at Defense One is very worth our attention:

Make no mistake, the abomination of IS is a clear and present danger to the U.S. The only question really is whether the U.S. and its allies and partners will act decisively now while they can still shape events to destroy IS, an act that seems increasingly self-obvious. …

The U.S. is now firmly in the game and remains the only nation on the planet capable of exerting the kind of strategic leadership, influence and strike capacity to deal with IS. It is also the only power capable of organizing a coalition’s reaction to this regional and international threat. As a general officer commanding at several levels in the region, I can say with certainty that what we’re facing in northern Iraq is only partly a crisis about Iraq. It is about the region and potentially the world as we know it.

General Allen points out that the Islamic State is executing a well-thought-out campaign designed to dismantle both Syria and Iraq and replace them with an Islamic Caliphate. It is undoubtedly populated partly by former members of Saddam’s military, and has just captured a major Syrian air base with fighters and helicopter gunships. It includes an ugly mix of fighters from Chechens, Uighurs and  Pashtuns, but also Europeans and Americans. With their newly acquired wealth and American armaments, they are a force to be reckoned with. He adds:

The Kurds, the Sunnis and the Free Syrian resistance elements of the region are the “boots on the ground” necessary to the success of this campaign, and the attack on IS must comprehensively orchestrate these comprehensively diverse forces across the entire region.

The Islamic State, General Allen says,must be destroyed. If given the chance to consolidate its forces, they have been clear they will focus on Western and American targets. We must move quickly to break it up, destroy its pieces. Does President Obama have any understanding of the true nature of the threat? And does he understand what actions are needed? His vacation is over, and he’s due back at the White House. This seems to be the time for swift action.

Maybe you want to rethink dumping all those A-10s, while you’re at it.



Is This What’s Called “Speaking Truth to Power?” by The Elephant's Child


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(Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily)                   Click to enlarge



Domestic Violent Extremists? Homeland Security Paranoia. by The Elephant's Child

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A leaked document from Homeland Security predicts the rise of “anti-Government violence. That was a headline that caused a brief flurry in the press (very brief). Notable in the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis concern over an increase in violence, was the standoff at the Bundy ranch when the BLM attempted to seize Bundy’s cattle, but backed off when a ‘militia group’ showed up.

The seven page report, titled, “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Government Law Enforcement” dated, July 22, 2014, said, “After years of only sporadic violence from violent domestic extremists motivated by anti-government ideologies, I&A has seen a spike within the past year in violence committed by militia extremists and lone offenders who hold violent anti-government beliefs. These groups and individuals recognize government authority but facilitate or engage in acts of violence due to their perception that the United States Government is tyrannical and oppressive, coupled to their belief that the government needs to be violently resisted or overthrown.”

I have written recently about the impermeable “bubble” in which the Left resides. They require protection from the wrong information emanating from the Right, at all costs. As far as I can tell, this is caused by the fact that their policies are a result of their feelings about events on a case-by-case basis. They do not rely on foundational principles.

There was a point a while back when they worried because Republicans had think tanks to give them ideas, and they didn’t. So they got their money people to start one — the Center for American Progress — because they’re progressives now, not liberals, or leftists.  (I keep forgetting). But nothing much changes. The CAP comes up with ‘Issues’ with which to defeat the Right like ‘the War on Women’ and ‘free contraceptives,’ and the language and tactics to make a war on women seem real, but not the principles that make it an important issue.

In the hothouse of such a bubble, there exists a constant element of paranoia. If you know your argument is flimsy and has no principles behind it, you expect it to be shot down, or attempted to be shot down. With that nagging fear comes a fear of the Right in general. You never know what they might try next. When your history is invented, and you have no firm, unchanging, bedrock principles — when your opposition, who you are convinced are both radical and stupid, starts holding demonstrations and carrying signs and waving a  yellow flag with a rattlesnake on it, and talking about the revolution, you get all nervous.

They know who the protesters are. They send them out. They are union activists demanding a higher wage,  and people from the radical green groups trying to save us from the ravages of global warming, and the folks from La Raza demanding amnesty now. But these people are dangerous. Who ever heard of Republicans demonstrating. Singing. Carrying American flags. And their signs are about the Constitution, or demanding repeal of the law that gives everyone free health care. Violent extremists.

This is not new. If you want to get into a major battle with a lib, just say something about the evils of socialism and how similar Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia were. You might get away with calling Stalin and communism an aberration of the Left, but they will be absolutely certain that Hitler was a right-wing dictator, despite the fact that NAZI was an acronym for National Socialist Party.

They were certain that Kennedy was shot by a right-wing nut, that Timothy McVeigh was a member of a Right-Wing militia, that the Branch-Davidian standoff was a right-wing something or other. They have convinced themselves that the Dixiecrats were really racist Republicans, and some have actually gone so far as to believe that Lincoln was really a Democrat. The bubble has tough walls and is quite impermeable.

The Left is positive that any objection to the policies of the Obama administration is racism. There are beginning to be some cracks in that edifice. The media is noticing that their president is not really engaged by foreign policy, and would clearly rather spend his time on the golf course. His third-string advisers are not up to the job. John Kerry’s insistence that climate change is a more pressing concern than Hamas, Gaza, ISIS, the Kurds, Putin’s advances on Ukraine, China’s flexing of its muscles, Iraq’s centrifuges, is not evidence of a serious administration.

This all blends into the militarization of the police, the drive to ban guns. A California congressman has just introduced a bill to prevent the purchase, ownership or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians. (HR. 5344). “This bill will keep military body armor out of the wrong hands, Representative Honda said, “It would ensure than only law enforcement, firefighters and first responders wold be able to access enhanced body armor.” Now that’s paranoia.

 



Are You Worried About the Rise of a “Militarized” Police Force? by The Elephant's Child

Congress is coming under pressure to “do something” about the rise of a “militarized” police force in the United States. You have millions of Americans watching the events in Ferguson, Missouri on television, and goodness, the police look really scary.

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The military and some government departments like Homeland Security are making their surplus equipment available to police departments across the country. Much of the material may be brand new, but outdated by newer technology. Some articles suggest that the materials are free, except for shipping, others suggest that it’s for sale, but cheap for struggling police department budgets.

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The Tampa tank does seem somewhat excessive, but then the other two do too. What kind of situation are they preparing for? An ISIS attack here in this country? The bounty available includes weapons, helmets, ammunition. The uniform standards have changed as well. No more friendly police blue, but camouflage, designed for blending into the natural surroundings of the battlefield, but not for city streets. All black seems to have become popular, but it brings with it a history of the SS, and ISIS, and countless movies.

The purpose of an armed military is to be aggressive, ready to attack, dangerous, and scary. The purpose of an armed police force is meant to be protective. They are there to protect the civilian population from the bad guys. For either force — its appearance has an effect on both civilians and adversaries. Bad guys who intend to perform bad actions in a community protected by the armored equipment pictured above will arm themselves accordingly—grenade launchers, mortars, Molotov cocktails—or worse. Does the possession of a vehicle like the one just above guarantee safety from terrorist attacks, and what is the effect in your ordinary everyday riot?

I’m sure there is a temptation towards the all powerful, completely scary and excessively macho version. The cops would feel safer and more powerful Policing is hard work, and policemen are killed in the line of duty. It can be dangerous, and often is. Yet we clearly need some adult judgment here.

The Seattle Police have coped with our occasional riots with bicycle squads and mounted police — fairly successfully. They start mildly, and gradually add force if necessary. If it continues into a second day, they start that with some force. Depends on whether the Anarchists are arriving in force.

Rather than a hasty Congressional intrusion, we probably need studies (which may well already exist) on what causes a riot to escalate. We may have terrorists crossing the border, or more likely using their European passports. The likelihood of their being able to equip themselves with fancy military equipment would seem low, but bombs that involve nothing more than acquiring bomb-making materials or ordinary weapons is highly likely.

Those of us who hear about the activities of the police only in the news, really don’t know much of anything about it. Those of us who are watching the riots in Ferguson as it is filtered through the media don’t know much of anything either. Yet we read of SWAT teams breaking down the door of innocent civilians at 4:00 a.m. because they got the wrong house, or because of misinformation. We have no idea if this is a regular problem or if it is a rare occurrence that we hear about only because “if it bleeds it leads.”

Confidence in government is low. The economy is not recovering noticeably. The world seems completely in flames.  Iraq, Syria, Russia, China, Iran. Ebola in Africa. Uncontrolled illegal immigration is being allowed, if not encouraged at our border.  We have no leadership. Our military is being slashed back to pre-World War II levels. ISIS threatens to raise their black flag over the White House. Everybody is on vacation. But when the weather cools in September and October, we can expect another flood of 60,000 illegals from Central America, because nobody has, nor will, make it clear that they are unwelcome. Other than that…

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ADDENDUM: I added slightly to the piece as first posted, because the bit about the Seattle Police suggested they didn’t go beyond mounted police, which was inaccurate. 



Cease-Fires Don’t Work When One Side Won’t Cease! by The Elephant's Child

From Friday’s Wall Street Journal :

JERUSALEM—White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.

Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.

Funny. This is the customary way that Israel secured supplies of ammunition through a military to military purchase that required no approval from White House officials.

If people in Pennsylvania were shooting rockets at the White House many times a day leaving everyone to run for shelter immediately, would the administration be so eagerly pressing for a “cease-fire” that everyone knew those crazies in Pennsylvania would not observe? And if they were digging attack tunnels designed to come up in the Rose Garden, or down by Michelle’s veggie garden?

The U.S. government classifies Hamas as “a terrorist organization.” Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry just don’t seem to understand terrorism. “No victor-no vanquished.” let’s have another cease-fire. Hamas’ charter clearly says they intend to destroy Israel and all its people. Israel has the backing of Egypt, and Jordan and even the West Bank for attempting to stop the rocket attacks. Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry just don’t seem to get it. But I repeat myself.

There are cease-fires, and Hamas breaks them. They fire rockets from their storehouses in UN schools, and the administration is shocked by the pretend numbers of casualties claimed by Hamas, and assumes them to be real.  President Obama   doesn’t like disagreement, and has proved to be somewhat vindictive.

Prime Minister Netanyahu explained the situation with Hamas quite clearly, in language easily understandable:

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




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