American Elephants


A Little Common Sense by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley: ” Let’s not pretend”our morgues are full of black men because of cops.



I Don’t Know Anything About Ferguson, and Neither Do You. by The Elephant's Child
August 19, 2014, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Politics

Ferguson, Missouri. None of us know what happened there. It’s a complicated situation, and initial assumptions that a rogue policeman shot an unarmed black youth for racial reasons are hooey. The race hustlers have all shown up to inflame the crowds — Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers, ISIS Recruiters, and now Attorney General Eric Holder will arrive to take over the investigation.

The media has performed abysmally. A week later the announcer for ABC news is still describing Ferguson as the suburb “where a policeman shot an unarmed black youth.”

Well, Al Sharpton actually said some correct things, and attempted to defuse the situation. Jesse Jackson pandered for donations and got booed. The Black Panthers worked to inflame the rioters with chants about killing the cop. Recruiters for ISIS were reportedly there, we can only guess at those conversations. Protesters threw rocks at the press. That’s a summary of what I know, which is nothing —nothing at all.

It is frustrating to have to wait for information when you are angry and sure that you do know what happened. But judgment depends on knowing exactly what happened, and none of us do — not even the folks in Ferguson.



We Need More Communication About Militarization. by The Elephant's Child

Police militarization has worried a lot of people. Some of the vehicles that police departments have acquired are distinctly scary. Most of us whose encounters with the police are limited to exceeding the speed limit can’t imagine being confronted with an officer in full military gear, helmet and assault weapon.

Policing is intended to protect civilians and communities, it is defensive in nature. But there are exceptions, and there are crazy people, and there are riots and armed standoffs. Apparently one of the worst situations is a confrontation with meth-cookers who can be heavily armed and high on drugs.

We want our police to be safe. They apply to do dangerous work, and train in how to deal with bad situations. Domestic disputes can elevate into something truly dangerous to everybody nearby.

The solution, as in most things, is communication. Show the vehicles and the equipment to the public. Kids would love to see an ex-military MRAP (Mine-resistant ambush-protected) vehicle. A community that understands why their department acquired such a vehicle, why the department thinks it necessary, and something about their training and goals.

Panic comes when police show up with unexpected and unnecessary force. Understanding defuses scary situations.

On the other hand, I don’t understand why the Agriculture Department needs a swat team armed with machine guns.



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.



How Do We Do a “No Confidence” Vote? by The Elephant's Child

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down on Thursday, and announced that he would not seek a third term. The administration considers this a diplomatic coup for the administration, which has worked behind the scenes in Baghdad for months to find a successor who could begin uniting Iraq’s ethnic and religious factions.

Ah, yes. “No victor, no vanquished” We mentioned that strategy. Now we will have a “more inclusive government.” A “negotiated settlement.” And who will bring the new Caliph to the table, and how many will get beheaded in the process?

The U.S. now faces the equally, if not more, difficult challenge of confronting the growing threat from Islamic State militants and promoting a functioning government in Baghdad. The increase in U.S. assistance isn’t expected to result in a major expansion of military operations in Iraq, though there could be selected increases.

Iraq’s parliament on Monday nominated Haider al-Abadi, another Shiite politician from Mr. Maliki’s al Dawa party, to be the next prime minister. He has 30 days to form a government.

U.S. officials said they are hopeful Mr. Abadi can do more to heal ties between Baghdad and Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish communities, which were badly strained during Mr. Maliki’s eight-year rule.

The military, and we have no idea how many of our people are there, are trying to make plans, but they have no authority nor intent to do much more than Obama’s very limited order. The Kurds are getting mortars and small arms. Drones destroyed 2 Islamic State armed vehicles. Experts on Iraq say any increased engagement by the U.S. will require a major makeover of the Iraqi military. Yes, images of ISIS herding long lines of captured soldiers into a ditch where they were then executed probably does have an effect on morale.

Inside the liberal bubble, everyone is really ready to go to the negotiating table.




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