American Elephants


Federal Law Enforcement by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)



Two Botched Attempts Don’t Mean Terrorism is Not Serious. by The Elephant's Child

In almost six months, there have been two unsuccessful attacks on American soil,  the Detroit Christmas Day bombing, and last  Saturday’s  Times Square attempted bombing.  Warnings were ignored, facts were not put together.

Our first line of defense is the Visa Security Program which puts Homeland Security officers at U.S. Consulate offices to perform background checks on visa applicants.  To date, the Administration has only deployed officers at 14 high risk countries, out of 57 likely candidates.

Jurisdictional disputes between the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security have interfered with the process.  James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation emphasizes that “visas …are part of a layered national security system for fighting transnational terrorism.” Effective management of visas and passports has a vital role to play.

Obama is planning to freeze the program’s budget for fiscal 2011.  It’s hard to avoid the idea that the administration does not take terrorism very seriously.  There is a constant attempt to over-reassure, and play down the attacks that have taken place. It would seem that this is part of Obama’s efforts to reach out to Muslim countries in hopes of — successful talks someday?

Senators Lieberman and Collins are considering suing the administration to get information about why the signs of Major Nidal Hassan’s increasing radicalism were ignored or sloughed off. Shahzad was dismissed as an amateur, dismissed as a one-off attempt by a lone wolf angry about health care, and Abdulmutallab was given a visa in spite of warnings from his own father that he was dangerous. And at that, because his attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit failed, it was again sloughed off as unimportant. The terrorist attempt in Times Square is referred to on the White House website as “The Times Square Incident.” Another ‘Man-Caused” Event?

We just have different priorities.  Will they change before there is another successful attack?



Guess Who is Keeping the Border Patrol from Doing Their Job? by The Elephant's Child

On March 27, Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was murdered by an unknown gunman who entered and exited the U.S. illegally in an area where border agents are widely prohibited from using motorized vehicles, constructing roads or installing surveillance structures.

Four Republican congressmen introduced legislation on Wednesday that bans the Interior Department from using environmental regulation to forestall Border Patrol access.  The congressmen say that their bill will address environmental degradation of federal lands and help to close national security gaps along the border.

Securing the borders against illegal entry is a matter of national security, and the illegals who cross the border do considerable damage to the environment as has been shown on videos of the area. Internal documents show that the Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service have actively prevented Border Patrol agents from securing U.S. borders by requiring Department of Homeland Security officials to complete lengthy environmental analyses, and even blocking agents from entering some areas.

And DHS has paid  the Department of the Interior more than $9 million since 2007 to “mitigate the environmental damage” of protecting the border.  That would be the areas where the Border Patrol is restricted from using motorized vehicles, building roads or installing surveillance.  A 2009 memorandum of agreement agrees that DHS will pay DOI an additional $50 million for mitigation funds, but DOI officials have not revealed how those funds will be used.

This is typical of Big Government.  Congress has passed their regulatory tasks off to governmental agencies, and the right hand seldom knows what the left hand is doing.  Not that Congress does a good job of regulation, but at least there is some oversight, and they are responsible ultimately to the voters.  But government money is easily shuffled around.   If we could track the useless and unnecessary expenditures, hold a lot of official feet to the fire, perhaps tax day wouldn’t be so painful.



Yoo Hoo, Secretary Napolitano! by The Elephant's Child

Authorities are searching for 270 Somalis believed to have illegally entered the United States with help from a Virginia man who admitted contacts with an Islamic terrorist group.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Thomas Eyre testified in a hearing in Alexandria’s federal court, that authorities are “concerned” about Anthony Joseph Tracy’s connections to the group.  According to an affidavit filed with the court, Mr. Tracy told authorities that he came in contact with the Somali terrorist organization Al-Shabaab, which announced an alliance with al Qaeda earlier this year.  Tracy has been held without bail.

Tracy’s emails, combined with information on Facebook, show that the Somalis have spread across the country and are living in New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota and Arizona. They are believed to have made a complex trip from Kenya to Dubai to Moscow to Cuba to South America to Mexico and then across the U.S. Mexico border.

Well, they got the guy who provided fraudulent information for the travel visas, but the 270 Somalis are missing.  You know that fence on the U.S./ Mexico border that they were going to build?  I wonder  how many jobs that would provide?

According to this website, the State Department has admitted 83,991 Somali Muslims in the last 25 years, and had to suspend family reunification because DNA testing revealed widespread immigration fraud.



Never Fear. The Secretary of Homeland Security is On the Case! by The Elephant's Child

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The American Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, says that her agency is working with groups across the United States to try to deflect any wave of anti-Muslim sentiment after Thursday’s dreadful massacre by U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim who reportedly expressed growing dismay over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is enlightening to see just what the Obama administration means by “homeland security.” Can’t offend anyone.  Don’t want any hurt feelings.



Why Do They Want Us To Spend Trillions on a Non-Existent Problem? by The Elephant's Child
July 6, 2009, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy | Tags: , ,

Sources_of_electricity_in_the_USA_2006

Do you have storms in your area that damage power lines and cause a widespread loss of power?  Then you are familiar with trying to stay warm, cooking on the barbecue, using candles for light, or perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who has a generator.  Nevertheless, you appreciate your electricity.  But do you know where it comes from?

Surprisingly, no one in congress or the administration does.  At least they must not, for their math simply does not add up.  If you cannot read this lovely pie chart, 48.9 % of our electricity comes from coal, 20% from natural gas, 19.3 % comes from nuclear, 7.1 % from hydroelectric plants, 1.6 % from petroleum and the little pinky-peach wedge represents wind, solar and geothermal.

The Waxman-Markey climate bill will punitively tax the energy sources that contribute 90 percent of our current American electricity in order to bet our future on the wedge that is able to produce only 2.4 percent of our electricity.  But we can do it. The conventional phrase is “if we can send a man to the moon we can…..

We have eleven whole years in which to build, install, and connect to the grid at least 180,000 turbines.  Each one of which requires a backup of conventional energy for the times when the wind does not blow, which is often.

And as for solar, not only is it far more expensive, suitable only in the Southwest, but perhaps you have noticed that the sun sinks beneath the horizon  at night, just when we need lighting.

This energy policy is built on a lie, or more accurately a whole bunch of lies.  The whole thing is conceived of as a way to stop the globe from warming, but it stopped warming in 2002.

It’s necessary to remove the CO2 that is causing global warming isn’t it?  CO2 is not the cause of global warming or climate change.  Reducing it is unnecessary and will cost trillions.

There are not, as yet, any large-scale, practical and cost-competitive replacements for fossil fuels.  If you punish fossil fuel use with either taxes or by capping how much energy is allowed to be used, you punish the economy.

When a country institutes cap-and-trade legislation unilaterally, it makes that country less competitive in the global economy.  Imports and trade deficits increase as prices at home rise, while companies or whole industries close and move abroad to countries where they can be more competitive.

And it is the citizen, the consumer, who pays for all of this, either in the form of higher prices or less availability, or less economic growth.  This shouldn’t be rocket science, but consequences are not of much interest to Democrats.  It’s still worth trying to figure out what the consequences will be.



What Should We Learn From 9/11? by The Elephant's Child

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of  Homeland Security, famously referred to terrorism with “nuance” as “a man-caused disaster.” If that wasn’t enough, she didn’t know how the 9/11 terrorists got into the country — she thought they came in from Canada, and Immigration is part of her department.  She added that crossing the border illegally is not a crime, which it is, and then approved an absolutely moronic intelligence assessment that warned of increased “radical right-wing extremism” including the recruitment of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Conservatives were justifiably insulted.

The “unbiased” media is now claiming that Secretary Napolitano was right.  Why just look at the past two weeks:

In the past two weeks, the country has seen the bombing of a Starbucks coffee shop in New York City, the arrest of four men for allegedly plotting to blow up synagogues and shoot down planes, the shooting of two soldiers at an Army recruitment center in Arkansas, the assassination of a doctor inside a Kansas church, and the shooting at the Holocaust Museum…. Although these are not all cases of right-wing extremism, each is an example of domestic terrorism.

What a grouping of odd people.  You have domestic Islamist jihadists,  a crackpot who murdered an abortion provider, and an 88 year old “9/11 Truther,” a neo-Nazi, who hates Bush, Cheney, the Neo-Cons and is a violent anti-Semite, and this is the fault of radical Right-Wing extremists?  The only connection is that many conservatives are opposed to abortion.  How crass of  Liberals to instantly think of how they can exploit these events to score cheap political points.

We have been confronting an international terrorist threat domestically for over 20 years when the World Trade Center bombers began training in the New York area in 1998.  This latest example of domestic jihadism is hardly the only domestic plot that has been exposed and prevented.

Democrats, for political purposes, have chosen to claim that there really never has been a terrorist threat, that it was only the actions of the evil BushCheneyRumsfeld that drove otherwise innocent young Muslim men into the arms and training camps of Osama bin Laden.  If these terrible men had not tried to scare you into voting Republican by threatening you with terrorism, then, well the terrorists would just vanish— poof!  Madrid, London, Bali?  The Cole?  The embassies?  Never mind.

But it’s all under control.  Jake Tapper (ABC) asked what would happen to the first terrorist to be tried in U.S. court were not found guilty?  Would he be released in the U.S.? Imprisoned anyway? Sent back to the battlefield?  Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he wasn’t going to get into hypotheticals.

The administration announced that it was sending four of the Uighurs to Bermuda.  Great Britain announced that Bermuda is a British protectorate, and nobody asked them, and they want to know exactly under what conditions and safeguards these people are being sent to Bermuda.  It was noted recently that the Uighurs at Guantanamo threw a television across the room because a woman on the screen bared her arms.  There are consequences to be considered.

The rest of the Uighurs are going to Palau in exchange for $200 million.



Guantanamo is Far More Complicated Than You Would Think. by The Elephant's Child

In his second day in office, Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within one year.  He had no idea what to do with the 241 inmates who are usually described as “the worst of the worst.” He is determined to close the facility because he believes that the world disapproves, and that closing it will somehow improve our image in the world.  He apparently feels that prisoners can be brought to the United States,  and prosecuted in the criminal justice system.

But as historian Arthur Herman explains in a brilliant  history of the facility:

Gitmo was never meant to be a prison where inmates were to serve sentences for crimes.  It was, in the words of a Defense Department document, a detention facility set up n order to prevent “enemy combatants from continuing the fight against the U.S. and its partners in the war on terror.”  Its goals were military and tactical, not juridicial or penal.  Still the conditions under which these unconventional prisoners were to be held did involve questions.

The Senate, alert to public opinion, and including the Democratic leadership and 99 of  its members,  refused to grant the President the $80 million he asked for to close the detention center, and stripped the requested funds from a war-spending bill.  Senate Leader Harry Reid said “Democrats under no circumstances will move forward without a comprehensive, responsible plan from the president.  We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States.”

The REAL ID Act of 2005 prohibits anyone connected to terrorist activity from entering and living in the United States.  (A bill that Obama voted for).  There are approximately 30 detainees who have been cleared for release from incarceration.  The administration is trying to find them a home.  European nations are reluctant to make any commitment unless President Obama also allows a number to live freely in the United States.

One federal district court judge has ruled that 17 Chinese Muslims be brought to Washington D.C. The judge cited no law or treaty to support his order.   The Uighurs have appealed to the Supreme Court, where it rests at present.

It is doubtful that it is legal to incarcerate detainees in the federal prison system without trial, or to put them in solitary confinement without trial in maximum security prisons.  Trials are a problem, because the prisoners  were meant to be detained, not tried.  As David Rivkin and Lee Casey point out:

Guantanamo has always been a symbol, rather than the substance, of complaints against America’s “war on terror.”  It’s the military character of the U.S. response to 9/11 that foreign and domestic critics won’t accept.

President Obama has made the naive assumption that the Bush administration did not consider  these problems when they opened the Gitmo detention center.  It was not decided on either lightly or without reservations, and there were efforts from the first to make sure that the facility was responsible and honorable.  The first ‘building’ was a trailer home for the representatives of the International Red Cross, who help inmates to write home.  Rivkin and Casey again:

Mr. Obama can still reverse his decision to close Guantanamo.  This would cost him significant political support among his base.  But making unpopular decisions to serve the national interest is a president’s duty and obligation.



This is Real Life, Not a Movie! by The Elephant's Child
May 30, 2009, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Law, Military, National Security, Politics | Tags: ,

The Obama administration is repeating the national security mistakes of the Clinton Administration.  Andy McCarthy, who prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombing and knows what he is talking about, writes at National Review Online:

On Thursday, Josh Meyer of the Los Angeles Times broke the story that the FBI is edging the CIA out of the business of fighting international terrorism.  Under the bureau”s “global justice initiative, Meyer reported that “FBI agents will have a central role in overseas counter-terrorism cases.  They will expand their questioning of suspects and evidence-gathering to try to ensure that criminal prosecutions are an option.”  Who needs a War on Terror, or even an “overseas contingency operation,” when all the world”s a crime scene?

If you’re thinking, “Hey, we’ve seen this movie before,” you”re right.  Slowly but surely, it’s September 10 again, a retreat into Clinton-era counterterrorism, when radical Islam prosecuted a war while we tried to prosecute radical Islam in court, playing cops-and-robbers while jihadists played for keeps.

Do read the whole article.  Dick Cheney was right.  The Obama administration is weak on national security, and our enemies have noticed.

The administration’s problem is an inability to recognize the difference between a criminal matter and a military matter.  They are not the same.  Obama is not much interested in foreign affairs, and it shows.  As Andy McCarthy says, “Yes, we’ve seen this movie before.  And we know how it ends.”



Once Again the Far Left is Hoist on their Own Petard! by The Elephant's Child

The headline in The New York Times reads : “US May Revive Military Courts at Guantanamo.”  Back before the inauguration of Barack Obama, President Bush held a meeting with former presidents and Barack Obama so that he could ask them anything he wanted and they could offer advice if it was solicited.  One offhand piece of advice suggested that President Obama look into the reasons behind the actions of the Bush administration before he made up his mind.  That bit of advice was apparently rejected.

Mark Steyn laughed, in The Corner at NRO, that “Any Day now, the new conventional wisdom will emerge: Obama has turned around Bush’s failed war on terror because he’s had the courage to do the tough things that, while not always attractive, are ruthlessly effective.”

Jules Crittenden snorted more loudly, and goes into a little more detailHot Air points out that the leak came on a Friday night, where awkward announcements and bad news sneaks out.  The Left, grasping for anything to discredit the Bush administration has tried mightily to discredit the War on Terror in general, and the Iraq War in particular. They tried to discredit the 9/11 attacks, downplay the idea of terrorism — only poor misunderstood souls, acting out their anger at being discriminated against — and in general, insinuate that there really was no terrorism, just something that the Bush administration had dreamed up to help get elected.

The prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, an ideal location for housing terrorist combatants, became a symbol of the White House’s intransigence in insisting that detainees did not qualify for the protections of the Geneva Conventions. The political left made Gitmo a symbol of the Bush White House’s alleged hostility to human and constitutional rights.

After years of demands from the left that Guantanamo be closed, Obama signed an executive order in his first week requiring the facility to be closed down within a year.  Never mind that visitors have continuously said that it is a model prison.  Never mind that the Obama administration has not the slightest idea what to do with prisoners who are ready to kill at the slightest opportunity.

They have cleared 17 Uighurs — Chinese Moslem radicals trained by al Qaeda— for release in the United States, and another 13 detainees, bringing the total up to 30. Well, not to worry, we will pay for welfare for them so they can more easily adapt to American life.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been in Europe asking European leaders for help in relocating Guantanamo detainees. Holder spoke before a select group of policy experts, academics and journalists (European leaders?) in a crowded room of about 100.

In answer to a question about Bush administration officials “decisions to authorize tough interrogation techniques”, Holder said he believed that many of them would, privately, admit to having made some mistakes in the pressure and worry that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I don’t suspect that would be true of Vice President Dick Cheney,” Holder added.

At another point, a questioner earnestly asked if those Guantanamo detainees who are believed to be innocent could be put in a hotel somewhere.

“Those detainees who are believed to be innocent.” Made me snort a little more loudly too.  This is not an easy problem, as the Obama administration is beginning to discover. It was after much searching and study that the facility at Gitmo was built in the first place.

Actions have consequences.  When you gin up a story about innocent terrorists and all the torture going on at Guantanamo for political advantage, sooner or later you have to face the solid block wall of reality.  A hotel with hot halal meals, white glove treatment of prisoners, Mecca pointed out so detainees can pray in the way prescribed by their religion and Islamic reading materials, will be expensive to build and where to put it? Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked Congress for $50 million to build a facility.  Who wants such a prison just down the road?

As Investors Business Daily said:

The Pentagon will have to build a facility for the detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay if their current housing is closed.  We know the perfect spot: a military prison in Cuba on a naval base called Gitmo.



The H1N1 flu strain by The Elephant's Child

The Swine, Mexican, H1N1 flu, will be relatively mild scientists say, according to genetic data, and won’t be as deadly as even the average winter flu. Scientists are working on a new vaccine, but it won’t be ready until around December.  Because of  Hillary Clinton’s insistence on removing the profit motive from vaccine manufacture, there is now only one company that makes vaccines in the United States.

The World Health Organization says that only 7 8 people worldwide have died from the H1N1 flu.

Janet Napolitano warned youngsters released from schools closed in fear of the flu, that school closure didn’t mean they should go the the mall, but that they should stay home.

Somebody or other announced that the flu was caused by a virus — as the flu always is — and you cannot get it by eating pork chops or bacon.

According to the media, this flu is closely related to Seattle’s own winter storm watches.  All panic, few flakes.



A few insights from Obama’s press conference. by The Elephant's Child

In his televised press conference last night, celebrating his first 100 days, President Barack Obama claimed that his $787 billion deficit spending stimulus package “has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs.”  It’s just that nobody can figure out where these saved or created new jobs are, and a lot of policy wonks are trying to figure it out.

“This crisis is neither the result of a normal turn of the business cycle nor an accident of history.  We arrived at this point as a result of an era of profound irresponsibility that engulfed both  private and public institutions from some of our largest companies’ executive suites to the seats of power in Washington D.C.”

Well, no. This crisis is the result of regulations put in place by Congressional Democrats, and of Democrats refusal to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While we have inherited record budget deficits and needed to pass a massive recovery and reinvestment plan to try to jump-start our economy out of recession, we cannot lose sight of the long-run challenges that our country faces and that threaten our economic health…”

Well, guess what happened while our attention was diverted by the debate about torture?  Congress passed an enormous budget without a single Republican vote. The graph below shows the ” inherited deficits,” and estimates of Obama’s spending.

wapoobamabudget11

“We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals, by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and banning torture without exception.”

And where did the detainees go?  Obama also acknowledges that the harsh interrogation techniques he has banned might have yielded useful information.

“I don’t think we should micromanage.”

This is what the President says about the automobile companies after describing just how he plans to micromanage the automobile companies.

“We have to lay a new foundation for growth.”

The Treasury Department announced yesterday that it is going to step up the issuing of 30-year bonds to cover the hundreds of billion of dollars the Obama administration is spending on bailouts, budget and stimulus.   An advisory committee warned that domestic and foreign investors are going to demand significantly higher interest rates in exchange for buying the vast number of new bonds.  Higher interest rates will strangle the economic recovery.

At the Reason Foundation, economist Jeffrey Miron explains the financial crisis, and why we would have been better off to have done nothing at all.




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