American Elephants


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

Caliph IbrahimII

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.

biblicaliraq



A Free American Republic versus “The Chicago Way” by The Elephant's Child

Even those of us who have never been to Chicago or the state of Illinois are somewhat aware of the reputation of the Chicago Daley machine. My next-door neighbors came from Illinois, and they had tales about corruption that goes way back. Governments aren’t perfect and politics attracts people whose first and most important interest is in getting elected and reelected. The current recession and slow recovery have exposed the seamy side of corrupt governments as never before. You can ignore a little special dealing and corruption if it results in strong economic growth and low unemployment.

The Wall Street Journal named Chicago as the fifth most heavily taxed city in the country. Its sales tax of 9.75 percent is especially onerous for low-income families. Richard M. Daley took office in 1991, and turned the reins over to Rahm Emanuel in 2011. In that time the average debt for a citizen of Chicago grew from $600 to $2,600, an increase of 433 percent. Since 2007, the Chicago region has lost more jobs than Detroit has, and twice as many as New York. The teacher’s union sneered at Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to curb their power and went on strike anyway. The murder rate in Chicago makes headlines almost every day.

Barack Obama was cool, and Journalists caught by his charm, assumed that he had “somehow passed through Chicago politics without ever developing any real connection to it.” John Fund summed up the situation:

The Daley machine, which evolved over 60 years from a patronage-rich army of worker bees into a corporate state in which political pull and public-employee unions dominate, has left its imprint on Obama. The machine’s core principle, laid out in an illuminating Chicago Independent Examiner primer on “the Chicago Way,” is that at all times elections are too important to be left to chance.

Obama came to Washington with guides David Axelrod who was the chief consultant to Richard M. Daley, and Valerie Jarrett, the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff. More from John: Fund

Conservatives in Chicago, an embattled breed, say the Obama scandals now coming to light — the IRS, the intimidation of journalists, the green-energy boondoggles such as Solyndra — could have been anticipated. “The 2008 Obama campaign perpetrated a fraud that he was a reformer,” says Chris Robling, a former journalist who has served as a Republican election commissioner. “All of the complaints — from the lack of transparency to HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s shaking down corporations to promote Obamacare — stem from the culture of the Daley Machine.” For decades, Robling says, Mayor Daley “encouraged” contributions to his favorite charities, with the implicit understanding that the “encourager” controlled the city’s inspectors and regulators. “That sounds an awful lot like what Sebelius was doing to prop up Obamacare,” Robling notes. “Obama’s ideology may come from Saul Alinsky’s acolytes, but his political tactics come straight from the Daley playbook.” Indeed, friends of Bill Daley, Mayor Daley’s brother, say that one reason Bill left his post as Obama’s White House chief of staff after only one year was that even he thought Team Obama was too much “all politics, all of the time” and not enough about governance.

The Windy City and its notorious political history are once again in the national spotlight. It’s not a pretty picture, but its characteristics are laid out in a devastating list by the Chicago Examiner. A key to current events and what to expect.



Here’s The Common Thread In The Scandals by The Elephant's Child

Professor John Yoo has identified the common thread in the major Obama administration scandals:

Add up all the recent scandals and the message is clear: the Obama administration is showing that it cannot be trusted with the basic functions of government: law enforcement (surveillance of reporters), taxation (IRS scandals), and national security (Benghazi).

The next problem to demand attention is the Immigration system, which is clearly broken. We have no control of our borders. We have an estimated eleven million illegal aliens in the country. Our traditional ways of assimilating new immigrants is broken. They are not assimilating.

The Obama administration cannot be trusted with overseeing that function. The president has decided by executive order that he will not seek the deportation of young illegal  immigrants. Actually it’s worse than that. He has ordered ICE and the border patrol to release any new illegals crossing the border,  under the age of 31. ICE agents are suing Homeland Security,  Secretary Napolitano and the President because they are ordered not to do what the law requires them to do.



Worse Than Carelessness. Needless, Heartbreaking and Just Wrong by The Elephant's Child

U.S. and NATO troops have fallen to attacks by Afghan insiders— trainees or  Afghan police — in increasing numbers.   The troop deaths from so-called green-on-blue attacks have climbed past 100, and it is only now becoming clear why it is happening. There has been a standing order from military brass requiring troops to remove the magazines from their weapons while quartered inside their bases with their “trusted Afghan partners.”

Jihadist Afghan soldiers or police have easily gotten the jump on their trainers, shooting them in cold blood with the rifles and ammunition issued by the United States. Ten of our troops have died in just this way in the past two weeks.  Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 32 attacks that have resulted in 40 deaths.  Last year there were 21 insider attacks.

Earlier this month, an Afghan security commander ambushed U.S. troops. The officer, who was helping U.S. special forces train the local police force, lured elite U.S. soldiers to a Ramadan meal at his outpost to talk security. He then opened fire on them at close range, killing three and wounding one.

The Taliban took credit for the attack. The terror group released a video indicating it has heavily infiltrated the Afghan national army and police force.

“I opened fire on three Americans who were sitting together,” a rogue Afghan soldier, identified as Ghazi Mahmood, says while smiling for the camera. “The reason I killed them is because they have occupied our country. They are enemies of our religion.” He said that there are many other uniformed Afghans “looking for the opportunity to kill infidels.”

This was conceived as a “gesture of trust” toward Muslim partners.  Commanders ordered U.S. soldiers to remover their magazines from their weapons while training and working alongside them. The Afghans were allowed to remain armed. Most troops generally removed their heavy Kevlar body armor once they got inside the base, making them even more vulnerable to “friendly fire.”

Investors says:

Disarming the Afghans would have been the obvious solution. But of course that would expose this whole “training partnership” as the farce it really is. Training and standing up a national security force in Afghanistan is the linchpin of President Obama’s withdrawal strategy. He has set a 2014 deadline for troop pullout.

But the Pentagon is already reducing troop presence by 30,000 by the end of the summer. Many of the remaining soldiers will switch from fighting to training and advising Afghan forces. This means even more of them will be exposed to insider attacks.

But we’re not just training Afghans to replace soldiers. We’re hiring them to protect our soldiers right now, and many of them have also turned on our soldiers. Obama has insisted on using Afghan security guards for base security as a way to limit the size of the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan.  Hiring local Afghans to protect troops obviates the need to deploy some 20,000 additional troops as MPs, or to move existing troops out of combat roles.

Obama’s rush to withdraw has needlessly cost at least 100 soldiers’ lives and wounded countless others.



Please! Stop Embarrassing Us! by The Elephant's Child

Mitt Romney was just in Israel, and in a speech said he was happy to be in the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem. This is notable because Jay Carney, hapless press secretary, twisted himself into knots recently to avoid admitting that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. A witless representative of the State Department actually said that it was to be determined by negotiation. Just stop it. You are embarrassing us.

Israel is a sovereign state. Jerusalem is not only its historic capital, Israel says that Jerusalem is its capital.  They are the only ones who get to decide. It’s their country.

The United States does not get to decide what is the capital of Israel. Jay Carney does not get to decide. President Barack Obama does not get to decide. Secretary of State  Hillary Clinton does not get to decide, and the witless State Department woman does not get to decide. And stateless Palestinians don’t get to decide. If they can stop shooting rockets and trying to kill people, they might someday get their own state.

Washington DC is the capital of the United States. If the Congress of the United States should decide, with the approval of the people, that we should move the capital to Plato, Missouri (which is the population center of the country) — then that would be the capital — but for the present, it remains in Washington DC, where Congress decided to put it, back in July, 1790.

It’s all really very simple.  Can we stop being stupid.



Obama is “Outraged,” but the Scandal is Outrageous.. by The Elephant's Child

Security leaks and the moles who made them, burrowed deep in our most secret departments, are the stuff of thrillers. How to discover the mole and prove his responsibility and to whom he gave our secrets —more than one novel has been based on just such a plot.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seeking asylum in Ecuador trying to avoid trial and prison.  He thought that publishing government secrets would — what? Make him rich? Reform Governments? Some think that governments should not have secrets, that public exposure would make governments more honest.

This is nonsense. The world is a dangerous place and governments are charged with protecting their people. The imperfections and failings of the human race are readily found in the daily news. Of course governments must have secrets. and those who reveal secrets  face harsh punishment.

Imagine an organization that has serially leaked the nation’s most carefully protected secrets — exposing intelligence sources, methods, and sharing classified information with the press that puts real lives at risk. Victor Davis Hanson details the scandal:

What I call “Securitygate” — the release of the most intricate details about the cyber war against Iran, the revelations about a Yemeni double-agent, disclosures about covert operations in and against Pakistan, intimate details about the Osama bin Laden raid and the trove of information taken from his compound, and the Predator drone assassination list and the president’s methodology in selecting targets — is far more serious than either prior scandal. David Sanger and others claim that all this was sort of in the public domain anyway; well, “sort of” covers a lot of ground. We sort of knew about the cyber war against Iran, but not to the detail that Sanger provides and not through the direct agency of the Obama administration itself.

Here is the crux of the scandal: Obama is formulating a new policy of avoiding overt unpopular engagements, while waging an unprecedented covert war across the world. He’s afraid that the American people do not fully appreciate these once-secret efforts and might in 2012 look only at his mishaps in Afghanistan or his public confusion over Islamic terror. Ergo, feed information to a Sanger or Ignatius so that they can skillfully inform us, albeit with a bit of dramatic “shock” and “surprise,” just how tough, brutal, and deadly Barack Obama really is.

Yet these disclosures will endanger our national security, especially in the case of a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. They will probably get people killed or tortured, and they will weaken America’s ability for years to work covertly with allies. Our state-to-state relations will be altered, and perhaps even the techniques and technology of our cyber and special operations wars dispersed into the wrong hands.

The whole world now knows about U.S. covert actions against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The cyber-attacks could be called an act of war. The revelations about the nature of the cyber-attack on Iran was so detailed and technique so explicit that Iran will know better how to defend itself, and how to use the information to encourage more terror against the United States. The doctor who helped to locate bin Laden has been sentenced to 33 years in Pakistani prison. A Saudi double agent who helped us in Yemen has been outed.  Why would our allies trust us with any information? Why would small nations dare to help us if we cannot keep secrets?

These weren’t quite “leaks,” but rather information freely given to the press to make Obama look stronger and more decisive in his foreign policy. It is completely clear that these “leaks” originated in the White House. The story in the New York Times cites members of the national security team who were in the Situation Room and quote the president. The White House is accused of leaking classified information to make the president look good in an election year.

Eric Holder, Attorney General has appointed a U.S attorney, Ronald Machen, who gave thousands of dollars to Obama’s first senate race and his presidential campaign, helped vet candidates for the vice presidential nomination and in a profile in the Washington Post, called Obama a “legend.”

Not the way to inspire confidence in an investigation.

 



The Obama Administration Announces Their Plan to Indoctrinate Your Kids. by The Elephant's Child

There is much conversation on the web about the “Education Bubble.” Even as President Obama expresses his aim of wanting every American kid to go to college, others want to get the federal government out of the education business. Democrats, as usual, think that all those bright people in Washington D.C. know way more about how to educate your children than you do.

Whenever there is an international comparison of education and kids abilities at math and science in particular, there are cries to reform education.  Our kids do not measure up well in math and science. They don’t measure up well in history, geography, economics or writing ability either. That information does not come from international tests, but from complaints about college freshmen by professors. Colleges and universities have to do a lot of remedial education to bring entering students up to college level.

Homeschooling is increasing every year.  Estimates of how many homeschooled students there are give a high of 1,739,000 and an average of 1.508,000.  Studies show that home schooled students do better on standardized tests, better in college, and post-college they are more involved with their community and generally happier.

It is not surprising that most of the animus towards homeschooling comes from the teachers’ unions. Much of the animus toward public schools concerns the quality of the academic environment. The Left has long regarded children as blank slates who must be trained to be good members of society.  The Right is inclined to oppose indoctrination.

Which brings me to today’s headline: “Obama Administration to Honor “Green” Schools That Teach “Environmental Literacy.” If schools were doing a decent job of teaching basic science, there would be no need for “environmental literacy.”

Next year, on Earth Day, the Obama administration will announce which schools have been selected as “Green Ribbon Schools.” Details of this indoctrination have not yet been worked out, but it will recognize schools for “engaging students on environmental issues and producing environmentally literate students, increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy technologies,” as well as “creating healthy learning environments by addressing environmental issues in the schools.”

Time to homeschool, people.

Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was created ostensibly to improve Chicago’s public schools. The funding came from a national education initiative by Ambassador Walter Annenberg. In early 1995, Mr. Obama was appointed the first chairman of the board, which handled fiscal matters. Mr. Ayers co-chaired the foundation’s other key body, the “Collaborative,” which shaped education policy. ,,,

The CAC’s agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers’s educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland’s ghetto. …

Mr. Ayers is the founder of the “small schools” movement (heavily funded by CAC), in which individual schools built around specific political themes push students to “confront issues of inequity, war, and violence.” He believes teacher education programs should serve as “sites of resistance” to an oppressive system. (His teacher-training programs were also CAC funded.) The point, says Mr. Ayers in his “Teaching Toward Freedom,” is to “teach against oppression,” against America’s history of evil and racism, thereby forcing social transformation.

By its own account, the Annenberg Challenge was a failure. There was no effect on student achievement, and the $100 million was largely wasted.

The Constitution does not give authority over education to the federal government. We really need to get the federal government out of the education business. The founders were remarkably sensible.




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