American Elephants


Arrogance you can believe in… by The Elephant's Child

Obama’s world tour is becoming a little embarrassing. The candidate— not yet the nominee — is doing his commander-in-chief imitation, and loftily informing everyone how things will change as soon as he is anointed elected. Since he knows so little about the Middle East, one would think that he would approach generals, prime-ministers and commanders with a degree of humility, but that is not to be.

Foreign Policy 101: It is better to listen to experts than to expert to the experts.

The Democrat position on the War in Iraq evolved, not immediately after they voted for it, but after the successful invasion. It started to look like President Bush might have a winning war on his hands. A successful George W. Bush could not to be allowed. There was an election coming in 2004, and defeating Bush was far more important than what was best for our military or our country.

Democrats have been loud in their insistence that the “war” was only properly in Afghanistan and only properly in search of Osama bin Laden. Gone was any consideration of the Long War against Islamic Terrorism. Right down the memory hole. Historian Arthur Herman has a wonderful article reminding us all of the real facts on the ground.

Something Obama has apparently never done is to study a map of the Middle East. Looking closely at the centrality of Iraq and the states that border Iraq is important, and informative.

In the clip above, Obama, fully into his commander-in-chief mode, is making pronouncements that he, as a very junior senator, has no business making. He manages to claim “his job as commander-in-chief”, sneer at President Bush who “says” he is deferring to the commanders on the ground, and pretends to have better judgment than all of the above. And because he has better judgment, he deserves all the credit, or something like that.

Danger Will Robinson! Danger Will Robinson! Danger Will Robinson!

Obama’s sole claim to “good judgment” and the very basis of his candidacy is his original opposition to the war as a junior back bencher in the Illinois state legislature. Without any access to the facts that the President, his Cabinet and the Congress had, Obama signed on with the anti-war left and the netroots.

The facts about his judgment seem to indicate otherwise. He doesn’t change his mind as he alters his position. He remains absolutely correct.

And that is the real problem.



Brave New World indeed… by The Elephant's Child

The left, having discarded the “liberal” label, think of themselves as “progressives”. Yet much of what they have in mind for us is just plain old socialism. Americans, used to our freedoms and our bill of rights, seldom realize just how bad it can get.

It’s wise to keep an eye on Britain’s National Health Service as it slowly falls apart, for the Democrats are anxious to soak us with single-payer health insurance (socialized medicine). Canada is also a prime example of the folly of these government health insurance plans. No, it is not free medical care, it just pretends to be free.

Now comes an article from Britain’s Daily Mail that notes that there are over1,000 laws that will allow the state to invade your home. The Big Brother state, under the Labour government, has introduced nearly half of the 1,043 laws that give the authorities the power to enter a home or business. They give the state the right to:

•Invade your home to see if your potted plants have pests or do not have a ‘plant passport’ (Plant Health England Order 2005).

•Survey your home and garden to see if your hedge is too high (Anti -Social Behavior Act 2003).

•Check that accommodation given to asylum-seekers is not being lived in by non-asylum seekers (Immigration and Asylum Act 1999).

•Raid a house to check if unlicensed gambling is taking place (Gambling Act 2005 Inspection Regulations 2007).

•Seize refrigerators without the correct energy rating (Energy Information Household Refrigerators and Freezers Regulations 2004).

New powers set to be approved by Parliament include inspecting for non-human genetic material, for looted cultural property from Iraq and for “undeclared ” carbon dioxide, as well as enforcing bin tax.

Householders can be fined up to £5,000 if they refuse entry or ‘obstruct’ an official.

Is this our future?



In the Tank! by American Elephant

Once again The New York Times proves they are not in the news business, but rather the propaganda business. The erstwhile “paper of record”, now known more for the wanton publication of national security secrets than objective reporting, has rejected John McCain’s response to Barack Obama’s Op-Ed which America’s answer to Pravda ran last week.

It’s no wonder then, that an increasing number of Americans believe the mainstream media are trying to influence the election in Obama’s favor. Forty-nine percent believe journalists are trying to throw the election to Obama — and this is before news of the NYT’s shenanigans — while only 14 percent of the most deranged leftists thought the media would try to help McCain, and only one in four voters thought the media would play fair.

In defense of his decision, the NYT’s Op-Ed Editor, former Special Assistant and Senior Speechwriter to Bill Clinton, David Shipley, wrote:

Thank you for sending me Senator McCain’s essay.

I’d be very eager to publish the Senator on the Op-Ed page.

However, I’m not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.

…It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate.

But setting “timetables” and announcing “troop levels” are two of the major disagreements McCain, and the military leaders in Iraq, have with Obama’s Iraq policy du jour. In other words, Shipley wants McCain to endorse Obama’s current plan.

Thankfully, McCain told The Times to go to hell, although, to our disappointment, not in so many words.

So, since the Rag of Record, The Obama Times, The Old Grey Leftist, won’t publish it, we are proud to. Here is John McCain’s Op-Ed in full:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

If you haven’t already, you can cancel your subscription to The New York Times here, or by calling 1-800-NYTIMES.



Tacky tricks and Democrat disinformation… by The Elephant's Child

Oh dear. The Democrat Disinformation Department had another meeting, and apparently sent out a memo. A specific word has been injected into the campaign chatter.

Jim Geraghty at the Campaign Spot at National Review Online spotted an interesting pattern:

Barack Obama, appearing on Larry King Live : “Where Senator McCain I think is confused is the difference between tactics and strategy.”

Joe Biden, the same day on a campaign conference call” “As a consequence of their profound confusion [Bush and McCain] make profound mistakes.”

The liberal blog The Carpetbagger Report uses the word “confused” in almost every post about McCain.

Think Progress does exactly the same.

AmericaBlog uses the words “McCain and confused” together 108 times.

Obama surrogate John Kerry, on a conference call on June 11; “McCain confuses who Iran is training, he confuses what the makeup of al Qaeda is, he confuses the history going back to 68 of what has happened to Sunni and Shia”, Kerry said.

On the same call, Obama adviser Susan Rice cited a “pattern of confusing the basic facts and reality that pertain to Iraq.”

If you remember, Wesley Clark embarrassed everyone by sneering at John McCain’s military service. W.Va. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV said that McCain was a fighter pilot who fired missiles and didn’t care where they landed or who they hit. Obama surrogate Rand Beers said that since McCain was in prison camp he didn’t really know anything about the Vietnam War, Ed Schultz called McCain a “warmonger”. Tom Harkin claimed that McCain’s coming from a military culture was dangerous, and that McCain had a hard time thinking beyond that. After public response, they had to drop that avenue of attack.

This all seems to belong to the “throw it up against the wall and see what sticks” method of campaigning. Try anything, and if it doesn’t work drop it down the memory hole.

The “confused” theme seems a particularly tacky approach. Obama has neither the character nor the experience to be attacking his opponent on that basis.

John McCain’s own story of what it was like to be a POW in North Vietnam, published in U.S. News in 1973 is available here in 9 parts, and is well worth reading in this election year.

John McCain has never claimed that his military service alone qualified him to run for the presidency. It does, however, give great credence to his character. But as John Hawkins of Right Wing News said:”If the willingness to fight for your country, put your life on the line and suffer the brutality that John McCain suffered as a POW doesn’t make the cut as far as qualifications go, how far below that does a “community organizer” show up on the list of non-qualifications?”



Not exactly a foreign policy you can believe in… by The Elephant's Child

There’s a perennially popular genre of literature which might be called “Kids Say the Darnedest Things”. Small children, in all innocence, give charming answers to questions because they know so little.

Another version is based on the answers that college students write on exam questions. These are more often hilarious in their utter stupidity. The entire genre is based on the fact that we, as educated adults, know the subject well, and they, groping for an answer to a question on which they are poorly informed, make silly mistakes. It is usually enough to remind any adult that a simple “I don’t know” is a wise answer.

There are degrees of knowing about any subject ranging from superficial to mastery, and those who reach true mastery recognize that there is always more to learn. But as the old saying goes: “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.

Which brings me to Barack Obama’s op-ed in the New York Times.

The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

Must have seemed like a gift when some news reports claimed that Maliki had called for a timetable for removal of American troops. Obama’s insistence on removing troops was becoming increasingly untenable. He’d just removed all his previous statements on the surge from his website, assuming that voters were unfamiliar with Google.

Unfortunately, that’s not what Maliki said.

The BBC reports that in an audio recording of his speech he did not use the word “withdrawal”. Elections are coming, and Maliki’s speech was directed to that audience. Some Iraqis are anxious for us to leave: Some are fearful that we will not be patient enough with them to allow them enough time to learn how to be a democracy. A US official close to the talks with the Iraqi government said “the troops will leave when the Iraqis are ready to take over. …It is politics — how you package it, how you sell it to your people. They want our support, but they also want to show that there’s progress towards sovereignty.” Obama goes on:

Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.

But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office.I would give the military a new mission; ending this war.

Sigh. If Obama had been paying attention and keeping informed, he would be aware of the recommended force reductions and mission shift broadcast by General Petraeus during his testimony to Congress in September of 2007. And he might be aware that all of the important benchmarks have been met.

In San Diego, Obama argued that “just because Sen. John McCain had made multiple visits to Iraq, that does not mean that he has the correct perspective on the region”. Well, at least McCain is well informed.

Obama also remarked earlier that he knew more about foreign policy than Senator McCain or George W. Bush because he had lived in Indonesia (from age 6 to age 10).

Obama is still trying to validate his big moment when he opposed the Iraq War while he was still in the Illinois legislature, which endears him to the anti-war crowd. He didn’t understand the reasons for going into Iraq. He didn’t understand the reasons for the surge. He doesn’t grasp the nature of Islamic jihad. And he has apparently never studied a map of the region. Along with announcing how many brigades he’s going to move around, he’s now attempting to push the tired old Democrat spin that the real war is only in Afghanistan in pursuit of bin Laden.

I find this endlessly fascinating. How do the Democrats do it? Do they all get together in a meeting and someone says — “I know, let’s say that the war isn’t in Iraq, that we’re really supposed to be chasing Osama in Afghanistan. I’ll bet we can get away with that.” Or perhaps they get a memo from MoveOn.org with the talking points, which they circulate, because they all say the same thing in the same words. Do they have rehearsals?

And how do they all manage to forget the same things at the same time?

Obama is going to great lengths to appear “presidential”. There are the sets designed to look like a presidential press conference, the array of flags in photographs, and of course, his “presidential seal” (quickly disposed of when it evoked more humor than awe). There’s the decision to deliver his acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver rather than at the convention site. Obama says he wants to give the common folk more “access” to the process. Uh huh. Visions of Leni Riefenstahl.  Do you think there will be torches?

And then a demand to give a speech at the Brandenburg Gate like Presidents Kennedy and Reagan (he might wait until he’s actually a president, and it is usual for those things to be arranged quietly behind the scenes). German officials were not too keen on allowing their historic spot to be used as a prop for a candidate. It puts the German government in the awkward position of appearing to favor one candidate.

Obama’s now backed off on that, but seems unaware of the foreign policy gaffes he is making, or the problems he is creating. The rewriting of NAFTA created big problems with Mexico and Canada, opposing a free trade agreement with Columbia, invading Pakistan, the embarrassing Jerusalem gaffe all presented foreign policy problems that had to be soothed. And his pronouncements on getting out of Iraq aren’t going down too well in Europe.

On his upcoming trip abroad, he is making it clear that he isn’t going to Iraq or Afghanistan to learn, but to enhance his image. It’s (as usual) all about him. With a crew of star liberal TV anchors along to interview him at significant sites (looking presidential) he expects to raise his foreign policy qualifications. Oh, so that’s how it’s done.

Let me be clear. People may differ on the war. People may be opposed to the war, but if they are going to make pronouncements about the war, then they need to know what they are talking about. For Obama, this is a problem, and it is a problem for America. He does say the darnedest things, but it’s not funny.



Hey America! How much more convincing do you need? by Emerald City Elephant

Democrats WON’T ALLOW more drilling

…because they DON’T WANT you to be able to afford gas!!!

If you want affordable transportation any time this decade, or next — if you want electricity to remain affordable — you damn well better vote Republican this fall. They are the only party that is in favor of increasing all our domestic energy supplies.



It’s just as effective as Kyoto! by Emerald City Elephant

Without the economic devastation!



Oh yeah, this is gonna be a fair election… by Emerald City Elephant

yeah, right. They’re not even trying.



Two parts water, one part pee by American Elephant
July 17, 2008, 5:46 am
Filed under: Humor | Tags: , ,

No way are you getting me in a pool with this many little kids, no matter how much chlorine you put in it!



Is The Iraq War Over? by The Elephant's Child

From Michael Yon, outstanding correspondent:

The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What’s left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it’s time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over.

From Abe Greenwald, at Commentary’s blog, Contentions:

The corkscrew landing is a rite of passage for travelers to Iraq, who feel the pull of gravity as their airplane make a rapid, spiraling descent to avoid ground fire.

So it was a surprise to one periodic visitor last week when the Royal Jordanian Airlines aircraft from Amman descended into Baghdad International Airport with the same lack of drama as any commuter flight anywhere. No sudden plunge, no tight rotation, no straightening out the flight path just before the runway.

It didn’t feel like flying into a war zone anymore.

And another example:

Alcohol is openly for sale once more in Baghdad. All over the Iraqi capital, drink stores, which closed their doors in early 2006 when sectarian strife was raging, have slowly begin to reopen. Two years ago, al-Qa’ida militants were burning down liquor stores and shooting their owners. Now around Saadoun Street, in the centre of the city, at least 50 stores are advertising that they have alcohol for sale.

The fear of being seen drinking in public is also subsiding.,. Young men openly drink beer in some, if not all, streets. A favourite spot where drinkers traditionally gathered is al-Jadriya bridge, which has fine views up and down the Tigris river. Two years ago even serious drunks decided that boozing on the bridge was too dangerous. But in the past three months they have returned, a sign that militant gunmen no longer decide what people in Baghdad do at night.

An excerpt from a correspondent on active duty in Iraq on David Frum’s Diary at NRO:

Best experience of my life, even for the days when I was praying pretty hard.

Have a lot of folks over here that, believe me, will, I think, remember the US the way that (the immediate) post-war Germans and French remembered us.

Hope so, anyway. They’re good people. Been through quite a bit (understatement of the last three decades). Still, trying to work things out and I think (hope) they can and will.

Anecdotal, but indicative.



YES WE CAN Drill our way out of high gas prices! by American Elephant

Contrary to Barack Obama’s and Democrats’ mantra that “we can’t drill our way out” of high gas prices, one day after President Bush announced that he was rescinding the executive order that prohibited drilling off America’s coasts, the price of oil experienced its biggest decline in 17 years, at one point plummeting more than $10 off the day’s high to settle $6.44 lower.

And that’s with the full knowledge that no drilling can begin until congress also lifts restrictions. Imagine how much the price will decline when that happens, let alone when oil starts flowing.

Nancy Pelosi accidentally conceded last week that Republicans have been right all along when she demanded the president open the strategic oil reserves to reduce the price of oil. An unwitting admission that increasing supply lowers cost.

Democrats: wrong on oil, wrong on energy, wrong on the economy. Pay close enough attention and you’ll soon discover that Democrats are wrong on almost everything.



History. by The Elephant's Child

I want to talk a little about history. Daniel Boorstin in his book Hidden History, clarifies things for us. Historians learn about the past through what he calls “the bias of survival”. His first example is his search, in an effort to better understand religion in colonial New England, for a copy of The New England Primer. It first appeared in 1690, and was the basic vehicle of religious instruction as well as the main text of compulsory education in Massachusetts. It was the best selling New England schoolbook, and sold some 3 million copies. Mr. Boorstin went in search of an original copy, but couldn’t find one. He found many volumes of Puritan theology and sermons in pristine condition in rare-book rooms of university libraries, often with uncut pages.

He also calls this “the law of the survival of the unread.” That which is heavily used in daily life is not apt to survive, and we are left with things that were valued, but unused. This applies to things as well as to reading material. That which is “collected and protected” survives, that which is used daily does not. Historians at Colonial Williamsburg feel that they originally had too much of a bias towards the protected, and may have lost much of the reality of everyday life.

What goes in government files survives, but the records of informal groups do not. Objects that have a high intrinsic value survive. The “academically classifiable and the dignified” survive. The history of “materials surrounding controversies” survives. The temperance movement has left a vast literature, but we know little about what and how much earlier Americans drank.

Boorstin also mentions the “survival of the self-serving: the psychopathology of diarists and letter writers”. The troubled may write volumes about their angst, while happy people are too busy to write at all. There is a bias towards success, a “survival of the victorious point of view”.

History may change suddenly, with new access, new discoveries, as for example, the opening of the Soviet archives. A new ability to interview participants on both sides has changed the history of the Vietnam War. Is the history of today changing as people communicate by telephone and e-mail instead of letters? Is our history to be told by today’s movies and newspapers? Most of us don’t think that is reality.

We look at the happenings of the past with today’s eyes. How absurd to think that the people of today should apologize for things that happened in the distant past. The past is. It happened. Nothing that we think, say or do will change the past. We may learn more about what happened, but what did happen is fixed and unchangeable.

We need, however, to learn as much about the past as we can. Knowing about the past helps us to do the right thing in the present, and a lack of knowledge may lead us to foolish mistakes.

What we learn about the past may change our ideas of what is right or wrong in the present, but our ideas about what is right or wrong about what was done in the past are irrelevant. Any effect that we have on the future is out of our control. We are responsible only for ourselves in this brief moment of time that is ours.

We cannot predict the future. Time is not a smooth highway stretching out into tomorrow. It’s more like a river with boulders and rapids, eddies, and side streams adding to the flow as it rushes on.




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