American Elephants

Arab Spring, Fall Foreign Policy Blunder. by The Elephant's Child

The “Arab Spring” was much celebrated by the Obama administration and the American media as an uprising of the Arab peoples living in the dictatorships of North Africa. Hope and change, freedom and democracy were, they were sure, in the wind.

If you remember, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor helped to start  what has become known as the Arab Spring, by an act of desperation by a young man whose efforts to eke out a living for his family were thwarted by government officials at every turn. He set himself on fire, for all to see, in a public square.

That act sparked a mass uprising in Tunisia, that quickly spread o Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria. So many spontaneous uprisings, at such a rapid pace.  Bouazizi’s self-immolation epitomized may Arab’s sense of helplessness and despair. Unorganized unhappiness and calls for leaders to “leave.” But in revolutions and uprisings, the organized are often prepared to take the opportunities that present themselves. And so it has been.

In Egypt, there was an 82-year-old dictator, 29 years in power, seeking another term while scheming to hand off power to his unpopular son. It was obvious that the Islamists would run away with the elections. And so they did, and we now have a bumper crop of Islamist regimes so radical that we’ll miss Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi. These are the results of the “democracy in the Middle East” that President Obama and the left managed with one of the worst foreign policy blunders in history.

Tens of thousands of Muslims rioted in Cairo’s Tahir Square last January, and the White House and the media spoke breathlessly of Western-style freedom blooming across the Arab desert. When skeptics cautioned that the Arab world has no history of democracy and radical Islamists would probably step in, the left sneered that they were bigots.

They ignored polls showing that large majorities of Egyptians were yearning for the chance to vote in Islamic law. Two-thirds wanted to get rid of Mubarak so they could have stonings of adulterers and beheadings of apostates — in Tahir Square.

Obama urged on the rioters and pressured Mubarak to step down. The Muslim Brotherhood got 60% of the vote, Mohamed Morsi was elected President, and promptly dismissed all the Generals of the Egyptian Army.

Now he has become guarantor of the cease fire between the Israelis and Gaza in a bizarre step, and on the strength of that granted himself broad powers above any court, declaring himself the guardian of Egypt’s revolution, and used his new powers to order the retrial of Hosni Mubarak. One Dictator gone to be replaced by another.

Opponents of President Mohamed Morsi were reported to have set fire to his party’s offices in several Egyptian cities in a spasm of protest after he claimed new powers. In Alexandria there were clashes between opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and his followers.

Mr. Morsi, a longstanding member of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood won Western plaudits only days ago for “brokering a cease-fire” to halt eight days of lethal exchanges between Israeli defense forces and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt is the most populous state in the Middle East, but poor. It cannot feed itself, but vast amounts of American aid seem to help. Their most important industry is tourism, which is not flourishing in the face of immanent uprisings at any moment.  Yet you have Islamists so radical that they want to tear down and destroy the pyramids as blasphemous, which are the nations only significant source of income. Stonings and beheadings in Tahir Square will probably not go over as tourist attractions.

I’m not sure that either Susan Rice nor John Kerry are up to the job.


Ten Sci-Fi Weapons That Actually Exist Now. by The Elephant's Child

Those little green or brown plastic army men become more outdated every day. The look of things is changing, the gear looks like it came out of some science fiction adventure. This article from Wired pictures ten weapons from a very real sci-fi arsenal. Laser weapons, robots, sonic blasters and puke rays — all real, and some have already made it to the battlefield. These futuristic weapons are being tested today. Veterans won’t recognize the battlefield. The field of weapons is always changing. It’s been a long time since Kentucky long rifles, muzzle loaders and powder horns, and the descendants of the Gatling gun are unrecognizable. Time marches on.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Are You Wearing Hairnets? by The Elephant's Child

Tee hee. Those who believe that government is good and more government probably better, need to really think, and try to make connections between events in the real world and their ideas about politics. There are examples all around us, and some are so interesting that they get published for the rest of us to read about.

— “The New York City Department of Health has been dispatching workers to storm-ravaged areas across the five boroughs as part of an outreach to ensure that volunteers are informed on proper food-handling and other safety issues. But the presence of health officials has caused some confusion as to where the city is drawing the line between advisement and enforcement.”

Bobby Eustace, an 11 year veteran with the NYC fire department said that on Sunday, he and his fellow firefighters from Ladder 27 in the Bronx were issued a notice of violation for not maintaining restaurant standards in a tent set up to feed victims and first responders at Breezy Point in Queens.

It’s just a little ridiculous. The inspector came up and asked if we were wearing hairnets. I told him “We have helmets. This is a disaster area.” Then he asked if we had gloves and thermometers for food. I said, “Yeah we have rectal and oral. Which one do you want ?” He wasn’t amused.

The Health Department worker then checked off a list of violations at the relief tent, including not having an HVAC system and fire extinguisher. (Ladder 27 doesn’t count?)

He told us that he might come back to see if we fixed the violations. But what can we do? We are just going to keep going until a professional catering company can help take over, Eustace said, adding that firefighters across the cit together have been contributing about $800 a day out of their own pockets to feeding victims in areas hit hard by Sandy.

A spokeswoman for the NYC Department of Health said it was just an outreach to inform volunteers on the proper way to handle food. We went out just to give recommendations. It was only an advisory role.

“Maybe that’s the intent, but that’s not what happened,” Eustace said. Personally, I was hoping we got one of those letter grade they give restaurants. We were hoping for an A letter grade.”


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