American Elephants


Why Is It So Hard To Call a Terrorist a Terrorist? by The Elephant's Child

Stockholm riots

An off-duty British soldier has been butchered on a busy London street by two Islamist terrorists, the first terrorist murder on the British mainland since the 7/7 suicide bombings of 2005. The British-born Muslim convert calmly spoke to a witness’s video phone.

We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day.We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologize that women had to witness this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remover your government, they don’t care about you. Do you think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? Do you think your politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we, so you can all live in peace.”

Witnesses said the men first ran over the soldier with a car, just yards from the Royal Barracks. Then they set about him with meat cleavers and knives. He was slashed, and eviscerated and beheaded, shouting Allahu Akbar, as horrified passers-by watched.

Here, Christiane Amanpour and Wolf Blitzer wondered why David Cameron and the British government immediately blamed the incident as terrorism.

In Sweden, “unrest” in Stockholm’s suburbs continued for a fourth night as rioters showed their anger by setting fire to as many as 30 cars and buildings, and throwing stones at emergency workers. Another 11 cars were set on fire in Husby, an area of high-rise apartment blocks. Unemployment rates for immigrants from countries outside the EU are nearly three times as high as for ethnic Swedes.

Well, we just had the Boston bombing, which they also had trouble calling terrorism. A bunch of left-leaning media types were hoping out loud that it would turn out to be a “white American” rather than a Muslim extremist. NPR’s Diana Temple-Raston speculated on air that it was likely right-wing extremists behind the bombing because it was Hitler’s birthday that week, and “Hitler’s birthday is ‘big’ for the right.” And today we have learned that a man shot by an FBI agent in Orlando implicated himself and the older Tsarnaev brother in a gruesome 2011 triple murder.

We had considerable difficulty getting anyone to call the incident in Benghazi an “act of terror”, or “terrorism.” Comes right from the top.

President Obama spoke earlier today at the National Defense University, at Fort McNair, in his most droning, lecturing voice. When we were attacked on 9/11, we were shaken out of complacency. “This was a different kind of war. …A group of terrorists came to kill as many civilians as they could:”

And so our nation went to war. We have now been at war for well over a decade. I won’t review the full history. What’s clear is that we quickly drove al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but then shifted our focus and began a new war in Iraq. This carried grave consequences for our fight against al Qaeda, our standing in the world, and – to this day – our interests in a vital region.

For this president, the only reason for war was revenge against Osama bin Laden and his top deputies. Obama got bin Laden and has done in most of his staff, and ended Bush’s War in Iraq, brought 150,000 troops home, (and because of his mismanagement, never achieved a status of forces agreement, and an ill-prepared Iraq in now falling apart.) “We pursued a new strategy in Afghanistan and increased our training of Afghan forces.” (Hamstringing our forces with the politically-correct idea that we should show our “trust” by having our forces unarmed. This has resulted in a death-toll under Obama that is twice as high as any under Bush). “For over the last decade our nation has spent well over a trillion dollars on war, exploding our deficits and constraining our ability to nation build here at home.” (This from the president who has spent a trillion dollars every year of his administration so far, mostly wasted). He went into a big defense of his drone policy, which is mostly making undeclared war on nations with whom we are supposedly not at war. His defensive comments indicate that he is aware of the opposition from other nations.

Barack Obama does not get terrorism.He is the Not-Bush, everything Bush did was deplorable and he is sure the world hates us for the luxury seaside resort detention center at Guantanamo. He cannot get his mind around the difference between terrorists who have no legal standing under the Geneva Conventions and ordinary criminals.

It was a lecturing, arrogant, defensive speech full of the usual straw men.  He’s clearly threatened by all the scandals flowing around the White House. They are bad. Obama’s disregard for the Constitution and its provisions, contempt for the separation of powers, and unfamiliarity with good management and American tradition have led him to believe that he can approach governing America with Chicago-style politics. It would be a bad idea at any time, but in an economy weakened by Chicago-style economics, it has led to trouble. His overblown confidence in his own ideology is proving no more effective in the nation’s capitol than it is in the failing states run by Democratic administrations, like Illinois.



How Smart Government Becomes Abusive Government by The Elephant's Child

“One of the greatest uses of scandal is to vividly demonstrate what new laws are needed and to create the political conditions to get them enacted.”

John Steele Gordon has a fascinating essay in The American, on the uses of scandal. He ranges back and forth in American history to illustrate some of our greatest scandals and how they played out.

Washington is suddenly awash with major scandals. The IRS has been caught abusing its powers regarding conservative organizations. The AP had its phone records seized without a court order. The White House explanation for the Benghazi attack has been shown to have been a tissue of lies made for political purposes. There might well be more scandals to come. The Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, has reportedly been routinely waiving the substantial fees to fulfill Freedom of Information Act requests for liberal organizations but not for conservative ones.

This has produced, naturally, a cacophony of talk among the chattering classes, much of it basically gossip. And there’s nothing wrong with that. To gossip, after all, is to be human.

Extracting the truth about the scandal is something else entirely. The information comes slowly in bits and pieces. How long will the investigation keep the public interest? Of all the excuses and alibis being offered for extremely bad behavior by the Obama administration, the most interesting one came from David Axlerod, onetime major adviser to President Obama:

Part of being president is that there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know, because the government is so vast.

As a subhead in the Wall Street Journal asked: “If the President doesn’t run the government, then who does?”

Anyone who has ever worked in a large organization knows that the enemy is bureaucracy. How many layers of management are the optimum and when does it all begin to break down? Few is better, and smaller organizations are better. The real problem is that there are few things that the government should be doing, and fewer that they can do well. I suppose it’s natural for someone who does not have great expertise in management to assume that things would be better if the government was just in charge. Obama will be the case study for that concept for years.

There are things that only the government can do. National Defense, a military, interstate highways, immigration, foreign trade, foreign affairs.  But there are far more things the federal government should not be doing. If you go to Wikipedia and enter “List of U.S. Federal Agencies” and separately, enter “Independent Agencies of the U.S. Government” — the first is the vast number of agencies under the various cabinet positions, and the second is the agencies that are independent of any cabinet position. These are sobering lists. Is it possible to reduce the sway of government or has it taken on a life of its own, growing inexorably?

Your New Health Care System” instantly makes one realize that ObamaCare is just another scandal. This arrogant overreach will not work, is a huge drag on the economy, and is destroying our health care system. Kathleen Sebelius’s attempt to get the health care providers she regulates to donate to the cause of rolling out ObamaCare is a separate and distinct scandal, aside from being against the law.

One of the greatest uses of scandal is to vividly demonstrate what new laws are needed and to create the political conditions to get them enacted. In the case of the IRS, what is needed seems to be a strong sense of ethics. Can you legislate ethics and forbid politicizing the work of an agency? They are a unionized agency. Can these people be fired? Or do the bad apples among government workers simply move to another department?

In a book titled The New, New Deal, author Michael Grunewald writes of the Energy Department’s Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs. The Recovery Act allocated $5 billion to a three-year program to weatherize 600,000 low-income families’ homes through better windows, insulation, furnaces and air conditioners. The agency was informally known as “the Turkey Farm” for the number of sub-par civil servants sent there over the years when no other agency would take them. He told the story of an excellent manager’s attempts to make the department work. She never stood a chance, Grunwald said. “They knew that political appointees come and go, but civil servants are forever. They call themselves “WeBe’s,” as in “We be here, you be gone.”

So we need not only new laws to fix the underlying problems that produced the scandals, but also a serious effort to get rid of unnecessary and useless agencies. Can we retain the public interest long enough to put real pressure on Congress to make the changes? Can we produce enough activists demanding change?

Political scientist Alan Wolfe has suggested that Conservatives cannot resolve the tensions inherent in “managing government agencies whose missions —indeed, whose very existence —they believe to be illegitimate.” William Voegeli responded: “If conservatives govern badly because they stand outside the borders of modern government yelling Shrink, liberals should govern brilliantly, since their raison d’être is to vindicate the activist state’s right, duty and capacity to handle all the responsibilities entrusted to it over the past century, and then to assign it still more. ” So there you have the conundrum.




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