American Elephants

Can We Learn By Observing the Experience of Others? by The Elephant's Child

Any damn fool can learn from experience when it happens to him, but it’s a little harder to learn from the experience of others.

The brutal murder of British soldier Lee Rigby has certainly brought reactions. Eleven people across the UK have been arrested for making ‘racist or anti-religious’ comments on Facebook  and Twitter about the soldier’s death. The incident has also prompted a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents according to an organization which works to reduce extremism. I am coming to hate that word. When someone is brutally attacked, eviscerated, beheaded in the street while the unarmed police watch passively, it doesn’t seem extreme to make ‘anti-religious” remarks, but somewhat natural.

“Islamists have been saying for years they would do this. They have planned to do it. And now they have done it,” wrote Douglas Murray in the Wall Street Journal.

Attempts to attack military targets in Britain go back to before the millennium and even before, it is important to note, the war on terror. In 1998 Amer Mirza, a member of the now-banned extremist group al Muhajiroun, attempted to petrol-bomb British army barracks. In 2007, a cell of Muslim men was found guilty of plotting to kidnap and behead a British soldier in Birmingham. The plan had been to take the soldier to a lock-up garage and cut off his head “like a pig.” They wanted to film this act on camera and send it around the world to cause maximum terror….

Most of the extremists who have repeatedly expressed their hatred of British soldiers are themselves supported by the British state.

From Australia, Tim Blair commented:

You can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for your average Muslim terrorist. They go to all the trouble of blowing up children in Boston, killing US Army personnel in Texas, detonating bars in Bali, flying jets into New York skyscrapers and now basically removing a soldier’s head in a London street, all in the holy name of Islam. But where’s the credit? Where’s the respect? …

That’s a fairly clear message. Also clear were the cries of “Allahu Akbar” as the two alleged murderers went about carving and hacking at the fallen soldier’s body, having already run him down with a car.

Where’s the respect?

In Britain, “The release of a previously unseen document suggested that Labour’s migration policy over the past decade had been aimed not just at meeting the country’s economic needs, but also the Government’s “social objectives.”

The paper said migration would “enhance economic growth” and made clear that trying to halt or reverse it could be “economically damaging”. But it also stated that immigration had general “benefits” and that a new policy framework was needed to “maximise” the contribution of migration to the Government’s wider social aims.

The Government has always denied that social engineering played a part in its migration policy. …

Last night, the Conservatives demanded an independent inquiry into the issue. It was alleged that the document showed that Labour had overseen a deliberate open-door ­policy on immigration to boost multi-culturalism. Voting trends indicate that migrants and their descendants are much more likely to vote Labour.

If this does not sound somewhat familiar, you are not paying attention. The goal of the Left, whether here or in Europe is to win. They want to be in charge. Their purpose is social engineering, and multiculturalism and political correctness are the vehicles by which they hope to accomplish their ends. They will soothe the anger of immigrants with welfare and kindness, and avoidance of any notice that they are indeed acting in the holy name of Islam. But the evidence is pretty clear that welfare doesn’t produce the promised peaceful integration.
The Left cannot get it through their thick heads that welfare is demeaning. People may gladly accept any handouts that are offered, but they don’t value the handouts and they resent Lady Bountiful. People like to work. They want to feel valued for what they accomplish. Doesn’t mean that everybody likes their job, but people do want to feel useful.
The bureaucrats insist on political correctness, but their object is not just avoiding offense. If you are going to promote multiculturalism, then why park people in ghettos with everyone of the same heritage, and refuse to open your society to them. If immigrants don’t assimilate, can’t find jobs, are not accepted in society and are forced to subsist on welfare — what did you expect?

You Know About Guide Dogs, Now Meet a Guide Cat: by The Elephant's Child

The excellence of the concept is immediately apparent to cat owners, many of whom have attempted to train their cat to a leash.  Dog owners can just bow their heads in shame at such excellence. I understand that miniature horses are now made legal for those places where guide dogs are admitted, but I haven’t seen one in action.

“Give Us Their Names” by The Elephant's Child

Representative Tom McClintock (R-/CA) Takes On The IRS

May 21, 2013 12:24 PM

Mr. Speaker:

One of the most disturbing aspects of the unfolding scandal involving the misuse of the IRS is what can only be described as an insatiable appetite for names, names, and more names.

Conservative groups – and only conservative groups – seeking to organize under Section 501 were subjected to pages of intrusive and irrelevant questions – but with a common theme: Give us the names.

Give us the names of your volunteers.  Give us the names of your donors and your family members and your business associates.  Give us the names of the speakers and audience participants at your meetings.

One man applying to form a group to educate teenagers in Constitutional principles was told to turn over the names of his students.  As he told a reporter, “Can you imagine my responsibility to parents if I disclosed the names of their children to the IRS?”

Nor was this tactic limited to new applications.  The venerable Leadership Institute – which has been schooling young people in Constitutional principles for 40 years – was put through a year-long audit.  The IRS wasn’t only interested in financial information.  They wanted the names of their students and college interns and the names of anyone who had subsequently hired them.

And when the IRS wasn’t demanding the names of ordinary Americans – or what they were reading or thinking or saying – in some cases, applicants were given names and told to reveal what they knew about these people.

Mr. Speaker, these are facts that are undisputed by the administration and its apologists.  For a period of more than two years, these questions were put to Americans whose political opinions had been singled out by one of the most powerful and feared agencies of the federal government.

What I would like to know is, WHY?

Why did the IRS demand lists of the names of thousands of Americans whose only common characteristic is that they disagreed with this administration?

Where are these lists now?  With whom were they shared?  Who wanted to know these names?   What possible use would the IRS have to track the names of high school students who simply wanted to learn about their Constitution?

But most importantly, what were these names used for and what are they being used for?

I don’t have an answer to these questions, but I find their implications deeply disturbing.  And they must be answered during the course of the investigations now underway and they must be answered in full and with certainty.

I cannot conceive of the reasons why the federal government would be so interested in compiling such lists – but we know for a fact that they were and that fact is undisputed.  What we don’t know is why, and knowing the answer to that question – and the other questions raised by this undisputed fact – is absolutely essential to a society that values its freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of press and freedom of conscience.

We know the ancillary effect of these illegal demands.  They dried up donations to these conservative groups.  They heavily suppressed volunteer activities.  We know some lists were leaked to liberal publications like the Huffington Post and Pro-publica.  What we don’t know is what was the direct purpose of gathering these names.

The administration’s spokesman this weekend said “the law is irrelevant” and called this matter a distraction.  On the contrary, it strikes at the very foundation of a free society: the rule of law and the right of the people to question the policies of their government without fear of retribution or intimidation.

Seventy five years ago, Winston Churchill warned of a “state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions.”

If it is possible that we have taken even a single step down the road that leads to such places, then that matter should occupy our full and undistracted attention until it is fully and completely rectified, new safeguards are erected against its recurrence, and those responsible are held fully accountable.

Victor Davis Hanson: Why War? by The Elephant's Child

Especially right and necessary for Memorial Day, Victor Davis Hanson talks about War. Why do we have wars? What makes men start wars? How do you end a war? How can we avoid war? Is war simply natural to the human condition? Is there no hope? He spans the entire history of the wars of civilization and shows how the study of the history of war  can be a torch to light our way through the darkness.  Absolutely brilliant.

It Will Be a Bright Tomorrow If We All Just Pretend. by The Elephant's Child

In Britain police stand by helplessly and watch a young soldier brutally killed because there is nothing they can do against Islamic terrorists armed with knives and meat cleavers, because they are not allowed to carry weapons. It takes armed police with weapons 20 minutes to get there. A serious crackdown on those who might criticize Muslim terrorists on social media is in progress.

Burning cars Swedish riots

In Sweden riots by ‘youths’ throwing rocks, burning buildings and firing cars continues, moving from one suburb to another. It isn’t poverty, for Sweden is a famously egalitarian society with exceptional welfare provisions, built by 40 years of social democratic government.

“So maybe I am lucky to be in Europe,” says Baraar Mohamed, a 15 year old with Somali parents who maintains he hasn’t been throwing rocks or starting fires. “Compared to people in Somalia, maybe I am lucky. But I have hardly ever even met them, and this is where I live, and I have to live with police brutality, and I don’t have the same chance as the Swedish kids. I am Swedish. I am Swedish.”

The police have adopted a tactic of non-interference. “our ambition is really to do as little as possible. By doing so we minimize the risk of having rocks thrown at us.” Swedish parking laws continue to be rigidly enforced. Parking enforcement officers  have been noted writing parking tickets for burned-out cars.

The Washington Post reported that a French soldier [was] stabbed in the neck by a robed attacker” in Paris. “The lone attacker was described as a young man wearing a Muslim prayer cap and a North African-style robe called a djellaba. According to a police account  he was monitored on security cameras and seen shedding his robe and fleeing in European clothes before disappearing  into the crowd in a subway and suburban train entrance.”

The press is unable to identify the ‘youths’ concerned as Muslim, though they still can identify the family’s country of origin. Europe reacted to their declining population, the birth dearth, by encouraging immigration, and many from the war-torn countries of the Middle East and Africa have been grateful to take advantage of the opportunity. But real assimilation is not happening.

Back in Britain, a “22-year old man has been charged on suspicion of making malicious comments on Facebook following the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.” The comments were “allegedly of a racist or anti-religious nature.”

If everyone just politely fails to use words such as ‘Islamist’ or ‘terrorism’ or ‘radical’, then it will be alright, won’t it? The data keeps coming out, in spite of all the soothing words.  Greek joblessness topped 27% in January, the last month for which data are available, Spanish unemployment is close to the same. But it is the figures for ‘youth’ unemployment that are so startling. 59.1% of those under 25 are unemployed in Greece, 55.9% in Spain, 38.4% in Italy, 38.3% in Portugal, 26.5% in France. A lost generation? Why it’s because of the remaining vestiges of capitalism — socialism just hasn’t gone far enough. Entrepreneurs are now villains. May Day rallies across Europe had a single resounding message: end “the excesses of reckless capitalism.” Good luck with that.

There’s a lot of pretense going on. If you just pretend hard enough, it will all be alright. We have a lot of that going on here as well.

Many economists based their policy prescriptions on the implicit assumption that government was full of wise platonic guardians who automatically recognized the failures of the market and instinctively knew the remedies for all such problems.  
…………………………………………………………..[James Bovard]
………………………………. …………...

The society that promises no risks, and whose leaders use the word “risk” only as a pejorative, may be able to protect life, but there will be no liberty, and very little pursuit of happiness.  You will look in vain in the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution for promises of a safe, easy, risk-free life. Indeed when Woodrow Wilson called for a world safe for democracy, it was left to Gilbert Chesterton to put that sentiment in perspective. “Impossible” he said. “Democracy is a dangerous trade.”
…………………………………………………………[Walter Wriston]


So The IRS Will Be In Charge Of Our Medical Records? by The Elephant's Child


Electronic Medical Records: Not Cost Effective, Not Efficient. by The Elephant's Child

I had a routine Doctor’s appointment his week. My doctor had left her old group and is now with a new group. Same town, same hospital. I told her that she looked a lot happier. She agreed that she was. She said they were shortly going to digitize all their records as required by ObamaCare. She added that it was just a mess. There is so much opportunity for error. She said that some of the records she receives, she can hardly read. Having accurate records is essential.

Buried in the stimulus law of 2009, was an electronic-medical-records “incentive” program.Michelle Malkin reports that :

Oversight is lax. Cronyism is rife. The job-killing and privacy-undermining consequences have only just begun. The program was originally sold as a cost-saving measure. In theory, modernizing record-collection is a good idea, and many private health-care provides have already made the change. But as with many government “incentive” programs, the EMR bribe is a tax-subsidized, one-size-fits-all mandate. … Penalties kick in for any provider that hasn’t switched over by 2014.

…$4 billion has already gone out to 82,535 professionals and 1,474 hospitals and a total of $6 billion will be doled out by 2016. But the feds’ reckless profligacy, neglect and favoritism have done more harm than good.

A recent report by the HHS Inspector General said essentially that no one is actually checking to see if the transition from paper to electronic is improving patient outcomes or health services. The claim that the EMR conversion would reduce paperwork was based on hope rather than evidence, and many doctors say that it is actually doubling the amount of paperwork in their practices. Malkin again:

Billionaire Judith Faulkner, Obama’s medical information czar and a major Democratic contributor, just happens to be the founder and CEO of Epic Systems — a medical-software company that stores nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population’s health data. Another billion-dollar patient-record database grant program has doled out money to the University of Chicago Medical Center (where first lady Michelle Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett both served in high-paid positions).

It seems the cost-savings predictions were grossly overstated. Epic Systems, Faulkner’s company is famed for its lack of interoperability. antiquated, hard-drive dependent software firms that refuse to share data with doctors or hospitals using alternate platforms. And what is a company like Faulkner’s doing with this enhance power to consolidate and control American’s private health information. Epic and other large firms spent hundreds of thousands lobbying for the Obama EMR giveaway. It seems not to be a coincidence that Epic’s sales have been skyrocketing in recent years, double what they were four years ago. Obama named billionaire Democratic donor Faulkner as the only industry representative on the federal panel overseeing the EMR $19 billion “incentives” program from which her company benefits. Crony-capitalism indeed.

Now the person who supervised the IRS political pursuit of anyone who might potentially donate to the election campaign of the President’s opponent has been moved from that section to being in charge of the IRS grab for every American citizen’s medical records. This is unprecedented and disturbing. If the IRS is an agency that cannot be trusted with our private financial information, uses their power to force you to reveal information to which they have no legal or ethical right, then we are all expected to hand over all our private medical history and current treatment for whatever they want to use it for.  Are you going to go for that?

Remarks by the President at the U.S. Naval Academy Commencement by The Elephant's Child

And then, with a straight face, this president actually says to the Academy graduates….

“Live with integrity and speak with honesty and take responsibility and demand accountability.” — Obama’s speech to U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2013

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland

Gerard Vanderleun posted this yesterday at American Digest

Stay Classy, Democrats! by The Elephant's Child

Briege over Skagit River

This is becoming annoying. One span of the Skagit River Bridge on I-5 collapsed when a trucker with an oversize wide load hit a structural member of the bridge when trying to move over to accommodate another truck. The bridge was inspected within the last 6 months, and passed inspection.

The Chicago theme we’ve heard before — “Never let a crisis go to waste“— immediately prompted Democrats to blame Republicans. On Twitter, former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axlerod, blamed Republicans for the collapse of a portion of the I-5 bridge in Mont Vernon, Washington. He tweeted:


Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Seattle). (better known as Baghdad Jim) accused Republicans of “throwing American infrastructure…under the bus.”

McDermott cited the incident as proof Republicans were blocking infrastructure investment to hurt President Obama politically. McDermott, possibly the most politically partisan member of the House, added: “Well, they have clearly spent the whole last five years trying to tear the president down, but they have done it by throwing the American infrastructure and the society under the bus,” McDermott said in an interview with MSNBC host Al Sharpton. (Now there’s a dramatic interview!)

“We have the most long-term unemployed that we have had since the 1930s and there’s no excuse for that,” McDermott continued.”There is plenty of work in this society that needs to be done and all it means is that the Congress has to step up, put the money up, and we can have it.” He suggested that lawmaker could find extra money to pay for transportation projects by raising the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax.

Brilliant. Why didn’t anybody ever think of that? Washington’s gas tax is already 37.5 cents-per-gallon, New York’s is already 50.6 cents, California’s 48.7, Illinois’ 39.1. Surely some people remember that we already allocated large quantities of public money for infrastructure as part of the Recovery Act, only to have President Obama giggle and announce that he guessed there weren’t really any of those “shovel-ready” projects after all.

The Left always believes that if you just take money out of taxpayers’ pockets and, after passing it through government bureaucracies, put what’s left back into use by paying Union employees to work on a project. A portion of the money paid will thus return to the government in the form of Union dues used to elect another proud member of the Left. It does not foster growth in the economy, government projects take years to come to fruition after the necessary environmental reviews and permitting processes.

If the permits take too long, you can just have those workers dig holes and fill them up again.

Irresistible Morning Cuteness, But We’re Prejudiced! by The Elephant's Child

Go ahead, enlarge the window. You may want to turn down the sound. The banjo music is a little loud.

The Skagit River Bridge Collapsed, Not Very Spectacularly. by The Elephant's Child


Oooops! Just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend, one section of the Skagit River Bridge on I-5 near Mt. Vernon in Washington State collapsed. This is north of Seattle, on the way to Vancouver B.C.  It’s not a spectacular bridge. The Skagit is a pretty ordinary river, but very cold this time of year.

It is not on President Obama’s pet list of “crumbling roads and bridges.” A trucker with a too-wide load smacked into the bridge span and sent the truck and a couple of cars into the river. The news staff, always anxious to dramatize, waited breathlessly to speak to “the survivors”, but nobody was badly hurt., just cuts and bruises. People will be using a detour for quite a while, inconveniencing many. This is the main North/South highway, between Canada and Mexico.

Interestingly, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) just proposed an amendment to a transportation bill that would prohibit funds that were appropriated under title 1 from being used for earmarks until all structurally deficient and obsolete bridges had been repaired, with limited exceptions.

What? Deny our earmarking ability? Use transportation money to repair Obama’s crumbling and obsolete bridges? Fie! Our very own two Senators, Murray and Cantwell , voted, with the majority, to table the amendment. We’ll think about it later.

And as the Skagit River Bridge sinks slowly in the West… I’m with senator Coburn. Spend the money on fixing that which needs fixing, and belay the bike paths and squirrel crossings.

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.

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