American Elephants

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.

Political Correctness Gone Amok, But It’s More Than That. by The Elephant's Child


After two Muslim terrorists slashed, eviscerated and beheaded a British soldier on a London street in broad daylight a few yards from his barracks, and in full view of civilians and unarmed British policemen, it took 20 minutes for armed police to arrive to do something about the terrorists.

British policemen, however, quickly arrested an 85-year-old woman for shouting “Go back to your own country” outside Gillingham Mosque, handcuffed her and took her away in a van. A Kent Police spokesman said “An 85 year old woman from Chatham was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.”

Pat Condell is a British citizen who believes in plain speaking, and frequently speaks plainly. As Sergeant Friday used to say “Just the facts, ma’m.” Political correctness is a real problem, when the possibility of offending someone becomes more important that lives and safety. Political correctness is antithetical to a free people.

ADDENDUM: The Holder Justice Department says it will help enforce Islamic Sharia Law.

DOJ: Social Media posts trashing Muslims may violate Civil Rights

In its latest effort to protect followers of Islam in the U.S. the Obama Justice Department warns against using social media to spread information considered inflammatory against Muslims, threatening that it could constitute a violation of civil rights.

We have previously established that the Obama administration has no respect for the separation of powers in the Constitution. Add to that the Bill of Rights. Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder need to re-read the First Amendment. This is a lawless administration.

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Middle East but Were Afraid to Ask by The Elephant's Child

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the 2013 World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa held in Jordan.  He unveiled a plan to boost the Palestinian economy. The plan is based on $4 Billion in new funding and seems to carry the endorsement of many foreign leaders. The idea is that we can buy peace in the Middle East. Good Luck with that.

The idea is to mobilize some $4 billion of investment. A team of experts — private citizens, donating their time — are analyzing the opportunities in tourism construction,m light manufacturing, building materials, energy, agriculture, and information and communications technology. The group will make recommendations to the Palestinians. They’re not going to decide anything. The Palestinians will decide that in their normal course of governance, But they will analyze and make recommendations on a set of choices that can dramatically lift the economy.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the folks working with him believe that we can lift the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50 percent over three years. They foresee enough new jobs to cut unemployment by nearly two-thirds — to 8% down from 21% today and increase the median annual wage by as much as 40 %. Prime Minister Blair has always been an optimist. But the Obama administration is determined that the “Peace Process” will work. Obama does not change his mind.

“Secretary of State John Kerry says that it’s now or never for Israelis and Palestinians to reach agreement on a two-state solution. Interestingly, neither Israeli nor Palestinian officials have any idea what Kerry is talking about.” That’s Lee Smith writing at Tablet magazine.  A few recent headlines while we were paying attention to other things:

Assad on the March” Wall Street Journal

Syria: Obama talks no fly zones, Putin sends missiles” Rare

Assad Warns Israel, Claiming a Stockpile of Russian Weapons” NYT

Al Qaeda’s Syrian wing takes over the oilfields once belonging to Assad
Telegraph uk

Count Me Out on Syria” Victor Davis Hanson

John Kerry, as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was the man known to have Bashar Assad on his speed dial. Perhaps he’s been doing some re-thinking since Assad has used nerve gas on his people, and turned into a monster. You probably won’t want to read all of those links, but the headlines give you a sense of the state of things.

Here’s another: “Obama’s Iraq Surrender,” Front Page Magazine, May 31.

But a far bigger part of the picture is the accelerating destabilization of Iraq. The breakdown of Iraq, with its far-reaching regional ramifications, is attributable in no small part to President Obama’s abandonment of the U.S.’s mission in the country, a betrayal committed in total defiance of the military establishment’s recommendations, which squandered the hard-won victory handed down by President Bush. As predicted, our precipitous withdrawal has left the once pacified nation riven with sectarian strife, primarily among Sunni and Shia Muslims and the Kurds. As the region descends, the consequences of Obama’s folly are only becoming more obvious: a nation that once stood a chance at being a source of stability in the region is instead rapidly becoming its maelstrom.

Whether or not you agree with that paragraph, the article continues with a clear description of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1916, and the secret agreement between Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and George Picot of France, with Russia’s approval to create Middle East spheres of influence for France and Great Britain following their victory in WWI. The borders created to satisfy European sensibilities largely ignored the realities of historic ethnic, tribal and sectarian divisions which were exacerbated by the rise of dictators, tyrants and Arab monarchs who maintained power after the French and British withdrew in the middle of the last century.

It’s a good summary of the background of the Middle East, and useful for those of us who struggle to understand what’s going on, the actions of our own government, and what we think about it.

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