American Elephants

Well, Obama Doesn’t Do His Own Tweeting, But Yes It Does. by The Elephant's Child
October 12, 2014, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,


“Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgement that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas – jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy – reliably lead to oppression and murder?”

Sam Harris, Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon

So the American Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy and chopping off heads? And this is what passes for sober thought in the Year of Our Lord two thousand and fourteen?

So We Are Fighting A Politically Correct War? by The Elephant's Child


This last week,  Bill Gertz reported that “The Obama administration is failing to wage ideological war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIS) terrorists over fears that attacking its religious philosophy will violate the constitutional divide between church and state, according to an in-depth inquiry by the Washington Free Beacon.”

“While the government has tried to counter terrorist propaganda, it cannot directly address the warped religious interpretations of groups like ISIL because of the constitutional separation of church and state,” said Quintan Wiktorowicz, a former White House counterterrorism strategist for the Obama administration.

“U.S. officials are prohibited from engaging in debates about Islam, and as a result will need to rely on partners in the Muslim world for this part of the ideological struggle,” he said in an email interview.

In his speech to the UN on September 24, President Obama asked the world body to come up with a plan over the next year designed to counter ISIS and al Qaeda’s ideology. He said ending religious wars through an ideological campaign in the Middle East will be “generational” and led by those who live in the region. No external power, he said, can change “hears and minds,” and as a result the U.S. would support others in the unspecified program of “counter extremist ideology.”

Because officials cannot engage in debates about Islam, it makes it a little difficult to clearly define the religious doctrine you’re talking about. And there seems to be a problem there. Statements by the president and administration spokesmen indicate that they don’t understand ISIS ideology, which would be a needed first step.

Most senior administration officials hold “post modern” or “secular” views, and as a result have almost no ability to understand the religious views of violent terrorists. If you don’t take religion seriously yourself, it is impossible to understand the philosophy of a suicide bomber or someone who cuts off peoples’ heads in the name of jihad.

Senior State Department officials have expressed the idea that ideology does not play a role in Islamist terror which comes from endemic causes like poverty and economic privation or social injustice.

The latest issue of the ISIS English-language magazine Dabiq reveals a bit of their logic. “The Islamic State has long maintained an initiative that sees it waging jihad alongside a dawah [proselytizing campaign] that actively tends to the needs of its people.” The magazine added that the group “fights to defend the Muslims, liberate their lands, and bring an end to tawaghit [the evil corrupt system]. It also sought to legitimize its mass executions, beheadings, and other atrocities as religiously justified responses to all opponents who refuse to submit to its ideology.

President Obama claimed in his September 20 anti ISIS strategy speech that the group is “not Islamic” because it kills Muslims and innocents, something he said no religion condones. A claim disputed by most experts on Islam.

The Obama administration, under pressure from domestic Muslim advocacy organizations, has adopted a politically correct approach toward Islam and terrorism that has removed talk of Islam from current policies and programs — instead they are carrying out policies under the less-specific and DHS-approved title of “countering violent extremism.” If you can’t even call something by its name, you’re not going to have much luck defeating it in the field.

The word Islam has mostly been eliminated from policies and programs, and discussing Islam has been placed out-of-bounds — which means that Islamist ideology cannot be addressed in a significant way. This leads to claims that the U.S. and the West are at war with Islam, which leaves our officialdom tongue-tied. How they have managed to conflate cutting off the heads of American journalists and aid workers with First Amendment constitutional religious issues shown nothing so much as the triumph of either fuzzy thought or no thought at all.

The terrorists, says James Glassman, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, have constructed a phony ideology and are trying to take over a whole region. The president must address that. “It is very late in the game, and he needs to devote resources, not just words, to the war of ideas.”

The administration’s point man for propaganda is Rick Stengel, a former Time magazine reporter who is now undersecretary for public diplomacy said in a recent speech “I wold say that there is no battle of ideas with ISIL. ISIL if bereft of ideas, they’re bankrupt of ideas. It’s not an organization that is animated by ideas. It’s a criminal, savage, barbaric organization.” But, oddly, recruits are flowing to ISIS, moved to join in jihad because they are inspired by their ideas.


Armed vehicles are mostly Toyota pickups with guns mounted in the back. Not so much on ISIS bases or fighters. I don’t know if Obama is approving each strike,  as he said he might do. But we cannot say “war of ideas” and we cannot do anything to “prohibit the free exercise of religion.” Talk about fuzzy thinking!

The Administration and The CDC Anounce A Screening Program For Ebola by The Elephant's Child

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the Obama administration announced a screening program at five major U.S. airports. CDC Director Tom Frieden said “We believe these new measures will further protect the health of Americans…”

They plan to identify potential carriers of the Ebola virus who have arrived in the United States from countries where the epidemic is raging. Good idea? Most people will assume so.

The first step will be to take the temperature of arriving passengers from these flights.

A person who has as yet no symptoms, but is infected, will have a fever for maybe one day (?) of the 21-day window that is currently believed to be the incubation period. Taking an Advil will mask it. Right away, this will miss almost everything that is relevant.

If a fever is detected, how will they know if it is Ebola? It could be any of the following:
— Norovirus (250  + million cases per year worldwide). It also causes severe vomiting, just like Ebola.
—Colds (way more than 250 million)
—Influenza (billions of cases per year; highly variable)
—Or, especially in Africa, Malaria (200 million cases annually)

Taking temperatures at airports should prevent approximately zero Ebola-infected people from entering the country. It will surely clog up the system with people with other common infections.

Data from the CDC: Over the past two months, 36,000 passengers from West Africa were checked for fevers before being allowed to get on the plane. Later, it was determined that none were infected with Ebola.

The other art of the plan: interviewing selected passengers. Someone who arrives at JFK with a fever will be asked various questions to determine their possible exposure to Ebola in Africa. The incentive to be honest? If  you answer no, you can be in a cab in thirty minutes. If you answer yes, you may be in isolation for a few weeks along with a bunch of sick Africans.

This is a massive program, guaranteed to fail. But nobody seems to have any other bright ideas. It may well be determined by sheer luck.

This information is derived from Josh Bloom at the website science2.0. He is Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the American Council on Science and Health in New York since 2010. He is a former research chemist.

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