American Elephants

What Do They Believe They Are Protesting and Why? by The Elephant's Child

What has become clear in the wake of the death of Michael Brown, and the death of Eric Garner is that what happened would be no different if Michael Brown and Eric Garner were white, with all other circumstances being the same. If a very large young white man were walking down the middle of the street, a passing police officer would still have asked them to get out of the middle of the street. Everything else that happened between Officer Darrell Wilson and Michael Brown would have been no different. If you try to take a policeman’s gun away and charge him, you are asking for trouble. It is of course a tragedy.

The death of Eric Garner came about because he resisted arrest. Even his widow says race was not a factor in his death. What does have a lot more to do with it would seem to be an unfortunate order from the Mayor about cracking down on those who were selling single cigarettes on the street.

There have been other unnoticed or barely noticed cases since, one in which a black policeman killed a white man, another truly awful case in which four black and Hispanic teenagers attacked a man’s car with hammers, in a St Louis suburb. When he got out of his car, they attacked him. He was beaten to death with hammers. He was apparently a Bosnian immigrant in a Bosnian neighborhood. His name was Zemir Begic and he was 32 years old. The media was not interested.

Nor were they interested in the death of a white Waynesboro, Virginia  police Captain Kevin Quick, allegedly shot and killed by black gang members. Eric Holder has taken the death penalty off the table for the members of Bloods gang 99 Goon Syndicate. “The prosecutor said the Attorney General reviews each death penalty case at his kitchen table, often late at night.”

So the country has burst out in protests and demonstrations because of race, or because of police, or because of the unfairness of grand juries, or because of the unfairness of life. Who can make any sense of it? When the protests become riots, cars are set on fire, buildings burned and looters head for the technology stores to make off with big screen TVs.

The media has performed disgracefully, encouraging and fostering the mobs and rioters. Riots make attention-getting television, which is why the other killings have been ignored.

The Reverend Al Sharpton has long been a rabble-rouser, turning up whenever there is a rabble to arouse. He turns up whenever there is a case with a black victim, to stir things up. I was familiar only with Mr. Sharpton’s appearance at major riots, but when I looked him up on Wikipedia, I was astonished at just how extensive the list of protests was. Nearly one-quarter of American blacks support his efforts.

Attorney General Eric Holder has been straightforward about his feelings about race. He believes, he has said, that we need more conversation about race, and has been adamant about claiming that requiring voter photo ID is racist and intended to keep blacks from voting — although photo ID is required to visit the Attorney General’s Justice Department.

President Obama hauled out the race card in an interview on Black Entertainment Television which will be broadcast Monday evening:

“This is something that is deeply rooted in our society, it’s deeply rooted in our history. When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias… you’ve got to have vigilance but you have to recognize that it’s going to take some time, and you just have to be steady so you don’t give up when we don’t get all the way there.” He warned, “This isn’t going to be solved overnight.”

Just what is “All the way there?” Obama has frequently played the race card when it was convenient. In January, he said “there’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president.” Well, probably there are, but I’ve never run across anyone who does. I run across a lot of people who are really opposed to Mr. Obama’s policies. Bill Clinton even accused Obama’s campaign of “playing the race card on me.”

Maybe it convinces Black Americans to support the Democrats if they are constantly claiming that the reason Black Americans can’t succeed is because of racist Republicans. Republicans have pretty much always been on the side of abolition, voting rights, civil rights, and freedom. An awful lot of white Americans voted for Barack Obama because he was black, and they believed that to be a good thing.

From what I can tell, many of the protesters are professional protesters who turn out whenever there is a little excitement. They usually have their pre-printed signs, and socialist or communist materials to pass out.


War and Remembrance by The Elephant's Child
December 7, 2014, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

87cb811d-acbb0751d2ea4833 This year only four of the nine remaining Pearl Harbor survivors have traveled to Oahu for the last official gathering of the USS Arizona Reunion Association.

The Japanese attack on five minutes before eight o’clock in the morning left more than 2,000 Americans dead. 366 Japanese bombers and fighters struck at the American warships lying at their moorings in Pearl Harbor. Four American battleships were blown up or sank where they lay at anchor. Four further battleships were damaged and eleven other warships sunk or disabled.

As well as striking America’s warships, the attackers struck at  Pearl Harbor’s airfields. 188 American aircraft were destroyed on the ground, 330 Americans were dead or dying, 1,177 of them killed on the battleship Arizona.

The Japanese had lost twenty-nine aircraft and five midget submarines in the attack, sixty-four of their men were dead, and one Ensign Kazua Sakamaki whose midget submarine had run aground on the island was taken prisoner— the first Japanese prisoner of the Second World War. Only two of the nine battleships capable of action in the Pacific remained able to enter combat. The attack on Pearl Harbor coincided with planned attacks on Guam, Wake Island and Midway, each was bombed or shelled that day.

That same morning, across the South China Sea, the Japanese Second Fleet escorted a convoy of troop transports bringing 24,000 troops from Indo-China to the Malayan Peninsula. At the same time at Singapore, Japanese air attacks led to the death or sixty-one civilians, while at Hong Kong Japanese war planes destroyed all but one of the eight British aircraft line u on the tarmac of Kai-Tak airport.

It was towards midnight on December 7, Central European time, that Hitler, at his headquarters at Rastenburg, in East Prussia, learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. “Now it is impossible for us to lose the war,” he told Walther Hewel, and went on to explain: “We now have an ally who has never been vanquished in three thousand years.”

Why Should We Remember Pearl Harbor? It Was 73 Years Ago! by The Elephant's Child

(Reposted and revised from last year)
Every year on December 7, we say “Remember Pearl Harbor” but fail to point out why we should be remembering. John Steele Gordon in his essential history An Empire of Wealth: the Epic History of American Economic Power, outlines the state of the world:

In a fireside chat on December 29, 1940, Franklin Roosevelt first used  a phrase that would prove enduring when he called upon the United States to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”
…..War had broken out in Europe on September 1, 1939, after German troops invaded Poland, and France and Great Britain stood by their pledges to come to Poland’s aid. Few Americans thought the Nazis anything but despicable, but public opinion in the United States was overwhelmingly to stay out of the conflict.  Many newspapers…were strongly isolationist. In 1934 Senator Hiram Johnson of California had pushed through a bill forbidding the Treasury to make loans to any country that had failed to pay back earlier loans.  That, of course included Britain and France.  On November 4, 1939, Congress had passed the Neutrality Act, which allowed purchases of war materiel only on a “cash and carry” basis.
…..Seven months later France fell to the Nazi onslaught, and Britain stood alone.  In the summer of 1940 Germany proved unable to defeat the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain and thus gain the air superiority necessary to mount an invasion across the English Channel. It tried instead to bludgeon Britain into submission with the blitz and to force Britain into submission by cutting off its trade lifelines across the Atlantic. It nearly worked. …
…..At the time American military forces were puny.  The army had about three hundred thousand soldiers—fewer than Yugoslavia—and was so short of weapons that new recruits often had to drill with broomsticks instead of rifles. The equipment it did have was often so antiquated that the chief of staff, General George C. Marshall, thought the army no better than “that of a third-rate power.” The navy, while equal to Britain’s in size, lacked ammunition to sustain action, and much of its equipment was old or unreliable.

Roosevelt realized what was at stake in terms of America’s own security, but he felt that Britain must survive long enough to hold the Nazis at bay while the U.S. rearmed and he was able to  bring the American people around to see where their own true interests lay. This was easier said than done.

On September 16, 1940 Congress approved the first peacetime draft in American history and 16.4 million men between the ages of 20 and 35 registered. But it specified that none was to serve outside the Western Hemisphere and that their terms of service were not to exceed twelve months. In 1941 Roosevelt was able to get Lend Lease through Congress, and after Pearl Harbor, isolationism vanished from the American political landscape.

Japan ran loose over the Pacific for the next six months, taking Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, the Dutch East Indies, and Burma while threatening Australia and India.

The rearming of America was one of the most astonishing feats in all economic history. In the first six months of 1942, the government gave out 100 billion in military contracts— more than the entire GDP of 1940. In the war years, American industry turned out 6.500 naval vessels; 296,400 airplanes; 86,330 tanks; 64,546 landing craft; 3.5 million jeeps, trucks, and personnel carriers; 53 million deadweight tons of cargo vessels; 12 million rifles,carbines, and machine guns; and 47 million tons of artillery shells, together with millions of tons of uniforms, boots, medical supplies, tents and a thousand other items needed to fight a modern war.

We weren’t ready for Pearl Harbor, nor for Africa, nor the European front. We disarmed after World War II and we were once again not ready when North Korea invaded the South. We weren’t ready when Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait and we weren’t ready for 9/11. America’s national character is perhaps always ready to assume that the war just finished was the last — ever.

Does anyone assume that now, we would have six months to a year to begin to produce the necessary equipment and round up and train the necessary troops? I seem to remember Donald Rumsfeld saying, to vast scorn from the American media—”you go to war with the army you have.”

It’s quite true, and the threats don’t always come from the direction you expected. Victor Davis Hanson recently explained:

We are entering a similarly dangerous interlude. Collapsing oil prices — a good thing for most of the world — will make troublemakers like oil-exporting Iran and Russia take even more risks.

Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State feel that conventional military power has no effect on their agendas. The West is seen as a tired culture of Black Friday shoppers and maxed-out credit-card holders.

NATO is underfunded and without strong American leadership. It can only hope that Vladimir Putin does not invade a NATO country such as Estonia, rather than prepare for the likelihood that he will, and soon.

The United States has slashed its defense budget to historic lows. It sends the message abroad that friendship with America brings few rewards while hostility toward the U.S. has even fewer consequences.

The bedrock American relationships with staunch allies such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, and Israel are fading. Instead, we court new belligerents that don’t like the United States, such as Turkey and Iran.

No one has any idea of how to convince a rising China that its turn toward military aggression will only end in disaster, in much the same fashion that a confident westernizing Imperial Japan overreached in World War II. Lecturing loudly and self-righteously while carrying a tiny stick did not work with Japanese warlords of the1930s. It won’t work with the Communist Chinese either.

Radical Islam is spreading in the same sort of way that postwar Communism once swamped post-colonial Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But this time there are only weak responses from the democratic, free-market West. Westerners despair over which is worse — theocratic Iran, the Islamic State, or Bashar Assad’s Syria — and seem paralyzed over where exactly the violence will spread next and when it will reach them.

Will the next threat be in the form of Iran’s finally completed nuclear weapons? Or a cyber attack from Russia or elsewhere? Or the EMP attack that will paralyze the nation? There are always threats, but preventative vigilance can stop it. But where is the preventative vigilance?

We must remember Pearl Harbor as a warning from the past. The troubled world keeps sending us reminders, and we fail to pay attention.

December 7, 1941. by The Elephant's Child

Here is the personal story of one 19 year-old survivor of the battleship Arizona on that peaceful December 7 morning in Pearl Harbor 70 years ago. He had just turned 19 in September.  Like many young men on that day, he got a brutal introduction to war, and his world changed irrevocably. He fought a war, went to school on the GI Bill, became an engineer at Boeing, had four children, and became a relative of mine.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding at the end of this year.

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