American Elephants


Obama Doesn’t Want Any Advice, Thank You Very Much! by The Elephant's Child

leadBig-0b16e62c331a5b2030f4f0923a17994bEliot Cohen reports that the president has no interest in hearing strategic recommendations.

Criticize the Administration’s Syria policy without providing alternative recommendations, and the President will dismiss you for mere carping. Argue, say, for a no-fly zone, however, and you will be dismissed for lacking the information and advice that only the President can have. Either way, in his view, you are a dummy, or, as he so artfully said of his previous Secretary of State, a peddler of “mumbo jumbo.”

This pervasive contempt for the views of others is one of the President’s greatest weaknesses and least attractive traits. Inevitably, it percolates throughout his Administration and prevails in particular at the White House. Yet it seems not to deter those on the outside—apolitical experts, some Democrats, and not a few veterans of Republican Administrations—from attempting, in all sincerity, to devise and argue for alternative approaches.Not only are their efforts pointless—if Obama is his own strategist, why should he listen to you, foolish or wicked veterans of the Bush Administration?—they are misguided. One can only judge a policy on its implementation, and although a no-fly zone conceived by a tough-minded Commander in Chief and implemented by Bob Gates might be just the thing, a no-fly zone put into place by the President who brought you vanishing red lines, a botched withdrawal from Iraq, the reset with Russia that wasn’t, repeated groveling apologies for the inevitable accidents of war, and much else, could be a debacle.

Marc Thiessen writing in the Washington Post quoted Tommy Vietor as explaining why his boss has skipped more than half his daily intelligence meetings since taking office – including every day in the week leading up to the attacks on our diplomatic facilities in Egypt and Libya: Obama, they say, doesn’t need briefers because he is just so much smarter than everyone else. As Vietor put it to me in an email, “Unlike your former boss [President Bush], he has it delivered to his residence in the morning and not briefed to him.”

The White House takes pride in the fact that Obama’s PDB is “not briefed to him” – because, they say, he is “among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet.” That hubris brings to mind this revealing quote from a September 2008 New York Times profile of Obama:

“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Another problem of the Information Age: What you say can come back to haunt you forever, and often YouTube is there to prove that you did, indeed, say it.

A second piece from the American Interest continues from Eliot Cohen’s piece and points out  a similar article in Politico confirming the president’s unwillingness to listen to anyone on the issue of Syria, including those in his administration. Here’s the essential paragraph:

Sources familiar with administration deliberations said that Obama’s West Wing inner circle serves as a brick wall against dissenting views. The president’s most senior advisers — including National Security Adviser Susan Rice and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough — reflect the president’s wariness of escalated U.S. action related to Syria or Russia and, officials fear, fail to push Obama to question his own deeply rooted assumptions. “Susan and Denis channel him,” says a former administration official who has witnessed the dynamic.

The attitude has alienated Russia experts in the Administration:

Obama’s refusal to take firmer action against Moscow has increasingly isolated several of his administration’s Russia specialists, who almost uniformly take a harder line toward Putin than does the president himself. They include Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs; Celeste Wallander, the National Security Council’s senior director for Russia and Eurasia; and Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. Farkas’ recent announcement that she will exit the Obama administration this fall raised eyebrows among officials aware of her frustration that Obama hasn’t responded more forcefully to Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his support for pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east. (Farkas has told friends that she is not resigning over policy disputes.)

Eliot Cohen’s important article is here.

Obama has decided that we will stay in Afghanistan. Too bad he didn’t give such consideration to the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq.



Suppressing U.S. Intelligence For Political Reasons? by The Elephant's Child

Some of the U.S. intelligence community’s top analysts reportedly have informed the Pentagon’s Inspector General that their reports have been systematically edited to back up President Obama’s assertions and his national security team’s assertions that the war on ISIS is more successful than it actually is, according to news reports from The Hill and other news sources.

This is the first time that so many intelligence analysts have complained to the Pentagon’s top Inspector General Jon Rymer about the politicizing of the intelligence gathering and analysis function.  In July, two analysts filed a complaint after months of internal complaints were allegedly ignored. Some career intelligence officers who complained were bullied and forced to take early retirement.  Other analysts backed up their colleagues complaints and said they can back up their claims of political shenanigans to make Obama, Kerry and others look good.

The most damaging complaint is that “senior officials are editing the analysts’ reports to bring them into line with administration claims. The goal was apparently to make Iran appear less dangerous to Americans while the administration was pursuing its Iran Deal. The House Armed Services Committee is investigating.



Whatever Bad Thing is Happening is Caused by Climate Change! by The Elephant's Child

In the Democrat Debate in Las Vegas, the candidates were asked what is the greatest crisis facing America? A little Middle East, and more of income inequality, but for Bernie Sanders  it was Climate Change. I’m becoming convinced that Progressives, or Socialists in Bernie’s case, get all of their information from Progressive talking points.

Our colleges and universities have insisted that they are teaching our children “critical thinking” which seems to mean the progressive line. This has widely been called “the Information Age” — which refers more to volume than quality. But where is the help in managing the flow?

There was a time when we had 3 major networks, but not only has that expanded, but the sources of information have exploded. Newspapers may be dying, but they are moving online, and with a few keystrokes I can access any newspaper in the world, most in English. There is social media, and Twitter for instantaneous information, far more than anyone has the time to pursue — yet we are told that a significant number of people get their news from late night comedy shows.

It seems to me to be essential to teach our kids how to manage information. How do you determine which websites are honest and reliable? The ‘fact checkers’ have not been either reliable or helpful. When you have a debate among candidates for the presidency of the United States and one of those candidates announces that the greatest crisis facing Americans is climate change, and that we must act because our grandchildren will face an uninhabitable world, what are you supposed to think?

Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, just announced that the mess in Syria is caused by Climate Change.

The president himself scoffed at Vladimir Putin’s adventures in Syria and said his own efforts on climate change were more important leadership for the world.

Where does this panic about the climate come from? I haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary actually occurring. California has a drought, as they have had many times in the past. South Carolina just got a lot of rain and floods, but it’s not even a 100 year event. Hurricanes are down in number and severity.

According to the satellite data, we have had no warming in the past 18 years and 8 months. Dangerous climate change exists only in computer programs that attempt to model the climate and predict the future. But we don’t know enough about our present climate to be predicting the future. We are just learning that the surface of the ocean has effects on clouds that we don’t understand, and for that matter we don’t have any understanding of just how clouds affect climate. The ocean is rising by millimeters, not inches or feet, and those with waterfront lots don’t need to worry for a century or two.

Progressives ignore science completely in their fear of genetically modified crops (GMOs). According to the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and countless other well qualified international bodies there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence that GMO crops are unfit for human consumption in any way.

Are we doomed to simply get dumber each year as our sources of information increase? To know less and less about how to separate fact and fiction? Scary indeed.



It’s Not About a Two-State Solution by The Elephant's Child

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Jews are being murdered in the streets, on buses, driving on ordinary roads, stabbed with kitchen knives, attacked with axes, meat cleavers or Molotov cocktails. Secretary of State John Kerry deftly blamed the Jews, pretending that Palestinian terror is linked to settlement expansion in the West Bank.  Here’s what Kerry said:

So here’s the deal. What’s happening is that unless we get going, a two-state solution could conceivably be stolen from everybody. And there’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years. Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing, and a frustration among Israelis who don’t see any movement.

Barack Obama had an agenda when he campaigned for the presidency, but it mostly got lost in the vast theater of his campaign and the marketing. High on his list was becoming renowned for bringing peace to the Middle East by bringing about the two-state solution. He mistakenly believed that all the problems of the Middle East arose from resentment about Israel’s failure to make peace with Palestine.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians have never had the slightest interest in a two-state solution. They want the Israelis dead and the entire nation of Israel turned over to them.

And Kerry is just wrong. There has not been a “massive increase” in settlements, not in the number of settlements, not in the size of settlements, and the so called “peace map ” of the West Bank has changed very little. He is simply parroting Palestinian propaganda, and blaming the victims.

It is very clear that the current violence is due to religious fervor. The attacks, in many cases are suicide attacks. It is essential to the Obama administration to avoid admitting that there is a religious basis to the problems of the Middle East. It shows up in the Iran Deal where Obama expresses his confidence that the Iranians are people just like us who care about our families and our children, in complete denial of the Ayatollah’s raging threats of Death to Israel, Death to America. It’s why no one in the administration is permitted to speak of Islamist terrorism, or speak of ISIS yearning for a return to the seventh century when the prophet promised paradise and plentiful virgins. It’s just the settlements!

Why can ‘t the State Department and Kerry admit what is going on?

It’s obvious. If they were to call out Abbas for incitement and to specifically condemn Palestinian terror that would be an admission that the administration has been wrong all along about both Abbas and the reason why a two-state solution hasn’t happened.

This intolerance is rooted in a belief that a war on Jewish infidels is a religious obligation. Any talk about settlements and borders is irrelevant to that cause.




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