American Elephants


History Is What Happened In The Past by The Elephant's Child

I have been distressed at the attempts to rename buildings, tear down statues and monuments, and in general to make any history that doesn’t meet today’s more refined sensitivities — just disappear.  One of the greatest problems for historians is that people have often destroyed the evidence that tells us of their times, and they have to guess at what really happened. We live in an age of political correctness, the party line of the day, and the politically correct are trying to expunge any evidence of those in the past who did not agree with today’s notions. Of course, for most it is simply a campus fad that sweeps from one college to another. Protesting is the in thing, and if they can’t find anything else to protest, perhaps the donor of a building once owned a slave so the building should be torn down.

Today we mostly universally agree that slavery is and was a very bad thing, But before somewhere around the mid 18th century, slavery was the norm. Many college students are astonished to find out that slavery existed in other places besides the United States. Because we ended the slave trade, had a great Civil War and freed the slaves and are such an open society the world is familiar with America and slavery. Because of that history present day virtue seekers are anxious to destroy all traces of the Confederacy. New Orleans is currently engaged in a great battle to tear down statues and monuments.

They are wrong. Millions of Americans today have ancestors who fought for the Confederacy.  Two of my great great uncles lost their lives fighting for the Union with Grant, and two lost their lives fighting for the Confederacy, one in the battle around Richmond and the other at Snicker’s Gap. The Southerners were brothers, the Union soldiers were members of families who had established a station of the underground railroad in their meeting house. To be interested in the stars and bars or the Confederate battle flag does not insinuate a fondness for slavery, only an interest in history.

Max Boot, writing at Commentary, approves of the actions of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in tearing down statues honoring Confederate war heroes. He finds the idea of honoring the losing side of the war disgraceful, and believes that Army bases in the Southern states named after Confederate generals should be renamed.

Historian John Steele Gordon, also writing at Commentary, deeply disagrees. “The Past is a Foreign Country” is his headline, and he says “Subjective and fleeting standards are no way to judge.” I’m with Mr. Gordon. If I am deeply interested in both sides of the Civil War and its effects on the nation, it does not indicate approval or disapproval. The past is what happened. So much of the artifacts of the war were simply destroyed, or thrown away, that what we can know about the war is diminished.

Here is a page from the Smithsonian’s Civil War history that shows the uniform of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry (Duryee’s Zouaves). Bet that would surprise you. Both sides had volunteer units that adopted Zouave uniforms based on an elite battalion of the French Army in Algiers in the colonial war of the 1830s. Follow the arrows on that page to see some of the other artifacts that the Smithsonian thought important to save.

John Steele Gordon ends his piece with these lines:

The country did a magnificent job of binding up those wounds, as the deeply touching pictures taken at the 50th-anniversary reunion at Gettysburg in 1913 testify. Now some people on their high horses want to pick open those wounds, for no better reason than so they can virtue signal their own moral superiority to those who lived in a different world and a different time.

It’s a disgrace. Historians, especially, should understand the profound truth expressed by L. P. Hartley in the opening line of his masterful novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

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An Outburst of Democrat Derangement by The Elephant's Child

Someone named Kathy Griffin, reportedly a comedienne, posted a video of herself holding what purported to be a severed, bloody head of Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, there was a backlash, at which she promptly apologized abjectly admitting that she was wrong and went too far, and made a huge mistake. Well, yes she did. What interests me is the mindset that would have allowed her to engage in something like this in the first place. In a general atmosphere where the way to get attention seems to be coming up with a  more outrageous way to insult the President of the United States. And that in itself is quite remarkable.

It’s clear that the left loathes Donald Trump. Just why seems to be that he has removed the Democratic Party from its position of power all over the country, and the Left just cannot stand that. It is not just that they lost the election, they have lost lots of elections, as have the Republicans, but this time they have lost all the way down to the lowest proverbial dogcatcher. Their anger is completely emotional, and utterly furious. Why?

It wasn’t always so, but I believe that today’s Democratic party is based entirely on emotion. They hate Donald Trump, Republicans, global warming deniers, Citizens United, guns (especially dangerous assault weapons), the military and its wars, and conversely love— refugees, the poor, illegal immigrants, empathy, and being in power. You can tell that this is the case by their language: They call Trump “Hitler,” a “Nazi”,’Tyrant,” they are sure he is so authoritarian that he soon will be rounding them up and putting the in camps. Little of their emotive excess even approaches reality, but they are positive that he is a danger to their world, and they want him stopped, before it is too late.  That’s why they care so deeply about social justice and so little for the actual kind in courts of law.  And why they care far more about their empathy for refugees than they care about vetting the potential terrorists among them. They don’t care about the actual poor or the actual refugees. They care about feeling good about themselves.

For the Never Trumpers, it’s a class issue. You can take the man out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the man. They are offended by his way of talking. They are offended by his orange hair and orange tan. They are offended by his great big wall— opposing illegal immigration is fine, but building a huge wall is going too far. They are offended by the way he talks, his tweets and by his calling people names.   They are much more comfortable with polite arguments about the founders and how conservative conservatives should be, but doing battle to get a better budget or dispose of repugnant regulations is generally beyond their powers. Their battles are about ideas.

Kathy Griffin’s use of a severed head, a favorite terrorist act of ISIS, aside from being a particularly vulgar act, shows not just her own act of violence against Trump, but an astounding lack of understanding of one of the many major and very real threats to Americans and anyone who is not a Muslim. How is it possible to fail to understand, in today’s world, that severed heads and burning people alive, drowning them in cages are acts of terror designed to frighten the world into submission.  Did she not grasp the meaning of Manchester or the attack today killing around 80 people in Kabul in Afghanistan?

It is a very dangerous world, and the despised Donald Trump is taking it on as if it is a serious matter. James Mattis at the Pentagon, John Kelly at NHS, and H.L. McMaster are serious and knowledgeable people, some of the best America has to offer. Nikki Haley is sensational at the UN. Silly EPA regulations are being undone, illegal immigration is down sharply just because there is someone seriously paying attention.  The despicable Bashar Assad had the airport from which the planes that sprayed chemical weapons on helpless civilians promptly destroyed, sending a pointed message. This impolite man carefully labeled the Iranian regime “evil” in front of 50 Muslim heads of state. He’s working to restore the military budget to assure that the military can do what is necessary when it is necessary. He ‘s submitted a budget that lowers taxes and makes some dramatic cuts.  He made a pretty good trip to the Middle East and Europe. Not bad.

Presidents, all of them, are only ordinary human beings, fallible, egotistic, impatient, facing dreadful challenges. We elect them for four years to try to manage this messy world. They are not and should never be love objects. They wanted the job, and upon being given the opportunity, their task is to live up to it. Do a good job, and we will honor your and your name will go down in history.

We gave Obama 8 years, and he not only made a mess of it, but apparently enjoyed it so much that he cannot bring himself to retire. He’s reportedly going to run a shadow government in exile from his new Washington D.C. walled mansion, working to sabotage his successor, I guess in the illusion that will improve his legacy.

ADDENDUM: Ms. Griffin has now been fired from CNN, and reportedly from any other engagements she may have had. It’s nice to know that there are some limits to Democrat derangement excess. Melania Trump had to try to explain to her son who panicked, what that was about.

ADDENDUM II: Friday. Kathy Griffin held a press conference to tell the world that the widespread backlash she has faced over the photo is part of a sexist campaign to destroy her career. “It’s a bunch of white guys trying to silence me,” she said. “This wouldn’t be happening to a guy. This is a woman thing.”  She also said “What’s  happening to me has never happened in the history of this great country. Which is that a sitting president of the United States and his grown children and the First Lady are personally, I feel, personally trying to ruin my life forever.”



The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by The Elephant's Child

seal

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number one.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.  After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5.  How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, and 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A person who applies for guard duty at the tomb must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30″.

Other requirements of the Guard: they must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform (by fighting) or the tomb in any way.  After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb.  There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.  There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.  There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.  Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

During the first six months of duty a guard may not talk to anyone, nor watch TV. Off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.  Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.  Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD,
AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington D.C., our U.S. Senate and House took 2 days off in anticipation of the storm.  On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend their assignment.   They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!”  Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

One tomb is empty: the Vietnam Tomb. It was later discovered who was in the tomb.  The family had the remains removed and buried with military honors. Congress decided to leave the tomb empty. Fox News carried the full live service at the tombs. The other channels passed it by. All who have served understand the bond. Freedom is never free.

R. Harper



Important Pieces You Probably Will Have Missed by The Elephant's Child

—”Europe Fights Back With Candles and Teddy Bearsby Guilio Meotti

•Europe still has not realized that the terror which struck its metropolis was a war, and not the mistake of a few disturbed people who misunderstood the Islamic religion.
•It appears that for Europe, Islamic terrorism is not real, but only a momentary disruption of its routine. We fight against global warming, malaria and hunger in Africa. But are we not ready to fight for our civilization? Have we already given up?

Thousands Drop Off Food Stamp Rolls in Georgia After State Implements Work Requirementsby Katherine Rodriguez

•More than half of the 11,779 people enrolled for food stamps in 21 counties, an estimated 7,251 people, have dropped out of the food stamp program—a drop of 62 percent, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

•Georgia first rolled out its work requirements for the food stamp program in three counties in January 2016. Since then, the state has expanded work requirements in an additional 21 counties, giving people in those 21 counties until April 1, 2017 to find a job or lose food stamp benefits.

•Those who receive benefits must work at least 20 hours a week, be enrolled in state-approved job training, or volunteer for a state-approved non-profit or charity.

“Regime Change By Any Other Name?” by Victor Davis Hanson

•Election machines in three states were not hacked to give Donald Trump the election. There was never a serious post-election movement of electors to defy their constitutional duties and vote for Hillary Clinton. Nor, once Trump was elected, did transgendered people begin killing themselves in alarming numbers. Nor were there mass resignations at the State Department upon his inauguration.

•Nor did Donald Trump seek an order to “ban all Muslims” from entering the U.S. Instead, he temporarily sought a suspension in visas for everyone, regardless of religion, from seven Middle Eastern states that the Obama administration had earlier identified as incapable of properly vetting travelers to the U.S.



The Tragic View of Life by The Elephant's Child

Searching the internet for the news yesterday, I came across Katy Perry’s vapid remarks about Manchester “the greatest thing we can do is just unite and love on each other. No barriers, no borders, we all just need to coexist.” Then there were Mark Zuckerberg’s equally vacuous remarks about  a “new social contract with a universal basic income,”in his speech at Harvard’s graduation.

He then said, though, that the struggle of our time will be between “the forces of freedom, openness and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism.”

“Forces for the flow of knowledge, trade and immigration against those who would slow them down,” he continued. “This is not a battle of nations, it’s a battle of ideas.”

Zuckerberg then choked up as he told the graduates that one of his top students at the Boys and Girls Club where he volunteers his time was a DREAMer who “raised his hand and said he wasn’t sure he could go [to college] because he’s undocumented. He didn’t know if they’d let him in.” Zuckerberg said he took him out for his birthday and when he asked him what he wanted, “he started talking about students he saw struggling and said, ‘you know, I’d really just like a book on social justice.’”

There are lots of books about social justice, unfortunately there is no such thing. There is one kind of justice in the world, which is based in the laws and courts and constitutions of the world. Social justice means a kind of justice that the speaker believes is fair. Good luck with that. My idea of what is fair for everyone is far different than the next guy’s and the next. You can try to convince the world that if they can just “imagine” a glorious future, but then John Lennon tried that one.

Human nature is not fixable. You can’t make everybody be “nice.” The Castros tried the guaranteed income bit in Cuba, gave everybody $20 a month. And desperate Cubans got on anything that would float and tried to make it to America. Recognizing Cuba for the socialist prison it is, America gave admission to any Cubans who could make it to our shores. Obama cancelled that because Cuban refugees were unlikely to become Democrat voters.

Victor Davis Hanson writes frequently about the tragic view of life. By that he means that you can’t have world peace when even your own family can’t get along. We have built great organizations to make and keep the peace, and simply created another mess. The United Nations does have nations speaking to each other through their representatives, but the record of UN Peacekeepers is disastrous. People we love will die, new businesses will fail, people will get fired, government programs will fail. Things far beyond our control will happen and take vast numbers of lives, tsunami, volcanoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, plagues. And now we have Islamic terrorism.

Our advances come in small surprises, often unrecognized—the Magna Charta, the American Constitution. Pasteur’s discovery of germs changed the life expectancy of the world. The first “miracle drug” was aspirin. Our really big, highly celebrated discoveries or inventions often don’t perform as hoped. We have invested so much in education, hoping to prepare each new generation to do better and live better and advance the world a little bit more, and one wonders if the snowflakes and social justice warriors the universities are turning out are even employable. They are not all protesting, nor refusing to hear voices of disagreement, and surely there are some students who are learning and thinking who will come up with the small insight that will improve the world another small bit.



Nabucco – The Hebrew Slaves Chorus by The Elephant's Child
May 27, 2017, 6:52 am
Filed under: Politics

Guiseppi Verdi’s opera Nabucco with the popular Slaves Chorus. I had never heard it before, and it is beautiful. I was captivated by the staging. Each vignette could be a painting.  Enlarge to full screen. Enjoy.



Major Changes Coming to One of the Largest School Districts in the Country. by The Elephant's Child

Two school choice proponents won election to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board this past week. That means that supporters of charter schools and school choice now have majority control over the seven-person panel that directs one of the largest school districts in the country. So this is a very big and positive step forward. Particularly for those who believe that parents should have a say in the choice of school for their child.

Not everyone agrees. School districts and the state authorities, and the teachers’ unions firmly believe that they should be the governing authorities. But like all large bureaucracies, they are inclined to forget who really should control what their children learn and where. Possibly the people who care about the specific children and ones who pay the cost. Bureaucrats  are usually good at platitudes, but in the real world the platitudes are mostly empty. They are more interested in diversity, segregation, race, ethnicity—all the usual leftist themes—than in what and how well children are learning. And the constant demand will be for more money and smaller class size.

Some of the best schooling I ever had was in 2nd and third grade in a one-room country schoolhouse with one very good teacher for 8 grades. Better schools are not a result of more money and smaller class size, as the teacher’s unions insist. Charter schools are public schools. They just can be organized on different principles.




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