American Elephants


How Intelligence Works

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is a recipient of the U.S .National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the author of several books, including Real-World Intelligence and Hard Thinking, and many of his speeches are available on YouTube.

In the most recent copy of Imprimus, an excerpt from a recent speech on Intelligence is fascinating. “How Intelligence Works (When It Does)

Just utter the word “intelligence” and most people conjure up images of spies, secret satellites peering down on foreign cities and terrorist camps, and rooms full of young technocrats reading private emails and listening to private conversations. These images are accurate, but they reflect the tools and techniques of our intelligence service, rather than its purpose.

To understand its purpose, think of a jumbo jet flying at night through turbulent skies—thunder clouds, lightning, other airplanes streaking in all directions and at all altitudes. To navigate through this, the pilot and his crew rely on their radar—the instrument that paints a picture of their environment, enabling them to see what’s going on around them and what lies ahead so they can chart a safe course. Radar doesn’t tell the captain and his crew what to do, but it gives them the accurate information they’ll need to make good decisions.

Our intelligence service is our nation’s radar. Its purpose is to provide the president and his national security team with an accurate picture of what’s going on in the world and what’s likely to happen in the days, months, and years ahead. The assumption is that if the president and his team have this information, they can chart a safe course for our country. And if they can see the distant future soon enough and clearly enough—and if they don’t like what they see—they can take steps to change the future before it happens.

Good intelligence is a combination, he says, of information and insight. Information is the raw material, while insight is the finished product.The key to producing good intelligence lies in getting this combination of information and insight right. …You start with a thesis—in other words you decide what you want to know, then you send your collectors out to get it. The key is asking the right question.

In the period from the end of World War II until 1981, every president’s objective had been not to lose the Cold War. If things were no worse when a president left office than when he took office—he’d done a good job. President Reagan, instead, wanted to win the Cold War. He had switched from Defense to Offense. His Director of Central Intelligence asked the CIA’s Soviet Division  two questions. Where is the Soviet Union weak? and Where is it most vulnerable? The answer he received was: We don’t know. No one’s ever asked this before.

You can read the rest of this most interesting post at the link above.

Imprimus is a brief publication from Hillsdale College delivered to your email once a month. You can subscribe, it’s free. They also offer a number of free courses you can take. Hillsdale receives no federal money, remains stubbornly independent and teaches subjects like the Constitution and American History, things like that. No safe spaces, no riots. Excellent professors. Real education.



Overturning a Regulation Here and a Regulation There and Eventually You Are Free Again

Within just 24 hours, the Senate successfully overturned two sets of regulations finalized by the Department of Education in the final weeks of the Obama administration. As the Daily Signal reported:

Using the oversight authority granted to it by the Congressional Review Act, the Senate passed resolutions of disapproval for accountability regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act and regulations for teacher preparation programs. These resolutions now proceed to President Donald Trump.

The use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back these regulations provides immediate relief for states and schools. It also prevents the Department of Education from promulgating substantially similar regulations in the future without congressional approval.

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb) rose to speak about the regulations, and said he had prepared some major thoughts, but put them aside because it all boiled down to two simple facts:

1.Government bureaucrats are not qualified to make highly specific decisions for remote programs.

2. The federal government lacks the constitutional authority to interfere in local decision-making about education.

He also pointed out that the regulations directed at local decision-making  devised by the Obama administration amounted to 635 pages of densely worded directives. 635 pages! Federal micromanagement at its best.

That’s the essence of the Left’s drive for control. They are quite sure that they are considerably smarter than those rubes out there, and must control their every effort at individual freedom.

Striking down regulations one by one is a long and troublesome process. Thank your representatives when they succeed. The Left’s desire for control is, in the end, no match for the American people’s demand for freedom.



It Is Surpassingly Important that Lefties Feel Good About Themselves!

Popular “virtue-signalling” sign. Completely irrational.

A new report from the Ohio Jobs and Justice Political Action Committee says that sanctuary cities are growing and 36 new locales have been added to the list of nearly 500 sanctuary cities. The group has been tracking sanctuary cities for over 10 years. This doesn’t seem  to be anything  that appears on a ballot, but rather the machinations of city councils—what they  are now calling “virtue-signalling” — or “see what a good person I am.”

What I don’t get is why anyone would assume that being a “Sanctuary City” in direct defiance of federal laws is a good thing, nor why protecting illegal aliens is to be considered admirable.  We have immigration laws. If you want to come to the United States to visit, to work, or to live and/or become a citizen, there are rules to protect both the immigrant and the American people.

Sanctuary Cities announce that because they want to be perceived as good people, they want to ignore the rules and regulations and let those who refuse to follow the law be protected from arrest or detention, no matter what they have done or plan to do. Is that stating it baldly enough? Why would you want to protect people, who have already demonstrated that they have no respect for the law— instead of your own citizens?

The Left likes to play with words, in this case attempting to confuse people’s perception of the difference between an illegal alien, an immigrant, a refugee, an H1B worker, and someone here on a visitor’s visa who has illegally overstayed. 

The same thing is being played out in President Trump’s Executive Order halting immigration from 7 countries selected by the Obama administration for 90 days until vetting procedures can be developed to cope with the absence of official sources in those countries to identify the would-be immigrants. This is not a ban on Muslim immigrants—there are far more Muslims in other countries who are not being banned at all.

These are countries where ISIS and alQaeda are prominent and who have announced that they are sending their fighters into our country to kill Americans. Seventy-two terrorists from these countries have been convicted in our courts.

More than 1800 refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have been resettled in this country in the period since a federal court judge  suspended key parts of an executive order dated Jan. 27 from these 7 nations. Unvetted. But they are refugeeeees! Maybe, maybe not. We can help far more actual refugees if we help them in areas near to their homes simply because it costs a lot more to resettle them here. As usual, what is most important to members of the Left is “a matter of their very flattering vision of themselves as people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited and create social justice” for all.

President Trump has rewritten his Executive Order, which was due to take effect but a Hawaii judge has issued the same sort of illegal halt that a Seattle District judge issued earlier. In this case it is really astonishing. The Hawaii District Judge said that he didn’t need to read the order, but that because Trump had spoken unfavorably about Muslims during the campaign, clearly he had animus against Muslims. He also included the objections of a local Muslim of Egyptian descent  who felt that he was discriminated against in spite of the fact that there was nothing in the Order that affected him in any way. Whew! The Constitution is absolutely clear that the President of the United States can exclude anyone he wants to from entering the United States. The Hawaii ruling will go to the Ninth Circuit which gets overruled constantly because they are so far left.

This is once again the Left, who are furious that Donald Trump won the election, furious that they have been decimated at every level of government, and so devoid of a “bench” that they are reduced to touting Chelsea Clinton, Al Franken and Senator Cherokee Cheekbones as potential candidates.

Democrats know they are in trouble, and have declared total war, and to heck with the Constitution. They are trying to use refugees and illegals to change the demographics of voting districts in a way more friendly to the Left. Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder plan to file lawsuits across the country in districts where lines have been redrawn, or ‘gerrymandered’ by Republicans, to find cause to flip them in a way more favorable to Democrats.

The idea that you can simply reject the results of an election because you don’t like the winning candidate is completely antithetical to American Law and American tradition. It is not a small matter, and should be taken seriously as an attack on the nation by those who do not care about American Law and American tradition.



Desperate Democrats Search Fruitlessly for a Real Issue

It’s the Border Wall. That will fix those Despicable Republicans! Senate Democratic leaders say there’s no plan for construction or getting Mexico to pay for it. Showdown! Shutdown! The Senate Democratic leadership team wrote a letter:

We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s Administration.
Contractors all over the country are putting in bids to build the wall, and it seems that the wall will pay for itself. Illegal immigrants pose costs on the country. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) has estimated that one illegal immigrant costs state and local governments approximately $75,000 in a lifetime, taking into account taxes paid and the cost of providing benefits such as education and health care. President Trump’s border wall needs only to stop about 10 percent of illegal crossings in order to pay for itself. The wall is estimated to cost around $12 to $15 billion and would soon be offset by the savings to government if fewer illegal immigrants arrive over the next decade.
President Trump is able to begin immediate construction and opening bids for contracts because of a 2006 measure signed by President George W. Bush and supported by 64 Democrats. Two-thirds of the Republican-led House approved the bill including 64 Democrats, and 80 of 100 senators approved the bill in the Senate, including Senator Charles Schumer. The bill authorized DHS to construct about 700 miles of fencing or wall along the southern border, and authorized the addition of sensors, lights and cameras to enhance security.

It was to be modeled on the success of the border barriers in the San Diego sector of the U.S. border. The operative word was “secure.” Instead of this two-layer secure fence what has been built consists of flimsy pedestrian fencing or vehicle fencing consisting of posts people can slither through.

The two-tier fence in San Diego runs 14 miles along the border with Tijuana, Mexico. The first layer is a high steel fence, with an inner high anti-climb fence with a no-man’s land in between. It has been amazingly effective. According to a 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service, illegal alien apprehensions in the San Diego sector dropped from 202,000 in 1992 to 9,000 in 2004.

Democrats took back Congress, and in 2008 the White House saw in unrestricted immigration a way to fundamentally transform the demographics of the country and its political landscape. ICE was told not to enforce the law. The unrestricted flow of illegal immigration, drugs and crime soon became too big to ignore. That directive is the source of confusion in the language between Illegal Immigrant, Legal Immigrant, Refugee, Visitors who did not leave when required, and invited H1B workers to replace higher cost American workers. So we have “Sanctuary Cities” who are defying federal law,  and all sorts of confusion about “Amnesty” and “Anchor Babies.”

Enter President Donald Trump who had promised to build a wall. Although there is historically a rise in apprehensions of illegals from January to February, since the administration’s message to ICE and Border Control that they were a law enforcement agency, and Executive Orders to enforce immigration laws—the number of illegal immigrants entering from Mexico has declined by 40 percent  according to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Wednesday. It’s trending toward the lowest monthly total in the last five years, Kelly said. Just the simple statement that the laws will be enforced changes the situation dramatically. Someone should mention that to Minority Leader Schumer.



Democrat Scandal-Mongering Amounts to Nothing at All

Preet Bharara has been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was fired on Saturday, since he chose not to tender his resignation as the other U.S. Attorneys did. It is customary for U.S. Attorneys to resign when a new administration begins, as they serve at the pleasure of the president. Naturally this has been picked up by the Democrats, trying to make a scandal out of a normal function of government that takes place in every new administration.

James Freeman explains the dramatic situation at the Wall Street Journal:

At the start of the first week since 2009 in which Preet Bharara will not be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Manhattan residents are jamming local markets in search of emergency supplies of food and water.

Most shoppers are likely responding to a blizzard warning from the National Weather Service. But given the outsize press coverage of Mr. Bharara’s Saturday firing, one could easily assume that New Yorkers, especially those who work in media, are simply trying to cope with a bout of post-Preet depression.

This is another enormous attempt to create scandal out of nothing at all. Pay no attention.



Another Outstanding Appointment by President Trump

President Trump has selected a physician who is a policy expert to run the Food and Drug Administration—which may be one of the toughest jobs in Washington. Dr. Gottleib served as a deputy commissioner at the FDA during the G.W. Bush Administration, and has worked at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes regularly on physician autonomy, drug prices, antibiotic development and more. In other words, he’s familiar with the problems. We’ll see if he can fix them.

One of Dr. Gottlieb’s priorities will be moving generic medicines to market, and competition is the best way to reduce the price of treatments like the now infamous EpiPen. About 10% of 1,300 branded drugs “have seen patents expire but still face zero generic competition,” Dr. Gottlieb wrote in the Journal last year. “New regulations have, in many cases, made it no longer economically viable for more than one generic firm to enter the market.” Now he can roll back such arbitrary directives.

Dr. Gottlieb has also suggested that the FDA should explain its reasoning when declining to approve a drug. FDA does not release a rejection notice known as a complete response letter. The rule ostensibly exists to protect manufacturers, but the silence allows the agency and a company to peddle divergent tales about what happened. The public is left with minimal information and FDA can operate without fear of accountability.

The need for new antibiotics is dire, and a bureaucracy overburdened with regulation and fearful of accountability is not the way to get things moving. The FDA has been overburdened with caution ever since the thalidomide scandal in the ’60s. Thalidomide was a tranquilizer, marketed as a mild sleeping pill safe even for pregnant women, but it turned out to cause thousands of babies to be born with malformed or missing limbs. Careful testing for safety is essential, but getting drugs to market to save lives is also important. Avoidance of accountability is not.



The Teacher, The School System, The City Council, the Legislature. the Governor and Maybe Even the Courts Will Tell You the Schools Need More Money! It’s All Lies!

What about America’s public education? There are a lot of complaints about K-12 as well. Many hope that Betsy DeVos, the newly confirmed Secretary of Education, can make a big difference in the schools that are failing our most-at-risk children in poor neighborhoods. She is a big proponent of school choice, which allows parents to choose where their child should go to school—something well-to-do parents do quite naturally without realizing that choice is not available to all. One of the great tragedies of the Obama administration was the president’s failure to support the nation’s capitol’s Opportunity Scholarships which have changed the lives of poor kids.

Most ordinary Americans support their community schools, and believe public education to be a good thing. Yet college professors are complaining that their incoming students don’t know anything. There was a small note of cheer this week when I ran across an article that said “Cursive Writing Is Making a Much- Needed Comeback in Schools.” Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016 that mandate cursive proficiency in public schools, the latest in 14 states that require cursive. Fads, unfortunately, pass through the education system destroying everything in their wake. There is a generation out there who never learned cursive skills. They hold a pencil awkwardly, and write in big block letters.

Penmanship proponents say writing words in an unbroken line of swooshing l’s and three-humped m’s is just a faster, easier way of taking notes. Others say students should be able to understand documents written in cursive, such as, say, a letter from Grandma. And still more say it’s just a good life skill to have, especially when it comes to signing your name.

A remarkable amount of dross comes out of the schools of education. When computers arrived on the scene, they decided everyone would communicate with keyboards, and all kids needed was to learn “keyboarding.” You also have to learn how to read other people’s handwriting. I was lucky in that my father and an aunt had the world’s most execrable handwriting possible, and learning to cope with them made me pretty good at deciphering anyone’s scribbles.

The act of handwriting helps to fix the thought in the mind. You learn better if you write it down. That’s why people intuitively write lists, directions, rules and anything they want to remember. The more you write things down the better you will do in the memory department. This is an actual scientific fact. It’s all very nice to have things in 12 to 15 point type in a clear font, but the teeny keyboards you can pull up on your phone are not an improvement on a pencil and a scrap of paper. (If this kind of thing is of interest to you, try to get your hands on the 4 books by Richard Mitchell, beginning with “Less Than Words Can Say” or simply Google “Richard Mitchell underground grammarian,” and you will have access to his works)

“Diversity” is another fad that swept the schools. Children obviously couldn’t learn properly unless the classroom had a wide array of skin tones, ethnicity, countries of origin, language, etc., etc.  That schools were supposed to be about reading, writing and arithmetic, as they used to say, escaped the educators in the education schools. Teachers used to learn how to teach in “Normal Schools.” These were 2-year schools that covered the basics of grammar school. (There was also once a reason why they called it “Grammar” school) By the time kids got to high school, it was a bit more demanding so teachers gradually were required to have a college degree. Departments of Economics, Philosophy, Physics, that sort of thing, were apt to look down on Departments engaged in how to draw the letters of the alphabet on a blackboard, and unimpressed with PhDs in Education, which has made Professors of Education very sensitive, and apt to fall for the latest new thing.

Even more recent is the discovery that many black adolescent boys behave badly in school, and get sent to the principal, sent home or expelled more frequently than white adolescent boys. Obviously racism. And the cure is to just not expel or punish those who misbehave if they are black. If you know anything about kids, this is an invitation for more bad behavior. There is a rash of teachers being attacked in schools across the country. Science says successful students need hours of physical activity every day. They don’t get enough exercise. Boys particularly. But we have to protect children from physical dangers. Did you ever wonder where the teeter-totters went? Or what happened to the swings and the merry-go-round?

Parents trek to the schools for parent-teacher conferences and the teacher tells them how splendidly their kid is doing, and you assume all is well. But you have not learned the basic lesson of the schools. All problems are to be solved with more money. Class size is deemed to be a major problem, if the classes were smaller your kid would get more attention. More money. Even the courts have gotten into the money problem ordering states cough up equally for all districts everywhere. Some of the best schooling I ever had was in a one-room country schoolhouse with a very good teacher, a pump on the front porch, a stove in the classroom and two separate outhouses in the separate back corners of the property. It’s not the money, it’s not the playground (there wasn’t one, just fields) it’s not fancy equipment. It’s a skilled teacher. And the Schools of Education are failing, and it’s not their money either.

 




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