American Elephants


Manchester, Muslims, Migrants and the Middle East. by The Elephant's Child

Many of us have wondered why Europeans seem to have welcomed so many migrants from the Middle East. At first, they welcomed the migrants with flowers and food and housing, and even song. Whether this was simply a case of accepting at face value the term “refugees” or “migrants,” and believing that they must help the unfortunate, or just being terminally uninformed, I have no idea. In the wake of the Manchester attack, the thoughts of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble give a glimpse of the thought processes. The growing number of Muslims in Germany, he said, represent a learning opportunity rather than a threat.

“It is fanaticism, not only in Islam, that leads to terrible crimes,” he said, speaking on German public radio station Deutschlandfunk Wednesday evening, when asked about the Islamist attack in which 22 mostly young people, including an eight-year-old girl, lost their lives. …

“The world’s great religions all preach the message that one must look upon others as their sisters and brothers, and that one must live with the other because man cannot live alone,” Schäuble told presenter Christiane Florin.

“‘Islam is part of Germany’ is a sober, factual statement,” the minister remarked, commenting on sentiments voiced by Chancellor Angela Merkel on more than one occasion – which are not shared by the majority of Germans.

“Anyone who denies this denies reality and is therefore not suited to being a politician, because politics begins with the confrontation of reality,” he added.

The number of refugees in Germany who are capable of committing terrorist acts has quadrupled since 2011, the German Federal Criminal Police Office has said.

Security concerns have heightened in Germany after close to a million refugees arrived in 2015 from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Africa. Fears worsened when more than 1,200 women were reportedly assaulted in various German cities on New Year’s Eve in 2015.

Officials say there are 657 refugees capable of committing terror attacks and 388 potential accomplices in such attacks.

The Manchester attack has awakened British officialdom to the threat to their people, and armed military people are guarding the trains in Britain. Hungary has put up a wall, and is accepting no migrants. Other nations are having all sorts of trouble with the migrants who have arrived in their countries. France has ‘no go’ neighborhoods  where even the police will not venture, and numbers of attacks.

The new French President, Emmanuel Macron, wants Islam to have more room in France. Like many European leaders Macron seems to be convinced that the remedy for the demographic deficit and the aging of ethnic European populations is more immigration. Besides, they seem to be more worried about climate change. Macron claimed to be a ‘centrist’, but the outgoing Socialist President François Hollande has spoken of him as a “continuity”, not an alternative. His entire program is socialist. Lots of additional public expenditures, and climate change is defined as the “key issue for the future of the world.”

Our own Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly, remarked today that “if we knew what he knows about terror threats in this country, we’d never leave the house.”

He was interviewed on Fox and Friends on Friday and said that the terror threat is “worse than we realize.” He pointed out four major terror attacks in the last week, by “more or less the same groups,” in Manchester, England, in Egypt where 28 Coptic Christians were slaughtered, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, and in Indonesia.

“It’s everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost any time,” Kelly said.

Here’s Andy McCarthy:

Here is the blunt, inescapable fact: The United States is in a defensive war against what is imprecisely called “radical Islam.” The war proceeds on two tracks: the kinetic militancy of jihadists, and the cultural challenge of anti-Western, anti-constitutional Islamic law and mores. The ideology that catalyzes both tracks is sharia supremacism — the implementation and spreading of sharia, classical Islam’s societal structure and legal code, is the rationale for all jihadist terror and of all the Islamist cultural aggression that slipstreams behind it.

The dividing line is sharia supremacism. On one side of it we find patriotic, pro-American Muslims who are spiritually devout but reject the imposition of sharia on civil and political life; on the other, the Islamists — the sharia supremacists. The challenge posed by the latter is not merely that some percentage of them are jihadists; it is that as a population — or as enclaves that take hold in the West — they are assimilation-resistant, and their ideological havens will breed the jihadists of the future while stifling the Constitution in the here and now.

That is what we have to vet for. That is what the majority of the American people want: Muslims who embrace our way of life invited in, Muslims who threaten our way of life kept out. You can’t get there without subjecting Muslim aliens to more-extensive inspection.

What can we do? Try to be informed, and I guess, be ready with the candles and flowers.

 



The Art of Political War And the Art of a Political Response by The Elephant's Child

Republicans prefer their presidential candidates to be experienced governors who are practiced at dealing with difficult legislatures, lots of state agencies and troublesome problems that pop up unexpectedly—so when they are elected they can move into the White House more or less knowing what they are doing.

Democrats prefer glamorous candidates that they can admire. They fell in love with FDR, Jack Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Obama. Republicans seldom go to that extreme, though they have liked some better than others.

We elected Donald Trump, who, having spent his life in a very liberal New York City, is not as intense a Republican, or perhaps only lately a Republican. Nevertheless, he saw something disturbingly wrong with the Obama administration’s America, and he wants to fix it —  hence the “Make America Great Again” baseball caps and the “draining the swamp rhetoric.” He hit a chord in vast numbers of angry American voters.

The White House and the presidential job were a bit startling to this Chief Executive Officer of his own empire, It’s far more intense than he had expected. Democrats in the Senate slow-walked every appointment that they could. Maxine Waters got in front of every available camera to insist on impeaching the president. Selecting the best person for each cabinet post means lots of interviews, lots of recommendations to sort through, and at 120 days he has finally completed the appointments.

I can sort of imagine the problems. He has his campaign staff with him, but many of the most important cabinet officers are still new to him. Each of them must start right in with a brand new office of old Washington hands, some willing, many unfriendly leftovers. Many of the appointments seem to be outstanding. Nikki Haley has hit the ground running at the UN. Some of the new people aren’t Republicans at all. Suspicions abound. Old familiar staff and family and new staff are sizing each other up and trying to decide if they can possibly work together.

Congress is moving at a slow crawl. The news media is hostile and trying to make a catastrophe out of every word by, about and from the President. The Democrats cannot accept the verdict of the American people and are trying to bring down this president. There are “Never Trumpers” among the Republicans. The Democrats really struck pay-dirt when they found the 5 year old tape of the presidential candidate  making “locker-room comments” about women attracted to celebrities. Someone remarked that it was a “class issue”, and because of that comment, the elites determined that he was lower class, and thereby beyond the pale. Uneeded complications.

Trump is meeting with a wide variety of our most repellent foreign leaders in coming days, at his invitation. I think he just wants to size them up himself, rather than just rely on what he is being told. Some are disturbed that he is willing to meet with these heads of state.

The new staff is still sorting itself out and not satisfactorily. Some will be replaced, which will lead to further attacks from the Democrats. Staff dissension will be sorted out, communication will improve, and progress will be made. Bite your tongue. Allow the White House time to sort out the newness,  they are under attack in an unexpected war. We’ve got an outstanding bunch of people there. Use your annoyance and anger to attack the left’s unrelenting venom.

Democrats are unaccustomed to any possibility that Republicans might actually respond. They remind us frequently that Mitch McConnell said early in Obama’s first term that his number one goal was to make sure that Obama was a one-term president, and how rude and crass a comment! That was apparently the whole of the Republican attack on the new Democrat president. Republicans are far too polite to really go on offense. They need your help. Hang in there. Praise the successes, and try not to criticize the flops too much. They need your encouragement, not  your criticism. It’s still very early on.

 

 



The American Left Has Gone Very Wrong by The Elephant's Child

Over at The Federalist John Daniel Davidson wrote a piece headlined “The American Left is Talking Itself Into Violence”

Something is wrong with the American Left. The recent spate of violent protests on college campuses has been well-documented, but the violence and intolerance championed by left-wing student activists is beginning to creep off campus and into mainstream public life.

The reason for this is straightforward enough: although progressives pride themselves on their putative tolerance and diversity, the imperatives of leftist politics are fundamentally illiberal. Justice imposed through power is the philosophical foundation of the political left, and when earnest progressives become convinced the only avenue to power is violence, their tolerance quickly falls by the wayside.

The reason for it all is not the campuses, that’s just more evidence of the derangement. The Left lost the election. They have been astounded to learn that the popular vote does not count, and think that is highly unjust. They are unfamiliar with the reason the founders set our governance up that way, so that small enclaves with large populations cannot dominate the rest of the states. They were absolutely sure that Hillary’s win was a sure thing. They envisioned permanent Lefty rule with no annoyance from a failed Republican party, no stupid Tea Party, and their grand vision of a better world and intelligent governance by qualified elites would bring the dream of socialist perfection ever closer. They would be in control.

But they lost, Hillary lost, and to a man with orange skin and a weird haircut who said crude things. They lost the House — 69 seats, the Senate —13 seats, 910 state legislative seats, 30 legislative chambers. They were so enchanted with the first Black President. and his brilliance, and being in power, and doing all the things that were on the lefty agenda, that they simply didn’t notice that their president was doing a lousy job—doubled the national debt, doubled the debt per citizen, put another 10 million on food stamps, added an average of $6,000 to the cost of a family health insurance plan, and managed to make the world a far more dangerous place by portraying America as a weak, unreliable country. They still don’t understand that.

They awakened to a world in which their leaders were all—old. In their 70s and eighties. They had no deep bench of up-and-coming successful governors. States governed by Democrats are not successful. Many of their potential candidates are roundly disliked in their current posts. What can they do? Clearly, they must revert to their past victories in bringing down George W. Bush, destroying Nixon—they do know how to do that. They will impeach Donald Trump. He is so awful that they can surely find something to impeach him for.

Chucky Schumer, peering over his glasses, intoned: “We know Director Comey was leading an investigation in [sic] whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, a serious offense. If there was ever a time when circumstances warranted a special prosecutor, it is now” Andy McCarthy responded “No it’s not. “ Hillary has attempted to blame her defeat on Russian collusion, but now it seems that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich has sent 44,053 DNC emails to Wikileaks, though family and FBI sources discount that story. But it appears that the “Russian interference” may have been an inside job. And Russian interference was not why Hillary lost the election. She was unlikable, untrustworthy, and ran a lousy campaign.

If you read the Federalist piece on the Left talking itself into violence, you will find several examples where they have.  Representative Martha McSally, who represents the Arizona district where Rep Gabrielle Giffords was shot, has received serious death threats (he was going to shoot her between the eyes) from a Tucson school district employee who said “he was venting frustrations with congressional votes in support of the President of the United States. The article gives several other examples of people “inspired by the Resistance.”

The media isn’t even pointing out the fact that there’s a pattern forming, much less suggesting anyone else is ultimately responsible. That would be fine if they’d just stick to those rules the moment someone on the right does some crazy. But they won’t. There are two sets of rules for how these things are handled by the media.

The hard left media is increasingly irresponsible in their reporting, and  trying to make major news out of sketchy information. Law Professor and Hoover Institution fellow Richard Epstein took to the pages of Vox to say “Attention, liberals: Comey deserved to be fired and the Constitution is just fine. The hyperventilation in Washington is unjustified.”

Donald Trump won the election in part, because he promised to “Drain the swamp in Washington,” and there were a lot of Americans who thought that was a very good idea. As time passes, it becomes clear that it is not only a good idea, but very necessary.

 

 



The American Left and the American Right: Is It War? by The Elephant's Child

In some ways, it’s really quite amazing that we can talk to our progressive friends. We don’t speak the same language and we definitely don’t define words in the same way.

They speak emotion and future and purification of the human race, we speak of Constitution and laws, economics, innovation and opportunity. They talk endlessly about fairness and diversity. But we don’t mean the same thing, for example, by diversity. For the left it means skin color, ethnicity, country of origin—surface things. Conservatives are interested in diversity of ideas, interests, habits and history, hopes and dreams. The left is terminally interested in gender, to the disadvantage of everyone, and all of its variations which must be noted, celebrated and paraded and now joined forever in shared bathrooms. Conservatives recognize two genders descended from Adam and Eve with the same characteristics those two started with. Conservatives celebrate and respect family. The left tries to destroy it.

There are remarkable numbers of useless phrases in circulation: clean energy, sustainable development, renewable energy, fairness, income inequality, normative framework, undocumented citizens and of course multiculturalism — the NYT recently came up with “incorrect promise.” Some of these constructions are meant to change minds and actions.

Grocery stores celebrate all thing organic,which means quite specifically that they must be grown and fertilized with manure, not chemicals.  Technically it’s all nitrogen, but real animal poop has the extra advantage of possibly infecting you with e-coli. Consider how it is supposed to effect the quality of the sheets for your bed if the cotton from which they were woven was fertilized with steer manure? Organic is pure bunk, and costs about 30% more.

College students are so sensitive to language that they cannot bear to hear ideas or thoughts expressed which disagree with their own ideas.  Free speech is a term that has specific First Amendment meaning for Conservatives, but I’m unclear about just what the Left thinks it means.

The most recent idiocy is perhaps cultural appropriation, which became a big deal on some campus with the idea that large hoop earrings were a cultural appropriation, and should be rejected. This is perhaps the silliest idea they have come up with. Bruce Bawer said it nicely:

For two centuries, America accomplished something that should have previously seemed impossible: the creation of a brand new national identity by individuals who, forsaking old loyalties and joining to make new lives melted away ethnic differences. Hector St. John Crevecour (Letters from an American Farmer) described Americans as “a new race of men” a race that paradoxically had nothing to do with race.” In 1944, Gunnar Myrdal marveled at the fact that Americans of every ethnicity, religion and color shared a more “explicitly expressed system of general  ideals” than the people of any other country in the Western world.”

Lots of cultural appropriation — and good for us.



A Lesson in Pure Partisanship by The Elephant's Child

More jottings from my notebook:

No date, but the conversation makes the time element fairly clear. This is Chris Matthews at MSNBC explaining partisanship to the uninitiated.

Before I get started today I want to express how grateful I am for the awe-inspiring leadership of my president. Syria is a bloodbath, Iraq is in the hands of terrorists, Israel is on the verge of war with the Palestinians, and Russian troops are in Ukraine.  On top of that we’ve got the Benghazi, IRS, NSA, and VA scandals and our Southern border is rife with diseased children, gang members and Middle Eastern terrorists donning sombreros. All these problems that were created by the Bush administration would have crippled the most stoic of leaders. Yet, last night I saw a news video of President Obama laughing and enjoying himself in Denver as he ate Pizza, drank beer and played billiards. Our president is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, but you’d never know it by looking at him. Today he’s headed to the golf course before attending three different fundraisers. Tomorrow he’s shooting a game of hoops with LeBron James and Barbara Streisand before hosting a $45,000 a seat fundraiser at Steven Spielberg’s East Hampton. Calm, cool and self-assured folks. Those are the characteristics of a leader.

You can probably guess why I copied this down. It was hard writing because I couldn’t stop giggling. It’s all so innocent.



100 Days and the Gap in Understanding May be Too Wide to Bridge by The Elephant's Child

The whole First 100 Days thing is a legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Charles Kesler explains where the arbitrary standard to which modern presidents are held comes from:

FDR spoke of “the hundred days which had been devoted to the starting of the wheels of the New Deal” in his fireside chat of July 24, 1933—142 days after his March 4 inauguration. He was referring to “the historical special session of the Congress” he had convened, which opened March 9 and adjourned June 16. That is, the Hundred Days were legislative days, not executive days.

Today’s Congress commonly leaves Washington three days a week. If you wanted to apply Roosevelt’s implicit criterion of 100 congressional days, you’d be counting not to April 30, but into July or August—or even September or later, since Congress is in recess the whole month of August.

Well, never mind. It provides a handy lead for lazy reporters. It’s been 100 days, what has he accomplished, and even better— what not?

The administration started off with a bang issuing three executive orders within weeks of the inauguration addressing border control, including construction of the wall, and immigration related crime like smuggling of drugs and people. The Executive Orders included the expeditious hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, new air and marine officers for Customs and Border Patrol, and 10,000 new interior immigration enforcement agents. The immediate numbers of border crossers are down sharply, but dips have been seen before.

The practice of releasing arriving non-Mexican illegal border crossers immediately with an order to appear later (which never happens), has been stopped. ICE has increased its detention capacity by 1,100 beds, and made plans for 21,000 additional if funds become available. Reporters like to point out that many of those deported have not really committed real crimes, but might just have traffic violations (ignoring the fact that crossing the border illegally is a major violation of law). Did you know that there are at least 200 members of the violent MS-13 Salvadorean gang on Long Island, and are increasingly a national and international problem. Long Island.

Then of course there are the Obama named judges who are putting holds on Trump’s executive orders, though Obama’s very questionable executive orders sailed through. US District Court Judge William Orrick has issued a stay on Trump’s Executive Order withholding funding from communities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities. It is interesting to consider an article in the National Journal which examines the strange opinions of Trump voters:  It seems that “national security is a much bigger deal for Republicans than the economy. Trump’s supporters are quite optimistic about their economic future, but are deeply worried about their security.”

The author’s slightly amazed tone that such should be the case explains a lot, The signs held by protesters outside of Judge Orrick’s courtroom “ICE out of California.” NO Ban! NO Wall! Sanctuary for all” “Inclusion,” “Immigrants ARE Welcome,” and “Love is our Resistance” in the picture topping an article by Andy McCarthy, which explains why the judge is incorrect in his stay. It suggests that Democrats are completely unaware of the very real threat of nuclear attack from Iran and North Korea. I increasingly get the feeling that we are talking past each other, because we don’t share the same information, the same sources, the same interests. Megyn Kelly is coming back on the air with an interview with the Kardashians. Why? Isn’t there something more important to discuss?

Matthew Continetti took a different approach with “The Democrats’ First 100 Days,”which is fun, but they haven’t accomplished much of anything at all, so there’s not much to tell.

Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the president, reviewed the Trump administration’s first 100 days, and spoke about the president’s address to a joint session of Congress.

It’s very, very interesting to go back and not just read the transcript, but watch the video, and that moment when the commander-in-chief pauses, looks straight at the camera, and says, “the enemy is radical Islamic terrorism.”

“You send messages overtly, you send them implicitly,” he elaborated. “I think everybody by now understands the MOAB attack in Afghanistan, the cruise missile attack in Syria — neither of those uses of force by the president are just about the countries in which they occurred.”

I also ran across these lines from Thomas Sowell: “The vision of the Left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves—a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create “social justice” and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalted vision that few are ready to give up, or to risk on a roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to. Maybe that is why there are so many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages or innumerable other causes—and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.

I don’t challenge their vision. I challenge the failure to test their vision with some real facts from the real world.



The French, Coming Apart. And the Rest of Us Too? by The Elephant's Child

Christopher Caldwell has a fascinating piece at City Journal about “The French, Coming Apart” He writes about Christophe Guilluy who has spent decades in France as a housing consultant in rapidly changing neighborhoods, studying gentrification, social problems, immigration tensions, deindustrialization, economic decline, ethnic conflict, and changes in politics and the rise of populist parties.  It is a ground-level look, Caldwell says, at the economic, residential, and democratic consequences of globalization in France.

France’s political system is as polarized as our own, this discussion arises in the midst of a French election which has selected Marine Le Pen described as a far-right nationalist or populist and Emmanuel Macron, a representative of France’s elite who is apt to win decisively, but to represent the status quo which is hugely unpopular. Unsurprisingly, immigration is a major issue. President Hollande’s approval rating is down around 6 percent, Macron represents more of the same, apologizes for French colonialism, and is a fierce defender of France’s open immigration system.

A process that Guilluy calls métropolisation has cut French society in two. In 16 dynamic urban areas (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Rouen, Toulon, Douai-Lens, and Montpellier), the world’s resources have proved a profitable complement to those found in France. These urban areas are home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations and the many well-paying jobs that go with them….

Most of France’s small cities, in fact, are in la France périphérique.) Rather, the term measures distance from the functioning parts of the global economy. France’s best-performing urban nodes have arguably never been richer or better-stocked with cultural and retail amenities. But too few such places exist to carry a national economy. When France’s was a national economy, its median workers were well compensated and well protected from illness, age, and other vicissitudes. In a knowledge economy, these workers have largely been exiled from the places where the economy still functions. They have been replaced by immigrants.

Guilluy shows that if French people were willing to do the work in the prosperous urban centers, there would be no place for them to live. It’s an interesting look at French societal problem, but also at British and American developments. Caldwell calls it globalization, but I’m not sure that it isn’t something quite different. Working class Frenchmen no longer exist in Paris. Multiculturalism, artificial intelligence, freedom of speech, political correctness, socialism. Some of the same effects led to Britain leaving the European Union.  70% of Frenchmen tell pollsters that there are too many foreigners in France. Jews are leaving at the rate of around 7,000 a year, fearing for their safety.

I remember reading, years ago, that the globalist NGOs saw the future of America as the people crowded together in very large high-rise cities with connecting roadways, and the land returned to wilderness in between. One wondered where the food would come from, among other things. but this piece brought back that memory. The big cities of the country are becoming unaffordable, with tiny houses, and apartments made of shipping containers, to crowd more people in. My own sleepy suburb has become a high-rise city with affordable living apartments developing all over. Reports of tiny spaces renting for outrageous sums in the Bay Area abound.

It is an interesting piece and both disturbing and thought-provoking. If you want to be provoked into pondering just where we are going, I recommend it. Paul Mirengoff at Power Line writes about it as well, but mostly in reference to the French election.

Makes me wonder if in pursuit of “draining the swamp” in Washington D.C. it wouldn’t be a good idea to move some agencies out to cities across the country. It’s getting way too incestuous back there.




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