American Elephants

The Grand Old Party and the Very Big Tent by The Elephant's Child

big-top2You have probably noticed that we are Republicans here. If you have ever clicked on the “about” button in the sidebar, you will see our big tent declaration. I don’t have a big “see how I discovered conservatism” story, I have always been a Republican. My great great grandfather wrote in the very first days of the Republican Party  “I am a quiet but interested member of the Republican Party.”Not exactly a rousing declaration, but there you are.

I’m a conservative, but most Republicans are, they just define “conservative” a little differently. On some subjects I agree with the libertarians, others with  the “establishment.” That’s what “a big tent” means. You agree on some things, not on others, and you fight about it. And at some point you finally discover that you can’t have your own way and you have to compromise. I get really annoyed by the constant battle by conservatives over who is conservative enough and who is not, and just how pure true conservatism must be.

That said, I believe that most Republicans are dismayed or horrified by the extent to which Barack Obama has attempted to radically transform the United States of America, and once his party was soundly defeated to give control of Congress to the Republicans, by executive order, executive note, refusing to enforce the law, and even going to the United Nations to get his own way. This is something new in American politics.

They are angry about the attempt to change the demographics of the country before the next election. They are frightened by the “Iran Deal” which the president mistakenly believes is a good thing. And that hardly even scratches the surface of a very long list. Republicans are united in their dismay, but all over the place about how to deal with it, about what is most urgent, and especially the correct strategy and tactics.

The fight is on and the Democrats are delighted. They call it “Chaos” and are sure that it is a signal of the coming, much desired demise of the Republican Party. They do want to shut us up, but they would prefer that we just go away — permanently. Here are four great pieces that hint that there’s still some life in the Grand Old Party:

—Kevin Williamson, writing at National Review: “OK. Let’s Fight

—Andrew Malcolm, writing at Investors: “Gee, that felt good to dump Boehner, McCarthy as Speaker, but now …

—David Harsanyi, writing at The Federalist: Relax. This Is Exactly How Congress Should Work, when it comes to the House, ‘chaos’ can be preferable to lockstepping.

—Noah Rothman, writing at Commentary: The Noble Goal of the Freedom Caucus

Barack Obama Does Not Learn From Experience. by The Elephant's Child

Obama angry 3Herbert E. Meyer, writing at Ricochet:

In science, when you conduct an experiment to test a theory and get a result you didn’t expect, you learn from the experience and re-think your theory. But what do you do in politics, when you implement a policy you were certain would succeed but which fails miserably? We’re about to find out.

For seven years now, President Obama has been conducting what may well be one of history’s greatest political experiments. His revolutionary theory — which this Copernicus-from-Chicago articulates with such supreme confidence that he’s persuaded American voters to elect him twice to the presidency — is that the world would be a safer, less violent place if the United States played a smaller role on the global stage. At the core of this theory lies his hypothesis that American military power is more the problem than the solution; that our over-reliance on guns rather than brains had de-stabilized key parts of the world, such as the Mideast, that would otherwise have been more peaceful and prosperous.

It’s quite clear that this is what Obama believes, as does a large number of academic professors, and yes, that is what they are teaching our children. Many have moved on into the administration.

Progressives do not share our understanding of society’s problems, nor  our differences about how to deal with them. Progressives have contempt for America’s past and disdain for America’s social contract. Progressives draw their inspiration from an imaginary future where so-called “social justice” prevails. They believe that human beings are naturally cooperative and sharing, honest and moral, but are corrupted by social institutions that encourage greed and prejudice, and socialism will bring about that imagined future where “social justice” prevails.

Conservatives, on the other hand believe that man is flawed, and the root cause of most social evils, and if social institutions are corrupt, it is because human beings create and run them. Because man is barbarous, we need laws and the discipline of morality to civilize the people. That’s why the founders created a system of checks and balances to control the majority’s natural instinct to tyrannize the weak and outnumbered, and why they set limits to government.

There is no indication whatsoever that Obama has learned from his disastrous mistakes, or that he even understands that they were mistakes. Obama yanked our troops out of Iraq, and gave birth to ISIS, who has been rampaging across the Middle East, attempting a forcile return to the seventh century.  The last Americans will soon be drawn out of Afghanistan, in opposition to the generals on the ground, as the Taliban are ready to take over. Russia has sent its warplanes to bomb the insurgents in Syria that we supported, while Obama expects them to deal with ISIS. Ukraine is fighting for its life, China is building military bases all over the Pacific, and waging cyber-warfare on the United States while Obama is quite sure he has made an agreement with China that they will stop doing that. There is no indication that he will learn from experience or change his policy. Early on, Richard Epstein, who knew Obama at University of Chicago, said that once Obama has made up his mind, it is set in concrete. He will not change it. Herb Meyer adds:

Human nature doesn’t change. Politics will always be a rough game, and power will always be an aphrodisiac to those who play it. But so long as politicians need our votes to get elected, the ultimate power lies with us. If we citizens will give our support, and our votes, to only those candidates who will think and act more like scientists, over time we can change the culture of politics itself. That would be a huge leap forward not only for our country, but for humanity.

What? You Mean America is Not a Hotbed of Racial Hatred? by The Elephant's Child

DiverssityMapIn this worldwide poll, people were asked to choose which, if any, groups of people they would not want as neighbors. (Click to enlarge)  Kind of a test of prejudice or diversity. The nations of the Anglosphere, with some additions from South America, are the least likely to object to having people of another race or religion as neighbors. (I guess they didn’t ask in the grey areas)

So much for Democrats propaganda about diversity and inclusion, which they use constantly to tell people of other races in this country that 1. The Democrats are very inclusive, and care about diversity, and thus thus they care about people of other races.  2. They have found that by dividing the electorate up into voting groups they can direct specific messages of how prejudiced the Republicans are to those specific groups, and gain votes.

This is why Obama is attempting to get so many illegals into the country and offer them amnesty, and why he wants to import so many refugees. Republicans will reliably object, because we are a nation of laws and Republicans want the laws obeyed.

As far as I can tell, Republicans don’t spend a lot of time worrying about race simply because they don’t think a different race is a big deal. They, for the most part, actually do judge a person on their character, not the color of their skin. When they object to illegal aliens, it is not because of their race or ethnicity, but because of the illegal part.

Are Americans Really Angry? Or Is It Something Else Entirely? by The Elephant's Child

Obama-Libya-Remains_Horo-635x357If you read a lot of headlines, it would seem the Americans are really angry. But what are they angry about? If man-on-the-street interviews are to be believed (Obviously six or eight participants are not a meaningful sample) they don’t know what they are talking about. Or do they?

Matthew Continetti summed it up nicely in one paragraph in the Weekly Standard.

What is happening in the world? When one looks at recent news, one can’t help feeling a sense of bewilderment. A storied Olympian announces his new gender on the cover of Vanity Fair, the Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage a constitutional right, racial violence returns to St. Louis and Baltimore, police are ambushed and murdered in New York City and Houston, murder is on the rise, Democratic candidates apologize for saying all lives matter, “trigger warnings” precede the teaching of Ovid at university, the president unilaterally amnesties millions of illegal immigrants, politically correct mobs use social media to silence dissent and intimidate heretics, hundreds of thousands of migrants flood into Europe, a slowing Chinese economy causes volatility in the U.S. stock market, more than 70 percent of Americans say they are unhappy with the direction of the country, and the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination is a billionaire television star who promises to deport illegal aliens, oppose free trade, raise taxes on hedge funds, and establish a national health plan where “you can get everything in Obamacare, but much more.”

And it’s all true. I could, however have written an entirely different paragraph with different worries that would be equally true. People have been shocked by the sheer barbarism of ISIS, and nobody does anything to stop it. Or is it the regulations that are imposed on us by executive order rather than by the people we elected to Congress. We thought that people of other races were melding ever more completely into American society, and instead we have riots and killings and a breakdown of law enforcement relations with American blacks. China is building a military base in the middle of the South China Sea on islands they are building on some reefs. Russia is invading the Ukraine, threatening the Baltic States, claiming the North Pole as its own territory. And the president is urging the EPA on in its quest to shut down he coal-fired power plants providing 40 percent of our electricity in favor of wind farms and solar arrays that produce very little energy at enormous expense in taxpayer subsidies. That’s just a few of mine, and I’m sure you could each come up with your own list.

Here are four important voices explaining why we are where we are:

Victor Davis Hanson: Is Obama Correctable? Here and abroad, the Obama administration damages whatever it touches.

Richard A. Epstein: The Consequences of Obama’s Weakness
Bad consequences follow when a United States President thinks that he an counter forces of terrorism and world disorder on the cheap without the use or threat of ground forces.

Noah Rothman: The Culmination of Obama’s Indulgent Foreign Policy Much ink has been wasted over the course of this presidency attempting to identify (or to invent) something that could be reasonably considered an Obama doctrine.

Walter Russell Mead: Fecklessness 101: The endgame in Syria: Apparently the Obama administration turned down a Russian offer to dump Assad…because the Administration was sure he was going to fall on his own.

About Fences and Priorities. by The Elephant's Child

mexico-wall-pedestrian-image1According to the Washington Examiner, only 36 miles of effective double-layer fencing has been erected along the U.S.– Mexico border.

Sixty-six percent or 1,300 miles have no fencing. This is despite repeated congressional demands, and a congressional bank account of $2,5 billion. Congress has asked for 700 miles of fencing.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says that different types of fencing has been put up along the border, the cost so far is  $7.1 million per mile.

— 1,300 miles have no fencing (66.5%)

— 299.8 miles have vehicle fence (15.3%)

— 316.6 miles of pedestrian fence (16.2%)

— 36.3 miles of double-layer fencing (.02%)

— The current total for primary fencing to be 352.9 miles. 316.6 single layer plus 36.3 miles of double layer = 352.9 miles of primary fencing.

What’s more, no fencing is currently being erected on the empty 1,300 miles.

A Senate official said that the 2006 Secure Fence Act required 700 miles of double-layer fencing because Border Patrol members said double layer works best. Reports indicated that illegal immigrants can easily scale single fences.

Donald Trump is not going to build a great big wall, and Mexico is certainly not going to pay for it. That’s just braggadocio. But an accurate count of what we have, how much it costs and what is being done may be useful. Checking in with what other countries are doing may be more useful as would details of what works and what doesn’t.

Nothing is What it Seems to Be, All is Illusion. Crying Out for Reality. by The Elephant's Child

The story behind the dead small child, as so much from the Middle East, is not what it seems. I don’t know that it matters. The picture has served its purpose, as did the photo of the naked little girl running from napalm down a road in Vietnam. Iconic.

The hordes of Syrian refugees also seem to be other than were presumed. The Associated Press reports discarded documents from Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh. They claim to be escaping the horrors of the Syrian civil war, but they don’t have documents, or they have new Syrian documents and they claim their birthdays are all January 1st. Trafficking in fake Syrian passports has increased. Are they really refugees or simply fleeing poverty and looking for a better life, on the European welfare state. If it is only that, their asylum will be rejected, which is why so many are discarding their real identity cards.

Discontented people often pick up and move. Americans are perhaps more sympathetic than most because that is part of our national heritage. We are a nation of people who have picked up and moved here, as the “native” Americans came from Siberia, and some from Spain and England, and all the rest.

Since we have always been more aware than others of our origins, we have made becoming an American a more formal and final undertaking than most other nations do. You  apply for a visa, and wait an in terminally long time, and eventually you are allowed to take citizenship classes and learn how to become an American. Oddly enough, part of the citizenship oath was promising to serve your new nation in the military, if called upon. Obama has used an executive order to remove that part of the oath. Once you become a citizen — that’s it. You are as much American as those whose ancestors arrived in the Winthrop fleet.

But that didn’t end it. We moved across the Appalachians and then on west, up the wide Missouri and on across the Rockies.  The Okies fled the Dust Bowl and went to California. Now Californians are fleeing high taxes and overregulation and heading back the other way.

What is clear is that Europe’s attempt to become something other than a continent of quarreling nations by creating a European constitution of sorts and a central European government isn’t working out. Countries have identities and histories and languages. Those that have had distinctly separate identities have split apart in acts of what you might call tribalism. Czechoslovakia is not a single country anymore. The map of Europe has constantly shifted through the ages. Aside from conquest, we seem to be tribal peoples. We like to be with our own kind, however we define that.

Yet that is a human characteristic that the Left is trying mightily to strike out. “Diversity” has become a major aim. Colleges and universities have diversity departments, and directives. Corporations have diversity officers in their human resource departments. Unfortunately they are diversifying color, ethnic origin, gender and sexual orientation by the numbers. Any group of people is scanned for visible diversity and urged to correct improper numbers, yet that really isn’t the kind of diversity that is important.

The Obama administration, having screwed up everything else they have attempted, now believe that if they can just put enough poor people into rich neighborhoods, then the poor will learn how not to be poor by sharing the same schools and retail establishments  as their wealthier neighbors.  They are sure that once everybody is equal…

And they never, never learn.

Migrants Desperately Seeking Asylum in a Europe That Is Unprepared to Cope by The Elephant's Child

Europe in enduring a massive flow of migrants, fleeing in terror from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, North Africa, Egypt and Libya, from the Islamic countries in Asia and the Middle East to Turkey, the Greek Islands, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary Austria and Germany. They are coming by the thousands, and it is not clear why the sudden exodus. Europe is unprepared. Their economies are not healthy, there is unemployment, yet heartbreaking images such as this strike at the core of compassion in the West.

Certainly many are fleeing ISIS —the terrorist Islamic State — who have made it clear that anyone in their sway who does not pledge allegiance to their cause is in mortal peril. The barbarity of their executions is meant to strike terror in the minds of those who see it.  Look what we do to these people, and what will we do to you? That is the meaning of terrorism, and the purpose.

On the other hand, the preponderance of migrants seem to be young men. Fewer women, no old people; ISIS claims, supposedly, that 4,000 ISIS fighters are among the migrants.The migrants seem to be aiming for those countries with the most elaborate welfare systems. But mostly young men.

The EU has been living in a dreamworld of sorts — formerly warring nations now in agreement on perpetual peace and open borders, one big happy continent. Except that has always been so in the halls of the Union, but not so much in reality. Countries had identities and languages and histories precisely because they shared those particular things. Tribalism is not so far distant. It is, perhaps, the nature of man, and not so easily made over into something else. There has been a lot of pretense there.

The free world has been shaken by the heartbreaking image of a very small Syrian boy, drowned, washed up on a Turkish beach. We are mostly protected from unpleasant sights. Our media is sure that we are not up to facing reality. The horrors that ISIS has dreamed up for mass distribution are blurred or digitized out of recognition. Sorry, you barbarians, your horrors don’t frighten us because we’re not allowed to see them. I suspect that this is a mistake, and it’s better to face reality.

Pictures, however, are often more influential that words. As European nations struggle to decide what they will do about the influx of migrants, that little boy will be there to remind all of empathy and compassion. Some 800,000 newcomers are expected in Germany — about 1% of their population. Even Germany doesn’t have robust economic growth and will have trouble absorbing so many.

Denmark is announcing that they can’t admit any. The Hungarians are building fences. There is talk of using military power to establish safe zones in Syria to contain the exodus. The borders and the fences will return. Europe’s openness has rested on America’s strength. As Bret Stephens says, you can’t have one without the other.

If you are offended by the image, I’m sorry, but I believe our media err in their attempt to “protect” us. It’s not “protective” but just another political lie.


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