American Elephants


Obama’s Completely Disastrous Iran Deal. by The Elephant's Child

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Obama has attempted to declare that the Iran Deal is not a treaty, but some kind of executive agreement. If it were a treaty, there are Constitutional laws about treaties that govern the situation, and he would have to present the agreement to Congress, and if Congress refused to pass it, it would be all over. The only reason he is claiming that this is not a treaty is because he doesn’t want Congress to have any authority over whether it lives or dies. How can he get away with that?

The first problem with the deal is that it gives Iran an undeserved respectability that comes simply from being allowed to sign a significant international agreement, with six world powers.

Any agreement has to begin with the ugly but accurate assumption that Iran will act in bad faith and cheat at every opportunity. Papers captured from the Osama bin Laden raid have confirmed that Iran has partnered with al Qaeda, and has supported the Islamist terrorist group. Richard Epstein says:

The agreement starts off on a grand note: “The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iranˈs nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons.” But it is straight downhill from there.

Worse still, China and Russia should not be understood as adverse to Iran, their present and future ally. They are better understood as a Fifth Column against the West, and Iran’s many other foes, whose role in the negotiations is akin to the role that Vladimir Putin played in the embarrassing negotiations over chemical weapons in Syria that all but destroyed Obama’s credibility in foreign policy. Putin will be happy to take any excess uranium ore off the hands of the Iranians. But at the most opportune time, he might be prepared to return it to Iran if doing so would benefit Russia. The Chinese, for their part, also sense weakness in the United States and the West, as they build up illegal islands in the South China Sea subject to our diplomatic objections that accomplish nothing.

Europe is in need of oil and natural gas to prevent Vladimir Putin from using energy as a club over them. They are also anxious to sell stuff to Iran, because European economies are not healthy. They must see this deal as a retreat from the basic guarantee that the U.S. will provide meaningful guarantees for the security of our allies. That may make them a little less hostile to Russia and China because they fear that they cannot rely on America. And the Saudis and the Israelis face a starker situation.

Iran funds Bashar al-Assad in Syria, backs Hamas, launches terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East. They are quite clear about wanting to annihilate Israel. They are eager to confront their Sunni rivals like Saudi Arabia, and eager to annex Iraq. President Obama still cannot even say “Islamist terrorism.” The whole deal seems to be based on Obama’s odd idea that Iran wants to be a peaceful state, and we can appoint them to be in charge of the Middle East and make everyone else behave — so we can finally remove ourselves from the Middle East entirely — and the disaster of George W. Bush’s very bad and unnecessary war.

There is not the slightest indication that Iran would allow any inspections, nor that they would allow any interference with their program to acquire nuclear weapons and the intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver them. One might well ask why “intercontinental?”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has cast doubt on whether Iran will abide by the terms of a nuclear agreement between Tehran and U.S. led world powers.

Secretary Kerry says: “Nobody has ever talked about dismantling” Iran’s Nuclear Program, but in 2013, he insisted that dismantlement was the whole point. Kerry insists that the chants of “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel” are just something like PR for the enjoyment of the people, and don’t really mean anything.

When we began our negotiations, Iran had enough fissile material for 10 to 12 bombs. They had 19,000 centrifuges, up from the 163 that they had back in 2003 when the prior administration was engaged in them on this very topic,” Kerry said Thursday. “So this isn’t a question of giving them what they want. It’s a question of how do you hold their program back. How do you dismantle their weapons program? Not their whole program.

“Let’s understand what was really on the table here. We set out to dismantle their ability to be able to build a nuclear weapon, and we’ve achieved that. Nobody has ever talked about actually dismantling their entire program, because when that was being talked about, that’s when they went from 163 centrifuges to 19,000.”

Does that make any sense at all? How have we dismantled their ability to build a nuclear weapon? They have made it clear that they don’t plan to allow any inspections, and we have to give them long advance notice, and we can’t inspect any military sites anyway.

Iran says it will not allow American or Canadian inspectors working for the U.N. Nuclear watchdog to visit its nuclear facilities. My understanding is that they have not formally signed anything. The signing will theoretically take place in 60 days. The Ayatollah Khomeinei has said that Iran will not sign anything.

Abe Greenwald, writing at Commentary magazine’s blog says:

If you think the United States just struck a poor nuclear deal with Iran, you’re right; but if that’s your key takeaway, you’re missing the point. Iran’s nuclear program was last on the list of the Obama administration’s priorities in talking to Tehran. The administration readily caved on Iran’s nukes because it viewed the matter only as a timely pretense for achieving other cherished aims. These were: (1) preventing an Israeli attack on Iran; (2) transforming the United States into a more forgiving, less imposing power; (3) establishing diplomacy as a great American good in itself; (4) making Iran into a great regional power; and (5), ensuring the legacies of the president and secretary of state as men of vision and peace. …

Obama came to office promising to limit American action as well. In his standard progressive view, the United States has been too eager to throw its weight around and impose its norms on other countries without giving sufficient thought to the resentment it might sow. He ended the war in Iraq and sought to remake the United States as a humble power. “Too often the United States starts by dictating,” he told a Saudi news outlet soon after being elected. He, by contrast, would do a lot of “listening.” The Iran negotiations became Obama’s magnum opus on the theme of listening. Americans listened to Iranians dictate terms, shoot down offers, insult the United States, and threaten allies. America has been humbled indeed.

But such humility is necessary if diplomacy is to be made into a nation-defining ethos. And if we could successfully negotiate with theocratic Iran, then surely Americans would see that diplomacy could conquer all. So, for the sake of proving this abstract principle, Obama foreclosed any non-diplomatic approach to Iran before a deal was reached. As he told Tom Friedman in April, “there is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward — and that’s demonstrable.” So declared, so demonstrated.

Do read the whole article. I think Mr, Greenwald is clear thinking, absolutely correct and positively frightening. Obama seems to be delusional.



These Are Completely Different Jews We Are Talking About Killing Here by The Elephant's Child

Former Governor Mike Huckabee was recently discussing President Obama’s Iran Deal with Breitbart editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow. Mr. Huckabee said “This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the ovens.”

When the corrupt media considered this it instantly became clear that every Republican will be required to respond to it. When a Democrat, like Hillary Clinton, is going to appear on “Meet the Press”, a venue where she might say something untoward, the Media feeds her the questions to be asked in advance, so she can prepare —as has been revealed by the latest dump of Hillary’s emails.

Andrew Klavan, a Republican, presumed that he would be asked for his response to the Huckabee remark: Here it is.

I am absolutely shocked that Governor Huckabee would make reference to the Holocaust when discussing a deal that endangers the lives of six million Jews. Why, it’s so absurd — Jon Stewart ought to make one of his funny faces about it. God, I love those. Are they hilarious or what? Just because the president wants to virtually guarantee nuclear weapons to a regime dedicated to Israel’s destruction, that’s no reason to go around getting all Holocausty about it. It’s a completely ridiculous comparison. For one thing, these are totally different Jews we’re talking about killing here. And for another thing, Adolf Hitler was evil. President Obama is just narcissistic and morally obtuse. So when these Jews die, it’ll be different. Okay, not for them, but I mean for us, later, when we make excuses about it. Governor Huckabee should apologize at once. Especially for those music segments on his old Fox show.

That strikes me as a pretty fair response to Progressive outrage.



A Glimpse Into How the Progressive Mind Works by The Elephant's Child

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From David Horowitz, who knows the Left intimately:

In confronting the Left, conservatives should not make the mistake of assuming that progressives share our understanding of society’s problems, merely differing about the practical steps needed to address them. No one should think that progressives want to see our communities prosper within the framework that has defined America since its inception and provided its blessings. The nature of the progressive outlook inspires contempt for the American past and disdain for America’s social contract, which it regards as tainted by racism, sexism and imperial ambition. …

A defining characteristic of the progressive outlook is its belief in the doctrine of original innocence. The modern source of this belief is the French radical Jean-Jaques Rousseau, who maintained that private property is the cause of social evils and that “Man is born free but is everywhere in chains.” This is a doctrine so obviously false it hardly needs refutation, except that progressives believe it. What they believe is that “society” is the root cause of social problems. In their view, human beings are naturally cooperative and sharing, honest and moral, but are corrupted by social institutions that encourage prejudice and greed and set them against each other. They believe that “social justice” is the model of how human beings naturally relate to each other, that equality and cooperation reflect human nature, and that socialism is therefore the name of a truly human future.

Conservatives believe the opposite. They believe that human beings are the root cause of social problems and that social institutions are corrupt because human beings create and run them. It is the barbarity of the species that requires the intervention of a social order with the disciplines of morality and law to civilize its inhabitants. This is also what the Founders believed. It is why they did not create a pure democracy that would express the popular will, which they regarded as unruly, emotion driven, and dangerous. Instead they devised a system of checks and balances to frustrate the majority’s natural instinct to tyrannize the weak and outnumbered. And they set limits to government. …

 Because Progressives see themselves as social redeemers and their goal as saving the world, they regard politics as a religious war. This is why they are intolerant toward those who disagree with them and who stand in the way of their “solutions.” It is why they exclude conservatives from the educational institutions they control. It is why they can commit character assassinations without regrets. Obama never apologized for accusing his opponent of killing a cancer patient during the [2012] election campaign, because saving humanity means never having to say you’re sorry.

This is why Obama has given away the store in negotiations with Iran. He believes that Iran’s leaders have the same care for their families and concern for their citizens as we do, and that they would never even consider using a nuclear weapon.  He’s wrong.



Searching Your Facebook and Twitter Accounts For Signs of Terrorist Activity by The Elephant's Child

1849720506_694ed23d32The totalitarians are after your social media use. If the federal authorities have their way, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites will be forced to report users’ activities under a new provision of the 2016 Intelligence Authorization Act.

This is a tricky business. ISIS is clearly using social media as a recruiting tool, and quite successfully, though if you want to see a useless search, ask Google about ISIS recruit numbers. It is clear that many young Muslims are being radicalized through social media. The glamor of going to the Middle East to chop off heads or shoot people for entertainment escapes me, but it is a real problem.

According to the legislation sent to the Senate floor, any online service provider that “obtains actual knowledge of any terrorist activity…shall provide to the appropriate authorities the facts or circumstances of the alleged terrorist activity.” The companies would have to report tweets, videos, posts or other content exchanged online by users.

If you read the ordinary comments on online posts, the language is increasingly crude, comments often designed more to insult than provide intelligent discussion. Everybody’s angry. However, people who are anxious about privacy aren’t going to go for this. But the problem is real, and the dangers real. Someone will have to decide whether a communication is wholly protected political speech, only commentary on current events or — something that should be reported to the government.

Unfortunately, the government’s constant drive for more control and more regulations on the one hand, and more secrecy and lies on the other — means a significant loss of confidence on the part of the public. You won’t find totalitarian governments that are beloved by their people. It ‘s a conundrum. There are still people out there who think Edward Snowden is some kind of hero.



“Diversity” Is Not All It’s Cracked-Up To Be! by The Elephant's Child
July 8, 2015, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Education, Immigration, Intelligence, Progressives | Tags: , ,

Harvard-history7On the other side of diversity, Harvard University is, according to the Wall Street Journal, looking for legal cover to justify discriminating against Asian-Americans, Sixty-four organizations have alleged that Harvard uses de facto quotas to limit Asian-Americans on campus.

The percentage of Asian-American students at elite universities like Harvard have held steady at around 18% for two decades. But the number of college-age Asian-Americans has increased rapidly. In May the coalition of sixty-four organizations asked the civil-rights arms of the Education and Justice Departments why Asian-Americans, who make up about 5% of the population — but earn an estimated 30% of National Merit semifinalist honors, aren’t accepted to Harvard in numbers that reflect those qualifications.

The Department cited pending litigation as grounds for dismissal, and the only such suit is one against Harvard and the University of North Carolina filed in November by Students for Fair Admissions. This sounds reasonable, but wait. Harvard and UNC’s lawyers this week filed motions to halt the lawsuit until the Supreme Court reconsiders race-based admissions next term in Fisher v. University of Texas. That ruling won’t surface until 2016, and Harvard’s strategy is to drag out inquiries in hopes the Court blesses race-based admissions.

Asian Americans need to score 140 points higher on the SAT than white students to be considered “equal applicants” on paper, and 450 points higher than African-Americans, according to independent research.

The coalition says they will continue to push back against the quota-like conditions at the elite schools. Liberal ideas of diversity have nothing to do with intelligence or accomplishment — only with… but you know the rest.

Interestingly enough, Canada and Australia admit immigrants based on the same kind of qualifications that Harvard and other elite universities use. They want immigrants who can bring some talent or qualifications to the country. Seems like a good idea, We might want to try it.

Diversity points are not about diversity, The issue is never the issue. It’s about voting groups and power for the Left.



It’s All Falling Apart. Chapter Ten. by The Elephant's Child

The hack of the Office of Personnel Management is far more massive and problematic than has been publicly acknowledged, and not only that, it went undetected for more than a year.. The hackers are believed to be from China. It started with an initial intrusion into the OPM systems more than a year ago, and once they had successfully intruded, they were able to work their way through four different “segments” of OPM’s systems.

At first the breach was said to expose the personal information of approximately four million people, such as Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses of current and former federal workers.

It’s far worse than that. The hackers accessed what are called SF-86 forms, documents used for conducting background checks for worker security clearances. The forms can contain sensitive data about workers seeking security clearances, but also about their friends, spouses and family members. They can include information about the applicant’s interactions with foreign nationals, information that could be used against those nationals.

Homeland Security initially claimed the government’s EINSTEIN detection program was responsible for uncovering the hack. Not so. The EINSTEIN system failed. The Wall Street Journal reported the breach was actually discovered during a sales pitch demonstration by a security company named  CYTech Services showing the OPM its security program.

This is not just someone accessing your credit card number, but blackmail, diplomats with access to classified information are required to list their contacts.The OPM actually had no IT security staff until 2013. They’re not sure that they have discovered the full extent of the intrusion.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out that that local unions made it harder to protect files. “In early 2011 ICE noticed a significant uptick in “mail infections and privacy spills” in its networks The spike was due to ICE employees accessing their personal webmail accounts from office computers. Senior managers terminated webmail access in September 2011 as a security precaution.

The American Federation of Government Employees promptly filed a grievance with a federal arbitrator, claiming that any change in access to private email must first be collectively bargained with the union

ICE argued security, dangers, Federal Information Security Management Act, security threats, usual arguments, arbitrator said “the Agency may not take any action to reduce security risks to its IT systems without first providing the Union an opportunity to bargain. (the arbitrator’s italics.)

The White House late Friday tried to catch up by launching a “30 day Cyber Security Sprint” to beef up cybersecurity protocol across the government. (Fix everything right now!)

Those steps include: to fix any cybersecurity vulnerabilities immediately; tighten policies and practices for privileged users who can access sensitive information; implement multi-factor authentication procedures for accessing federal networks; and employ electronic “indicators” provided by the Department of Homeland Security that show when there has been a malicious cyberattack.

Well, it’s only fourteen million current and former government employees. This is the same government that could not manage to roll out their health care program, They’ve had a remarkable number of hints that their computer  programs were not up to snuff,  that security procedures were not being followed.Think of all those missing emails and supposedly destroyed hard drives that prevent information required to be produced by Freedom of Information Act requests and nobody can find it. Departments that have installed hugely expensive new computer systems only to find that they don’t work. You would think that someone might notice that they’re not technically apt, and not half as smart as they think they are.

In Britain, the Guardian reports that “Downing Street and the Home Office are being challenged to answer to claims that Russia and China have broken into the secret cache of Edward Snowden files and that British agents have had to be withdrawn from live operations as a consequence.”

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, handed over tens of thousands of leaked documents to the Guardian in Hong Kong two years ago. He left Hong Kong with flights booked to Latin America but was stopped in Russia when the US revoked his passport, and has been living in Moscow in exile since.

He has repeatedly said he handed over all the documents to journalists in Hong Kong and no longer has access to them, making it impossible for either China or Russia to get to them through him. The Sunday Times and BBC do not say where China or Russia allegedly gained access to the files.

A “senior Home Office source” claimed that Putin didn’t give Snowden asylum for nothing. His documents were encrypted but not secure and British agents are being targeted. A British “intelligence source” said Snowden has done incalculable damage, and Russian and Chinese officials will be examining Snowden’s material for year to come.

That’s all very iffy and unconfirmed, but interesting if true. There is a battle going on both in Britain and here between privacy zealots and government secrecy. It would be nice to think that there could be no secrets, but we don’t live in that kind of world. In the real world, the bigger the federal bureaucracy gets, the more it wants to protect itself from embarrassment and from the living proof that it is not composed of smarter, kinder people who are working assiduously on our behalf.

Everybody wants to know the other guy’s secrets. The dividing line between what can be public and what cannot is very fuzzy. The government needs to seriously protect that which will harm the public if released, and to stop trying to make everything that might embarrass a little into a state secret. Clearly a case of wishful thinking.



It’s All Falling Apart. Chapter One by The Elephant's Child
June 3, 2015, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Intelligence, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

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It is all falling apart. Incompetence is demonstrably in charge. But there is a bright spot in the gloom. The Transportation Security Administration just demonstrated that even beyond the inconvenience, the personal degradation of humiliating whole-body scans or pat-downs, the efforts of the agency to keep us safe is a total flop. Ninety-five percent of explosives and weapons intentionally sent into the TSA detection apparatus went undetected. TSA has a success rate of a bare 5%! Kevin D. Williamson, who just gets better and better, takes the agency apart in a scathing column today. Do read the whole thing.

But the “bright spot”? The bright spot is that in an increasingly incompetent government, there is a “Red Team” testing the efficiency and efficacy of an agency tasked with keeping the nation safe. There was no cover-up. On Monday, the acting chief of the TSA, Melvin Carraway, was transferred to Homeland Security’s office of state and local law enforcement. imagesIt’s only a small bright spot, for Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security could not summon the gumption to just fire Carraway, but Carraway was reassigned. It is possible to embarrass the Obama administration.

Kevin Williamson also offers up the solution: Make the airlines corporately responsible for their own security, and put the airlines themselves in charge of screening. No one has a deeper concern about flight security.




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