American Elephants


Here’s A How-To Guide To Avoid Offending Anyone by The Elephant's Child

political-correctness-school-u-penn-buffalo2“In the late ’70s, “politically correct,” “PC” for short, entered the public lexicon. Folks on the left used the term to dismiss views that were seen as too rigid and, also, to poke fun at themselves for the immense care they took to neither say nor do anything that might offend the political sensibilities of others. “You are so PC,” one would say with a smile. In the ’80s, the right, taking the words at face value, latched on to the term and used it to deride leftish voices. Beleaguered progressives, ever earnest, then defended political correctness as a worthy concept, thus validating conservatives’ derision. Today, on both the left and the right, being PC is no laughing matter; three decades of culture wars have generated a bewildering thicket of terminology.”

A little history, a little humor, and, if you take it seriously, and Human Resources and the principal’s office often do — here’s a list of what not to say and how not to say it: Do read the whole thing, it might keep you out of trouble.

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Obama’s Secret Strategy for Iran And the Middle East by The Elephant's Child

Richard Epstein, professor of law at University of Chicago, and New York University, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, spoke about President Obama early on in his administration. He had known Obama at the University of Chicago, and through his next-door neighbor who was one of Obama’s best friends. He said that Obama was very dogmatic. Once he made up his mind, it was fixed in concrete. He does not change his mind. I have found it useful to keep that in mind.

In an important essay by Michael Doran in Mosaic magazine, the author writes about “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” and suggests that a strategy, centered on Iran, has been in place from the start and consistently followed to this day.

In the giddy aftermath of Obama’s electoral victory in 2008, anything seemed possible. The president saw himself as a transformational leader, not just in domestic politics but also in the international arena, where, as he believed, he had been elected to reverse the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush. To say that Obama regarded Bush’s foreign policy as anachronistic is an understatement. To him it was a caricature of yesteryear, the foreign-policy equivalent of Leave It to Beaver. Obama’s mission was to guide America out of Bushland, an arena in which the United States assembled global military coalitions to defeat enemies whom it depicted in terms like “Axis of Evil,” and into Obamaworld, a place more attuned to the nuances, complexities, and contradictions—and opportunities—of the 21st century. In today’s globalized environment, Obama told the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009, “our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. . . . No balance of power among nations will hold.”

For the new president, nothing revealed the conceptual inadequacies of Bushland more clearly than the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Before coming to Washington, Obama had opposed the toppling of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; once in the U.S. Senate, he rejected Bush’s “surge” and introduced legislation to end the war. Shortly after his inauguration in January 2009, he pledged to bring the troops home quickly—a commitment that he would indeed honor. But if calling for withdrawal from Iraq had been a relatively easy position to take for a senator, for a president it raised a key practical question: beyond abstract nostrums like “no nation can . . . dominate another nation,” what new order should replace the American-led system that Bush had been building?

When he arrived in Washington in 2006, Obama absorbed the ideas of the final report of the Iraq Study Group, in which the co-chairs of the bipartisan congressional commission. Lee Hamilton, former Indiana congressman, and former secretary of state James Baker,” interpreted their mission broadly, offering advice on all key aspects of Middle East policy.”

The report, published in December 2006, urged then-President Bush to take four major steps: withdraw American troops from Iraq; surge American troops in Afghanistan; reinvigorate the Arab-Israeli “peace process”; and, last but far from least, launch a diplomatic engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its junior partner, the Assad regime in Syria. Baker and Hamilton believed that Bush stood in thrall to Israel and was therefore insufficiently alive to the benefits of cooperating with Iran and Syria. Those two regimes, supposedly, shared with Washington the twin goals of stabilizing Iraq and defeating al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadi groups. In turn, this shared interest would provide a foundation for building a concert system of states—a club of stable powers that could work together to contain the worst pathologies of the Middle East and lead the way to a sunnier future.

There you have the basic strategy. Engage Iran to stabilize Iraq and Syria, to defeat ISIS, and enter an era of harmonious relations with the rest of the world. Obama is very anxious to show himself as that “transformational leader.” He, at least, is not in thrall to Israel, He wants Iran to become a “successful regional power and a friend and partner to the United States.”

Meanwhile, Iran has sent a thousand rockets to Hezbollah, is supporting the Houthi in Yemen (look at a map to see why that is important), and adding more centrifuges. White House national security advisor Susan Rice denied, in a speech to Brookings Institution, that the threats facing the United States are in any way “existential” — blaming that perception on media “alarmism.” (With more centrifuges, a bomb in 2 months!)

After a year that saw a Russian invasion in eastern Europe, continued violence in Israel, massive international cyber-attacks on American companies and the rise of an ultra-violent Islamic caliphate in the Middle East, Rice took pains to assure her audience that all is well.

“Too often, what’s missing here in Washington is a sense of perspective,” she said. “Yes, there is a lot going on. Still, while the dangers we face may be more numerous and varied, they are not of the existential nature we confronted during World War II or during the Cold War. We cannot afford to be buffeted by alarmism or an instantaneous news cycle.”

She listed other threats to U.S. security, including “the very real threat of climate change” and the necessity of promoting equality for homosexuals. The new National Security Strategy is here, should you wish to delve more deeply. Foreign Policy remarked:

Of course, if you are like most Americans, you won’t ever read it at all. Which is just as well. Along with being devoid of strategy, the document is also devoid of surprises or new ideas. That could be because its focus is not, as would be the case in a real strategic planning document, the future. Instead, it is the past. This document is really a brief filed by the president in defense of his record to date.

The discussion of the rising cyber-threat is under a heading called “Access to Shared Spaces”. preceded by “Climate Change” and followed by “Increasing Global Health Security.”

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline quotes the Washington  Post’s concerns:

The three concerns are: (1) that a process began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capacity; (2) during the negotiations, Obama seemingly has conceded Iran’s place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other U.S. allies; and (3) Obama has signaled that he will implement his deal without a vote by either chamber of Congress.

Charles Krauthammer sees us as back in the perilous days of the late 1930’s, when some could see glimmers of what was coming down. I’m inclined to agree with him.



“Organic” Is the Latin Word for “There’s One Born Every Minute” by The Elephant's Child

I couldn’t resist this one. I just got my weekly Trader Joe’s flyer in the mail talking about their offering of everything organic and some trendy new pressed juice. Grocery stores have a lot to answer for. They are catering to the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world who fall for every ludicrous foodie fantasy. I get ticked off when their ignorant protests against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) prevent poor Asian children from getting the golden rice that would prevent death and blindness for so many.

Headline and video borrowed from Maggie’s Farm, who borrowed it from someone else. Welcome to the internet.



The Current Measles Outbreak Is “100 Percent Connected” To The Anti-Vaccine Movement! by The Elephant's Child

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The majority of current measles cases in 14 states are linked to an outbreak traced to Disneyland. Reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington State. From January 1, to January 28 there have been 84 cases reported— representing 64% of reported cases, according to the CDC

In 2014, the U.S. experienced 23 measles outbreaks, totaling 640 cases, including one large outbreak of 383 cases, occurring predominately among unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio. Many of the 2014 cases were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines.

measles-cases-616pxIn spite of cases brought in from other countries, the U.S. seemed on the road to eradicating the disease entirely.  2014 saw the worst outbreak in two decades. What happened last year? More than 13,000 parents nationwide claimed on forms that vaccinating their children from preventable diseases like measles violated their “personal beliefs.”

Before 1963, when the measles vaccine became available for public use in the U.S., there were more than 500,000 reported measles cases every year, according to the CDC. On average 432 cases a year resulted in death. After an effective vaccination campaign, that number shrank to 86 measles cases by 2000 with zero fatalities.

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases on record, incredibly contagious among those who have not been vaccinated. The virus can linger on surfaces for up to two hours, and before those infected have any symptoms they can be spreading the disease. Aside from the blotchy red rash, you can get pneumonia, croup and diarrhea. The worst complication, which only occurs in about one in 1,000 cases is encephalitis which can lead to permanent brain damage or be fatal. The elderly or children under five are more prone to complications.

The current outbreak is “100 percent connected” to the anti-vaccine movement among the ill-informed. Most children are required to receive vaccinations to attend schools, but misinformed parents cite ‘health,’ ‘religious’ or ‘philosophical’ reasons in order to get an exemption. They are not only putting their own child at risk, but many other children as well. Oddly enough, it’s some of the wealthiest communities that are most unvaccinated, and have the most cases, like Marin County, California. and Orange County in Southern California, where unvaccinated students are not allowed to attend classes. Bad parenting.



The American People Don’t Think the White House is Tough Enough on Iran by The Elephant's Child

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‘The State Department now says that the United States has “shared interests” with Iran  — in Iraq, and talks are ongoing between the two countries about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in that country.”

Well, just a little cooperation. The Obama Administration leaks when Israel strikes Iranian missile convoys to Hezbollah, and negotiates with Iran about its nuclear weapons program. The Crisis in Iraq has made it clear that Iran is now the central player in Obama’s Middle East strategy.  Obama wants a U.S. alliance with Iran. He is set on building a new regional framework that includes not just our closest friends, but everyone — a geopolitical equilibrium  that includes the security needs of Iranians, Saudis, Israelis, Russians and Americans. a balance between  Sunni or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Shiia Iran.

Perhaps it’s a worm in the brain. Consumed by the necessity of being the opposite of the hated Bush, something has been gnawing away at reality. When the Mullahs scream “Death to America”, “Death to Israel,” and “Death to the Great Satan,” “Death to the Little Satan,” what did he think they meant? Iran clearly has no intention of abandoning its nuclear ambitions. Has Obama dreamed himself into the idea that they just want nuclear power? What did he think  Iraq wants those long-range missiles for?

On Tuesday Marine General James Mattis (ret), former head of U.S.Central Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee of his unhappiness at the current conduct of U.S. foreign policy.  He said the  U .S. is not adapting to changed circumstances in the Middle East” and the U.S. needs a “refreshed national strategy.” Army four star General Jack Keane, (ret.) a former vice chief of staff, also in the hearing, said al Qaeda has “grown fourfold in the last five years” and is “beginning to dominate multiple countries.” He called radical Islam”the major security challenge of our generation” and said we are failing to meet it.

The same day it was reported that Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, (ret.) former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, had told a Washington conference “You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists.” His audience of military and intelligence professionals applauded. Officials, he continued, are paralyzed by the complexity of the problems of militant Islam, and do little, reasoning that “passivity is less likely to provoke our enemies.” Robert Gates, Former Sec. of Defense, wrote in Duty that it seemed Mr. Obama “doesn’t trust” the military, “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his.”

Republicans may disagree with their opponents policies or strategies, and they often do. Today’s Democrats are different. They are in politics to change society and “solve” its  problems, and are convinced that their policies are way stations on the path to a “better world.” Those who oppose them are seen as standing in the way of their “noble dream” and viscerally hated.They are the enemy in every sense of the word.

Bill Kristol believes that Obama’s dream was that he would be the American president who “would preside at, and take credit for the founding of a Palestinian state, as Harry Truman was to Israel.” That’s not going to work, but his policies have not lessened the crisis in Islam nor the discord between Islam and the West, but made it worse.

Whether this is accurate or not remains to be seen, but Obama’s reaction to Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to the House about Iran, was remarkably over the top. Mr. Obama seemed to believe that such an invitation must be cleared with the White House and the State Department, though such is not the case.

Republicans in the House are clearly troubled by Mr. Obama’s threat to veto any sanctions on Iran, which would take effect only if Iran was continuing with their effort to get nuclear weapons. It was only sanctions that brought Iran to the bargaining table, and the administration has been removing sanctions, and returning to Iran their funds that had been frozen as part of the sanctions. The administration assumes that Iran is bargaining honestly, the Republicans are more familiar with Iran’s history, and strongly suspect that truth cannot be expected from the mullahs.

Israel is more aware of Iran’s intentions, and watches much more closely. Small wonder that Republicans want to hear from Bibi Netanyahu.

Now we learn than members of Obama’s own campaign team have sent an army of operatives to Israel to help oust Mr. Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections. This time he has used an organization that receives taxpayer funds from the State Department to oust a long time ally of the United States. This is not just way beyond the rules of propriety, but may well be illegal. Obama has felt free to send his political operatives to influence elections in Canada and Australia. This time he has gone even farther.

When you are pursuing a dream of a noble and “better” world — “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” — the niceties aren’t important . The only thing that is important is winning. Why they never notice that collectivism and social justice and the “better world” never work, is because they didn’t do it, and didn’t do it here. This time it will be different.



A Visit to Saudi Arabia by The Elephant's Child

96379-004-BADCACC3President Obama will pass up on the planned side trip to take Michelle to see the Taj Mahal during his three-day visit to India, in order to visit Saudi Arabia, where he will ‘pay respects’ to the family of the late King Abdullah, and meet with the new King Salman.

The Taj Mahal has been virtually ‘locked down’ this week as U.S. security teams prepared the fabled mausoleum for the president’s visit, now cancelled. Vice President Biden had been scheduled to make the trip to Saudi Arabia, but it  was cancelled when it was realized that Biden and Obama would cross paths as the president left the region and the vice president arrived.

It has been widely reported in the press that King Abdullah detested President Obama, and his successors follow his priorities. King Salman is not in good health, and Crown Prince Migrin may stand in when needed, and the younger generation Mohammed has been named Deputy Crown Prince so the line of succession is clear. King Abdullah had an excellent relationship with George W. Bush, and he visited the Bushes at  the Crawford Ranch.

Mr. Obama is reported to be taking a “gift” to the Saudis with a plan to close off 12 million acres of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to any potential drilling by declaring it to be “Wilderness.” That is based on the assumption, popular in the press, that the reason the Saudis have continued to pump oil in the wake of the declining price of oil, is their attempt to force frackers out of the market.

Looking clearly at the state of the Middle East, it seems far more likely that they are hoping to cause problems for the Iranian economy which needs a higher price for oil to break even. It does not help that Obama is releasing Iran’s assets held in this country to Iran in the supposition that  will be more persuasive in stopping Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons than busting their economy. Strategy is not exactly one of the strong points of the Obama administration. And there doesn’t seem to be anybody there with a clear understanding of the Middle East.



32,004 People Were Killed in 2014 in the Name of Islam by The Elephant's Child

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Unbelievable. The world is demonstrating against Islamic jihad, and the White House blandly announced that they would dredge up the old idea of convening a “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.” The world is protesting murder in France because a cartoon “offends.” A 10-year-old little girl is outfitted with a suicide vest in Nigeria and sent into a marketplace to be exploded remotely killing and wounding at least 20 people.

In 2014 alone — 32,004 people were killed in the name of Islam, and the President of the United States cannot bring himself to say “Islam” or “jihad” or even “terror,” but merely the euphemism “violent extremism.” It may be violent and it may be extremism, but the words slide off the tongue like stale room-temperature gruel.

Hillary was last heard from, babbling about the need to empathize with our enemies, and understand their  point of view. But then it was Hillary who told the parents of the Americans killed in Benghazi that that nasty little man who made a video that hardly anyone saw would be put in jail, and so he was.

You cannot address “violent extremism” if you cannot have the courage to even name terror as the weapon in play.

Euphemism is the chosen weapon of the Left for dealing with unpleasant circumstances — “workplace violence” to keep from identifying an American army officer as an Islamic jihadist. And there was “man-caused disaster.” Is it all just a ploy to avoid being associated with the hated Bush? Pathetic.

The pictures of heads of state from the West marching arm in arm was moving, Netanyahu came from Israel, and neither President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry nor Attorney General Holder were in attendance. That was noticed. There is apparently no protocol aide at the White House.

We cannot seem to think clearly and make clear judgments. The emotional needs of chickens are of enough concern recently to disrupt the supply of eggs in the grocery stores. Endangered species pop up and disappear depending on their usefulness as court cases for environmentalists. People who live in apartments in cities, lobby for reintroducing wolves, grizzlies and cougars  to territory that was finally free of them, ready to kill unwary hikers.

Kevin Williamson has one of his excellent columns reminding us all of the meaning of being human. Can we all just try to think clearly and speak plainly?




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