American Elephants


Monumental Carelessness at the Highest Levels of Government by The Elephant's Child

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Those unimportant emails, that were just for Hillary’s convenience, show that she picked a grossly unqualified donor to the Clinton Foundation to a very sensitive State Department advisory board that handled top-secret national security information — the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) that deals with matters like nuclear disarmament and arms control. It’s a kind of carelessness that can get people killed.

After inquiries from ABC News, Clinton’s staff tried to “protect the name” of the Secretary of State, “stall” the ABC News reporter, but as soon as the donor, Rajiv Fernando, a Chicago securities trader who specialized in electronic investing, learned that the media was questioning the appointment, he resigned, saying he needed to devote more time to his business.

Fernando was a longtime and prolific donor to the Clintons, dating back to 2003. He was an early supporter of Hillary  Clinton’s 2008 bid for president giving maximum contributions to her campaign and to HillPAC in 2007 and 2008. He was a fundraising bundler for Hillary collecting more than $100,000 from others. Prior to the State Department appointment Fernando had given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation and another $30,000 to a political advocacy group that indirectly helped Hillary retire her 2008 campaign debts by renting her campaign email list.

The ISAB is not a normal, or suitable, place to put a big donor. He was a “securities” trader, but not the same kind of “security” as those on the ISAB board. His associates on the board would have been David Kay, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group and UN Chief Weapons Inspector; Lt. Gen Brent Scowcroft, a former National Security Advisor to two presidents; two former congressmen; and Former Senator Chuck Robb. William Perry, the former Secretary of Defense, chaired the panel. The appointment would have qualified Fernando for one of the highest levels of top secret access.

Even more astounding is that Hillary could have believed such an appointment acceptable.  Hillary has long demonstrated a carelessness that is entirely out of line with the seriousness of the office to which she was appointed by President Obama. But then Obama’s appointment of Hillary wasn’t all that serious either.



“Why is the World So Dangerous?” by The Elephant's Child

“Herbert  E. Meyer (Herb) served as vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council under President Reagan. He was one of the few people in the 1980’s to perceive that the U.S. and its allies might have turned the corner and were on the way to winning the Cold War.”

You may not have noticed, but the media seldom talks about facts. It’s almost all opinion. Herb Meyer talks facts, and gives you the evidence on which the facts are based.  That original paper: “Why Is The World So Dangerous?” from 1983 has long since been declassified, and is available to be downloaded here. Most of his speeches are different versions of “Why is the World So Dangerous”— because that’s what we need to hear. This one was delivered to the Northwest Business Club on March 9th this year. He gives us his version of history, and explains what we need to know to cope. The address is a little over an hour and worth every minute, so try for some time this weekend. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll think a little differently about the world today. He is a great speaker, funny, charming, and utterly fascinating.

ADDENDUM: If you go to You Tube, there are lots of Herb Meyer’s speeches, many with the same name. I picked this one as one of the most recent. and they are similar because Mr. Meyer has to put you in the right historical frame of mind to grasp the changing nature of the trends. His basic argument does not change, because, well, he’s clearly right, and a little repetition merely reinforces the point.



“The Iran Deal” How Does it Fare After Nearly a Year? by The Elephant's Child

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Much has been written after Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes had a lengthy interview with the New York Times about his part in The Iran Deal, his ‘mind-meld’ with the president, and how they fooled the public into believing that the deal came about only when Iran elected a new “more moderate” administration, rather than admit that the Iran Deal was Obama’s intent from the first days of his presidency. It was all hooey, of course.

Obama undoubtedly turned against the Iraq War when the rest of the progressives did— three months into the war — when it began to look as if George W. Bush might have a great success on his hands. At any rate, Obama believed that he was elected based on his opposition to the Iraq War. Progressives are deeply opposed to wars, unless it’s one of theirs. Though if you asked any number of Americans why Obama was elected, I doubt if any would say it was because of Obama’s opposition to the Iraq War. If you recall, during the campaign in 2007 Obama refused to wear one of those little American flag pins in his buttonhole and to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem, at least until someone told him to cool it, he was offending people.

His interest at some point became getting America out of the Middle East, and turning the whole messy area over to Iran, where the Persians were the more educated and refined nation and better qualified to manage the rest of them. In this, he was apparently urged on by his senior counselor, Valerie Jarrett, who shared his vast experience of living abroad — Obama until he turned 10 in Indonesia, and Jarrett in her first 5 years, in Iran.  Seems a rather odd and ephemeral experience on which to base world-shaping agreements.

We are now nearly a year into the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to limit Iranian nuclear proliferation, so how is it going?

Last week, a senior advisor to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards elite al-Quds Force said if the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave to order to destroy Israel, the Iranian military had the ability to “raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.” Their armed forces had successfully tested a precision-guided, medium-range ballistic missile, with zero error. They even wrote the words “Israel must be wiped off the earth” on the missiles.

The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “underlined that the U.S. hues and cries will by no means influence the development of the country’s missile development program.”

They have engaged in a lot of hue and cry over Iran’s missile capabilities, but they should know that this ballyhoo does not have any influence and they cannot do a damn thing,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing graduation ceremony of Imam Hossein University cadets in Tehran on Monday.

The Obama administration remained unconcerned about the Ayatollah’s bloviations, perhaps as they thought a previous peroration was simply intended as “public relations.”

The Supreme Leader reiterated that we are at an asymmetrical war with global arrogance, and said, “In this war, willpowers are fighting. The stronger willpower will win.”

Just yesterday, the Free Beacon reported that the Obama administration was considering permitting advanced Russian arms sales to Iran. The administration has the power to sanction key Russian arms sales to Iran, but has so far abstained from exercising that right. Russia is apparently transferring their S300 surface-to-air missile systems, an advanced long-range weapon that would boost Iran’s military ability. It is one of the most advanced anti-aircraft missile systems in the world.

The administration considers the Iran Deal the most important of Obama’s achievements, and will go to great lengths to preserve the “nuclear deal.” I have read that Obama just doesn’t believe that Iran would ever actually use a nuclear weapon. I’ve always believed that when your enemy makes threats, you should pay attention.

Here is Victor Davis Hanson writing in the Hoover Institution’s Strategika, “A Year After the Iranian Deal.”

And here is Dr. Hanson’s essay on “How Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy De-Stabilized the World.”

Whether the Obama administration is just terminally naive, or simply hopes that any repudiation of the Iran Deal will fall on his successors’ administration rather than in the last days of his own is an unknown. but as Victor Hanson says:” the next few months may prove the most dangerous since World War II.”



We Need a Remedial Course in Knowing, How to Retain Knowledge and What to Do With It. by The Elephant's Child

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One of my perennial worries is about the state of knowledge. The world is, of course, always changing, but what has changed most dramatically is the flow of information.

We seldom give it a thought, but in the early days of the republic, news was transmitted by horse and rider, or coach.  And then the town crier  cried the news —and the simple word of mouth. Most people didn’t  have books, except for the Bible. The Revolution, the making of the Constitution, the War of 1812 all happened without telephone or radio to spread the news. The new Capitol in Washington D.C. was burned by the Brits, and it took days or weeks for anyone to find out.

The great Civil War took place entirely without a radio or a telephone, no newsreels, but there were newspapers and magazines, and even new photography, which has left a first visual record for us. There were railroads, and canals and roads.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Most people thought it was little more than a toy, but they soon began to install telephones in their towns, homes or businesses. The first one appeared in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1877 when a banker ran a line from his home to his bank.

The first transcontinental telephone call took place in 1915 from New York to San Francisco. In 1948 Bell Labs’ Claude Shannon published a landmark paper on “a Mathematical Theory of Communication” which provided mathematicians and engineers with the foundation of information theory which sought to answer questions about how quickly and reliably information could be transmitted.  Direct long distance dialing came about in 1951, and the first transatlantic telephone cable was installed between America and Britain.  It took 3 years and $42 million to plan and install using 1,500 miles of specially insulated coaxial cable.

The first television was introduced at the World’s Fair in 1939, but TV didn’t become common in people’s homes until the 1950s and sixties. The first public tests of a cellular phone system took place in 1978, and it wasn’t till the year 2000 that we finally reached 100 million cellular telephone subscribers.

Even the millennials probably know a little something about the history of the computer, but the kids in college who are protesting freedom of speech, don’t want to hear disagreeing words, need “safe spaces” and think buildings or statues, or crests that remind us of people who thought incorrect things in the past, should be removed.

Even Democrat Attorneys General and Rhode Island’s Senator Whitehouse are out to stamp out the utterances of those who have the gall to deny that a warming climate is going to destroy the earth.

The absurdity in the nation’s colleges and universities is happening at the rare time in our history when we are completely connected to all the information in the world, in an instant, at our fingertips. They are connected to networks of friends wherever they are and to thousands of people they only know through their devices.  Mine’s a tiny computer — roughly 2¾” by 5½”— and I can carry it around in my pocket, and talk to anyone in the world, and call up information from practically anywhere. But how am I supposed to know what is true and what is false?

We had to find out for ourselves how to deal with this flow of information and the even greater flow of advertisements and enticements and lies and scams. But we have had all the years of our lives to get used to things gradually.

Our schools, which are supposed to be the foundation of knowledge, have drifted off into realms of “social justice” and “diversity” and “white privilege” and women’s studies and black studies and college tuitions that range upwards from $50,000 to $60,000 a year and more, to receive less and less in the knowledge department.

Yet they are not only NOT teaching how to manage this flow of words and pictures and ideas, but don’t seem to recognize that the world has changed and they need to fill the kids on the past and how we got here as well as how to cope with the present and plan for the future.

Handwriting is out, ancient history is gone, what use is geography when you can call up Google maps in an instant? Social Justice isn’t even real. There is only one ‘justice’ which is found in the Constitution and the body of laws and in the courts. Students at Stanford (Stanford!) have petitioned for the return of Western Civ. Shakespeare is mostly gone, and Churchill is completely out of fashion. Yet there are more remedial courses in colleges than ever before, because too many students arrive unprepared to do college level work.

A political campaign is a bad time to bring up this subject, but it is the moment of our highest awareness. You can’t help but notice. When Hillary is attempting to make equal pay for women a central part of her campaign — and is unaware that it has been the law since 1963, She mentioned last year that Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, more than once, in spite of the obvious facts of 9/11, Paris and Brussels. Bernie Sanders is espousing the most discredited political system the world has ever known, which is failing before our eyes in Venezuela, and Cuba, and other countries around the world.

I picked up a book a while back called Too Big To Know by David Weinberger, read some bits and put it aside to read later. Guess I’ll have to read it now.Here’s one paragraph from the Prologue:

So we are in a crisis of knowledge at the same time that we are in an epochal exaltation of knowledge. We fear for the institutions on which we have relied for trustworthy knowledge, but there’s also a joy we can feel pulsing through our culture. It comes from a different place. It comes from the networking of knowledge. Knowledge now lives not just in libraries and museums and academic journals. It lives not just in the skulls of individuals. Our skulls and our institutions are simply not big enough to contain  knowledge. Knowledge is now a property of the network, and the network embraces businesses, governments, media, museums, curated collections, and minds in communication.

I wouldn’t have chosen the words ‘exaltation of knowledge’, nor described it in quite those terms, but I’ll have to read the book. I’ll report back when I have.

*The photo is of the Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin, and those are the stacks.



Climate Change & National Security, An Insider’s View by The Elephant's Child

On April 13, Robert H. Scales, U.S. Army Major General (ret.) testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works regarding the Obama administration’s linking of climate change and national security. This excerpt comes from the Wall Street Journal’s “Notable & Quotable” column.

The common spark for all wars is jealousy and greed amplified by centuries-long animosities and political ambitions. The catalyst for war is the ignorance of leaders that leads them to misjudge. Humans start wars believing they will be profitable, short, glorious and bloodless. These truths never change. None are affected in the least by air temperature.

But the myth of climate change as an inducement to war continues to curry favor among Washington elites. One source for connecting war to temperature comes from the political closeness between environmentalists and the antiwar movement. Their logic goes like this: “Global warming is bad. Wars are bad. Therefore they must be connected.” Remember, prior to the 1991 Gulf War, environmentalists warned of a decade of global cooling that would come from burning Kuwaiti oil fields. . . .

General Scales added that in elevating climate change to the role of a real security threat, the military has become an agent for propagandizing the dangers of climate change to the American people. This might have been just political correctness—but this silliness has a real impact on our actual security.

The military follows orders, but in its attempt to follow the president’s intent, alternative sources of energy might be adopted before the technologies are proven. Our men and women in uniform might be fighting a war with underpowered or poorly performing weapons.

Our men and women in uniform are smart and perceptive. They can spot phoniness in a heartbeat. Think of a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq returning from a dangerous and exhausting mission being obliged to listen to a senior defense official lecture them on the revelation that fighting climate change is their most important mission.

These men and women see the realities of battle all around them. The military threat of rising temperatures is not one of them.



The European Union is Coming Undone Over Political Correctness. Could We Just Use Common Sense Instead? by The Elephant's Child

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The news almost daily has headlines regarding the influx of refugees or migrants into Europe. They are generally referred to as Syrian refugees or Syrian migrants, but they come from a wide range of countries including many from Africa, and Asia as opposed to what we usually think of as the Middle East. We have seen pictures of massive marches of immigrants in Europe and read the tales of the problems Europe is having with their refugees, and specifically with Islamic terrorism. Paris and Brussels are only the start.

Did you know that the Obama administration has issued around 680,000 green cards to migrants from Muslim nations during the last 5 year period? If there is no change in current policy, the U.S. will admit another 680,000 over the next five years, or possibly more. During the same five years, we issued green cards to only 270,000 migrants from the European Union.

According to DHS files the largest numbers of migrants came from Iraq and Pakistan with 83,000 each, and 75,000 from Bangladesh, 45,000 from Egypt, 31,000 from Somalia, 24,000 from Uzbekistan, Turkey and Morocco had 22,000 migrants each, Jordan and Albania 20,000 each and Lebanon and Yemen each had 16,000. Indonesia (15,000), Syria (14,000), Sudan (13,000), Afghanistan (11.000). and Sierra Leone  (10,000). There were only a few thousand each from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kosovo and Libya.

The administration, aside from being unable to say the words ‘Islamic terrorism,’ seems to believe that terrorism doesn’t really exist— even when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his followers in chants of ‘Death to America‘ and ‘Death to Israel‘ — that’s just P.R. to please the locals. The programs launched by the administration to reach out and protect Muslims are extensive, and the administration has agreed to a terrorist front’s demands to purge FBI’s anti-terrorism material that was thought to be ‘offensive’ to Muslims.

A closely watched case, United States v. Texas, is going to be argued before the Supreme Court on April 18, Monday. The court surprised watchers when it asked that the parties in that case address a question they did not raise in their briefs: whether President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” (DAPA) order violates the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution. (“he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed,”) That clause had never before been addressed by the Court. An interesting development for the president who has said “I have a phone and a pen,” and has not been troubled by taking the laws into his own hands.

DAPA is a set of executive branch directives giving some four million illegal aliens who have given birth to children in the United States what the orders call “legal presence” — even though they are here in violation of the law. This “legal presence” entitles DAPA beneficiaries to work permits, a picture ID, driver’s licenses, social security, Earned Income Tax credits, Medicaid, ObamaCare, and other social welfare benefits. Until the 2014 election, President Obama repeatedly and emphatically stated that he did not have authority to issue such an order without congressional action. Then he did it.

Absolute monarchs rule absolutely. What they say goes. It was a long battle in English history, and King John (1119-1216) did things his way until confronted with armed insurrection at Runnymede (1215) when he agreed to the Great Charter which established the principle that even kings are not a law unto themselves, and must act through settled law.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution took care to carefully consider what prerogative powers were suitable for an American president. Much of the Constitution is devoted to replacing prerogative powers with settled law. Henry VIII believed his royal proclamations should have the force of law —Parliament repealed the Act of Proclamations.

As our Constitution was being written, the Committee on Detail changed the words of the draft Constitution which vested a “single person” with the power to carry into execution the national laws” to read “he shall take care that the laws of the United States be duly and faithfully executed.” That changed the execution of the law from a power to a duty rather than a power, indicated by the word “shall.” A reversal would portend ever-increasing  exercise of executive powers. The question is not whether the president’s rule would make good policy, but whether the Constitution allows the president to rule statutory violations. It does not.

The State Department wants to increase the rate of bringing Syrian refugees to the United States to an average of 1,500 a month in order to meet President Obama’s target of settling 10,000 refugees in the country by September.  Why by September? That’s Obama’s target —perhaps he expects to get 10,000 of them voting by November. Who knows? We have Trump’s Yuge wall, 40 feet tall, that he claims he will make Mexico pay for, which is absurd. The 18 to 24 month time for processing admission of  refugees has reportedly been slashed  to 3 months to meet the president’s goal of 10,000 refugees this fiscal year.

Although the Muslim immigrants clearly include some ISIS members seeking entrance to the U.S, (they are certainly plentiful among European migrants), the slashing of processing time is worrying. It would seem that immediate admissions should focus on providing a safe haven for the remnants of historic Christian communities throughout the Middle East that are now targeted for extinction. Churches have been burned, priests arrested, Christians have been tortured, raped and crucified. They have nowhere to go. Present policy does not take into account their precarious situation. The State Department accepts refugees from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees which oversees the large refugee camps— but Christians do not dare enter those camps, where they are attacked and targeted by Islamists.

Playing politics with Immigration is a particularly unseemly thing to do. Instead of efforts to carefully vet Muslim immigrants, we run into accusations of “Islamophobia,” designed to stop any dissension. Religious freedom, promised by our Bill of Rights, does not aim to free those who are intending terrorist attacks. There are many tenets of the Muslim faith that are directly antithetical to the U.S. Constitution. We should be able to clearly explain those to all Muslim immigrants. We do not tolerate honor killings, we do not regard women as second-class citizens, we don’t accept wife-beating, and rape is a crime. These are serious prison offences. That is not Islamophobia — it’s just clearly setting the ground rules. There should be a clear discussion of rules that are in the Koran that are not acceptable under our Constitution. If they cannot agree to American law, perhaps they would prefer to go elsewhere.

One of the most despicable acts of President Obama has been to delete some of the requirements under the law for becoming an American citizen. That’s why Europe is in such great turmoil at present. They have no programs for assimilation, or for becoming a citizen of a particular country. European nations have always been tribal, with  differing languages, customs and rules. After centuries of constant and deadly wars they thought to end them by opening borders and sharing finances and laws. It hasn’t worked. An unelected and unrepresentative bureaucracy merely substitutes for the absolute monarchs that once ruled Europe, and the people are not quite at the armed insurrection stage, but it’s not all peaches and cream either. Political correctness dictates acceptance of poor refugees, common sense dictates something else.

Emma Lazarus’s “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore—” is all very compassionate, but hardly an acceptable guide to immigration.



The Fake and the Real, Playing With Your Emotions and Your Mind. by The Elephant's Child

This is one of those posts that leaves you scratching your head and wondering if it is real — or just a giant hoax. It sounds authentic, but I’ll leave it to you to decide. It’s about crowd sourcing — as a business. It comes in The California Sunday Magazine, which I guess we will assume is real. I mean these days how can you tell?

The story is about a company called Crowds on Demand. The author signs on as a recruit, doesn’t know what he’ll be doing, really, but it pays $15 an hour.  The 24-year-old CEO started the company as a 21 year-old UCLA undergrad after he had volunteered with Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial campaign and found that it could be challenging to attract large crowds to speeches. He believed that there was an opportunity for a service to turn out—well— fake crowds. Plenty of bodies to give the impression of enthusiasm. Once he got started he found there was a demand not only for crowds to support a candidate, but for crowds to protest a candidate.

I just wrote about the increasing unreality as it becomes more and more difficult to discern what is real and what is not. In the age of Photoshop, with skilled artists, it’s impossible to tell. The young CEO is getting very rich, very fast, and drives a silver Tesla.

When people inquire about a potential event, Adam guides them through the possibilities and the approximate costs: $600 for fake paparazzi at a birthday dinner; $3,000 for a flash mob dancing, chanting, and handing out fliers as a PR stunt; $10,000 for a weeklong political demonstration; $25,000 to $50,000 for a prolonged campaign of protests. According to Adam, protests have become the company’s growth sector, and just as with advertising, repeat impressions are key. “When the targets of our actions see that we’re going to be back, day after day, they get really scared,” he says. “We’re in it for the long haul, and the problem’s not going to go away on its own.”

Fascinating article, excellent illustrations, and really quite scary. We are not doing well as a nation at managing the flow from the Information Age. As the information becomes more and more unreal, or more questionable, all the checks and balances are disappearing, and we need to pay more and closer attention — but are we up for it?




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