American Elephants


Progress in the Middle East? Not Likely. by The Elephant's Child

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The Syrian Civil War fighting has intensified over the past two months, fighting on the plains between Aleppo and the Turkish border, and US. intelligence officers and military planners have little control over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter civil war that is now over 5-years-old.

Now, absurdly, CIA-armed militias are shooting at Pentagon-armed militias as they maneuver through contested territory.

In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

“Any faction that attacks us, regardless from where it gets its support, we will fight it,” said Maj. Fares Bayoush, a leader of Fursan al Haq.

The attacks come amid continued heavy fighting in Syria and illustrate the difficulty facing U.S. efforts to coordinate among dozens of armed groups that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, fight the Islamic State militant group and battle one another all at the same time.



Thomas Sowell On the Vulgar Pride of Intellectuals by The Elephant's Child

Peter Robinson talks to economist Thomas Sowell about his book “Intellectuals and Society.” Robinson and Sowell discuss the fact that intellectuals play a disproportionate role in society, as evidenced by linguist Noam Chomsky’s influence on liberal politics. Is a fancy education a high speed rail ticket to fallacy? Find out as Professor Sowell discusses the pride and fallacies of the intellectuals, in addition to the unused brilliance of the masses.

This is not a new video from Uncommon Knowledge, but still very appropriate, particularly with the peculiar events on our college campuses, what they are being taught, and the administrative reactions (or surrender) to students remarkable demands.



President Obama Talks Big on Security, But the Facts Don’t Support His Arguments by The Elephant's Child

afghan-viewAdmiral James A. Lyons, USN Ret. wrote on Tuesday in the Washington Times that there is no justification whatsoever for removing Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism. “Our intelligence clearly shows that Cuba was allowing and continues to allow Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy terror group, to maintain a command-and-control base on Cuban soil from which to conduct criminal, narco-trafficking and terrorist operations throughout the Western hemisphere.”

Regrettably, this leads to the sad conclusion that President Obama has lied again when he certified to Congress, as required by federal law, that Cuba could be safely removed from the U.S. list of nations that sponsor terrorism. Does anybody care that our president lied again over a matter that affects our national security? Where is the outcry from our congressional leadership over this travesty?

One of Mr. Obama’s campaign promises was that he would close the U.S. Naval Detention Facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama based this on the idea that keeping Gitmo to keep the world’s most dangerous terrorists, was used by al Qaeda and ISIS as a major recruitment tool. Our intelligence agencies keep a close watch on terrorist communications and recruitment, and there is no evidence that they have any interest in Gitmo.

Mr. Obama has for seven years prevented terrorists captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan from being sent to Gitmo. They are either transferred to foreign custody or just released so they can kill more Americans. President Obama prefers to kill them with drone strikes instead, but this makes them respected Islamic “martyrs” by dying fighting for Allah. This deprives America of sensitive intelligence that could have saved lives. Obama remains  convinced, against all evidence, that Guantanamo is where Americans torture poor Muslims  deluded into fighting “the Great Satan.”

Unfortunately, about 30 percent of those released from Gitmo, return to the battlefield, and are known to return to killing Americans. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have informed Congress that federal law prevents the U.S. armed forces from transferring al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist detainees from Gitmo to the United States.

President Obama’s restrictive rules of engagement forced on our combat forces have increased fatalities by 400 percent per year and wounded have increased by 378 percent per year. From 2001 to 2008 combat fatalities averaged 90 per year for a total of 630 U.S. military lost. Between 2009 to 2013,losses have jumped to a total of 2,292. The restrictive rules of engagement have had the effect of neutralizing our military capability while boosting the capabilities of terrorists.



Only a Tube of Toothpaste… by The Elephant's Child
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The Wall Street Journal offers this in their “Notable & Quotable ” column. From author César Hidalgo’s “Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economics: (Basic Books, 2015)

In my talks I often ask the attendees to raise their hands if they have used toothpaste that morning. [Then] I ask audience members to keep their hands up only if they know how to synthesize sodium fluoride. As you can imagine, all hands go down. . . .

When we are buying toothpaste we are not simply buying paste in a tube. Instead we are buying access to the practical uses of the creativity of the person who invented toothpaste, the scientific knowledge informing the chemical synthesis that is required to make toothpaste, the knowhow required to synthesize sodium fluoride, put it inside a tube, and make it available across the planet, and the knowledge that fluoride makes our teeth stronger and has beneficial effects on our health. Something as simple as toothpaste gives us indirect access to the practical uses of the imagination, knowledge, and knowhow that exist, or existed, in the nervous systems of people we have probably never met.

Very nice.

 



This Is Not A Photoshopped Picture! by The Elephant's Child

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It is not a photoshop, but simply being in the right place at the right time and recognizing what the camera has captured.

I don’t know who took the picture, so I cannot give proper credit. If You know, let me know and I will amend the post.  I just think it’s a riotously funny shot! And remarkably accurate.



“We Need Some Muscle Over Here” She Cried! by The Elephant's Child

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You remember Melissa Click, I’m sure.  She was an assistant professor of communication at the University of Missouri in the fall of 2015 when student protests brought the education process to a screeching halt. Screeching was what brought Melissa to national attention when she attempted to stop a student photographer from taking pictures of the protests: “We need some muscle over here” she cried, and the unflattering picture went viral.

The student protests rocked the school, forcing the resignation of the UM System President Wolfe and Chancellor Loftin. And last week the UM Board of Curators fired Professor Click. But it wasn’t really the board that fired her, it was the action of prospective students and their parents, donors, and alumni — all expressing their dismay with their checkbooks.

The University of Missouri announced in fiscal year 2014 that it had set an outstanding fundraising effort of $164.5 million. They were so pleased with their success that they announced a new fundraising campaign “Mizzou: Our Time to Lead,” last October 8, with a goal of raising $1.3 billion by 2020. The campaign began on October 9th.

Mizzou was also the first campus disordered by disruptions last fall. It was homecoming weekend, and protesters blocked the homecoming parade route, blocking the then-president Tim Wolfe’s car to a halt. Then the UM football players announced they would demonstrate their support for a graduate student’s hunger strike by refusing to play another football game until Wolfe resigned. Some graduate students were protesting the school’s ending their health insurance coverage (which the school said was forced by ObamaCare). But the basic cause of the protests seemed to be perceived racism, which may have been a hoax.

In November, both the President and Chancellor were forced from office, and at the same time, the video of Professor Click hit social media. It showed her attempting to grab the journalism student’s camera, and shouting “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here” Click shouted to the protesters. “I need some muscle over here.” A communication professor’s forgetting the First Amendment rights of a student journalist seemed to be the last straw for the people of Missouri.

In January, it was reported that student applications had dropped 14 applications, or 5 %, and graduate students’ applications plunged 19%. And worse the Columbia campus received a 7 .7 percent drop in high-scoring SAT and ACT applicants, and out of state applications had dropped by 25% from the previous  year. In state annual tuition is $9,433 and out-of-state students pay a full $24,460, a real blow to the school’s budget.

Then last week, UM announced that new pledges and donations in December—the key month for donations — had fallen by $6 million. The UM Board of Curators announced that Professor Click had been fired. She had been on suspension with pay since the end of January. There are questions about her dismissal and due process from FIRE and the AAUP (American Association of University Professors).

The important thing here may be the public rebuke directly from their pocketbooks — which is unmistakable. Will the public backlash  to Mizzou be carried out at other schools as well? What about the effects of outside agitators from earlier protests like Ferguson and Baltimore, from #Black Lives Matter, Acorn, Organizing for America and other groups trained in “community organizing?” Many of the so-called “racist” incidents have turned out to be hoaxes.

And isn’t it interesting that protests spontaneously develop on one campus after another on supposedly unrelated causes. Harvard Law is going to dump its seal, which contains the crest of a 18th century slave owner. Yale president Peter Salovey has promised to “build a more inclusive Yale, one without isolation and hostility.” What seems to me more disturbing is the resignation of presidents and administrators, and their failure to simply send the students home.  It seems that the students with their foolishness are in charge, and how did that happen?

Yesterday, I saved a piece from Reason.com on student activist demands at Western Washington University in Bellingham. WWU students want” an entire academic college dedicated to breeding social justice activists, separate residential safe spaces for racial groups, and a student committee charged with policing offensive speech.” That, I thought, is carrying the political correctness a bit too far. But then today, I couldn’t find where I had saved the piece, and tried Googling it, and quickly got proof that protests are just another regular thing at WWU, and probably safely ignored. It’s easy to get students all fired up, over not much of anything.  It’s not so easy to get administrators to act responsibly.



US Special Forces Have Captured an Important ISIS Operative, But Obama Won’t Let Them Take Him to Gitmo by The Elephant's Child

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American Special Forces have captured their first “significant” ISIS operative during a raid in Northern Iraq, and they are likely to capture other ISIS fighters. The problem is that President Obama has foreclosed the ability of the military to send them to Guantanamo.

President Obama is deeply concerned about what he believes to be world opinion. He is quite sure that ISIS and al Qaeda use the existence of Gitmo, which he believes to be a “torture chamber,” as a recruiting tool. However, intelligence operatives who read ISIS and al Qaeda propaganda and communications see no evidence of that whatsoever. Obama is intent on releasing all of the detainees, even though those who remain are clearly the “worst of the worst.”

The recidivism rate is quite high at around 30%, but Obama seems to believe that the danger that he would be blamed is higher for keeping Guantanamo open than for any actions by former detainees down the road when he is out of office. You may have noticed that President Obama is never, never to blame for anything at all.

Congress has made it illegal to bring terrorist detainees to this country, Officials, according to the New York Times, report that the ISIS detainee will eventually be turned over to Iraqi or Kurdish officials. There will be other high value ISIS targets captured. Over time, they often reveal details of the Islamic State’s organization and operations, and that is valuable. I suspect that the president will attempt to turn Guantanamo back to Cuban jurisdiction on his coming trip to Cuba, but I have no evidence whatsoever for that supposition. Obama could not have chosen a worse time to shutter Gitmo.

The President has recognized Cuba and offered trade and tourists, with nothing from the Cubans in exchange, except their insistence that nothing will change on their part, and the brutality and lack of respect for the human rights of their citizens will continue.




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