American Elephants

What Does the Charlie Hebdo Attack Mean? by The Elephant's Child

Terrorist attacks like Charlie Hebdo ( 12 dead, 3 critically wounded) at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Weekly, allegedly for cartoon portraits of the Prophet Muhammad, are not new, but uncomfortably familiar.  Three perpetrators, all identified, one in custody.

The western world will protest and by next week everything will be back to normal. Daniel Henninger reminds us that “the Peshawar massacre in December  was different and more difficult to let drop from memory. One can imagine seven adult men walking from one classroom to another, methodically executing boys and girls in white shirts and blouses at their desks.”

Rather than the act of a random insane person, Peshawar, in the minds of the Taliban, was a rational, well-planned military atrocity. A success. Just like every other terrorist act dating back to 9/11 and before.

Past some point, it is feckless to call these events “incidents.” They are acts in a war. The people committing them think so and they say so. Why don’t we?

There was Boko Haram in Nigeria, he added, now recalled mostly by pictures of the First Lady holding a sign saying #Bring Back Our Girls. Of course they didn’t bring them back, and have captured another bunch. And there was an attack by a single terrorist in Australia only days ago.

The West, paralyzed by political correctness, multiculturalism, prejudice, diversity, fairness, freedom of religion and other noxious notions, simply does not know how to address the attacks.

President Obama, despising all things Bush, keeps thinking that if we’re just nice enough, diplomatic enough, and arrange nice agreements which no one will actually observe, then he can avoid the blame that attached to the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s now attempting to empty Gitmo one terrorist at a time. I fail to understand what that is supposed to accomplish. Can he possibly believe that they will now live reformed lives?

Europe is growing restive. They do not like the jihadists in their midst, and are turning against the Islamists. Charles Hill asks at  Politico:  “Political Islam may well be incompatible with modernity, but what if it is modernity that is failing in the world today, while political Islam is succeeding?” (Do read the whole thing).

All this is not a medieval-like matter of “angels dancing on the head of a pin” as it may first appear. The answer to the primary question about political Islam’s compatibility with modernity is that political Islam’s purpose is not only to be incompatible with modernity but also to oppose it, demolish it and replace it in every regard.

In that context, Egyptian President Sisi’s speech to the clerics becomes even braver and more important. Ignored by the mainstream media, Roger L. Simon asks if el-Sisi deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for calling for a “religious revolution.” Sisi’s speech was joined by a speech from the crown prince of Bahrain, who candidly analyzed the Islamist enemy and suggested important ways to fight it.

The nearby United Arab Emirates has placed the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on its terrorism list on the grounds that they engage in incitement, funding and the other precursors of terrorism.

The government of Egypt has issued an INTERPOL arrest bulletin for Usuf al-Qaradawi, 88, the influential spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood for “incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder.

In Der Spiegel, Professor Louise Shelley, terrorism expert from George Mason University, says that the Islamic State is a “Diversified Criminal Operation” that “operates like a run-of-the-mill crime syndicate in which ideology takes a back seat to money-making.”

Hopeful signs that seem unnoticed by the mainstream media. The Telegraph in Britain says that anti-Islam parties are growing across Europe, moving into the mainstream.

Statistics That Will Change the World For Good or Ill by The Elephant's Child

The period between Christmas and New Years is always a strange time. Everybody on the news front has a substitute, does reruns, does best-of, or makes lists. It is the time of year for lists. Can be drummed up quickly and fulfills the need for a column, and the end of a year seems to call for a “summing up.” The best movies, the best books, the funniest cartoons, the best photos, the most admired people, the most important sports events, the most important events ad infinitum. A pox on all their houses.

Robert Samuelson came up with a list of “Best Stats of 2014″ which he cheerfully admits he didn’t even collect all the statistics himself proving the significant lack of effort peculiar to the period. I enjoyed it completely, and link to it here. but I will mention a few of my favorites.

— China’s government estimates that by 2020, 30 million eligible bachelors will be unable to find a wife.

— The average teen processes 3,700 texts per month.

— In 2013, more than 40 percent of American births were to unmarried mothers for the sixth consecutive year. (In 1997, the share was 32 percent)

— Only half of American men shave daily.

— Two years after the Newtown school shooting, 52 percent of Americans support gun ownership — up from 32 percent in 2007.

These statistics are all important, but we don’t know how important.  Just how the trends will play out remains to be determined. We have not heard the last of any of them.

(Typo in the gun ownership date fixed)

Wreckage Has Been Found From the Missing AirAsia Flight by The Elephant's Child
December 30, 2014, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Asia, Intelligence, News | Tags: , ,


Wreckage has reportedly been found from Missing AirAsia flight 8501 that disappeared less than an a hour after takeoff Sunday morning. Indonesian rescue teams sighted wreckage in Borneo’s Karimata Straight, some 66 miles southeast of the plane’s last known position. The flight was carrying 162 people when it was lost.

An Official of Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry, speaking from Jakarta confirmed the wreckage was from the body of the plane. Search teams had been racing the clock as bad weather was expected to hamper efforts to find evidence. Foul weather has been suggested as part of the blame, but just why the plane went down is not yet known. AirAsia has pledged support for the families.

Sorry, Senator Feinstein, The American People Don’t Agree. by The Elephant's Child


Ten days ago Dianne Feinstein issued the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s interrogation policy during the Bush years, long withheld, finally made public. The president said that it would endanger our embassies abroad, but it was important to be released because it offended his morals. Bragging that he’s really good at killing people (Honestly he did say this as a ‘joke’) does not offend his morals—which seem to be involved only when he needs an excuse for actions of his that are criticized by blaming Bush.

This was apparently supposed to be the ultimate put down of everything Bush, but the American people collectively said “ho-hum.” A Pew Research poll finds that the mainstream media and Democrats failed miserably in their big attack.

Only 29%  said that the methods used were unjustified. A majority of 51% considered them justified. A clear majority refused the media’s lies about these methods not working. A full 56% believed correctly that the intelligence gathered stopped future terror attacks. Only 28% disagreed.

Michael Ramirez took on the mainstream media. Too much media hype and ambulance chasing. Rolling Stone’s account of the University of Virginia rape hoax, media coverage and encouragement of the Ferguson riots and then their complete lack of coverage for other tragedies that didn’t fit their narrative was shameful. Perhaps people are getting a little tired of “the narrative.”

A College President Had to Apologize for Saying “All Lives Matter” by The Elephant's Child


Smith College President Kathleen McCartney believed she was showing solidarity with students, protesting racism and police brutality when she sent out an email to the entire campus with the subject line: “All Lives Matter.”

The slogan preferred by Smith College students was the more exclusionary “Black Lives Matter.” Have to show our solidarity with the protesters half a continent away who are burning up the town of Ferguson, Missouri because of a tragic incident that had nothing whatsoever to do with race.

Students were not only furious, but offended, according to Fox News.

mccartneysmithPresident McCartney apologized profusely in a second email, saying she had made a mistake “despite my best intentions. I regret that I was unaware the phrase/hashtag “all lives matter” has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against Black people,”

Well, Ms McCarthy was right in the first place. Our college campuses are well-known as centers of political correctness. Students are there to study because they are young and short on knowledge and experience. The evidence shows that Michael Brown’s killing was not a racial event, nor was the death of Eric Garner. Tragic indeed, but not about race.

Black communities are inclined to have a higher incidence of crime, and the police trying to protect the community are at much higher risk. Crime is decreasing. Most young black men who are killed are killed by other young black men − not by police. Sure there are some bad apples in the nation’s police forces, but for the most part their training emphasizes ways to avoid harm and any excessive use of force. It’s a tough job.

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says the silencing of McCartney is just one more example of the grip of political correctness on college campuses. Increasing numbers of teenagers are learning the wrong lessons about speech. They believe they have a right not to encounter ideas that might conflict with their feelings. They need to learn that not every hashtag that comes over the internet is a valid battlecry, and the difference between propaganda and reality.

War, Torture, Brutality and Feinstein. by The Elephant's Child

About-The-Department-of-Veterans-Affairs-resized-6001Wars are about killing people and breaking things until the other side is utterly defeated, ready to give up so totally that they cannot and will not fight any more. To say that war is ugly is a dreadful understatement.

It has always seemed to me that those who have not been to war have an obligation to study war — to try to understand what others have done and gone through on their behalf. It has been a long time since Americans have had a war on their homeland. When the Civil War broke out in 1860, some of the citizens of Washington DC, men and the ladies, drove out in their carriages with picnic lunches to see the war in Virginia.

Public understanding is often a long time coming.

One of the leftist media’s favorite terms is “war weary.” I suspect it had its origin in public dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War, but I don’t know that to be the case. World War II is supposed to be “the Good War,” partly because the public was deeply involved, with rationing and war-work when ordinary people went to factories to build tanks and airplanes and ships, bought war bonds, and hungered for more news to see if their loved ones were still safe. Never mind that it was a long, desperate bloody awful mess for which we were unprepared, but VE Day and the day of the Japanese surrender were huge celebrations.

Vietnam was deeply unpopular until the danger of being drafted was over, and then the protesters lost interest. The good war only lasted for  four years, which has become the acceptable length for a war.

There’s  lot of hangover from those war-weary Democrats. I think they were astounded at the backlash to Dianne Feinstein’s one-sided release of a classified CIA torture report. She has been called a traitor, among other things.

The late Fouad Ajami wrote in the Wall Street Journal in March of 2013:

Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 10 years ago this week, was once a popular war. We had struck into Afghanistan in 2001 to rout al Qaeda and the terrorists’ Taliban hosts—but the 9/11 killers who brought ruin onto American soil were not Afghan. They were young Arabs, forged in the crucible of Arab society, in the dictators’ prisons and torture chambers. Arab financiers and preachers gave them the means and the warrant for their horrific deeds. …

On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom—the first bombs fell on March 19—well over 70% of the American public supported upending the Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraq’s disarmament. …

It was no fault of the soldiers who fought this war, or of the leaders who launched it, that their successors lacked the patience to stick around Iraq and safekeep what had been gained at an incalculable cost in blood and treasure.

Headline from a June 7, 2014 piece by Walter Russell Mead, a Professor of Foreign Affairs at Bard College and Editor-at-Large at the American Interest Magazine: “Have We Gone From a Post-War to a Pre-War World?”

Reason magazine’s upcoming January issue has a picture of the Islamic State terrorist who beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotioff on the cover. The media has blurred videos of the beheadings and in another case, a picture of a small ISIS child holding the head of a victim to spare the sensitivities of the American public. Is this right? Do we need protection from reality, or in sparing us do they deprive us of understanding?

Speaking of torture — Islamic State terrorists are trying to sell the headless body of James Foley to his parents for $1 million. The Islamic State, al Qaeda and other radical Middle East groups have long grotesque records of torture.

Major General Scales was the commandant of the Army War College, now retired. He wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the ISIS Way of War. We know that brutality, but we have trouble facing up to it.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster wrote recently about “Thinking Clearly About War and the Future of Warfare−The US Army Operating Concept. It’s worth your time.

Dianne Feinstein’s One-Sided, Self-Serving Political Report On the CIA by The Elephant's Child

Senate Louncheons

Today’s political ‘blockbuster’ is Dianne Feinstein’s release of  the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s interrogation policy during the Bush years, which has finally been made public, for purely political reasons. Make no mistake, this is intended as a political football and is released for only one reason, because the outrage at specific ugly details will be politically convenient.

What the release is supposed to accomplish is not clear. ISIS is already using it as a recruitment tool. The President has said it will endanger our embassies abroad, and Americans serving abroad, but that it is important to release the report because it offends his morals.

Odd, his morality is not bothered by personally ordering drone strikes that kill whole communities of people, nor of cancelling the protection of missile defense that was promised to allies in Eastern Europe. Nor is his morality offended by his unseemly haste to get the troops out of Iraq, and the subsequent thousands of lives lost.  I could go on, but there’s no point. I think he has blundered his way through six years and done real damage to the country because he doesn’t know what he’s doing. But what really offends me is his moralistic posturing.

Feinstein was around when enhanced interrogation began in the Clinton administration, and after 9/11 she was all for it. Desperate times and a need to protect American lives demanded that the CIA get more intelligence. Doesn’t seem so urgent now, and she’s retiring anyway.

From the Wall Street Journal:

After the trauma of 9/11 and amid the anthrax letters in 2001, Americans wanted protection from another terror attack. The political class fired up a commission to examine what went wrong so it “would never happen again.” So the CIA, blamed for not stopping 9/11, tried to oblige. It captured the plotters, detained and interrogated them—sometimes harshly. There hasn’t been another successful al Qaeda plot on the homeland.

But political memories are short. As the Iraq war became unpopular, the anti-antiterror left fought back. Democrats who sensed a political opening began to fault the details of how the CIA and Bush Administration had protected the country—on surveillance, detention and interrogation. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, the lead Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, unleashed their staff to second-guess the CIA.

“The Senate Intelligence investigators never spoke to us − the leaders of the agency whose policies they are now assailing for partisan reasons.”

Here are links you may find interesting:

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline: “Dianne Feinstein and Her One-Sided, Self-Serving Report On Enhanced Interrogations”
Max Boot at Commentary: “The CIA, Interrogation and Feinstein’s Parting Shot”
Breitbart: “Feinstein. CIA Torture Report A Stain On America’s Values, History
Victor Davis Hanson’s Private Papers: “War Clouds On The Horizon?”

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program


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