American Elephants


Donald Trump’s Generals: The Most Renowned Wartime Commanders of Their Generation by The Elephant's Child

A blog called “Breaking Defense” has written well on Trump’s Generals. The Left, constantly looking for something horrible in Trump’s plans, finds the naming of so many retired military men to top positions will possibly undermine the principal of civilian control—as if Constitutional niceties are of enormous concern to the  Left—who have been ignoring that ancient document at their convenience for the last eight years. I’m getting really tired of the Left and their antics.

Donald Trump’s decision to lean heavily on generals in building his national security team has been received with sighs of relief by many foreign policy and national security experts. By the nature of their profession, senior military leaders tend to be pragmatic internationalists who know how to run large organizations. They understand from experience how the world works. They are generally disciplined and well-read. Having come of age on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, these generals are also intimately familiar with the horrors of war, and the second- and third-order consequences of firing the first shot. …

Indeed, the generals likely to form the top ranks of a Trump administration are among the most renowned wartime commanders of their generation. As the presumptive Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps General Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis will have as his chief military adviser Marine Corps General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, appointed by Obama as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both flag officers earned their nicknames the old fashioned way during multiple combat tours. They are also close to retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, another combat veteran and the former commander of US Southern Command, who will reportedly serve as Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security. According to a knowledgeable source, it was Mattis who took upon himself the heartbreaking task of telling John Kelly that his son, 1st Lieutenant Robert Michael Kelly, had been killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

Trump’s Generals, Part 2: Jim Mattis vs. Iran

Trump’s Generals, Part 3: Mike Flynn vs. Al Qaeda

Trump’s Generals, Part4: John Kelly vs. The Narco-Terrorists

Like many Republicans, when President Elect Trump announced his first nominees for cabinet positions, I was reassured that Mr. Trump knew what he was doing and was getting excellent advice. After 8 years of an administration that assured us that they were completely in control of foreign policy, but could not manage to call the enemy by name or even admit that it was an enemy (junior varsity?) I was delighted. It’s a pretty impressive national security lineup. Get acquainted.



The End Of the Obama Administration Or Just the Beginning of Something Very Different? by The Elephant's Child

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As we leave 2016, it becomes the time when journalists attempt to sum up the past year. I’m afraid that Obama’s desperate flurry of executive orders and regulations as he leaves the White House will merely add to the recriminations as he tries to finish up the wrong-headed promises he made upon being elected. He has completely disgraced himself and his administration with instructions to abstain from the Security Council’s vote on Israeli “settlement policy”— a vote intended to tilt the “peace process” towards the Palestinian terrorists.  He is attempting to empty Guantanamo, sending the “worst of the worst” to other countries so they can quickly go back to terrorism, as they are doing. The funerals of their victims will be Mr. Obama’s real legacy, and real journalists are already writing the epitaphs.

Here’s Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal: The betrayed: Obama’s decision to allow the UN to censure Israel, Iranians, whose 2009 Green Revolution whose protest of a stolen election Obama failed to endorse. Iraqis, who were promised a diplomatic surge to secure the gains of a military surge, Syrians, Ukrainians, and most of all, and most betrayed: Americans.

Mr. Obama promised a responsible end to the war in Iraq. We are again fighting in Iraq. He promised victory in Afghanistan. The Taliban are winning. He promised a reset with Russia. We are enemies again. He promised the containment of Iran. We are witnessing its ascendancy in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. He promised a world free of nuclear weapons. We are stumbling into another age of nuclear proliferation. He promised al Qaeda on a path to defeat. Jihad has never been so rampant and deadly.

These are the results. They would be easier to forgive if they hadn’t so often been reached by disingenuous and dishonorable means.

Perhaps you remember back in the change of administrations in 2000, when the departing Clinton administration left the White House in a mess, and the “W”s missing from all the computer keyboards, out of pure spite. The Bush administration took a bipartisan tack, and tried to be helpful to the incoming Obama administration. George W. Bush recognized the change, that his time was past, and the real assessment would be done by future historians. He has refused to comment on his successor’s policies and actions, and simply continued with his efforts to help returning veterans in any way he could.

Mr. Obama has not only not appreciated the help he was provided, but not grasped the gentlemanly way the transfer of power took place. There were major lessons there, but Obama didn’t get it. He told David Axlerod today that if the Constitution didn’t prevent him from running again, he could have won the election. A snide comment on Hillary’s campaign.

As always, it is all about him. I doubt that he could have persuaded the American people to give him another term to run our national security into the ground. Though the American people like Mr. Obama as a person, they think the country is going in the wrong direction, both economically and internationally. ObamaCare is collapsing. Terrorism is increasing, and Obama has been more interested in increasing the numbers of Syrian refugees in expectation the they would become Democrat voters, than in any possibility that they might be members of ISIS.

The Obamas will remain in Washington D.C. for the next year at least, and Mr. Obama has said he will spend the time “rebuilding the Democrat Party.” He will use his community organizing skills to build a hard-left version of the old Democratic Party, and with his old “Organizing for Obama” Team which has become “Organizing for America,” and now “Organizing for Action.”

Daniel Greenfield says that Obama wants to force radical change, building networks across the urban elite and into the halls of power. He intends to force radical change from outside the White House by using the network he’s built. Obama believes that he can rule America from outside the White House, and he may be right.

The Democrats are ceasing to be a national party. Instead they are becoming a nationalizing party. They are losing their presence in much of the country, from state legislature to state legislature, and becoming the party of major cities and the national government. Their agenda is to move power from local areas to central ones, from the villages and the suburbs to the cities, from states to D.C. and from locally elected legislators in D.C. to the satellite bureaucracies of the Federal government.

Obama sees Hillary’s defeat as an opportunity to burn the Dem’s last bridges with the larger country and its “bitter clingers”, to double down on nationalizing power and to define the political narrative around the agendas of urban elites. The left crippled the Democrats. Now it wants to utterly consume them.

The election was a catastrophic disaster for the Democrats, but it opened all sorts of doors for Obama.

You need to read the whole thing. Daniel Greenfield is a columnist, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He has his own blog, and writes at David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine as well as many other outlets.  He is very perceptive, and in this case, very scary. But Mr. Greenfield’s writing seems to follow closely with everything we know about Obama’s character. You read “Obama Plans to Rule America Outside the White House” and see what you think. Forewarned is forearmed.

Angelo Codevilla, writing in the Claremont Review of Books explains:

But whenever progressives have gained power, all manner of contradictions have remained and new ones have arisen. Progressive movements have reacted to this failure by becoming their own reason for being. Theoretically, the Revolution is about the power and necessity to recreate mankind. In practice, for almost all progressive movements it is about gaining power for the revolutionaries and making war on those who stand in their way.

This is a long, but important article, widely recommended. You will be glad you read the whole thing.



The Electoral College Votes Donald Trump 45th President of the United States by The Elephant's Child

Sorry, Democrats—Donald Trump is the President-Elect. The Electoral College has voted, and your death threats, protests and total unfamiliarity with the Constitution have gone for naught. It got a little odd here and there, one woman in Wisconsin screamed at electors “You don’t Deserve to Be in America”, and “This is My America” as the Police dragged her out.

Here in Washington State, although Hillary Clinton won the state, 4 faithless electors voted 3 for Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle. (?) The electoral College ended up 304 for Donald Trump and 227 for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump actually gained votes in Jill Stein’s recount. Hillary got the defectors. (numbers corrected)

Michael Barone, a long-time close observer of the political campaign business, said that this year the rules seemed to change. As technology is changing our lives in unexpected ways, it is also changing the political scene.

  1. Money doesn’t seem to matter so much. The Trump campaign spent somewhat more than half as much as the Hillary campaign, but won nearly half again as many electoral votes.
  2. TV spots don’t matter as much any more. A tweet gets more attention and a YouTube video gets more votes than a $10 million ad buy.
  3. Celebrities don’t matter. Lady Gaga and Beyonce did concerts for Hillary. Monmouth County NJ voted for Trump.
  4. Outrageous statements don’t matter. Voters were looking for change.
  5. Polling and big data don’t automatically advise the right moves.
  6. Understanding how the opposition thinks is enormously important. The Trump campaign got Hillary, but the reverse was not true. Hillary’s campaign people blamed their defeat on racism, Comey and the Russians.

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This One Cracked Me Up! Iowa Hawk Strikes Again. by The Elephant's Child

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More Nominees For the Trump Administration by The Elephant's Child

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Donald Trump has nominated Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, as Secretary of State to wide praise from Republicans. He has broad  and remarkable international experience, a deep understanding of the global economy and personal relations with many state leaders throughout the world. Imagine, a Secretary of State who knows what he’s doing and understands the geopolitics.

President-elect Donald Trump wants Goldman Sachs president & COO Gary Cohn as the Director of his National Economic Council. Trump says that Cohn will put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people, growing wages for workers and stopping American jobs from going overseas.
Cohn said: “I share President-elect Trump’s vision of making sure every American worker has a secure place in a thriving economy, and we will be completely committed to building a nation of strength, growth and prosperity.”

President Obama felt that having served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was enough prior knowledge of world governments and geopolitics, so we got Hillary Clinton whose accomplishment was the air miles she racked up, and John Kerry.

Steven Mnuchin has been nominated as Secretary of the Treasury. He was Trump’s campaign finance director, and obviously highly successful in that job. Hillary raised and spent $1.2 billion, and Trump, in contrast, spent $616.5 million, and had $31.5 million left over. He is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who has become a trusted financial advisor.

Ryan Zinke named as Interior Secretary is a first term congressman from Montana who will lead Mr. Trump’s efforts to open federal lands and water to fossil-fuel development and reverse many of the Obama administration nonsensical regulations.

Rick Perry who has been named as Secretary of Energy is the former governor of Texas. He served for nearly 15 years in the country’s biggest energy producing state. His record as governor was outstanding.

Andy Puzder has been named as Secretary of Labor. He is CEO of CKE Restaurant Holdings, parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, and has been a vocal advocate of cutting back the regulations that have stunted growth in the restaurant industry, and he has argued against raising the minimum wage higher than $9 an hour, and criticized the Affordable Care Act.

Wilbur Ross has been named as Commerce Secretary. He is a top economic adviser to Mr. Trump. He is chairman and chief  strategist of W.L.Ross & Co. a private equity firm and has extensive experience in corporate restructurings.

John Kelly,  has been named as Secretary of Homeland Security. He is a retired four star Marine General who directly supervised U.S. Operations in Central and South America as chief of Southern Command. His post involved monitoring drug trafficking and other smuggling activity around our southern border.

Linda McMahon has been named as Administrator of the Small Business Administration. She is the co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. and was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut, but very successful in building a business.

Elaine Chao has been named as Transportation Secretary. She was the first American woman of Asian descent to be appointed to the cabinet when she served as a very successful secretary of labor in the administration of George W. Bush. She is married to Majority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell.

Mike Pompeo has been named as Director of the CIA. He is a West Point graduate, first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 as part of the tea-party movement. He is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Intelligence Committee, and was a member of the special committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Michael Flynn has been nominated as National Security Adviser. He is a retired Army General who had served in top roles across the military as director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and intelligence adviser to Gen..Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Donald McGahn has been named as White House Counsel. He was the president-elect’s campaign lawyer and is a former member of the Federal Elections Commission. He is currently a partner at Jones Day in Washington D.C. where he has specialized on political law issues.

The Left, unsurprisingly, is having hissy-fits. Three Generals? During the campaign Trump was called “Hitler,” one of their usual epithets. Now its “Authoritarian.” From Bill McGurn at the Wall Street Journal:  (Talking Points)

From the New Republic: “Donald Trump Is Already Acting Like an Authoritarian.” National Public Radio: “Donald Trump: Strong Leader or Dangerous Authoritarian?” The New York Times: “Beyond Lying: Donald Trump’s Authoritarian Reality.” The New Yorker: “Trump’s Challenge to American Democracy.”

What’s striking here is that the same folks who see in Mr. Trump a Mussolini in waiting are blind to the soft despotism that has already taken root in our government. This is the unelected and increasingly assertive class that populates our federal bureaucracies and substitutes rule by regulation for the rule of law. The result? Over the Obama years, the Competitive Enterprise Institute reckons, Washington has averaged 35 regulations for every law.

The Left finds fault with any nominee who has not served in government as somehow not qualified. That pretty clearly demonstrates the mindset. The Left are proponents of big government, the better to regulate you with. They believe firmly in their own anointed superiority, and usually, never have worked in private business, and thus know how the deplorables out there should go about their lives.

Three Generals? Will they lead us to war? Oh please! Nobody hates war more than those who have experienced it. No experience in Government—that is a positive qualification.

Trump’s array of economic advisors are divided between those who believe in carrots and those who believe in sticks. One group rejects mainstream economic thinking and believes in eliminating trade deficits, and views taxes on companies that move jobs abroad as necessary sticks  to reduce a 15 year slide in income for middle class Americans. The opposing camp champions supply-side economics and believe in slashing red tape and taxes to make the U.S. a top destination for business is a worthwhile carrot. Then there’s a third group who aren’t particularly ideological. (I‘m an ideological  supply-sider)

Mr Trump’s supporters are probably equally divided. A lot of us want the EPA abolished. Is the Energy Department necessary? Is the Education Department needed? I suspect that it is unlikely that any agency will be eliminated, for all have their proponents, and for the Left—they are essential. Getting rid of a department approaches the impossible.

Trump has advocated eliminating Education. Each department has its own culture, many are long-standing and deeply entrenched.  Eliminating departments will take a back seat to Mr. Trump’s goal of growing the economy and putting America back to work. There will be more silly attacks from the Left, but the Right has not been this strong for 80 years. Progressives just haven’t figured that out yet.

Expect some bitter confirmation battles. They are outraged with the appointment of Scott Pruitt to the EPA, he is not only an attorney who has taken the EPA to court (on a lawsuit filed by 27 states against the EPA. Rex Tillerson (a businessman, an oil man? ), the Generals, and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education who is a champion of charter schools and opposes Common Core. Major fight!  This is a group selected for their expertise and their ability to take on a fight to make a difference for the country. I’m impressed.



Here’s the Incoming Cabinet So Far by The Elephant's Child

Feb. 2, 2010

Courtesy of Jim Geraghty at National Review, here’s a list of the incoming cabinet so far: It’s a pretty impressive group!

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions.

Secretary of Defense: General James Mattis

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Representative Tom Price

Secretary of Transportation: Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao

Secretary of Education: Philanthropist Betsy DeVos

Treasury Secretary: Banker Steven Mnunchin

Secretary of Commerce: Financier Wilbur Ross

Deputy secretary of Commerce: Todd Rickets, co-owner of Chicago Cubs

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Dr. Ben Carson

Ambassador to the United Nations: Governor Nikki Haley

White House Chief of Staff: House RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

National Security Advisor: Former Defense Intelligence Agency director Michal Flynn

Deputy National Security Advisor: K.T. McFarland. Fox News Analyst who served in the Reagan Administration.

Department of Homeland Security: Marine General John Kelly (Ret) Former head of Southern Command, with special concern for Mexican border, and Gitmo.

CIA Director: Representative Mike Pompeo.

EPA Director: Oklahoma Attorney General, Republican Scott Pruitt

Administrator Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Indiana health-policy consultant Seema Verma

White House counsel: Donald McGahn partner at Jones Day who served as campaign counsel.McGahn is a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

Marine General James Mattis will need a waiver from Congress, as he has only been retired for three years, and the law specifies military officers must be retired for seven years. General George Marshall required such a waiver, which was promptly given, as will be the waiver for General Mattis.

Senator Kirsten Gillebrand, who replaced Hillary in the Senate, and reportedly has presidential ambitions, says she will oppose General Mattis’ appointment. I guess she will take advantage of any opportunity to get attention. You’ve probably noticed that Democrats are really having a hard time accepting the new reality.



James Mattis Once Wrote a Letter on the Importance of Reading by The Elephant's Child

29firstdraft-mattis-tmagarticlePresident-Elect Donald Trump has announced his choice of Retired Marine General James Mattis to be his Defense Secretary, to wide acclaim. Mattis is widely respected in the military, loved by his troops, and is an outstanding choice.

The Daily Caller published a famous letter today that General Mattis wrote on the “importance of reading and military history for officers” “who found themselves too busy to read.” His response to the lack of time went viral, with good reason. It’s a clear testament to the General’s character, and a good lesson for all of us.

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.




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