American Elephants


Strange Times, Strange War, Strange Announcements by The Elephant's Child

Headline: The Washington Post: “Elite U.S. targeting force has arrived in Iraq to fight the Islamic State”

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – An elite U.S. Special Operations targeting force has arrived in Iraq and will carry out operations against the Islamic State, part of a broader effort in 2016 to strike at the militants and that also includes U.S. Special Operations troops in Syria, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Wednesday.

The targeting force is now in place and is prepared to work with Iraqis to begin going after militant fighters and commanders, “killing or capturing them wherever we find them,” Carter said, speaking to about 200 soldiers at the home of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, which is expected to deploy about 500 soldiers next month to Iraq and Kuwait as part of the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

Is it standard military procedure now to announce everything we are doing or going to do in advance? Or is this Obama, stung by the response to his State of the Union everything is dandy speech trying to show that he’s not either a weak doormat, and does too send needed troops, but can’t manage to do anything without bragging about it first? Seems odd. But then Obama has had a habit of always telling the enemy what we’re going to do, then tacking on restrictive rules of engagement to make sure nobody gets hurt so that he cannot be blamed. But what do I know, I’m just a civilian worrier.

The training the U.S. soldiers will provide to both the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces will prove critical, with the peshmerga approaching Mosul from the north and Iraqi troops coming from the south in a “pincer movement,” Carter predicted. Some analysts, however, say that communications between regular Iraqi forces and the Kurds need to improve significantly before any kind of joint operation can be undertaken.



Not All Cyber Attacks Are Committed By Chinese Hackers by The Elephant's Child

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You have heard about Cyber War, I’m sure. Not all of the cyber attacks on our power infrastructure are caused by hackers in the People’s Republic of China or Russia or even ISIS. At least that’s what the former Deputy Director of the National Security Agency claims.

“I don’t think paralysis [of the electrical grid] is more likely by cyberattack than by natural disaster. And frankly the number-one threat experienced to date by the US electrical grid is squirrels.” – John C. Inglis, Former Deputy Director, National Security Agency 2015.07.09

The website cybersquirrel1.com is all about the declassified cyber attacks they have been able to document up to the present time. They have listed 623 successful attacks by squirrels, 214 by birds, 52 by raccoons, 47 by snakes, 25 by rats, and 9 by beavers.  They offer an interactive map showing the locations of confirmed strikes, a cybersquirrel 1 unit sticker, and a record of mentions in the press. I suspect this is only a small  part of the larger war against squirrels and other varmints by bird lovers who have major trouble with squirrels stealing the bird seed. All in fun, of course. There are books delineating methods for dealing with the bandits. Consult Amazon.

Real Hacking and Cyber attacks are no joke. We have had serious probes of our infrastructure, power plants, power grid, and military installations. There are worries about solar flares and severe solar storms that can cause damage naturally. Everything electric stops.

A real EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack has been estimated to kill 90 percent of the American population. It can be accomplished by detonating a nuclear missile at high altitude, and also by severe solar flares. Here’s a summary of research from the Heritage Foundation, and a survey of EMP preparedness, also from the Heritage Foundation. Or simply Google EMP Attacks, and you will get information, scoffing, how to prepare, and survival equipment and tips.

The federal government is apparently concerned with squirrels, and hardening off the grid will be a state problem. You might want to see if your state is doing anything.



Here’s The Preliminary Debate Tonight Which You Probably Didn’t See by The Elephant's Child

I watched the debates tonight, and though they were extremely well handled by the Fox Business channel, I was distressed again by the “undercard,” “kiddie table,” treatment of those who weren’t measuring up in the polls. We have too many outstanding candidates. But where they rank in the polls is largely determined by the attention of the media.When the media speaks of no one but Trump, it is not surprising that he leads in the polls.

I’m not ready to choose a candidate, and I’m not at all convinced that early caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are helpful. It’s not so bad when there are just a couple of candidates, but when there are still ten, some of the better ones may be forced to drop out, and we’re left with temporary crushes that we don’t really know enough about.

I’ve seen a number of campaigns, but I have never seen anything like the excess and adulation for Barack Obama in 2007. Anyone would have to admit that the Nobel Peace Prize for campaign speeches was wretched excess. It was a skillful campaign that revealed nothing real about the candidate at all. But the love affair has grown stale, and the promises didn’t work out. I fear that we may be facing that again.

I read a lot of news, and from the last debate to this, Carly Fiorina simply disappeared from the news. The progressive media didn’t want another woman in the news, when all Hillary had to run on was her gender. I don’t know what it is Hillary is supposed to have done for women, though she did make some speeches abroad about educating their girls. Nikki Haley, successful governor of South Carolina, gave an excellent response to the State of the Union, and the Progressive media turned it into a hit piece on Donald Trump (it wasn’t) and a hit piece on all the Republican candidates.(it wasn’t)

Carly Fiorina is a government outsider who actually has real applicable experience. (But she was fired?) Her tenure at HP was the same length as the average major corporate CEO — six years during a very difficult time for the industry, and she managed to leave the company far better off than when she took over. She essentially saved the company. She’s done really hard things — having to lay off large numbers of employees is very very hard.  I suspect she may be another Margaret Thatcher, but will we be allowed to find out?



Bret Stephens on The Coming Global Disorder by The Elephant's Child

Bret Stephens has been the foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal for nine years. This is a speech he delivered to the David Horowitz Freedom Center Texas Retreat, last June. A very thoughtful speech. It reflects much of the thinking expressed in his 2014 book America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder.

It’s perhaps a little long for a Wednesday night when tomorrow is a work day, but do save it to watch when you have time. You will be glad you did.



Endless Hype, Because That’s All They Have. by The Elephant's Child

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More myths, old stories, rumors, hype and prevarications. Ever hear of the “Great Garbage Patch” in the middle of the ocean? Doesn’t exist. We are not “choking the ocean with plastic.” A post at Watts Up With That explains how many of our scary stories “come from the interaction of actual science with activist scientists and clickbait-seeking journalists. It is an example of how real problems become masked by myths, leaving us divided and unable to respond.”

I have written several times of how plastic bags became an endangered species in Democrat run cities. They believe in the great garbage patch, they believe that it must be caused by plastic grocery bags, and they want you to buy and use cloth bags, which are dangerous if not washed between uses, for meat drippings and drippings from moist vegetables can become a source of  E-coli or other illnesses. The orgin of the story was very complicated, but the pursuit of a big tax on plastic bags is just cities trying to raise a little extra money.

Did you see the pictures of the great walrus haulout this last year? It was supposed to be a great environmental catastrophe, except when the wildlife biologists spoke up, apparently walruses like to do that every so often, and it’s not a big deal. They do it all the time.

The polar bears have gotten most of the hype. They are beautiful creatures living in a remote and frozen environment, their cubs are adorable, and they have become the fundraising image for a good many environmental fund drives. Surely you saw the bear costumes in Paris and at other big climate whingdings. At the urging of the Greens, the bears have been considered “threatened” which makes their funding more urgent. However, the bears are doing just fine. Their numbers are increasing, and have been doing so for years.

Environmental activists have learned that they can stop most any project with a claim of “endangered species” needing that particular patch of ground. The sage hen is the current threatened or endangered species, but you never know whether it is true or not. The threat is easy, the proof that the “endangered” category is unnecessary is harder to get. On the other hand, the wind farms are killing raptors at a tremendous rate, and songbirds as well, and although bird lovers are outraged, “natural” wind energy trumps wildlife, because the Greens have a bigger investment in wind.

Carbon Dioxide, CO2, is not a pollutant. It is what we exhale every time we breathe, and your little dog too. The trees absorb the CO2 in a process called photosynthesis, which we all learned in high school biology, except President Obama was busy with his “Choom gang” at the time and missed the whole discussion. CO2 is a natural fertilizer for plants and helps to feed a hungry world. More CO2 in the atmosphere would be a good thing. Greenhouses have way more CO2 in their atmosphere and we haven’t had any noticable deaths of nurserymen yet.

And don’t get me started on the Keystone Pipeline.



There Is A Mysterious Mindset Here, But It Makes No Sense. by The Elephant's Child

barack-obama_1Before President Obama left for his Hawaiian vacation, in a meeting with news columnists, there was one quote that made the president look especially bad.

In his meeting with the columnists, Mr. Obama indicated that he did not see enough cable television to fully appreciate the anxiety after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and made clear that he plans to step up his public arguments.

Made the president look more than a little out of touch. The Times quickly removed the passage. Add that to the claim that ISIL was “contained” only hours before the Paris attacks. He assured the public that his anti-ISIL strategy has hit a wall. “There’s only so much bombing you can do, he added, in a bid for sympathy about how hard he was working.

Yet it seems that only 25 percent of American bombing runs resulted in releasing at least one weapon. It appears that Mr. Obama really doesn’t want to hurt anyone, and the air force is scattering leaflets to warn the jihadis that they are about to be bombed. But we apparently cannot do much of anything more than we are doing to prevent mass killings in the West.

Mr Obama has been eager to share his plans for closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. There are 107 jihadists at Gitmo. The president thinks that’s too many. Andy McCarthy firmly believes that’s not nearly enough. Two former detainees are leading the fight against the West in Afghanistan, and another, Ibrahim al Qosi has a leading role in al-Qaeda in Yemen.

I don’t believe that Americans are frightened of terrorist attacks. I think they are frightened that their government seems to have no understanding of the situation, no idea how to deal with it, and no idea how to protect the American people from more attacks. Clueless.

A truism about the Left is that they too often believe their own propaganda. Democrats were as frightened as the rest of us by 9/11, and most voted for the Iraq War. Three months into the march-up to Baghdad, President Bush declared the combat phase over. Once we were in control, the Left turned viciously against the war. Obama has insisted that he was always against the war, thought it was wrong, and clearly that became a part of his hasty pull-out from Iraq and, by failing to get a status of forces agreement, led to the rise of ISIS.

Obama’s response to terrorist attacks is, at best, odd. He’s much more comfortable with mass attacks, preferably with assault style weapons, and with a shooter who is clearly an evangelical. It was only in recent days that they decided the shooting in Chattanooga was really a terrorist attack.

The administration just doesn’t seem to get it. There is an odd disconnect, as if it all isn’t really that serious. Obama, I think, believes that the problems of the Middle East have arisen because of Bush’s war, and the presence of Israel. He believes that he can just turn over the Middle East and all its problems to Iran to handle, and we can depart and have nothing more to do with it at all. And it’s only the warmongering Republicans that are making his retreat from the Levant so slow. He believes that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon, and he has said so.

He wants to close Guantanamo, because he believes that the world thinks it’s a place where we torture enemy soldiers. Democrats believe that the prison’s existence serves as a recruiting tool for Islamist militants, though there is no evidence that this is so. He wants to give it back to Cuba, because there’s no other point in releasing detainees who will immediately go back to the fight. The Castros have no intention of relaxing their despotic control of the Cuban population, and intend to pass the prison state on to the next generation — still a prison state.

Obama wants to release “non-violent”drug-dealing prisoners from our jails, in spite of the fact that the significant drop in crime is clearly a result of their being out of circulation. This seems to be a gesture to the black community who are sure that their friends and relatives are only in prison because of police misconduct.

There has been a remarkable lot of agitating racial resentment, especially the assumption that any deaths are the result of police brutality. ‘Black Lives Matter’ activists have been busy on college and university campuses, along with community organizers from ACORN  and protesters from Ferguson and Baltimore. Surely you didn’t believe that this was simply political correctness gone amok. Poor kids have trouble coming up with actual reasons for their protest, and a lot of the racist incidents simply never happened. Democrats are afraid that the black vote that Obama drew, may not turn out for Hillary, unless they think Republicans are sufficiently racist.



But Appearances! What Might People Think? What If They Blamed Us? by The Elephant's Child

San-Bernadino-Shooting-AerialTashfeen Malik, who with her husband carried out the massacre in San Bernardino, CA, passed three background checks by U.S. immigration officials as she moved from Pakistan to the United States. She had made many posts on social media about her support for violent jihad. She said she wanted to be part of it. So why…?

It seems, according to a whistleblower’s comments to ABC News that once again, political correctness  has trumped common sense.

Fearing a civil liberties backlash and “bad public relations” for the Obama administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end the secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas, according to a former senior department official.

“During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process,” John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis. Cohen is now a national security consultant for ABC News.

One current and one former senior counter-terrorism official confirmed Cohen’s account about the refusal of DHS to change its policy about the public social media posts of all foreign applicants.

A DHS spokesman said that a review of the broader policy is underway.

A former senior counter-terrorism official, who participated in the 2014 discussion, said, “Why the State Department and Homeland Security Department have not leveraged the power of social media is beyond me.”

“They felt looking at public postings [of foreign U.S. visa applicants] was an invasion of their privacy,” the official told ABC News. “The arguments being made were, and are still, in bad faith.”

The whistleblower said “It was primarily a question of optics. There were concerns from a privacy and civil liberties perspective that while this was not illegal, that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly.”

The obsession with political correctness, social justice, appearances rather than doing the right thing is breathtaking. There is no such thing as “social justice.” There is only one kind of justice which is enumerated in the laws of the United States, the Constitution, the actions of the courts and the laws of the states. How anyone feels about the laws is irrelevant.

Political correctness deals with what other people think. Also irrelevant. The Left is awash in political correctness, and as we have recently seen, so are our colleges and universities. Appearances again refers to how something looks to others. What is missing here is truth, legality, accuracy, dependability, honor, reliability, honesty — that sort of thing.

Conservatives often complain the those on the Left are concerned only with feelings. If you feel that it’s not fair that someone can say things that you disagree with, that someone earning more money than you do just isn’t fair, or that it’s not fair that someone earns only the minimum wage, you’re probably a Leftie. The missing factors, truth, or dependability play out in the Left’s lack of concern for graft, self-enrichment with public money, casual treatment of national secrets, lying to the public, which are common on the Left.  That sort of stuff is not a big deal, or it’s just what everybody does.

I’m pretty big on  the truth, legal and reliable bit. There is a moral dimension to truth and lying which involves the intent to mislead. We act on the information we receive, and the consequences of being misled can be dire indeed. When the president misleads the nation, it is a very big deal. When the Democrats’ anointed nominee is under investigation by the FBI, for putting top-secret documents on her own computer, exposed to any hacker,  is known to be a compulsive liar, and not only lied to the parents of the Americans killed in Benghazi, but then denied the lies she told them — we are deep into the weeds. There’s a reason why the economies of Democrat-run states are in the toilet. Yet such things are not supposed to matter.

If our country is being run on the basis of appearances and political correctness, and we are being misled about it all, we are in very deep trouble indeed.




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