American Elephants

The Navajo Nation, Says Russell Begaye, Is Used to Historical Mistreatment by the Federal Government by The Elephant's Child


Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation, has spoken out about the investigation into the Gold King Mine spill. Investigators from the Department of Interior concluded that the EPA could have prevented the blowout Gold King Mine Spill if waters inside the mine had been checked before work began on the abandoned mine. The EPA had been warned that mine and others in the area posed a threat.

In 2005, after a National Priorities List assessment, the study confirmed for the second time that the mine should qualify as a Superfund site. The EPA and other responsible parties took no action.

The EPA spill sent three million gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas and San Juan rivers. Mr. Begaye charged:

The Navajo Nation is used to historical mistreatment by agencies of the federal government, but the inadequate and delayed response to the contamination of our rivers and the utter lack of accountability takes that sentiment to a whole new level. When that threat became reality, they waited nearly two days to inform the Nation that a spill had occurred, then waited six full days to take responsibility and apologize.

The EPA’s eventual “response” was to provide our communities with tanks of impure water for our livestock and crops. And now, FEMA is denying our request for a declared state of emergency. Our people have suffered immeasurably due to the reckless actions of the EPA and other responsible parties (who have yet to be held accountable), and the government’s failed response to this crisis only adds insult to injury. Our irrigation systems are still shut down, and our analysis shows that the water is not yet safe for consumption or crop irrigation.

The Navajo Nation’s Environmental Protection Agency has found lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium, cadmium and beryllium, contaminants known to be toxic to humans and animals, still present in our rivers. Our people and our land are devastated. With high unemployment on the Navajo Nation and almost all Navajo families relying on subsistence farming, our lack of access to clean water to grow our crops is catastrophic.

The EPA, as is noted by yesterday’s op-ed from Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, is in pure self-defense mode. The Navajo Nation needs the rivers cleaned up and clean, safe water supplies for crops and livestock. Not an unreasonable request.

The Interior Department may have found that the EPA should have done things differently, but nothing much will happen. The rivers will eventually wash out the toxic sludge. Your federal government at work. I’m with the Navajo Nation on this one.


Four Years of FOIA Requests, Four Years of Benghazi Hearings by The Elephant's Child


The WordPress wayback machine reminded me of three posts about Benghazi: From December 19, 2012 concerning the Accountability Review Board study of the Benghazi affair. “The Report on Benghazi Came In, All Over, Nothing to See Here, Just Move Along

May 8, 2012: “The Benghazi Hearings. It Matters a Lot

May 18, 2013: Spin, Spin, Spin

Not just a reminder of how long Congress has been trying to find out why four Americans were killed in Benghazi, but why the administration lied to the American people about it, and why they have tried so hard to cover up. “Most transparent administration in history” indeed!

Perhaps you have noticed that the Republicans in Congress are arguing about their goals and what they can accomplish in the face of an administration that is firmly set against their accomplishing anything. This is portrayed by the media as ‘chaos’ and ‘weakness’ and ‘disorganization’ but it is not any such thing. It’s the way things are supposed to work.

When the Founders were first setting up a new, independent, country they were determined to set us free from an over-controlling government. They sought power, not for themselves, but for the American people. All kinds of battles have been fought over the centuries by people trying to win some privilege from their government. The Founders skipped all that and gave the government to the people.

That was and remains the most daring act in the history of government, and it makes all the difference. They did everything they could think of to slow government down, to provide for fighting and disagreement over what laws to pass. We are supposed to argue and fight, and discuss and eventually reach a satisfactory compromise.

Progressives, the certified smart people, have never really understood that. They basically believe that they should be running things, that the American people are stupid or they would be supporting the right of Progressives to rule. That’s why they march in lockstep, use the same words to describe their ideas, promise to give the people extravagant gifts like free college tuition, free healthcare (that’s working out well), equality for all, and let the rich pay for everything. Trouble is that all the billions of the billionaires is not enough. Or as Margaret Thatcher famously remarked “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”

That’s why Progressives hate free speech, want to confiscate your guns, nationalize education, eliminate state’s rights, and eliminate the Republican Party which has the gall to oppose their ideas. That’s why they can’t win elections without vote fraud, why they import illegal aliens to skew population numbers, register them to vote, convince minorities that voter ID is a Republican trick to keep them from voting. And now, why they want to release large numbers of criminals from prison. It’s the Fox Butterfield Fallacy.

Progressives do not play fair, though they talk about “fairness” a lot. They are zealots on a grand mission, they are going to legislate social justice and social equality. They believe that if they can accumulate enough money and enough power, they can make the glorious future work. That it has been tried many times before and failed doesn’t phase them, for when they do it it will be different. I don’t think your ordinary run-of-the-mill Democrats are actually aware of all that. They know that the  Democrat Party cares about them, and Republicans are mean, which is presently proved by their partisan attack on Hillary.

The Benghazi Hearings by The Elephant's Child

151023112135-hillary-clinton-benghazi-hand-large-169Democrats are crowing today, apparently because Hillary escaped the inquisition from the “vast right-wing conspiracy” without any major gaffes or self-indictment. She’s off the hook, we’re back in the game? But Hillary’s testimony requires a little more thought than the lap-dog media is accustomed to giving to much of anything. It is perhaps too soon to be crowing.

Smoking gun? The presence of a server in her home, the attempts to hide it, to prevent anyone seeing any email at all, speak volumes. In the absence of recorded or filmed conversations, emails are the most solid evidence we can have. Why was she not conducting business on State Department security approved computers and devices? Federal law requires official communications to be preserved. The object is a clean and transparent government responsive to the citizens they serve. At one point Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration in history—but that was then and this is now.

We do have a problem with the federal bureaucracy. Individuals of varied degrees of competency and experience are appointed by the President and approved by Congress to head one of the departments of the administration, which means they are walking into an organization that is humming along in some fashion, and take over. Be in charge, direct its operations, and be responsible for its actions.

The State Department has its own peculiarities. We do have Ambassadors in most countries, but apparently the boss is supposed to spend their time visiting lots of countries, particularly the more difficult ones and make progress in some fashion. The culture of the State Department emphasizes diplomacy (which seems to be defined as “keep talking”) above anything else. State has long been accused of being weak on security — going back to when they had the Soviets build their new embassy in Moscow, and the KGB built listening devices right into the walls of every room. So it is indeed possible that when Hillary got her instructions on how the department works, security was not emphasized. But—as we are constantly reminded, she was FLOTUS, and one of the two senators from New York (safe Democrat seat) and in the White House and in the Senate, security is a constant concern. That she was unaware of any need for careful security is beyond belief. And why did she have her own private server in her home anyway?

But here is Hillary’s problem. She was Secretary of State, not just a title to advance one’s career, but the executive officer of a large organization, in charge. The successes or failures of the department are her responsibility, and go to her credit or her dismissal in disgrace.

And there’s the rub. The entire investigation into Benghazi is not, as the lapdog press claims, a political attack on Hillary. Our Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens; his Information Officer Sean Smith; and two brave CIA contractors, former Seals, who were trying to save the Americans under attack were all killed by the attacking jihadists. Ambassador Stevens had written 600 requests for more security. In the hearing, Clinton was asked about an email from Stevens written in early September.

Clinton claimed to believe that Chris Stevens was joking when he asked about security at the Benghazi compound. It was certainly the hearing’s most bizarre moment: “Well, Congresswoman, one of the great attributes that Chris Stevens had was a really good sense of humor and I just see him smiling as he’s typing this because it’s clearly in response to the e-mail down below talking about picking up a few ‘fire sale items from the Brits’,” she told Brooks.

The “fire sale items” were barricades left behind by the British, who were leaving Benghazi because it was unsafe.

Clinton claimed that she never saw Stevens’ requests for more security as such things were passed on to the “security professionals.” Excuse me. As head of the department, it is her job to know about such things and if subordinates did not inform her, they should be promptly fired.

Contrary to her claims of having done “everything’ possible, the gentle manner of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland was disarming. He forced Clinton to admit that she decided not to send the FES (Foreign Emergency Support) team to rescue the Americans in Benghazi.

The night of the attack, September 11, 2012, Hillary knew the compound was under attack, knew that the two CIA contractors were pinned down under attack and calling for backup and help. She brushed that off as something for “the security professionals”and went home and went to bed.

She emailed Chelsea that night and told her that the ambassador was under terrorist attack, but by the next morning, the attack was the spontaneous result of a poorly-made video criticizing Islam. When the bodies were brought home, Hillary told the parents that they would make the video-maker pay for his crime. She had called the prime minister of Egypt on September 12, to tell him that the video was not responsible. Susan Rice went on the rounds of the Sunday shows to blame an ugly video that criticized the Prophet.

To be very clear, the administration lied to the shocked American people, lied to the victim’s parents, but knew from the very first that it was an attack by approximately 100 –150 supporters of Ansar al Sharia — al Qaeda affiliates. The president was campaigning for reelection, claiming that al Qaeda was dead and General Motors was alive. (He’d taken care of the terrorists, and revived the economy)

The story about Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty  is still not clear. The account in Wikipedia does not jibe with what I remember hearing at the time. The backup that they requested was ready to embark, and was told to stand down. The general who prepared to rescue them was subsequently removed, but who did or said what is still a mystery to perhaps be discovered by more Freedom of Information requests. They have been filed constantly ever since 2012.

The reason it has dragged on so long is the refusal of the State Department to provide the emails that have begun to clarify what actually happened and why. Can’t find them. Must be lost. Haven’t found any yet. Then a few trickle out. A great flood of several thousand emails from Ambassador Stevens was delivered just two days before the hearings. That’s how the game is played in our nation’s capitol.

Hillary was forced to make several damning revelations during hours of sworn testimony. Here are nine of them.
The hearing was about politics, Hillary’s politics.. How her politics trumped competence in office.
There were 8 major warnings before the Benghazi terror attacks.
She Knew All Along” from the Wall Street Journal.
— “Still Waiting for the Truth,” The Weekly Standard
Obama administration officials, with the awareness of the Sec. of State, were involved in violating a ban on arming Syrian rebels. The news media is aiding them in covering up the Benghazi to Syria arms transfers.
— “Hillary Owns the War in Libya (And Its Horrible Aftermath)

Don’t forget, Hillary is an old hand at this kind of thing, lots of hearings with tough questions over the years.

Daniel Hannan On The Miracle of the Marketplace by The Elephant's Child

Why private property matters, and how nations develop. In some parts of the world they have never developed those simple ideas, which is why poverty remains so endemic. If you have no title to your property, nor law that defends your rights, you cannot borrow against that value to start even a small business.

Suppressing U.S. Intelligence For Political Reasons? by The Elephant's Child

Some of the U.S. intelligence community’s top analysts reportedly have informed the Pentagon’s Inspector General that their reports have been systematically edited to back up President Obama’s assertions and his national security team’s assertions that the war on ISIS is more successful than it actually is, according to news reports from The Hill and other news sources.

This is the first time that so many intelligence analysts have complained to the Pentagon’s top Inspector General Jon Rymer about the politicizing of the intelligence gathering and analysis function.  In July, two analysts filed a complaint after months of internal complaints were allegedly ignored. Some career intelligence officers who complained were bullied and forced to take early retirement.  Other analysts backed up their colleagues complaints and said they can back up their claims of political shenanigans to make Obama, Kerry and others look good.

The most damaging complaint is that “senior officials are editing the analysts’ reports to bring them into line with administration claims. The goal was apparently to make Iran appear less dangerous to Americans while the administration was pursuing its Iran Deal. The House Armed Services Committee is investigating.

The Grand Old Party and the Very Big Tent by The Elephant's Child

big-top2You have probably noticed that we are Republicans here. If you have ever clicked on the “about” button in the sidebar, you will see our big tent declaration. I don’t have a big “see how I discovered conservatism” story, I have always been a Republican. My great great grandfather wrote in the very first days of the Republican Party  “I am a quiet but interested member of the Republican Party.”Not exactly a rousing declaration, but there you are.

I’m a conservative, but most Republicans are, they just define “conservative” a little differently. On some subjects I agree with the libertarians, others with  the “establishment.” That’s what “a big tent” means. You agree on some things, not on others, and you fight about it. And at some point you finally discover that you can’t have your own way and you have to compromise. I get really annoyed by the constant battle by conservatives over who is conservative enough and who is not, and just how pure true conservatism must be.

That said, I believe that most Republicans are dismayed or horrified by the extent to which Barack Obama has attempted to radically transform the United States of America, and once his party was soundly defeated to give control of Congress to the Republicans, by executive order, executive note, refusing to enforce the law, and even going to the United Nations to get his own way. This is something new in American politics.

They are angry about the attempt to change the demographics of the country before the next election. They are frightened by the “Iran Deal” which the president mistakenly believes is a good thing. And that hardly even scratches the surface of a very long list. Republicans are united in their dismay, but all over the place about how to deal with it, about what is most urgent, and especially the correct strategy and tactics.

The fight is on and the Democrats are delighted. They call it “Chaos” and are sure that it is a signal of the coming, much desired demise of the Republican Party. They do want to shut us up, but they would prefer that we just go away — permanently. Here are four great pieces that hint that there’s still some life in the Grand Old Party:

—Kevin Williamson, writing at National Review: “OK. Let’s Fight

—Andrew Malcolm, writing at Investors: “Gee, that felt good to dump Boehner, McCarthy as Speaker, but now …

—David Harsanyi, writing at The Federalist: Relax. This Is Exactly How Congress Should Work, when it comes to the House, ‘chaos’ can be preferable to lockstepping.

—Noah Rothman, writing at Commentary: The Noble Goal of the Freedom Caucus

Obama’s Mass Release of Prisoners Soon to Hit the Streets by The Elephant's Child

Over the past thirty years,  Americans have experienced a record decline in crime rates. Neighborhoods once dangerous for the law abiding have been stabilized. The murder rate is down, saving many lives, mostly of young disadvantaged men in our cities. The gains, however, are fragile and at risk.

Later this month, about 6,000 federal prisoners are expected to be granted an early release from the Bureau of Prisons. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has lowered the sentences for many drug offenders, and made the change retroactive. This is the largest one-time release in history, and the 6,000 inmates are set to be released  between October 30 and November 1, but is only a fraction of what is to come. According to Commission estimates, 46,000 inmates currently serving federal prison sentences for serious drug trafficking offenses are eligible for early release.

The Justice Department’s own studies on recidivism — inmates who commit new crimes after their release — are a source of concern. The Justice recidivism report showed that within five years of release, 77 percent of drug offenders in the state system had committed new crimes. Using that number would suggest that there is a potential for over 4,600 offenders and 35,000 new crimes committed in the next five years, and this is only talking about the crimes for which the recidivists are caught.

There is the famous “Fox Butterfield Effect”named after New York Times crime reporter Fox Butterfield who was responsible for such headlines as “More Inmates Despite Drop in Crime”. “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction,” and “Crime Keeps on Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling.”He just didn’t get the connection.

Those who are not U.S. citizens will be deported, but the majority will be placed in home confinement or halfway houses and then supervised release. Those systems are already taxed, but are they prepared for thousands of new charges?

Crime in New York City is already up dramatically, due to Mayor de Blasio’s softer stance on crime. There are genuine risks in this early release plan, and it is the public that will bear the costs. Mr. Obama is already pursuing a less-serious police position in inner city neighborhoods after riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. The”Black Lives Matter” movement has police departments pulling back from policing for fear of attacks and riots — which has been accompanied by an unsurprising rise in crime rates.


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