American Elephants


Marco Rubio’s Blistering Floor Speech on Obama’s Treatment Of Israel by The Elephant's Child

Senator Marco Rubio called out President Obama for his shameful treatment of the Prime Minister of Israel, and for his treatment of the Israeli nation.

Obama did finally call Benjamin Netanyahu today to congratulate him on his overwhelming victory in the recent Israeli election. Obama’s childish, petulant response has been embarrassing. Israel is the only free market democracy in the Middle East, and the envy of many Palestinians.

I think Obama has depended on an Israeli Peace Plan with Palestine, a two-state solution, to be one of the crowning achievements of his legacy and his presidency, something Bush couldn’t get done, and proof that he really did too deserve that Noble Peace Prize. He should have known better, but foreign policy is not one of Obama’s strong points. It’s a naive, foolish vision, but nothing he planned as his foreign policy triumphs is working out — ending the War in Iraq has turned sour; people are laughing at Cuba declaring victory over Obama’s surrender to them; Republicans in the Senate wrote a despicable letter to the Ayatollahs in Iran and may have messed up his much desired nuclear deal. Even killing bin Laden and having al Qaeda on the run doesn’t seem to be working out. He hasn’t much time left to secure a legacy.

ADDENDUM: Some wording changed to clarify what I was attempting to say.



“We Need To Face Reality. There Is No Planet B.” by The Elephant's Child

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry speaks about the Ukraine crisis after his meetings with other foreign ministers in Paris

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a haughty speech on climate change at the Atlantic Council in Washington on Thursday. He is upset that those Republican yokels don’t understand that climate change is happening and that humans are largely responsible, and those facts should be as universally accepted as the law of gravity.

Well, we yokels do accept the laws of gravity, not so much because Sir Isaac Newton said so, but because it is an observable truth. I would be most gratified if the dishes I drop would float for a while before falling, so I could catch them before they break, but gravity triumphs every time.

No one denies that climate change is happening. The climate is always changing, always will. It has been far warmer in the past, and far colder as well. We  have all heard of Ice Ages. What we are skeptical about is that the current warming phase occurs only in computer climate programs — not in the real world. In the real world, where accurate temperatures across the world are measured by satellites, there hasn’t been any warming for eighteen years. Mr. Kerry said:

Now folks, we literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say ‘climate change.’ We have to talk about how we solve climate change. Because no matter how much people want to bury their heads in the sand, it will not alter the fact that 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening and that human activity is largely responsible.”

Oh dear, the 97% “consensus” (2013) Cook et. al. has been refuted in scholarly peer-reviewed journals, major news media, public policy organizations and think tanks, credentialed scientists. 100 percent of the former say that warming has nearly stopped.

I’ll bet Mr. Kerry has never read any of the science, but only accepted what he believes to be the conventional wisdom.  He insisted that last year was the warmest of all, (it wasn’t even close ) and added that “I don’t mean to sound haughty” — when has he ever not? I’m not sure that you can be a skeptic and a member of the Obama administration.

He issued a passionate call for nations to forgo the short-term lure of “outdated” fossil fuels — “The bottom line is that we can’t only factor in the price of immediate energy needs. We have to factor in the cost of long-term carbon pollution. We have to factor in survival.”

“We need to face reality,” he added. “There is no ‘Planet B.’”

Joe Biden made a speech along exactly the same line. “Climate Change is as real as the law of gravity” so that is apparently the administration’s approved line of the day. It is a concerted Democratic assault on “deniers,”or those who do not follow the party line on climate change orthodoxy.  Why? Because as with all progressive campaigns, the issue is never the issue.

The computer climate simulations put in what information we knew about the climate for sure, which wasn’t much, some assumptions, some complete guesses, and unfortunately could not predict the climate of today—when we already knew the correct answer. There is a lot that remains unknown — especially the action of clouds, and if you are a cloud-watcher, that difficulty is easy to understand.

When new Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell first spoke to her department, she said  “I hope there aren’t any deniers here!” That orthodoxy is clearly expected in the Obama administration, and it is clearly expected in the Science departments of many universities.

Climate science, because of governmental interest — which includes grants, prestige, higher salaries. For the university more interest, more money, better equipment. Aside from government grants, there is money from NGOs and even some corporations. If the world is really heating up dangerously a lot of people want to know about it. Scientists in many different departments suddenly found that they could write a good grant proposal and suddenly they were climate scientists and in the money.

The list of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dependent on global warming panic for their funding and livelihood is long, and you know the big ones. NRDC, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society,Environmental Defense Fund—that’s just a few of the biggies. There are literally hundreds more.

They have depended on emotional appeals to raise money and entice activists to the cause — first, it was baby harp seals who were being clubbed to death, then the spotted owl, and finally the Greens latched on to the polar bears as their standard-bearer. Not enough ice, the bears were endangered, going to go extinct if you didn’t cough up enough funding. The bears were never endangered, though they did get them labeled “threatened, but better surveys certified that the bears were just fine, increasing in numbers, and Arctic ice melts in the summer and grows in the winter, and in recent winters of “polar vortexes” is more extensive than ever.

It seems, however, that Mr. Kerry’s speech and Mr. Biden’s speech are only the tip of a fairly massive iceberg floating along under the surface. More to come.

 



Obama: “Iran Can Be A Successful Regional Power” by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama, in his most direct response to the Republicans about their open letter to Iran, said that he’s “embarrassed for them.”

”For them to address a letter to the ayatollah — the supreme leader of Iran, who they claim is our mortal enemy — and their basic argument to them is: don’t deal with our president, because you can’t trust him to follow through on an agreement… That’s close to unprecedented,” he said in an interview with VICE News.

Back in 2008, the Bush administration, along with the “six powers” was negotiating with Iran about their country’s nuclear arms program. The Bush administration’s objective was to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. On July 20, the headline in the New York Times read “Nuclear Talks With Iran End in a Deadlock.” According to the Times, Iran responded with a written document that did not even address the main issue — demands that it stop enriching uranium. Iranian diplomats considered the issue nonnegotiable.

On June 3, Barack Obama had clinched the Democratic nomination. At some point around that date, but before the election, he secretly let the Iranians know that he would be easier to bargain with than the current president. Michael Ledeen reported on it in August:

The actual strategy is detente first, and then a full alliance with Iran throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It has been on display since before the beginning of the Obama administration. During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies. The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador Miller has confirmed to me his conversations with Iranian leaders during the 2008 campaign. …

The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.

So in the face of Iran’s struggle to obtain nuclear weapons, and the depredations of ISIS in the Middle East, Obama’s core strategy is to create a U.S.−Iranian alliance that makes Tehran the major regional power and leaves America as a friendly adviser. Assuming that we still exist after Iran develops nuclear weapons. Did you know that Iran has a major national holiday called “Death to America Day?” We have Christmas and the Glorious Fourth, they have “Death to America Day” celebrated on the day they took fifty-two American diplomats and citizens hostage, November 4, 1979, whom they held for 444 days.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described his country’s diplomacy with the United States as an active “jihad” that is just as significant to Tehran’s advancement as the slew of new weapons and missiles showcased by the Islamic Republic’s military.

Rouhani praised the country’s military leaders for standing “against the enemy on the battlefield” and said as president, he would carry out this “jihad” on the diplomatic front.

Why does Mr. Obama assume that when Iranians have made their triumph over America into a national holiday, that they don’t mean it? The Shiia believe that the return of the hidden imam will bring about Armageddon followed by heavenly bliss for believers.

Foreign Minister Jarad Zarif said that Iran is the winner, whether the negotiations yield results or not. “The capital we have obtained over the years is dignity and self-esteem, a capital that cannot be retaken.”
Dignity and self-esteem come from sitting down at the same table to negotiate with the Great Satan America and the other major countries. To the people who were once the most advanced civilization in the world and controlled a vast empire and have fallen so far behind, that is a very big deal indeed. Not likely to be satisfied with minding the Middle East  and being “advised” by America.

ADDENDUM: Here are some links to articles about Iran that may help a little in trying to understand what is going on.

“Trust Iran Only As Far as You Can Throw It” by Michael Weiss @ Foreign Policy.com

“Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” by Michael Doran in Mosaic

The Obama-Khamenei alliance” by Michael Ledeen in The Hill

“Obama’s Inner Nixon”by Michael Ledeen at PJMedia.

Follow Michael Ledeen at PJMedia. He writes often about Iran and the Middle East, and is deeply knowledgeable.



The American West in the 1860s and 1870s by The Elephant's Child

Inspired by the plight of a small American Indian tribe, I thought I’d repost a photographic essay of the American West in the 1860s and 1870s, because the pictures are quite interesting, and the news of the day isn’t. I’m really tired of talking about Hillary and her disreputable past and present.

Pah-Ute (Paiute) Indian group, near Cedar, Utah in 1872

The Atlantic has done another of their wonderful photo essays: in the 1860s and 70s, photographer Timothy O’Sullivan created some of the best-known images in American History. He covered the U.S. Civil War, and afterwards joined a number of expeditions organized by the federal government to help document the new frontiers in the American West. The teams were comprised of soldiers, scientists, artists and photographers. Their task was to discover the best ways to take advantage of the untapped resources of the region. O’Sullivan had an outstanding eye, and strong work ethic, and returned with beautiful photographs that captured the vastness and beauty of the American West in a way that would later influence Ansel Adams and thousands of photographers who admired O’Sullivan’s work.



There Are Always Tradeoffs Between What’s Right and Politics by The Elephant's Child

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The Wall Street Journal reports that:

This week, nine years after a federal agent infiltrated a religious ceremony to seize an American Indian tribe’s sacred objects, pastor Robert Soto finally got his feathers back. But the feds are still threatening civil and criminal penalties against Mr. Soto if he shares his feathers with anyone. And the government intends to seize them again upon his death. In the annals of government abuse, the federal “Operation Powwow” is one for the ages.

As long ago as 2005 gumshoes from the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service started sniffing around Mr. Soto’s Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas and the McAllen Grace Brethren Church, where he leads the exercise of traditional American Indian worship. In 2006 a special agent made his not-so-daring move.

He attended the ceremony, asking questions about the feathers but identifying himself as a federal investigator only after encouraging a worshiper to share information. The government eventually confiscated dozens of eagle feathers that were being used in the peaceful exercise of religion.

There is such a thing as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which means that unlicensed possession of feathers can result in fines or even jail time. Two of Mr. Soto’s offending feathers were given to his brother-in-law by an American Indian soldier who was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s not easy to get a license to receive feathers for religious purposes, and can take  years.

Mr. Soto is a Lipan Apache, a tribe that is recognized by the State of Texas,, but not Washington. It is therefore illegal for Mr. Soto to practice his faith. With help from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, he filed a civil suit against Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. He won his appeal last year along with the Hobby Lobby case which was also a religious freedom case.He got his feathers back, but he cannot give feathers to other worshipers.

Seems like they ought to be allowed to wander around the nation’s wind farms to pick up the feathers from the dead eagles.  The Washington Times reported in September of 1913 that wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most occurring between 2008 and 2012 as the industry was expanding. Most were struck by a turbine. Wind farm turbines are as tall as 30-story buildings, and the spinning rotors can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips ‘creating tornado-like vortexes.’ Texas has wind farms.

The Obama administration finalized a rule to allow wind farms to kill eagles for up to 30 years — undoubtedly another executive order in December of 2013. The American Bird Conservancy has sued because the rule violated the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and was adopted without any consultation under the Endangered Species Act.

A study estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities per year, with 83,000 raptors included. That would produce a pretty big pile of feathers. There are even more deaths at the big solar arrays, but those birds just go up in a puff of smoke — no feathers left. So you see how complicated federal regulations are.

Mr. Soto is threatened with jail if he gives anyone a feather, because he had two eagle feathers from Afghanistan, and the federal government makes a new rule that killing eagles with wind turbines is just fine, because President Obama is sure that we can support America’s energy needs with environmentally friendly (except for birds and bats) wind and natural energy from the sun — that is as soon as they get the problems of the natural intermittence of the wind and those dang clouds worked out.

*The image at the top is what I found when I Googled “Apache Indian headdresses,” so I don’t know if it is Lipan Apache, or even if it is really Apache at all, but it is extremely handsome. We wish Mr. Soto well.

I found a description, The headdress is Lakota Sioux.



Iran Has Declared Victory in Its Contest With the West. by The Elephant's Child

Iran minister says sanctions must be lifted before nuclear agreement “Iran’s foreign minister and chief negotiator in the nuclear talks with the West declared victory for his country, stating that no matter how the negotiations end, Tehran has come out “the winner,” according to remarks made on Tuesday and presented in the country’s state-run press.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke to the country’s Assembly of Experts, declaring that the nuclear negotiations have established Tehran as a global power broker.

“We are the winner whether the [nuclear] negotiations yield results or not,” Zarif was quoted as saying before the assembly by the Tasnim News Agency. “The capital we have obtained over the years is dignity and self-esteem, a capital that could not be retaken.”

I’m not sure that this is what President Obama has in mind as ‘his legacy.’

When the world’s most powerful nations began their effort to negotiate away Iran’s nuclear program in 2003, the Islamic Republic had 130 centrifuges. These machines convert uranium into a form that can set off a chain reaction. That chain reaction in turn can either create nuclear energy or be set off to explode the most destructive bomb the world has ever seen. By November 2013, when Iran reached a so-called interim accord with the United States and other nations to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the relaxation of tough sanctions, the Islamic Republic had deployed nearly 20,000 centrifuges.

Estimates suggest those centrifuges could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb in as little as 45 days—the so-called breakout period. They have already generated a stockpile of low-enriched uranium sufficient to produce as many as seven nuclear bombs. Some believe that Iran could convert a bomb’s worth of uranium into the payload of a crude nuclear device in perhaps a few months.

Negotiators could not reach a final deal by the initial November 2014 deadline, so extensions were devised. The new deadline comes at the end of June. Press reports and administration statements are providing us with a picture of what America and the other nations in the negotiations are now hoping to achieve. They are trying to use various technical means and human oversight to slow down Iran’s breakout time from a few months to one year and ensure that a deal lasts at least a decade. In exchange for these concessions, they appear ready to enshrine Iran as a threshold nuclear state.

This is what President Obama has in mind as his legacy. All the concessions fit a long-term pattern. “If a nuclear deal is imminent, that is largely because over the past 13 years of on and off negotiations, the great powers of the world have slowly gut surely given in to Iran’s demands. …Instead of ending the threat of Iranian nuclearization, negotiators have apparently limited their ambitions to an attempt to regulate it.” Instead of a “legacy” this can be more accurately called wishful thinking.

The core factor for the past 13 years has been the desire to avoid military confrontation at all costs — and especially during the Obama administration — the fear of even threatening it. With no credible threat, you get nothing, a pretend agreement, collapse, doesn’t matter. You can guess what the Obama response is —Bush’s fault. He left us with no options. Sorry, a president is confronted with the problems that exist. They don’t disappear by blaming your predecessor. You have to deal with what is, not cowardly kick the can on down the road. To understand the three-pronged strategies involved, read the whole thing here. It is an important discussion. As the administration lifted the sanctions, Iran, now able to support its nuclear program again, had refused to reduce its nuclear capacity. We now have no leverage, we gave it all away.

There are those among the Iran Watchers  who believe that the negotiations have worked and a deal could lead to “a more engaged Iran.” Obama’s goal of reconciliation has been constant. He ignored the Green Revolution in favor of a new relationship with Iran that would define regional order and speak to the brilliance of the Obama presidency.

On the other hand, the Green Revolution indicated that ordinary Iranians are not all that happy with the leadership of the Mullahs. Did we ignore that at our peril? I don’t know. The IAEA record with nuclear proliferation is — North Korea, Pakistan and India — all a surprise when they became nuclear states. Iran works closely with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs.

The Middle East is a hotbed of clashing religious beliefs, including small sects currently being eliminated by ISIS. There is, however, a special danger in the Shiite doctrine held by the leaders of Iran. The return of the hidden Imam will bring the war that ends the world and creates heavenly bliss for believers. Bernard Lewis, America’s leading expert in Mideast Studies, wrote that during the Cold War, Mutual Assured Destruction was a deterrent that worked. Today it is an inducement.

James Woolsey, former director of the CIA and chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies said:

Iran now is either very close to being able to field a nuclear weapon or it should be regarded as already having that capability. …

Consequently, even one nuclear warhead detonated at orbital altitude over the United States would black out the national electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures for months or years by means of the electromagnetic pulse it would create. The Congressional EMP Commission assessed that a nationwide blackout lasting one year could kill nine of 10 Americans through starvation and societal collapse. Islamic State-like gangs would rule the streets.

Just such a scenario is described in Iranian military documents.

I have no sense that the Obama administration has even considered such possibilities. The Arab nations are deeply worried.



It Was Just 100,000. Only A Minor Misstatement Of Fact. by The Elephant's Child

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U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen who blocked  President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty action on immigration, has ordered the Justice Department to respond to allegations that the government has misled him about part of the President’s plan.

The judge has ordered federal government lawyers to appear in his court on March 19 in Brownsville, Texas. The hearing is in response to a filing last week in which the government acknowledged some deportation reprieves were granted before Hanen’s February 16 injunction. Government attorneys has said that officials wouldn’t accept requests for reprieves for DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals) illegals until February 18, and would start DAPA (deferred action for parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) in May of 2015.

On March 3, Obama’s lawyers admitted to the judge that officials had already given three-year DACA amnesty to 100,000 younger people. Only off by 100,000.

Out of an abundance of caution, however, Defendants wish to bring one issue to the Court’s attention,” said the administration’s document given to the judge. “Between November 24, 2014 and the issuance of the Court’s [Feb. 16] Order, USCIS granted three-year periods of deferred action to approximately 100,000 individuals who had requested deferred action under the original 2012 DACA guidelines.”

The government claimed that the 100,000 illegal immigrants who were granted three-year reprieves and work permits were already eligible under a previous immigration plan from 2012.

The 26 states suing over Obama’s amnesty plan requested more information.

It’s not nice to fool U.S. District Judges. They may be annoyed.

Estimates of the cost of Obama’s amnesty program run from half a billion to expand the workforce by more than 3,000, up to $2 trillion over the long term in benefits and increased government expenditures. That’s just for the federal government, there will be billion of dollars for costs for the states.




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