American Elephants


Victor Davis Hanson Explains the 2016 Election by The Elephant's Child

This is a speech Victor Davis Hanson gave at the David Horowitz Restoration Weekend shortly after the election in 2016 and elaborates on all the myths surrounding the election. So it’s all past history, but good to revisit because it helps to explain where we are now and why.

Democrats are always ready with talking points, insults, accusations, and false claims. They believe firmly that they are entitled to be in charge. As David Horowitz has said “Inside every Progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out.” They are always ready for battle, and Republicans, unfortunately, just can’t bring themselves to stop being polite.

Victor Hanson skewers most of the Democrats’ accusations and talking points, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I think you will too.



If It Weren’t So Serious, It Would Be Funny! by The Elephant's Child

The progressive temper-tantrum is getting really tiresome, but all that kicking and screaming is devolving into some kind of weird suicide pact.  When President Trump rejected the Paris Climate Treaty, which had never been ratified by the Senate, “the states of California, New York and Washington have announced that they will unilaterally and illegally enter into a foreign treaty rejected by the President of the United States.”

The Constitution is very clear about this. “No state shall enter into any treaty.” Governor Cuomo of New York has been equally clear. “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions.”

Cuomo’s statement conveniently comes in French, Chinese and Russian translations.

“It is a little bold to talk about the China-California partnership as though we were a separate nation, but we are a separate nation,” Governor Brown of California announced.

That’s Daniel Greenfield. He added:

The Climate Alliance of California, New York, Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia and Rhode Island looks a lot like the Confederacy’s Montgomery Convention. Both serve as meeting points for a secessionist alliance of states to air their grievances against the Federal government over an issue in which they are out of step with the nation.

That’s as effective as the media’s vast confidence that the Comey hearings today would provide the necessary evidence to impeach the President. Or these states’ confidence that offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants would prove that they really are good people who welcome immigrants of all kinds from all places. The scientific evidence shows clearly that by 2100, the Paris Climate Accords would have made no observable difference in the climate. But feeling good about yourself is the important thing. That’s why events like Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester resulted in a vast outpouring of a mountain of flowers and lots and lots of candles, which makes no observable difference in the safety of British citizens. Heather MacDonald explained:

The candlelight vigils didn’t work. After the Manchester Arena suicide bombing in England last month, liberal pundits suggested “mass vigils” and “community solidarity” as a counterterrorism response. The most important imperative, according to the media intelligentsia, was to signal that the West’s commitment to “diversity” and “inclusion” was intact.

Unfortunately, the three Islamic terrorists who used a van and knives to kill another seven civilians and critically injure dozens more in London on Saturday night were unmoved by the “diversity” message. Witnesses described the killers frantically stabbing anyone they could reach, while shouting “This is for Allah”; one witness said that a girl was stabbed up to 15 times.

The “candlelight vigil” counsel has been more muted after this latest attack, though the New York Times has predictably advised the candidates in Britain’s upcoming elections not to succumb to “draconian measures” or to do “just what the terrorists want” by undermining democratic values.

In a second article from City Journal, Heather MacDonald writes of “The Left’s Unilateral Suicide Pact: After the Manchester bombing, liberals once again avoid the obvious—that Islamic terror in the West is an immigration problem.”

A rethinking of immigration policies is off the table. Nothing that an Islamic terrorist can do will ever shake the left-wing commitment to open borders—not mass sexual assaults, not the deliberate slaughter of gays, and not, as in Manchester last week, the killing of young girls. The real threat that radical Islam poses to feminism and gay rights must be disregarded in order to transform the West by Third World immigration. Defenders of the open-borders status quo inevitably claim that if a terrorist is a second-generation immigrant, like Abedi, immigration policy has nothing to do with his attack. (Abedi’s parents emigrated to Britain from Libya; his immediate family in Manchester lived in the world’s largest Libyan enclave outside Africa itself.) …

The fact that second-generation immigrants are not assimilating into Western culture makes immigration policy more, not less, of a pressing matter. It is absurd to suggest that Abedi picked up his terrorist leanings from reading William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth, rather than from the ideology of radical Islam that has been imported into Britain by mass immigration.

Myron Magnet echoes Heather MacDonald’s concerns.” Governments, he reminds us, exist to keep citizens safe in their streets and cities from foreign or domestic violence”

Start by naming the enemy, as Donald Trump and Theresa May finally have done, after eight years of Barack Obama’s dereliction of duty for refusing to utter the simple words, “Islamist terrorism.” As numerous pundits—notably Andrew C. McCarthy, successful prosecutor of the 1993 Islamist World Trade Center bombers—have explained, Islamism, a large subcategory of Islam, is not only a religion but also a political ideology that aims at world domination, so that treating it as if, like Christianity or Judaism, it preaches only individual salvation or virtue is mistaken at best, willfully blind at worst.

You have perhaps noticed that there are only two positions regarding immigration. You are expected to favor all immigration because “we are all immigrants”, and if you don’t, it’s Islamophobia, Nativism, Fascism of course, and Nationalism. Other epithets when they seem to fit. We have a million and a half people who wish to become Americans who have applied properly, paid their fees and are patiently waiting for their turn to immigrate. I fail to understand why illegals, who are breaking the law, should take precedence over those who are following the law. We are a sovereign nation, we have immigration laws, and there is no reason why they should be suspended because Democrats want more immigrants who might vote for them.

The Leftist states are not just attempting to secede, but unfortunately they’re not very good at economics either. They are furious that the new administration is attempting to get rid of ObamaCare, and plan to adopt single-payer or completely socialized medical care on their own.

Vermont, Colorado , New York and California have so-called “single payer” health care proposals far enough along to have some serious numbers  about incremental costs above and beyond the existing state government expenses for things like Medicaid. In every case the incremental costs came in at more than all the revenue from all existing state taxes, so enacting single-payer would require more than doubling existing state taxes.

There are lots of people who believe that there is lots of “government money” without realizing that the government has no money of it’s own, only what it collects in taxes.

Connecticut is close to bankruptcy. California cannot afford her useless high-speed train to nowhere, and attempting to add single-payer health care, is going to add California to the list. The sunshine state is already over $1 trillion in the hole for employee pension underfunding. They don’t call Jerry Brown “Governor Moonbeam” for no reason. Illinois, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey  are not far behind with underfunded pensions.

Temper tantrums  are one thing, but secession, thwarting the law, bankruptcy, and attempts to illegally enter into a foreign treaty and to promote violence simply because you lost an election is going too far.

 



The House Took a Big Step to Fix the Economy Today by The Elephant's Child

While the Washington media was glued to every word emanating from former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the collapsing hope that the next words would provide the ammunition to finally impeach President Trump, a much bigger story going on in the House was being completely ignored.

The Financial Choice Act, which the House approved by a 233-186 vote (no Democrats voted for it) got no attention at all. Yet this bill can be a very big deal for the economy. It repeals the failed Dodd-Frank banking law, 22,000 pages of regulations, which cost the economy $36 billion in the first six years of its implementation. Dodd-Frank , signed into law by President Obama in the wake of the financial crisis, was supposed to be foster innovation, stop taxpayer bailouts once and for all, and be good for the economy. Instead, it choked competition in banking more than 1,700 banks  have disappeared, the banking industry became more concentrated and did nothing to reduce risk in the financial industry.

According to the American Action Forum, if Dodd-Frank were left in place it would cut the nation’s GDP by nearly $900 billion, and slow any hope of growth dramatically. Dodd-Frank created the unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which has expanded in size and regulatory reach, collecting massive amounts of sensitive financial data on millions of Americans.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank law has been a disaster, responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and slowed economic growth by making credit harder to come by by those who need it most.

Late last year, a U.S. appeals court ruled that the design of the CFPB was unconstitutional because it gave the director “more unilateral authority than any other officer in any of the three branches of the U.S. government, other than the president.”

The House Bill strips out the worst parts of Dodd-Frank, reins in the CFPB, but does not eliminate them both. The Democrats in the Senate are determined to stop this bill completely, whether because of unconcern for the economy or an attempt to save Obama’s “legacy.” The bill will probably be watered down to some form that might overcome a Democrat filibuster. The CFPB needs to be shut down completely, not “reformed.”

 



One of the Great Speeches by The Elephant's Child



Remember the Men of D-Day, June 6, 1944 by The Elephant's Child
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Major Werner Pluskat in his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach had heard nothing from his superiors. He was cold, tired and exasperated. He felt isolated. He couldn’t understand why there had been no reports from either regimental or division headquarters. …Once more he swung the artillery glasses over to the left, picked up the dark mass of the Cherbourg peninsula and began another slow sweep of the horizon. The same low banks of mist came into view, the same patches of shimmering moonlight, the same restless white flecked sea.Behind him in the bunker his dog Harras, was stretched out asleep. Nearby,  Captain Ludz Wilkening and Lieutenant Fritz Theen were talking quietly. Pluskat joined them. “Still nothing out there,” he told them.” I’m about to give it up. But he walked back to the aperture and stood looking out as the first streaks of light began to lighten the sky. He decided to make another routine sweep.Wearily, he swung the glasses over to the left again. Slowly he tracked across the horizon. He reached the dead center of the bay. The glasses stopped moving. Pluskat tensed, stared hard.Through the scattering thinning mist the horizon was filling with ships — ships of every size and description, ships that casually maneuvered back and forth as though they had been there for hours. There appeared to be thousands of them. Pluskat stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, moved as he had never been before in his life. At that moment the world of the good soldier Pluskat began falling apart. He says that in those first few moments he knew, calmly and surely, that “this was the end for Germany.”      Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day



History Is What Happened In The Past by The Elephant's Child

I have been distressed at the attempts to rename buildings, tear down statues and monuments, and in general to make any history that doesn’t meet today’s more refined sensitivities — just disappear.  One of the greatest problems for historians is that people have often destroyed the evidence that tells us of their times, and they have to guess at what really happened. We live in an age of political correctness, the party line of the day, and the politically correct are trying to expunge any evidence of those in the past who did not agree with today’s notions. Of course, for most it is simply a campus fad that sweeps from one college to another. Protesting is the in thing, and if they can’t find anything else to protest, perhaps the donor of a building once owned a slave so the building should be torn down.

Today we mostly universally agree that slavery is and was a very bad thing, But before somewhere around the mid 18th century, slavery was the norm. Many college students are astonished to find out that slavery existed in other places besides the United States. Because we ended the slave trade, had a great Civil War and freed the slaves and are such an open society the world is familiar with America and slavery. Because of that history present day virtue seekers are anxious to destroy all traces of the Confederacy. New Orleans is currently engaged in a great battle to tear down statues and monuments.

They are wrong. Millions of Americans today have ancestors who fought for the Confederacy.  Two of my great great uncles lost their lives fighting for the Union with Grant, and two lost their lives fighting for the Confederacy, one in the battle around Richmond and the other at Snicker’s Gap. The Southerners were brothers, the Union soldiers were members of families who had established a station of the underground railroad in their meeting house. To be interested in the stars and bars or the Confederate battle flag does not insinuate a fondness for slavery, only an interest in history.

Max Boot, writing at Commentary, approves of the actions of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in tearing down statues honoring Confederate war heroes. He finds the idea of honoring the losing side of the war disgraceful, and believes that Army bases in the Southern states named after Confederate generals should be renamed.

Historian John Steele Gordon, also writing at Commentary, deeply disagrees. “The Past is a Foreign Country” is his headline, and he says “Subjective and fleeting standards are no way to judge.” I’m with Mr. Gordon. If I am deeply interested in both sides of the Civil War and its effects on the nation, it does not indicate approval or disapproval. The past is what happened. So much of the artifacts of the war were simply destroyed, or thrown away, that what we can know about the war is diminished.

Here is a page from the Smithsonian’s Civil War history that shows the uniform of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry (Duryee’s Zouaves). Bet that would surprise you. Both sides had volunteer units that adopted Zouave uniforms based on an elite battalion of the French Army in Algiers in the colonial war of the 1830s. Follow the arrows on that page to see some of the other artifacts that the Smithsonian thought important to save.

John Steele Gordon ends his piece with these lines:

The country did a magnificent job of binding up those wounds, as the deeply touching pictures taken at the 50th-anniversary reunion at Gettysburg in 1913 testify. Now some people on their high horses want to pick open those wounds, for no better reason than so they can virtue signal their own moral superiority to those who lived in a different world and a different time.

It’s a disgrace. Historians, especially, should understand the profound truth expressed by L. P. Hartley in the opening line of his masterful novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”



The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by The Elephant's Child

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1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number one.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.  After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5.  How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, and 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A person who applies for guard duty at the tomb must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30″.

Other requirements of the Guard: they must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform (by fighting) or the tomb in any way.  After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb.  There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.  There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.  There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.  Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

During the first six months of duty a guard may not talk to anyone, nor watch TV. Off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.  Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.  Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD,
AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington D.C., our U.S. Senate and House took 2 days off in anticipation of the storm.  On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend their assignment.   They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!”  Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

One tomb is empty: the Vietnam Tomb. It was later discovered who was in the tomb.  The family had the remains removed and buried with military honors. Congress decided to leave the tomb empty. Fox News carried the full live service at the tombs. The other channels passed it by. All who have served understand the bond. Freedom is never free.

R. Harper




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