American Elephants


Lots of Name-Calling, Not Much Common Sense! by The Elephant's Child

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The establishment of religion bit means that the government shall not establish a state religion nor prefer one religion over another. Seems simple, but there have been continuous arguments over the meaning ever since.

In the current discussions of Moslem immigration, we are enjoined by fear of being called Islamophobic, bigoted, and, of course, racist—or be accused of violating the Constitution. Yet Americans watch what is going on in Europe as they try to cope with the influx of Muslim migrants and are deeply concerned that the numbers of “Syrian refugees” that President Obama is trying to get into the country will lead to similar rashes of killings by adherents of a radical version of Islam.

Most of Europe is more concerned about anti-migrant backlash than of figuring out how to deal with the migrants. The entire issue is deeply confused by fear of seeming not sufficiently compassionate, and leads to an absurd situation where the President of the United States scolded the American people for expecting him to at least  use the phrase ‘radical Islam’ in response to the massacre in Orlando.

“For a while now the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this Administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam,’” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, using his preferred acronym for Islamic State. “That’s the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islamists.’ What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?”

Since the President asked, allow us to answer. We’re unaware of any previous American war fought against an enemy it was considered indecorous or counterproductive to name. Dwight Eisenhower routinely spoke of “international Communism” as an enemy. FDR said “Japan” or “Japanese” 15 times in his 506-word declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. If the U.S. is under attack, Americans deserve to hear their President say exactly who is attacking us and why. You cannot effectively wage war, much less gauge an enemy’s strengths, without a clear idea of who you are fighting.

Mr. Obama’s refusal to speak of “radical Islam” also betrays his failure to understand the sources of Islamic State’s legitimacy and thus its allure to young Muslim men. The threat is religious and ideological.

Islamic State sees itself as the vanguard of a religious movement rooted in a literalist interpretation of Islamic scriptures that it considers binding on all Muslims everywhere.

The administration is attempting, as usual, to ignore the standard refugee settlement process in America, and the UN and the administration are scheming to find other ways to boost the number of “Syrian refugees” entering the country, from 10,000 this year to possibly 200.000 a year.

Refugees and government officials are expecting this crisis to last 10 or 15 years. It’s time that we no longer work as business as usual … UNHCR next month [March 2016] is convening a meeting to look at what are being called “alternative safe pathways” for Syrian refugees. Maybe it’s hard for the U.S. to go from 2,000 to 200,000 refugees resettled in a year, but maybe there are ways we can ask our universities to offer scholarships to Syrian students. Maybe we can tweak some of our immigration policies to enable Syrian-Americans who have lived here to bring not only their kids and spouses but their uncles and their grandmothers. There may be ways that we could encourage Syrians to come to the U.S. without going through this laborious, time-consuming process of refugee resettlement.” (Emphasis added.)

“USC has revealed that it is offering five free tuition programs for Syrian refugees, including one in the school’s journalism program.”

It seems to me that some straight talk would help the situation. In the United States, we do not allow “honor killings,” homosexuals are accepted, not killed. and killers go to prison for a very long time or face execution.  Wife-beating or child abuse are against the law as is sexual assault. People are free to change their religion if they choose, and adherents of one religion are not allowed to attack those of a different religion. Our freedom of speech applies to everyone, and people may have differing opinions without fear. It’s not “Islamophobic” to tell people what they can expect, but may be helpful.

Bremen, Germany —”24 cases of migrant sexual assault at Music Festival.”

Zirndorf, Germany — Explosion of suitcase bomb next to migrant reception centre reported Bavarian Radio



“Free Societies Cannot Survive Through Progressive Accommodations to Barbarians” by The Elephant's Child

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What image comes to mind when you hear the term “refugees?” I think of  refugees fleeing on foot with their worldly goods in wheelbarrows or handcarts  before the advance or the Russian armies. Old movies, I guess, or photographs from World War II history books. I’d bet that’s the image Angela Merkel has as well, perhaps with some French refugees fleeing the Wehrmacht for a modicum of guilt. Something like that was surely in her mind when she invited “refugees” from the war in Syria.

According to a post at Zero Hedge, “where in the past refugees were assumed to be fleeing turmoil — war, political oppression, religious persecution, or even some major natural disaster — in most cases restricted to a locale region or nation; such clarity is no longer evident. To a great extent, today’s refugees are either refugees-of-convenience, solely seeking a better economic life; or hybrid refugees, where economics plays a major role, if parasitic to turmoil, in their decision to flee their native lands.”

The flood of refugees, or migrants, were at first welcomed with open arms and compassion, but it soon appeared that they were not only not that grateful, but resentful and there was a notable clash of civilizations. The people for the most part, were quicker to realize what was happening than their governments. A clash of civilizations was a topic that was considered off limits. But there are deep divisions between the secular democracies and a significant number of its Muslim community.  There has been significant recruiting by strains of Islam that are linked to terrorism.

  • July 26th — Priest executed while serving mass.
  • July 26th — Doctor shot in Berlin
  • July 24th — Machete -wielder kills woman in Reutlingen
  • July 24th —Bomber kills self, injures 15 in Ansback
  • July 22nd — Shooting rampage in Munich 9 dead
  • July 18th  — man with axe injures 5 near Wurzburg
  • July 14th — Truck attack in Nice kills 84
  • March 22nd — Bombers kill 32 in Brussels
  • Nov. 13th — Gunmen and bombers kill 130 in Paris

From Zero Hedge: “How George Soros Singlehandedly Created The European Refugee Crisis — And Why”  A short position in troubled Deutsche Bank and betting against the S&P via a 2.1-million-share put option on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF. Then a $264 million position is Barrick Gold, whose share price jumped over 14% since Brexit.”

Here’s another headline, this time from the Daily Caller: “Obama Administration Joint Effort With Corporations Can Resettle Refugees Limitlessly”  “The White House announced last week that it is launching a “Call to Action” asking private businesses to help with the resettlement of refugees. This could be done without regard to the government cap of 85,000 total refugees, including 10,000 Syrian refugees, in 2016.” Let’s find a way around a government cap, of course.

Also from the Daily Caller “After Importing Thousands of Refugees, Canadians now Say Muslim Immigrants have ‘Fundamentally Different Values’ ” Eventually you notice.

Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal in a series of articles has provided some of the most sensible commentary.

More important, Europeans will have to learn that powerlessness can be as corrupting as power—and much more dangerous. The storm of terror that is descending on Europe will not end in some new politics of inclusion, community outreach, more foreign aid or one of Mrs. Merkel’s diplomatic Rube Goldbergs. It will end in rivers of blood. Theirs or yours?

In all this, the best guide to how Europe can find its way to safety is the country it has spent the best part of the last 50 years lecturing and vilifying: Israel. For now, it’s the only country in the West that refuses to risk the safety of its citizens on someone else’s notion of human rights or altar of peace.

Europeans will no doubt look to Israel for tactical tips in the battle against terrorism—crowd management techniques and so on—but what they really need to learn from the Jewish state is the moral lesson. Namely, that identity can be a great preserver of liberty, and that free societies cannot survive through progressive accommodations to barbarians.



Milton Friedman Explains Free Trade. This is the Classic. by The Elephant's Child

This is a classic long (48 min.) lecture by Milton Friedman from 1978, in which he explains free trade and tariffs, how they work, why we get confused, trade deficits and government interference. There’s a long section where the film is bad (in the original) with snow/static/ interference early in the film, but it clears up fairly promptly at about 20.42 and remains clear for the remainder of the video. You can still hear Milton Friedman perfectly well throughout. Take notes. Play again until you feel confident that you have it down.

Here’s another, in which Milton Friedman debates a protectionist. It’s from January 2012, and is between Milton Friedman, Michael Walker, and Steven Cohen, from the “Time to Choose”series. This one is just over 15 minutes long.

Our politicians are just ordinary human beings like the rest of us, and they get just as many nutty ideas as we do. Many of the Republicans who are as yet uncomfortable with Donald Trump, are because of his misunderstanding of the Trade issue. Many assume that a “trade deficit” is a bad thing, but do not recognize that the excess dollars we pay for a large quantity of stuff from another country must be invested in the United States. This is not to suggest that there are not some very bad deals, but free trade is the goal.



It’s Going to Be a Very Ugly and Angry Campaign! by The Elephant's Child

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This is going to be a poisonously vicious campaign. We have two candidates with very high negatives, and there are many in each party who are not happy with their party’s choice of candidate.  Here’s the Left’s reaction to Donald Trump’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the office of the presidency.

Do  you think that the word possibly went out that “dark” was the word of choice to describe Trump’s speech? Some threw in an extra word, like “resentful”, “Angry”, “diabolical.”Does an e-mail just go out to all the major leftist magazines and websites.? I’d love to see that one hacked. I’ve always wondered just how they do it, and how they get everyone to promptly fall in line.

Donald Trump’s speech pointed out the crime rate, the troubled cities dominated by minorities, the numbers of blacks killed, the numbers of policemen killed, black children killed. The reporters on the left rose as one and dashed for the fact checkers. Obviously racist to blame black people for killing other black people. And found to their astonishment that the figures quoted by Mr. Trump were absolutely correct.

Keep an eye out, next up will be assertions that Mr. Trump is fascist, and racist.  Rachel Maddow has already compared Mr. Trump to Hitler. (So original!) Here’s Salon:

The final night of the Republican National Convention was as confusing and incoherent as it was disturbing. Before Donald Trump brought forward his chilling imitation of history’s greatest fascists, Ivanka Trump and Peter Thiel made bizarre plays for the votes of women and LGBT people.

Ivanka Trump riffed on issues like equal pay and affordable childcare, which are typically Democratic issues. Thiel announced that he’s “proud to be gay” to wild applause from a roomful of people who are the very base that voted against the rights and dignity of LGBT people, over and over again.

Democrats are deeply worried. Hillary does not have the campaign skills that Bill did, people justifiably do not trust her, and the graft in which the Clintons engaged through the Clinton Foundation is beginning to become public knowledge. The people do not understand why she has not been indicted, and believe that the fix is in. And, frankly, she is just not likeable, and the Democrats know it.

Many Republicans are concerned about Mr. Trumps understanding of trade. He seems to believe that a “trade deficit” means that we are getting cheated. He is opposed to NAFTA which has been a very successful agreement for all three partners. He is  correct about the Trans-Pacific Partnership which is not a good deal for the U.S.

He has a large following among a very angry percentage of the population who are sick of illegal immigration, haven’t had a raise in years, are tired of excessive regulation, the faltering economy, and a president who is trying to run the country through executive orders, and ignoring the Constitution. Many black Americans have been disappointed in President Obama. They expected race relations to improve, not to develop into shootings and riots. Union members too, are responding to Trump’s message of hope. He has focused on the top issue of the day, which is the crime rate, and talked about creating jobs. The campaign has become more disciplined.

He said that Hillary has asked her people to chant just three words: “I’m with her!” Mr. Trump said he had a different chant that was also just three words — “I’m with you!”

It was a powerful moment.



I’d Just like Some Straight Talk, and Honesty For a Change! by The Elephant's Child

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Every four years, I forget just how much I dislike political conventions. Not just theirs, but our as well. I’m already tired of how wonderful our candidate is and how dreadful their is. Conventions are big parties of excess. But then I may just be getting cranky.

I am exceedingly tired of being lectured by our president. He turned up on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal yesterday to lecture the Senate about their duty to confirm his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. You always knew there was something not quite right about the claim that he had been a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago. He was a lecturer in civil rights law, which he mostly used to teach Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

The Constitution directs the Senate to advise and consent, not to approve. The Daily Caller subjected his op-ed to a fact check, and it didn’t fare well, directly from the words of, oh, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama when he voted to filibuster Justice Alito. (Politicians still are not familiar with the fact that we can quickly look up their words from yesterday and ten years ago.)

He’s getting very predictable when he scolds us. “That’s not who we are as Americans!” “That’s who we are, and who we have the capacity to be.” Or as John Podhoretz recently put it:

As usual, Obama made strange use of the word ‘we,’ because when he says ‘we,’ he means ‘you,’ and when he means ‘you,’ he means people who aren’t as enlightened and thoughtful as he and his ideological compatriots are.

Well, clearly, we are all a great disappointment to our president. I’m not alone in noticing. David Harsanyi did, at the Federalist.

At the funeral service for five slain Dallas cops, Barack Obama delivered another one of his needlessly politicized lectures. As is customary these days, those who were critical of his rhetoric were branded racists and unthinking haters.

That’s one theory.

Another one is that people might be put off by Obama’s grating habit of turning every tragedy into a sermon about our supposed collective failings. I doubt the president is substantively more partisan than the average politician, but like most people on the Left these days, he no longer bothers to make a distinction between a policy position and a moral struggle.

The issue of gun control, for example, isn’t a good-faith disagreement between people of different persuasions, but — like civil rights or suffrage — a struggle waged by the righteous against the evil (and sometimes those poor souls tricked by the NRA).

I went on a bit a few days ago about the fallacy of the term “gun violence” which is nothing but propaganda. It’s not the gun that is violent, but the shooter. Consider the latest terrorist attacks in France. We had truck violence in Nice, and axe violence on a bus. That allows us to ignore the terrorist (we can’t call them that) who committed the act because we “don’t know what their real motives were.”

That’s what I am cranky about — the purposeful misuse of language to confuse, or hide, or misplace blame. The world is a very dangerous place right now. It is impossible to deal effectively with those dangers if we cannot even use clear language. Fuzzy language reveals fuzzy minds, and the inability to take clear action.



The Problem of Turkey Grows — Revolution or Counterrevolution? by The Elephant's Child

Turkey-Map

Europe has, in general, thought of Turkey as their bulwark against the hordes of Islamic migrants (heavily infiltrated with ISIS fighters). The democratically elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayip Erdogan, has just been the subject of a military coup (while he was absent from the country) which failed. Many believe that it was not a real coup, but Erdogan’s own plot to dispose of future military coups, and confirm his preferred position of lifetime dictator of a radical Islamist state. That seems to be the customary and approved  form of governance in the Islamist states of the Middle East. It does not bode well.

Erdogan is taking advantage of the coup crisis to justify a major crackdown on his enemies. He seems to have a prepared list, ready to go, of officers and judges who have already been arrested in the thousands, along with civic leaders, journalists, professors, and government employees. The government is calling on the people to protest in the streets, and encouraging jihadists and IS sympathizers to raid the homes of secular people beat them and kill them.

David P. Goldman, who also writes as Spengler,  is expert in matters of demography and finance. He says that Turkey has built up a bubble of debt, financing consumption with debt. Consumer debt is now almost equal to total personal income in Turkey, compared to 20% here, which horrifies conservative economists.  Turkey’s average interest rate as consumer debt, according to the central bank, is just under 17%. The birth rate for Turks is way down, while the birth rate for Kurdish Turks remains healthy—but they want to form their own country with Kurds from Syria and Iraq.

An article by Soner Cagaptay in the Wall Street Journal captures the dangerous moment in history for the Turkish nation:

In 2014, Mr. Erdogan, acceding to term limits, stepped down as prime minister and as the head of the AKP. He instead assumed the presidency—a formerly weak office that he has been steadily transforming. The coup gives Mr. Erdogan an excuse to press ahead with his plans to cobble together a parliamentary majority; he intends to amend Turkey’s Constitution and take over the posts of prime minister and AKP chairman in addition to being president.

This process, which would make Mr. Erdogan the most powerful person in Turkey since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1950, fits into his gradualist approach to consolidating power. At the same time, it presents a risk: In the two most recent elections, Mr. Erdogan’s AKP has maxed out at 49.5% support, and although the president’s popularity has risen since the coup, there is no guarantee that this bump will last until the next elections, which, depending on when Mr. Erdogan calls them, could be as late as next year.

The quickest path to power is Islamist revolution. Erdogan supporters are Islamists and jihadists and protesting in the streets. An Islamist counter-revolution would mean the loss of its NATO membership, exposing the country to neighboring enemies, including Russia. And an economic meltdown is not unlikely.

If Mr. Erdogan were to pump up religious fervor further, he could convert the religious counter-coup d’état into an Islamist counter-revolution, ending Turkey’s status as a secular democracy. Adding to the temptation is the fact that the military, divided and discredited in the public eye following the failed coup, is in no position to prevent a counterrevolution.



A Small Lesson in American Exceptionalism. by The Elephant's Child

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In Holland, a 44-year-old man  has been sentenced to 30 days in jail for intentionally insulting King Willem-Alexander, according to a court ruling. The man, from the city of Kampen, had posted a message on his Facebook page in April, 2015 calling the king a murderer, rapist, “oppressor” and thief.

“Hereby the defendant damaged the dignity of the King,” wrote judge Sylvia Taalman in her decision. “This behaviour is not acceptable in our society.”

Many Dutch consider the law “Insulting the Majesty” to be an antiquated relic that should be scrapped, but it has never featured high on the country’s political agenda.

The crime carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of 20,000 euros.

The royal family is generally popular in the Netherlands. Willem-Alexander ascended to the throne in 2013 when his mother Queen Beatrix abdicated. She had reigned for 33 years. The King is not yet as highly regarded as his mother.

It seems worthwhile reminding Americans that free speech isn’t free everywhere, and that our Constitutional rights are worth fighting for. Democrats, naturally, oppose any free speech that criticizes them, or disagrees with their ideas—which are, of course, right, and should be recognized as correct.

Just think how many people would be in prison here, if our comments on social media were monitored for “offensiveness.”esson in




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