American Elephants


How About Some Really Good News That Is NOT Political? by The Elephant's Child

A California robotics company called suitX has presented it’s Phoenix exoskeleton to the public. It makes it possible for paraplegics and those with mobility disorders to regain their ability to walk, which is a priceless blessing. It is not the first exoskeleton, which was developed in Israel, but it is the most affordable so far, at about the price of a new Cadillac.

SuitX is led by Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni, who is director of the Berkley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory and co-founder and chief scientist of Ekso Bionics. Dr. Kazerooni and his team are driven by a dream of developing low-cost consumer bionic products to improve the quality of life for the disabled. To achieve their goal of keeping the robotics as affordable as possible the team worked with biomechanics instead of the bulky robotics used in the other exoskeletons available so far. One of their prime goals is to help children affected by neurological conditions like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, during the brief time in development when they perfect their walking skills.

The current Phoenix totals around 28 pounds. It consists of modules made for a person’s hips, knees and feet — each can be independently removed and adjusted to the individual’s exact size. A back-mounted battery pack provides power for eight hours of intermittent use or  four hours of continuous use.The Phoenix can move a paralyzed person at a speed of 1.1 miles an hour, the company said.

Steven Sanchez was a former BMX dirt bike rider who became mostly paralyzed by a sports injury. He’s now one of the biggest proponents of the Phoenix. “It feels like you’re actually walking,”

The exoskeleton has silent carbon-fiber orthotics capable of being customized to its wearer. Attached to the orthotics are small motors that provide mobility to the hips and legs. Crutches provide upper body support and are integrated into the orthotics, allowing the wearer to control the movement of each leg with the touch of a button. A built-in back-mounted battery pack provides the wearer with 8 hours of intermittent or 4 hours of continual use.

Weighing around 27 pounds, the Phoenix is not the lightest exoskeleton on the market, but it is comparatively lighter than competing suits such as the more cumbersome 50 pound ReWalk.

While still costlier than a motorized wheelchair, the minimal design translates into a lower-cost exoskeleton; the Phoenix costs just $40,000 in a market where prices range from $70,000 to $100,000.

Dr. Kazerooni is more interested in cleverness. He says you can buy a motorcycle with all sorts of technology for $10,000, so he’s hoping to reduce the cost even more within two or three years— something robust and simple that walks, stops. sits and stands — hugely enabling.

Steven Sanchez tests the product monthly and demonstrates the product all over the world. He wore the Phoenix on a trip to the Vatican, and stood in line like anyone else — “wearing an “awesome robotic suit” and “no one cared.” For those who can only dream of walking, that is a very big deal indeed.



“The lady doth protest too much, methinks” by The Elephant's Child

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“I  take classified information seriously. People are selectively leaking and making comments that have no basis in anything I’m aware of.”

“There is nothing here. It’s a little bit like what the Republicans and others have tried to do with respect to Benghazi.”

“Rules should change to keep people from doing what I did with my emails.”

I didn’t generate any ‘top secret’ e-mails.”

“None of the e-mails were labeled “classified”

“Nothing was marked ‘classified'”

“No classified material was ever sent over my private server”.

“She had never stored classified documents or transmitted them via her private server.”

“Her campaign smeared Inspector General McCullough as a ‘partisan'”.
(he was an Obama appointee.)

“I did not send or receive anything that was classified at the time.”

“I have never received anything marked ‘classified.'”

“A silly inter-agency food-fight about over-classification.”

“She did not ‘originate’ the offending documents.”

“She wants all of her top secret documets released for the public to judge.”

“When you receive information, of course there has to be some markings, some indication, that someone down the line had thought that this was classified, and that was not the case.”

“Well, It was allowed then!”

“She compared her situation to someone driving the speed limit, but then being ticketed retroactively after the speed limit was lowered for something that wasn’t speeding at the time.”

ADDENDUM: 2/05/2016, New Hampshire
We’ve got this absurd situation of retroactive classification”
Added that she was “100% sure the FBI would exonerate her.”



The Attention Is All on Iowa. It Begins. by The Elephant's Child

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Soon the returns from the Iowa Caucuses will be coming in. As someone online remarked today —”the results of the Iowa Caucuses don’t determine the result of the election —  just ask President Santorum.”

It’s a strange year. I forget that there are reporters from all over the world following the candidates and the campaign, not just our own journalists. I was really excited about the campaign at the beginning with such an outstanding bench of Republicans — Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal who had all been such successful governors. Uh huh. Apparently the media didn’t like successful governors.

I’m increasingly convinced that the media plays far too large a role in our primary campaigns as do probably meaningless polls when most Americans are just beginning to find out who the candidates are. I’m a political junkie, always have been, but I recognize that most people don’t pay much attention until it’s time for an election. I understand that. You come home tired from work, and want nothing so much as to just relax with something good on TV.

In the Saturday Essay at The Wall Street Journal, John O’Sullivan pointed out “two long-term shocks to the American political system, both gradually coming to a boil in recent decades, and in one short-term shock, which has turned up the gas on them to produce today’s bubbling over.”

The first was the end of the Cold War. But didn’t that happen in 1989? Yes, it did, and it began to loosen the discipline that had kept political parties world-wide either anti-Soviet or “peace-minded,” as their primary orientation. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, they have been released to follow their other instincts.

Mr. O’Sullivan suggests that “behind the two-party curtain, America’s social classes have been changing places in politics. Highly educated and very rich people used to lean Republican, they now increasingly vote for Democrats. Working class Americans no longer feel well represented by the Democrats…and have shifted sharply to the GOP.”

I certainly had not thought in those terms, but it seems possible. We have a big chunk of mega rich here — Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, and Costco, and they are certainly reliable Democrats. I would suggest that the mega rich have done quite well under the Obama regime, but the working class clearly have suffered.  Everybody I know complains about having lost some of their favorite small businesses, and everyone knows someone who has been laid off.

You have probably seen the results: High turnout. Ted Cruz won significantly with 28 percent. Trump, second at 24 percent with Marco Rubio, a very close 23 percent. Martin O’Malley on the Democrat side and Mike Huckabee have suspended their campaigns. Hillary and Bernie Sanders are essentially tied, in a dead heat. A setback for Hillary, who is not qualified to run.  Technically there are 30 Republican delegates and 44 Democratic delegates. (I don’t know!) Ben Carson placed 4th and Rand Paul 5th.

Also pertinent is an article from the Washington Examiner: Confronting the hard truths of America’s civic illiteracy

Recently, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) released a major report: “The Crisis in Civic Education.” ACTA’s curricular survey of over 1,100 colleges and universities shows that only 18 percent of them require students to take a course in U.S. history or government. In secondary education, the results are equally dismal. In 2014, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed through their civics test that one in four high-school seniors did not have “proficient” civic knowledge. Moreover, over one-third of 12th-grade students did not have “basic” knowledge of American civics. The NAEP governing board has since shot the messenger that brings such bad news by eliminating the high school civics test.

To spell it out, fewer “than 20 percent of American college graduates knew what the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation were; nearly half could not identify the correct term lengths of Congress; and almost 10 percent thought…”Judge Judy” served on the Supreme Court.” Apparently the Millennials are very enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders, but have no clue what socialism is. Perhaps it’s the offer of tuition -free college (not going to happen). Bernie is even more unfamiliar with economics than the Millennials. Do read the whole thing.



First You Conduct the Operation, Then You Can Tell the Bad Guys About It, If There Are Any of Them Left. by The Elephant's Child

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I wrote back on the 16th that the president seems to feel free to announce our military operations in advance, in effect warning our enemies about just what we’re up to. Our enemies not only read our papers and the internet, but devote considerable expertise to hacking intelligence sources to find out what we are doing.

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.

General Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Special Operations Command wrote to Defense Secretary Ash Carter demanding that the Pentagon stop discussing the operations of elite American troops.

The White House announced in October that a small number of special operations forces—less than 50 —would be deployed to Syria to fight the terror group there. Then Carter told lawmakers that the U.S. would deploy a specialized expeditionary targeting force” to fight Iraq to fight ISIS. These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders, Carter told the House Armed Services Committee hearing, according to the Hill.

An anonymous defense official questioned about the memo told Foreign Policy that Carter “shares Gen. Votel’s concerns about the public disclosure of SOF operations, especially any reporting that could expose our personnel to additional risk and undermine their chances for success.”

He further stated, however, that the Pentagon is obligated to keep the public informed.

I don’t think the Pentagon is obligated to keep the public informed before an operation. After will do just fine. I just don’t want the president or the Pentagon making a mission more dangerous by announcing it beforehand, when it is not necessary. Americans may be casual about keeping up with the latest troop movements. Our enemies are not. Shouldn’t that be basic common sense?



The New Defense for Criminal Activity: We Did It To Save the Planet! by The Elephant's Child

Five people were arrested back in September 2014 for blocking railroad tracks at a Burlington Northern/ Santa Fe Railway Yard after tying themselves to a tripod of poles erected over the railroad tracks to protest train shipments of oil and coal and proposed export terminals in the Northwest.

Three trains were delayed and others were diverted  around the2024445698-300x0 blocked tracks. No railroad property was damaged.

Two women and three men refused to leave the over eight hour protest were taken to the Snohomish County Jail, just up the road a ways, and were expected to be charged with trespassing.

Railroad police arrived after the protest started about 6 a.m. and asked the protester to leave. Eight left peacefully at noon. The five locked with cables to the tripod refused. A woman was perched on top about 20′ up  and others were locked to the 3 legs.

The Rising Tide protesters say fossil-fuel shipments are dangerous and environmental concerns aren’t being given enough weight.

“All the people in the blockade have brought concerns in many other avenues,” spokeswoman Delaney Piper said. “We feel we have used political venues, advocacy — all of those tools — and this is the tool most necessary right now, because the situation is so dire that direct action is necessary.”

Last Friday, Left Coast Jurors found the so-called Delta 5 not guilty of obstruction for blockading a regional oil facility in 2014. For the first time in the United States, a jury heard testimony that defendants’ criminal actions were justified by “climate necessity.” Oh please! The phony  possibility of “saving the planet” trumps criminal activity? Only on the Left Coast!

The Snohomish County District Court Judge barred the jury from actually considering the “necessity” defense.  But the jurors acquitted on the obstruction charge and convicted on trespassing. The Green loonies will appeal that conviction as well as the judge’s denial of their defense.

Big Oil is hated by the Greens because of CO2, a benign gas that is necessary for life, and a natural fertilizer for plants that has been greening the planet. It is not a pollutant, but as high school biology should have taught the Delta 5, is necessary for photosynthesis, where plants take in carbon dioxide, use the carbon and exhale oxygen, which we all breathe.



Obama’s Huge Problem with the “Rules of Engagement” Threatens Our Troops by The Elephant's Child

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Up till now, the U.S. Army could have engaged with ISIS in Afghanistan — only if  the group “posed a threat to the U.S.” which meant they had to be designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department. Obama has changed the rules of engagement so they can now pursue ISIS-K  (ISIS-Khorasan) in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a terrorist organization.

The designation of the group as a “terrorist organization” means the US also prohibits any cooperation with or supply of material or resources to the group.

ISIS-K was formed a year ago in January by a group of militants who defected from the Tehrik-e Taliban and pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. So Obama’s only a year late in protecting our troops.

“ISIS-K already is believed to be responsible for suicide and small-arms attacks and kidnappings, targeting civilians and Afghan government officials,” CNN reported.

President Obama has had an interesting relationship with the rules of engagement since he became president. The massacre at Fort Hood happened because soldiers on the base were forbidden to carry weapons. And that’s only one of the examples.

American planes in Syria, once they have found a significant target, have to radio back to base to get permission to actually bomb it, and then it goes up the chain of command who decide if there is any risk of killing civilians, so most of the missions reportedly return to base with bombs intact. And it was recently reported that bombing missions had to drop leaflets telling civilians on the ground to run away because we were going to drop bombs on those oil trucks.

In the first four years of the Obama administration — 3 times as many Americans were killed in Afghanistan as in the 8 years of George W. Bush’s conduct of the war — and there was no prospect of victory.

Under Obama, there were 8,000 Islamic terrorist attacks on infidels across the globe — a 25% increase over the period when fighting in Iraq was at its peak. The administration dropped the designation “War on Terror” and replaced it with “overseas contingency operations.” Any student of language could tell you things about that wording.

Obama has a peculiar relationship with national security. I have always suspected that he never saw a war movie, unless it was an anti-war film, never studied the history of the United States and never read a military history. He goes to great lengths to make a show of protecting civilians, but blithely orders drone attacks on gatherings of terrorist  wedding parties or  family gatherings. He really likes Special Forces because they added the death of bin-Laden to his legacy. But he demonstrates his unfamiliarity with things military when he says things like ‘corpse man’ and gets his grandfather’s service in Patton’s Army all confused.

Leaving our troops on the battlefield without the ability to shoot back is simply unconscionable. His reported daily briefings in 3 short paragraphs with 3 choices of action don’t allow for much discussion of pros and cons or alternatives.

Obama ran for the presidency using the Iraq War and George W, Bush as a foil. Public support for the war had begun to decline, and there was a specific unrecognized reason for that. And there was the same reason behind Obama’s attempt to blame every criticism of his actions on George W. Bush.

(h/t: weasel zippers)



Democrats Voted for The Iraq War, Changed Their Minds When Combat Ended, Launched a 5 year Propaganda Effort to Discredit Bush by The Elephant's Child

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Reposted from June 2015: Did you wonder why Obama pulled Out of Iraq Abruptly And Caused the Rise of ISIS?

I usually have the radio on in the daytime, because I can listen and get other stuff done. This morning I was startled by a caller who said: “I’m 22, and the people my age would never vote for a Bush because of the stigma attached to his name.” He added something to the effect that he didn’t dislike President Bush personally, it was the stigma. Stigma.

Liberals were as shocked and horrified as everyone else at the events on 9/11, the first attack on America since Pearl Harbor.  The 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, (before 9/11) under Clinton, calling for regime change in Iraq, and supporting a transition to democracy passed the House 360-38 and unanimously in the Senate. Under the Bush administration, and after 9/11, there was a 1991 Resolution for the Use of Military Force against Iraq which passed the Democrat-controlled Senate 52-47 and the House 250-183. That was followed by the 1992 Iraq War Resolution that authorized military force against Iraq which also passed Congress with significant margins.

The invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003, Baghdad fell on April 10, Coalition forces moved into Baghdad ending the 24 year reign of Saddam Hussein. On May 1, President George W. Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq over.

That month the Democratic Party launched a national campaign against America’s commander in chief, claiming that he had lied to the American people to lure them into a war that was “unnecessary,” “immoral, and “illegal.”

Until that moment, the conflict in Iraq had been supported by both parties and was regarded by both as a strategic necessity in the war launched by Islamic terrorists on 9/11. Saddam Hussein had launched two aggressive wars in the Middle East, murdered three hundred thousand Iraqis, used chemical weapons on his own citizens, and put in place a nuclear weapons program, thwarted only by his defeat in the 1991 Gulf War. Over the next decade, his regime defied sixteen United Nations Security Council resolutions attempting to enforce the Gulf War truce and stop him from pursuing weapons of mass destruction. In September 2002, the Security Council added a seventeenth  resolution, which gave Saddam until December 7 to comply with its terms or face consequences. When Iraq failed to comply, Bush made the only decision compatible with the preservation of international law and the security of the United States by launching a preemptive invasion to remove the regime. Two days prior to the invasion, the Iraqi dictator was given the option of leaving the country and averting the war.

In June 2003, just three months after the fighting began, the Democrats turned against the war and launched  a five-year campaign to delegitimize it, casting America and its Republican leaders as the villains. This betrayal of the nation and its troops on the battlefield was unprecedented. Major press institutions following the Democrats’ lead conducted a propaganda campaign against the war, blowing up minor incidents like the misbehavior of guards at the Abu Ghraib prison to international scandals, which damaged America’s prestige and weakened its morale. The New York Times and the Washington Post leaked classified documents, destroying three major national security programs designed to protect Americans from terrorist attack. Every day of the war, there was front-page coverage of America’s body counts in Iraq and Afghanistan designed to sap America’s will to fight.  (David Horowitz: Take No Prisoners)

There’s your “stigma.”

Did you read the newspaper accounts of the doubling of the death toll in the war in Afghanistan under Barack Obama? Thought not. “Bush lied, People died,” was the chant. Propaganda designed to discredit the American president, who they were still furious with  for defeating Al Gore, illegally, they were sure. A five year long propaganda campaign to be sure Bush got no credit. The ends justify whatever means you have to use. Americans are inclined to like Presidents who win wars. Can’t have that. Remember Bill Clinton complaining because he didn’t get to be a wartime president?




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