American Elephants


There Is A Mysterious Mindset Here, But It Makes No Sense. by The Elephant's Child

barack-obama_1Before President Obama left for his Hawaiian vacation, in a meeting with news columnists, there was one quote that made the president look especially bad.

In his meeting with the columnists, Mr. Obama indicated that he did not see enough cable television to fully appreciate the anxiety after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and made clear that he plans to step up his public arguments.

Made the president look more than a little out of touch. The Times quickly removed the passage. Add that to the claim that ISIL was “contained” only hours before the Paris attacks. He assured the public that his anti-ISIL strategy has hit a wall. “There’s only so much bombing you can do, he added, in a bid for sympathy about how hard he was working.

Yet it seems that only 25 percent of American bombing runs resulted in releasing at least one weapon. It appears that Mr. Obama really doesn’t want to hurt anyone, and the air force is scattering leaflets to warn the jihadis that they are about to be bombed. But we apparently cannot do much of anything more than we are doing to prevent mass killings in the West.

Mr Obama has been eager to share his plans for closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. There are 107 jihadists at Gitmo. The president thinks that’s too many. Andy McCarthy firmly believes that’s not nearly enough. Two former detainees are leading the fight against the West in Afghanistan, and another, Ibrahim al Qosi has a leading role in al-Qaeda in Yemen.

I don’t believe that Americans are frightened of terrorist attacks. I think they are frightened that their government seems to have no understanding of the situation, no idea how to deal with it, and no idea how to protect the American people from more attacks. Clueless.

A truism about the Left is that they too often believe their own propaganda. Democrats were as frightened as the rest of us by 9/11, and most voted for the Iraq War. Three months into the march-up to Baghdad, President Bush declared the combat phase over. Once we were in control, the Left turned viciously against the war. Obama has insisted that he was always against the war, thought it was wrong, and clearly that became a part of his hasty pull-out from Iraq and, by failing to get a status of forces agreement, led to the rise of ISIS.

Obama’s response to terrorist attacks is, at best, odd. He’s much more comfortable with mass attacks, preferably with assault style weapons, and with a shooter who is clearly an evangelical. It was only in recent days that they decided the shooting in Chattanooga was really a terrorist attack.

The administration just doesn’t seem to get it. There is an odd disconnect, as if it all isn’t really that serious. Obama, I think, believes that the problems of the Middle East have arisen because of Bush’s war, and the presence of Israel. He believes that he can just turn over the Middle East and all its problems to Iran to handle, and we can depart and have nothing more to do with it at all. And it’s only the warmongering Republicans that are making his retreat from the Levant so slow. He believes that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon, and he has said so.

He wants to close Guantanamo, because he believes that the world thinks it’s a place where we torture enemy soldiers. Democrats believe that the prison’s existence serves as a recruiting tool for Islamist militants, though there is no evidence that this is so. He wants to give it back to Cuba, because there’s no other point in releasing detainees who will immediately go back to the fight. The Castros have no intention of relaxing their despotic control of the Cuban population, and intend to pass the prison state on to the next generation — still a prison state.

Obama wants to release “non-violent”drug-dealing prisoners from our jails, in spite of the fact that the significant drop in crime is clearly a result of their being out of circulation. This seems to be a gesture to the black community who are sure that their friends and relatives are only in prison because of police misconduct.

There has been a remarkable lot of agitating racial resentment, especially the assumption that any deaths are the result of police brutality. ‘Black Lives Matter’ activists have been busy on college and university campuses, along with community organizers from ACORN  and protesters from Ferguson and Baltimore. Surely you didn’t believe that this was simply political correctness gone amok. Poor kids have trouble coming up with actual reasons for their protest, and a lot of the racist incidents simply never happened. Democrats are afraid that the black vote that Obama drew, may not turn out for Hillary, unless they think Republicans are sufficiently racist.



Obama’s Astonishing Speech to the VFW by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama spoke to the VFW National Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Tuesday. It was an astonishing speech, in which Mr. Obama laid out his worldview more directly than he has previously done.

For too long, there had been a mindset where the first instinct when facing a challenge in the world was to send in our military — and we have the greatest military in human history.  But we learned, painfully, where that kind of thinking can lead — that rushing into war without thinking through the consequences, and going it alone without broad international support, getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts and spreading our military too thin actually too often would play into the hands of our enemies.  That’s what they wanted us to do.

And who paid the price?  Our men and women in uniform.  Our wounded warriors.  Our fallen heroes who never come home.  Their families, who carry that loss forever.

And so I said then that our brave troops and their families deserve better.  We cannot expect our military to bear the entire burden of our national security alone.  Everybody has to support our national security.

Translation: See, I’m more responsible than the hated Bush who got us into a war in Iraq. And if we cannot expect the military to bear the burden of national security, why do we have a volunteer military?

Mr. Obama has just announced (not in this speech) that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will no longer require incoming U.S. citizens to pledge that they will”bear arms on behalf of the United States” or “perform noncombatant service” in the Armed forces as part of the naturalization process.

And so today, we’re pursuing a new kind of leadership — a smarter, broader vision of American strength, one that relies not only on our outstanding military, but on all elements of our national power.  And that starts with the recognition that our strength in the world depends on our economic strength here at home.

At this point he goes into a lengthy explication of just how wonderful the economy is, how many jobs he has created. manufacturing booming, reducing dependence on foreign oil, affordable health care, and either he has a movie of his own wonderfulness running in his head or he is seriously delusional. He blames his cuts in our military forces on Republicans. But he did actually call ISIL a “barbaric terrorist organization,” though the attack in Chattanooga was, once again, caused by a “lone wolf.”

Real leadership, he says, means “having the courage to lead in a new direction, the wisdom to move beyond policies that haven’t worked in the past, having the confidence to engage in smart principled diplomacy that can lead to a better future.”

“That’s what we’re doing in Cuba, where the new chapter between our peoples will mean more opportunities for the Cuban people.”

The speech is long, but I would urge you to read it with a critical eye, to understand where he is really going and what he seems to believe. And to understand how he lies, and how carefully he presents his actions to a public for whom he has the utmost contempt.



Just Hang On, It Gets Worse! by The Elephant's Child

The messages from the Iran nuclear negotiation are mixed. Some informants say we are giving up all inspections in order to get a deal, the White House insists that this is not the case, but nobody believes Obama any more.

We are opening a consulate in Cuba, though Congress has refused any financing. Iran will honor an agreement not to develop nuclear weapons. Obama will walk away from the negotiations. ISIS is a JV team, Rachel Dolezal is black, Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, ObamaCare is working and popular, the polar ice caps are disappearing, but the military has been sent to measure them to see how fast. We are more respected around the world than ever before. What is one to make of all this? Reality is fleeting.

The best explanation for Obama that I have found is from Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum, which I will include once again:

As a man of the Left, Obama sees the United States historically as having exerted a malign influence on the outside world. Greedy corporations, an overly powerful military-industrial complex, a yahoo nationalism, engrained racism, and cultural imperialism combined to render America, on balance, a force for evil.

The Obama Doctrine is simple and universal: Warm relations with adversaries and cool them with friends.

Several assumptions underlie this approach: The U.S. government morally must compensate for its prior errors. Smiling at hostile states will inspire them to reciprocate. Using force creates more problems than it solves.

This is important, and it was confirmed today in the video below, by “Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser to President Obama. He was the chief U.S . negotiator in the secret normalization talks with Cuba and has been a central player in the making of American foreign policy since 2009, both as key adviser and as the president’s chief foreign policy speechwriter.”

In this interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, they discuss the worldview of President Obama, focusing on Cuba, the Iran talks, and the continuing crisis across the broader Middle East.

Valerie Jarrett has said that President Obama has just been bored all his life, presumably not having been sufficiently challenged. He had an adjunct job teaching constitutional law at University of Chicago Law School, but his students indicated that he taught mostly Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, which seems to be an advanced course in manipulating people to get them to do what you want them to do. That doesn’t indicate any particular deep study of the Constitution.

Obama appointed an extraordinary collection of Czars, and asks that his briefings come in the form of a short paragraph or two, with 3 choices of actions to take, and he’ll pick one. Other than that, he doesn’t want much contact with members of his administration and associates only with his small inner circle, when he’s not watching sports on TV or playing golf.

That kind of sums up what I have gleaned about what Obama does and why he does it. The mindset is so foreign to everything I know about Iran and Cuba that I find it almost impossible to absorb. I grasp his view of Iran, but I think he’s subjecting both America and Israel to  dangerous and immediate threat. Cuba, I just don’t get. We are offered nothing, and by encouraging tourism and trade, giving Cuba the freedom to resume their anti-American arms dealing and drug trade across Latin America. They have no intention of offering more freedom to the Cuban people. Raul Castro has said so.

Having lost control of Congress, Obama, never willing to engage with Republicans, has determined to just go ahead and do everything he wants to do. Kind of a nyaah–nyaah–just try to stop me! He will use executive orders, executive notes, just order things to be done. They always say that inside of every Liberal is a tyrant trying to get out. Or did I miss something when Senate Democrats are voting to repeal the First Amendment so they can suppress political criticism?



I Think The Times And Obama Are Wrong. Can I Possibly Be Right? by The Elephant's Child

Gutted Yellow Building Havana

The New York Times is, as usual, a little off. When ideology trumps journalism, you get these embarrassing slip-ups. The headline is “As Cuba Shifts Toward Capitalism, Inequality Grows More Visible.”

What shift toward capitalism? Raul Castro has stated firmly that Cuba is not moving one centimeter away from Communism.

As Cuba opens the door wider to private enterprise, the gap between the haves and have-nots — and between whites and blacks — that the revolution sought to diminish is growing more evident.

That divide is expected to increase now that the United States is raising the amount of money that Cuban-Americans can send to the island to $8,000 a year, up from $2,000, as part of President Obama’s historic thaw with Cuba.

This was not any kind of agreement with Cuba. Cuba offered nothing, and was pleased that America surrendered to them. If Cuban-Americans send more remittances, they will only enrich the Communist government. Cuban citizens are limited to a maximum income of $20 a month, and anything over that goes to the government.

This was just another of Obama’s big ideas. He was going to liberate Cuba, expand trade, and the tourist business will improve the Cuban economy.

Remittances, estimated at $1 billion to nearly $3 billion a year, are already a big source of the capital behind the new small businesses. The cash infusion has been one of the top drivers of the Cuban economy in recent years, rivaling tourism revenues and mineral, pharmaceutical and sugar exports.

Fidel Castro has been estimated in the past by Forbes to be one of the world’s wealthiest men, and I’m sure that covers his little brother as well. Cuba has been trading the use of their doctors to Venezuela in trade for oil. The reason Cuban’s maximum income is so low is because they are offered free medical care and a ration card for food. If they have to go to the hospital, they need to supply their own sheets and blankets, their own medicine and even iodine, if needed. According to the Times:

The river where Jonas Echevarria fishes cuts through neighborhoods brimming with new fine restaurants, spas and boutiques, springing up in Cuba’s accelerating push toward private enterprise.

Tattered mansions and luxury apartment blocks speak of old wealth and new. A bounty of private restaurants known as paladares serve pork tenderloin, filet mignon and orange duck to tourists, Cuban-Americans visiting relatives and a growing pool of Cuban entrepreneurs with cash to spend.

I’m sure the Cuban government is building tourist facilities in expectation of lots of tourist business, bringing more revenue to the government, but this report from the New York Times has no relation to what I have read elsewhere about Cuba. Previous tourist hotels are run by a Spanish company, who pays the government for their Cuban workers. The government gives the workers their $20 a month, and pockets the rest.

The Times article extolls the Obama effort and assumes that everything in Cuba will improve as a result —in spite of Raul Castro’s firm declaration that nothing whatsoever was changing.  Interesting. Somebody is very wrong. We’ll see.



What Did Obama Mean By “Fundamentally Transform”? by The Elephant's Child

Obama lecturing

Most of us are apt to divide the world up into the good guys and the bad guys. Opposites.  Simplistic thinking, of course. No nuance. (when did that word slip into the daily vocabulary?) Winners and losers. Short and tall, rich and poor, hard-working and lazy, handsome and ugly, cruel and kind, smart and stupid. It helps us to understand those things we encounter in the world, we can modify our judgment later.

World War II was clear — Allies and Axis, and the Cold War — Communists and the Free World. Things began to get confused with the War in Vietnam. Protesters couldn’t decide who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Jane Fonda has never been forgiven for her stupidity, but she was not alone among the far left. It was a confusing time, and when the Draft was ended, surprisingly so were the protests.

Questions today on the internet ask “Is Obama a Christian?” and “Is Obama a Muslim?” But those are the wrong questions. Obama has given every indication of signing up with the bad guys, the Axis, the Communists, and those who oppose our country. His dislike for the Israeli prime minister is obvious; his distaste for the United Kingdom is clear; his support for a deal with Iran; his support for the Muslim Brotherhood; for the deposed president of Egypt; inability to reach a status of forces agreement with Iraq; Benghazi; refusal to help the dissidents in Iran, and in Syria; and the silly outreach to Cuba; and the support for most anti-American governments in South America.

There is a pattern.  A pattern which is behind Rudy Giuliani’s asking if the president loves America. One would think that the media would be somewhat aware of the direction of the entire Obama administration, instead of dissolving in wrath when someone actually notices. (Or is that why the media boiled over —they’re beginning to notice?)

I think he is just doing exactly what he said he would do: attempt to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Everybody was so excited with the idea of the first black president, the mellow baritone voice, the moving phraseology “Yes We Can!,” “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!,” that they didn’t really pay any attention to what he actually said that he wanted to do. I don’t think he is trying to destroy the country, he just wants to “fix” it.

We are paying the price for our inattention. And it’s up to us to find out exactly what he meant by “fundamentally transform.” It matters. It matters a lot.



Barack Obama’s Preposterous Foreign Policy Ideas. by The Elephant's Child

Americans are puzzled by President Obama’s refusal to put the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” even close to each other in a sentence. Violent extremism is as close as it gets, and it is clear that the entire administration has been instructed in language control. If you’re good at it (Jen Psaki) you get promoted, if not, not.

But we hear the news, we remember 9/11, Charlie Hebdo, attacks in Australia, Canada, London, Denmark, Fort Hood, the Boston Massacre, and daily reports of the “violent extremism” of ISIS, beheading, crucifying, burning alive. The inability to say ‘Islamic terrorism’ seems preposterous. It is no wonder that so many think that perhaps Obama is a Muslim, or has extreme Muslim sympathies.

I don’t think so, but he probably has, as he has said, pleasant memories of the Islamic call to prayer, and of his time in Indonesia, where he lived from 1967 to 1971. He was taught to admire his absent father, and his father’s history. After 1971, he grew up in Hawaii. What brought him to national attention was “the Speech,” the keynote speech at the Democratic convention in 2004. Chicago Magazine gives a long and admiring story of how it came about and what went into it.

When Barack Obama launched into his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he was still an obscure state senator from Illinois. By the time he finished 17 minutes later, he had captured the nation’s attention and opened the way for a run at the presidency.

Barack Obama has always been fascinated by his own story. It sets him apart from other men as something truly special. It not only dominated his convention speech, but his autobiography Dreams From My Father, was published the following year, though it must have been already written. Who writes their autobiography at age 44?

Obama believed that he could bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He told us that was his ambition. It just needed his magic touch. He was good friends with Rashid Khalidi, the American-Palestinian firebrand, who is now Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. His views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are that everything is Israel’s fault, and Palestinians are the abused party. If you read Victor Davis Hanson’s  explanation of Obama’s strategy, it becomes clear:

Leaders caricatured and demonized as a Cuban Stalinist, an Iranian theocrat, a Russian former KGB agent, and a plutocratic Chinese apparatchik in fact think no differently from us. But they have too often not been accorded a voice because the U.S. sought to bully them rather than reason with them. Polarizing and out-of-date labeling such as calling ISIS or the Taliban “terrorists” or “Islamists,” or reducing Bowe Bergdahl to a “traitor,” serve no purpose other than to simplify complex issues in ways that caricature those with whom we differ.

Instead, if we reduce our military profile and show other nations that what we are really interested in is fundamentally transforming U.S. society into a more equitable and fair place, our erstwhile enemies will begin to appreciate that we too are human and thus share their common aspirations. Ideals, persuasion, feelings, and intent are now the stuff of foreign policy, not archaic and polarizing rules of deterrence, balance of power, military readiness, and alliances.

It all makes sense to Obama. I’m not sure how much of the Democratic Party has moved sharply left. Certainly their spokesmen have, and the administration, but would the rank and file Democrats all sign on to this idea of a strategy for America in today’s world?  For me, it’s an increasingly dangerous world out there, with an administration unfamiliar with history and no understanding of strategy, or national security—conducting foreign policy with lightweights.

The mullahs of Iran have long demonstrated that they are not to be trusted at any time, on any subject. Vladimir Putin seems determined to reconstitute the Soviet Empire, without Communism, just tyranny. ISIS is growing and growing more vicious. The Defense Department is intent on getting rid of the A-10 Warthog, because they have a hot new toy for future wars, if it actually works. China is expanding in the South China Sea, and flexing its muscles. Showing other nations that we too are human and share their common aspirations just doesn’t cut it.

We tried to show Cuba our humanity, and Raul thanked us for surrendering to them and demanded that we return Guantanamo. So of course Nancy Pelosi took a delegation of Democrats to Cuba this last week. The message from Cuba is that Raul Castro has no intention of doing anything differently. He expects Washington to lift the embargo, and end any amnesty for Cuban doctors seeking asylum. Their top demand is that they be taken off the U.S. list of state-sponsors of terrorism.



Once Cubans Get a Taste of Prosperity? How Does That Work? by The Elephant's Child

President Raúl Castro, Fidel’s little brother, declared victory for the Cuban Revolution in a televised speech before Parliament and a group of favored guests —including Elián Gonzales (remember him?) — reaffirming that any restored relations with the United States did not mean any change in Communist rule in Cuba. He added “We won the war.”

Obama didn’t check in with any of the Cuban community here or with the Cubans who are fighting for freedom in Cuba. They are pretty unanimous in saying that the way Obama has gone about this is a major mistake. The Ladies in White who march in support of political prisoners each week in a major display of courage, said “betrayal” and didn’t understand why Obama had gone back on his statement that “significant steps toward democracy” must precede any liberalization.

As usual, Obama does not learn from history. Engagement does not necessarily promote freedom — see China, Vietnam, and increasingly less freedom in those countries.

In an official announcement in the state newspaper Gramma. government officials announced a system in which employees of corporations with foreign capital will be paid two Cuban Pesos for every Convertible Cuban Peso (CUP) which are used exclusively for tourists and is the equivalent of an American dollar and 26.5 Cuban Pesos. The 24 Cuban Pesos that workers will NOT receive amount to 92% of their salaries. So 92% of the value of Cubans’ work will go to prop up the Communist state. How that is supposed to be an important entry in the history books for Mr. Obama is not clear.

Cuba’s major benefactors —Russia and Venezuela — are in deep trouble from the declining price of oil. The current price is far below their ‘break-even’ point. Some Conservatives welcome the change in policy, believing that free trade will make great changes in Cuba. Raúl Castro doesn’t think so. “Once they see better goods and services” they say, but at roughly 67¢ a day in income Cubans cannot buy “better goods.” I don’t know what they have to trade. Reportedly, even their cigars aren’t that good any more.

Will Cuba suddenly allow their people to travel to the U.S.? Not likely. Any visitors to the U.S would be likely to seek asylum. The Cuban Adjustment Act says that any Cuban who is granted parole into the U.S. may, after one year apply for adjustment to permanent resident status. In the past every Cuban who made it here got parole and a green card.

I firmly believe in free markets and free people — but the “free” part seems to be completely missing here.




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