American Elephants


The Christmas Truce, One Hundred Years Ago, Remembered. by The Elephant's Child

Here is Sainsbury’s official Christmas 2014 advertisement, made in cooperation with the Royal British Legion. It was inspired by very real events one hundred years ago. The chocolate bar featured in the video is being sold by Sainsburys, a British supermarket chain, all profits go to the Royal British Legion and benefit British armed forces and their families.

The Wall Street Journal published an article on the Christmas Truce in 1914. A British soldier named Frank Richards wrote about the event:

On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with ‘A Merry Christmas’ on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one…. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench…

Up and down the four hundred-odd miles of trenches on the Western Front, men risked their lives with similar acts, meeting opposing soldiers in “no man’s land.” Wary and unarmed, they made their way out of their trenches, taking steps that, a day earlier, would have guaranteed their death at the hands of sharpshooters and machine gunners a hundred yards away.

The relaxation of hostilities spread, and what has come to be called the “Christmas truce” took hold. Soon, soldiers were holding joint burial services for the dead. They began trading goods. British soldiers had been given holiday tins of plum pudding from the king; German soldiers had received pipes with a picture of the crown prince on them; and before long the men were bartering these holiday gee-gaws that celebrated the enemy’s royals. Eventually, soldiers prayed and caroled together, shared dinner, exchanged gifts. Most famously, there were soccer matches at various locations, played with improvised balls.

The truce mostly held through Christmas and, in some cases, even to the New Year. It took senior officers’ threats for fighting to resume, and such comprehensive battlefront peacemaking never happened again during the Great War. Courts-martial were brought against those involved later in even brief Christmas truces to retrieve the dead.

ADDENDUM: Here’s a photograph of a real football game played on the battlefield in 1914 during the Christmas truce, from Twitter.

ChristmasTruce



The Fall of the Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989 by The Elephant's Child

This video included the thrilling moment when the first people spilled across the border, twenty-five years ago.  The wall was erected to keep the people in the Russian Sector of a divided Berlin in. And so it did for forty-four years. The Wall stood 13 feet high and was augmented with watchtowers, alarms, trenches, mines, guard dogs and guards with machine guns all to keep the people of East Berlin in. More than 100 people were killed trying to cross the wall.

In Berlin, Christopher and Marc Bauder, light artists,  created ten miles of lighted white helium balloons to mark the route of the wall through Berlin, as a reminder of how the city used to be.The 8,000 balloons began at Bornholmer Street border crossing, one of the former checkpoints between East and West Germany, and were released into the night sky as a symbol of liberation.

As former National Review editor John O’Sullivan has noted “Communism had failed to retain enough true believers who would murder on its behalf.”

At the end of the War in Europe, a ruined Berlin was occupied by the three Allied powers: Britain, France and the United States, and the Soviet Union. A discovery of archival photographs in 2010 demonstrates the ruined, starving city and signs of life in the struggle for survival. The devastation of war was nearly complete. Here is the gallery of 20 pictures from der Spiegel. Here is a post from 2009 recounting German Chancellor Angela Merkel who spoke before a joint session of Congress  remembering the American and Allied pilots who flew food to a starving Berlin.

Does anyone remember the Berlin Blockade and the answering Berlin Airlift today? It was an incredible accomplishment made possible with courage and split-second timing. On June 24, 1948, Soviet forces blockaded rail, road and water access to the Allied-controlled sector of Berlin. The United States and United Kingdom responded by airlifting food and fuel to Berlin from Allied Airbases in western Germany.

It was a very tense time. The Soviets wanted to drive the Allies out of Germany. Airlifting food and fuel seemed nearly impossible to meet the desperate need. But Allied efficiency saved the day. Gradually the number of aircraft increased, At the height of the campaign one aircraft was landing every 45 seconds at Templehof Airport. Timing was so strict that a plane that was not able to land  had to turn back to make way for the next. As the Allies showed that they could maintain the airlift indefinitely, the blockade fell apart. Moscow lifted the blockade on May 11, 1949.

Mikhail Gorbachev spoke in Berlin today, warning of the potential for a new Cold War. It was the ordinary people of Eastern, Soviet controlled Europe who rose up in protest and deserve pride of place.  But history records, for different reasons, two major figures: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. John Fund notes the Reagan effect:

Reagan first saw the Wall in 1978, when he told his aide Peter Hannaford: “We’ve got to find a way to knock this thing down.” After he became president, he returned in 1982 and enraged the Soviets by taking a couple of ceremonial steps across a painted borderline. Then, in 1987, he overruled his own State Department by giving a momentous speech in which he implored the Soviet general secretary directly: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

lightbarrier

Here’s the lighted balloon wall. It must have been very moving to see them drift away, one at a time.

They did tear down the Wall and Berlin was unified only two years later.  In the wake of learning that a number of students at Texas Tech have no idea who won the Civil war, a little history seems appropriate. It’s a day and a history worth celebrating.



Here’s Some Good News For a Change! by The Elephant's Child

The price of crude oil is tumbling downward towards $80 per barrel. The Brent crude price of $82.60 is the cheapest since 2010.”On October 1, Saudi Arabia’s  national oil company announced that it had abandoned a policy of price protection and would start to focus on protecting its market share. Combined with falling global demand and rising supplies elsewhere, oil prices have fallen accordingly.

Natural gas supplies are plentiful and warm weather so far means weak demand, which means lower costs for natural gas.

For our fracking, the break-even price is around $50-$70 bbl. Supply is bulging. Gasoline prices will come down, transportation prices will come down, which means that costs at the grocery store will ease.

States like Iran, Venezuela, and Iraq can only balance their budgets at oil prices ranging from $110 to $135 per barrel. This is good. If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, there will be real financial squeezes, and even regime change in Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq or Libya and would give Vladimir Putin some real trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

It’s not clear what Saudi Arabia is up to, but they are definitely not approving of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor of ISIS’ ambitions either. They may be just protecting their market share, as we are close to surpassing them in production.

If we start exporting natural gas to Europe, that would relax the strangle hold Russia holds over their energy supplies.

It’s good news, just when we need some.



One Nation, Still. by The Elephant's Child
September 18, 2014, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Politics, United Kingdom | Tags: ,

uk

The United Kingdom is a country people want to belong to,
and
the world is a better place.

……………………Be Britain still to Britain true,
……………………Amang ourselves united;
……………………For never but by British hands
……………………Maun British wrangs be righted!
……………………No! never but by British hands
……………………Shall British wrangs be righted!

…………………………….From Daniel Hannan



The Painful Work Of Crafting A Winning Message! by The Elephant's Child

Obama is having a hard time developing a message. 1.) “We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its finances, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

And 2.) “So the bottom line is this: Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it’s no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States.”

Sphere of influence? Manageable problem? In his statement on Sotloff’s murder, Obama said the killers “make the absurd claim that they kill in the name of religion , but it was Steven, his friends say, who deeply loved the Islamic world.” Absurd?

Obama said: “[W]hat we’ve got to do is make sure that we are organizing the Arab world, the Middle East, the Muslim world, along with the international community to isolate this cancer.” Who are the “international community” and what does “organizing the Arab world” mean?

This is all so confused. It’s a morass of misunderstandings, political correctness, multiculturalism, ignorance and plain old leftist theology. ISIS has changed their name several times, always beginning with the word “Islamic” — the latest iteration is the Islamic State. They are restoring the Islamic Caliphate, and they are not killing in the name of religion? Of course they are.

You noticed the vast demonstrations across the world by Muslims rising up to denounce the beheadings that ISIS claimed to be doing in the name of Islam, didn’t you? The Moslem religion has a sector of it that is intent on returning to the 7th century, is extraordinarily violent, intolerant, and viciously cruel. The part that is the “Religion of Peace” needs to figure out how to deal with the 7th century part. And this is what Obama speaks of “organizing”?

The Left was so busy hating George W. Bush and therefore hating the War in Iraq, that they never managed to gain any understanding of why we were there, what we accomplished and what we didn’t accomplish and why. They didn’t learn anything about Iraq, or about the people and most of what they did learn wasn’t true.

Obama blamed America for the rise of ISIS. At the American Legion’s National Convention last month, he said the answer for ISIS “evolving terrorist threat: is not for America to “occupy” countries and end up “feeding extremism.” “The answer in not to send in large scale military deployments that over stretch our military, and lead for us occupying countries for a long period of time and end up feeding extremism.” That didn’t go over particularly well with the Legionnaires. It’s gobbledygook.

You can see what a mess his view of Iraq is. He probably thinks his greatest accomplishment was getting us out of Iraq, and the faster the better.  With the press telling us constantly about the “war-weary” American people, he undoubtedly thought he was doing just the thing that would make him popular, but you don’t want to put too much faith in the American media, nor in polls. Obama has known about the rise of ISIS for over a year, but been uninterested in the briefings. When he got the troops out and downsized our military, he thought he was done. He doesn’t know how to do war.

Yet he has watched ISIS grow exponentially, gain wealth unimaginable from capturing Iraq’s banks and businesses and from capturing the oil fields, and gain high quality military equipment from what fleeing Iraqi troops left behind. Now they have captured an airfield in Syria, to round out the supply of helicopters, tanks and trucks. We are told that America is conducting “targeted air strikes” but further information tells us “we destroyed a couple of trucks.” Not quite what I thought targeted air strikes meant.

All the leftist claptrap of the past 40 years, the multiculturalism, the political correctness, the invented rights, cultural relativism, views of the other, not only color our views of a different culture, but prevent understanding  and make “organizing” the Middle East a little difficult. So it is not surprising that Obama cannot come up with a strategy or see the situation clearly. At least Joe Biden was a little clearer—he recommended Bombing ISIS back into the Stone Age.

At a ceremony today to appoint Texas Lawyer Shaarik Zafar to be special representative to Muslim communities, Secretary of State John Kerry said it was the United States’ “Biblical responsibility” to ” confront climate change,’ which included protecting “vulnerable Muslim majority countries.

Kerry said Scripture, in particular the Book of Genesis, make clear it is our “duty” to protect the planet and we should look at Muslim countries “with a sense of stewardship of earth,” adding, “That responsibility comes from God.”

Members of Congress are a lot clearer, or at least the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) said they are on the same page. “This is exactly the reason why we have to go after ISIS, why we cannot just let them wreak havoc there. They are killers. They are Brutal,” Rep Engel said.
“Target them and target the terrorist training camps where they’re bringing thousands of fighters from around the world,” said Royce. “Those camps and the munitions should be targeted as well.”

Obama’s inability to come up with a strategy is causing dismay on both sides of the aisle, and members of Congress are quite ready to speak out, both to urge action from the president and to stake out their own positions for the upcoming election.



Dave Allen On Supermarkets by The Elephant's Child
July 20, 2014, 6:53 am
Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,

Dave Allen is a British comedian, and brilliant. British supermarkets may be a bit different, but if you shop in a grocery, you will recognize some of your own angst in his performance. He has his audience in the palm of his hnd.



Jihad in Britain, and In The Other Nations of the West by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know if you know Janet Daley. She was born in America, graduated from U.C. Berkeley, and has been living and reporting in Britain for many years. Her column in today’s Telegraph is notable for her outlook on the Islamization of Britain. Elsewhere there is a column noting that France is not a safe place for Jews. We have been warned that without some serious and real change, Europe will be entirely Muslim within fifty years.

In the midst of the deeply unfunny news coverage of the two young British jihadi volunteers who were arrested on terror charges when they arrived back from Syria, there was one moment of comic absurdity. It seems that before setting off on their mission, Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar found it necessary to place orders with Amazon for those invaluable scholarly treatises, Islam for Dummies, The Koran for Dummies and Arabic for Dummies. Hilarity aside, there is something important to be noted here.

First, these 22-year-olds were obviously not the products of some extreme mosque which had drilled them in Islamist fundamentalism. In fact, they were so untutored in the religion to which they were nominally affiliated that they had to equip themselves with a crash course in its basic principles. Nor had they come from families which were inclined to endorse their terrorist fantasies. Indeed, their own parents were so horrified when they learned of the men’s activities that they turned them in to the police. So we need to ask, as a matter of urgency, where it came from, this bizarre determination to be inducted into a campaign of seditious murder that (we can assume from their decision to plead guilty to the terror charges) they fully intended to bring home with them. What causes young men to risk their own lives, and those of who knows how many others, for a cause about which they know so little that they have to mug it up before they catch the plane?

Do read the whole thing. There’s a lot of food for thought there that includes our own present border crisis.  Assimilation matters. She adds:

Contrary to all the educational shibboleths of our time, young men are motivated by aggression and power: their dreams are of glorious triumph over rivals. If they are denied these things – even in the ritualised forms that used to be provided by an education system that understood how dangerous male adolescence was – then they will seek them wherever they can be found. Gang violence, with its criminal initiation rites, or Muslim fanaticism can fill a void, offering not just a licence for brutality but for banding together into hostile tribes. There was a time – before characteristically male behaviour was devalued in favour of the female virtues of empathy and conciliation – when these proclivities were dealt with quite effectively by combative team sports and military cadet corps. Institutionalised aggression was supervised by adult authority until the young men grew up and became responsible for their own impulses.




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