American Elephants


When You Reward Bad Behavior, You’re Going to Get More Bad Behavior by The Elephant's Child

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A deal that freed five Americans from Iranian jails at a cost of $1.7 billion in U.S. funds comes with a claim in Tehran that the transaction was a ransom payment. The U.S. Treasury Department wired the money to Iran  about the same time that the radical theocracy in Iran allowed three American prisoners to leave Tehran on a Swiss air force plane. The prisoner swap also meant freedom for two other Americans held in Iran, and the U.S. freed seven Iranians who had been charged or convicted of crimes in this country.

The $1.7 billion financial settlement concluded a 35-year legal battle that concerned a purchase of U.S. arms by Iran’s last monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi that were never delivered because of the Iranian revolution in 1979 when the Shah was deposed.

The White House claimed that the settlement was good for American taxpayers because the  U.S. was likely to lose in the arbitration at The Hague, and could have been liable for billions more if the case had dragged on.

The release of hostages came at the same time as the implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran that lifted the international economic sanctions in exchange for Iran ending its nuclear program. They supposedly filled the heavy-water reactor core with concrete, but if the IAEA inspectors actually got to inspect the concrete, I haven’t seen any confirmation. Earlier, there was some talk that inspectors would not be admitted to any Iranian facilities, and they’d just have to take Iran’s word for it. The Wall Street Journal reported:

A senior Iranian military official has publicly stated that the clearing of the $1.7 billion was a key factor in Tehran’s decision to release the imprisoned Americans, most of whom were charged with espionage.

“Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies and doesn’t have to do with the [nuclear] talks,” said Gen. Mohammad Reza-Naghdi, commander of Iran’s powerful Basij militia, in state media on Wednesday. “The way to take our rights back from the arrogants [Americans] is to become powerful, and we must grow stronger and stronger every day.”

Jason Rezaian’s release got the most attention because he was a Washing Post journalist. The others were Marine veteran Amir Hekmati who had just about given up after four years in prison and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini. The fourth was Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari. A recently detained student. Matthew Trevithick was separately released. It’s high time we had them all home.

The most important part of the deal was Iran’s claim that the money returned was a ransom — which implies that Iran’s bad behavior, falsely accusing American citizens of Iranian background of espionage, and imprisoning them gets a big ransom from the “arrogants”. When you reward bad behavior you get more of it. President Obama does not seem to understand much about strategy, ransoms, or rewarding bad behavior, which he has been doing a lot of.

Obama’s release of terrorists from Guantanamo, which is part of his unfortunate obsession with closing the detention facility, plays into this deal. Mr. Obama seems to believe that terrorists use Gitmo as a recruiting tool. This was once true some years ago, but no longer is.  And Mr. Obama seems to value “world opinion” which he misconstrues, as favoring his end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an Americas retreat to isolationism as a positive agenda.

Expect all of the released terrorists  to return to the war against America and Americans, as so many of those previously released already have. The nations to which we turn them over don’t do a very good job of keeping track of them. These remaining detainees are considered the “worst of the worst,” committed to killing Americans. It is against the law to bring them to this country, but Obama is looking for a way around that.



The Story Behind the Official Stories Is a Lot More Plausibile by The Elephant's Child

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Everybody who saw this picture thought it was — odd. Something fishy here. Clearly the official U.S. story did not make sense. American Thinker thought so too. Here are their explanations:

“Barry and the Pirates” by William Levinson.

It is particularly telling that Barack Obama spent part of his State of the Union speech telling us that the state of our Union is strong while Iranian pirates seized two U.S. Navy vessels and then, as pointed out by Rick Moran, violated the Geneva Conventions by publishing a photo of the captured sailors on their knees with their hands on their heads.

The Iranian action was both piracy and an intentional act of war against the United States.  If the boats strayed into Iranian waters due to navigational or mechanical problems, Iran was obliged under international law to render them assistance.  “Accidents in international air or sea traffic, even those involving military vessels, generally require nations to assist the victims and keep hands off the stricken planes or ships, the experts said.”  Note also that “Iranian officials searched [the boats] for advanced technology and sensitive communications.” …

“The most plausible explanation for the 10 riverine sailors captured by Iran” by Thomas H. Lipscomb

No, they are part of a Rivierine Squadron based in San Diego. Further they are support crews for SEAL missions from the US Navy and highly trained. The Iranians probably mistook “Riverine” for “Marine” in doing the story.

So that explains several things. Why the captured sailors were so much more fit than the average sailor these days, and how a woman could be among them. While not special ops personnel directly engaged, they have to be extraordinarily fit and well-trained, as indeed these sailors appear to be. …

“Calling BS on the official story of the Iranian capture of two US riverine boats” by Thomas H. Lifson

Flash! A former Navy SEAL, Matt Bracken, just blew up what I have been calling “a pack of lies from the US and Iran” on what the hell happened that got our boats captured and taken to the Farsi Islands.

Remember: the single most dangerous area in all the Persian Gulf is a small group of Islands in almost the middle of the heavily traveled shipping lanes that is a major naval base for Iran and the HQ of the radical IRG for special operations of their own against all the countries abutting the Gulf. A top Marine told me our two boats were special ops boats with crews that delivered our own SEALS… the direct rivals of the IRG on Farsi. …

“10 US sailors held by Iran confirmed freed” by Rick Moran

The U.S. claims one of the small Riverine Command Boats experienced mechanical difficulties, strayed off course, and then disappeared from radar.  The Iranian Revolutionary Guards captured the boats and took the sailors prisoner, accusing them of “snooping” and demanding an apology from the U.S. government.

Initially, the Iranians said they would release the sailors and their boats at dawn Iran time.  But after an “investigation” that confirmed the navigational problems, the sailors were let go mid-afternoon Iran time. …

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Strange Times, Strange War, Strange Announcements by The Elephant's Child

Headline: The Washington Post: “Elite U.S. targeting force has arrived in Iraq to fight the Islamic State”

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – An elite U.S. Special Operations targeting force has arrived in Iraq and will carry out operations against the Islamic State, part of a broader effort in 2016 to strike at the militants and that also includes U.S. Special Operations troops in Syria, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Wednesday.

The targeting force is now in place and is prepared to work with Iraqis to begin going after militant fighters and commanders, “killing or capturing them wherever we find them,” Carter said, speaking to about 200 soldiers at the home of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, which is expected to deploy about 500 soldiers next month to Iraq and Kuwait as part of the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

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.

The training the U.S. soldiers will provide to both the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces will prove critical, with the peshmerga approaching Mosul from the north and Iraqi troops coming from the south in a “pincer movement,” Carter predicted. Some analysts, however, say that communications between regular Iraqi forces and the Kurds need to improve significantly before any kind of joint operation can be undertaken.



The Alternate Reality of The Obama Administration by The Elephant's Child

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Perhaps no post-World War II president (and maybe none before) has justified his executive overreach by openly contending he was working around the lawmaking branch of government because it had refused to do what he desired. Whether a court finds his actions constitutional or not, it’s an argument that stands, at the very least, against the spirit of American governance. Today many liberals call this leadership.”
…………………………………….     —David Harsanyi at Reason

President Obama’s final ‘State of the Union’ speech is coming up on Tuesday. He has reportedly sent members of his cabinet out about the country to create enthusiasm. Tidbits are being released off and on to tantalize. There will be an empty chair in Michelle’s box to symbolize all the missing victims of mass shootings. According to Gallup, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a 58 percent favorability rating, while only 35 percent hold an unfavorable opinion. Obama’s approval rate, also from Gallup, is only 47 percent, but it ticked up a little while he was on vacation. Congress has acted on gun control, just not in the way Obama wanted. The Senate rejected legislation in 2013 to expand background checks for gun purchases and to ban certain weapons and ammunition.

Perhaps the most destructive legacy of the Obama administration may be the idea that if Congress fails to act the President must do something himself. Obama has never quite understood the separation of powers nor the fact that Congress more fully represents all of the people that he, as president, does. Our democracy, run solely by the president, is deeply approved by the Left — until there is a Republican president.

Obama has had his team working on the State of the Union speech for two months. He wants no legislative agenda to set himself up for failure in front of a GOP Congress. He wants to talk once again about “Who we are as Americans,” something he has never managed to figure out and which he inserts interminably into every speech.

Mr. Obama has a marvelous ability to see in his history only that which he finds positive. He adds up the numbers of jobs created each month, without considering how many are part-time or second jobs, how many jobs were lost, and completely neglects the 94,446,000 Americans of working age who have given up looking for work. He does not understand that in flooding the job market with foreign competition he has done great damage to the hopes of American workers. Now he plans to award work permits to 100,000 foreigners to work here to compete with Americans for jobs. How is it that he can add all that up and see a positive result for the people?

He sees the non-binding agreement in Paris on Climate Change as a great accomplishment, but it will accomplish nothing, nothing at all. It will not reduce global temperatures more than 1.2º C. or 2.2º F— roughly the difference between 10:00 a.m. and noon on an ordinary spring day. The Iran Deal that he has worked so hard to accomplish, while giving in to Iran on every point, assures that we will be attacked with nuclear weapons here at home. It is the most unbelievable betrayal of American security in history.

Michael Grunwald, a senior staff writer for Politico Magazine, has written a long slobbering paean to the wonderfulness and success and accomplishments of the Obama administration over the past 7 years. If you can bear it, do read the whole thing. It is hard to believe that one man, completely unprepared for the presidency, could make such a mess of things, or that one reporter could possibly have such a rosy view of catastrophe.

Well, America the bad. A reactionary force standing in the way of the noble leftist aspiration. Social Justice. Income inequality. Black Lives Matter.

Here’s a remarkable example. In Philadelphia, a convert to Islam, appeared in Muslim garb, Proclaimed he was doing the shooting of a policeman in the name of Allah. said he had pledged  his allegiance the the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). During a press conference Friday afternoon, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney stated that he believes the shooting of a Philadelphia police officer has “nothing to do with being a Muslim,” despite the suspect saying that he did it in the name of Islam.  So you get headlines like this: “Police probe man’s claim of shooting cop in Islam’s name.”

The pressure to deny reality must be really extreme. Goes right along with Obama calling the shooting at Fort Hood “workplace violence.” They are living in an alternate reality.

Matthew Continetti summed it up a bit in a piece called “The Lamest Duck:”

We have entered a most dangerous period of the Obama presidency. It’s not just that every rogue actor from Kim and Putin and Castro to Maduro and Khamenei and Xi knows he has one last year to behave badly without fear of reprisal. It’s that the president and his team are isolated, aloof, detached from reality.

They think a climate deal is a rebuke to terrorism. They think the response to jihad in San Bernardino is to ‘close the gun-show loophole.’ They think a new communications strategy will convince the public that the war against ISIS is going well. I don’t question Obama’s sincerity. I question his sanity.

What actually results from a given policy seems no longer to matter to him. Take guns—he’d sure like to. His executive order does little more than reiterate current law. It wouldn’t have stopped the killing at Sandy Hook elementary or in San Bernardino. Indeed, the most important consequence of Obama’s fight with the NRA has been record gun sales and a windfall for gun manufacturer shareholders. At least when Hillary Clinton takes on an industry, its stock goes down. Obama can’t even get that right.

From an essay at Commentary by Abe Greenwald:

But Obama has not been blindsided; he has chosen policies that have emboldened ISIS and has rejected other options at every turn. In fact, his words in Turkey were patently false. Obama doesn’t need an introduction to those who would have done things differently; he knows them well. They include two of his secretaries of defense, his former under secretary of defense, his former secretary of state, his former head of the CIA, his former Army chief of staff, the last commanding general of forces in Iraq, his former ambassador to Syria, his former deputy national-security adviser, and, yes, even his former joint chiefs chairman—among others.

The Nation He Built,” by Michael Grunewald

Hating the West, Inc.” by Victor Davis Hanson

Iran’s Ballistic Missiles Are Actually a Huge Problem,” by Emily Landau, Shimon Stein

On His Watch,” by Abe Greenwald



Who Me Worry? Well, Yes, Yes I Do. by The Elephant's Child

We have been told for some time that in less than 50 years Europe will be Muslim. Simple demographics. The European birthrate is far below replacement numbers, except for Muslim families. But that is what we were told before the current wave of refugees/migrants.

And the Muslim immigrants are apparently aware of the demographic claims. They have said, and it has been reported, that they will impregnate Europeans to hasten the transition. What happens when Muslims outnumber the Europeans and control the factories and facilities of European nations, including their military assets? We are in a religious war. We may not recognize that fact, but Iran and ISIS readily admit it.

Do we then have another great European War? We turned back the invasion of Europe once before at the Gates of Vienna. Is it all inevitable or are we just being Islamophobic? President Obama appears to believe that if we just turn the Middle East over to Iran to manage, then all will be well and we can just mind our own business. And that “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” business is just some kind of local PR. Iran would never, ever, use a bomb.

That ‘s when I get worried. I’m not convinced that anyone is thinking clearly about what is happening in the world today, particularly in this administration. Pat Condell is a clear-thinking and clear speaking British gentleman, and it pays to listen to what he has to say.

(h/t: Thomas Lifson )



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.



Strategy? What Strategy? by The Elephant's Child

The Obama family has headed to Hawaii for their Christmas vacation. The president  stopped off in San Bernardino to meet with the families of victims after a lot of murmurs in the press about why he seemed reluctant to do so. Someone said something about his remarks before he left, so I went to the White House website to see.
……………………………………….…………………..

What I ran into was a major posting  titled : ISIL STRATEGY: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat ISIL and Combat the Terrorist Threat. (headed with a picture of an empty presidential podium.)

WHO WE’RE FIGHTING • WHAT WE’RE DOING • MORE TO DO

Here’s a look at the evolution of ISIL and the terrorist threat.
Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. We answered that tragic attack by hardening our defenses and critical infrastructure, disrupting countless plots and pursuing terrorist networks overseas, disrupting safe haven in different countries, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership, including the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. …

(Is that the weirdest recitation of our history since 9/11 — ever?)

Here is a link to the whole document. I urge you to read the whole thing (won’t take long) because it is simply bizarre.  And truly frightening. Under the subhead Here are some of the actions we’ve taken:

Since the November 13 attacks in Paris a number of Coalition partners including Belgium, Germany, Kuwait Tunisia, made arrests to break up ISIL and ISIL-inspired terrorist cells.

Notes of small attacks,plans, announcements, plans, deployments, even airstrikes by the coalition, destroyed 283 ISIL oil tanker trucks, 120 ISIL oil storage tanks and “a significant amount of oil field infrastructure” in Eastern Syria.

More plans, announcements, plans. France deployed an aircraft carrier to the eastern Med., humanitarian efforts, humanitarian support. A reinvigorated political track in Syria with a “path towards a Syrian-led political transition process.”

Frequent big colored background boxes announcing the desperate need to make sure that no one on a NO Fly List is able to buy a gun or buy powerful assault weapons. (aside: The New York Times said today that the “powerful assault weapon” was nonsense). Video at the bottom, of Obama saying once again the “Our fight to defeat ISIS is not a war with Islam.”

All sorts of people who are not dangerous end up on the NO FLY LIST. it is clearly useless. Michael Medved’s 11 year old son was on the list, Nobody knew why and it was hard to get him off.

Journalist Deroy Murdock wrote on November 27 that “America’s role in the Global War on Terror grows stranger by the hour. President Obama’s fight against ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorists — such as it is — has entered the Twilight Zone. That is the only explanation for Obama’s increasingly bizarre tactics and statements against these existentially dangerous savages….”

“After 15 months of airstrikes against ISIS, America finally managed to bomb 116 trucks that smuggle oil out of ISIS territory, generating some $1.2 million in clandestine cash daily. ”

“This is our first strike against tanker trucks,” Operation Inherent Resolve Colonel Steve Warren told journalists from Baghdad on November 18.”
“To minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike.” Each leaflet reads, “Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them.” It continues, “Warning: Airstrikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life.”

If someone is driving an oil tanker to earn the money for ISIS to buy the materials for more suicide vests or bomb-making materials they are welcome to get blown up along with the tanker. Let’s have a nice war where we don’t have to kill anybody? Surreal.

Wars are about killing people and breaking things until the enemy is so decimated and broken that they have to abjectly surrender with no ability to ever renew the fight. It’s hard to imagine that someone can turn 50 years old and not know that, but the president is a Progressive. When Hollywood gets closer to the truth than the White House, we’re in trouble.

Recommended Reading: “‘Degrading’ ISIS Is Not a Serious Strategy.” by Douglas Feith & Mario Loyola. Feith, the author of War and Decision, was Under Secretary of Defense for policy from 2001 to 2005. Loyola is a former counsel for foreign and defense policy to the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee and a former special assistant at the Pentagon. They do know something about what they’re talking about.



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