American Elephants


“Why is the World So Dangerous?” by The Elephant's Child

“Herbert  E. Meyer (Herb) served as vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council under President Reagan. He was one of the few people in the 1980’s to perceive that the U.S. and its allies might have turned the corner and were on the way to winning the Cold War.”

You may not have noticed, but the media seldom talks about facts. It’s almost all opinion. Herb Meyer talks facts, and gives you the evidence on which the facts are based.  That original paper: “Why Is The World So Dangerous?” from 1983 has long since been declassified, and is available to be downloaded here. Most of his speeches are different versions of “Why is the World So Dangerous”— because that’s what we need to hear. This one was delivered to the Northwest Business Club on March 9th this year. He gives us his version of history, and explains what we need to know to cope. The address is a little over an hour and worth every minute, so try for some time this weekend. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll think a little differently about the world today. He is a great speaker, funny, charming, and utterly fascinating.

ADDENDUM: If you go to You Tube, there are lots of Herb Meyer’s speeches, many with the same name. I picked this one as one of the most recent. and they are similar because Mr. Meyer has to put you in the right historical frame of mind to grasp the changing nature of the trends. His basic argument does not change, because, well, he’s clearly right, and a little repetition merely reinforces the point.



Understanding the Obvious is Sometimes Difficult by The Elephant's Child

ISIS Executions
I suspect that ISIS is having trouble with their fighters losing enthusiasm for the fight. More deserters. There have been reports in recent days that they are putting the disaffected in cages and dissolving them slowly in acid baths, and/or feeding them to viscous and starving dogs.

That is the idea of terrorism of course — to defeat the enemy by striking terror into his heart. But they seem to be running out of really gruesome ways to dispose of people. Beheading is passé. They’ve tried setting victims on fire in cages, and drowning them in cages — and apparently they are still having trouble with a lack of eagerness and a desire to escape among the militants.

Is this a good sign? It does make the official position of never calling a terrorist a terrorist seem a little silly, doesn’t it. And perhaps releasing “the worst of the worst” from Guantanamo in order to please European leftists isn’t such a good idea after all.

Here’s Charles Krauthammer on “the arc of the moral universe” which Obama insists “is long, but bends towards justice.”



“The Iran Deal” How Does it Fare After Nearly a Year? by The Elephant's Child

ini-garda-revolusi-pasukan-elite-kebanggaan-iran
Much has been written after Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes had a lengthy interview with the New York Times about his part in The Iran Deal, his ‘mind-meld’ with the president, and how they fooled the public into believing that the deal came about only when Iran elected a new “more moderate” administration, rather than admit that the Iran Deal was Obama’s intent from the first days of his presidency. It was all hooey, of course.

Obama undoubtedly turned against the Iraq War when the rest of the progressives did— three months into the war — when it began to look as if George W. Bush might have a great success on his hands. At any rate, Obama believed that he was elected based on his opposition to the Iraq War. Progressives are deeply opposed to wars, unless it’s one of theirs. Though if you asked any number of Americans why Obama was elected, I doubt if any would say it was because of Obama’s opposition to the Iraq War. If you recall, during the campaign in 2007 Obama refused to wear one of those little American flag pins in his buttonhole and to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem, at least until someone told him to cool it, he was offending people.

His interest at some point became getting America out of the Middle East, and turning the whole messy area over to Iran, where the Persians were the more educated and refined nation and better qualified to manage the rest of them. In this, he was apparently urged on by his senior counselor, Valerie Jarrett, who shared his vast experience of living abroad — Obama until he turned 10 in Indonesia, and Jarrett in her first 5 years, in Iran.  Seems a rather odd and ephemeral experience on which to base world-shaping agreements.

We are now nearly a year into the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to limit Iranian nuclear proliferation, so how is it going?

Last week, a senior advisor to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards elite al-Quds Force said if the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave to order to destroy Israel, the Iranian military had the ability to “raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.” Their armed forces had successfully tested a precision-guided, medium-range ballistic missile, with zero error. They even wrote the words “Israel must be wiped off the earth” on the missiles.

The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “underlined that the U.S. hues and cries will by no means influence the development of the country’s missile development program.”

They have engaged in a lot of hue and cry over Iran’s missile capabilities, but they should know that this ballyhoo does not have any influence and they cannot do a damn thing,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing graduation ceremony of Imam Hossein University cadets in Tehran on Monday.

The Obama administration remained unconcerned about the Ayatollah’s bloviations, perhaps as they thought a previous peroration was simply intended as “public relations.”

The Supreme Leader reiterated that we are at an asymmetrical war with global arrogance, and said, “In this war, willpowers are fighting. The stronger willpower will win.”

Just yesterday, the Free Beacon reported that the Obama administration was considering permitting advanced Russian arms sales to Iran. The administration has the power to sanction key Russian arms sales to Iran, but has so far abstained from exercising that right. Russia is apparently transferring their S300 surface-to-air missile systems, an advanced long-range weapon that would boost Iran’s military ability. It is one of the most advanced anti-aircraft missile systems in the world.

The administration considers the Iran Deal the most important of Obama’s achievements, and will go to great lengths to preserve the “nuclear deal.” I have read that Obama just doesn’t believe that Iran would ever actually use a nuclear weapon. I’ve always believed that when your enemy makes threats, you should pay attention.

Here is Victor Davis Hanson writing in the Hoover Institution’s Strategika, “A Year After the Iranian Deal.”

And here is Dr. Hanson’s essay on “How Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy De-Stabilized the World.”

Whether the Obama administration is just terminally naive, or simply hopes that any repudiation of the Iran Deal will fall on his successors’ administration rather than in the last days of his own is an unknown. but as Victor Hanson says:” the next few months may prove the most dangerous since World War II.”



What Does ISIS Want? by The Elephant's Child



A Truly Weird Electoral Season. by The Elephant's Child

vote_indiana
They are voting in Indiana, and the polls will be closing soon. I do not understand this presidential campaign at all. We are told that the people are really angry. According to the media and Donald Trump, they are angry about illegal immigration, and unfair trade policy that is negatively affecting our country. According to exit polls, the people are not particularly concerned about immigration as it is far down the list of concerns, and majorities prefer a path to citizenship.

Mr. Trump is going to build a huge big wall. And he is going to put big tariffs on any country that isn’t being fair. He’s going to be nicer to our friends so we will be closer, but he will insist that they pay a larger share of  the cost of protecting them from radical Islam. He liked World War II and the Cold War, but is against any foreign adventures since.

What the people seem to be angry about is the economy, the lack of jobs, jobs going to immigrants, they are fearful about terrorism, angry about the ridiculous hooplah over women’s restrooms being open to men, the increased cost of ObamaCare, the lack of jobs and economic growth, and increased inflation while salaries have not risen at all. Jobs have vanished on coal country, employment is down in oil and gas country because of the drop in the price of oil, some manufacturing jobs have gone overseas because of high corporate taxes, and some high-tech jobs have gone to H1-B immigrants.

All of these problems are the direct result of policies of the Obama administration. The stimulus didn’t work. Republicans warned that ObamaCare was not going to work and would cost more, not less; every Republican voted against he initial law, and have voted to repeal the act five times, Obama has vetoed their efforts each time. Jobs have gone to offshore companies as a direct result of the highest corporate tax in the world. The rise of ISIS and the war in Syria and the Middle East is a direct result of Obama pulling the troops out of Iraq too soon. President Obama vowed early to bankrupt the coal companies, which he has done in a misguided and fruitless battle against catastrophic global warming which exists only in the computer programs of the IPCC. And in refusing to utter the words Islamic terrorism, Obama has skewed all of our perceptions of  the Middle East and what is happening.

So the people are furious with the Republicans? Huh?

They blame the policies of the Obama administration on the Republicans? They don’t think the Republicans have done enough to stop the administration?

This is the first time, as far as I know, when a President of the United States has deliberately decided that “he has a phone and a pen” and he will accomplish by executive order or actions of agencies whatever he wants, and that he will pay no attention to the Constitution of the United States of America, because he believes it to be a tired old document that needs repealing or fixing.  The remedies available are to proceed through the courts in one lawsuit or another or to impeach the president. The Republicans have voted to repeal ObamaCare five times, Obama has vetoed every bill.

Results are in from Indiana, and Donald Trump has enough votes that he will be the presumptive nominee, for he is sure to pick up enough from states like California and Washington, for example, from the remainder of states left.  Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign.

I am not and have not been a Trump supporter. I do not understand what they hope for from what little Mr. Trump has had to say in his speeches.  His supporters seem to put a lot of faith in “Make America Great Again”  and “America First” which was a discredited slogan from  the America First Committee which was highly non-interventionist in the days just before World War II. I guess they see it as patriotism and strength. I see it as lacking in evidence.

We’ll see. Mr. Trump hasn’t even released his tax returns, and is due to face trial for fraud regarding his promotion of Trump University.  But then the case against Hillary proceeds slowly as well. What a weird, weird electoral season.



“Notable & Quotable” by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal included these lines from the Mayo Clinic’s online entry on narcissistic personality disorder in their “Notable & Quotable” column.

If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement—and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything—for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.

At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection. . . .

[The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5] . . . criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

Exaggerating your achievements and talents

Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate . . .

Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner



We Need a Remedial Course in Knowing, How to Retain Knowledge and What to Do With It. by The Elephant's Child

library_the-old-library-trinity-college-dublin-thomas-burgh

One of my perennial worries is about the state of knowledge. The world is, of course, always changing, but what has changed most dramatically is the flow of information.

We seldom give it a thought, but in the early days of the republic, news was transmitted by horse and rider, or coach.  And then the town crier  cried the news —and the simple word of mouth. Most people didn’t  have books, except for the Bible. The Revolution, the making of the Constitution, the War of 1812 all happened without telephone or radio to spread the news. The new Capitol in Washington D.C. was burned by the Brits, and it took days or weeks for anyone to find out.

The great Civil War took place entirely without a radio or a telephone, no newsreels, but there were newspapers and magazines, and even new photography, which has left a first visual record for us. There were railroads, and canals and roads.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Most people thought it was little more than a toy, but they soon began to install telephones in their towns, homes or businesses. The first one appeared in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1877 when a banker ran a line from his home to his bank.

The first transcontinental telephone call took place in 1915 from New York to San Francisco. In 1948 Bell Labs’ Claude Shannon published a landmark paper on “a Mathematical Theory of Communication” which provided mathematicians and engineers with the foundation of information theory which sought to answer questions about how quickly and reliably information could be transmitted.  Direct long distance dialing came about in 1951, and the first transatlantic telephone cable was installed between America and Britain.  It took 3 years and $42 million to plan and install using 1,500 miles of specially insulated coaxial cable.

The first television was introduced at the World’s Fair in 1939, but TV didn’t become common in people’s homes until the 1950s and sixties. The first public tests of a cellular phone system took place in 1978, and it wasn’t till the year 2000 that we finally reached 100 million cellular telephone subscribers.

Even the millennials probably know a little something about the history of the computer, but the kids in college who are protesting freedom of speech, don’t want to hear disagreeing words, need “safe spaces” and think buildings or statues, or crests that remind us of people who thought incorrect things in the past, should be removed.

Even Democrat Attorneys General and Rhode Island’s Senator Whitehouse are out to stamp out the utterances of those who have the gall to deny that a warming climate is going to destroy the earth.

The absurdity in the nation’s colleges and universities is happening at the rare time in our history when we are completely connected to all the information in the world, in an instant, at our fingertips. They are connected to networks of friends wherever they are and to thousands of people they only know through their devices.  Mine’s a tiny computer — roughly 2¾” by 5½”— and I can carry it around in my pocket, and talk to anyone in the world, and call up information from practically anywhere. But how am I supposed to know what is true and what is false?

We had to find out for ourselves how to deal with this flow of information and the even greater flow of advertisements and enticements and lies and scams. But we have had all the years of our lives to get used to things gradually.

Our schools, which are supposed to be the foundation of knowledge, have drifted off into realms of “social justice” and “diversity” and “white privilege” and women’s studies and black studies and college tuitions that range upwards from $50,000 to $60,000 a year and more, to receive less and less in the knowledge department.

Yet they are not only NOT teaching how to manage this flow of words and pictures and ideas, but don’t seem to recognize that the world has changed and they need to fill the kids on the past and how we got here as well as how to cope with the present and plan for the future.

Handwriting is out, ancient history is gone, what use is geography when you can call up Google maps in an instant? Social Justice isn’t even real. There is only one ‘justice’ which is found in the Constitution and the body of laws and in the courts. Students at Stanford (Stanford!) have petitioned for the return of Western Civ. Shakespeare is mostly gone, and Churchill is completely out of fashion. Yet there are more remedial courses in colleges than ever before, because too many students arrive unprepared to do college level work.

A political campaign is a bad time to bring up this subject, but it is the moment of our highest awareness. You can’t help but notice. When Hillary is attempting to make equal pay for women a central part of her campaign — and is unaware that it has been the law since 1963, She mentioned last year that Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, more than once, in spite of the obvious facts of 9/11, Paris and Brussels. Bernie Sanders is espousing the most discredited political system the world has ever known, which is failing before our eyes in Venezuela, and Cuba, and other countries around the world.

I picked up a book a while back called Too Big To Know by David Weinberger, read some bits and put it aside to read later. Guess I’ll have to read it now.Here’s one paragraph from the Prologue:

So we are in a crisis of knowledge at the same time that we are in an epochal exaltation of knowledge. We fear for the institutions on which we have relied for trustworthy knowledge, but there’s also a joy we can feel pulsing through our culture. It comes from a different place. It comes from the networking of knowledge. Knowledge now lives not just in libraries and museums and academic journals. It lives not just in the skulls of individuals. Our skulls and our institutions are simply not big enough to contain  knowledge. Knowledge is now a property of the network, and the network embraces businesses, governments, media, museums, curated collections, and minds in communication.

I wouldn’t have chosen the words ‘exaltation of knowledge’, nor described it in quite those terms, but I’ll have to read the book. I’ll report back when I have.

*The photo is of the Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin, and those are the stacks.




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