American Elephants


We Don’t Understand What is Happening. Are We Deliberately Ignorant? by The Elephant's Child

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Michael Ledeen, writing in Forbes, April 1: :The Whole World Is In Turmoil Not Just Us”

The fierce conflicts we are witnessing in the primaries are not just an American phenomenon, indeed it’s hard to find a country that isn’t fighting internally as we are.   Most of the world is intensely divided, and our own domestic debates are part of a global disruption.

The many divisions should not surprise us, as we are in the midst of a transition from the post-World War II bipolar world to something else, something as yet unclear.  In part, it is a return to historic normalcy, although few who grew up during the Cold War would recognize it as such.  The post-war world, for roughly a half-century after the defeat of Germany and Japan, was unusually peaceful compared with past centuries.  From 1945 until very recently, there was no major war, and “stability” was considered a fundamental objective of sensible strategy.  Three or four generations have grown up in that world, and are surprised at open conflict and instability.

Yesterday, Dr. Ledeen again, this time at PJ Media:

“Terrible Things Are Happening”

Americans just can’t take the Iranian tyrants seriously. If you ask us what Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei means when he leads his weekend crowds in a chant of “Death to America,” most Americans will not say “he wants to destroy us all.” Yet that is precisely what he means, and if we had leaders worthy of the name, they would be designing a strategy to bring down the Tehran regime before Khamenei and his evil henchmen do terrible things to us. Here.

Instead, the president and the secretary of state keep showering largesse on the ayatollahs, who respond by telling us they are preparing our destruction.

Just last week, for example, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said Iran is preparing for all-out war with the U.S. and its allies, and has vowed Iran will continue advancing and testing its ballistic missile program.

Bret Stephens: The Wall Street Journal, 4/11/2016

Islam and the Radical West, The political orthodoxy of the left is the gateway drug to jihad.”

We’ve become lazy in our thinking about Islam and the West. Whether the Islam practiced by al Qaeda or ISIS is “radical” or merely traditional isn’t the question. It’s whether the West can recognize that the moral nihilism of today’s Jihadi Johns is the logical outgrowth of the moral relativism that is the default religion of today’s West.

Daniel Hannan: Washington Examiner, 4/11/2016

“The terrorist threat is getting serious, but we mustn’t panic”

Do you remember the footage of last month’s subway bomb in Brussels? You know, with the frightened passengers choking their way along a smoke-filled tunnel while children cried? Well, the man who shot that video was a friend of mine, a Brussels-based American freelance reporter who happened to be on the train, and who helped carry some people to safety.

Here’s the odd thing, though: I wasn’t especially surprised that he had been there. Knowing someone who has been caught up in a terrorist attack no longer feels strange. We are becoming habituated to jihad, blase about bombs.

And in contrast, a voice from the Left: Andrew J. Bacevich, Politico, 4/4/2016

“Let’s end America’s hopeless war for the Middle East”

A hundred years ago, the armies of World War I fought to a bloody stalemate on the Western Front and desperately searched for ways to break it and gain an edge. They field-tested tanks and poison gas, rolling barrages and storm-trooper tactics. Today, the United States is stuck in an analogous stalemate in the Middle East and Islamic world in general. And we are field-testing all manner of novelties, much like the great armies of Europe mired in the trenches: the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs and counterinsurgency, precision-guided munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles, not to mention such passing fancies as “overwhelming force,” “shock and awe,” and “air occupation.”

Yet as was the case a century ago, the introduction of some new battlefield technique does not necessarily signify progress. On the contrary, it only deepens the stalemate.



A Little Straight Talk About Where we Are by The Elephant's Child

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Here’s some straight talk about our current problems. Unfortunately, straight talk is somewhat rare, but knowledge of what is true and what is not is a good first step.

Leon Aron, resident scholar and Director of Russian Studies at AEI.

—”The clash of philosophies

From Alabama to Denmark, Nevada to the Netherlands, and from Arizona to Sweden and Germany, Hungary and Poland, voters are flocking to right/left populist, nationalist, isolationist, and nativist demagogues, parties, and movements.

The trend sweeping Europe and the United States is broader and deeper than politics. …This chasm is not merely ideological. It is ethical, linguistic — almost anthropological

Victor Davis Hanson senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

How America Lost Its Groove

Deterrence is lost through lax foreign policy, an erosion of military readiness, and failed supreme command — often insidiously, over time, rather than dramatically, at once. The following random events over the seven years that Barack Obama has been in office have led to the idea abroad that the U.S. is no longer the world’s leader and that regional hegemonies have a golden opportunity to redraw regional maps and spheres of influence — to the disadvantage of the West — in the ten months remaining before the next president is inaugurated.

A Nation of Laws—Sort Of

Any fair reading of State Department and general federal government laws regarding the use of classified information by federal employees makes it is clear that Hillary Clinton violated the law—both by improperly setting up her own private server, and then by sending information through it that was classified. …

If she is not indicted by the Obama administration for violations of federal laws or conspiracy to obstruct justice, in the future it will be almost impossible to prosecute successfully any federal employee for violating government protocols about the handling of classified information.

Hold Colleges Accountable to the Real World

The public is steadily losing confidence in undergraduate education, given that we hear constantly about how poorly educated are today’s graduates and how few well-paying jobs await them.

The cost of college is a national scandal. Collective student-loan debt in America is about $1.2 trillion. Campus political correctness is now daily news.

How could higher education be held accountable and thereby be reformed?

These latest linguistic contortions to advance ideological agendas follow an established pattern of the Obama administration and the departments beneath it.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described Egypt’s radical Muslim Brotherhood as “largely secular.” CIA Director John Brennan has called jihad “a legitimate tenet of Islam,” a mere effort “to purify oneself.

Bill Gertz national security columnist for The Washington Times

Cybercom sounds alarm on infrastructure attacks

The commander of the U.S. Cyber Command warned Congress this week that Russia and China now can launch crippling cyberattacks on the electric grid and other critical infrastructures. …

Most military operations involve the use of commercial infrastructure and thus their vulnerabilities to cyberattacks are a major concern.

“If you were able to take that away or materially impact the ability to manage an air traffic control system, to manage the overhead [satellite] structure and the flow of communications or data, for example, that would materially impact [the Defense Department’s] ability to execute its mission — let alone the broader economic impact for us as a nation. …



Obama’s Disastrous Iran Deal and Its Reverberations by The Elephant's Child

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Obama’s bizarre love affair with Iran continues: so writes Roger L. Simon at PJ Media. “In the last week or so, Obama has decided to ignore the putatively sanctioned Iranian missile tests—the ones with the “charming” admonitions for Israel to be wiped off the Earth emblasoned on the fuselage in Hebrew and Farsi—and seemingly agreed to the ayatollah’s demand that Iran should be allowed into our dollar system. A hundred and fifty billion evidently wasn’t enough.”

Iran clearly is continuing to do just as they choose, ignoring any sanctions, as if there was no ‘deal’. Congress has not agreed to any deal. Yet when Obama lightly criticizes Iran it comes across as absolutely bizarre — as advice to Iran on their business climate. “When they launch ballistic missiles with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, that makes businesses nervous.” It makes six million Israelis nervous too.

Congress  has not lifted U.S. sanctions on Iran. Keep that in mind. The President and the Secretary of State cannot make treaties on their own. The U.S. Constitution requires congressional approval for any such agreement.

European governments and industries are heading for Tehran to get a cut of the massive windfall that the end of international sanctions. Americans are largely sidelined. However, Obama has given Boeing special permission to do business with Iran. The administration hs been cutting back on defense spending. A new market would mean jobs and decreasing the trade deficit.

Obama believes that new business will improve the Iranian economy and benefit Iran’s people who had been suffering under sanctions. The Supreme Leader has no concern for Iran’s people but is only interested in destroying Israel and the United States. He says so, regularly. Obama believes, ignoring long years of evidence, that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon, that they are people just like us who care about their people and their families.

Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.S. writes in the Wall Street Journal:

If the carrots of engagement aren’t working, we must not be afraid to bring back the sticks. Recent half measures against Iran’s violations of the ballistic-missile ban are not enough. If the aggression continues, the U.S. and the global community should make clear that Iran will face the full range of sanctions and other steps still available under U.N. resolutions and in the nuclear deal itself.

Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region must stop. Until it does, our hope for a new Iran should not cloud the reality that the old Iran is very much still with us—as dangerous and as disruptive as ever.

“Congress is investigating whether the Obama administration misled lawmakers last summer about the extent of concessions granted to Iran under the nuclear deal, as well as if administration officials have been quietly rewriting the deal’s terms in the aftermath of the agreement, according to sources and a formal notice sent to the State Department. ”

“The concerns come after statements from top officials last week suggesting that Iran is set to receive greater weapons and sanctions relief, moves that the administration had promised Congress would never take place as White House officials promoted the deal last summer.”

The other wild card in the deal is the price of oil, which is running currently at about $37 a barrel — far below Iran’s break-even price. Obama will not give permission to bomb any oil field because of the environment.



Obama: Iran is Obeying letter of the Nuclear Deal, Not the Spirit by The Elephant's Child

Last Friday, President Obama had a news conference and talked a bit about his friends in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He said: “When they launched ballistic missiles with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel that makes businesses nervous…If Iran continues to ship missiles to Hezbollah, that gets businesses nervous.” And here was Obama, hoping that with the new influx of businesses from around the world, Iran would turn to improving the economy of their country and improving the lives of their people. Here’s the complete transcript.

And here’s Ezra Levant who ran across a video clip posted by the White House, of Obama boasting about just how awesome the Iran Deal is, except the nuclear program isn’t dismantled? The deal is so pathetically awful that if Obama were trying to destroy America, instead of leading the country — what would he have done differently?



Can We Take the Matter of Terrorism Seriously? by The Elephant's Child

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From the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday:

Tuesday’s coordinated terrorist attacks in Brussels have left at least 30 people dead and more than 200 wounded, shut down the capital of Europe and raised security alarms from Frankfurt to London to New York. (See above.) So maybe it’s time we all get over our inordinate fear of Islamist terrorism.

Believe it or not, that’s the not-so-subliminal message we keep hearing from President Obama, even as he condemned the attacks during his visit to Cuba. “Obama frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents and falls in bathtubs do,” reports Jeffrey Goldberg in a lengthy profile of the President’s national-security thinking in the Atlantic magazine. Islamic State, Mr. Obama is quoted as telling adviser Valerie Jarrett, is “not coming here to chop our heads off.”

I suppose it’s tempting to try to minimize the fear of terrorist action, when your foreign policy is entirely guided by your erroneous belief that you have saved America from the misguided efforts of the hated George W. Bush in Iraq, when you promised to end the war, and keep congratulating yourself for so doing, completely ignoring the results of that misguided pullout. But there is something particularly ugly about comparing the death count from falls in the bathtub to what the victims of terrorism and their families face.  Unusually callous.

At Commentary, Max Boot treats the subject with the seriousness it deserves:

As we struggle for an answer to the threat posed by ISIS, it’s worth remembering how the U.S. and Israel in the past defeated suicidal terrorist groups. There is, of course, no simple answer, no magical solution, but the essence comes down to the realization that the threat comes not from demented individuals but from a network run by savvy organizers who are not themselves suicidal. (You don’t see the leaders of groups like ISIS or Hamas wearing suicide vests; it’s rare to even see their children engaging in such acts.) Suicide bombers have to be manufactured. Making the actual explosives is the least of the problems, although that requires significant expertise, too. The real issue is indoctrinating young men (and sometimes young women) to perform the unnatural — and, in Islam, forbidden — act of committing suicide and in the process taking the lives of innocents.

It can take months to recruit and train would-be suicide bombers and then additional weeks and months to locate a target, figure out the optimal time for an attack, and then put the bomber in a position to inflict maximal damage. If a counter-terrorist force can disrupt the —network that makes the suicide bombing possible, then not even the willingness of individuals to kill themselves will suffice to create the kind of mass-casualty attacks that terrorists crave. At most, disorganized terrorists can carry off the kind of small-scale knifings that unfortunately have become all too regular an occurrence in Israel today.  (Do read the whole thing)

We need to start talking about Islam honestly. Many Muslims believe that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” and treat it in that way.  Osama bin Laden and his followers believed that the rise of the Western world occurred because Allah had turned his face away from Muslims because they were not following the rules of the Koran as the Prophet had taught them, and it was necessary to return to the purity of Islam as taught in the 6th Century.

In America and in Europe, Religion has changed from the days of the Inquisition, the burning of witches. We had more than our share of religious wars — but we also had the Reformation. America had plenty of religious battles in the very early years, but when the Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, they wrote”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. or prohibiting the free exercise therof, ” which has caused enough problems in its clear simplicity. Americans, excepting parts of the Left, are quite protective of the freedom of religion, and thus very conscious of restrictions on religion as applied to Islam. And the new epithet has become “Islamophobia” to go along with the more usual “racist.”

I see no reason why we should not welcome Muslim immigrants, but they should recognize that some of the customs and rules of the Koran are against the laws of this country. Honor killings will get you sent to the penitentiary, wife-beating is assault, and our culture is far more open to women’s education and accomplishments than is usual in many Muslim countries. It is not discrimination to talk about such things. but just clear and honest.

Terror is supposed to frighten us into submission. That’s why they do it. A little straight talk and a lot less political correctness would seem to be in order.



Deal, What Deal? Iran’s Up To Its Old Tricks. by The Elephant's Child

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I’m not sure that many Americans understand the nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Certainly President Obama does not. He has stated that the people of Iran are just like us, love their families, want to live in peace. Uh huh.

The Islamic Republic has arrested two leaders of an Iranian heavy metal band named “Confess” on charges of “blasphemy,” writing “satanic” lyrics, and meeting with forbidden foreign radio stations. They were seized in November by the intelligence wing of the IRG (Iranian Revolutionary Guard) and have been held in the infamous Evin prison in solitary confinement until they were released on February 5. Nikan Siyanor Khosravi 23 and Khosravi Arash Ilkhani 21 are currently free on a $30,000 bond, a fortune in Iran. They face the prospect of  execution if convicted of the most serious offense, which is probably “blasphemy.”

This is part of a major crack down on orders of Iran’s religious authorities. At least 170 people were arrested in November. Arrests were made without warrants, and those arrested never saw a judge. In January Iran executed Hashem Shaabani, a poet, for “waging war on God.” The execution was with the approval of President Hassan Rouhani, who our administration described as “a moderate” and “a reformer.” The religious authorities are not fooling around. Last year 700 Iranians were executed by authorities in just a 6 month period on charges such as “insulting the Prophet” and “spreading corruption on earth.”

Iran is working hard to advance their ballistic missile program in complete defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

Iran is also in the process of signing deals with both China and Russia for the purchase of advanced aircraft and tanks in violation U.N. Resolution 2231. That resolution specifically forbids Iran from purchasing, “battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, [and] warships…” without prior approval from the U.N.

Moreover, recent satellite imagery reveals that while Iran was negotiating with the West to lift sanctions, they were more than likely conducting secret nuclear experiments with military dimensions at their top secret Parchin military facility. New research and support centers were constructed, tunnels were dug and reinforced and wide swaths were paved over with concrete in an effort to hide illicit activity. The Obama administration inexplicably continues to remain silent in the face of Iran’s maleficence.

No criticism from the White House or State Department. Obama’s great accomplishment is the Iran Deal.



What’s Wrong With Diversity? More Than You Ever Knew. by The Elephant's Child

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Yesterday I received the alumni magazine from my alma mater in the mail, and among other changes, they announced the appointment of a new chief diversity officer.  Which seems to put them right in line with the norm in colleges and universities today, when every gathering or crowd is scanned for the correct mixture of skin color and ethnic identity. That doesn’t seem quite right.

It seems to me that diversity, in the case of higher education, should be a diversity of ideas — not a diversity of skin color and  ethnic origins, nor sexual diversity—there’s a lot of that going around — but diversity of ideas is pretty hard to find. Consider the speakers invited to campuses who are not just disagreed with, their divergent opinions are excoriated, their very presence is protested, loudly and violently, and security must be called to protect the person — who has improper ideas! Students need “safe spaces” to protect them from ideas with which they disagree.

Sometimes, I seem to be a little slow. I really hadn’t put together the innocuous idea of “diversity” which always seemed a little silly, with Saul Alinsky’s famous phrase “Rub raw the sores of discontent, galvanize them for radical social change.” Barack Obama was a student of Alinsky’s methods, and he’s been busily organizing us for over seven years. Hillary too, was a student of Alinsky.

The problem with the Alinsky method is that the end game is amorphous; the end game is the acquisition of power but little is said of what to do with that power once acquired. The core of Alinsky’s method is destruction, destruction of the “system” that allows a disparity of wealth. There is no discussion of what is to replace this system once it is brought down. However, there is little doubt that Alinsky’s idea of a better “system” is one that brings forced equivalence or Marxism. Fundamentally, the struggle to get power is the essence of Alinsky, what to do with the power once acquired is another matter altogether.

“The Obama administration is the embodiment of the failure of politics because it is not about politics—politics involves concession and compromise—it is about victory at any cost. The American people expected hope and change, as that is what they voted for, but what they really wanted was stability and prosperity.”

Well, no wonder the people are so angry with their government— and looking for someone, anyone, who can fix it. Their government has been furiously busy trying “to rub raw the sores of discontent.” They not only didn’t get “hope and change” — they didn’t get stability and prosperity either. “Diversity” has been a false promise. The people know and like people of all different races and ethnic backgrounds, and we like the ideas and the foods they have brought with them as well.

The race riots in Ferguson and Baltimore were urged on by imported community organizers. The campus protests and demands for more racial equality and more racial segregation at the same time, the banishing of statues or buildings named for anyone who once owned slaves, the racial hoaxes, were all stirred up by organizers from Black Lives Matter, Acorn, Occupy, and Organizing for America. Did you wonder why race relations seemed to get worse rather than better? Did you wonder why Black Lives Matter seemed to be stirring up animus against the police instead of improving relations? Why more policemen were being attacked or killed? That was deliberate community organizing.

Michelle Obama at the Democratic Convention:

“Barack stood up that day,” talking about a visit to Chicago neighborhoods, “and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be…”
“All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.”
“There is no utopia; those who have strived to make the impossible real, to implement their grand visions of life have been the agents of death and destruction on a scale surpassed only perhaps by Islam. Alinsky, like the Koran, Sira, and Hadith, represents morality turned upside down or abandoned entirely in favor of cold pragmatism. …It is no surprise that they have been deeply involved in voter fraud and other nefarious practices. “

Here’s David Horowitz:

This is something that conservatives generally have a hard time understanding. As a former radical, I am constantly asked how radicals could hate America and why they would want to destroy a society that compared to others is tolerant, inclusive and open, and treats all people with a dignity and respect that is the envy of the world. The answer to the this question is that radicals are not comparing America to other real world societies. They are comparing America to the heaven on earth — the kingdom of social justice and freedom — they think they are building. And compared to this heaven even America is hell.

Freedom is important to Americans, but it is sometimes hard to recognize where and why and how it is being taken away. We hate the EPA for its dumb overregulation, are shocked when Condoleeza Rice is invited to speak at an American university, and turned away because students protest. Environmentalists suggest prison terms for people who claim that global warming is natural. People are laid off, but will not get severance pay unless they train the foreign workers who will replace them. Scandals erupt throughout the government, but no one is ever fired. Veterans are denied medical care, but the promised changes never take place. Government workers who break the law are placed on paid leave, instead of being dismissed.

Detainees are released from Gitmo, and turn up as spokesmen for al-Qaeda. Relations are resumed with a nasty little Communist dictatorship just south of Florida, who continue to abuse their people and emphasize that they will change nothing at all — in return for a resumption of trade. Immigration laws are ignored, the borders are ignored as well, and illegals flow into the country to be distributed to every state. Obama makes speeches about the importance of constitutional law regarding appointment of a judge to replace the distinguished Antonio Scalia, but notes that he has a phone and a pen, and he cannot be bothered to attend the distinguished jurist’s funeral.

The American people are indeed angry. But their anger is somewhat misplaced. It is not “the establishment” that is turning loose drug pushers to go back to the streets in the name of “prison reform.” It’s not “the establishment” that is letting convicted criminal illegal aliens back into the country to commit more crimes. It’s not “the establishment” that made an impossible deal with Iran that practically assures that we will be attacked with nuclear weapons. It is not “the establishment” that has so weakened our national security that we are warned to expect a direct attack from ISIS this summer. And it’s not the establishment that stuck us with ObamaCare, nor “the establishment” that has reduced our army to the smallest since 1940 and the Navy the smallest since 1915. Nor is it “the establishment”  that has given us the worst economic recovery in the last 70 years.

I think we need to do some serious reassessing.

ADDENDUM: “White college students are undergoing a weekly “deconstructing whiteness” program at Northwestern University. The ‘6-part’ workshop series for undergraduate students who self-identify as white” launched in January and runs through March according to the university’s website.” The program is voluntary, but comes under the rubric of “Social Justice Education.” Forgive me, but there is no such thing as “social justice”— we have one kind of justice in the United States of America which involves the Constitution, the body of laws, the courts, the judicial system and the officers of the law. Northwestern University declined to give any details.

F.I.R.E. reports that 33 “public colleges have elected to ignore a deadline to respond to the House Judiciary Committee’s request to adopt new speech codes on campus. Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, asked 160 schools to change at least one of their existing policies after a FIRE report showed that these schools substantially restricted their students’ free speech rights.”




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