American Elephants


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Remarks on Iran by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal, and the administration will continue to provide the relief from sanctions as called for by the agreement. He added that “Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods.”

Today he explained more thoroughly and more specifically Iran’s role as a leading sponsor of terrorism. He made it abundantly clear that the nuclear deal is not satisfactory, and that the United States government is engaged in a very thorough review of our policies dealing with Iran.

Secretary Tillerson characterized the Iran deal as “another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions,” comparing it to North Korea. He said “we buy them off for a short period of time, and then someone has to deal with it later.” The current administration does not plan to follow that example.

Our policy is still being discussed, there is clearly sharp disagreement within the administration as to how to proceed. The Obama administration’s illusions have left it successors in a difficult position. There are no clear or good options, but we have in this new administration deep experience in dealing with such problems. Today’s tough speech is a good start, to let that part of the world know that there has been a significant change in the American posture. The grown-ups are now in charge.



Terminally Annoyed by The Left. by The Elephant's Child

In the waiting room at the veterinarian today,  I was reading the new May copy of the Seattle Met magazine. Featured article concerned the tragic people who hailed from the countries affected by Trump’s travel ban, before it was halted by illegal judicial hold. (The order from the Seattle judge was clearly improper, because the president has clear authority under the Constitution to do precisely what he did.) It was, however, upheld by the 9th Circuit, which is so far left that it has become the most overruled circuit in history. Nevertheless, the magazine apparently went to print before this all became apparent, so their article was intended as a pity piece of how these people were suffering under the abusive Trump order, which only lasted for 6 months in any case.

Some abuse. Some of the seven people were students, another was unable to return home to visit because he then would not be able to get back in the U.S. There was no discussion of how long these people had been in this country, whether they were working/applying for citizenship, illegal or what. It was a sad tale of presidential abuse, and a typical leftist trick of attempting to conflate the entire immigration issue.

The Left wants open borders. They believe that immigrants will be more apt to become Democrat voters, particularly when immigration from countries like Cuba has been halted by the Obama administration. Escaping from a Communist country suggests that they might not automatically become Democrats. Obama worked hard at distributing refugees to voting districts where they might alter the future vote, or where increasing  population numbers would shift the vote.

To achieve their ends, Leftists work hard at failing to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, ignore drug-dealing, sex-trafficking, and murderous gangs that have accompanied Obama’s lax border controls. Americans who object to illegal immigrants are supposed to be the bad people, not the illegals (“No human is illegal” say the signs). The fact that most countries have far more restrictive immigration laws than we had under the Obama administration is never mentioned. Mexico has a wall on their southern border, with guard towers, I believe. Canada’s immigration laws are more restrictive than ours. “We are a nation of immigrants” they proclaim, as if that had anything to do with anything. Apparently the United States is the only country in the world that is supposed to have completely open borders, and if you don’t believe that — you are a bad person.

This is false. We are quite entitled to admit those who are most apt to be a benefit or can contribute the most to the United States, and those who most want to become Americans. That is only basic common sense.

The Left wants cheap foreign workers to replace high cost Americans. Disney’s forcing high-tech workers to train their cheaper replacements or risk losing any severance pay was a dramatically ugly act. Wealthy Leftists desire for cheap servants isn’t very attractive either. There are real long-term concerns about Muslim immigrants who want to replace the American constitution with Sharia law—we should never admit anyone who arrives wanting to overthrow our government. You are not a bad person to expect such standards.

These are the tactics of the Left, and the reason for all the names we are called— racist, bigot, nativist, etc. etc. etc. If you do not think their way, you are a bad person. How many times lately have you hesitated in something you thought or said, because of what the Left might think of you?

But then, when we welcome the new dishes and foods immigrants bring as they open restaurants, we are accused of “cultural appropriation,”so there you go.



Victor Davis Hanson’s Take on the Decline and Fall of the Left by The Elephant's Child



An Inherited Catastrophe, A Quick Response by The Elephant's Child

Bashar Assad’s Sarin attack on the Ghowa agricultural region just outside Damascus, which has been held by rebels, was also an attack on International Law. The attacks came in early morning hours when many were still asleep. Initial estimates of the numbers of dead range upwards of 1,400, including way too many children.

Headlines in the media ranged from an irresponsible “TRUMP DECLARES WAR,” to less bellicose statements, but few recognized the very limited nature of the act. It would have been more accurately described as a direct response on the specific Syrian airfield from which the Sarin gas attacks were launched, to put that airfield out of business— and prevent further attacks. It was a correct and immediate response.

President Trump has received wide support from world leaders.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande in a joint statement said “President Assad bears sole responsibility for this development. His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own population had to be sanctioned.” British Prime Minister Theresa May said the action was an “appropriate response.” Israel, Australia, Japan, Italy all expressed their support for American action and condemned the use of chemical weapons. Even Erdogan’s Turkey expressed support. The use of chemical weapons is an international war crime.

Russia predictably denounced the strike as an “act of aggression against a UN member,” and said they would demand an urgent UN Security Council meeting. Iran also condemned the US strike.

Hollywood celebrities chimed in with commentary on Twitter in about the manner you would expect. Perhaps someday they will learn that their commentary is not valued for its international expertise, but for the humor.

Barack Obama drew a Red Line in Syria, then failed to follow through and  essentially told the world that they could act with impunity, and America would do nothing. Always a mistake. Russia moved in as a military patron and Iran has become Assad’s protector on the ground with arms supplies and Hezbollah.

The next step should be to establish safe zones in Syria, with protection from possible attacks. The Wall Street Journal said:

Every military operation carries risks but this one could also have major political and strategic benefits if Mr. Trump follows the air strike with some forceful diplomacy. The demonstration of renewed U.S. purpose in the region could have an electrifying impact across the Middle East. The Saudis, the Gulf Sunni states and Turkey would begin to rethink their accommodation to the Russia-Assad-Iran axis of dominance that none of them wants.

Mr. Trump also needs to make Russia and Iran begin to pay a price for their support for Mr. Assad’s depredations. They have had no incentive to negotiate an end to the civil war because they see themselves on the road to a relatively cost-free victory. That calculus may change if it looks like the costs of intervening are rising and Mr. Assad is no longer a sure winner.

The Journal added:

The larger point for Mr. Trump to recognize is that he is being tested. The world—friend and foe—is watching to see how he responds to Mr. Assad’s war crime. His quick air strike on the evening he was having dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping makes clear that the Obama era is over. If he now follows with action to protect Syrian civilians and construct an anti-Assad coalition, he may find that new strategic possibilities open up to enhance U.S. interests and make the Middle East more stable.

ADDENDUM: The missile strikes were delivered while President Trump was having dinner at Mar -a-Lago with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Presumably the Chinese President took notice, as did the rest of the world. A bit of a wake-up call. New administration in town.



Assigned Reading: Sunday, March 26, 2017 by The Elephant's Child

I hardly know where to start. Let’s begin with Left 3.0″ by Tod Lindberg at the Hoover Institution ( Feb.1, 2013).

The Left’s passion for equality begins with the pursuit of greater economic equality, but it doesn’t end there. The Left has also long been in pursuit of equality in the matter of identity. “Identity” is a concept that substantially modifies the principle that individuals have rights. An identity is something one has in common with others. Identity puts people in groups, and societies have long assigned status on the basis of identity — in many instances, in the view of the Left, improperly so. Some statuses have been improperly privileged, for example, white males in racist and sexist societies. And some statuses have been improperly denigrated, for example, gay men in homophobic societies. The Left has long sought to bring down the status of the privileged and elevate the status of the denigrated. This, too, is the pursuit of equality.

On Sept.27.2016, before the election, Angelo Codevilla wrote a piece for The Claremont Review of Books titled “After the Republic” that was remarkably prescient. It’s long, but worth reviewing for a good sense of where we were:

Never before has such a large percentage of Americans expressed alienation from their leaders, resentment, even fear. Some two-thirds of Americans believe that elected and appointed officials—plus the courts, the justice system, business leaders, educators—are leading the country in the wrong direction: that they are corrupt, do more harm than good, make us poorer, get us into wars and lose them. Because this majority sees no one in the political mainstream who shares their concerns, because it lacks confidence that the system can be fixed, it is eager to empower whoever might flush the system and its denizens with something like an ungentle enema.

In Orbis, Summer 2002, Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte wrote a long piece about “Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism: The Future of the Ideological Civil War Within the West.”

Nearly a year before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, wire service stories gave us a preview of the transnational politics of the future. It was reported on October 24, 2000, that in preparation for the UN Conference Against Racism, about fifty American nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sent a formal letter to UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson calling on the UN “to hold the United States accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination” that “men and women of color face at the hands of the U.S. criminal justice system.”

This one I have as a printout. When I called it up, it came as a PDF, and beyond my ability to figure out how to get the text to you. Enter this in your search engine ( Orbis/Summer 2002 /Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism ) and you will receive a download. It’s worth your time to grasp just what is going on and where we are.

Ernest Sternberg, professor at the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York, in December 2010 published “Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For” Again, enter this:
https://www:researchgate.net/publication/222675491 ) in your search engine and you will get a PDF download.  From the Abstract:

The past decade has seen the coalescence of a new ideology that envisions social movements in a cataclysmic struggle against global capitalist Empire. Controlled  by U.S. militarism and multinational corporations, in cahoots with Zionism, Empire contaminates environments and destroys cultures. Its defeat will bring about a new era of social justice and sustainable development, in which the diverse cultures harmoniously share the earth. Is this a totalitarian ideology? From fascist and communist precedents, we learn that lovers of renewed humanity are not sufficiently motivated by abstract ideals. They must also identify humanity’s enemy, the cause of all suffering. Equipped with a scapegoat, diverse communities can achieve solidarity through shared execration. (emphasis added)

The new ideology is most clearly identified by what it opposes. Its enemy is the global monolith called Empire, which exerts systemic domination over human lives, mainly from the United States. Empire does so by means of economic liberalism, militarism, multinational corporations, corporate media and technologies of surveillance, in cahoots with, or under the thrall of Empire’s most sinister manifestation, namely Zionism. So far there is no controversy—these points will be readily admitted by advocates as well as critics. … (emphasis added)

Through bundist struggles, “A Better World is Possible” (the World Social Forum’s slogan). That world will be environmentally clean, culturally harmonious, and politically just. The new life’s advent will occur when harmonious, and politically just. The new life’s advent will occur when networked bunds triumph over Empire and purge societies of their toxicity.

Whereas capitalism creates and destroys and is constantly changing, the new order will be sustainable. It will run on alternative energy, organic farming, local food markets, and closed-loop recyclable industry, if any industry is needed. People will travel on public transit, or ride cars that tread lightly on the earth, or even better ride bicycles. They will occupy green buildings constructed of local materials and inhabit cities growing organically within bioregions. Life will be liberated from carbon emanations. It will be a permanent, placid way of life in which economies are integrated into the earth’s ecosystem.

The new world will also achieve cultural purity. By “culture” purification does not mean interesting folkways, nor simply heritage, and certainly not any literary and musical canon. Rather, culture is the offspring of folk-spirit: that mysterious life-source from which identity, meaning and pride emerge. It is found in indigenous life-style, local habitat, feeling of community, and the heady experience of fringe art. Even communities that may have little left by way of traditions can look inward, perhaps just to their shared experience of oppression, for the folk-spirit from which to extract identity and pride.

While global corporations produce the artificial psuedo-culture that serves Empire’s interests, communities possess or can rediscover real culture. These culture-communities are organic in two senses. First, like organic food, they are pure rather than adulterated. Second, they are integral totalities rather than associations of free individuals.

The United States is 1: “the Enemy of Humanity” and 2: Israel also “the Enemy of Humanity. If you search YouTube for Ernest Sternberg, there is a video of a talk he gave largely about how come Israel emerged as the enemy. Also gives you a look at Dr, Sternberg.

I’m giving you a lot of reading. Don’t fail to do it. We have to understand what the hell is happening. It seems quite impossible that anyone could actually believe this claptrap — but that’s why they call it an ideology.  Sternberg says that an early proponent was Hugo Chavez. Yes, that Hugo Chavez. It all is, of course, a kind of neo-communism, or as an essay yesterday in American Greatness  brilliantly called it “Americanism vs. Marxist-Lennonism” derived from John Lennon’s “Imagine”

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man.

The trouble, of course, is human nature. They always find it abhorrent and want to fix it, without the slightest understanding that it is immutable and can never, never be “fixed.” That’s when all the purification dies and they get all totalitarian.



Consequences. There Are Always Consequences. by The Elephant's Child

James P. Rubin, a former assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration wrote a piece in Politico Thursday that called German Chancellor Angela Merkel the “leader of the free world,” largely for her role in taking in Middle Eastern ‘migrants.’ Rubin worked in Hillary’s failed 2008 campaign and was an advisor to Clinton.

“Angela Merkel, whether she wants the job or not, is the West’s last, best hope,” was the subtitle. Rubin claimed that by taking in some one million “refugees,” Merkel assumed the mantle of “moral leadership.”

The German chancellor is the only leader in Europe who even has a plausible claim to moral leadership. As a victim of Soviet communism, Merkel was always going to be listened to carefully on the question of morality. And given her longevity she was always going to be respected. But it was her unexpected decision to accept some 1 million refugees that established her moral credentials, especially since no other political leader has taken such a political risk.

At PJ Media, Michael Walsh points out that Merkel,

more than anyone, is the woman who destroyed the notion of European cultural cohesion, the unity of its history, and its Western identity. Her folly in throwing open the borders of the European Union (which is itself a Franco-German political fantasy now coming unglued) to the “migrant” hordes of an invading Islamic world will reverberate for decades to come. In an effort to replace the German population — which, largely thanks to its women, is almost wholly uninterested in reproducing itself — the childless chancellor could only see a mechanical solution to a problem of reproductive biology, without ever once (in true East German fashion) asking herself why.

Iben Thranholm is one of Denmark’s most widely read columnists who focuses on political and social events focusing on their religious aspects, significance and moral implications. She was asked how Denmark views Sweden and Europe’s demographic future? She answered: “With absolute horror.”

The Swedish media, which is quite pro-government and its leftwing policies, does not always report the full extent of the problems in their society. So it is hard to have a very accurate picture of what is going on. But we in Denmark have a good sense. We are very aware of the murders, rapes, riots, violence and the hand grenades that go on there. This does not often make the news but we know it is going on. And we don’t want to go down the same route. 

This is the result of decades of policies promoting multiculturalism in Sweden. And what is left is this hollow house. You know, in the Bible it is said that if a house is left swept, tidied and unoccupied it eventually it will be taken over by evil. And I fear that this is what is happening in Sweden. Far from being a multicultural paradise, the problems can no longer remain hidden.

Every few weeks or days, there is another report of an attack on the public in Europe. Yet nobody admits that there is a problem. Sweden, most of all, seems to be trying to cover up, hide, and neglect to mention things that clearly are going haywire, because if they acknowledged it, they would have to do something about it.

That may be the characteristic that is behind the populism, nationalism and revolt against governments that is moving through all the Western societies. Governments have tried to cover up their own failings, shove things aside till later, fail to address matters directly and eventually it reaches a boiling point.

Yet, yet—Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced he will step down after his anti-Trump vow to hire 10,000 Muslim Refugees because of Trump’s supposed “Muslim ban” backfired substantially. Consumer perceptions of the company dropped by two thirds. Aside from politics, there’s a significant portion of young people who can’t find jobs.  But how interesting that the idea that Muslims from 7 countries cannot be vetted to be sure they are not members of ISIS or alQaeda never occurred to him. They are refugeeees and we have to help them so we will be perceived as good people. That was the Swedish mindset.

Over and over, you will find Leftists changing the dialogue from a straightforward analysis of the issues to one which will allow them to feel like good people, doing good and kind things. Sanctuary cities, jobs for refugees, open borders, welcoming illegal aliens — Howard Schultz is a billionaire and his ‘kindnesses’ will not affect him personally.



We Have Separate Conversations Going On Here, And We Don’t Seem to Speak the Same Language by The Elephant's Child

Early today I watched a video of the first press briefing for the State Department under new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for the Trump administration. It was over an hour long, conducted by Mark Toner who has been in the job for a number of years, is very competent, and knows most of the journalists present. I’ve seen excerpts of these things before, but this was the first time I have watched the whole thing.

I found it somewhat astonishing, for the liberal journalists trouble in grasping the distinctions among immigrants, illegal immigrants, refugees and the countries involved. They were really having a hard time understanding why some refugees should be turned away at the border, for example—why would we not allow refugees from Iran who didn’t like the government there. Certainly not all Iranians liked the government, why wouldn’t we accept those people? They clearly just didn’t grasp that we cannot tell or vet those who come from a nation that wants to destroy us, nor can we tell who is a jihadi and who is not.

I’ve been mulling over these language distinctions for some time. for it seems that Journalists just don’t grasp that when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his people in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”— that is exactly what he really means, and what his government is working for. That there isn’t really any way to tell the good people from the jihadis, and the next terrorist attack may hit their D.C. neighborhood. They are involved with the news, but they don’t grasp the nature of the world.

Rex Tillerson has said that we have been paying the UN for years to monitor and control North Korea’s experimentation with nuclear weapons and it has not worked at all, so perhaps it is time to try something different. I would add that when Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un had his older step-brother executed in another country, and just recently executed five of his supporters who offended him with anti-aircraft cannons, that something different is probably what is needed. I just don’t get the feeling that these journalists get it, and they are still out wandering around in issues of diversity and social justice. But perhaps I am unjust.

A very large issue is the one of religion. Two federal District Judges, one from Seattle and one from Hawaii, have issued stays on President Trump’s Executive Orders, which issued a 90 day ban on immigration from seven countries selected by the Obama administration because immigrants or refugees from those countries cannot be vetted adequately. Why would we have any special concern for Christian refugees?

The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… That seem so straightforward and clear. Congress cannot make any laws that establish a state religion. ( No Church of England here) Yet that First Amendment has caused an amazing amount of trouble as people try to overthink and over dissect the words. If a Christian cross is displayed on federal land is that “establishing a religion?” Do the Little Sisters of the Poor have to support abortion for their workers in spite of the fact that their religion prohibits abortion?

So the question becomes—what happens if the religion in question wants to destroy the United States of America because our existence conflicts with their religion. Do al-Qaeda and ISIS represent the Islamic religion, or are they something separate? Do they get to try to destroy us because they don’t believe in our Constitution or religions, and we have to refrain from fighting them because of freedom of religion? When you spell out the questions that arise, it clarifies things, but a full discussion becomes ever more necessary. And the questions that arise are litigated and re-litigated.

The Federal District Judge in Seattle and the Federal District Judge in Hawaii are dragging in casual remarks from the difficult election campaign as if that had anything to do with the President’s Executive Order. They can’t do that. The only thing they have to consider are the exact words of the Executive Order. They cannot drag in extraneous things. Federal Judges get a lifetime appointment and cannot be removed by Congress, though they can be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” So this will all have to go to the Supreme Court.

Our Founders were a lot closer to the European Wars of Religion 1524-1646, following the Protestant Reformation. That ended with the Peace of Westphalia, which recognized three separate Christian traditions in the Holy Roman empire: Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Calvinism.That was followed by the British Civil Wars or The Wars of the Three Kingdoms: England, Scotland and Ireland. The Reformation of the Church of England, begot Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and the breakdown of state-controlled religious conformity bred an explosion of radical denominations: Ranters, Baptists, Diggers, Levelers and Quakers. The New England colonies were settled by Puritans, Pennsylvania by Quakers, the Carolinas by Presbyterians, and Virginia by the Church of England, and they changed as they were established in America. All fascinating, but necessary to understand at least a little, when we get into simple questions about freedom of religion.

To circle back to where I started, I got no feeling that the reporters at the State Department briefing had any understanding of the real nature of the religious questions involved. Religion is those backwoods people clinging to their Bibles and guns, or something like that. It undoubtedly plays a major part in our current problems with the mainstream media. Our conversations are not about real things, but about social justice, race, diversity, pronouns, race, safe spaces and snowflakes. We’ve got some very real problems out there and they remain essentially unrecognized.

 




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