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.



Never Fear, DHS Is Keeping Us Safe! by The Elephant's Child

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In March, Fox News reported that dozens of airport employees across the country have potential ties to terrorists, and now officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) admit that only three American airports require workers to go through security checks. This startling admission was delivered this week before a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. It  comes in the wake of a number of cases involving gun and drug-smuggling schemes conducted by airline employees at major American airports including those in Atlanta, New York and San Francisco.

Airport workers in each of the cases used their security badges to access secured areas without going through any checkpoints. Only three of the nation’s 300 airports, Miami, Orlando and Atlanta, actually require employees to pass security checks before starting to work. There is evidence of much illicit activity among airport workers. Government records obtained by the media found that 73 employees at nearly 40 airports across the country were found to have ties to terror organizations in a June 2015 report from the Inspector General’s office.Those files identified two at Logan International in Boston, four at Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta and six at Sea-Tac in Seattle.

There is an Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which meets four times a year to advise TSA.  Members include representatives from the trade unions involved like the Cargo Airline Association, and United Brotherhood of Carpenters. for example. They reported that most airports can’t afford daily screenings, and it wouldn’t “appreciably increase the overall system-wide protection” and added that “no single measure can provide broad-spectrum protection against risks or adversaries.” They concluded the screening of airport workers “is incapable of determining a person’s motivations, attitudes and capabilities to cause harm, among other limitations..” So, you see, screening isn’t really necessary at all. Not to worry.



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. …



It’s all Falling Apart, Or Is It Just Us? by The Elephant's Child

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Everybody’s angry, we are told. The comments on most websites that discuss the news or politics have turned dark and mean and accusative.  It is a strange political year. Very accomplished Republican governors have dropped out, the people with real qualifications have given up, apparently because the public wants an ‘outsider’, because they no longer trust the ‘insiders’. So we are in the process of choosing a new president. The Democrats’ bench is thin. There are no particularly successful governors, and Democrat run states are basket cases. They have turned to an elderly socialist and an elderly former first lady with many titles and few accomplishments.

I think we misunderstand the “anger” and misplace the blame. We have entered a new age of instant, incomplete, biased, false and true information that we don’t know how to sort or how to manage. Our schools claim to be teaching “critical thinking” but mostly teach “social justice” instead —unfortunately there is no such thing.

Newspapers are dying, but proliferating online. Added to the formal gleanings from the journalism profession, ordinary people are adding their thoughts and opinions on blogs. But who can you trust, and how do you find real information?

Fact-checking websites like Politifact and Snopes have multiplied, but they don’t always get their facts right. Photographs have always been able to deceive, which is why you hate some photographs of yourself, but with Photoshop to alter them, a photograph no longer represents reliable truth. And now there is Twitter for instant connection to the latest in — what? Smart remarks or the latest in real insight? And there’s Facebook for selfies and what you had for dinner last night. And many, many more social media websites, and of course, the Kardashians.

The general impression is that everything is falling apart. America is in retreat internationally as the threats grow. We recognize the threats, but they cannot be called by name. As the terror and attacks increase, we reduce the size and capability of the world’s finest military to its state before World War II. The administration lies. The Media lies. The Constitution is deliberately ignored.

Police are attacked as they attempt to protect the people, cities declare themselves “sanctuary cities” and refuse to obey federal law.  The president releases convicted criminals because convicting people for selling dangerous addictive drugs that ruin lives is racist. Landlords cannot refuse to rent to convicted criminals.

The feminist drive to eliminate gender proceeds and there is no longer sanctuary even in the bathroom. Political correctness is judged more important than accuracy and government is more the problem than any solution. The administration expects to fix human nature by more closely regulating the people, and giving themselves more power.  We know that’s not going to work, but what will?



Rising Threats: Shrinking Military. Three Former Secretaries of Defense Speak Out. by The Elephant's Child


“Bret Baier talks with Mr. Obama’s three former defense secretaries, who all agree: inexperienced paranoid Obama staffers tried to micromanage the war on terror from the White House, believing that the military had it in for Obama, and shade their views to please the president. Taken together, it’s quite a damning portrait of a president deeply in over his head, and a world out of control as a result:”

In an interview with the New Yorker in 2008, the new President Obama said confidently:

I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.

That’s a quote that will continue to haunt him. But he hasn’t done a very good job of hiring aides and advisors. He has ignored the advice of the most capable, and paid too much attention to the sycophants. It’s all to easy to lap up the flattery from those who want to please, but  when capable advisors tell you that you’re making a mistake — you’d better listen.



Catastrophic Global Warming? Don’t Make Me Laugh! by The Elephant's Child

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From Investors: Another Climate Alarmist Admits Real Motive Behind Warming Scare

“Fraud: While the global warming alarmists have done a good job of spreading fright, they haven’t been so good at hiding their real motivation. Yet another one has slipped up and revealed the catalyst driving the climate scare. …

Have doubts? then listen to the words of former United Nations climate official Ottmar Edenhofer:”

“One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole,” said Edenhofer, who co-chaired the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group on Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015.

So what is the goal of environmental policy?

“We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy,” said Edenhofer.

If you remember, I have several times quoted Christiana Figureres, executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change who said last year:

This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said in anticipation of last year’s Paris climate summit.

“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

These are people who do not feel that they are making anything other than natural statements about the correct and true goals of all right-thinking people. We’ve run into those people before. It never ends well.



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.




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