American Elephants


The Comey Affair And the Fallout by The Elephant's Child

An interesting Tuesday. The White House announced that FBI Director Comey had been asked to step down, and would be replaced. Well, an explosion of he said, she said, and what it all meant. Senator Charles Schumer always right on top of things pontificated that this was a disaster for the Trump administration, as it made clear that the White House was deeply worried about what the FBI investigation of the Trump connections to Russia and Russian influence, and Russian interference in our election, and Russian spying, all of which was clearly an attempt to cover up deep very dark secrets and we needed an independent prosecutor right now. He was very positive about the whole thing, and hopefully setting the tone for the future.

Unfortunately, most of us can remember as far back as day before yesterday, when Schumer and associates were demanding that President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey for his interference in the election and spoiling the election and keeping Hillary from winning. It’s also funny how this older generation of Progressives keep forgetting that there’s You Tube to capture a video of everything said and who said it and when, and if in doubt, you can call it all up on your computer. It’s a whole new world and really hard for politicians who just aren’t used to being recorded for all posterity.

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Oh Good Lord, Another March, And Another! by The Elephant's Child

There was a “march” on Saturday, this one for the Climate, just when Energy Department Undersecretary Steven Koonin admitted that in the Obama administration they manipulated the scientific data about the climate to mislead the public. Marches have become so common that I completely missed this one, which was apparently financed by George Soros, all-purpose villain, to the tune of $36 million. But a march for the climate, how perfectly silly. This charming shot is of the aftermath of the march by the folks who care so much about the planet, and recycling, and the pristine outdoors.

Today is May Day, no longer a sweet holiday to celebrate the coming of spring with maypoles and such, but time for another march. You have probably noticed that all these marches are just anti-Trump and have no other real purpose. When May Day became a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes as a propaganda tool, where they could show off their military might and big weapons. Ilya Somin recommends using the day to remind the world of the victims  as a Victims of Communism Day. The one hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution—the Bolshevik takeover of Russia.

The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the Soviet victims as a total of 90 to 100 million dead, greater than all the other tyrannies combined. Yet we still have useful idiots who are just sure that Communism is a better system.

The Soviet Union was not the most oppressive communist regime. It probably did not match the even more thoroughgoing totalitarianism of the Khmer Rouge and North Korea. Nor did it kill the most people – a record held by Mao Zedong the Chinese communists. But the Soviet experiment was the principal model for all the later communist states, and it is hard to imagine communists seizing control of so much of the world without it.

So we have thousands of college students who are so ignorant of history that Communism seems quaint, and Bernie Sanders is cute with his great  shock of white hair and lifelong enthusiasm for socialism. Obama opens relations with communist Cuba and all the lefties are anxious to visit and see the charming old cars and crumbling buildings.

We are having a march in Seattle for May Day, workers’ rights,  communism and, of course,  mostly anti-Trump. They carry signs, but they can’t spell or make sense. Tiresome.  In Portland, they are more violent and are breaking windows and setting fires in the street.

Are marches loosing their effectiveness or was there never any effectiveness to begin with? A happy May Day to all, and perhaps we’d better go back to Maypoles and flower baskets and a welcome to Spring.

 



Clear Language Matters. Make Fine Distinctions, Insist on Free Speech and Clear Speech. by The Elephant's Child

The situation in Syria was not only an affront to international law, but a probe of sorts to test the new president of the United States. President Trump’s response was prompt and direct, but careful. It was not, as the Democrats try to claim, the start of a war, or a sign of the belligerence of an out-of-control administration. It was a very specific and limited missile strike against the specific airbase that had launched the Sarin Gas attack on Syrian rebels by their own administration. Because it was directed  so specifically, it announced that poison gas attacks were simply not acceptable, and this strike was a clear warning that we are a powerful nation and we are capable of much more. There will be no more statements of “red lines” that are not observed.

America means business. It was not, as has been claimed, an attack on Assad. The Russians and Syrians were warned, so there would be little or no loss of life. These distinctions are important. The free world approved.

Democrats are not good at distinctions. They are more comfortable with generalities. Hillary was interviewed by the New York Times Nicholas Kristof at the “Women in the World” summit. Kristof asked Hillary:

I have to ask fundamentally, a man who bragged about sexual assault won the election and won 53 percent of the white women’s vote. What does that say about the challenges that one faces in women’s empowerment, that in effect misogyny won with a lot of women voters?

In the first place, Trump did not brag about sexual assault. He spoke of women and celebrity and said that when you are a celebrity, some women will let you do anything you want to them.  He did not say that he had done anything.

Hillary immediately blamed everything on identity politics: misogynyshe lost because she is a woman. The country is just not ready for  the first woman president. Fine distinctions: Hillary ran for the presidency because she wanted to be the first woman president, not because there were things she wanted to do to improve the country or help Americans. That’s why her brief career in the Senate was marked only by a bill to name a post office, and her career as Secretary of State resulted only in Benghazi and a record amount of air travel miles. There were no accomplishments. The change was her gender. She promised to continue all the accomplishments of the Obama administration but to do it as a woman.

Nikki Haley, a woman, has made a real difference in her brief time as Ambassador to the United Nations. People are already suggesting that she can be the first woman president. She has demonstrated over and over competence, authority, determination, and things have shifted because of it.

In this strange new universe, a real-estate developer and reality-TV celebrity with no political experience whatsoever, obviously won the election because he is a man. Identity politics is the controlling theme. You can be decide your identity and your gender by your feelings of the moment, which, making fine distinctions — is clearly nuts.

The Left, in their drive for ever more control, believe that when they achieve full control,  they will fix human nature, so we are all more complacent and cooperative. Unfortunately human nature is immutable, unchanging and quite definitely unfixable.

Insist on fine distinctions. Don’t let them get away with sloppy thinking. Insist on free speech. Hold college and university authorities to task for allowing bad behavior to destroy the educational process. Speak out.

Surely you have noticed that what the Left advocates are abstractions. Social justice —there is no such thing. We have laws and courts, and they don’t do social justice. Equality —you can have equality under the law, but you can’t make people equal, some are smarter, some are more beautiful, some are stronger, some are older. Diversity—to the Left refers only to skin color, certainly not to diversity of ideas. Our values —one of Obama’s favorites, “that’s not who we are as Americans.”



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.



How to Think About Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. by The Elephant's Child

In Imprimus, the free monthly publication of Hillsdale College, always interesting, Christopher Caldwell, senior editor at The Weekly Standard, takes on “How to Think About Vladimir Putin.” He stresses that he is not telling anyone what to think about the Russian President, but only how to think about him. In a period when the Democrats are just sure that Putin intervened in the election to defeat Hillary Clinton with the cooperation of Donald Trump, this is what fuels the fury. If Hitler were conveniently still alive they would be sure he was trying to defeat Hillary too. But I found this piece fascinating, and a corrective I needed.

Vladimir Vladimirovich is not the president of a feminist NGO. He is not a transgender-rights activist. He is not an ombudsman appointed by the United Nations to make and deliver slide shows about green energy. He is the elected leader of Russia—a rugged, relatively poor, militarily powerful country that in recent years has been frequently humiliated, robbed, and misled. His job has been to protect his country’s prerogatives and its sovereignty in an international system that seeks to erode sovereignty in general and views Russia’s sovereignty in particular as a threat.

By American standards, Putin’s respect for the democratic process has been fitful at best. He has cracked down on peaceful demonstrations. Political opponents have been arrested and jailed throughout his rule. Some have even been murdered—Anna Politkovskaya, the crusading Chechnya correspondent shot in her apartment building in Moscow in 2006; Alexander Litvinenko, the spy poisoned with polonium-210 in London months later; the activist Boris Nemtsov, shot on a bridge in Moscow in early 2015. While the evidence connecting Putin’s own circle to the killings is circumstantial, it merits scrutiny. …

When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that. In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Atatürk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he rescued a nation-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.

Here’s the whole article, do read the whole thing, you’ll be glad you did. And you might consider subscribing to Imprimus. It’s free and informative.



The Russia Flap, The Russia Flap. The Russia Flap by The Elephant's Child

One of the people to whom I always pay attention is Victor Davis Hanson. His views of the world today are formed and influenced by his deep knowledge of history, the patterns of thought that descend from the Greek Classics down to today’s world, and are well-seasoned by plain old common sense that comes from a background in farming and coping with the vicissitudes of weather and regulation.

His article “The Russian Farce” from National Review is a masterpiece in today’s strange world where every public or private word that can be nit-picked — will be, ominous meanings will be attached and debated, and the Democrats really need to take a couple of aspirin and lie down for a while and maybe they’ll feel better. Hysteria is not becoming.

In the same manner, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev was often portrayed in the media as the urbane, suave, and reasonable conciliator, while President Ronald Reagan was depicted as the uncouth disrupter of what could have been improved Russian–American relations.

Senator Ted Kennedy reportedly reached out to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov in 1984 to gain his help in denying Reagan his reelection.

In sum, the American Left always felt that Russia was unduly demonized by the American Right and was a natural friend, if not potential ally, of the United States. That tradition no doubt influenced the decision of the incoming Obama administration to immediately reach out to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, despite its recent aggressions in Georgia and steady crackdown on internal dissent, and despite Russia’s estrangement from the prior Bush administration.

Do read the whole thing. It disposes of the silly Russia flap quite thoroughly, should embarrass a whole bunch of reporters, and points out the drive to deny reality.



A Spy Mystery? A Political Coup Attempt? A Court of Fools? What On Earth Is Going On Here? by The Elephant's Child

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Well this is indeed interesting. Following up on the claims of contacts with the Russian ambassador, or Russians in general by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and/or the Trump campaign—which were quickly exposed as silly, since it was the Obama State Department that arranged the meeting with the ambassador, and it turns out that all 100 of the senators met with the Russian ambassador. Clearly evil. Then Democrat leaders who were expressing their dismay at Sessions contacts with the Russian ambassador were not only shown to have met with Russians, but pictures quickly appeared showing Vladimir Putin and Chuck Schumer together, and Nancy Pelosi sitting across the table from the ambassador she swore she had never met.

Democrats were still trying to figure out whether they had destroyed Jeff Sessions, who they are quite sure is a racist, but then it turns out the adorable little biracial child he was holding on his lap at his swearing in ceremony is his granddaughter. Obviously a bigot.

Next came the outraged tweet from President Trump asserting that the Obama Administration had wiretapped the Trump Tower campaign headquarters during the campaign. That’s getting serious. A spokesman for the Obama White House made it very clear that no one in the White House had ordered a wiretap. Which was a totally  waffling response. Only a judge can order a FISA wiretap, and you don’t order a judge to do it. Asking somehow wasn’t mentioned, so it all remains a mystery, doesn’t it?

I’m not sure what all the sudden interest in the Russians is. Everybody has met with the Russian ambassador, and he has been to the White House (Obama’s White House) many times, I think the number was 22, but that may not be correct. I guess they must be trying to prove that Russian interference cost Hillary the election, but that completely ignores the problem that no one could think of an accomplishment from Hillary’s travels as Secretary of State aside from her travel miles. Democrats insisted that Hillary’s emails and private server, which was open to any and all foreign hackers weren’t anything important, but then they found out that as governor of Indiana, Mike Pence had used his private email account to discuss state business, but it turned out that there is no law against Gov. Pence using a private email. And the Associated Press published the Governor’s wife’s email address, for which Vice President Pence has demanded, rightfully, an apology.

Sounds a lot more like a potential soap-opera script than a couple of days in the leading nation of the free world, but there you go.




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