American Elephants


Happy 100th Birthday to British Songstress Dame Vera Lynn by The Elephant's Child

Vera Lynn was the voice of home to British Soldiers wherever they served, and a great voice it was. Today she turns 100 years old, celebrated as a Dame of the British Empire.  When she was 78, she sang on the fiftieth anniversary of VE Day, the songs of the times: The White Cliffs of Dover, Land of Hope and Glory, I’ll Be Seeing You, Lili Marlene,



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.

 



How Intelligence Works by The Elephant's Child

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is a recipient of the U.S .National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the author of several books, including Real-World Intelligence and Hard Thinking, and many of his speeches are available on YouTube.

In the most recent copy of Imprimus, an excerpt from a recent speech on Intelligence is fascinating. “How Intelligence Works (When It Does)

Just utter the word “intelligence” and most people conjure up images of spies, secret satellites peering down on foreign cities and terrorist camps, and rooms full of young technocrats reading private emails and listening to private conversations. These images are accurate, but they reflect the tools and techniques of our intelligence service, rather than its purpose.

To understand its purpose, think of a jumbo jet flying at night through turbulent skies—thunder clouds, lightning, other airplanes streaking in all directions and at all altitudes. To navigate through this, the pilot and his crew rely on their radar—the instrument that paints a picture of their environment, enabling them to see what’s going on around them and what lies ahead so they can chart a safe course. Radar doesn’t tell the captain and his crew what to do, but it gives them the accurate information they’ll need to make good decisions.

Our intelligence service is our nation’s radar. Its purpose is to provide the president and his national security team with an accurate picture of what’s going on in the world and what’s likely to happen in the days, months, and years ahead. The assumption is that if the president and his team have this information, they can chart a safe course for our country. And if they can see the distant future soon enough and clearly enough—and if they don’t like what they see—they can take steps to change the future before it happens.

Good intelligence is a combination, he says, of information and insight. Information is the raw material, while insight is the finished product.The key to producing good intelligence lies in getting this combination of information and insight right. …You start with a thesis—in other words you decide what you want to know, then you send your collectors out to get it. The key is asking the right question.

In the period from the end of World War II until 1981, every president’s objective had been not to lose the Cold War. If things were no worse when a president left office than when he took office—he’d done a good job. President Reagan, instead, wanted to win the Cold War. He had switched from Defense to Offense. His Director of Central Intelligence asked the CIA’s Soviet Division  two questions. Where is the Soviet Union weak? and Where is it most vulnerable? The answer he received was: We don’t know. No one’s ever asked this before.

You can read the rest of this most interesting post at the link above.

Imprimus is a brief publication from Hillsdale College delivered to your email once a month. You can subscribe, it’s free. They also offer a number of free courses you can take. Hillsdale receives no federal money, remains stubbornly independent and teaches subjects like the Constitution and American History, things like that. No safe spaces, no riots. Excellent professors. Real education.



It Is Surpassingly Important that Lefties Feel Good About Themselves! by The Elephant's Child

Popular “virtue-signalling” sign. Completely irrational.

A new report from the Ohio Jobs and Justice Political Action Committee says that sanctuary cities are growing and 36 new locales have been added to the list of nearly 500 sanctuary cities. The group has been tracking sanctuary cities for over 10 years. This doesn’t seem  to be anything  that appears on a ballot, but rather the machinations of city councils—what they  are now calling “virtue-signalling” — or “see what a good person I am.”

What I don’t get is why anyone would assume that being a “Sanctuary City” in direct defiance of federal laws is a good thing, nor why protecting illegal aliens is to be considered admirable.  We have immigration laws. If you want to come to the United States to visit, to work, or to live and/or become a citizen, there are rules to protect both the immigrant and the American people.

Sanctuary Cities announce that because they want to be perceived as good people, they want to ignore the rules and regulations and let those who refuse to follow the law be protected from arrest or detention, no matter what they have done or plan to do. Is that stating it baldly enough? Why would you want to protect people, who have already demonstrated that they have no respect for the law— instead of your own citizens?

The Left likes to play with words, in this case attempting to confuse people’s perception of the difference between an illegal alien, an immigrant, a refugee, an H1B worker, and someone here on a visitor’s visa who has illegally overstayed. 

The same thing is being played out in President Trump’s Executive Order halting immigration from 7 countries selected by the Obama administration for 90 days until vetting procedures can be developed to cope with the absence of official sources in those countries to identify the would-be immigrants. This is not a ban on Muslim immigrants—there are far more Muslims in other countries who are not being banned at all.

These are countries where ISIS and alQaeda are prominent and who have announced that they are sending their fighters into our country to kill Americans. Seventy-two terrorists from these countries have been convicted in our courts.

More than 1800 refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have been resettled in this country in the period since a federal court judge  suspended key parts of an executive order dated Jan. 27 from these 7 nations. Unvetted. But they are refugeeeees! Maybe, maybe not. We can help far more actual refugees if we help them in areas near to their homes simply because it costs a lot more to resettle them here. As usual, what is most important to members of the Left is “a matter of their very flattering vision of themselves as people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited and create social justice” for all.

President Trump has rewritten his Executive Order, which was due to take effect but a Hawaii judge has issued the same sort of illegal halt that a Seattle District judge issued earlier. In this case it is really astonishing. The Hawaii District Judge said that he didn’t need to read the order, but that because Trump had spoken unfavorably about Muslims during the campaign, clearly he had animus against Muslims. He also included the objections of a local Muslim of Egyptian descent  who felt that he was discriminated against in spite of the fact that there was nothing in the Order that affected him in any way. Whew! The Constitution is absolutely clear that the President of the United States can exclude anyone he wants to from entering the United States. The Hawaii ruling will go to the Ninth Circuit which gets overruled constantly because they are so far left.

This is once again the Left, who are furious that Donald Trump won the election, furious that they have been decimated at every level of government, and so devoid of a “bench” that they are reduced to touting Chelsea Clinton, Al Franken and Senator Cherokee Cheekbones as potential candidates.

Democrats know they are in trouble, and have declared total war, and to heck with the Constitution. They are trying to use refugees and illegals to change the demographics of voting districts in a way more friendly to the Left. Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder plan to file lawsuits across the country in districts where lines have been redrawn, or ‘gerrymandered’ by Republicans, to find cause to flip them in a way more favorable to Democrats.

The idea that you can simply reject the results of an election because you don’t like the winning candidate is completely antithetical to American Law and American tradition. It is not a small matter, and should be taken seriously as an attack on the nation by those who do not care about American Law and American tradition.



Democrat Scandal-Mongering Amounts to Nothing at All by The Elephant's Child

Preet Bharara has been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was fired on Saturday, since he chose not to tender his resignation as the other U.S. Attorneys did. It is customary for U.S. Attorneys to resign when a new administration begins, as they serve at the pleasure of the president. Naturally this has been picked up by the Democrats, trying to make a scandal out of a normal function of government that takes place in every new administration.

James Freeman explains the dramatic situation at the Wall Street Journal:

At the start of the first week since 2009 in which Preet Bharara will not be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Manhattan residents are jamming local markets in search of emergency supplies of food and water.

Most shoppers are likely responding to a blizzard warning from the National Weather Service. But given the outsize press coverage of Mr. Bharara’s Saturday firing, one could easily assume that New Yorkers, especially those who work in media, are simply trying to cope with a bout of post-Preet depression.

This is another enormous attempt to create scandal out of nothing at all. Pay no attention.



The Decline and Fall of America’s Educational Excellence by The Elephant's Child

While the nation’s budget watchers pour, with horror,  over the numbers involved in student loans, it seems that students are spending their student loan money to have a really good spring break fun-in-the-sun trip. Perhaps that is an outgrowth of the Obama administration’s insistence that every young person should go to college. Or on the other hand, perhaps parents just put too much emphasis on what fun they had when they were in college. Unfortunately, Congress keeps upping the amount a student can borrow to go to college which directly results in colleges raising tuition. It’s a cycle that must be ended.

This comes in the wake of the riot at Middlebury. Students at Middlebury College in Vermont decided they could not tolerate opinions that differed from their own. Actually, they were acting on hearsay about the work of distinguished scholar Charles Murray, that came from sources such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they had no idea at all about Murray’s work or ideas. The protest resulted in a faculty member hospitalized. Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal suggests that this event may be a tipping point, though that is not at all sure. The news from our colleges is not, to say the least, encouraging.

Why are the Millennials Protesting?” asks a piece from Townhall.

As for the self-evident, self-centeredness of many millennials, this is partly the result of their upbringing and environment, as they have grown up in a culture of indulgence, a culture of narcissism, a culture of radical, leftist, campus ideology (which often revolves around “my feelings”), a culture of me-focused social media, which finds its ultimate expression in the selfie.

At Pitzer College, there is a current flap about white girls wearing hoop earrings, something claimed to be cultural appropriation of styles that belong to brown and black people. Who knew?

In response to student and faculty activists, Barnard college will divest from companies that “deny” climate change. They have not yet defined what makes one a denier.

Yet the college will not be divesting from fossil fuels in the traditional sense.

Instead, it will take an approach that no other college has taken before, divesting from companies that “deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Oddly enough, I have never heard of anyone who denies that the climate is always changing. It’s a natural process. Since the activity of the sun controls the warming and cooling of the planet, this does not promise to be a major point advancing the value of a Barnard education.

There has always been nonsense going on in our colleges. There was a time when it was as tame as goldfish swallowing and panty raids, but that devolved into the much more serious protests against the Vietnam War, largely because students were terrified of being drafted. Which in turn ended up with a lot of educational deferments by those who believed a PhD would keep them out of the war, and resulted in the leftist takeover of American education. Since professors help to choose the new faculty,  leftists did not endorse those who disagree with them politically. Add on the Frankfort School and you have today’s campus problems, and Leftist indoctrination of students.

The essence of all the protests and outrage at the injustices of the world, the renaming of college buildings that celebrated someone who once approved of slavery, and removal of statuary of unapproved forbears is on display. The kids are often away from home for the first time, and experiencing new things without much knowledge of either the present or the past, and the colleges are flush with moral outrage, which seems to be catching.  Reason sums it all up nicely in an article titled “Moral Outrage is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists.

When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don’t affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as “moral outrage”—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one’s own status as a Very Good Person.

The faculty at Middlebury is trying to back down in the face of the riot the protests developed into. Mizzou has had a distinct decline in enrollment, had to shut down some dorms and had a devastating attack on their funding. There are consequences. Faculty and administrators need to start acting like grownups. Bad behavior should not be tolerated, and if the colleges don’t react, their potential customers may well choose somewhere where bad behavior is not tolerated. There is the overall question of free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, not a bunch of adolescent students, but of basic manners and decent behavior.

Education does not involve comfortable wallowing in the same old ideas one brought to the institution. Students are expected to meet startling and surprising new ideas and new approaches to everything. There are no “safe spaces” in life, and empathy and moral outrage are not the path to coming face to face with the real world.
Businessmen are beginning to learn that customers aren’t necessarily in tune with business spouting politics. Organized protests are unneeded. People take their dollars elsewhere. Colleges and universities should be learning the same lesson. Mizzou will not be the only university to find their students gone elsewhere. Parents want their kids to learn, not to be indoctrinated in someone else’s politics.



The Middlebury College Disgrace: Leftism, Ignorance and Hate by The Elephant's Child

Last Thursday. March 2, the distinguished Professor Charles Murray was invited to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont on his most recent book Coming Apart and how it related to the recent election. Plans for protests began to emerge, encouraged by several faculty members. The logic, Dr. Murray says, that “since I am a racist, a white supremacist, a white nationalist, a psuedoscientist whose work has been discredited, a sexist, a eugenicist, and (this is a new one) anti-gay, I did not deserve a platform for my hate speech, and hence it was appropriate to keep me from speaking.”

The lecture hall was filled to capacity, about 400, half of whom had come to hear the lecture, the other half to protest. The protesters had scripts to read from and screamed enthusiastically, but had no idea what they were screaming about. The students got violent, the Political Science professor who had agreed to act as moderator for the Q&A session and ask the first three questions herself, was injured and sent to the hospital.

The New York Times coverage of the incident is here. Largely ill-informed and fake news, they used the Southern Poverty Law Center, described as “left-leaning” rather than far-left (which is more accurate) as an “authority.” The photo shows students reading from their scripts. Here is Dr. Murray’s description of the event from AEI where he is a distinguished scholar. Here is a photo of the lovely Middlebury Campus where the yearly cost for tuition, room and board is a startling $61,046 a year. ($6,000 a month).

My great, great uncle was a Middlebury graduate, probably 1838, though he was ill with typhoid one semester. His room and board cost $2.50 a week in the nicest private homes, and his entire education cost no more than $1,000.

Here’s an interview from Hoover’s “Uncommon Knowledge” series by Peter Robinson, when Charles Murray’s Coming Apart had just come out in 2012. Uncommon Knowledge interviews are long (47 min) but completely fascinating, giving you real insight into the scholar. The book explains how over the last 50 years the culture has changed, and changed dramatically. The Founders said that to preserve the free society they were advocating, Americans must possess certain values: 1. religiosity 2. marriage integrity 3. industriousness and 4. plain honesty.  And we are losing that.  Perhaps for good.  And if we do, we will not be the same country we all have loved.

There must be consequences for the Middlebury students. There is no excuse for such behavior, and such ignorant behavior. How many parents are able or willing to spring for $6,000 a month? How many future employers will look askance at a Middlebury degree? Will parents pull their kids out of school and put them to work? Are there consequences?

I had long looked with a bit of disfavor on Dr. Murray because of his division of people into classes, and I had always believed in an America that was essentially a classless society — yet that is precisely what he is arguing. In Coming Apart. We were essentially a classless society, and we are losing that, and it is unhealthy, and may be beyond redeeming. The protesting students have their arguments essentially backwards. Fascinating arguments. While you can see faint glimmers of where the protesters got their ignorant ideas — they would be far better off to have listened carefully and tried to understand. But our American campuses are no longer places of learning, but devolving into something quite different. And that is a huge loss as well.

ADDENDUM: Here is an essay about the Middlebury contretemps by the editors at National Review. A good piece. ” Charles Murray is used to protests. If he opens a box of Cracker Jack, there is no prize at the bottom, just some Haverford College sophomore calling him a racist. If he were protested any more widely, he’d be the Vietnam War. But, usually he is also permitted to speak, free speech being a two-way street.”




%d bloggers like this: