American Elephants


James Mattis Once Wrote a Letter on the Importance of Reading by The Elephant's Child

29firstdraft-mattis-tmagarticlePresident-Elect Donald Trump has announced his choice of Retired Marine General James Mattis to be his Defense Secretary, to wide acclaim. Mattis is widely respected in the military, loved by his troops, and is an outstanding choice.

The Daily Caller published a famous letter today that General Mattis wrote on the “importance of reading and military history for officers” “who found themselves too busy to read.” His response to the lack of time went viral, with good reason. It’s a clear testament to the General’s character, and a good lesson for all of us.

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.



Antarctic Sea Ice Is Pretty Much the Same as in Ernest Shackleton’s Logs of a Century Ago. by The Elephant's Child

antarctic-sea-ice-100617-02A 2008 paper by James Hanson, former Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies … showed the true gravity of the situation. In it, Hansen set out to determine what level of atmospheric CO2 society should aim for if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted. His climate models showed that exceeding 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere would likely have catastrophic effects. We’ve already blown past that limit. Right now, environmental monitoring shows concentrations around 400 ppm.

There were no consequences. Real-world evidence clearly demonstrates that Hansen’s hypothesis is wrong. (Scientific method)

Also in the news is that the El Nino warming effect has ended, and things are getting colder.

Scientists were shocked by what they found when pouring over accounts from the famous South Pole explorers  a century ago. The Antarctic Sea Ice is just about the same as it was 100 years ago according to the ships logs of Ernest Shackleton, in addition to other explorations in those waters. Scientists had only really looked at Antarctic sea ice levels from the 1950s onward, which shows a relative decline in sea ice. But researcher Dr. Jonathan Day and his team were the first to look at conditions prior to the 1930s. Current sea ice is just 14 percent smaller than the highest point of the 1900s and 12 percent greater than the lowest point.

Why is that a big deal? It shows that Antarctic sea ice has fluctuated throughout the 20th century—due to natural climate shifts, not man-made warming. The problem is that if you want to predict the state of the climate in a hundred and fifty years, you won’t know whether you were correct or not until 150 years from now, no matter how many computer programs you have or how many peer-reviewed papers you produce.

Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk more than 7 percent per decade since 1979 while Antarctic sea ice has actually grown about one percent per decade — despite what most climate models predicted.

A 2015 NASA study found Antarctica’s ice sheet increased in mass from 1992 to 2008. The study found ice gains in Eastern Antarctica more than offset ice loss from melting glaciers in the west.

Day’s study comes just after the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) found the collapse of a major South Pole was sparked by an El Nino during the 1940s, not man-made climate change.



A Botched Utopian Fantasy by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s statement on the passing of Fidel Castro was much more carefully phrased than that of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In fact, it is a marvelous example of an attempt to dot every i and cross every t and offend no one, no one at all.

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him. …

(Do read the whole thing. It’s quite precious. Makes me want to throw up).

At The Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O’Grady counts Castro’s victims, and reviews “The Secret Life of Fidel Castro” a biography by Juan Renaldo Sanchez who was for 17 years a part of the team of elite Cuban security specialists charged with protecting Castro’s life and privacy. It’s worth remembering that Castro begged the Russians to nuke the U.S., and Russian missiles were installed in Cuba.

At The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead explains that “A Dictator Dies a Failure.

Fidel Castro wanted an independent path for Cuba. He leaves a shattered society and a desperately poor country behind him, less able to shape its destiny than it was in 1959.

At City Journal. Michael Totten had a lovely essay on “The Last Communist City: A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see. ”

I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba—not because I’m nostalgic for a botched utopian fantasy but because I wanted to experience Communism firsthand. When I finally got my chance several months ago, I was startled to discover how much the Cuban reality lines up with Blomkamp’s dystopia. In Cuba, as in Elysium, a small group of economic and political elites live in a rarefied world high above the impoverished masses. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto, would be appalled by the misery endured by Cuba’s ordinary citizens and shocked by the relatively luxurious lifestyles of those who keep the poor down by force. (For some reason, I was unable to link to the essay from 2014, You can find it on Google)

And the great political cartoonist Michael Ramirez captured the moment:  (click to enlarge)
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Hillary Said She Was Surprised by Trump’s Suggesting that He Might Not Accept the Result of the Vote by The Elephant's Child

Well, Hillary has had some trouble grasping the nature of modern times. Technology has given her some trouble, emails and erasing things, but one would think that any politician would be aware of YouTube and videos of one’s past statements, however confidently given.



It’s Been a Really Bad Month for the Left: Fidel Castro Finally Dead at Age 90 by The Elephant's Child

trudeau_transparency_20140611Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately gathered the mockery of the internet as he issued praise for the dead Cuban tyrant.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie [Trudeau’s wife] and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader,”

He also called 90-year-old dictator “larger than life” and a “legendary revolutionary and orator.” Uh huh.  Twitter had great fun with that:

Go here for the long, long list of people not impressed and having fun:

castro-island

 



Who Voted For Donald Trump Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

construction-worker-hard-hatFirst it was Hillary with her sneering reference to “the Deplorables,” then others began to speak of the “uneducated white working class.” Almost sounds like the old line about “poor white trash.” So who did vote for Trump? The media has insisted that it’s people who worked in dying industries and have lost their jobs. Both Bill and Hillary actually expressed their contempt for coal miners— on the stump. The media talks about manufacturing jobs that are ending and will never come back.

On October 20, 2008, Senator Barack Obama declared “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” President Obama set about fundamental transformation. First they transformed key institutions, shifting power from the people’s sovereignty, ignoring the Constitution and separation of powers, to a centralized administrative state, where an elite exercised executive, legislative and judicial powers without the consent of the people or their elected representatives. The progressive worldview bases its civic morality on the centrality of ascribed group identity and group consciousness, particularly race, ethnicity, and gender. Group interests get priority. Professor John Marini  writes:

The new, transformed civic morality of the progressive narrative also divides Americans between dominant or “oppressor” groups—whites, males, native-born, Christians, heterosexuals—and victim or “oppressed” groups—racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities; women; LGBT individuals, and “undocumented” immigrants. Progressive politics doesn’t seek the national interest or the common good. Its purpose is to promote “marginalized” or “oppressed” groups against “dominant” or “oppressor” groups.

“This strategy,” Marini notes “requires the systematic mobilization of animosity.” Progressive identity politics, camouflaged under the rubric of “diversity,” is “a new kind of civil religion,” he says. Its enforcement takes the form of political correctness, carried out by the administrative state and private sector bureaucrats and activists within those institutions of a politicized civil society progressives have captured, which includes the media, universities, schools, major corporations, and even, apparently, professional athletic associations.

Global concerns come before national interests. American sovereignty should be surrendered to supranational authority, like UN treaties on the environment, children’s rights and the laws of war. Hillary promised her first 100 days would look for legislation to provide work permits for millions of border crossers and amnesty legislation. She supported all of Obama’s executive orders and plans to bypass Congress just like Obama did. Who could object to that?

Not just out-of-work uneducated working class. How about policemen who have seen their fellows gunned down by Black Lives Matter Marxists? Firemen, small businessmen whose businesses have been ruined with foolish regulation. Three of my favorite small businesses have disappeared. Hairdressers, crane operators, plumbers and electricians, landscaping contractors, builders, insurance salesmen. There are folks who found out they couldn’t keep their doctor, and the big jumps in cost for ObamaCare voided a lot of Obama promises. How about soldiers who returned from securing Iraq to see Obama waste their efforts and the efforts of their friends who did not make it back, by failing to secure the peace. Or veterans who, seeking medical help from the VA, found themselves unable to get a timely appointment or who saw friends die while on a wait list.

The list of people whose lives and occupations have been directly affected by blundering, backward, progressive ideas is long and growing, and not really accurately described by terms such as “the deplorables” or “uneducated  white working class.” The media is inclined to latch on to convenient catch-phrases, shorthand for people of whom they disapprove, add in political correctness and a goodly supply of empathy to show how caring they are, and you have our current journalism.

The media was shocked when Mr. Trump called in the leaders of the major news organizations to bawl them out for their campaign coverage.  The media executives agreed that the meeting would be off-the-record, and promptly described the event to the rest of the media. Reporters were shocked, but the people cheered. The underlying assumption from progressives and pundits was that “Trump’s voters were angry because the government was not doing enough for them, not that it was doing too much to them.” Big difference and big and important lack of understanding.

So the progressives continue to indulge their fury that Hillary, for whom they may or may not have voted, didn’t win and Trump did. Democrats are attacking Electoral College electors who are not committed by law — with death threats. Jill Stein, who attracted a teeny percentage of the vote, is attempting to lead a demand for a recount, though why she would have standing is a question.

The Left has frequently behaved badly when they have lost elections, but this year they seem to have exceeded all bounds. Democrats haven’t behaved this badly since Republicans told them they couldn’t own slaves any more.



There is a Legal Way to Do It. by The Elephant's Child

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Whenever there is a protest, you are apt to see a sign carried by someone protesting immigration laws saying dramatically “No human being is illegal.” As signs go. it’s hard to beat that one for pure silliness. Democrats have rejected the term “illegal alien” in favor of “undocumented people”

Words have meaning that is not determined by the Democratic party, but by the dictionary. In this case Merriam Webster:

illegal, il•le•gal, adjective:  not allowed by law not according to or authorized by law.

That’s pretty straightforward, and descriptive. The meaning is plain, solid fact. Do you see anything demeaning there?

alien, noun:  a person who was born in a different country and is not  a citizen of the country in which he now lives. A foreign born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country.

Also, straightforward and accurately descriptive.

We have immigration laws, and people who want to become Americans sign up, pay the fees and get put on a wait list to be admitted and begin the citizenship process. There are currently around 4.4 million people who have applied legally to immigrate to America, and are waiting their turn. Please explain why they should be superseded by illegal aliens who have crossed the southern border.

We have “sanctuary cities” whose executives have decided to defy federal law so they can feel good about offering “sanctuary” to illegals, often criminals, who are fearful of being deported. Kate Steinle was shot while walking on a wharf in San Francisco with her father by a criminal illegal alien who had already been deported.

Donald Trump has said he wants to deport criminal illegal aliens promptly. ICE has identified 1.9 million criminal aliens + another 940,000 who have absconded from deportation orders. The numbers create a slightly different impression than does the ‘empathy‘ that Democrats supposedly feel for unfortunate undocumented immigrants. And notice that nobody is much concerned with the poor souls who signed up legally, and are patiently waiting.

It’s all about voting, of course.

In the months leading up to the presidential election, a number of observers expressed concern that lax voter identification laws or procedures were resulting in aliens enrolled on state voter registration lists, thus enabling them to vote illegally. At least one survey of voter rolls in Virginia seemed to bear this out.

President Obama, always one to engage in verbal mischief even as he criticizes others’ perceived moral failings, appeared to encourage aliens to vote illegally in the recent election when, just days before the polling booths opened, he was interviewed by actress Gina Rodriguez who asked what would happen if someone illegally present in the United States voted. Obama assured her that were someone illegally in the United States to vote, no one would come after them because of the sanctity of the voting booth.

Question: So if I vote, will Immigration know where I live? Will they come for my family and deport us?

Answer: Not true, and the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself.

What? That’s hooey, of course. But  you might ask yourself why the sneakers given to undocumented, unaccompanied children illegally crossing the border had pictures of Obama stamped on their inner soles. But we do need to know just how prevalent illegal vote fraud is.

Donald Trump won partly based on a platform of strong enforcement of our criminal and immigration laws. His attorney general will be Jeff Sessions who believes in immigration law.

We welcome immigrants and try to make them feel at home. A brand new citizen has the same rights as someone whose ancestors arrived with the Winthrop fleet. If you want to come to America apply properly and wait your turn. It’s worth the trouble.




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