American Elephants


An American Ally Assesses Our President by The Elephant's Child

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The Wall Street Journal had a most interesting article titled “An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump: When he says something consistently, it will happen. And his message is that America will remain a reliable partner, but don’t expect too much.” It’s by Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister of Australia, 2013-2015.  (subscription barrier)

The truth is that the rest of the world needs America much more than America needs us. The U.S. has no threatening neighbors. It’s about as remote from the globe’s trouble spots as is possible to be. It’s richly endowed with resources, including energy and an almost boundless agricultural capacity. Its technology is second to none. Its manufacturing base is vast. Its people are entrepreneurial in their bones. From diversity, it has built unity and an enviable pride in country.

In many respects, America is the world in one country, only a better world than the one outside. If it decided to live in splendid isolation from troubles across the sea, it would lose little and perhaps gain much, at least in the beginning. A fortress America would be as impregnable as any country could be.

 

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A Little History for the 4th of July by The Elephant's Child

Life doesn’t always turn out as you expected it too.The world keeps moving on and changing inexorably, and we need to move and change with it. Pause and think about the big shifts in history when one of the parties said in essence —this will not stand. I just read a brief history of the time when Spain threw out Islam, and the triumph of Christianity.

Hat salesman to President of the United States. Some of our better presidents weren’t from the political class. Might keep that in mind as well.



D-Day, June 6, 1944. by The Elephant's Child

Every year, the remembrance of D-Day grows a little weaker, as it fades into history. A young man of 18 on June 6, 1944 would now be 92. There are not many left, and now it is only those who were children then who remember events as they were happening. I always post something about the anniversary, but many years it is just a repost of what I wrote a previous year. You can access them all by entering “D-Day” in the blank over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar.  Last year’s post of a book review of “D-Day Through German Eyes” is interesting and the links still work.

They All Hate Us, Right?” was a post in 2008 about the French reenacters. I don’t know if they are still doing it, but it’s interesting simply because it points out that it isn’t just the current media who don’t know what they are writing about, it’s been going on for a long time. Piper Millin’s story is a good one as well.

One of my favorite stories I don’t know if I ever wrote about, but it is some real evidence of our common humanity. It concerns the photo which all of us have probably seen many times of the GI in the water on D-Day, huddled behind a beach obstacle, trying to avoid the rifle fire, and looking terrified, but determined. There are hundreds of men all across the United States who claim to have been that guy. Don’t give me any of your “toxic masculinity” nonsense. Men are useful far, far beyond their ability to open jars and eliminate scary spiders.

Once again I want to urge you, if you have an interest in history or maybe more if you don’t, to buy and read Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars. Europe does seem, at present, to be slowly committing suicide. They are realizing that a good many of their migrants have no intention of assimilating and some of the countries are considering ways to block more migrants and if they can, to remove some who are already there. Here are a couple of brief excerpts:

The D-Day invasion of Normandy (Operation Overlord) was the largest combined land and sea operation conducted since the invasion of Greece by King Xerxes of Persia in spring 480 B.C. It dwarfed all of history’s star-crossed beach landings from Marathon to Gallipoli (April 1915). Normandy would serve as a model for large subsequent America seaborne operations from Iwo Jima (February 1945) and Okinawa (April 1945) to Inchon (September 1950). It made all prior iconic cross-Channel invasions in either direction—Caesar’s (55 BC), William the Conqueror’s (1066), Henry V’s (1415), or the 1809 British landing in Flanders—seem minor amphibious operations in comparison.  …

Over 150,000 Allied troops landed the first day on five British, Canadian, and American  assigned beaches, along with over twenty-five thousand airborne soldiers dropped behind German lines. Unlike possible spots in the Cotentin Peninsula or at Calais, the Allies believed that landings in Normandy would pose far more of a surprise, given the somewhat greater distance from Britain. More important, the expansive geography of the Normandy beaches would not box in the invading Allied armies on a confined peninsula or allow the  Germans to focus on a narrow front. Unlike the prior landings in Sicily and Italy, Operation Overlord had been carefully planned for over a year, drawing on the lessons from the Allies past amphibious problems at Dieppe, Sicily, Salerno and Anzio. New inventions and weapons were crafted for the invasion, from portable “Mulberry ” harbors to PLUTO (“pipelines under the ocean”) fuel lines laid under the English Channel and to Sherman and Churchill tanks modified  to uncover mines, cut barbed wire, provide pathways over the soft beaches, and bridge obstacles.

At this point I always have a flashback to the Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe, when history deficient Hollywood had Robin headed for the beaches to prevent the landing of Henry V, and Henry’s troops were landing in Higgins Boats made out of driftwood, with the iconic front panel that drops down to allow the troops to run (or swim) for the beach. There were Higgins boats in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well, but fortunately not so obvious. Andrew Jackson Higgins’ little plywood landing crafts played a big part in winning the war.



Do You Remember America’s Second War of Independence? by The Elephant's Child



President Trump Disposed of The Destructive Iran Deal by The Elephant's Child

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Everyone, by now, knows that President Trump blew up the Iran Deal. Do people understand that it was not a treaty? It was undertaken unilaterally. President Obama was never able to pull together any kind of consensus. There was no real accountability. Even as Iran was pushing one demand after another, a number of U.S. senators explained to the despots that such a deal could easily be scuttled. Nearly every Republican candidate for the presidency in 2016 promised to withdraw or renegotiate the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

Obama likely didn’t believe the GOP would regain the presidency — and if it did, he probably couldn’t conceive of a situation where a president would dare back out of a non-proliferation agreement, however flawed. And, as many problems as I do have with Trump, I can’t imagine that any other Republican would have withstood the unrelenting political pressure that was likely exerted, not only from allies but also from business interests at home, either.

The President had the prerogative to walk away from the agreement at any time, whether or not Iran was found in violation of the IAEA. The Iran Deal did nothing to safeguard against the production of nuclear weapons. We even had to ask permission to inspect.

We also know that after Trump’s speech making the case for withdrawal, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani claimed that Iran would be “prepared for enrichment in the next weeks.” Which is a weird thing for a nation that has completely given up its desire to obtain nuclear weapons to say. Then again the idea that this agreement, as promised by so many in Obama administration, snuffed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions was absurd all along.

Iran is continuing to develop a ballistic missile program to deliver those weapons. The Boeing deal is off. The United States can reinstate sanctions, and we can target any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons. European nations will probably try to salvage the deal, as they have irons, so to speak, in the fire with profitable business to do with Iran.

Iran can come back to the table. The administration’s demands for a new agreement are wholly reasonable: Stop developing ballistic missiles that are meant to deliver nuclear weapons; Stop supporting terrorist groups around the Middle East that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies — in Syria, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Yemen, etc; Stop publicly threatening our ally Israel with destruction; Stop threatening freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea; Stop fueling the civil war in Yemen; Stop cyberattacks on the United States; Stop kidnapping Americans.

Is there something unreasonable about that? People probably thought that those things were part of the deal. They weren’t.

We can now target Iranian aggression. No more pretenses. We can target Iran’s terror regime through economic means. We can support the human rights advocates in Iran, and maybe do something useful.

I don’t know that any other candidate could have withstood all the silly guff from the leftist media, who are far stronger in anti-Trumpism than in either common sense or history. Donald Trump just did a difficult, but very good thing.

 



Meet Tammie Jo Shults, Southwest Airlines Heroine by The Elephant's Child

You may have heard the tragic news of the death of a passenger on Southwest Airlines when an engine caught fire and disintegrated at more than 30,000 feet spraying shrapnel through the fuselage. Metal pieces ruptured a window behind a wing, fatally injuring a passenger in the first airline fatality since 2009, and the first fatality in the history of Southwest Airlines.

Southwest pilot Tammie Jo Schults executed an emergency landing in Philadelphia after the Dallas-bound flight departed from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. In the Wall Street Journal article, an experienced amateur pilot was deeply impressed with her inspiring calm control. He added:

Listen to the cockpit recording of the incident. She is so calm it is amazing. She says that a passenger may have been sucked out of the plane and that they are missing part of the aircraft like she is talking about the time of day. Yes, they train for emergencies and yes, they are expected to land on one engine. But her calm and composure is inspiring. When they tell her to switch from approach to tower frequency she even says, “Good day.”

Someone copied the plane to tower control conversation and posted it on You Tube.

An incredible demonstration of real air traffic control, and how the most professional pilots deal with an emergency. Here’s a real hero for all those whiny women complaining about work and not being paid enough.

Among the offerings at the end of this video is a conversation with a passenger on the plane phones in his story to the local news channel. It is also a rewarding conversation.

At American Thinker, Thomas Lifson extols the management at Southwest Airlines, and points out that in the wake of a tragic accident, there is usually hysteria in the media, resulting in a drop in the company’s stock value, but in this case the airline stock went up in the wake of a disaster.

After she graduated from college, Shults applied to the Air Force, but they wouldn’t allow her to take the test to become a pilot, so she turned to the Navy.

Shults became one of the first female fighter pilots in the history of the U.S. Navy and one of the first women to fly F-18s. She landed her fighter plane on boats at 150 miles per hour and eventually became an instructor. Although she wasn’t allowed to fly in combat, she did fly as an aggressor pilot. After a successful career, she resigned her commission in 1993.

Shults and her husband Dean, are both now captains with Southwest Airlines. Passengers last Tuesday were able to see a calm professional at the moment they most needed one.

ADDENDUM: Southwest Airlines has sent each of the 144 passengers on their deadly flight a $5,000 check with their heartfelt apologies to cover any of their immediate financial needs, after the flight suffered an engine failure and had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia, on it’s way to Dallas. The letter also says the passengers would separately receive a $1,000 flight voucher for  future travel.

While the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the catastrophic engine failure, the airline’s “primary focus and commitment is to assist you in every way possible,” said the letter, signed by Southwest president Gary C. Kelly.

“We value you as our Customer and hope you will allow us another opportunity to restore your confidence in Southwest as the airline you can count on for your travel needs. In this spirit, we are sending you a check in the amount of $5,000 to cover any of your immediate financial needs. As a tangible gesture of our heartfelt sincerity, we are also sending you a $1,000 travel voucher (in a separate e-mail), which can be used for future travel.”

Tom Lifson said that Southwest had very good management.



Time for Our Annual Salute to Paul Revere by The Elephant's Child


[A little Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the eighteenth of April]

Listen, my children, and  you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend,”If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light—
One if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said, “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, a British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade—
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay—
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now gazed at the landscape far and near.
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth
And turned and tightened his saddle girth:
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides:
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.

And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest.  In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm—
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will awaken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the  midnight message of Paul Revere.

(The illustration is from a lovely edition of the poem illustrated by Ted Rand for children or any Longfellow lovers. Copies still available from Amazon at very reasonable  prices)

I post this every year, but I almost forgot entirely. Too late for most, but print it out if you have kids and teach them a little history, which they probably won’t get in school. Kids like the rhythm- of galloping hooves that Longfellow used in this historic poem.




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