American Elephants


Remember the Men of D-Day, June 6, 1944 by The Elephant's Child
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Major Werner Pluskat in his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach had heard nothing from his superiors. He was cold, tired and exasperated. He felt isolated. He couldn’t understand why there had been no reports from either regimental or division headquarters. …Once more he swung the artillery glasses over to the left, picked up the dark mass of the Cherbourg peninsula and began another slow sweep of the horizon. The same low banks of mist came into view, the same patches of shimmering moonlight, the same restless white flecked sea.Behind him in the bunker his dog Harras, was stretched out asleep. Nearby,  Captain Ludz Wilkening and Lieutenant Fritz Theen were talking quietly. Pluskat joined them. “Still nothing out there,” he told them.” I’m about to give it up. But he walked back to the aperture and stood looking out as the first streaks of light began to lighten the sky. He decided to make another routine sweep.Wearily, he swung the glasses over to the left again. Slowly he tracked across the horizon. He reached the dead center of the bay. The glasses stopped moving. Pluskat tensed, stared hard.Through the scattering thinning mist the horizon was filling with ships — ships of every size and description, ships that casually maneuvered back and forth as though they had been there for hours. There appeared to be thousands of them. Pluskat stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, moved as he had never been before in his life. At that moment the world of the good soldier Pluskat began falling apart. He says that in those first few moments he knew, calmly and surely, that “this was the end for Germany.”      Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day

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History Is What Happened In The Past by The Elephant's Child

I have been distressed at the attempts to rename buildings, tear down statues and monuments, and in general to make any history that doesn’t meet today’s more refined sensitivities — just disappear.  One of the greatest problems for historians is that people have often destroyed the evidence that tells us of their times, and they have to guess at what really happened. We live in an age of political correctness, the party line of the day, and the politically correct are trying to expunge any evidence of those in the past who did not agree with today’s notions. Of course, for most it is simply a campus fad that sweeps from one college to another. Protesting is the in thing, and if they can’t find anything else to protest, perhaps the donor of a building once owned a slave so the building should be torn down.

Today we mostly universally agree that slavery is and was a very bad thing, But before somewhere around the mid 18th century, slavery was the norm. Many college students are astonished to find out that slavery existed in other places besides the United States. Because we ended the slave trade, had a great Civil War and freed the slaves and are such an open society the world is familiar with America and slavery. Because of that history present day virtue seekers are anxious to destroy all traces of the Confederacy. New Orleans is currently engaged in a great battle to tear down statues and monuments.

They are wrong. Millions of Americans today have ancestors who fought for the Confederacy.  Two of my great great uncles lost their lives fighting for the Union with Grant, and two lost their lives fighting for the Confederacy, one in the battle around Richmond and the other at Snicker’s Gap. The Southerners were brothers, the Union soldiers were members of families who had established a station of the underground railroad in their meeting house. To be interested in the stars and bars or the Confederate battle flag does not insinuate a fondness for slavery, only an interest in history.

Max Boot, writing at Commentary, approves of the actions of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in tearing down statues honoring Confederate war heroes. He finds the idea of honoring the losing side of the war disgraceful, and believes that Army bases in the Southern states named after Confederate generals should be renamed.

Historian John Steele Gordon, also writing at Commentary, deeply disagrees. “The Past is a Foreign Country” is his headline, and he says “Subjective and fleeting standards are no way to judge.” I’m with Mr. Gordon. If I am deeply interested in both sides of the Civil War and its effects on the nation, it does not indicate approval or disapproval. The past is what happened. So much of the artifacts of the war were simply destroyed, or thrown away, that what we can know about the war is diminished.

Here is a page from the Smithsonian’s Civil War history that shows the uniform of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry (Duryee’s Zouaves). Bet that would surprise you. Both sides had volunteer units that adopted Zouave uniforms based on an elite battalion of the French Army in Algiers in the colonial war of the 1830s. Follow the arrows on that page to see some of the other artifacts that the Smithsonian thought important to save.

John Steele Gordon ends his piece with these lines:

The country did a magnificent job of binding up those wounds, as the deeply touching pictures taken at the 50th-anniversary reunion at Gettysburg in 1913 testify. Now some people on their high horses want to pick open those wounds, for no better reason than so they can virtue signal their own moral superiority to those who lived in a different world and a different time.

It’s a disgrace. Historians, especially, should understand the profound truth expressed by L. P. Hartley in the opening line of his masterful novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”



An Outburst of Democrat Derangement by The Elephant's Child

Someone named Kathy Griffin, reportedly a comedienne, posted a video of herself holding what purported to be a severed, bloody head of Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, there was a backlash, at which she promptly apologized abjectly admitting that she was wrong and went too far, and made a huge mistake. Well, yes she did. What interests me is the mindset that would have allowed her to engage in something like this in the first place. In a general atmosphere where the way to get attention seems to be coming up with a  more outrageous way to insult the President of the United States. And that in itself is quite remarkable.

It’s clear that the left loathes Donald Trump. Just why seems to be that he has removed the Democratic Party from its position of power all over the country, and the Left just cannot stand that. It is not just that they lost the election, they have lost lots of elections, as have the Republicans, but this time they have lost all the way down to the lowest proverbial dogcatcher. Their anger is completely emotional, and utterly furious. Why?

It wasn’t always so, but I believe that today’s Democratic party is based entirely on emotion. They hate Donald Trump, Republicans, global warming deniers, Citizens United, guns (especially dangerous assault weapons), the military and its wars, and conversely love— refugees, the poor, illegal immigrants, empathy, and being in power. You can tell that this is the case by their language: They call Trump “Hitler,” a “Nazi”,’Tyrant,” they are sure he is so authoritarian that he soon will be rounding them up and putting the in camps. Little of their emotive excess even approaches reality, but they are positive that he is a danger to their world, and they want him stopped, before it is too late.  That’s why they care so deeply about social justice and so little for the actual kind in courts of law.  And why they care far more about their empathy for refugees than they care about vetting the potential terrorists among them. They don’t care about the actual poor or the actual refugees. They care about feeling good about themselves.

For the Never Trumpers, it’s a class issue. You can take the man out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the man. They are offended by his way of talking. They are offended by his orange hair and orange tan. They are offended by his great big wall— opposing illegal immigration is fine, but building a huge wall is going too far. They are offended by the way he talks, his tweets and by his calling people names.   They are much more comfortable with polite arguments about the founders and how conservative conservatives should be, but doing battle to get a better budget or dispose of repugnant regulations is generally beyond their powers. Their battles are about ideas.

Kathy Griffin’s use of a severed head, a favorite terrorist act of ISIS, aside from being a particularly vulgar act, shows not just her own act of violence against Trump, but an astounding lack of understanding of one of the many major and very real threats to Americans and anyone who is not a Muslim. How is it possible to fail to understand, in today’s world, that severed heads and burning people alive, drowning them in cages are acts of terror designed to frighten the world into submission.  Did she not grasp the meaning of Manchester or the attack today killing around 80 people in Kabul in Afghanistan?

It is a very dangerous world, and the despised Donald Trump is taking it on as if it is a serious matter. James Mattis at the Pentagon, John Kelly at NHS, and H.L. McMaster are serious and knowledgeable people, some of the best America has to offer. Nikki Haley is sensational at the UN. Silly EPA regulations are being undone, illegal immigration is down sharply just because there is someone seriously paying attention.  The despicable Bashar Assad had the airport from which the planes that sprayed chemical weapons on helpless civilians promptly destroyed, sending a pointed message. This impolite man carefully labeled the Iranian regime “evil” in front of 50 Muslim heads of state. He’s working to restore the military budget to assure that the military can do what is necessary when it is necessary. He ‘s submitted a budget that lowers taxes and makes some dramatic cuts.  He made a pretty good trip to the Middle East and Europe. Not bad.

Presidents, all of them, are only ordinary human beings, fallible, egotistic, impatient, facing dreadful challenges. We elect them for four years to try to manage this messy world. They are not and should never be love objects. They wanted the job, and upon being given the opportunity, their task is to live up to it. Do a good job, and we will honor your and your name will go down in history.

We gave Obama 8 years, and he not only made a mess of it, but apparently enjoyed it so much that he cannot bring himself to retire. He’s reportedly going to run a shadow government in exile from his new Washington D.C. walled mansion, working to sabotage his successor, I guess in the illusion that will improve his legacy.

ADDENDUM: Ms. Griffin has now been fired from CNN, and reportedly from any other engagements she may have had. It’s nice to know that there are some limits to Democrat derangement excess. Melania Trump had to try to explain to her son who panicked, what that was about.

ADDENDUM II: Friday. Kathy Griffin held a press conference to tell the world that the widespread backlash she has faced over the photo is part of a sexist campaign to destroy her career. “It’s a bunch of white guys trying to silence me,” she said. “This wouldn’t be happening to a guy. This is a woman thing.”  She also said “What’s  happening to me has never happened in the history of this great country. Which is that a sitting president of the United States and his grown children and the First Lady are personally, I feel, personally trying to ruin my life forever.”



The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by The Elephant's Child

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1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number one.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.  After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5.  How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, and 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A person who applies for guard duty at the tomb must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30″.

Other requirements of the Guard: they must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform (by fighting) or the tomb in any way.  After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb.  There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.  There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.  There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.  Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

During the first six months of duty a guard may not talk to anyone, nor watch TV. Off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.  Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.  Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD,
AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington D.C., our U.S. Senate and House took 2 days off in anticipation of the storm.  On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend their assignment.   They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!”  Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

One tomb is empty: the Vietnam Tomb. It was later discovered who was in the tomb.  The family had the remains removed and buried with military honors. Congress decided to leave the tomb empty. Fox News carried the full live service at the tombs. The other channels passed it by. All who have served understand the bond. Freedom is never free.

R. Harper



Manchester, Muslims, Migrants and the Middle East. by The Elephant's Child

Many of us have wondered why Europeans seem to have welcomed so many migrants from the Middle East. At first, they welcomed the migrants with flowers and food and housing, and even song. Whether this was simply a case of accepting at face value the term “refugees” or “migrants,” and believing that they must help the unfortunate, or just being terminally uninformed, I have no idea. In the wake of the Manchester attack, the thoughts of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble give a glimpse of the thought processes. The growing number of Muslims in Germany, he said, represent a learning opportunity rather than a threat.

“It is fanaticism, not only in Islam, that leads to terrible crimes,” he said, speaking on German public radio station Deutschlandfunk Wednesday evening, when asked about the Islamist attack in which 22 mostly young people, including an eight-year-old girl, lost their lives. …

“The world’s great religions all preach the message that one must look upon others as their sisters and brothers, and that one must live with the other because man cannot live alone,” Schäuble told presenter Christiane Florin.

“‘Islam is part of Germany’ is a sober, factual statement,” the minister remarked, commenting on sentiments voiced by Chancellor Angela Merkel on more than one occasion – which are not shared by the majority of Germans.

“Anyone who denies this denies reality and is therefore not suited to being a politician, because politics begins with the confrontation of reality,” he added.

The number of refugees in Germany who are capable of committing terrorist acts has quadrupled since 2011, the German Federal Criminal Police Office has said.

Security concerns have heightened in Germany after close to a million refugees arrived in 2015 from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Africa. Fears worsened when more than 1,200 women were reportedly assaulted in various German cities on New Year’s Eve in 2015.

Officials say there are 657 refugees capable of committing terror attacks and 388 potential accomplices in such attacks.

The Manchester attack has awakened British officialdom to the threat to their people, and armed military people are guarding the trains in Britain. Hungary has put up a wall, and is accepting no migrants. Other nations are having all sorts of trouble with the migrants who have arrived in their countries. France has ‘no go’ neighborhoods  where even the police will not venture, and numbers of attacks.

The new French President, Emmanuel Macron, wants Islam to have more room in France. Like many European leaders Macron seems to be convinced that the remedy for the demographic deficit and the aging of ethnic European populations is more immigration. Besides, they seem to be more worried about climate change. Macron claimed to be a ‘centrist’, but the outgoing Socialist President François Hollande has spoken of him as a “continuity”, not an alternative. His entire program is socialist. Lots of additional public expenditures, and climate change is defined as the “key issue for the future of the world.”

Our own Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly, remarked today that “if we knew what he knows about terror threats in this country, we’d never leave the house.”

He was interviewed on Fox and Friends on Friday and said that the terror threat is “worse than we realize.” He pointed out four major terror attacks in the last week, by “more or less the same groups,” in Manchester, England, in Egypt where 28 Coptic Christians were slaughtered, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, and in Indonesia.

“It’s everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost any time,” Kelly said.

Here’s Andy McCarthy:

Here is the blunt, inescapable fact: The United States is in a defensive war against what is imprecisely called “radical Islam.” The war proceeds on two tracks: the kinetic militancy of jihadists, and the cultural challenge of anti-Western, anti-constitutional Islamic law and mores. The ideology that catalyzes both tracks is sharia supremacism — the implementation and spreading of sharia, classical Islam’s societal structure and legal code, is the rationale for all jihadist terror and of all the Islamist cultural aggression that slipstreams behind it.

The dividing line is sharia supremacism. On one side of it we find patriotic, pro-American Muslims who are spiritually devout but reject the imposition of sharia on civil and political life; on the other, the Islamists — the sharia supremacists. The challenge posed by the latter is not merely that some percentage of them are jihadists; it is that as a population — or as enclaves that take hold in the West — they are assimilation-resistant, and their ideological havens will breed the jihadists of the future while stifling the Constitution in the here and now.

That is what we have to vet for. That is what the majority of the American people want: Muslims who embrace our way of life invited in, Muslims who threaten our way of life kept out. You can’t get there without subjecting Muslim aliens to more-extensive inspection.

What can we do? Try to be informed, and I guess, be ready with the candles and flowers.

 



The Civil War: Revisited by The Elephant's Child



History, Revisited. by The Elephant's Child




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