American Elephants


Military Coup in Turkey. by The Elephant's Child

There is a military coup in Turkey. The Turkish military claims success. Erdogan has departed, but Germany refused permission for his plane to land. Anti-coup protest in Istanbul. Nothing confirmed. All iffy information from twitter and other social media.

Military coups have long been a feature of Ataturk’s secular Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged citizens to take to the streets to fight the coup. Turkey is a member of NATO.

The Turkish military said in a statement that it was seizing control to “reestablish Addendum:constitutional order” as it moved to take over all government responsibilities.

ADDENDUM: Erdogan has returned to Turkey, claims the coup attempt is over, and plotters will be heavily punished. At least 42 people have been killed in attacks. An Istanbul hospital is reportedly treating at least 150 wounded people. Erdogan is apparently pushing for an authoritarian Islamic regime. All will eventually become clear, or at least clearer.



A Little History, Fourth of July 2008, Bagdhad by The Elephant's Child

BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq. [read more]

Now that’s patriotism!

These men and women, and a total of 8,000 troops from seven bases around Iraq were then treated to 3,000 fresh, authentic deep-dish Chicago style pizzas, shipped directly from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Chicago:

The 3,000 pizzas — each with a pound of cheese and packed with other toppings — were cooked by Lou Malnati’s Restaurant staffers last week, then shipped though New York, Belgium and Bahrain on their way to U.S. troops around Baghdad.

The logistical nightmare of frozen freight and military regulations cost nearly $100,000 to pull off, most of that coming from donations from the restaurant chain and DHL Express.

But the idea came from retired Master Sgt. Mark Evans and his 16-year-old son Kent, Illinois residents who have sent much smaller care packages to overseas troops in the past

“My son and I were having a man’s night — eating some of Lou’s pizza while the women were out — and they were talking about the war on TV,” he said. “He asked me about the food over there, and I told him, ‘They do their best, but it’s not like home cooking. They don’t have pizza like this there.’

“Then he asked if we could get some over there.”

The military provided ribs, corn on the cob and red, white and blue cake for others, and yet other troops had no special Fourth of July celebrations, just hard work in unforgiving heat.



Can’t Have the Fourth of July Without a Sousa March by The Elephant's Child

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band recorded John Philip Sousa’s march “Semper Fidelis” on March, 3, 2009, in the John Philip Sousa Band Hall at Marine Barracks Annex in Washington, D.C. This video was recorded for the National Museum of the Marine Corps gallery titled “A Global Expeditionary Force 1866-1916,” where visitors will find an interactive Marine Band exhibit.



On the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence: by The Elephant's Child

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Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, who was born on the Fourth of July, gave one of the best Independence Day speeches ever at the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. Do read the whole thing, or better yet, download it.  Here are a few excerpts.

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. The importance of political speculation is not to be underestimated, as I shall presently disclose. Until the idea is developed and the plan made there can be no action.

It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world. It was not only the principles declared, but the fact that therewith a new nation was born which was to be founded upon those principles and which from that time forth in its development has actually maintained those principles, that makes this pronouncement an incomparable event in the history of government. It was an assertion that a people had arisen determined to make every necessary sacrifice for the support of these truths and by their practical application bring the War of Independence to a successful conclusion and adopt the Constitution of the United States with all that it has meant to civilization.

These remarks fro the conclusion of his Fourth of July speech seem especially appropriate today.

Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meetinghouse. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.



The Indian Health Service is Just as Bad, or Worse, than the VA by The Elephant's Child

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As long as I’m beating up the Obama Administration for their unbelievably dreadful performance on health care — at the Veterans Administration we have found needless patient suffering, fatal delays in medical treatment, and retaliation against whistleblowers — they are as well the shameful traits of the Indian Health Service.

Part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Indian Health Service is required by treaty to deliver health care to Native Americans around the country, with more than two million depending on this federal agency. Unfortunately, it appears to be failing. Tribal members have told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about alarming conditions at hospitals run by the IHS. During the committee’s investigation, which began last summer, we have heard accounts of nurses unable to administer basic drugs, broken emergency-resuscitation equipment, unsanitary medical facilities, and seriously ill children being misdiagnosed. …

The situation has gotten so bad that inspectors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have issued multiple Statements of Deficiencies over the past few years identifying four IHS hospitals in the Great Plains that are putting patients in “immediate jeopardy.” Our investigators have found evidence that the IHS, like the VA, maintains a culture of cronyism and corruption. Many staff members collect government paychecks without fear of accountability.

Tribal Leaders have contacted the Department of Health and Human Services specifically identifying underperforming supervisors and upper-level management who deserve to be fired. There is no sign that these people have been terminated. Instead employees who perform poorly are transferred to other facilities and in some cases even get raises and  promotions with work files that show no records of bad performance. Nice work if you can get it.

According to HHS, Indian Health Service funding has expanded by 43% since 2008, so more money is not a solution. What’s required seems to be a culture change at the agency from leadership in D.C. down to local hospitals. Some hospitals in the Great Plains area actually had money left over at the end of the fiscal year — but made the choice not to spend it on patient care.

When an administration consistently shows that politics and the next election trump duty and responsibility, and the Constitution is just an old tired document, those attitudes seep through the whole administration, and you get a Navy Commander surrendering boats to the Iranians because he believed that Obama’s Iran Deal was so important to the President, you get sexually-confused bathrooms, a military open to transsexuals, women in combat roles, and an administration unable to say “Islamic terrorism” because the words might offend, though it might also kill a lot of Americans.

Contrary to the hard Left who believe all things are better done and controlled  by the best and brightest in the federal government, there are few things that the federal government actually does well. There are a lot of things that must be done by a federal government, but most are better left to the states which are more directly responsible to their citizens. Health care is just one of them.

ObamaCare is slowly falling apart, Medicaid is a disaster, we have read of way too many failings of the Veterans Administration health care, and now the Indian Health Service, required by treaty to deliver health care to Native Americans around the country has more than two million depending on that service.

Free Markets, Free People and lots of competition — works every time. Presented with challenges and the opportunity to be free of meddling bureaucrats, ideas for better care pop up and little miracles happen all over.



The Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America by The Elephant's Child

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

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On July 4, 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona, about 250 new Americans take the oath of citizenship (reprinted from 2015)

In July, 2015, President Barack Obama stripped out the requirement for individuals becoming naturalized citizens to defend the United States through military service. On September 16. 2015,  President Obama said in a video aimed at convincing migrants to pursue American citizenship, that they didn’t need to assimilate.

“It’s not about changing who you are, it’s about adding a new chapter to your journey… and to our journey as a nation of immigrants,” Obama narrates in his two-minute video urging almost 9 million resident migrants to sign up for citizenship so they can vote in 2016.

There’s another new turn of phrase designed to hide or soften what he is doing. “Nine million resident migrants” — think about that for a moment. We wouldn’t want you to get all serious about an oath, or make you uncomfortable. There’s one graduate of Harvard Law School who apparently never really learned anything about the Constitution at all.

Human beings are tribal. It’s an instinct that comes down to us from the first humans, and it’s never completely gone away. Most of the nations of Europe are tribal. That’s why the Czech Republic separated from Slovakia. I don’t think you can become a German unless you have German ancestry, but I’m not sure about that. The countries of Europe each have their own languages and customs. The Middle East is divided between Sunni and Shia, with a large number of other tribes thrown in. And it seems to be human nature for the tribes to fight each other, over things serious or not so much.

Here we join big organizations, tea parties, bridge clubs, Rotary, Job’s Daughters, join a golf club, work for the Salvation Army or Food for the Poor, or just the Thursday night poker club. We form neighborhood clubs, research our ancestry, or join a gym. We are tribal by nature. We are drawn to people who share our interests or heritage, enthusiasm for quilting, or political leanings.

Americans came from all over, but what has bound them together was the formal oath of citizenship renouncing all other allegiance. You raise your hand and your solemnly swear, and you become an American —just as much as the immigrant whose ancestors came on the Mayflower or with the Winthrop fleet.

What Mr. Obama doesn’t get is that Americans are a tribe, we have a proud identity. Many Europeans say that you can identify an American in Europe by the way they walk—heads up, more confident. Does any other country celebrate their founding day with the hoopla and fireworks that we do?

The full-throated “USA, USA, USA” may be annoying, but it’s heartfelt. Howard Zinn may corrupt the young with his soviet-propagandized attempt at revising our history. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright may bellow “God Damn America “to the future president and his family, but there’s a reason why Stalin’s daughter, Khrushchev’s son, and one of Castro’s daughters all became American citizens. Russian oligarchs moor their yachts in New York harbor just in time to get their newborn child American citizenship, and wealthy Chinese just happen to be visiting the country when the baby is due.  Mexican women wade the Rio Grande to bear their children in the United States. Why do you suppose they do that?

A small bunch of English religious refugees seeking liberty undertook a dangerous Atlantic crossing to an unknown land. Joined by other discontented Europeans, before long they were pushing back against English taxes, English regulations and English regiments. After sending the British back home, and writing a constitution, Americans pushed on across the Appalachians, facing angry Indians, bears and starvation. First in bateaus, then on horseback and in covered wagons, they crossed the Rockies and conquered a continent, fought a bloody civil war to free the slaves.  World Wars, John Wayne, the Super Bowl, Star Wars, the Marshall Plan, GI Joe, Baseball, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Grand Canyon, — so many things go into the making of an American, including complaining about the government. But here, it’s your right to complain. In Stalin’s Russia — off to the Gulag. In today’s Syria, we don”t even want to think about that.

Don’t be messing with the Oath Of Allegiance, Mr. President. We know that you are out to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” but if we had realized what you really meant by that, you’d be back in your house in Chicago and someone else entirely would be our president. You go too far.



Well, Yes. And Then There Was Waterloo! by The Elephant's Child

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