American Elephants


Why Did We Fight the Korean War? by The Elephant's Child

Here’s military historian Victor Davis Hanson to explain, briefly. War is not the worst of things.



No Difference between Capitalism and Communism? by The Elephant's Child

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In Argentina, in a Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Town Hall, Obama argued that capitalism and communism are just two competing interests that need to be overcome.

I guess to make a broader point, so often in the past there’s been a sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist. And especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate, right? Oh, you know, you’re a capitalist Yankee dog, and oh, you know, you’re some crazy communist that’s going to take away everybody’s property. And I mean, those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works. You don’t have to worry about whether it neatly fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory — you should just decide what works.

And I said this to President Castro in Cuba. I said, look, you’ve made great progress in educating young people. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education — that’s a huge improvement from where it was. Medical care — the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to health care. That’s a huge achievement. They should be congratulated.

The Cubans do have access, but they have to take their own sheets and towels, and medicine, which they buy out of the $20 a month they are allotted.

But you drive around Havana and you say this economy is not working. It looks like it did in the 1950s. And so you have to be practical in asking yourself how can you achieve the goals of equality and inclusion, but also recognize that the market system produces a lot of wealth and goods and services. And it also gives individuals freedom because they have initiative.

And so you don’t have to be rigid in saying it’s either this or that, you can say — depending on the problem you’re trying to solve, depending on the social issues that you’re trying to address what works. And I think that what you’ll find is that the most successful societies, the most successful economies are ones that are rooted in a market-based system, but also recognize that a market does not work by itself. It has to have a social and moral and ethical and community basis, and there has to be inclusion. Otherwise it’s not stable.

What he apparently means is that a market-based system can get along if it is regulated and managed by those with superior knowledge and understanding like himself. We do have a remarkable number of examples of the brutality and terror of communist regimes throughout the world, something approaching 150 million dead, but never mind. Obama added:

And it’s up to you — whether you’re in business or in academia or the nonprofit sector, whatever you’re doing — to create new forms that are adapted to the new conditions that we live in today.

“Young Leaders of the America’s Initiative” indeed.

In the midst of double-digit inflation and a stagnant economy, Argentinians elected the 56-year-old Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri as their new president last November. “One week into office, he had slashed taxes, ripped out capital controls and restored the peso to its natural level. It takes guts, but this blaze of reforms has worked wherever it’s been tried.”

The IMF is forecasting a single tough year in 2016, followed by 7% growth in 2017. Obama’s speech seems oddly out-of-touch.



Obama Searches Vainly for a Legacy in Cuba by The Elephant's Child

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Back when President Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry and Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz were negotiating the “Iran Deal” we read that President Obama wanted to go to Tehran and shake hands on the deal with the Ayatollah Khamenei. He apparently envisioned himself in the moment when Nixon opened China, or when Reagan went to Moscow — a defining moment of his presidency. That didn’t work out, so President Obama turned his attention to Cuba.

He would “normalize” relations between the U.S. and Cuba. When he traveled to Havana this week, it was, as the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady reported,” an effort to extract concessions, not from Communist Cuba, but from the U.S. Congress. Mr. Obama said, when he first announced that he would normalize relations, that the U.S . embargo—which prohibits foreign direct investment in Cuba by Americans, credit for Cuba from U.S. financial institutions, and Cuban sales of goods to the U.S.—should be lifted.”

The dictatorship loves the idea. But Congress believes that before there are American investments in Cuba the regime ought to pay for the property it stole after the 1959 revolution, and ensure basic human-rights for Cubans. Since Congress still passes the laws in this country, Mr. Obama’s capitalism for the Castros remains uncertain until U.S. lawmakers capitulate.

The spectacle in Cuba, choreographed by the dictatorship is supposed to make Americans comfortable with the idea, and make Congress appear unreasonable. The Cuban regime has offered no concessions whatsoever, and said firmly that they have no intention of changing, but Obama believes that increasing trade will force Cuba to relent.

The president apparently does not understand that any payment for Cuban workers hired by an American company goes, not to the worker, but to the Cuban State, which pays the $15 or $20 a month to the worker, and keeps the rest to enrich the Castros and the Cuban regime. “U.S. hotel chains, for example, will become minority partners with the Cuban military, which owns the tourism industry.”

Obama’s policy has made changes in Cuba, just not what he expected.

Cubans are suffering a wave of terror –involving everything from thousands, upon thousands of arbitrary arrests by KGB-trained secret police to machete attacks by regime-paid mobs against peaceful women dissidents—surpassing anything seen in decades.

Cubans are risking their lives to flee Cuba at a rate unseen for decades.

President Obama made some remarks about ending the last remnants of the Cold War, but seem a little vague about the history. He has crowed about being the first American president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years.

The Castro dictatorship’s alliance with the Soviet Union and the military standoff in 1962 over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles just 90 miles off the U.S. coast might well have ended in WWIII. That was a fairly big deal in history. The visit, and the ‘surrender’ of the American president is a coup for the Communist regime. As with Obama’s Iran Deal, what we get out of Obama’s Cuba Deal remains a mystery. There have been no concessions, and Raul Castro essentially told Obama that human rights in Cuba are none of his business.

But Leftists seem to see only the quaint American automobiles from the 1950s, and the old buildings without understanding why they are old and quaint.



The Ugly Side of the Environmental Movement, And it’s Deplorable Actions by The Elephant's Child

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Aubrey McClendon, former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, “died March 2 in a car wreck the day after being indicted for conspiracy to rig bids on oil and natural gas leases. He will likely be remembered for two things: being a pioneer of the shale gas boom and a possible criminal who, in death, may have eluded a prison sentence. But McClendon may have had one other lasting legacy: he helped hasten the collapse of the coal industry in the United States.”

Between 2007 and 2012, McClendon and his associates contributed around $26 million to the Sierra Club to oppose the building of new coal-fired power plants. McClendon’s motivations were hardly pure; he knew that preventing new coal plants meant more demand for his company’s product, natural gas. And the contributions led to a scandal for the environmental group, whose well-funded “Beyond Coal” campaign has been instrumental in not only preventing new plants, but also shutting down aging ones.

Executive director Michael Brune had a simple explanation for accepting money from a big gas company that was drilling hundreds of wells using hydraulic fracturing: the enemy of our enemy is our friend. “The Sierra Club board of directors … determined that natural gas, while far from ideal as a fuel source, might play a necessary role in helping us reach the clean energy future our children deserve,” Brune wrote in <aref=”http://sierraclub.typepad.com/michaelbrune/2012/02/the-sierra-club-and-natural-gas.html”>a 2012 blog post. “The idea was that we shared at least one common purpose [with Chesapeake]—to move our country away from dirty coal.”

The Sierra Club turned down further contributions from McClendon and his Chesapeake colleagues as it began to worry about the boom in natural gas fracking. That didn’t affect the outcome: McClendon’s philanthropy helped make it very unlikely that any new coal plants will be built in the U.S.—and helped push coal, the backbone of America’s power sector for more than a century, into a sudden and dramatic twilight.

Here’s another excellent example of the rot in the Green movement. If you can get rid of coal as a resource for power generation by claiming that it is the cause of anthropogenic global warming, what’s the big deal if you cause thousands of coal miners to lose their jobs, if you can force the country to depend on your natural gas for their electric power, and make your company and yourself rich by so doing?

The Sierra Club was once a nice organization with the goal of protecting the Sierra Mountains. They sponsored catered pack trips through the Sierras, and publicized Ansel Adams beautiful photography of the Sierras and Yosemite National Park. But at some point they became a leftist political agency under the cover of being a nice environmental club.

But then the coal industry once supplied nearly half of America’s power needs, and kept the cost of power low for American homes and businesses, enabling the prosperous industrial country we live in.  Mr. McClendon is hardly the only person who has been trying to enrich himself and his business by using the fear of a crisis of global warming that has been pushed by so many environmental organizations.

The cheap and affordable energy that coal-fired plants produce cannot be replaced by renewables, no matter how much investors hope it to become fact instead of wishful thinking. Wind is highly intermittent — we had a minor wind storm today that deposited bushels of fir cones and branches on the roof and on the streets (and on the driveway I laboriously swept yesterday) yet there were long periods with no wind at all, and even some blue sky.

Wind energy proponents talk about optimum performance — what a wind farm could produce if all the turbines were turning at the speed that would be produced by a perfect flow of wind. But Mother Nature doesn’t work that way.Wind is intermittent at best, and even shuts down for long periods. When it isn’t blowing at the perfect speed, then the power has to come from somewhere else. Hopes for battery walls ignore the availability and expense of the rare earths required which largely come from China, who has cornered the market and can raise prices as they choose.

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan will prevent 0.03 degrees of warming by 2100.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity — but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.



I Thought Political Correctness Was Simply Annoying, I Didn’t Realize It Was A Major Advance In The Left’s War on American Freedom by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday, I got slapped upside the head, and I want to do the same to you. You’ll have to do a bit of reading and listening, but the current political campaign is missing the point, and we need to understand just what the hell is going on.

I began with an article by Dr. Michael Ledeen, who seems to have an inside track to the administration in Iran, so I always pay attention. His article was titled Idiocy AND Ideology? What Really Drives Obama? That’s about where I was, trying to do some armchair psychoanalysis, trying to grasp why Obama was doing what he was doing. (Read the links and watch the video)

The “ideology” part stuck in my mind because I’d just written about political correctness and Michelle Obama’s speech at a Democratic Convention: She said Barack “spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about ‘The world as it is’ and ‘The world as it should be.’ All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do — that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.” There’s the ideology. But as much as the Left believes in bringing about the world ‘as it should be’— it won’t work. Socialism never works because there is no utopia at the end of fixing the world. We are still ordinary fallible human beings who have trouble getting along and possess all the faults that go along with being human.

Barack Obama really took to his training in the Alinsky method. His trainers said that he was the best student they had ever had, and it all boils down to how to manipulate people into the revolution that will bring about the world as it should be. Utopia—the impossible dream that has captured so many, and has resulted in 700% inflation in Venezuela and no toilet paper. Or for that matter Cuba, with dissidents shot regularly, and all those quaint cars from the 1950s.

Then I came across “The Return of Socialism” by Ben Domenech, who explains where we are right now. The Millennials think Socialism would be dandy, since they have no idea what it is, and really go for the idea of a free college education for all — instead of massive student debt for a college degree that doesn’t seem to be even getting them jobs. They don’t have the background or knowledge to know what Socialism is. Bernie really doesn’t either. He wants us to be like Denmark. But in America  a new Honda Accord costs around $22,000, in Denmark a new Honda Accord costs around $44,000, so most people just don’t have cars.

Next I got another whack to my head from MIT computer genius David Gerlernter: “The Elephant in the Room.” He said that what voters are really angry about is political correctness. I had just written a post on the political correctness of “diversity,” — I’ve been writing about political correctness forever, (more than 72 posts) but I always dismissed it as random stupidity — not a radical war to change the culture.

Who could imagine trying to run the military on “renewable fuels” like wind and solar — because petroleum is politically incorrect — but that is what Obama has ordered the military to do.

The evidence is all there, we’re annoyed, angered, but I’m sure that I’m not the last one that is not putting it all together. But then  I came across this video, from 2012, which I had saved because it is so important—which links it all together. Watch the whole 12 minutes.

There it is: The Frankfurt School at Columbia, where Barack Obama got his undergraduate degree, (the academic records never released). “The Narrative” which is daily attempting to change the way we think and believe. We know the redefinition of words is nonsense, but it is a war on American individual liberty and national freedom infecting every corner of society,  changing American culture right before our eyes, in ways that we do not want it changed! We are at war, and we don’t recognize it.

Marco Rubio spoke out forcefully in New Hampshire about how Obama was trying to transform America. He repeated it three times — forcefully, and meant it. And it’s true. Can’t have that mentioned by a Republican candidate. Marco Rubio was promptly transformed by the leftist media into “a robot,” someone who memorizes his lines and then just mindlessly repeats them. A theme that was repeated in the media endlessly. No. He told an unacceptable truth that directly attacked “The Narrative.” You will be told how to think about that incident. That’s the way it works — you will be bullied into silence.

We have a president who cannot call Islamic terrorism even ‘Islamic’, it becomes ‘violent extremism’. Some agency in the government of Washington state just ruled that all public bathrooms in the state must become open to all sexes. What?

The biggest one, of course, was the Fort Hood massacre when Major Nidal Hasan was clearly observed to be a dangerous jihadist, but nobody could say so because it would be politically incorrect, so 13 people were killed and 32 seriously wounded, not just because Major Hasan could not be called a jihadist because it might offend, but nobody on the Fort Hood military base was allowed to be armed, again because all those weapons might offend. The inability to carry weapons killed a lot of our soldiers in Afghanistan, and at that recruiting office in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where 4 Marines and 1 sailor were shot, because people might be offended by seeing guns at a military recruiting office.

Our kids are being taught social justice (a nonsense phrase) in high school, they are indoctrinated with the idea that the Earth is endangered (by the natural warming and cooling of the planet). They learn history from Howard Zinn’s little Communist propaganda book that falsely twists everything about American culture into something evil, racist, bigoted, or corrupt.  They cannot write a letter because cursive handwriting is no longer being taught. They are painfully ignorant of history, geography, economics, and professors complain that they are poorly prepared for college, where they will rack up huge student loans to learn about the evils of America, the rape culture, white privilege, women’s studies, more social justice, and the evils of our economic system. Here’s what one business student learned, in business school.

Our founders were well aware of the oppression of a monarch 3,500 miles across the entire Atlantic Ocean, the rights they had as British citizens under the Magna Charta were being denied,and they fought a revolution to be free of it. They devised a form of government that was elected and directed by the people, responsible to the people and left the people free to make of their little country what they would.

It is quite astonishing what a free people and free markets can do. That freedom and those free people are quite frightening to the governments of the world — because allowing such freedom means losing their own power.

Some Americans are hoping the brash huckster from New York will fix what has gone wrong. He has sneered at political correctness, but they misunderstand just who he is. Daniel Greenfield spells it out in To Understand Trump, You Have to Understand New York,” another must read. We tried having a president whose greatest need was to enhance his own ego, and it was painful. Let’s not do that again.

Our culture is being changed right under our noses. We know it’s wrong, that it will lead nowhere, that “The Narrative” is a lie.  Socialism never, never works and has never worked anywhere, yet the Utopian dream lingers. Violent Muslim jihadists are released from Guantanamo to return to the fight because Obama thinks the world believes it to be a place where innocent prisoners are tortured. He believes the Middle East will be more peaceful when the more cosmopolitan Iranians are running the place, and since they care about their families just like we do, they would never actually use nuclear weapons. The world not as it is, they’re fighting for “the world as it should be” but there’s is no utopia at the end of “fixing” the world — just another exercise in futility and ruin for us all. It always ends in misery.



Add Another Triumph to the Obama Legacy List by The Elephant's Child

BN-HV516_0411ob_J_20150411183828Just the headlines alone are funny:

June 7, 2015: The Secret Life of Fidel Castro A member of Castro’s security guard tells all.

August 18, 2015: Obama circumventing Congress to loosen Cuba travel ban Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the effort is one more example of the president abusing his executive power and trying to circumvent Congress.

August 20, 2015: What Does the U.S. Get Out of Obama’s Restored Ties to Cuba? Nothing Good The 54 year communist military dictatorship has gotten the full benefit of restored U.S. ties without conceding anything.

September 9, 2015: Coddling Castros Has Made Cuban Regime More Vicious than Ever Far from loosening up, the Castro brothers are cracking down on Cubans harder than ever. It’s as if the fresh attention is a perk for them alone, and the Cuban people not invited.

October 08, 2015: Cubans Have FLOCKED To The US Since Obama Renewed Relations The pace of immigration from Cuba is up 78 percent this year.

October 15, 3015: Cuba-based musical group performs at White House for the first time in 50 years Members of Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club perform at a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month

October 15, 2015 ‘A SLAP N THE FACE TO OBAMA:’ CUBAN TROOPS FIGHT FOR ASSAD IN SYRIA Cuban special forces are operating on the ground in Syria in defense of dictator Bashar al-Assad, and are expected to operate Russian tanks in battles against anti-Assad rebels.

Just another bright idea scratched off on the to-do list.



R.I.P. Robert Conquest by The Elephant's Child

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The great historian of Russia has passed away at the age of 98. Robert Conquest spent 28 years at the Hoover Institution where he was a Senior Research Fellow. He has, perhaps, been best known for his landmark work The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties. Thirty-five years after its publication, the book remains one of the most influential studies of Soviet history and has been translated into more than 20 languages. It is a detailed log of Stalin’s assassinations, arrests, tortures, frame-ups, forced confessions, show trials, executions and incarcerations that destroyed millions of lives.

Conquest was the author of twenty-one books on Soviet history, politics, and international affairs, including Harvest of Sorrow, which exposed the terror famine in the Ukraine, Stalin and the Kirov Murder, The Great Terror a Reassessment, Stalin: Breaker of Nations and Reflections on a Ravaged Century and The Dragons of Expectation. The last two are treasured books of mine.

He wrote one science fiction novel, and lots of poetry for which he also received awards.

He had no shortage of awards, the Jefferson Lectureship, the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for achievement in the humanities (1930), the Dan David Prize (2012), Poland’s Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2009), Estonia’s  Cross of Terra Mariana (2008), and the Ukrainian Order of Yaroslav Mudryi (2005).

Educated at Winchester College and the University of Grenoble, he was an exhibitioner in modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving his BA and MA in politics, philosophy, and economics and his DLitt in history.

Conquest-2005-copyConquest served in the British infantry in World War II and thereafter in His Majesty’s Diplomatic Service; he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. In 1996 he was named a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

( from the Hoover Institution, and Cynthia Haven)




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