American Elephants


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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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:

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Uncommon Knowledge: Victor Davis Hanson by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson on grand strategy, immigration, and the coming election.  It’s a fascinating conversation, worth every minute. I hope you can find time.

 



The Danger of the “Black Lives Matter” Movement. by The Elephant's Child

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From City Journal “No Equivalence” by Bob McManus, July 8 2016.

Much remains to be learned about the why and the how of Thursday night’s massacre in Dallas, but there is scant mystery about the what: at least 11 police officers were calmly marked for execution for no other reason than that they were cops. When the firing was over, five lay dead and the remainder wounded—some gravely.

To the untrained eye, the attack appears to have been well-planned and carried out with precision. In this respect, it was fundamentally different than the events that brought hundreds of demonstrators to downtown Dallas Thursday—the police-custody deaths of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Paul, Minnesota, in a welter of chaos, confusion, and conflicting claims of guilt, innocence, and intent.

Baton Rouge and St. Paul, like so many of the similarly tragic police-custody deaths that preceded them, may have been the product of circumstance, or of incompetence, or maybe they were even crimes. Each must be examined in context and judged accordingly. But Dallas was cold-blooded murder—nothing more, nothing less. Attempts to assign equivalence to the horror of it—to suggest, as some are doing on social media, that Dallas is somehow just deserts for Baton Rouge or St. Paul or Baltimore or Ferguson, or even for Eric Garner’s death on Staten Island two long years ago—is morally repugnant.

Nor can this be blamed on guns. Guns are inanimate objects and don’t go around shooting people. It is the shooter who is the problem, not the gun. So far in 2016, 34 police officers have been murdered in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, most by gunfire and others by vehicular assault. Many more have been wounded.

When officers are killed in the line of duty, other officers on patrol become more cautious. It’s only natural, they have families and want to go home at night.

For the media, America is in the grip of an orgy of crime, and wanton murder. These wanton murderers are wearing blue uniforms and police badges. It makes for exciting bylines and good copy. But it’s not true.

White policemen shooting unarmed black men accounted for less than 4 percent of fatal police shooting. In three quarters of  shooting incidents, cops were either under attack themselves or defending civilians, as the policemen in Dallas were doing — trying to protect civilian demonstrators.

According to the Department of Justice, blacks represent 12.6 percent of the population, but committed 52.5 percent of the murders in America from 1980 to 2008. This is not to say that there are not bad cops and killings that call for investigation and jury trials. The worst neighborhoods in Chicago, where gangs run wild, have a higher murder rate than world murder capitals like Honduras. (116.7 per 100,000 compared to 90.4 per 100,000).

Barack Obama has encouraged racial animus from the beginning in an effort to secure the black vote for Democrats. It’s what he did as a community organizer. That he wanted to assure black votes is not arguable; that he wanted to stoke black fears of racist police is unknown, though that is what has happened.

Black Lives Matter was launched in 2013 with a Twitter hashtag after neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin. It was founded by radical Left activists, and has gone on to stir up resentment against “the system”  on college campuses across the country, responding to phony “hate” crimes, and increase demands for revolution and racial separation. Another outgrowth of communist/socialist agitation.

Heather MacDonald has been one of the most important voices in explaining American policing and the current attack on law and order. I would urge you to read her whole piece, from Imprimis.



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.




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