American Elephants


It’s Not About Terrorism, It’s About the Lack of Opportunity by The Elephant's Child

Last night on Hardball on MSNBC, Host Chris Matthews interviewed State Department spokesgirl Marie Harf, who explained to viewers just why Obama’s attempts to deal with ISIS have been so ineffective.

Remember that Marie Harf, as a spokesperson, does not express her own opinion, but the opinion of her boss, Secretary Kerry, the administration and the president. So this is Obama ‘s foreign policy:

MATTHEWS: Are we killing enough of them?

HARF: We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs, whether…

MATTHEWS: We’re not going to be able to stop that in our lifetime or fifty lifetimes. There’s always going to be poor people. There’s always going to be poor Muslims, and as long as there are poor Muslims, the trumpet’s blowing and they’ll join. We can’t stop that, can we?

HARF: We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people…

It must often seem that conservatives are anxious to find anything that will reflect badly on Obama, but it’s the policies that are the problem, and I think Conservatives are seriously worried about national security, do not feel that the administration understands the problem, and fears that they want to make a deal with Iran, the evil state that sponsors the terrorism that we see in the world.

Conservatives are inclined to believe the “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” shouts of their officials. The “root causes” theme always has some appeal to the West, because it offers a simple, and simple-minded cure. But it never works and has been proven wrong over and over. Democrats just can’t bring themselves to believe in evil, except when applied to Republicans or anyone else who stands in their way.

And sorry, Marie. Wars are always won by killing the enemy, until they are so utterly defeated that they give up abjectly and permanently. Wars are not won with peace treaties, nor with amelioration of root causes. Wars are won by defeating the enemy. Mr. Obama is more concerned about global warming than the threat of Islamic terrorism, which he cannot even dignify by naming it.

The President does not know what he is talking about. He misconstrues Vladimir Putin, and does not know his history. He does not understand Iran, and does not grasp their intentions. He has surrounded himself with yes-men and women, and does not listen to disagreement. A president needs to have those who disagree with his policies around, so he can learn what the opposition thinks, and evaluate whether his own position is correct. He needs to be probing the best minds he can find, to learn and ponder ideas other than his own.

ADDENDUM:The jihadists recruited from Western countries are usually, according to studies, from comfortable middle class families, or well-to-do parents, who have been radicalized by charismatic preachers or recruiters. Poverty and lack of opportunity are not usually the problem.



Another Train Derailment: Thanks Green Activists! by The Elephant's Child

derailment  - credit Bob Aaron-WCHS(photo by Bob Aaron-WCHS)

A CSX train composed largely of tanker cars derailed this afternoon in Mount Carbon, West Virginia. Adena village, a neighborhood close to the derailment, was evacuated after one residence caught fire when a tanker car slammed into  a house and burst into flames.

One tanker car went into the Kanawha River, and some cars exploded. All but two of the 109 cars were tankers loaded with Bakken crude from North Dakota, headed to Yorktown, Virginia. At least 14 tank cars were reported to be on fire, and there is burning oil on the Kanawha. Some cars have exploded, and at least one sent a fireball at least 300 feet in the air.

Two water treatment plants have been shut down to prevent oil from getting into the water supply. Residents will continue to have water for the next 6 to 8 hours due to an emergency reserve supply.

Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline keep reminding the environmental activists that oil trains have a record of derailing, sometimes with considerable lost lives,  and that a pipeline is immeasurably safer, but it doesn’t sink in. The oil will go to market, whether by pipeline, train or truck. We have many pipelines crossing the Midwest because they are safer and thriftier.

Our economy runs on oil, coal, natural gas and in some places—hydropower and nuclear energy. If we want an economy, and goods to supply the economy, we must have energy. Solar arrays and wind farms produce little energy, and must have 24/7 full-time backup from a conventional power plant. Sounded nice to depend on the sun and the wind, but it was always hooey, and a scheme to enrich favored cronies with government subsidies.

It was not known at the time of this report if anyone was injured or killed.



King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Has Died at Age 90 by The Elephant's Child

saudiking

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia has died at the age of 90, according to a statement from the Royal Court.

Abdullah’s half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, who is 79 years old, was declared king and Prince Mugrin, 69, became crown prince. He became  governor of Riyadh Province in 1962 and ruled the province until 2011 when he became defense minister. He has played an increasingly prominent role in Saudi politics. He is known to favor close political and economic ties with the West.

Most of us know little about the very conservative desert kingdom. The modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded only in 1932. Abdullah had to steer the alliance with America through the 9/11 terror attacks. The kingdom was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers and many pointed out that the ideology of al-Qaeda stemmed from Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

When al-Qaeda militants began a wave of violence in the kingdom in 2003 aimed at toppling the monarchy, Abdullah cracked down hard. Security forces battled militants for 3 years, finally forcing them to retreat to Yemen. Abdullah had worked steadily to slowly modernize the kingdom. He was a strong supporter of education, building universities at home and increasing scholarships for students of both sexes.

He also moved to open greater opportunities for women to participate. He gave women seats on the Shura Council, an  unelected body that advises the king and government. Small steps, but big within the kingdom, where the Wahhabi clerics who hold near total sway over society and give the Saud family’s rule religious legitimacy. State-run TV has begun playing music, forbidden for decades. Small careful steps.

Abdullah had 30 children from around 12 wives.



Obama’s Failure to Be Represented in Paris Was Quite Deliberate by The Elephant's Child

Another day, another press conference. NPR’s Mara Liasson asked “The leader of France, your ally in this effort, has put a name on this ideology, which he calls radical Islam. “You have bent over backwards to not ever say that. There must be a reason.”

Josh Earnest launched into a long explanation of the reasons for refusing to use the term “radical Islam:”

The first is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it.

The second is, this was an act that was roundly condemned by Muslim leaders. Again, I am describing to you the reasons why we have not chosen to use that label, because it does not seem to accurately describe what happened.

We also don’t want to be in a situation where we are legitimizing what we consider to be a completely illegitimate justification for this violence, this act of terrorism.

This is beyond strange, but quite in line with Obama’s past statements, and leaves most Americans  puzzled — because it makes no sense, no sense at all. There are approximately 1.3 billion Muslims on the planet. Is it assumed that if you utter the words “radical Islam” they will all turn radical overnight and go to war with us? Every indication is that the majority of Muslims in the world are not violent, and do not approve of those who are, but are scared to speak out.

Over the past 12 months, Obama has turned loose 30 detainees from Guantanamo Bay, including 15 in the last month — most of them al Qaeda operatives, and he promises more to come. All of the remaining prison population of 127 could be released by the end of this year.

This suggests that Obama believes that he was elected as the anti-Bush, and his path to history is to end, or destroy everything that George W. did. If so, he’s misunderstood the Bush administration, and made a complete mess of it at best.

Al Qaeda in Yemen has claimed credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack. ISIS is already successfully recruiting among the Taliban in Afghanistan. Nearly 25% of released Gitmo detainees are back in the battle against us. The administration is trying to track down an al Qaeda terrorist released from Gitmo years ago and offering a $5 million reward for information and placing him on a global terrorist list. Wait! There is a global terrorist list? But….

We are under constant threat from radical Islam. Islam is a political religion, that determines how Muslims should live their lives, from government and laws to the most personal details of everyday life. The historic Muhammad allowed no dissent nor criticism, and those attempting it were killed. Muslim societies have not done well with the industrial revolution and capitalism part of modernity, and have fallen far behind.  The reaction to that failure has been, for some, to regard it as a failure to adhere closely enough to the true Islam.

Most religions have fewer restrictions on their adherents now than they once did. The early Americans were intolerant of Christmas celebration. Mormons once celebrated multiple marriages. Many Catholics use birth control, and fish on Fridays is no longer mandatory. Atheism is no longer a scandal. And diversity of belief is mostly celebrated in modern society rather than condemned.

Obama still seems to be clinging to the idea that America’s (his) victory over the organization behind 9/11 was disposative. He ended the War in Iraq, and ended the War in Afghanistan, and got Bin Laden. All done.

Yes there will be threats in the future, Obama acknowledged, but they will be smaller. …As we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types if attacks we faced before 9/11. …

In 2010,  a New York Times article noted that top White House officials “have made a point of dissociating Islam from terrorism in public comments, using the phrase ‘violent extremism’ in place of words like ‘jihad’ and ‘Islamic terrorism.’ …

So when the president chose not to attend the Paris march …the problem wasn’t a tin-ear sense of public relations. It was Obama’s actual attitude toward the terror threat facing not only Europe but the United States. We’ve dealt with the big stuff, Obama has declared, now let’s move on.

It has often seemed to me that Obama’s knowledge of history is remarkably thin. He is unfamiliar with matters of War, of the military, he attaches some importance to the fact that his grandfather served in ‘Patton’s army’, but has little knowledge of what that meant. Recently, in one of those occasional moments of candor he remarked that he spends most of his time watching ESPN.

Attorney General Eric Holder was actually in Paris on the day of the march, but chose not to attend.



Climate Change Denial Is A Crime Against Humanity! by The Elephant's Child

The mystery Of just who the other “violent extremists” are is solved, by a post from spiked:

Whoever thought that serious commentators would want it made illegal to have a row about the weather? One Australian columnist has proposed outlawing ‘climate change denial’. ‘David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial’, she wrote. ‘Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offense. It is a crime against humanity, after all.’ (1) Others have suggested that climate change deniers should be put on trial in the future, Nuremberg-style, and made to account for their attempts to cover up the ‘global warming…Holocaust’.

The message is clear: climate change deniers are scum. Their words are so wicked and dangerous that they must be silenced, or criminalized, or forced beyond the pale alongside those other crackpots who claim there was no Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Perhaps climate change deniers should even be killed off, hanged like those evil men who were tried Nuremberg-style the first time around.

Whatever the truth about our warming planet, it is clear there is a tidal wave of intolerance in the debate about climate change which is eroding free speech and melting rational debate. There has been no decree from on high or piece of legislation outlawing climate change denial, and indeed there is no need to criminalise it, as the Australian columnist suggests. Because in recent months it has been turned into a taboo, chased out of polite society by a wink and a nod, letters of complaint, newspaper articles continually comparing climate change denial to Holocaust denial. An attitude of ‘You can’t say that!’ now surrounds debates about climate change, which in many ways is more powerful and pernicious than an outright ban. I am not a scientist or an expert on climate change, but I know what I don’t like – and this demonisation of certain words and ideas is an affront to freedom of speech and open, rational debate.

Kind of explains the liberal disinterest in talk about free speech. We have noticed that those folks on the left are somewhat intolerant of disagreement. They really don’t like their ideas to be challenged.  Britain’s Royal Society wrote to ExxonMobil to demand that they cut off any funding to groups that have “misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial  of the evidence.” Funny thing, I have never heard anyone deny that the climate changes. They simply deny that it is anything to get all excited about.  An open letter to the Society from climatologist Tim Ball argues that:

“scientific inquiry is unique because it requires falsifiability’: ‘The beauty of science is that no issue is ever “settled”, that no question is beyond being more fully understood, that no conclusion is immune to further experimentation. And yet for the first time in history, the Royal Society is shamelessly using the media to say emphatically: “case closed” on all issues related to climate change.”

Well, they’re coming to take me away, ha ha, they’re coming to take me away. We skeptics are to be grouped with Holocaust deniers, we will be “directly responsible for millions of deaths from starvation, famine and disease in decades ahead.” (Mark Lynas) I think it was Bobby Kennedy Jr. that wanted us put in concentration camps. So there you go.



Barbarians At The Gates Of Paris! by The Elephant's Child

By the best estimates France now has a Muslim population of 6 million or approximately 10%of its 65 million people. David Goldman suggests that “if only 1% of this population are radicalized to the point of engaging in or providing support for terrorist activities, that is a pool of 60,000 individuals.” not 60.000 bombers or shooters, but a support network that would allow a smaller number of terrorists to blend into the population.

In the suburbs of Paris there are “no-go ” zones that are ruled by Muslim gangs that can intimidate the Muslim population. “France has already lost the capacity to police a part of its territory, which means that it cannot conduct effective counter-terror operations.”

To put the 60,000 number in context ,”the whole prison population of France is less than 70,000, of whom 60% are Muslims…. France has had the toughest enforcement policy against radical Islam among the major European nations. The use of assault rifles and (reportedly) a rocket launcher in the center of Paris is a statement of contempt toward the authorities on the part of the terrorists.”

Islam is a political religion.

In contrast to Christianity, Judaism and all the other religions we know, Islam means to control every aspect of life, including both government and private life. The West, bowing to political correctness, multiculturalism and vague ideas about ‘can’t we all just get along’ does not know how to deal with Islam.

The perils of multiculturalism and open borders have reached critical mass in Sweden. There are Muslim enclaves where postal, fire and other essential services — even police officers themselves —require police protection.

A police report released last month identifies 55 of these “no-go zones” in Sweden. These zones are similar to others that have popped up in Europe in recent years. They formed as large Muslim populations emigrating to politically correct and tolerant European states refuse to assimilate and set up virtual states within a state where the authorities fear to tread.  (emphasis added)

The Swedish Police Academy is revising their curriculum to include coursework of cultural sensitivity intended to achieve “greater understanding of the intercultural perspective. Sweden will not be profiling.

Nor will there be any here. The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis has “Little Mogadishu,” home to America’s largest concentration of Somali immigrants. This neighborhood has become a recruiting ground for Islamic terrorists. CBS has reported that as many as 40 young men have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria. A Fox affiliate in Minneapolis-St Paul reported the case of Abdirahmaan-Muhumed. Before he went to Syria, he worked for Delta Global Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Airlines. His job was to clean aircraft, and he had a security clearance that gave him unfettered access to the tarmac and passenger jets.

Political correctness and cultural sensitivity aren’t going to do it. Nor are open borders and  “amnesty.” Last week the Wall Street Journal had a fascinating piece about the uses European countries are finding for all their empty churches. We, perhaps, need to reexamine our melting-pot tradition, that welcomed immigrants from all over the world and had a remarkably successful record of assimilation — turning immigrants into proud Americans. What has changed?



And a Politically Incorrect Merry Christmas to You by The Elephant's Child

Protesters are marching in Manhattan because they think they want “social justice” rather than real justice.

There is no such thing as “social justice.” We have only one kind of justice — which is embodied in the law. The laws established by the people and their representatives come with no guarantee that they will make people feel good about the outcome. Societies need rules, no law will cover every situation, and often the outcome may seem unfair, or be unfair. The police are there to enforce the law, and keep you safe, not to make you feel good.

The childish inability of the Left and their useful idiots to accept the fallible, imperfect nature of humanity endures. They do not truly recognize that there is evil in the world, and they are not prepared to deal with it. You cannot regulate niceness, kindness or peace. You will be offended if you allow yourself to be. Our constitutional freedom of speech does not guarantee that you will not be offended — it guarantees that you will have to put up with speech you don’t like.

I have never understood why anyone should be protected from being “offended.” Part of life is learning how to cope with being insulted, having your feelings hurt, being treated unfairly, or bullied. You wll probably get fired at some point. Some bosses are tyrants. Life is unfair. Surely your mother told you that. You will have your feelings hurt, and protection doesn’t come from some social-engineering regulation passed by leftist loonies, but from your own internal armor and stoical resignation that recognizes the imperfect humanity of the world.  Not everybody is nice, even nice people are sometimes mean, and there is real evil in the world. Get used to it. You can always try to be nice yourself, that might help.

The United States has recognized that there are many religions in the world, though we remain a Judeo-Christian nation. Our very first settlers were seeking religious freedom to practice their own religion free from the dictates of the state. They were escaping a long, long siege of religious wars. Catholicism, Church of England and Scottish Presbyterianism fought bloody, chopping off heads wars, and Puritans, Pilgrims, Shakers, Mennonites, Quakers, Episcopalians, Jews, Dutch Reformed, German Reformed, Irish Catholic, Scots-Irish Presbyterians, and all sorts of odd sects came to America and some new ones arose here, and for the most part they learned to get along, with a few notable exceptions here and there. Comparatively speaking, we Americans are pretty outstanding in the getting-along department, and in the public bellyaching department as well.

It seems to me that we have become more sensitive to offending by the mention of religion only in the wake of 9/11. We cannot say anything unkind about radical Islam because of the freedom of religion clause, which was written to assure that we never established a state religion. It has been twisted into the idea that religious expression is impolite. So we are left with immigrants from Muslim countries whose goal is to establish a state religion — Islam, and Sharia law.

Europe is dying of political correctness. Because of declining birthrates they do not have enough young people to support an aging population, so they have invited in vast numbers of immigrants, a large percentage of whom are Muslim, who want to come to Europe because their native countries are poverty-ridden dysfunctional tyrannies. The Western societies have no long experience in turning immigrants into Hollanders or French or Swedes. The immigrants remain Moroccans, Egyptians or Somalis living in European countries. This comes just at the time when the continent is embarked on a program of making everybody into ‘Europeans’ with open borders, common currency and common laws in the hope of ending the constant wars that have decimated the continent for centuries.

Michael Walsh wrote recently about far-right populist politician Geert Wilders, who will be tried in the Netherlands for inciting racial hatred. He asked the crowd at a rally after local elections if they wanted ‘fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?’ The crowd said ‘fewer.’ He responded “we’re going to organize that.” Later, in a TV interview, he referred to ‘Moroccan scum.’ Apparently now, Moroccans are a ‘race.’ You can see that assimilation is not going well.

In Sweden 20% of the once homogenous population are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Sweden attempted to give shelter to the oppressed, but they are not turning them into proud Swedes. Mass immigration has dissolved Sweden’s social cohesion and overburdened the welfare system. The government cannot or will not cope. The people want immigration reduced. There is deep hostility between the aging indigenous population and the very fertile immigrant one. Demographers say that by 2050, Europe will be Muslim. Are we going to follow down that path?

We are deeply conflicted with the problems of political correctness, diversity, inequality, social justice, race, gender, ethnicity and an antagonism towards religion. Are we to follow the failures of the European idea, or continue to assimilate and turn immigrants into proud Americans? The founders, correctly, emphasized equality of opportunity — not equality of outcome. We all have a chance to make of ourselves what we choose. We’ll make mistakes, some will fail, some will make very bad choices. But we are human and striving, and being human is an imperfect business.

The vision of the Left won’t and cannot work. Diversity does not reside in skin color nor  gender, but in what is in our heads. Appreciate the differences and learn from each other. Some of the richest people have the least money. Redistributing income won’t fix anything. Redistribute excellent teachers instead. Get the kids to the library where they can encounter a world of opportunity.

And this Christmas go out and offend — wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Sing a carol or two. Redistribute some extra cash into the Salvation Army’s red buckets. Appreciate the natural diversity of the mass of humanity of this world. You cannot fix them. It’s hard enough getting along with your own relatives.




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