American Elephants

Thanksgiving Break: Time For Some Serious Talks With The Kids. by The Elephant's Child

AP_yale_protest_05_mm_151110_12x5_1600The campus hooplah has died down, as it’s time for Thanksgiving break. Even the community organizers have to take time off for turkey. It becomes clearer and clearer that that’s what’s up. Organizing for Action and Americorps community organizers are hard at work stirring up discontent. An outgrowth of the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, and Baltimore, they are mobilizing mobs against “biased cops,” “climate change deniers,” “Wall Street predators,” and other assorted crimes against social justice.

They’ve had their power demonstrated as they get administrators to resign and faculty members admonished or fired or disgraced. But they don’t really have anything real to protest about. The hate crimes against blacks turn out to be fake, the fists held up in solidarity are unsure about just what they are in solidarity about. When those supposedly in charge want to know what the fuss is all about — somebody used the n-word, except there is no evidence. What do they want? More black studies courses! But there is declining interest in black studies courses because nobody wants to enroll. In today’s difficult job market, there is no demand for black studies, nor ethnic studies.

At Princeton the mob called for eliminating Woodrow Wilson’s name from campus buildings. He was a president of the University, and yes he was a bigot, and went on to become a president of the United States. History is simply what happened in the past. You can’t change it , or make it go away by disapproving of it in the present.

At Yale it was about Halloween costumes. At the University of Missouri, Jonathan Butler, the son of a wealthy railroad executive, went on a hunger strike to protest “revolting” acts of racism. Except the supposed acts of racism never seem to have occurred, or at least there was no evidence that they did.

Like the “campus rape culture” that never happened, Emma Sulkowitz has carried her mattress around in protest, but that seemed to be second thoughts about consensual sex.

At Amherst College, there are nonnegotiable demands from a student group that the president apologize for Amherst’s institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native indigenous racism, heterosexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma and classism.” Oh please. The community organizers may have got the mob all stirred up, but once stirred, they don’t really know what to do with it nor do they have any clear idea about just what they are excited about.

The safe spaces, microaggressions, trigger warnings, are all nonsense promulgated by faculty more interested in social justice — whatever that is — than in scholarship and substance. No wonder some companies are looking abroad for STEM employees. Who needs a new employee who needs a safe space and no microaggressions? Every workplace on this planet has microaggressions daily. Roger Kimball has long investigated campus trends, notably in his book Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Higher Education. (2008). Take a look at his other books too. They are directly applicable today.

Mr. Kimball’s article in the Wall Street Journal was accompanied with a photo of a girl with a bullhorn (You can’t have a protest without a bullhorn) in the Odegaard Library at the University of Washington in Seattle. The rally was in support of black students at the University of Missouri where Jonathan Butler, son of a multimillionaire railroad executive was conducting a hunger strike because someone drove by in a pickup with confederate flags shouting the n-word— except no one could be found who saw such a pickup. But the football team threatened to strike in solidarity with Mr. Butler, because of other racist utterances, also unproven. Forfeiting the football game would have cost Mizzou $1 million, so the students got what they wanted, but they weren’t too sure of what it was. Lots of solidarity though.

But everybody across the campuses of America was in solidarity with whatever it was. I hope the parents of the unruly offspring have a word with their kids over Thanksgiving and return them to campus suitably cowed or don’t return them and suggest they get a job instead.

This is going to reverberate across academia. It is an ideological fantasy, and it’s going to get much worse. A lot of parents aren’t going to be willing to pay the freight at elite schools if this is the result. Universities have gotten way too greedy on the governmental push on student loans to back an ever expanding tuition bill. The American people are firm believers in freedom of speech and the Bill of Rights, even if the faculty isn’t, and they won’t put up with much of this.


The Silly Season: Campaign Speeches and Promises. by The Elephant's Child

Hillary%20explains_HillaryExlainsDemocrats are a constant puzzlement to me. They march in lockstep, seldom disagree with one another, and operate on the same talking points, which is regularly proved when they all use the same words to describe their position on an issue. Do they fight quietly in the fabled back rooms, never allowing their disagreements to reach public attention? I’m beginning to suspect that their connection to real issues currently before the public — is a little scanty.

Republicans are always all over the map, squabbling about who is conservative and who is not conservative enough, who is a RHINO, and its hard to get agreement on any single issue. That is supposed to be a fault, but it is simply the voice of freedom, and the way things are supposed to be. We are humans with human failings.

Hillary Clinton spoke on Saturday at the “Blue Jamboree” in Charleston S.C.. She said if she is elected president, she can create enough green energy to power every home in America by the end of her second term.

By the end of my first term, we will have installed a half a billion more solar panels, and by the end of my second term, enough clean energy to power every home in America.

She said her plan to subsidize alternative sources of energy would not entail a middle class tax hike. In fact, she would reduce taxes for working class families. She’s going to be fighting for that.

She said her plan to reform health care would bring costs down without raising taxes. And accused Republicans who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act as being driven by “political ideology” rather than a desire to “take care of people.” She would be willing to hold “senior level executives of companies accountable when they make decisions that cause the rest of the economy the troubles that we saw.”

Good Grief! The slightest familiarity with the news of the world would tell her that Spain and Germany started out years ago with just such exaggerated claims, and discovered, over time, that it didn’t work. The largest and most advanced $2.2 billion high-tech solar array in the Mojave Desert, Ivanpah,  is a colossal flop, producing only 40% of the promised electricity.

Solar energy produces a grand 0.3 or three-tenths of one percent of America’s electricity. If the governmental subsidies end, the solar arrays shut down, but Hillary is going to fix that and have everybody running on the vastly more expensive form of electricity from solar panels. Uh huh.  If that doesn’t work just throw America’s CEOs in the pokey.  And Republicans are driven by “political ideology?”

May 29 was the date when the Obama administration had to concede that the U.S. auto fleet cannot practically consume enough ethanol to fulfill Congress’s quotas. So Obama announced a new program so motorists can consume more ethanol. The U.S. must subsidize ethanol because the U.S. already subsidizes ethanol. Ethanol is corrosive and damages the engines and fuels systems of today’s cars and trucks (damages not covered by factory warranties), and damages ordinary pumps, piping and storage tanks.

The Agriculture Dept. will pull dollars from a New Deal outfit, the Commodity Credit Corp. that was created in 1933 to “stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices” for grants for states to build special equipment to service the 6 out of every 100 vehicles that can run, maybe, on the higher ethanol blends. A little government hokey-pokey there, but the point of the subsidy seems to be saving the subsidy — not the taxpayers.

You have probably seen pictures of the thick smog in China, and the Chinese people wearing gas masks. That is not carbon dioxide pollution. CO2 is not a pollutant, but what we exhale. You learned, supposedly, in high school biology about photosynthesis. You exhale CO2, the plants take it in as fertilizer and release the oxygen.  It’s a good thing, and completely unrelated to “global warming.”

Bernie Sanders called, on Saturday, for the Republicans to abandon the corrupting influence of the Koch Brothers and other wealthy energy magnates. “This is a party that rejects science and refuses to understand that climate change is real.” Bernie is quite sure that the rise of ISIS can be attributed to global warming. But then way back in 1941, a scientist was claiming that global warming caused Hitler. Warmer temperatures “may produce a trend toward dictatorial governments.People are more docile and easily led in warm weather.”

So there you go. Nothing new under the sun. Same old, Same old.

A Short Essay on Modern Life, Or Something Like That. by The Elephant's Child

4886682532_b29722fd6b_bI had to go to the grocery store yesterday for a few things, and I was annoyed when they hadn’t gotten in any more strawberries. And I considered my annoyance. End of November in the Great Northwest and there are no fresh strawberries? How quickly we get used to the comforts of modern life. I can certainly remember when strawberries came in the few weeks when the local strawberry fields actually had fruit on the vine.

I picked up a package of 3″ x 5″ scratch pads — the kind you write your grocery list on, and discovered that the package of 4 pads was — imported from China. So there you go. Two direct reminders of how times have changed and in spite of all our complaining, we are blessed with plenty.

So I bought a package of fresh raspberries instead, and added two containers of fresh blueberries and went on home.  (Sorry!  I’m easily amused.)

Those Senseless Campus Protests Are Not What They Seem by The Elephant's Child

Campus-Protests-Michigan-8Barack Obama was famously a community organizer before he ventured into Illinois politics. I should have read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, but I haven’t. My impression is that it is a course in how to manipulate people. Obama really took to Rules for Radicals, and according to Paul Sperry, writing in the New York Post, it has been a hallmark of his presidency.

The senseless protests we’re seeing break out on the campuses of the University of Missouri, Yale and other colleges, as well as on bridges and highway overpasses and outside police stations, are precisely the kind of thing Obama was trained to organize while attending leftist agitation schools founded by Chicago communist Saul Alinsky. He learned to a fare-thee-well how to “rub raw the sores of discontent.”

Obama. Sperry says, has trained more than 10,000 leftist organizers, who, in turn, are training more than 2 million youths in Alinsky street tactics. This is being done by his former campaign organization OFA, now Organizing for Action, registered as a 501c4 nonprofit eligible for unlimited contributions. The leftist group holds regular “organizing summits” on college campuses.

Through social media, they mobilize flash mobs against “biased cops,” “climate-change deniers,” “Wall Street predators” and “gun extremists.” They hold rallies against conservative foes of gay marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Young agitators have also been trained by AmeriCorps and My Brothers Keeper, the “racial justice” group founded in the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. They agitate for “school discipline reform” or alternatives to suspensions and expulsions.

These three federally sponsored projects share manpower, resources and radical agendas with Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street.

Well, that would explain a lot of the senseless protests now inflicting college campuses. It is becoming clear that the accusations of racial attacks and racial epithets simply don’t pan out. N-word insults are not heard by anyone else,  the person who threatened to ‘shoot every black kid on campus’ is a black kid.  A Columbia student claims to be traumatized by reading about white people.Some black students seem to be demanding — segregation. But radicalized kids are getting administrators and professors to resign. Ginni Thomas explores the same question from the perspective of the National Association of Scholars.

At National Review, David French says “the campus culture wars aren’t about “victims” or “racial injustice” or “safe spaces.” …They’re revolutionaries, and the revolution they seek is nothing less than the overthrow of our constitutional republic, beginning with our universities.

This is a movement built from the ground up around power and coercion. They hate free speech because free speech represents nothing but a threat — a chance for dissenters to expose the bankruptcy of their ideas. They hate due process because due process stands in the way of class-based justice, of identity-based jurisprudence. They hate the orthodox Christian faith because it rejects their sexual ideology and places the human conscience beyond the reach of mortal man.

Getting the Incentives Right Makes All The Difference by The Elephant's Child

police_by_steve_lyon_500x280Are you familiar with the term “Civil Asset Forfeiture”? Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate in sums seized averaged at a positive 19.4% annually.  In the year 2010 alone that number increased by 53.8%from the previous year and was six times greater than the total seized in 1989. In 2014 the amount seized for the year was roughly $4.5 billion.

According to the FBI the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses represented an estimated $3.9 billion. In other words, the police are now taking more assets than the crooks. Call it policing for profit. What’s going on? How does it work?

We give local police and prosecutors the authority to seize cash, cars, homes and other property from private citizens — without a court convicting those citizens of any crime. Without even charging them of a crime.  Then the authorities get to sell the goods and keep the profits for themselves. The incentives built into the system have led some localities to turn forfeiture into a shakedown operation.

On the one hand, we depend on the police to keep our neighborhoods safe; on the other we have Black Lives Matter activists charging police with racism and unnecessary attacks on innocents because of their race. Again, incentives at work. Police recruitment is down across the country. Potential recruits see no point in signing on for an occupation where they will be accused of racism, physically attacked, when they are risking their lives to protect the people. Even when cleared of all charges by careful investigation, they are assumed to be murderers. Who needs that?

Valerie Jarrett has just announced that President Obama will be working to reform the criminal justice system, releasing about 6,000 inmates convicted of drug related offenses, and she said, reforms that reduce prison populations will make America safer.

The idea seems to be that the black community suffers from an absence of fathers, and there are too many fathers in prison for non-violent offenses like selling drugs, so if we get the fathers out of prison, it will help the black community. Or something like that. “Banning the box” on federal employment applications will make a criminal background less apt to result in being rejected, and more men will be employed.

“If you keep people from going to prison in the first place, and they don’t get caught up in that system and they are getting employed and they have ways of taking care of their family, that brings crime down, and so I think we have all of the stakeholders firmly engaged in this process as a way of keeping our neighborhoods safer and allowing people to lead productive lives.”

“Jarrett predicted “really big things” would happen during Obama’s final year in office.” Somehow that statement does not fill me with confidence or anticipation.


“Contained,” But Under Obama’s Watch ISIS Has Grown by 4,400 Percent. by The Elephant's Child

lk_1The raging debate about Syrian refugees is full of lies and misrepresentations, and totally confusing.  Syria is a battleground with some of the worst characters imaginable. Bashar Assad is using barrel bombs and poison gas on his own citizens, ISIS is committing some of the worst crimes against humanity ever known, and destroying the archaeological remnants of the ancient world as well.

Strangely, to western eyes, those atrocities — beheading, crucifying, burning people in cages — are all designed to attract adherents. President Obama has claimed that ISIS is “controlled,” yet under Obama’s watch ISIS has grown by around 4,400 percent. CIA Director John Brennan admitted that the Islamic State terror group has grown by that much during President Barack Obama’s tenure in office. During former president George W. Bush’s term in office ISIS was “decimated” and had around “700 or so adherents left.” The CIA has found the organization currently has somewhere from 20,000 to 31,500 fighters operating across the Middle East.

The Islamic State “was, you know, pretty much decimated when US forces were there in Iraq. It had maybe 700-or-so adherents left. And then it grew quite a bit in the last several years, when it split then from al Qaeda in Syria, and set up its own organization,” Brennan said.

So much for ISIS being “contained.”

How “Syrian refugees” are presented to the public governs public opinion. A huddled Muslim woman with her arms around two small children, backed with other women and children creates a far different impression than a long column of young men of military age. The heartbreaking photo of the drowned Syrian toddler washed up on a Turkish beach had a photographer there to arrange the body and smooth back the hair. The toddler was from Lebanon, not Syria, and almost nothing about the whole story was true except that the child drowned.

“Refugee” is a word that has a specific meaning, and the nation’s laws describe how one gets classified as a refugee — the president does not get to decide who is a refugee — Congress does, and there is a religious test. A “refugee” is escaping persecution or threatened harm especially because of his religious beliefs. And yes, the Christians  in the Middle East do meet that test. We have welcomed some groups of refugees, from Cuba, from Vietnam. Many immigrants seek to make a new life in America leaving their country of origin, but that does not make them “refugees.” I’m really tired of Obama telling us who we are; and what is and is not American. We do not make hard decisions based on compassion and empathy — but on hard nosed facts.

When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted … that’s shameful…. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

Under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum. Under the provision governing asylum (section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. Code), an alien applying for admission must establish that…religion was or will be at least one central reason for processing the applicant.

How much of a risk should we take to allow into the country a host of people among whom a few terrorists or many terrorists may be hiding. The notion that we can “vet” them is clearly nonsense. There is no government in Syria to which we can apply for true information about who these people are. ISIS is increasingly using female suicide bombers. One just blew herself up in Paris. There are reports of ISIS fighters shaving their beards and disguising themselves as women in Europe. The fact that we have welcomed immigrants in the past has nothing whatsoever to do with the current situation. That’s a cheap appeal to emotion, and meant as a conversation stopper. It is not a simple question.

In welcoming immigrants, we have welcomed those who want to come to America, who want to become Americans, and who want to learn our history and our customs and our language. President Obama is attempting to eliminate, by executive order, portions of the oath of citizenship that require the immigrant to serve in the military if required. European countries have never figured out how to turn the immigrants they have accepted into real citizens.

We have been processing Syrian refugees for years. A leader of New York City’s Syrian community said that ISIS terrorists ave “absolutely” sneaked into America by posing as refugees from the civil war in Syria. He said he believes terrorists have been coning not only in the past few years, but way before that, said Arafat “Ralph” Succar. He added I think they’re already at work. He said the corruption in his homeland is so rampant that anyone could pay bribes and get official identification papers with a fake name to disguise their real identity.

And as Obama is being outraged over the governors and presidential contenders who want to pause the inflow of Syrian refugees. From Manila he tweeted

Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values. That’s not who we are. And it’s not what we’re going to do.

But back in 2011, at Obama’s behest, the administration stopped processing Iraqi refugee requests for six months after two Iraqi refugees were arrested on terrorism charges in Bowling Green Kentucky. The State Department stopped processing refugee requests in order to review and revamp security screening procedures. This included Iraqis who had worked with American troops as interpreters and intelligence assets. One Iraqi was assassinated before his refugee application could be processed because of the immigration delays. Only half as many Iraqis were resettled as refugees as the number from the previous year.
There’s really not much compassion, but a singular concern for how things would look to — who exactly? Whose opinion is he so concerned about? He has surrounded himself with a small group of sycophants, and regards anyone who is critical as the enemy.

You probably noticed all the women and widows and 3 year old orphans in the picture above.


ADDENDUM: That  female ISIS suicide bomber who blew herself up turned out not to be female. DNA tests on the remnants of the body established that she was a man.

Hits and Misses in the ‘War’ on the Islamic State by The Elephant's Child

It was only days ago that we had word that “Jihadi John,”  the British citizen Mohammed Emwazi, who became known for beheading  Western  hostages for ISIS— was reported hit in Raqqa by an attack from an American drone. U.S. counter terrorism officials said he was killed with a ‘flawless’ drone missile strike the moment he stepped into a car. Pentagon officials are 99 percent sure that he was killed.

He was “evaporated” near a clock tower where ISIS staged public executions. Britain’s Daily Mail had an extensive article on the “World’s most wanted man.” The drone strike took off from Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey, and was piloted from Creech Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

The Daily Mail piece also included an aerial photograph of the site of the drone strike. But it also contains evidence of the problem many have complained of, the White House’s tight control over targeting that is making the administration’s claims of conducting effective air control over ISIS so absurd.


So we know the exact site of ISIS main headquarters, the Islamic Court, but declined to target those because…? Obama seems happy to go after anyone with a drone attack, I suppose because he can assume that the missile that got the target didn’t get anyone who was near, or if they were near they were probably bad guys too? One would assume that targeting ISIS main headquarters might set back their terrorist activities a little.

The British Prime Minister welcomed reports of the killing which he called an ‘act of self defence’.

He stopped short of confirming that Emwazi – who he branded a ‘barbaric murderer’ – was dead but said the targeted attack was ‘the right thing to do’.

There is a high possibility British spies were operating on the ground in Raqqa to help identify Emwazi before the strike and may now be trying to collect DNA evidence to prove his death.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Emwazi’s role in ISIS propaganda videos used to radicalize people meant he was a ‘target worth going after’.

We need a public excuse?


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