American Elephants


Are We Thinking Clearly About the Iran Deal? Or Fooling Ourselves? by The Elephant's Child

On August 4 — David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the “Breakout Timelines Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action? (JCPOA) suggested that the likely breakout for a nuclear weapon for Iran is seven months.

Senator Menendez responded: ” [Six-to-seven months] would be concerning to me, because I already am a little concerned that what we bought here was a very expensive alarm system … [S]ix or seven months is not going to be helpful if they decide to break out, because by the time we re-impose sanctions … it [wouldn’t] be meaningful. The next president of the United States … will only have one choice: to accept Iran as a nuclear weapons state or to have a military strike.

The Institute analyzed the imprudent assumption on which the Obama administration bases its one-year contention:

The bare-boned limits on Iran’s centrifuge program provide for at least a 12-month breakout period. However, based on ISIS analyses the agreed limits do not guarantee a 12-month breakout timeline during the first ten years of the agreement, if Iran can relatively quickly re-deploy its already manufactured IR-2m centrifuges. The administration has taken the position that Iran will not deploy these IR-2m centrifuges, because they have assessed that they will not work well enough. However, this assessment depends on an assumption about Iran’s manufactured IR-2m centrifuges that may not hold. Moreover, available data indicate that the breakage rate of the IR-2m centrifuges are no worse than those for the IR-1 centrifuges. Uncertainties about the quality of the existing IR-2m centrifuges make a definitive resolution of this issue difficult. Nonetheless, straightforward prudence would argue to include these centrifuges in a breakout, since their redeployment would have a major impact compared to IR-1 centrifuges and the United States lacks high assurance that the IR-2m centrifuges will not work adequately if deployed. In this case, the 12-month breakout criterion does not hold during the first ten years of the agreement. At a minimum, it is arguable whether the breakout criterion holds. [Emphasis added].

Another witness was Gary Samore, executive director for research in Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  He said:

Senator, I don’t think re-imposition of sanctions is an effective response to breakout. I think the only effective response to breakout is military force. I mean, if the Iranians have decided to run the risk of openly dashing for a nuclear weapon, I don’t think sanctions are going to deter them or stop them.

Senator Menendez responded: So it seems to me that if Iran makes a political decision to move forward because it believes it’s the preservation of the regime, the revolution, or its place in the region, then ultimately … we are just kicking the ball down the road, but we will have a stronger, resurgent Iran with more money and greater defense capabilities than it has today.

There seems to be a basic assumption here that Iran wants to become an nuclear power to be — what?  merely a powerful nation among the powerful nations of the world. Not that Iran’s urgent desire is to destroy the United States of America, which the Ayatollah loathes, and the nation of Israel, — which he also loathes. In spite of all the evidence do we fail to understand Iran’s real aims? And prepare for that? They talk about increases in terrorism. They talk about Iraq and ISIS, and the other Gulf States. They even mention the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear state, as if that just places Iran in the world’s grouping of states that have nuclear weapons to insure that nobody attacks them.

One would think that observing the actions of ISIS, the beheadings, the immolations, the crucifixions, the destruction of the monuments of history and the behavior of al-Qaeda, there would be some recognition of the fact that these people don’t really observe the same standards nor conventions. We have been told that we worship life, while they worship death — but that makes no sense to the Western mind, so we ignore it.



Obama Is Not Just Wrong, He Is Dangerously Wrong, And Putting American Lives At Risk. by The Elephant's Child

640x392_63122_187994You have probably heard the old saying about “setting the fox to guard the henhouse”— a parable intended to tell you that the nature of a fox is to eat the hen, and you cannot put someone in charge of a task that they are by nature unqualified to fulfill. Which brings us, of course, to the startling news that Obama’s Iran Deal gives Iran the choice assignment of inspecting their own military sites such as Parchin and then to give the results to the IAEA.

Those old parables handed down from one generation to another are ignored at our peril. They represent hard-learned wisdom and form part of the guardrails of life.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Nuclear Physicist, says that we can tell from soil samples the extent to which Iran is developing a nuke. All very fine, except that Iran gets to  produce the soil sample.

Obama is quite sure that Iran would never actually set off a nuclear weapon. He has said so. He believes that when Iran’s funds are released from the sanctions, the money will be used to fix their economy because there has been a lot of hardship for the people and the Ayatollah will want to fix that. He has said so. He believes that Iran wants to become one among the community of nations, and will take care of the Middle East. defeating ISIS and bringing order to the region. He is wrong.

The American Foreign Policy Council’s Amanda Azinheira wrote of the risks in Defense News on Wednesday: “A nuclear warhead detonated 18 miles off the ground anywhere over the eastern seaboard could collapse the whole eastern grid, which generates 75% of the country’s electricity. The recovery time from a nationwide EMP event might be anywhere from one to 10 years. In the meantime, tens of millions of Americans would likely die from starvation and/or societal collapse.”

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies chairman and former CIA Director James Woolsey and EMP Task Force Executive Director Peter Vincent Pry wrote in the Washington Times about Iran and an EMP attack.

Iran has apparently practiced surprise EMP attacks, orbiting satellites on south polar trajectories to evade U.S. radars and missile defenses, at altitudes consistent with generating an EMP field covering all 48 contiguous United States,” according to Woolsey and Pry. “Iran launched its fourth satellite on such a trajectory as recently as February 2015.”

They also noted that the use of nuclear infrastructure permitted under the Iran deal makes getting an EMP weapon “relatively easy.”

Supposedly, we can harden off the grid to an EMP attack, but it has to be done by individual states, who are waiting for the federal government, but nobody seems to regard it as urgent. I have seen estimates of costs in the low billion range, but my knowledge ranges from scant to not much. No one wants to believe that such a thing could happen, because it sounds too much like a science fiction movie.

“Death to America” has never been, as Mr. Obama has claimed, simply a a public relations thing for public consumption. The Iranian people hate the tyrannical government. The Iranian military is planning to be able to make a nuclear EMP attack.

The urgent thing seems to be letting your representatives in Congress know how important it is that they oppose the Iran Deal in Congress, and override the President’s inevitable veto.



Big Complex Problems Aren’t Usually Solved with Quick and Simple Answers by The Elephant's Child

140403_042214_oim_d504_246_0Donald Trump has put the immigration issue back on top of the table by recognizing just how angry Americans are at Obama’s executive rewrite of our immigration laws all on his own. The images of trainloads of Central American illegal immigrants riding on top of box cars, of tattooed members of Mara Salvatrucha gangs among the illegals, quarantines of hundreds of young illegals are bad enough, but when American citizens are murdered by illegals who have been deported several times, but go to sanctuary cities to avoid being deported again, it’s just too much.

The Obama administration, again by “executive authority” has sent the flood of illegals all over the country, including Alaska and Hawaii, presumably to register them to vote in the next election. To remind Obama-shoes-3them who let them in, they passed out Obama shoes, with an image of Obama printed inside.

Trump said “A nation without borders is not a nation, There must be a wall across the southern border.” The border is 2,000 miles long. The Israeli border fence has sensors and the IDF can be there in minutes. The Egyptians are building a fence in three layers including trenches and all sorts of sensors. I think it’s the Bulgarians (though that’s from a faulty memory) that have put up a 3-layer, very tall razor-wire fence that so far no one has breached. Europe is overcome with refugees from the murderous chaos in the Middle East. Australia’s coast guard makes it clear that no one is going to land in Australia uninvited.

It’s not that simple. The Fourteenth Amendment has been deemed by the courts to decree that any child born in the United States is automatically a citizen. The Immigration crowd cries that any objection to “anchor babies” is racist. In the winter of 2013, Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich brought Eclipse, his 533 feet long, 13,000 ton, billion dollar  yacht into a dock at Manhattan’s pier 90 for what turned out to be a 3-month-long stay. In early April, Darya Zhukova, Abramovich’s girl friend gave birth to a girl named Leah. The cost of their stay has been estimated at $500,000 a week, to give the child an American birth certificate, as her older sister also has.

There are 4,422,660 people on the legal immigrant visa waiting list, according to the State Department’s annual tally. This is 100,000 more than at the same time last year. Ninety-eight percent of those waiting have been sponsored by a U.S. family member. This list does not include those already in the country who are waiting to adjust from a legal temporary status to a green card. The waiting lists are needed because the number of immigrants who can be admitted in certain family and employment categories, and because of caps on the number who can come from each country. The waiting time in the families category varies from 19 months to 33 years.

Manufacturing is not in decline. We are manufacturing more than ever, but we are doing it with fewer people (think robots and computers) which are responsible for big productivity gains. Don’t blame China or Mexico for job-losses. According to the San Francisco Fed the total share of “made in China” goods in U.S. household consumption is just 1.9 percent.

DHS has been releasing illegal immigrants with violent criminal records back into local U.S. communities, where they have often committed violent crimes. Rep, Matt Salmon  (R-AZ) and law enforcement officials have petitioned the Obama administration on Wednesday to stop freeing violent criminals who are in our country illegally. There has been the beating of a 7-week old baby, and the immolation of a person.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under current law can no longer legally hold the three individuals,” ICE press secretary Gillian Christensen said. “To further promote public safety and transparency, ICE notified local law enforcement agencies of the release of the individuals.”

In 2013, ICE freed 36,007 illegal aliens with criminal convictions across the nation, according to statistics compiled by Arizona law enforcement. At least 193 of those aliens released were convicted of homicides, 426 were convicted of sex crimes, and 303 convicted of kidnapping.

Trump says it’s a big problem, and he will fix it. He does not mention how this will be done, or talk about the complexity of the problems. But calling attention to the immigration problems will help to expose what the Obama administration is currently doing.



Windows 10 by The Elephant's Child
August 19, 2015, 6:12 am
Filed under: Blogging

Sorry about the missing blogging. Downloading Windows 10 did not go smoothly. Our anti-virus program did not like the download, but it took a lot of time to figure out what was going on. Then there’s more that’s different than I expected, and will take some getting used to.



Now It’s The IRS Again, With 334,000 Stolen Identities. If They Haven’t Got You Yet, They Soon Will. by The Elephant's Child

The news about our favorite bureaucracies just keeps coming. In this case it is the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS reported a wee break-in to its computer systems back in May. Now they have admitted that an additional 220,000 taxpayer accounts have been compromised.

So if the ObamaCare Hospital required computer breach didn’t get you, you have another chance to get your identity hacked by the IRS — that trusted organization that deals so efficiently with your taxes. There were also 170,000 instances of “suspected attempts that failed to clear the authentication processes.” whatever that means.

So the number of stolen identities now adds up to 334,000 , nearly three tunes the IRS original estimate of 114,000.

Why, it was only about a month ago that it was the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that admitted that Chinese-origin cyber attacks on its computer networks compromised the personal data of 22.1 million Americans who had been employed by the government.

And earlier this month defense officials said that Russia had launched a “sophisticated cyber attack” on the Pentagon’s unclassified email system used by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the end of July. That breach affected approximately 4,000 military and civilian employees, including Chairman General Martin Dempsey.

The IRS break-in occurred in an online service called “Get Transcript” an application that helps taxpayers get their prior year return information. It has been shut down. The IRS will notify taxpayers who were potentially affected as soon as possible and provide them with support — such as free credit protection.

It would be reassuring to hear a strong voice from Washington, telling us that tech experts are already hard at work hardening off or rendering government computer systems impregnable from enemy attack. Instead, we hear the Democratic candidate for president insisting that she never received, saw, or heard of a classified document, and certainly never sent one. That server of hers was all yoga exercises and wedding plans and baby showers and messages to Bill, who has never sent an email message in his life.

Can we expect Cyber-Security from the folks who gave us ObamaCare?



VA Caught Sending Veterans’ Mail to the Shredder by The Elephant's Child

Bureaucracy again. The Veteran’s Administration’s Office of the Inspector General launched an “unannounced inspection”  of the Los Angeles office after they heard allegations that the VA staff there was shredding mail related to veterans’ disability compensation claims. The OIG could not measure how often this might have happened, it did find examples of mail placed in bins for shredding, that should have been opened and read. Eight of the nine examples were claims- related  documents and had the potential to affect veterans’ benefits, one was unrelated.

The very first level of control requires letters to be reviewed before they are shredded. There was supposed to be a records management officer on staff, but the officer who held that job was promoted in August 2014, and the office’s assistant director “determined that it was not necessary to fill the position.” The OIG said the Los Angeles office could not produce any documentation on what documents it had shredded over the past two years.

The American people, through their representatives, have made it pretty clear that they expect our veterans to be well treated, not to be victims of bureaucratic games. And just noting that this was discovered through an “unannounced inspection,” it is perhaps worth mentioning that there is no such thing as  an “unannounced inspection”in Obama’s Iran Deal. Inspectors must give 24 days advance warning of an inspection, and they don’t get to inspect military sites at all. And if  inspectors require soil samples, they will be provided by the Iranians. Lots of confidence in that deal.



Schooling the FDA On The Meaning of the First Amendment by The Elephant's Child

_78425952_517716225I’m afraid I’m becoming something of a crank, grumbling constantly about the depredations of bureaucracy. The Food and Drug Administration has believed its powers so encompassing that it can even prohibit drug companies from making true statements about their products unless they are approved by the FDA.

A federal judge has just called this political control a violation of the First Amendment. Once the FDA has approved a new drug for FDA specified uses, physicians often repurpose them in other doses, or for other diseases, or for entirely different patient populations. A drug designed for breast cancer might prove effective against tumors in other parts of the body, or a medicine for adults may prove effective for pediatric care. About one of every five U.S. Prescriptions is for non-FDA approved uses.

In a small miracle, these off-label experiments are legal, and they drive innovation. The artificial conditions that the FDA demands for clinical trials are increasingly divorced from how medicine is practiced, and modern care advances far faster than the FDA’s regulatory molasses. Off-label use is vital for complex conditions like cancer and psychiatric disorders that require trial and error for individual patients, who can’t wait years for the FDA’s blessing.

But the FDA and Justice Department are targeting off-label prescriptions as a threat to their hegemony. Their goal is to force drug makers and physicians to seek FDA approval for every new real-world use, as if it were an entirely new drug. Until recently, drug makers were banned from making off-label claims backed by solid evidence or even from distributing peer-reviewed journal articles.

Prosecutors have also become increasingly aggressive. In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline paid $1 billion for encouraging doctors to use Paxil to treat depression in patients under 18, which research shows helps although the FDA has not endorsed this conclusion. The FDA construes some forms of off-label promotion as crimes, and people are serving jail time.

The nature of a bureaucracy is to grow, prosper, be better rewarded monetarily and extend its reach. Was there ever a bureaucracy that thought that much that they did was unnecessary, and they should probably downsize for the benefit of the taxpayers? I rest my case.

Judge Paul Engelmayer explained to the FDA that if they believed that a different use of a drug gravely undermined the drug approval process, it should have sought review of that decision, not tried to liken distributing information to an assault on their drug-approval authority, and tried to compare it to illegal speech such as blackmail or insider trading. Free speech wins one!

 




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