American Elephants

Concoleezza Rice Withdraws From Rutgers Commencement by The Elephant's Child


Another university has embarrassed itself. This time it’s Rutgers University. What a marvelous chance for Rutgers students and faculty to hear from one of the most talented and accomplished women of this or any generation. Nope. Some faculty and students protested over her role in the Iraq War. Dr. Rice has backed out of delivering the commencement address with her customary grace:

Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families. Rutgers invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.

I am honored to have served my country.  I have defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas.  These values are essential to the health of our democracy.  But that is not what is at issue here.  As a Professor for thirty years at Stanford University and as it’s former Provost and Chief academic officer, I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.

Good luck to the graduates and congratulations to the families, friends and loved ones who will gather to honor them.

Faculty and student protesters demonstrated nothing so much as ignorance of history and a remarkable lack of manners.

Our colleges and universities really need to be flushed out. They have become a way-too-expensive waste of time, leaving hopeful young people deeply in debt and completely unprepared for a difficult job market. Tenured faculty members write silly papers and spend too much time playing politics instead of teaching the young.

Other figures who have run afoul of campus orthodoxy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Charles Murray have also been disinvited from speeches in recent days.


Is America Exceptional? Big Debate in Nebraska. Kids Won. by The Elephant's Child


Students in Nebraska are getting new standards for social studies curriculum, after weeks of intense debate. The state Board of Education reached agreement on two items of controversy this week: whether to include “American exceptionalism” and how to teach about “climate change,” in the first revision of the curriculum in twenty years.

The words”American exceptionalism” do not appear in the final draft, but the concept does. In the sixth through eighth grade U.S. history standards, one of the “indicators” —indicators of what to teach— is “the unique nature of the creation and organization of the American Government, and the United States as an exceptional nation based upon personal freedom, the inherent nature of citizens’ rights and democratic ideals.”

Climate change  appears in the sixth-through eighth-grade geography standards, but is presented as a theory, not as fact, asking students to evaluate “recent global climate change theories and evidence that supports and refutes such theories.”

Well, that’s about as namby-pamby as you can get, but they are at least on the right track. I think most of us could improve on the phrasing, and clarify the thought.

Lefty rag Mother Jones is horrified. The headline is  “Nebraska Kids to Learn America is Awesome, Climate Change is Just a Theory.” Well, the climate is always changing, just as it always has. And there has been no warming for sixteen years, but “theory” is maybe a little strong. The story by Kate Sheppard is straightforward, but the comments are quite clear that only knuckle-dragging Christian fundamentalists could believe such nonsense.

Those who deny American exceptionalism demonstrate only their ignorance of American history, or their having been swayed by the prop0aganda of Howard Zinn’s dreadful A People’s History of the United States, which is actually assigned in many school districts across the country, to our shame.

The Old Feeling of Dread Returns. by The Elephant's Child

Remembering the morning of 9/11 — a friend called and said “turn on your TV.” And I remember the absolute dread with which we watched — and watched.  We remember anniversaries here — tipping points, the moment something changed forever. Reading a lot of history does that to you.

From the AP today:

The U.N. atomic agency has received new and significant intelligence over the past month that Iran has moved further toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon, diplomats tell The Associated Press.

They say the intelligence shows that Iran has advanced its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models that it ran sometime within the past three years…

The IAEA first outlined suspicions in November that Iran was working on calculating the yield of a nuclear weapon, as part of a 13-page summary of Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons work that it said was based on more than 1,000 pages of research and intelligence from more than 10 member nations.

We are innocent and ignorant in what indicates progress in Iran’s progress towards nuclear weapons, but deeply aware of the mullahs willingness to obliterate Iran if necessary in order to eliminate religions other than Islam. The Israelis find it a matter of concern, and they are serious people.

From AllahPundit:

First came the shouting match between Netanyahu and the U.S. ambassador. Then Martin Dempsey told an audience in London that he didn’t want to be “complicit” in an Israeli attack on Iran. The upcoming joint military exercise between the U.S. and Israel was then scaled back, and this murky report about the U.S. contacting Iran to distance itself from an Israeli strike appeared. Then came the floor fiasco at the Democratic convention over the platform’s Jerusalem language. Now this.

Our president, who considers himself an exceptional foreign-policy president, apparently because he lived in Indonesia for a while, and made speeches and bowed, and apologized to the leaders of many countries, outdid himself today, in response to another friend:

The White House has rejected a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet President Barack Obama in the United States this month, an Israeli official said on Tuesday, after a row erupted between the allies over Iran’s nuclear programme.

An Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Netanyahu’s aides had asked for a meeting when he visits the United Nations this month, and “the White House has got back to us and said it appears a meeting is not possible. It said that the president’s schedule will not permit that“.

Well, Obama does have all sorts of fundraisers, and he has just scheduled an appearance on the Letterman show, and he doesn’t have time for the usual daily intelligence briefings. He’s only made it to some 43% of those, probably boring. He believes in talks, though there is little evidence of any success from any talks.

The “Arab Spring” was not what you would call a freedom festival, and the Muslim Brotherhood has triumphantly taken over Egypt and  Libya in spite of all our help.He’s continuing the aid to Egypt, and he’s even invited Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi to the White House. But he doesn’t have time for Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the meantime mobs in Egypt have gone bonkers as only Islamist mobs can, stormed the U.S. Embassy, torn down the flag, and a mob in Benghazi attacked the embassy there, one American dead. It seems that there is some filmmaker making a movie which is disrespectful of Mohammed, and excerpts appeared on YouTube. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo responded to the attack on sovereign American territory and the death of an American in Benghazi forcefully. The press release:

U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement

September 11, 2012

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

This is not surprising, for Barack Obama is not a foreign policy wonk. Not knowledgeable. Not interested. Short on history, ours and theirs. Appears to our enemies as a weak, passive administration, but regards himself as having great foreign policy expertise.  And there are some who actually believe him. I don’t know why they would.

A History Lesson for Obama. by The Elephant's Child

I didn’t expect to use the same image again so soon, but it fits this story even better.  Obama believes in government spending (Boy, do we have evidence of that!) so much so that he refers to it as “investment.” Last Thursday, here in Seattle, reported the Wall Street Journal, he once again displayed his unfamiliarity with history — at least the parts that he has not inserted himself into.

“When I hear people talk about the free enterprise system and entrepreneurship, I try to remind them, you know, all of us made that investment in Darpa [the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] that helped to get the Internet started,” said Mr. Obama. “So there’s no Facebook, there’s no Microsoft, there’s no Google if we hadn’t made this common investment in our future.”

Microsoft—a product of the Internet? That may surprise Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who founded the software company in 1975. The company didn’t introduce its first Internet browser for another 20 years, and in the meantime it became the dominant computer software company long before the Internet became economically important. The irony of Mr. Obama’s error is that for much of Microsoft’s history the Internet was seen as a threat to its desktop dominance.

Darpa is engaged in funding research. This can be a proper role for government. But Darpa does not attempt to commercialize products. Facebook and Google, like Apple and Microsoft, were founded by private investors. In his State of the Union speech in January, Mr. Obama suggested that federal research spending “led to the computer chip.” Credit for the first integrated circuit has generally been awarded to Jack Kilby at a company called Texas Instruments back in 1958.  Other innovations came from Bell Labs, Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel.

Mr. Obama’s error in his assumption that all prosperity flows from government, demonstrates why he keeps trying to solve problems by throwing money at them. Notably, he is putting pressure on Congress to approve another economic stimulus plan. “Each of the ideas on this list will help create jobs and build a stronger economy right now,” Mr. Obama said.  Well, no they won’t.

He wants to give small businesses tax breaks for hiring more workers, but that’s not how it works. He wants to help homeowners to refinance their mortgages, he wants to help veterans find jobs. And he wants to spend up to $34.7 billion for those proposals — but that’s just a part of a more comprehensive $447 billion jobs program that Congress has mostly resisted, for good reason. And he really doesn’t want to cut spending at all— because he believes that spending is how you fix things. Calling spending “investment” leads you into strange pathways.

You would think that at this point one would learn from experience, but the One doesn’t. And that’s the real problem.

Why Marxism? Why Would Anyone Want Such a System? by The Elephant's Child

Professor C.Bradley Thompson speaks on “Why Marxism?” Why, indeed? Every time it has been tried, it ends with the government slaughtering its own people. They start off with Utopian dreams and end up with 100 million dead, ruined economies, desperate people and an assortment of concentration camps, reeducation camps and gulags.  What possible appeal can there be? Ignorance of history, no understanding of consequences and a yearning for absolute power.

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