American Elephants

Completely Unprepared to Consider Using Common Sense. by The Elephant's Child

Mark Steyn is always brilliant, sometimes he’s just more brilliant than usual. Today he pointed out the specific arrangements we have put in place to make sure that terrorist attacks were unlikely, because an alert citizenry was on the case.  And yet, there was evidence that Major Nidal Hasan deserved attention:

You didn’t have to be “alert” to spot Maj. Nidal Hasan. He’d spent most of the last half-decade walking around with a big neon sign on his head saying “JIHADIST. STAND WELL BACK.” But we (that is to say, almost all of us — and certainly almost anyone who matters in national security and the broader political culture) are now reflexively conditioned to ignore the flashing neon sign. Like those apocryphal Victorian ladies discreetly draping the lasciviously curved legs of their pianos, if a glimpse of hard unpleasant reality peeps through we simply veil it in another layer of fluffy illusions.

“The truth is we’re not prepared to draw a line even after he’s gone ahead and committed mass murder,” Steyn said.  “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy,” said Gen. George Casey, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, “but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a tragedy here.”

“Diversity” is more important than 14 dead, dozens wounded?  That is undoubtedly not what he meant, but “diversity” is the ultimate meaningless politically correct notion.

If you have an African-American who immigrated 5 years ago from Ethiopia, and an African-American whose family has lived in America for 150 years, the important thing to them is the color of their skin?  The latter person may have far more in common with someone whose origins were in Mexico, but who was also raised as an army brat. Mothers of toddlers care a lot more about playmates of the same age than their ethnicity.

The differences within ordinary people are far larger than ethnicity.  Political, disinterested, scholarly, cannot read, abused as a child, handicapped, twin, mountain climber, pianist. hunter, animal trainer,potter, vegetarian, homeless, chemist. artist — but only their ethnicity matters?  Please.

The notion that what is important about a person is their race or ethnicity may result in checking off the right little boxes on a census questionnaire but has little to do with the lives of real people. Are those diversity numbers so important?  When it comes to lawsuits, or publicity or promotions the checked-off boxes may matter.  When counting boxes becomes more important than real people,  political correctness does more damage than it is worth.

And shame on you, General Casey.

Brussels Busybodies Back Off Banned Bananas. by The Elephant's Child
July 1, 2009, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy | Tags: ,

European greengrocers have been released from restrictions on the appearance of fruits and vegetables that have bedeviled them for 20 years.  Busybodies in Brussels have long issued regulations on the shape of a proper carrot, the curve that a banana must have, the lumpiness of a potato.  The reasons for all this intrusion in shoppers’ lives were mysterious, but the bans have been lifted.  Reason reigns.

“J Sainsbury said that consumers could save up to 40 percent.”  Forty percent off the average European’s grocery bill.  Mother Nature wins.  Not every carrot grows long and svelte, but a farmer loses a lot by having to sort out all the ungainly ones.

The relaxation of the ban doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a start.  Shoppers are perfectly able to sort out what they want to buy for themselves, and don’t need the intrusive edicts from the Nannies.  Nannies here need to pay attention before they get big ideas.

We Are Very,Very Concerned, but Not Enough For Us to Use Harsh Words. by The Elephant's Child

Authorities in Iran warned the opposition that they would tolerate no further protests over the disputed June 12 presidential election.  The Jerusalem Post reports that six Mousavi supporters were reportedly hanged in the holy city of Mashhad on Monday.  There was no independent confirmation of the report.

It was also reported that a prominent cleric gave a speech to protesters in which he acknowledged that the very act of speaking at the gathering would likely cost him his life.  Pro-Mousavi green bands have been declared illegal, and drivers who beeped their horns were apt to have their windshields broken by the Basji.

In a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama said:

I would suggest Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people.  And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who have been beaten or shot or detained.

Anne Bayefsky responds “Most of us are aware of the fact that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has thought carefully about it (for three decades) and then decided both that the Iranian people have no rights to assemble or speak freely and that the Iranian government has a right to order that they be beaten, shot, and/or detained at will.

The next question was don’t the events of the past few weeks undermine your hopes for meaningful dialog, and aren’t you just losing time?  Obama responded”

On the Iranian issue, I think that we are still waiting to see how the situation in Iran plays out…We don’t yet know how any potential dialogue will have been affected until we see what’s happened inside of Iran.

Reporters pressed, and the president said that events in Iran will have no effect on his policy of engaging in dialogue with Iran.  Merkel went from the current events in Iran to say:

We would like to have a diplomatic solution to preventing Iran from gaining possession of a nuclear weapon.  So I completely agree with the president here…I think we can be successful in the Middle East [peace] process , and then be successful in our talks with Iran.

There’s more pandering from assorted members of the administration, but it is clear that they simply do not grasp that a president who has denied that the Holocaust ever happened,  has advocated the elimination of the Jewish state, is determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and blithely beats, shoots and hangs any internal opposition might just possibly be completely resistant to the Obama charm offensive.

Meanwhile, as troops withdraw from the cities in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, the top US military commander in Iraq accused Iran of continuing to support and train militants who are carrying out attacks in Iraq.  But if we ask Ahmadinejad really, really nicely maybe he’ll stop.

This made me giggle. by The Elephant's Child
April 17, 2009, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Humor, Progressivism | Tags: ,

In the newspaper advertising pages for my grocery store, there was a feature for “Administrative Professionals’ Day Balloons starting at 3.99—everyday low price.”

I assume that this is what used to be called “Secretary’s Day” which I always thought was nonsense. If a boss is treating his secretary right, she (do I need to say he/she?) will not need a special day.  If he is not, she should get another job.  If Secretaries need a special day, does it become something different if it is an Administrative Professionals’ Day?  Administrative Professionals may feel demeaned by being called “secretaries.”  I would feel demeaned if someone gave me a $3.99 floral-printed balloon that says “Thank you for all your hard work.”  Yuck!

Most of the administrative professional/secretaries I have known work hard, do a lot of varied things very professionally, and I think they are splendid, capable people.

This whole thing is a nightmare of political correctness.  We cannot assume that a boss is a man, we cannot assume that a secretary is a woman.  We cannot call a secretary a secretary. Stores no longer have sales clerks, but associates.  And we no longer have wars, we have overseas contingency operations.  The absurdity just grows and expands.

And there is always, always, somebody that is offended.  Somebody needs to say Stop!

Thinking about scary things, and about thinking. by The Elephant's Child
February 16, 2009, 10:16 pm
Filed under: History, Military, Movies, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

People approach events differently.  Some lean into a crisis, want to know all about it.  Others dissemble.  If it is scary, they don’t want any part of it.

For example, take war movies.  Some people don’t want to see anything that contains violence.  Others want to know as much as they can about an event, even as it is not very accurately portrayed in a movie where there is no real blood or real bullets.

Supposedly it is women who don’t want to see, hear, or think about violence.  I don’t know if that is true, though I know it to be true for many of my friends.  I assume that is where the “chick flick” vs. “war movie” division between men and women came about. But then I’ve heard “eeuw, gross!”  from plenty of guys as well.

That goes for other worrisome things as well, such as economic crisis, natural disasters and politics.

I have always been of the former kind.  I read military history, read everything I can find about the current economic crisis and the stimulus bill, am afraid of neither spiders or snakes, and am decidedly female.  Are little girls taught by their mothers to jump on a chair and say “eek!” at spiders or mice?  My mother was much like I am, though I don’t know about the war movie part.  Perhaps I am just more my father’s daughter.

My bookshelves are a testament to those interests. The Rape of Nanking, Survival in Auschwitz, The Battle Cry of Freedom, Saratoga, A Soldier’s Tale, House to House, With the Old Breed, or Black Hawk Down, for example.  Probably my all-time favorite books have been Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin series of 20 books on the Royal Navy in the 1700s.  I have read them over and over, as have many historians, and recommend them to anyone who likes to read.  But the 18th century in the Royal Navy was decidedly bloody.

I have always known from the pictures of refugees streaming from the cities and bombs of World War II, that that could be me.  That the unexpected could happen. Yet I suspect most people don’t think like that.

I also believe that many people simply do not want to know about the Stimulus Bill, what it contains, or what it portends for the country.  I have been shocked at members of Congress and their aides who did not read the bill that they voted for.

There are columns by college professors concerned because their students don’t read, and suggestions that television, the internet and new media like Facebook, Twitter and Kindle are changing Americans’ relationship with words and understanding.

How about you?  Do you fear or enjoy violence?  Snakes and spiders?  Are these things related?  Do you want to know everything you can about a problem or would you prefer not to know if you feel that you can’t do anything about it?  War movies, chick flicks?  What is learned and what is innate?  And does thinking or reading about frightening things or big crises prepare you a little better for actual things that happen?

One of my favorite columnists makes a list. by The Elephant's Child

I am not impressed with the “changing of the year”. I don’t like New Year’s predictions, resolutions, endless displays of diet books, and the trite lists of ten best and ten worst.  They are lazy efforts at glorifying the work of newsmen who increasingly are unable to identify what is important and what is trivial, and don’t want to put much effort into year-end columns.

Canadian columnist David Warren is a man after my own heart. For his “Man of the Year ” column he says:

For my last Sunday column of anno MMVIII, I will announce my selection for “Man  of the Year.”  It was, at most, a year of thin choices in the public and political realm.  Once again, Al Gore did not make my list of finalists.

I didn’t like any of the newly-elected presidents, either; not Asif Ali Zardari, “Mr. Ten Percent” of Pakistan; nor Dimitry Medvedev, the Russian place-holder; nor Ma Ying-jeou, the smooth compromiser of independent Taiwan; nor Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana (if he has indeed won); nor even Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe (who won the election, but did not become president); or Barack Obama of the United States (who won but is not yet installed).  I have invested no hope in any of them, and thus must hope to be surprised.

Among Time magazine’s rival list of candidates, I was immediately able to eliminate Steve Jobs, Bruce Springsteen, George Clooney, Rem Koolhaas, “Brad and Angelina,” Oprah Winfrey, and even Laura Bush’s library-science nominee, the Afghan novelist Khaled Hosseini — along with several dozen others among the world’s current, media-recognized, “leaders and revolutionaries, heroes and pioneers, scientists and thinkers, artists and entertainers, builders and titans,” to say nothing of their chefs.  (I noticed that nobody nominated Bernie Madoff.)

I also consulted the “100 most beautiful people” of People magazine.  After eliminating overlap from the list above, I further discounted “Kate,” “Salma,” Carrie,” the entire cast of Gossip Girl, Jessica Alba, their respective boyfriends where applicable, and anyone with the first name “Vanessa.”…

The whole delightful column is to be found here. You will be surprised at his choice of “Man of the Year”, and appreciate his reasons for his choice. Restores my interest in year-end lists.

How Envirowhackos Get Their So-Called “Consensus” by American Elephant

Polar Bears Show What They Think of Liberals

With propaganda, censorship, and threats of physical force…

(CHICAGO, Illinois – December 13, 2007) — For the second time this week, the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) was kicked off the press schedule for the United Nations’ climate conference in Bali, Indonesia.

The ICSC is a group of scientists from Africa, Australia, Europe, India, New Zealand, and the U.S. who contend sound science does not support the outrageous claims and draconian regulations proposed in Bali.

The ICSC team leader, Bryan Leyland, an expert in carbon and energy trading, reported, “This morning I confirmed we had the main conference hall for 9:00 AM tomorrow. At 4:30 PM today, I found that Barbara Black bumped us off the schedule and closed further bookings. I’m fuming.”

Black is NGO liaison officer for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali.

Earlier in the week, UN officials in Bali closed down the ICSC’s first press conference there. Black interrupted the press conference and demanded the scientists immediately cease. She threatened to have the police physically remove them from the premises.

Black’s efforts are part of the United Nations’ ongoing censorship of dissenting voices at Bali. ICSC scientists have been prevented from participating in panel discussions, side events, and exhibits.

Why do liberal’s hate science so much? (h/t Planet Gore)

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