American Elephants

“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.

Obama Is a Little Confused About Just Who The Enemy Is by The Elephant's Child

Obama ArroganttPresident Obama is accustomed to admiring treatment from most of the media most of the time. He was asked repeatedly at a press conference in Turkey on Monday why he continues to insist that he never underestimated ISIS, and his strategy, he believes, is working.  Oddly enough, in the wake of terrorist attacks, and the Parisian roundup of the remaining terrorists who were responsible for ISIS attack on Paris, Obama has reserved his most intense anger for the Republicans. He says we’re playing into the hands of ISIS with our “anti-refugee hysteria.”

We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic,” Mr. Obama said at a summit in Manila, the Philippines. “We don’t make good decisions if its based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”

Mr. Obama said some of the same people who have suggested stopping refugees from coming into the country also have suggested that they are tough enough to just stare down Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said. “At first they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”

“Three-year-old orphans,” Mr. President? We just watched a massive attack by ISIS, the organization you claim is controlled, on civilians in Paris. I would suggest that Americans are not terrified by refugees, but just want them thoroughly vetted, and afraid you are incapable.

Europe is now dealing with the European Union policy on open borders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the name of wikkommenskkultur ( a culture of welcoming) suspended restrictions on refugees seeking asylum. Unchanged,  Germany would have a million refugees by year’s end. Last week the interior ministry re-imposed the very restrictions Ms. Merkel had lifted. Germans are calling for her resignation.

Mr. Obama misunderstands. Americans are far more afraid of the administration’s lack of resolve, arrogance, and failure to understand the nature of the threat. The dreadful Iran Deal gives Iran the time and funding to complete their development of nuclear weapons, the desultory effort to contain ISIS in Iraq has such restraint on targeting that nothing is accomplished in fear that we might possibly hit a civilian or anything else that might elicit disapproval.

Veteran journalist Sharyl Attkisson said that her sources have told her that President Barack Obama does not want and will not read intelligence reports on groups “he does not consider terrorists,” despite being on a U.S. list of designated terrorists.

“I have talked to people who have worked in the Obama administration who firmly believe he has made up his mind. I would say closed his mind, they say, to their intelligence that they’ve tried to bring him about various groups that he does not consider terrorists, even if they are on the U.S. list of designated terrorists. He has his own ideas, and there are those who’ve known him a long time who say this dates back to law school. He does not necessarily—you may think it’s a good trait you may think it’s a bad trait—he does not necessarily listen to the people with whom he disagrees. He seems to dig in. I would suppose because he thinks he’s right. He is facing formidable opposition on this particular point.”

In his latest harangue against Republicans and other American opposed to his insistence on continuing to import thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria and other parts of the Middle East and Africa, Obama said:

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.

We have noted that Obama has often tried to insert the idea of empathy or compassion into Constitutional law and federal law.
The law is about justice, and supposedly is blind to tests of compassion. Andy McCarthy wrote today: (Do read the whole thing)

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 [among other things] … was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant. …

The law requires a “religious test.” And the reason for that is obvious. Asylum law is not a reflection of the incumbent president’s personal (and rather eccentric) sense of compassion. Asylum is a discretionary national act of compassion that is directed, by law not whim, to address persecution.

There is no right to emigrate to the United States. And the fact that one comes from a country or territory ravaged by war does not, by itself, make one an asylum candidate. …

Other lawyers have noted today that the president doesn’t get to decide who is a refugee and who is not. John Hinderaker wrote:

There are strong practical as well as legal reasons for distinguishing between Islamic applicants for asylum and similar applications by Christians or others. We know that ISIS is trying to infiltrate terrorists into groups of migrants leaving Syria; there is some evidence that they have succeeded. As McCarthy says, no one has a right to emigrate to the U.S. The government’s first duty is to protect the American people, not to extend favors to foreigners. Moreover, Obama’s “compassion” argument falls flat. A recent Center for Immigration Studies report found that, for the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we could instead care for 12 refugees overseas. That is a much more cost-effective approach, and one that will not impose needless dislocation either on us, or on the refugees.

It would be interesting to know just who Obama considers “real terrorists,” and which advisers he actually listens to — but everybody says that he has only a very narrow group of people that he associates with. His selection of advisors seems to be confined to those who will do exactly as they are told and don’t even think of disagreeing. The rest have resigned, or left for other ventures.  He doesn’t even seem to be particularly impressed with the attack on Paris. After all the more important big climate meeting is coming up, and there’s a world to be saved from the horrors of carbon dioxide.

Intelligence Sources Say that 4 Out of 5 Syrian Refugees Are Not From Syria. by The Elephant's Child

Syria2_442696bPresident Obama is set on his plan for admitting 10,000 “Syrian refugees” next year, and his press conference yesterday is not going over well even with the Democrats. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, typically an Obama ally, said that “at times he was patronizing, at other times he seemed annoyed and almost dismissive.”

“That’s not the tone you want to strike to the public, that’s not the tone you want to send to our allies and enemies,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon.

Obama saved his harshest criticism for Republicans, but focused most of his time fending off critics who say the Paris attacks show his counterterrorism strategy has been a failure. ISIS has continued to hold on to large swaths of territory — but its newly demonstrated ability to pull off a coordinated terror attack in a major European city should elicit from Obama some broader reevaluation of his strategy.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Monday that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) isn’t contained to its territory in the Middle East, presenting a sharp contrast with President Obama’s remarks on his strategy to combat the group.

“I have never been more concerned,” Feinstein said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” calling for additional U.S. troops on the ground to combat the militants.

The media is, as usual, muddying up the situation. The “refugees, migrants, immigrants” usually described as “the Syrian refugees”are not all from Syria. Some intelligence sources say that 4 out of 5 refugees are not from Syria. They have apparently been told that they are welcome in Europe and will receive welfare and schooling and all sorts of benefits they can’t obtain at home. And once there, they are demanding, and particular, and ungrateful.

Who can possibly not have sympathy for those trying desperately to escape Bashar Assad’s barrel bombs and poison gas? FBI Director James Comey has said that it is impossible to vet the refugees, since there is no government in Syria to vet them with, as has Michael Rogers, NSA Director.  Attorney General Loretta Lynch claims they will screen them, how, she didn’t say.

Here are the top 15 countries of origin for refugees admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year 2015: Myanmar, Iraq, Somalia, Dem.Rep. of Congo, Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Cuba, Ukraine, Burundi, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Colombia.

The New York Times has a map that shows where Syrian Refugees have so far been placed, and it includes states whose  governors have refused to accept refugees. It is an extremely difficult situation, and Mr. Obama seems unable to understand that it is not a matter of empathy — but of attempting to keep Americans safe from a massive attack, which is clearly coming.

Strangely, in this very strange time, the loose-knit online hacker group Anonymous “declared war‘ on ISIS this weekend, and reports that over 5,500 ISIS-affiliated accounts on Twitter have been exposed and taken down.

If you have not read The Atlantic article on “What ISIS Really Wants,” I would urge you to do so.  As the subhead says: “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy — and for how to stop it.”

It’s Not About “Strategic Patience” Mr. President. It’s About Keeping America Safe. by The Elephant's Child

nn_03_pwi_fbiISIS_141008Just 10 hours before the Paris attacks, President Obama went on ABC to say that we “have contained” ISIS. As ordinary fact, it wasn’t true, and asked that we should pretend that it was, when Isis has just brought down an airliner two weeks ago, and then there was Paris.

“We’ve gone through these episodes ourselves,” he said on Friday afternoon, explaining how the “heartbreaking” events were resonating with Americans. “Episode?” We had 9/11, and the Boston Marathon, we’ve had lone shooters, but we haven’t had “episodes” when a soccer stadium was bombed, a concert venue occupied and shot up, and three gathering places shot up — simultaneously.

Only a year ago, the president had promised to destroy ISIS. But that was then and this is now.

Now. Obama said in a press conference that “What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect the people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and people like France,” Obama said. “I’m too busy for that.”
CT8_l5rUkAAYHaq.png large

February 6, 2015, President Obama’s National Security Strategy as outlined by National Security Advisor Susan Rice: “Strong and Sustainable American Leadership. Just what has been completely absent.

The President seemed far more interested in fighting with Republicans than with Islamic terrorists. ISIS arose when Obama prematurely pulled the troops out of Iraq, failed to get an agreement on a sustaining force, and has been so consumed with his dreadful Iran Deal, that he has antagonized our other partners in the region like Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Iran, of course, is not interested in his “deal,” they are interested in building nuclear weapons to attack Israel and the United States, and everybody seems to know that but the President and John Kerry. Obama has signed the Deal. Iran has not. Their Parliament has issued 9 ‘conditions’. They will stall around until they get their money, then they will back out entirely, citing unmet conditions, or some other excuse.

Obama has said that he believes that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon. Why, nobody knows.  ISIS has said that they already have many of their fighters in the United States. There have been reports of ISIS training camps just a few miles south of the border in Mexico. The Border Patrol has reported a number of times, finding prayer rugs left just south of the border.

We know that ISIS smuggled terrorists into Paris with the hordes of ‘refugees’ who are only partly Syrian, but from Afghanstan, Somalia, and states all around the Mediterannean and from Africa, even Russia. Obama was offended at over 20 governors’ statements that they would not accept Syrian refugees — calling it un-American.

Mr. Obama was especially harsh on those, like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, who say Christian refugees should be a priority. “When some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

… Christians are under particular threat from Islamic State. If they aren’t killed for jihadist sport, they must convert to Islam or die. Their daughters are raped and forced into Muslim marriages. Their churches are blown up. The U.S. would have been right to accept and save more Jews from Nazi genocide in the 1930s and 1940s. Syrian Christians are no different today.

General Jack Keane, at the Wall Street Journal today, said that Obama’s frame of reference is always the large brigade forces of 150,000 troops or more — but nobody is suggesting that. Mr. Obama speaks of “strategic patience” and suggests that this will be a multi-year challenge. But it is not. We have been there for 15 months, and accomplished nothing, really. We need more advisers, a much better air campaign, and Obama must stop the severe restrictions on target selection. ISIS has the same territory, but they have included 9 other countries.

Obama managed to kill twice as many American troops in Afghanistan as were killed under Bush — with too-tight control over the rules of engagement. He is doing the same thing in Iraq with rules of engagement and tight control of target selection.

As the President has said, he is not interested in pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning.  Michael Ledeen responded — “so he wants us to lose?”

Further reading:

  • “What ISIS Really Wants” by Graeme Wood, The Atlantic
  • “The jihadis’ master plan to break us” by Amir Taheri, The New York Post
  • “A Lesson in Hate” by David Von Drehle, Smithsonian
  • “Obama’s ‘patience” merely gave ISIS time to grow” Ralph Peters, New York Post


Add Another Triumph to the Obama Legacy List by The Elephant's Child

BN-HV516_0411ob_J_20150411183828Just the headlines alone are funny:

June 7, 2015: The Secret Life of Fidel Castro A member of Castro’s security guard tells all.

August 18, 2015: Obama circumventing Congress to loosen Cuba travel ban Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the effort is one more example of the president abusing his executive power and trying to circumvent Congress.

August 20, 2015: What Does the U.S. Get Out of Obama’s Restored Ties to Cuba? Nothing Good The 54 year communist military dictatorship has gotten the full benefit of restored U.S. ties without conceding anything.

September 9, 2015: Coddling Castros Has Made Cuban Regime More Vicious than Ever Far from loosening up, the Castro brothers are cracking down on Cubans harder than ever. It’s as if the fresh attention is a perk for them alone, and the Cuban people not invited.

October 08, 2015: Cubans Have FLOCKED To The US Since Obama Renewed Relations The pace of immigration from Cuba is up 78 percent this year.

October 15, 3015: Cuba-based musical group performs at White House for the first time in 50 years Members of Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club perform at a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month

October 15, 2015 ‘A SLAP N THE FACE TO OBAMA:’ CUBAN TROOPS FIGHT FOR ASSAD IN SYRIA Cuban special forces are operating on the ground in Syria in defense of dictator Bashar al-Assad, and are expected to operate Russian tanks in battles against anti-Assad rebels.

Just another bright idea scratched off on the to-do list.

Are Americans Really Angry? Or Is It Something Else Entirely? by The Elephant's Child

Obama-Libya-Remains_Horo-635x357If you read a lot of headlines, it would seem the Americans are really angry. But what are they angry about? If man-on-the-street interviews are to be believed (Obviously six or eight participants are not a meaningful sample) they don’t know what they are talking about. Or do they?

Matthew Continetti summed it up nicely in one paragraph in the Weekly Standard.

What is happening in the world? When one looks at recent news, one can’t help feeling a sense of bewilderment. A storied Olympian announces his new gender on the cover of Vanity Fair, the Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage a constitutional right, racial violence returns to St. Louis and Baltimore, police are ambushed and murdered in New York City and Houston, murder is on the rise, Democratic candidates apologize for saying all lives matter, “trigger warnings” precede the teaching of Ovid at university, the president unilaterally amnesties millions of illegal immigrants, politically correct mobs use social media to silence dissent and intimidate heretics, hundreds of thousands of migrants flood into Europe, a slowing Chinese economy causes volatility in the U.S. stock market, more than 70 percent of Americans say they are unhappy with the direction of the country, and the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination is a billionaire television star who promises to deport illegal aliens, oppose free trade, raise taxes on hedge funds, and establish a national health plan where “you can get everything in Obamacare, but much more.”

And it’s all true. I could, however have written an entirely different paragraph with different worries that would be equally true. People have been shocked by the sheer barbarism of ISIS, and nobody does anything to stop it. Or is it the regulations that are imposed on us by executive order rather than by the people we elected to Congress. We thought that people of other races were melding ever more completely into American society, and instead we have riots and killings and a breakdown of law enforcement relations with American blacks. China is building a military base in the middle of the South China Sea on islands they are building on some reefs. Russia is invading the Ukraine, threatening the Baltic States, claiming the North Pole as its own territory. And the president is urging the EPA on in its quest to shut down he coal-fired power plants providing 40 percent of our electricity in favor of wind farms and solar arrays that produce very little energy at enormous expense in taxpayer subsidies. That’s just a few of mine, and I’m sure you could each come up with your own list.

Here are four important voices explaining why we are where we are:

Victor Davis Hanson: Is Obama Correctable? Here and abroad, the Obama administration damages whatever it touches.

Richard A. Epstein: The Consequences of Obama’s Weakness
Bad consequences follow when a United States President thinks that he an counter forces of terrorism and world disorder on the cheap without the use or threat of ground forces.

Noah Rothman: The Culmination of Obama’s Indulgent Foreign Policy Much ink has been wasted over the course of this presidency attempting to identify (or to invent) something that could be reasonably considered an Obama doctrine.

Walter Russell Mead: Fecklessness 101: The endgame in Syria: Apparently the Obama administration turned down a Russian offer to dump Assad…because the Administration was sure he was going to fall on his own.

Obama is Actually Trying to Sell His Iran Deal to Israel! by The Elephant's Child

jerusalem_israelFrom the Associated Press:

JERUSALEM: Seeking to sell his nuclear deal with Iran to a skeptical Israeli public, President Barack Obama has repeatedly declared his deep affection for the Jewish state. But the feelings do not appear to be mutual.

Wide swaths of the Israeli public, particularly supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have little trust in the American leader, considering him naive and even hostile. One recent poll showed less than a tenth considered him “pro-Israel.”

Such misgivings bode poorly for Obama as he tries to repair ties with Israel in the final year of his presidency, and they would certainly complicate any renewed effort at brokering peace between Israel and its neighbors – once a major Obama ambition.

President Obama believed firmly that one of the great triumphs of his administration would be brokering a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. He thought that all he had to do was make Israel withdraw to their borders before the 1967 Six Day War. Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Israel was taken by surprise. Egypt swept deep into the Sinai Peninsula and Syria struggled to throw Israeli troops our of the Golan Heights. It was a huge victory for the Israelis. a cease-fire went into effect on October 25, 1973.

Obama’s missteps  date to his earliest days in office, and the Cairo speech, which demonstrated his naivety and unfamiliarity with the Middle East. He doesn’t understand how the Mideast functions and therefore doesn’t understand the dangers Israel faces. But the biggest issue is the Iran Deal. Iran funds Hezbollah, Hamas, and any other jihadist group firing missiles into Israel. Iran buys and supplies the missiles.  Mr. Obama’s views might alter if Washington DC was under daily missile attack from Pennsylvania or Maryland.

President Obama might also reflect on Iran’s drive to obtain intercontinental ballistic missiles. They have no need for ICBMs to eliminate Israel. I don’t think Obama’s professions of “deep affections” for the nation of Israel are going to impress much of anybody. A recent Pew survey of 40 countries indicates that confidence in Obama has slipped from 71 percent to 40 percent.

For his part, Obama has acknowledged feeling hurt. In an address to American Jewish leaders last month, Obama underscored his deep commitment to Israel’s security and likened the debate over the Iran deal to a dispute within the family.

“I would suggest that, in terms of the tone of this debate, everybody keep in mind that we’re all pro-Israel,” he said. “And we have to make sure that we don’t impugn people’s motives.”

The astounding thing is that 40 percent of Israelis still have some confidence in Obama.


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