American Elephants


A Complete Denial of Reality by The Elephant's Child

Heather MacDonald, in a new article at City Journal explains how “the New York city council would require the New York Police Department to reveal the details of every surveillance technology the department uses to detect terrorism and crime. Ninety days before the NYPD intends to implement a new surveillance technology, it would have to post on the Internet a technical description of how the new tool works, and how the department plans to use it. The public would have 45 days to comment on the proposed technology; the police commissioner would then have 45 days to respond to the public comments before he could actually start using the new capacity. Existing technologies would also have to be retroactively submitted to public review.”

What is wrong with this simple idea? Is this a public demonstration of the decline of the New York public schools? Have the folks in this very Democratic City lost the ability to think? Very possibly. Heather MacDonald adds that “perhaps aware that this moment many not be ideal for promoting what would be, in effect, a terrorists’ manual on how to evade discovery in New York City.”

“The bill’s supporters have,” Mac Donald writes, “hilariously taken to casting it as a pro-illegal alien, anti-Trump gesture. New York is a ‘sanctuary city, now in open resistance to the Trump administration.’ two members of the Brennan Center for Justice wrote in an op-ed advocating for the so-called Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act. The Brennan Center wrote the POST Act for council members; the center has pushed similar bills across the country, including in Seattle and Oakland, two cities that have been particularly vulnerable to ‘anti-fascist’ violence.) The city council press release claims that the bill ‘strengthens New York City’s commitment as a sanctuary city…as the Trump administration seeks to increase surveillance across America.”

One would think that the memory of 9/11 would still be on citizens’ minds, that they would realize that a huge and prominent American city like New York is a highly desirable target for terrorists.  Instead it is an outgrowth of some confused anti-Trump fervor. Trump is a fascist, so we must do away with any government surveillance,  policing, oppose all government secrecy, end any broken-windows policing because under Trump we might have a national surveillance state. What? Another attack in London, in France and Belgium. Sexual assaults by Muslim migrants are up by 1000% in Sweden, and they try to hide it. I’m not quite clear on just where the idea of Trump as the dictator of a national surveillance state comes from, but no anti-Trump idea goes too far. You’ve probably noticed that they are somewhat unhinged.

The NYPD does not need special permission to watch suspects on the street, nor to install cameras to observe the public. The Fourth Amendment does not apply to things in the open. Police need legal permission to tap phone lines, but not anything in the open or on the streets.

At Commentary Magazine, Jonathan Foreman writes of the British problem: Jurists who came of age in the 1960s have been inclined since 2001 “to see terrorism as an ordinary criminal problem being exploited by malign officials and politicians to make assaults on individual rights and to take part in “illegal” foreign wars.” He says it has been almost impossible to extradite ISIS or al-Qaeda-linked Islamists from the UK. English judges believe that few if any foreign countries—apart from perhaps Sweden or Norway—are likely to give terrorist suspects a fair trial, or able to guarantee that such suspects will be spared torture and abuse.”

The UK’s progressive media elite’s primary, reflexive response to a terrorist attack is to express worry about an imminent, violent anti-Muslim “backlash” on the part of a bigoted and ignorant indigenous working class. Is that what we have going on here?  What part of the dead children in Manchester can they simply not get through their heads? Or London Bridge, or hundreds of other attacks across the UK and Europe?

The European Union announced this week that it would begin proceedings to punish Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic for their refusal to accept refugees and migrants under a 2015 scheme the EU commission created. The mission’s aim was to relieve Greece and Italy of the burden from migrant waves arriving from the Middle East and Africa, largely facilitated by European rescues of migrants in the Mediterranean. The EU was arrogating quite a bit of authority to themselves. The people have different ideas. The truth is that the majority in nearly every European country says that migration from Muslim countries into Europe should be slowed down or stopped entirely. In Poland, over 90 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “all immigration from majority Muslim nations should be stopped.”

You  have a situation where public sentiment runs strongly one way and that of the political class is something completely different. The waves of Muslim migration in Europe are a serious problem, and the public is fed up. Politicians here remain oblivious. We need to be fully aware of Europe’s problems, because we will undoubtedly face some of the same problems here. We have had terrorist attacks, and we will have more. Facebook would seem to be a channel for Islamic radicalization materials. We need to do some serious rethinking about some of our assumptions.  It’s hard to know when we are being really stupid, if we are not paying attention. We can’t deal with problems that we refuse to admit exist.

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How Do You Deal With A Problem That You Refuse to Recognize? by The Elephant's Child

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One of the British papers remarked recently that people were beginning to refer to themselves as ‘English’ rather than ‘British.’I think that is significant, but I’m not quite sure just what it means. The BREXIT exit is still in a state of uncertainty. PM Theresa May was not in favor of leaving the European Union, but believes that the people have spoken and intends to shepherd the nation’s exit. There’s been a  legal ruling that says she has to get approval from Parliament, but I’m not sure of all that either. Across Europe there is rumbling of populism, but what will happen remains unknown.

In Sweden, sexual assault has increased by 70%. Many are saying that Angela Merkel will not survive another election.  Mark Helprin, writing in the Claremont Review of Books suggests that Europe has constantly shifted between unification and dissolution.

The European Continent and for a time even the British Isles have been partially unified—by the Romans, Charlemagne, Spain, Austria, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler, and the European Union.  Even if it didn’t get very far, the Mongols, Muslims, and Turks gave it the college try, and then there was the papacy. The Romans were champions of endurance, but Napoleon’s stint was as short as he was, the empire of the Thousand Year Reich didn’t make it by 995½ years and the Soviets got only halfway across.

As it evolved from the European Coal and Steel Community into the European Economic Community, and the the Schengenized “E.U. plus,” bureaucracy’s pacific conquest of Europe was different, its weapons the ballot box, rubber stamp , and pen. Furthermore, other than in one civil war, the U.S. had shown that 50 states could unite to great advantage.

Now we have Britain ready to leave the E.U., Scotland and Wales want independence, Belgium and Italy want to break in two and Spain in three parts. Yugoslavia is already is pieces, Hungary may either be expelled or quit. Greece is a complete mess, and Marine Le Pen wants France out, and everybody blames Angela Merkel for inviting the Middle East in.

One need not be hostile to the idea of this union to know the essential flaw in its conception, namely the statist assumption that bureaucratic conceit will prevail over geography, history, tradition and individual attachments, preferences, and loyalties. Greek profligacy and German prudence cannot sleep in the same bed. Good luck to the Frenchman who tells an Englishman how much sugar to put in his tea. Rivers, alpine ranges, marshes, and seas have carved into the landscape physical barriers that for millennia have shaped the economics, histories, and cultures of these disparate nations. Unlike the United States—at its founding English in culture and language, with a pressure-relieving wilderness to the west—Europe as it united was a densely populated grudge-filled continent with scores of major languages and their dialects. Its people had been governed in a hundred different ways , fought countless wars, and inherited dozens of philosophical traditions.

Grand designs don’t work. If government becomes a machine, then everything becomes a machine part. This is where the Left’s dream of addressing human needs with a universal mechanism always fails and fails badly. Humanity cannot be fixed. Human nature may be untidy, but any war against that untidiness is designed to fail.

But the question of the invasion of Europe by Islamist “refugees” can be avoided only so long. As I said, Sweden has had an increase of 70% in sexual assaults. There are No-Go areas everywhere, where even the police are reluctant or refuse to go. Angela Merkel invited the refugees; empathy and kindness were presumed to be the way to welcome them. The hordes have more young men than families, and the young men are of military age. They have been instructed by their religion that European women, as unbelievers, are whores and fair game., and assaults are the rule. Hungary has put up a wall and is refusing to admit refugees. ISIS brags that they have sent their forces to Europe. Many of the refugees refuse to work and expect to be supported.

Refugees seem to be from all over, including Russia and Africa. If the morality you have been taught is empathy and religious freedom, it’s very difficult to turn hostile without feeling like a bad person. Syria is obviously a battleground and unsafe, but Syrian passports are cheap and readily available. Terrorist attacks happen and are deadly. Top that mess off with an unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels that is not responsive to the fears of the people, and there  you are. What do you do, what do you believe and how do you deal with it? Nobody seems ready to decide, but to just wait and see how things work out.   There will be more terrorist attacks.

Our history is not the same as Europe’s, and our immigrants have mostly wanted to become Americans, learned the language, and in a generation or two become indistinguishable from anyone else. But we have had an administration that refuses to identify terrorism by name. And in his “farewell speech” Obama blithely said that we haven’t had any terrorist attacks here. I’m not sure that that is any less avoidance than Europe’s, and the results of avoidance will be undoubtedly be much the same.

 



Another Reminder That Those Determined to Attack Us Often Succeed. by The Elephant's Child

In the meantime, the latest news reports an explosion in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, where 25 people were injured and sent to hospitals with injuries, though the Fire Department reported than none seem to be life-threatening. This was preceded by a pipe bomb explosion in Seaside Park, New Jersey, just before a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors.

Not workplace violence.



Searching Your Facebook and Twitter Accounts For Signs of Terrorist Activity by The Elephant's Child

1849720506_694ed23d32The totalitarians are after your social media use. If the federal authorities have their way, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites will be forced to report users’ activities under a new provision of the 2016 Intelligence Authorization Act.

This is a tricky business. ISIS is clearly using social media as a recruiting tool, and quite successfully, though if you want to see a useless search, ask Google about ISIS recruit numbers. It is clear that many young Muslims are being radicalized through social media. The glamor of going to the Middle East to chop off heads or shoot people for entertainment escapes me, but it is a real problem.

According to the legislation sent to the Senate floor, any online service provider that “obtains actual knowledge of any terrorist activity…shall provide to the appropriate authorities the facts or circumstances of the alleged terrorist activity.” The companies would have to report tweets, videos, posts or other content exchanged online by users.

If you read the ordinary comments on online posts, the language is increasingly crude, comments often designed more to insult than provide intelligent discussion. Everybody’s angry. However, people who are anxious about privacy aren’t going to go for this. But the problem is real, and the dangers real. Someone will have to decide whether a communication is wholly protected political speech, only commentary on current events or — something that should be reported to the government.

Unfortunately, the government’s constant drive for more control and more regulations on the one hand, and more secrecy and lies on the other — means a significant loss of confidence on the part of the public. You won’t find totalitarian governments that are beloved by their people. It ‘s a conundrum. There are still people out there who think Edward Snowden is some kind of hero.



The Boston Manhunt is Over. by The Elephant's Child

A natural characteristic of human nature is plain old curiosity. Whenever there is something unusual going on, people want to see. Looky-loos they call them. This has been the case in Boston, and it takes a real scare to get people back into their homes with the doors locked. Yet the rest of the country has been attached to radio and Twitter to follow the dramatic search.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been captured. His older brother, 26-year-old Tammerlan Tsarnaev is dead. Dzhokhar, pronounced Jho-har, 19-years-old, had been hiding in a boat in the backyard of a home in Watertown, just outside the city. Police approached him cautiously, worried that he might be wearing a suicide bomb vest. Three other people have been taken into custody, nothing known about who they are or why they are in custody.

Lots of information and pictures at the boston.com website, which has had very full coverage. The older brother had apparently become radicalized several years ago and a relative had warned the younger brother repeatedly about the bad influence of his older brother. Photos at the website include one of police massing in armor around a couple of MRAP vehicles ready to do a house-to-house search that is pretty scary. You can hardly imagine being a young man on the run with that show of force after you.  Sounds like the police performed spectacularly and did a remarkable job of keeping the public safe.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in a hospital in serious condition. These two young men seemed to have everything going for them. The older one was hoping to compete in the Olympics in boxing. Good students, getting good educations. The younger brother was an outstanding wrestler.



Political Correctness Gone Rogue by The Elephant's Child

Three years after a man with ties to Islamic radical groups killed twelve people while screaming “Allahu Akbar” over and over at the Fort Hood Army Base, the incident is classified as “workplace violence.” You might classify this one as a cover-up as well; it is at the very least, political correctness gone amok.

Major Nidal Hassan was a U.S. Army psychiatrist scheduled to be deployed. He was a loner, and increasingly under the influence of al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. His superiors were increasingly aware of his odd behavior and Muslim radicalism. But no one did anything about it. The Obama administration has been reluctant to call any incident “terrorism.” Homeland Security has played around with other designations — “violent extremist” seems to be the most popular at the moment. That is a term they are still using for events at Benghazi.

The failure to recognize Islamic terrorism is rooted in a desire to avoid saying anything that would alienate Moslems. Islam, everyone keeps repeating, is a religion of peace. But there are Islamic terrorists and they do have an agenda. Refusing to call it by its correct name is simply a failure to recognize the agenda of those “violent extremists.”

The inaccurate designation of the incident as “workplace violence” is meant to suggest that it is just an ordinary “going postal” situation that could happen anywhere, and don’t even think of blaming Hassan’s superiors for not noticing that he was a danger to everyone around him.

The “workplace violence” designation also deprives Staff Sergeant Shawn Manning, who was shot six times during the attack, of the disability compensation that other wounded service members receive, and eligibility for Purple Hearts or medals for valor. And the twelve dead soldiers are deprived of the recognition they deserve.

Some members of Congress are fighting the classification, but it has not yet been enough. The constant avoidance of not just the designation, but the reality of terrorism, is just wrong and distorts Americans’ understanding of their own nation’s foreign policy.

Heritage’s James Carafano wrote earlier this month:

Clearly, acknowledging that terrorism is alive and well looks bad for the Obama Administration’s rhetoric, which has portrayed Obama as having vanquished Osama bin Laden and thus ending the “war on terrorism.

Playing politics with terrorist incidents and indulging in cover-ups to prevent public knowledge is more than unbecoming, it is dishonest, and unworthy of the office.



Fox News’ Authoritative Timeline of Events in Benghazi by The Elephant's Child

Politics, statecraft, avoidance, security, cover-ups, falsehoods and the word that must never be uttered — terrorism. The raid that killed bin Laden was to be the great accomplishment of Obama’s first term. With bin Laden’s death and the president’s “kill list” for drone strikes, the administration has assumed that al Qaeda was greatly diminished and no longer a major concern.

But that isn’t true. The widely heralded “Arab Spring” was not a matter of the Arab states of North Africa suddenly deciding that they wanted to be peaceful democracies. That delusion has done incalculable damage. Governments make mistakes, misread events, and fail to understand movements, History bears witness to error.

But real lives are at stake, international  perceptions of weakness or strength. Hauling the maker of the video that nobody watched in on a “parole violation,” and sticking him in solitary confinement where he remains a month and a half later, is not just a” coincidence.” Somebody managed to get a drone over Benghazi quickly enough to monitor at least part of the attack.This was not a “bump in the road” nor can the death of an American ambassador in thirty years, his aide and two former SEALS be described callously as “not optimum.”

I rely a lot on the DiploMad 2.0 whom I have been following since the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami on the day after Christmas in 2004.  He reported from Banda Aceh as the rescue efforts began, with a clear voice that we didn’t get from the media. He is since retired, but writes about these things from long experience in some of the world’s tougher spots —”hard countries,” he calls them. His comments are an important addition to the video.

Fox News has consistently and accurately covered this scandal.




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