American Elephants

And A Quest For Freedom From Hong Kong by The Elephant's Child

On Thanksgiving evening, Hong Kong Protesters decided to sing the American National Anthem as a gesture of thanks for President Trump signing two bills into law on Wednesday that condemned China. When they finished with the Star Spangled Banner, they chanted “USA, USA, USA.”

Seems to me that we sometimes forget that our USA is about freedom. Perhaps I should capitalize that: Freedom. That plucky bunch who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 were searching for Freedom. They were followed by the Winthrop Fleet in 1630 who established the Bay Colony.

The early settlers who first pushed out from the coast, and those who were looking for more freedom pushed on across the Alleghenies, and more pushed on and on until they reached the other ocean.

Lewis and Clark, the Homestead Act, farmers taming wild prairie, always a push for  more freedom. We accept government gingerly, as a necessary evil, and try to keep it in line. All over the world, the people are pushing back against government and against those who would interfere with their desire to be free. It is simply basic human nature. It’s all very complicated, but if the United States of America stands for anything, it stands for a free people. We might do well to be a little clearer about that, so we weren’t taking other countries by surprise. They would know what to expect from us.

In any case, how can you help but sympathize with the citizens of Hong Kong, and wish them well.

This was intended to be published yesterday, but my computer had an attack of nervous prostration, and blushingly hid it’s face in it’s keyboard and refused to cooperate at all. I hope there will not be a repeat of such intransigence. I assumed, since the hour was late, that the network was engaged in a tidying-up exercise when they thought the world would be asleep.

Trump’s Pointed Venezuela Speech Starts Things Moving by The Elephant's Child

President Trump delivered an excellent speech in Miami directed at the Venezuelans and Hispanics in the audience. We have food aid waiting near the border to be delivered to the starving people in Venezuela. Now Brazil has assembled caravan of food for the Venezuelans in cooperation with the U.S. and said it’s whether socialist dictator Maduro likes it or not.

Maduro, of course, denies that there is any shortage of anything, and will block any shipments. Brazil’s new right-leaning President Jair Bolsonaro has recognized newly elected Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. So far the Venezuelan military is backing Maduro, but that will not continue indefinitely, in the nature of things. Maduro will be lucky to escape with his life, but where would he go?

With the U.S. and Brazil standing up for ordinary humanitarianism, things will start to move and other nations, fearful of acting on their own, will join in. That too is in the nature of things. You can think back to other times and other dictators and how they were deposed. We can usually learn from history, even if the ignorant try to hide what what happened, to proclaim their own virtue. Famously said: “The Truth Will Out.”

For Newly Naturalized Citizens by The Elephant's Child

Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, spoke at a September 21, naturalization ceremony in Bakersfield, California. The Wall Street Journal noted it in their column “Notable &Quotable:”

Every one of you has a story—an American story now. You come from many countries—but today the Pilgrims are your ancestors. You’ve known many leaders—but today George Washington is your Founding Father. You’ve experienced many hardships—but today Valley Forge is your winter.

The Declaration is your inspiration and the Constitution is your inheritance. Lincoln is your liberator. . . . The GIs of D-Day are your heroes. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of your dreams. The moon bears your flag. And our future is your future.

 You are adopted sons and daughters of America with every right, every privilege, every duty and every national memory of those blessed with citizenship by birth. I pray that as you grow into your place as a citizen, that what you would feel more than anything else is gratitude.
Very, very nice.

That Was Then, This is Now, And Tomorrow? by The Elephant's Child

Back in 2007, when Barack Obama was a mere senator, he was asked when Presidents have the authority to launch a military strike without congressional authorization. He had a precise answer at the ready. He told The Boston Globe:

The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

The interview goes on, but of course it is hard to be consistent over time, and particularly when you are commenting on a situation and when you are embroiled in the situation yourself. Yet, it is useful to understand the changing views of an official. This is difficult territory. Still the interview is interesting, and Senator Obama is quick to grasp the opportunity to attack Bush with all the usual leftist talking points. Do not the comment on “warrantless surveillance of American citizens,” I think that’s something like hoist with your own petard.

The president, in an imprudent moment, announced that “Assad must go,” but did nothing at all to salvage his pronouncement, lessen the conflict, nor encouraged others to keep the rebellion from getting worse. Then he announced that he was drawing a”red line” in regard to chemical weapons, but did nothing about that either. People all over the Middle East seem to be killing their own people without any serious reaction from the rest of the world.

If we have a clear policy in regard to the Middle East, no one seems to know just what it is. One day Bashar al Assad is a “reformer”, then he is a perpetrator of crimes against humanity. Poison gas seems somehow worse than just shooting people, but for all of Obama’s declarations of red lines and crimes against humanity — we seem to have no policy except the delusion that all problems in the Middle East are because of the “conflict” between Israel and Palestine, and if the Israelis will just stop “building settlements” than all will be well. No mention of Palestinians rockets, of course.

It just doesn’t add up to a policy.

Thanksgiving Thoughts by The Elephant's Child

     They must come into, and go through a vast and a roaring Wilderness, where they must be bruised with many pressures, humbled under many overbearing difficulties…before they could possess that good Land which abounded with all prosperity, flowed with milk and honey.

— The Reverend Thomas Hooker
The Application of Redemption, 1659


     The Puritans in the Wilderness—away from Old World centers of learning, far from great university libraries, threatened daily by the thousand and one hardships and perils of a savage “America—were poorly situated for elaborating a theology and disputing its fine points. For such an enterprise John Calvin in Switzerland or William Ames in Holland was much better located. But for testing a theology, for seeing whether Zion could be rebuilt if men abandoned the false foundations of the centuries since Jesus—for this New England offered a rare opportunity.
 …..So it was that although the Puritans in the New World made the Calvinist theology their point of departure, they made it precisely that and nothing else. From it they departed at once into the practical life. Down to the middle of the 18th century, there was hardly an important work of speculative theology produced in New England.

—Daniel J. Boorstin
The Americans: The Colonial Experience

     Perhaps because their basic theoretical questions had been settled, the Puritans were able to concentrate on human and practical problems. And strangely enough, those problems were a preview of the ones which would continue to trouble American political thought. They were concerned less with the ends of society than with its organization and less with making the community good than with making it effective, with insuring the integrity and self-restraint of its leaders, and with preventing its government from being oppressive.

— Daniel J. Boorstin
The Americans: The Colonial Experience


     If the world is becoming rapidly Americanized as once it became Romanized, the reason lies not in our weapons, but in the fact that others want what we have and are willing, often eager, to adopt our ways in order to have them too. The relentless spread of democracy and capitalism in recent decades, to a large extent in the light of the American example, is a peaceful and largely welcomed conquest —at least by the people if often not by the elites who have seen their own power slipping away. It is a conquest more subtle, more pervasive, and, in a likelihood, more permanent than any known before.

— John Steele Gordon
An Empire of Wealth

     Technologically the eastern Indians were Neolithic, using sophisticated tools but lacking metal. Their culture was a highly advanced one, however, using hundreds of different materials and techniques in what James Fenimore Cooper, two centuries later would call “the gentle art of the forest.” Developed over thousands of years of extracting a living from the land, these arts, taught to the e=settlers, would more than once save them from disaster and even extinction as they struggled to establish themselves in the unfamiliar New World.
…..The more technologically advanced culture that these settlers brought with them and traded with the Indians, however, would, in turn destroy the latter. Once the Indians became used to the superior metal tools,cloth, and firearms of the Europeans, the skills needed to use the raw materials at hand began to disappear. Before long, the Indians had no choice but to trade for what they needed on increasingly unequal terms and inevitably, lost their economic sovereignty. Once that was gone, their political sovereignty and the rest of their culture soon followed.

— John Steele Gordon
An Empire of Wealth

The Glorious Fourth by The Elephant's Child

Marie Antoinette Pelosi. Let them Eat Cake! by The Elephant's Child

We thought it was out-of-line when Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded military jets assigned to her for her personal transportation.  We thought it was out-of-line when the Democrats took a very expensive junket on three 747s to the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

Now it appears that Pelosi’s children and grandchildren are using military jets as a cross-country shuttle service from San Francisco so they don’t have to mix with ordinary folk.

Military flights cost between $5.000 and $20,000 an hour to operate.  The Speaker and her passengers routinely reimburse the Air Force $120 to $400 for each flight.

She appears to have requisitioned flights for the use of her children, grandchildren and  in-laws for their routine travel needs.  Doug Ross sums up the evidence as is known so far, with manifests and travel requests.

I don’t believe in an imperial Congress.  Nancy Pelosi is simply the Speaker of the House of Representatives, not some kind of royalty.  The Founders would be horrified at the goodies the members of Congress have claimed for themselves.  If regular air travel is crowded and inconvenient — that’s what the rest of us have to put up with too.

They have arranged automatic pay increases.  The barber shop, the medical clinic and all sorts of services are arranged so that they do not have to mix with the public.  Yet the most frequent complaint about Congress is that they are out-of-touch with their constituents.

The American people have made it clear that they do not want the government-run health care program that the Democratic Congress is pushing.  The Los Angeles Times reports:

But in the coming weeks, Pelosi and Reid hope to rally House Democrats behind the healthcare bill passed by the Senate while simultaneously trying persuade Senate Democrats to approve a series of changes to the legislation using budget procedures that bar filibusters.

Almost all of the proponents of a healthcare overhaul are desperate to avoid a repeat of the contentious public debate and deal-making that consumed Capitol Hill last year.

“In a 24-hour news cycle, with the Internet and bloggers and cable news, sometimes a lot more can be accomplished, especially with healthcare, when it happens behind closed doors,” said Drew Altman, a healthcare policy expert who heads the nonprofit Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

A lot more can be accomplished in secret behind closed doors.  Don’t want any “contentious” public debate.  Can’t have the rubes interfering by offering their opinions.

This is America.  We are supposed to have contentious public debate! The actions of the representatives of the people are supposed to take place in public.  Congressional Democrats and their Speaker are not only out-of-touch, but have forgotten their place.  We will have to remind them.

Blackfive’s Uncle Jimbo Shares His Thoughts About Afghanistan. by The Elephant's Child
October 29, 2009, 2:11 am
Filed under: Freedom, History, Military, Terrorism | Tags: , , ,

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