American Elephants


We’re havin a heatwave! by American Elephant
July 30, 2009, 2:23 am
Filed under: YouTube | Tags: ,

…a tropical heatwave. Temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising, I certainly ….CAN’T!

Ugh! While most of the country is enjoying record cool temperatures, we have been suffering the past few days with record highs. Today, in the Seattle area, it got up to 106° — 106 freakin degrees!!! (Our previous record was 103 in 1941). As I write this, in the middle of the night, my little desktop weather widget says it’s still 79 degrees outside. Blech.

I’m a weenie. I don’t like it this hot unless there is sand underfoot and a large body of water for me to plunge into. May have to go to Lake Washington tomorrow. I escaped the heat this evening by hitting the movie theater. Otherwise, I have all my fans turned on, and I’m spending a lot of time in the basement drinking huckleberry Italian soda’s and virgin mojito’s. Mmmm mmmm mmmmm.

I just read that the temperature in Hell, Michigan was a lovely 76° today, so Seattle is exactly 30 degrees hotter than Hell.



Strange Doings at the State Department by The Elephant's Child
July 30, 2009, 12:49 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Latin America

Today the United States Government revoked the diplomatic visas of four members of  Honduras’ government. President Obama thinks it is more important to defer to Communist thugs Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.  We need to understand the constitutional action that led to President  Zelaya’s removal.

In reality, Zelaya broke 17 Honduran laws classified as “high crimes.” They included holding an unconstitutional referendum, defying the high court, whipping up mobs, taking Chavista cash, robbing the Central Bank and preloading computers with referendum “results” before the illegal referendum was even held.

Venezuela’s Chavez has successfully taken over the Venezuelan presidency permanently, and was busily helping President Zelaya to do the same.  President Obama has decided that this was a “coup” and he is going to tell the Hondurans to ignore their laws and their Constitution and reinstate Zelaya.  How did the Honduran Supreme Court dare to act according to their constitution and remove Zelaya?  They should have waited for the One’s approval.

This foreign policy of bullying everyone, Chicago style, is embarrassing, and apparently comes now at the behest of  former president Zelaya.  According to the Central American News Agency, the former president has retreated to the mountains, and sent a letter to Obama asking him to ramp up the pressure on the interim government, and suggesting the “revocation of visas” to those involved in his ouster, and the freezing of bank accounts, especially that of Judge Jose Tomas Arturo Valle, the chairman of the 16-member supreme court who signed the ruling ordering the detention of Zelaya.

The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court removed Zelaya from office weeks on June 28, so increasing the pressure now is a little odd.  But the U.S. is increasingly throwing its weight around internationally.  Obama is telling the Israelis where in Israel they may live and Obama is “reaching out” to Syria’s Assad, another of the Middle East’s dictators.  And now they are trying to have talks with the Taliban.   The State Department is on the wrong side here.    President Obama is on the wrong side.

It would be interesting to understand why Obama wants to pander to tinpot dictators all over the world, and bully our democratic allies who are trying to preserve their democracies and their freedom.  So far, his “reaching out”, and “dialogue” has gotten him nothing but insults and contempt, but I guess hope springs eternal.



Wise Words From a Nobel Laureate by The Elephant's Child
July 29, 2009, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Health Care, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: , ,

Economist Greg Mankiw — whose blog I recommend unreservedly — posted this comment by the Nobel laureate Ken Arrow:

Oh, why health costs increase? The basic reason why health costs increased is that health care is a good thing! Because today there is a lot more you can do! Consider all these expenses that are diagnostic. Cat scans, X-rays, MRIs and now the proton-powered whatever-it-is. Something that is the size of a football field, cost $50 million, and has all sorts of diagnostic powers. A lot of these technologies clearly reveal things that would not be revealed otherwise. There’s no question about it. Diagnostics have improved. Technology has improved. You know, sending things through your blood stream to help in operations, instead of cutting you open. It’s incredible. But these things are costly. But for older people longevity is increasing by a month each year. Now, whether that creates other problems with retirement and social security is another question. But, nevertheless, preserving life is a good thing.

The Obama administration seems to have forgotten what health care is all about.  They think it is about power, and getting control of something that voters cannot do without.  It certainly is not about preserving life.  Free abortions are on the list, rationing care for the old folks is on the list, and (Page 354, Section 1177)  Government will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people.  I’d sure like to hear them explain that one.



How Much Will It Cost? Way More Than They Expect! by The Elephant's Child
July 29, 2009, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care | Tags: , , ,

President Obama is trying to find someone to blame if his party is unable to pass a health-care reform bill before August 1.  His target is the Congressional Budget Office and director Douglas Elmendorf.  Remember that the office is intended to be completely non-partisan, and oriented towards giving congress good and responsible estimates of what a bill will cost.

The administration was so upset over the estimate that the CBO produced over the health-care bill that they summoned Elmendorf to the White House, a very improper step.  The CBO is expected to be free of interference from the administration and from congress.

Peter Orszag, President Obama’s Budget Director, was previously Director of the CBO.  He should know what the rules are.

Stephen Spruiell notes at National Review:

Last weekend’s outburst from Obama’s budget director, Peter Orszag, was the equivalent of a player upending the chess board and calling his opponent a cheater.

The irony is that, just a few months ago,  Orszag was on the other side of the board.  Before Obama appointed him to run the Office of Management and Budget, Orszag was in charge of the CBO.  And just before he left the legislative for the executive branch, he took measures to make sure the CBO would be well equipped to play its role in the health-care debate, expanding the number of health-care economists on staff and ordering a new computer capable of modeling the effects of complicated legislation.

In a Saturday post on his White House blog, Orszag implied that the CBO’s latest analysis was guilty of “exaggerating costs and underestimating savings,” and he said that the agency had “overstepped its bounds.”

The Washington Times chimed in last week to point out that the CBO had vastly underestimated the number of small businesses and the number of people from that source who would switch to the government plan.  They said:

CBO — incredibly — assumes that only 3 million people will switch from employer-provided coverage to government insurance.  But the Lewin Group, a health care policy research and management consulting firm, estimates that 119 million Americans will switch from their current private insurance to government insurance.  If these figures are accurate, the program’s cost could easily be $4.5 trillion over 10 years, not the $1.04 trillion CBO is claiming. That new financial burden would be a disaster for the deficit.

The House bill, however contains: (Pg. 50, Section 152) Health Care will be provided to ALL non U.S. citizens, illegal or otherwise.  I wonder if the CBO is including in its estimates the entire non-citizen population? Intelligent guesstimates suggest around 1.3 million illegal immigrants. I don’t know if the CBO  includes adding them the the health insurance rolls.

Government bills or policies that come in costing less than estimated are as rare as an occasion when Obama did not blame the Republicans.  This is his mess, and at some point he will have to own up to misleading the public.



The Green Agenda Gets Increasingly Strange. by The Elephant's Child
July 29, 2009, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Environment, Religion

The headline reads:” ‘Green Anarchist’ Trumpets ‘Roadkill’ Diet to Save Mother Earth.” Scavenging for dead animals killed by the ‘car culture’ described as the more ‘ecological’ choice.

If this is right up your alley, you can find the complete article here. Perhaps you want a more adventurous diet, or maybe you want to save money.  It’s usually free.  You can ‘challenge society’s taboos’, the article says.

“Conventional meat products carry with them the suffering of the factory farm, exuding stress and misery in every tissue and cell.  This misery transfers itself to the plate of the consumer, infecting billions worldwide with the same neurotic trauma of domestication.  At least an animal killed on the highway lived wild and free until the point of impact.”

Well, to each his own.



Once Again, Trying to Understand the Meaning of A Trillion Dollars. by The Elephant's Child
July 28, 2009, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Taxes | Tags: , ,

If you speak of millions and billions and trillions often enough, the reality of those numbers fades away.  Here is a reminder, for taxpayers, of just what a trillion dollars represents.  It’s worth reviewing.  Maybe you can comprehend it.  I have trouble.



Is It True What They Say About Healthcare? No it Isn’t! by The Elephant's Child

househealthbilllongrun_thumb

(click to enlarge)

If you are listening to Congressional Democrat claims, or the claims of the administration: No, it’s not true.

The House Democrats unveiled their plan on July 14, with the aim of passing it by July 31, the last day before their August congressional recess.  There had been months of vague claims, but despite promises of “transparency” all legislation was drummed up behind closed doors.  The bills were introduced as close as possible to the date of the expected vote.  The majority wanted to minimize the time available to actually read and consider the bills, so there would be little time for debate, and perhaps the momentum would be enough to carry it through.

Things have not gone as intended.  The public is concerned, with much justification.  The Democrats want to spend $1.5 trillion over a decade, impose an $800 billion tax increase during the worst recession in many years, increase federal borrowing by at least $239 billion (added to the $11 trillion that the Obama budget already imposes on us). Taxing “the rich” will not raise enough money, so the language on not taxing the middle class is becoming increasingly squishy.

In making his case for a government takeover of the U.S. health care system, President Obama has made a number of frequently repeated pledges:

“If you like your current health-care plan, you can keep it.” White House spokesmen say that this pledge” isn’t meant to be taken literally.”  Most Americans will be forced to change insurance plans.  House bill, page 145, Line 15-17, An employer MUST automatically enroll employees into a public option.  No choice.   Page 149, Lines 16-24, ANY employer with a payroll $400,000 and above who doesn’t provide the public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.  Page 150, Lines 9-13, A business with a payroll between $251,000-$400,000 pays a 2-6% tax on all payroll.

“You will pay less.The Congressional Budget Office has made it clear that the “reform” plans now being debated will significantly increase overall health-care costs. Nancy Pelosi said “We will have a cap on costs, but we will have no cap on benefits.”  Page 50, Section 152 in House health care bill,  health care will be provided to all non U.S. citizens, illegal or otherwise.  You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and ‘free’ care for all. Simply doesn’t work.

The Director of the Congressional Budget Office testified that none of the health plans coming from Capitol Hill would control long-term spending.  The administration’s latest money-saving proposal of a “Independent Medicare Advisory Council” has already been turned down by the CBO as increasing Medicare spending instead.  Obama’s had a bad week.

Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal said “After his TV appearances [White House Budget Director Peter Orzag] went straight to the Senate Finance Committee, where he spent three hours with committee aides brainstorming about how to pay for the trillion dollar legislation.  At one point, they flipped through the tax code, looking for ideas. (Now there’s a statement to give you pause).

“Quality Will Improve.” How could any sentient being think that this mess of mandates, and commissions, councils, offices, departments. corps, programs and boards will make health care improve?  We have the highest quality health care in the world. 85 percent of Americans are quite satisfied with their health insurance.

Putting more decisions in the hands of Dr. Eziekel Emanuel (Rham Emanuel’s brother) who has been advising Congress?  Dr. Emanuel has written that he favors rationing for older Americans,  favors abolishing the Hippocratic Oath,  thinks private rooms should be abolished, and hates fancy waiting rooms. For him the way to cut Medicare costs is simply to pay doctors and hospitals less. The only problem is that many doctors will not accept Medicare patients now because they cannot afford to. Seniors will have an increasingly harder time finding a doctor.

Our survival rates for cancers are better, our patients are happier.  Our health care costs are not “spiraling out of control”, but have risen very much in line with the rest of the world.  We have some people who do not have health insurance, but far fewer than the Democrats claim. It’s probably somewhere around 1o million, not the 45.7 million claimed, and a good percentage have just chosen not to buy insurance because they are young and healthy.

The costs of emergency room treatment are not excessive.  There is nothing whatsoever in the House Democrats health care plan that will improve quality in any way.

What you will lose is your freedom.  Your freedom will be served up to members of Congress who will meddle constantly, while not participating in the health care plan they’re sticking us with.  If you plan on getting old, old age will be less comfortable because Democrats have found one way to cut costs.  The last years of life cost the most.  The remedy is just to ration the care.  Over 65, if it’s expensive, forget it.  If you are young and healthy this will be of no concern to you unless you have parents and grandparents, or plan on getting old yourself.  Since proposed cuts in elder care will not pay for the plan, there will be more cuts and more rationing.



Amazing! Look What the Army Can Do! by The Elephant's Child
July 28, 2009, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Politics

(ht: Bookworm Room)



Vindication! You Are With Me, You Really Are! by The Elephant's Child
July 27, 2009, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Politics

We all have our hobbyhorses, the irritations to which we return again and again.  One of mine is the tendency of our Congress to forget the limits placed on them by the Constitution, and ever-more intrusively stick their noses into our lives.

Most of the intrusion is inspired by environmental activists who simply cannot leave well-enough alone.  They want to interfere in how we live in our own homes, dictate what we eat and what we are not allowed to eat, control what private businesses offer to the public and control what our children do in their schools and at play.  There is no end to their self-endowed expertise in just how the world should be properly ordered.

Now, in the silly ruling by the Supreme Court that carbon dioxide is “pollution,” they pretty much have authority to regulate everything.  I have posted extensively on Rep. Jane Harmon’s bill outlawing incandescent lightbulbs and forcing us to use compact fluorescent bulbs, here, here, here and here. (They are manufactured only in China, cannot be used in any enclosed space, and require the haz-mat team if you drop one).

I thought I was conducting a lonely campaign, a wistful voice in the wilderness, but lo-and-behold: Rasmussen Reports points out that only 18% of adults think that it’s the government’s job to tell Americans what kind of light bulb they use.  Seventy-two percent (72%) say it’s none of the government’s business, and 10% are not sure.

Eighty-three percent (83%) of Republicans and 78% of adults not affiliated with either major poitical party say it’s  not the government’s role to make Americans change their light bulbs.  Among Democrats, 58% share that view, but 28% say it is the government’s job.

I fail to understand the 28% who deem it the responsibility of the government, but sheeple are closely related to lemmings.  There are some in every crowd.  But for the rest, vindication!!!  We’ll get the Nosy Parkers out of our lives yet.



Here’s the Chart that the Democrats Don’t Want You to See! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s prime time press conference did not inspire public confidence in the Democrat plan to push through a national healthcare system.  Mr. Obama has now extended his due date till the end of the year, but they’re really going to push it hard during the August recess. We previously noted that Democrats have budgeted $80 million for the health care campaign, and will undoubtedly turn out ACORN and the Unions to fire up the faithful and convince the unconvinced.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims to have the votes needed to pass a package of legislation, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel insists that Congress will vote before it adjourns, the majority seems to be growing more desperate as the days pass.

Evidence of their growing desperation is in the way that Democrats are censoring the GOP’s official communications to their constituents.  On last Thursday Roll Call reported that the majority party is “preventing Republican House Members from sending their constituents a mailing that is critical of the majority’s health care reform plan.”

Health Care Chart

(click to enlarge)
This masterpiece of bureaucracy,  developed by the Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee at the direction of Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex),  the majority claims is “inaccurate”.  Brady called the criticism, delivered in an eight-point memo, “laughable,” saying the chart “depicts their health care plan as their committees developed it.”

Meanwhile, the same Franking Commission that is causing problems for Brady’s chart won’t allow Rep. John Carter (R-Tex) to use the words “government-run health care plan” in a recording to be used to start a telephone town hall meeting. “What we proposed as language was as follows: ‘House Democrats unveiled a government-run health care plan,” Carter told Human Events.   “Our response from Franking was, ‘ You cannot use that language.  You must use “The House majority unveiled a public option health care plan,’ which is Pelosi-speak or ‘ just last week the House Majority unveiled a health care plan which I believe will cost taxpayers…”

Republican staffers say that this kind of censorship of the minority by the majority is almost unheard of on Capitol Hill.  Rather than getting them down, they are taking the efforts to block their messages as a sign of their effectiveness.

“We will have a cap on costs and we will have no cap on benefits,” said Nancy Pelosi.

ADDENDUM: The white boxes on the chart represent existing offices or agencies.  The colored  boxes represent new agencies created by the House Health Care bill.



Obama Scorns Allies, Aligns U.S. With Tinpot Dictators. by The Elephant's Child
July 26, 2009, 3:18 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Latin America

Thugs

The Supreme Court and the Congress of Honduras accused  President Zelaya of violating the constitution Honduras by trying to illegally extend presidential term limits, and ordered him removed from the country.  Apparently Zelaya was working closely with Venezuelan dictator Chavez to duplicate Chavez’s takeover of  Venezuela.  The Army removed Mr. Zelaya from the country.

President Obama has seen fit to intrude into Honduran affairs, at the behest of  Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, to demand that Zelaya be returned, apparently confusing the American Constitution with that of another country.

According to the Montreal Gazette the Obama administration “has condemned the coup, cut $16.5 million in military aid and threatened to slash economic aid.  The U.S. State Department said it remained focused on mediation, and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had made clear to the interim government there would be consequences if it failed to reach a deal.”

That President Obama would choose to align himself with the biggest thugs in Latin America is surprising.  That he would so intrude into the business of another country, an ally, passes understanding.

Zelaya returned to the country, but authorities didn’t bother to arrest him because he barely entered the country, staying in the no-man’s land near the border. The Los Angeles Times said:

It was a day of high theatrics staged, apparently, for multiple audiences, including the media abroad and Zelaya’s increasingly dispirited followers at home.  He executed a symbolic gesture to make good on his promise to return.

Latin American countries have had long, unpleasant experience with caudillos — dictators — and it is hardly surprising that Honduras has put a law in its constitution forbidding presidents from extending their terms illegally.  It is usual to respect the laws of other countries.

(h/t Gateway Pundit)



Retro: For When Current Sucks. by American Elephant
July 26, 2009, 3:17 am
Filed under: Music

Yes, yes, it’s long before my time too, but I like the oldies.




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