American Elephants


God Bless Rush Limbaugh! by American Elephant
December 30, 2009, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, News, Politics | Tags:

Rush Limbaugh has been rushed to the hospital while on vacation in Hawaii, after complaining of chest pains.

HONOLULU (AP) – A Honolulu television station is reporting that conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been taken to a hospital with chest pains.

KITV reported Wednesday that paramedics responded to a call at 2:41 p.m. from the Kahala Hotel and Resort where Limbaugh is vacationing.

The station, citing unnamed sources, said paramedics treated Limbaugh and took him to The Queen’s Medical Center in serious condition.

Queen’s spokeswoman N. Makana Shook says the hospital is unable to comment on the report.

Television station KHON quoted unidentified sources saying Limbaugh was taken from the hotel in an ambulance.

Limbaugh was seen golfing at Waialae Country Club earlier this week. The country club is next to the Kahala Hotel and Resort.

That appears to be all that is known at this time. Our fervent prayers go out for his speedy and full recovery!

Update: We are relieved to hear that Rush is resting comfortably at the hospital according to his website. Further updates will be available at www.rushlimbaugh.com, and on tomorrow’s show.



Honesty and Character Remain the Best Policy. by The Elephant's Child
December 30, 2009, 2:21 am
Filed under: Health Care, Law, Statism | Tags: , , ,

So the Democrats have to bribe their own Senators and Congressmen to get them to vote for ObamaCare. Every poll indicates that the bill is deeply unpopular with the public.  Rasmussen polled Nebraska voters on a match between Senator Ben Nelson, who provided the decisive vote after receiving a permanent exception for Nebraska from increases in Medicaid costs, against Republican Governor Dave Heineman.

For an incumbent Senator to trail by 30 points in a hypothetical race is more than unusual.  Only 17 percent of Nebraska voters approve of the deal Sen. Nelson made on Medicaid in exchange for his vote.

Overall 63 percent of Nebraskans oppose the health-care legislation including 53 percent who are Strongly Opposed.  56 percent believe that passage of the legislation will hurt the quality of care, and 62 percent say it will raise costs.

Senator Nelson is trying desperately to figure out how to spin his vote.  Nancy Pelosi says she’s quite willing to lose many seats in order to pass ObamaCare. That fact in itself indicates that “health care” is not really about anyone’s health.  2012 is three years away, and who knows what might happen in the meantime.  But voters don’t like corruption, and they have surprisingly long memories.



Few Things are Ever So Bad That They Can’t Be Made Worse by The Interference of Big Government. by The Elephant's Child

The President has promised the “most transparent government ever,” both in the words of his mouth and the words on the White House website.  His actions and the actions of his administration belie the words.  Christmas eve — when most Americans’ minds are on other things — the Treasury Department announced that it was removing the $400 billion cap from what the administration believes is necessary to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac solvent. (Pay no attention, just have another glass of eggnog).

Fannie and Freddie are what is called government sponsored enterprises (GSEs).  They buy up mortgages from lenders, enabling the lenders to make more loans. “GSE” is a fuzzy definition, for supposedly, since they are only “government-sponsored”, they are private entities, but everybody assumes that they operate with the “full faith and credit” of the US government.  So what the Treasury has done is issue a blank check on taxpayer dollars.  (Fannie and Freddie should have been privatized long ago, and left to survive in the free market).

If you ask a knowledgeable Republican what the financial crisis was all about, they will explain that it began with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which was designed to get more people into their own homes.  Congress continually demanded that banks make more loans available and lower their standards of prudent lending so that more poor and minority people could own their own homes. ACORN got into the “affordable housing” game, picketing and threatening bankers, and Congress increased the pressure.  Once again, the triumph of wishful thinking over evidence.

During the first 15 years of the act, total commitments totaled around $9 billion.  The federal regulators who forced the CRA on banks didn’t bother to track the performance of the trillions of dollars of loans made to satisfy it. Starting in 1992, volume exploded.

Over the next 16 years, commitments totaled $6 trillion.  CRA defenders claim that the loans were not sub-prime, but it is more accurate to say that they were not classified as sub-prime.  Fannie and Freddie were first bailed out in 2008 to the tune of $200 billion.  This year Treasury handed over another $200 billion.  And now a generous Treasury has handed over a blank check.

On the other hand, ask a Democrat — particularly Congressman Barney Frank or Senator Chris Dodd — what caused the financial crisis, and they will tell you firmly that it was greedy bankers on Wall Street, and “deregulation.”  It is clear that Wall Street Banks got in trouble, but the problem did not originate with them.  Rating agencies classified the securitized packages of mortgages issued by Fannie and Freddie as fine investments, and after all, they were offered by government sponsored enterprises which had the backing of the full faith and credit of the US Treasury.  Wall Street Bankers should have prudently dug a little deeper into the whole story, but the securities came with higher interest rates than were generally available, and a fine Moody’s rating.

Just this year Fannie and Freddie will post nearly $100 billion in losses — with more to come.  Because of government subsidized credit, Fannie and Freddie hold nearly $6 trillion in mortgage loans.  The blank check is unconscionable.  Frank and Dodd are still there, making things worse by enabling the GSEs to continue lending — the same process that got us in this meltdown in the first place.  And they’re talking about expanding the Community Reinvestment Act.  Unbelievable.

In the same Christmas news dump,  Fannie and Freddie announced $42 million in bonuses for 12 top executives — for their excellent work in destroying the economy.  You might remember that when the President rants about “fat-cat bankers on Wall Street.”



The Terrorists have Declared War on Us, They Have Told Us So, Over and Over. by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2009, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Law, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , , ,

There have been 28 foiled attacks on the United States since 2001.  There have been 12 terrorist incidents just this year, the most in any one year,  and the attack by Nidal Malik Hassan was not stopped, or not stopped in time.  He killed a dozen of his fellow soldiers and wounded twenty more.  There was ample evidence that Major Hassan was some one to be concerned about, but the evidence was ignored.

Umar Abdul Mutallab has told his FBI captors that there are far more trained al Qaeda members in Yemen, ready to attack us again.  Perhaps we should pay attention.

Some young men were recruited here to attack abroad.  The “system” has failed over and over.  The government has shown that it is not very serious.  It only reluctantly and recently has managed to say the words “war on terror.”

Umar’s Abdul Mutallab’s name was on a list, but the fact that his own father had made the effort to go to an American Embassy to warn that he should be considered dangerous to the US, was ticked off as insignificant since there was no “confirmation.”

There are, the spokesmen say,  so many names on the watch lists.  As a reader commented in the Corner at NRO, he can swipe his credit card at any retailer and it can be authorized in seconds, distinguishing that card from millions of others, but we cannot identify those who are supposedly on the ‘no-fly’ list?

Jennifer Rubin called attention to the language employed by the president to describe an act of terrorism against the United States.

On Christmas Day, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit. As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, setting off a fire.

Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of passengers and crew, the suspect was immediately subdued, the fire was put out, and the plane landed safely. The suspect is now in custody and has been charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft.

Allegedly. Suspect. Charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft. One would use the same language to describe a suspect who stole a car, not someone who — but for a little bad luck and a courageous passenger from Amsterdam — would not have “attempted” to destroy an airplane, but blown himself and nearly 300 passengers and crew to bits of flesh and bone that could only have been sorted out by DNA evidence, as one of the passengers put it.

The young Nigerian was trained and outfitted in Yemen by at least two former detainees from Guantanamo who were released and have returned to Yemen’s al Qaeda training camps.  President Obama is planning to release another 60 Gitmo detainees to return to Yemen.  Is it a good idea to send dangerous detainees to a country hosting al Qaeda?  A country with a weak and ineffective government? Perhaps Mr. Obama will rethink that one.

Jennifer Rubin quoted a Georgetown University terrorism expert:  “This incident was a compound failure of both intelligence and physical security, leaving prevention to the last line of defense — the passengers themselves.” And an observation from Ken Dunlap, security director of the International Air Transport Association was the smartest comment: “We’ve spent eight years looking for little scissors and toenail clippers… Perhaps the emphasis should be looking for bad people.”

Political correctness demands that looking for bad people cannot be done. It might offend.  It might be perceived as “racial profiling,” and that would be far worse than blowing several hundred people to bits.

We may be engaged in an “overseas contingency operation” and afflicted with “man-caused disasters,” but the Islamist jihadists have declared war on us. They have told us so over and over.  Somehow the administration needs to come to terms with that fact, for fact it is.  Bringing  jihadists to a prison in Illinois is not just a boon to the Illinois economy.  Trying one of the world’s worst terrorists in a show trial in New York with all the consequences that could entail is foolish beyond measure.  There are worse things than admitting that you have been mistaken.



877 New Snowfall Records Set or Tied in the USA in the Last Week! by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2009, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Global Warming, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

Anthony Watts reports at Watts Up With That that in the week ending December 13 there were also 815 new snowfall records set.  If you live in record territory, I hope you have good shovels and plenty of food and warmth.   Anthony’s map shows the location of record snowfall and includes a graph to show just what the old record was.  This is offered in the illusion that if you are suffering, you want to know just how much.

I hasten to add that I understand.  Been there, done that.  Where I was raised, 5 feet of snow was not that unusual.  Everything depends on being prepared, but if you are not — it’s no fun.



Furious Protests Continue In All Major Cities in Iran. by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2009, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Islam | Tags: , , ,

Michael Ledeen explains what is happening in Iran right now.  Krauthammer is right.  This is one of the hinges of history.

From Deutsche Wellle:

In a strong statement to the press on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the actions of Iran’s state security services “unacceptable.”

She called on them to “avoid any further escalation of the violence and to pursue political dialogue to peacefully settle internally disputed matters,” and also to respect their commitment to the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to peaceful protest.

At least eight people were killed in street clashes in Tehran when police and Basij militia members confronted protest marchers who were attempting to gather at a number of central squares. Sunday’s protests took place on Ashura, a Shiite Islamic holy day devoted to honoring martyrs, often through street marches.

Violent response

According to opposition sources, security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to try to get the marchers to disperse.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle criticized Iran’s tactics as “brutal,” and said that the international community “would be watching, not looking away.”

A spokesman for the French foreign ministry, Bernard Valero, said his country again expressed “deep concern,” and “condemns the arbitrary arrests and violence carried out against ordinary protesters.”

He added that intensification of repression “would lead nowhere.”

The Italian foreign ministry, meanwhile, warned the Islamic republic that “safeguarding human lives is a fundamental value which must be defended everywhere and in every circumstance.”

National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer made a statement on violence in Iran:

We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights. Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States. Governing through fear and violence is never just, and, as President Obama said in Oslo, it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

An article by Nile Gardner, Washington-based foreign affairs analyst for the U.K. Telegraph, was headlined “Iranian protesters are dying for freedom — where is Barack Obama?

Here is a video from Iran. It’s hard to watch, but it has a happy ending. The death toll has risen to 15 18.


(h/t: Ace of Spades)



Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) Captured, To His Profound Regret, by You Tube. by The Elephant's Child

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) was the author of the original Senate Health Care Bill, as amended by Harry Reid and crew.  It would seem that he’s not entirely happy about his brilliant creation.  Perhaps he knows he has created a monster and wants someone else to blame for it.  Or perhaps he’s just…

Politicians have had a hard time grasping the concept that You Tube has changed politics forever.  Speeches and videos preserve utterances that politicians hoped would have vanished down the memory hole.  How embarrassing to be caught in full  rhetorical flow— um — not quite at one’s best standard of behavior.



The Secretary of Homeland Security in Full Politically-Correct “Man-Caused-Disaster” Mode. by The Elephant's Child

The U.K. Telegraph had no trouble in getting directly to the point:  “Detroit terror attack is a major intelligence and security failure:  The fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to trigger his  home-made incendiary device on board a US airliner represents an intelligence and security failure of staggering proportions.” The American media pussyfooted around a bit more.  The Secretary of Homeland Security was in full nothing-to-see-here-and everybody-is-perfectly-safe mode.

“The system worked,” Ms. Napolitano said. “Everybody played an important role here.  The passengers and crew took appropriate action.”  Well no, the system didn’t work. The suspect’s father had warned the U.S. Embassy that his son was dangerously radicalized, but the son did not get put on the watch list for flights into the United States because there was “insufficient derogatory information available ” to include him.  It would seem that a warning from a father would be sufficient for most anything, but we are talking about “man-caused disasters” here, not “terrorism.”

“The passengers and crew took appropriate action.” Thank goodness that we can depend on courageous film producers from Amsterdam, because we cannot depend on watch lists, or airline boarding security, or air marshals. Residents of Amsterdam have had a little closer relation to Islamist man-caused disasters.

Liberals have had a difficult relationship to terrorism. They have preferred to believe that there was no terrorism but only Republicans trying to scare everyone, that those who performed terrorist acts were poor abused minorities — not the sons of prominent and well-to-do bankers attending college in England.  So we have “overseas contingency operations,” and 9/11 was a one-off disaster, but terrorism is something that mostly happens somewhere else and blows up other folks, not our people and not here.  So the murderous major at Fort Hood was suffering from post-traumatic-stress acquired from those he counseled rather than any stress of his own, but he was certainly not a terrorist.

The Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit by a Nigerian student, trained in Yemen, makes the 28th foiled terror plot against the United States since 9/11. I do believe that there are a lot of hardworking people out there trying to protect us; and that we’re not entirely dependent on the ineptitude of terrorists.

The first instinct at the White House is to stonewall and rebuff any oversight efforts:

As with the shooting at Ft. Hood in November, the White House has ordered federal agencies not to provide briefings or answer inquiries from members of Congress, leaving all such contacts to be handled by the White House.“I don’t think I ever saw that throughout President Bush’s time in the White House. I could call directly to the director of the CIA or the [National Counterterrorism Center] and get whatever briefings I wanted,” Hoekstra said. He called the briefing limits “totally inappropriate,” but said the White House maintained the orders were needed because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Do note the word “criminal” in referring to the investigation.  The Islamists have often declared that they are at war with us, but we keep investigating criminal acts like liquor store holdups or breaking and entering.  Failure to accurately describe situations prevents their solution.  Since there is evidence that the Nigerian student as well as Major Hasan Nidal were radicalized by Yemeni al Qaeda associates, it makes Obama’s plan to release some 60 Gitmo detainees to Yemen a little dicey.

A little clear thinking and a little less inclination to avoid any possible blame would be very welcome.  Responsibility and backbone, perhaps.



For Your Christmas Viewing Pleasure… by American Elephant

Remember back when TV didn’t suck? Yeah, neither do I.

BUT, these first two videos had me briefly believing that such a time existed. Then I remembered the third video.

The first is from my new favorite (old) show. I didn’t even discover Good Neighbors (alternately titled The Good Life) until a few years ago. It’s a show about a couple, the Goods, who drop out of the rat-race to live a simpler, self-sustaining life. (Don’t worry, it’s not a preachy environmental show at all) while their neighbors and friends maintain their affluent ways.

This is their Christmas show from 1977. The characters will charm your socks off, and you will probably end up watching the entire series as I have. Each show is less than half an hour and all are also available to view instantly, in much better quality, on Netflix. But YouTube works just fine, if you dont mind the show being split into three parts. See parts 2 and 3 here.

The second video is one you may remember. Schmaltzy tear-jerker, as Little House on the Prairie so often was. Warm, fuzzy family-viewing from back before  networks had altogeher eradicated Christ from Christmas in favor of Santa Claus. Here’s part one, the rest can be viewed here.

And the third video is one that I saw for the first time since 1978 last year. I remember seeing it then. I was nine years old and a GINORMOUS Star Wars fan. Even so, I think I remember thinking how bad this was even then. If you have not seen the Star Wars Christmas Special, you must. It truly is must-see-TV because watching is the only way to appreciate how utterly dreadful it is. Chewbacca’s wife and kids? Princess Leia singing, and what Star Wars Christmas Special could be complete without appearances by Harvey Korman, Jefferson Starship, Dianne Carol and Bea Arthur dancing with Greedo?

Ugh.

In all sincerity, this may very well be the worst thing ever broadcast in any format at any time. George Lucas has said he wishes he could hunt down and destroy ever last copy.

WordPress wont allow us to imbed Google videos, so you can watch it here. So painfully, uncomfortably bad, it is hardly to be believed. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Merry Christmas!



Disgusted Democrat Doctor Defects Over ObamaCare Outrage. by The Elephant's Child


Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith announced yesterday that he was going to switch parties and become a Republican.  At a press conference, the Congressman, an oncologist, said that he could not continue to align himself with a Democrat Party that was pushing a health-care plan that is “bad for our doctors…bad for our patients, and bad for the young men and women who are considering going into the health-care field.”

Politicians often switch parties after a big election, as they try to retain legislative power or become part of a new majority.  A bunch of moderate Democrats changed to the Republican Revolution in 1994.  But switching parties in the middle of a session and switching from the majority party to a smaller minority is more than unusual.

Mr. Griffith is from Alabama, but from a reliably Democratic seat.  Interestingly, Congressman Griffith apparently suddenly became a racist only when he left the Democrat Party.  He also voted against the stimulus and against cap-and-trade.  He  said that he would not vote again for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker because she is “divisive and polarizing.” His switch certainly seems to be a matter of principle.

Sounds like he’ll fit right in.  Welcome!



Reckless, Arrogant, Partisan Politics Inflicted on an American Public that Wants No Part of It. by The Elephant's Child
December 22, 2009, 2:00 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Law, Taxes | Tags: , , ,

This is depressing.  The Senate voted at 1:00 a.m. to end debate on the most partisan piece of legislation ever proposed.  Nobody really knows what is in it, for it has been changing ever since it was revealed 38 hours previously. Language and details have been shifting as sweetheart deals and bribes were put in place to secure the necessary 60 Democrat votes. Not one Republican voted for cloture.

It has been a deeply dishonest and legally corrupt bill from the start. Even the liberals admit that it is awful, but say that once they get it passed, they can start fixing it.  Here are the enticements that got them to the magic number:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.)
—$1.2 billion over ten years for a permanent exemption from Nebraska’s share of the Medicaid expansion. The only state so exempted under the bill.
Exemption for Nebraska from an excise tax on non-profit insurers.

Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.)
—Exemption from the non-profit excise tax for Michigan insurers.
Michigan and Nebraska were the only two states so exempted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)
—$10 billion for “community health centers”.
—Protections from cuts to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Vermont.
—$250 million over six years in expanded federal Medicaid funding.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.)
—$300 million increase in Medicaid funding in Louisiana.

Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), Sen. Paul Kirk (D., Mass).
—Three years of expanded federal Medicaid funding.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.)
—Special treatment for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D., Hawaii)
—billions in new funding for something called “Disproportionate Share Hospital” (DSH) payments (financed, in large part, by $18.5 billion in cuts to DSH payments in other states).

Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.), Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.)
—Higher federal Medicare reimbursement rates for low-population “frontier” states (also qualifying under the bill’s definition of frontier states are Utah and Wyoming, represented in the Senate by Republicans).

There is an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, except when those plans belong to favored Democrat groups like the longshoreman’s union and other union interests such as miners, construction workers, electrical linemen or  EMTs and others who are absolved from this tax.

The excise tax also does not apply to the 17 states with the highest health costs, if that makes any sense.

If Congress passes the legislation — probable — it will not control costs.  It will make the budget outlook far worse.  It will lead to higher taxes.  And it will still leave at least 24 million without health insurance, probably far more.

The media is trumpeting an endorsement by the American Medical Association which represents only a minority of doctors, not all of whom agree with the AMA endorsement.

Health benefits are widely overstated.  Long-term economic costs are widely understated. The country will be far worse off for its passage.  It reeks of partisan politics and influence peddlers, and the American people want no part of it.



Study: Government Run Healthcare Denies Twice as Many Claims as Private Market by American Elephant

Once again, the truth is exactly the opposite of what Democrats claim. For months they have been telling us that we need government run care to protect people from big, bad insurance companies denying their claims.

The problem is that medicare denies nearly twice as many claims as the private market:

According to the American Medical Association’s National Health Insurer Report Card for 2008, the government’s health plan, Medicare, denied medical claims at nearly double the average for private insurers: Medicare denied 6.85% of claims. The highest private insurance denier was Aetna @ 6.8%, followed by Anthem Blue Cross @ 3.44, with an average denial rate of medical claims by private insurers of 3.88%

In its 2009 National Health Insurer Report Card, the AMA reports that Medicare denied only 4% of claims—a big improvement, but outpaced better still by the private insurers. The prior year’s high private denier, Aetna, reduced denials to 1.81%—an astounding 75% improvement—with similar declines by all other private insurers, to average only 2.79%.

Maybe there’s something to be said for the need to keep your customers satisfied in order to make that profit after all.

(h/t Say Anything via Hot Air)




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