American Elephants


American Government Grinds Slowly to a Halt.

The essential battle takes place at the decision whether a free people should remain free or whether they need to be controlled and managed — for their own good, of course. At least that’s what the controllers believe. The Left has a deep need to control. You never know what a free person might decide to think, or to do.

If you are alert to this tendency, you begin to see it everywhere. Consider creativity. The government is sure that they can foster new ideas, but we see the result in all the wasteful grants hopeful government agencies make. Creativity is not a collective action. People must be free to make decisions, take action, decide.

The more government grows, the worse it gets. How many different agencies must sign off on one small piece of a project before the next one can even be considered? We started out with law to keep bad people from doing bad things. then we started making laws to tell people how to do things, and laws to tell people what things they must do and when they must do them, and what materials they must use and how many people they must hire and slowly, slowly, government grinds to a halt of its own weight, and it becomes impossible to do anything or get anything done. ‘

We have an outbreak of a deadly disease, and we find that those who were supposed to be in charge don’t know what to do. The hospitals don’t understand the protocols, the press demands that the president appoint an Ebola Czar, but nobody seems to know that there is already an Ebola Czar, and the new man knows nothing about medicine or disease and is not the Ebola Czar, although everyone keeps calling him that, he’s the Ebola Response Coordinator, and a long-time political hack who was chief of staff to both Al Gore and Joe Biden, which is not exactly a recommendation. And that is how government works today.

When you are a true believer with a managed, controlled people, you are sure that whatever problems come up will be solved by another law, or more regulation.  As the economy and the government grind more and more slowly, layer on a large dollop of political correctness so that no one will be offended by incorrect speech, add multiculturalism and race and gender to muck up the mix, and you are getting close to modern society.

When government becomes such a slow-grinding machine, what difference does it make if you reward your supporters and cronies with special projects or special funds. Who’s going to know and who’s going to do anything about it anyway. Then you have a president who, exhausted by Congress’s failure to do what he wants, simply takes matters into his own hands. Because nobody knows how to stop him.



Collectivism: “We’re All In This Together” Doesn’t Work.

Andrew Klavan summed it up pretty well today:

Whatever its pretensions, whatever its claims, statism — progressivism, leftism, socialism — is based on the idea that a small elite intelligentsia can run your life better than you can. They know how to spend your money. They know how to educate your children. They know how to run your health care. They know how to protect you from yourself.

You do not have to talk to a statist very long before he will profess an intense dislike, distrust and even fear of ordinary people. Ordinary people spend money on what they want (TV’s restaurants and cars) rather than what the elite know they ought to want (aluminum foil climate change reversers). Ordinary people teach their children that God created the world rather than a random pattern of mathematic realities that came into being through another random pattern that came…  well, the elite know: it’s random patterns all the way down! Ordinary people will give jobs and business to those who earn them rather than those the elite, in their greater understanding, know are historically deserving because of past oppression. And so on.

Now, of course, with the very elite of the elite running the country, we find that — what do you know? — this statism dodge doesn’t really work all that well. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the statist premise is wrong. In fact, ordinary people left at liberty to do as they will are actually better at running their lives and businesses and country than the geniuses in Washington. Central planning works great in the imaginations of the elite, but in the real world…  not so much.



Ebola Is Not Airborne? Here’s A Slow-Motion Sneeze.

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The administration keeps telling us that Ebola is not airborne, so we don’t need to worry. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.



There Will Be Human Error. That is Our Nature.

The unfolding epidemic of Ebola in West Africa has killed more than 4,400 people so far. Everything in Liberia was needed weeks ago, and the newly to be built Ebola treatment centers are very tardy.

Before the outbreak, Liberia’s only lab capable of testing blood for highly infectious diseases was the Liberian Institute on Biomedical Research. It was a bat-infested facility, a compound of World War II-era buildings that could only process 40 blood specimens a day, with electricity that worked only intermittently. The U.S. has sent in workers to rewire the building, fix the plumbing, install Internet access and update testing equipment. The lab can now process 70 specimens a day and are hoping to hit 100 soon.

The military is building the Ebola center in Bomi County, which has two doctors for 89,000 people. The Liberia Government Hospital, next to the Ebola site hasn’t had a working X-ray machine for two years. At the Tubmanburg Ebola site, the U.S. military has gone with tents instead of roofed structures to save time, and avoided laying foundations when possible. The first unit is expected to open in early November, The staff workers have had about two weeks of .intensive training. Soldiers will soon have floodlights to work around-the-clock shifts. They are essentially creating a health system from the ground up, on extreme deadlines.

On top of building treatment centers, they must build at least temporary housing and basic services for 4,000 military. Our federal government may be paralyzed by bureaucracy and political correctness, but the military is trained to pick up and go where they are ordered to go and complete the tasks assigned.

If everything goes smoothly, all will be well, but there’s a lot of room there for human error. And there will be errors. The insistence on claiming that Ebola is not airborne is troubling. Saliva and nasal secretions are bodily fluids. Aerosols are created by sneezing and coughing. The droplets that are really, really fine particles can, according to Dr. Jane Orient, director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, can infect you with one to ten particles. They can go through your mask, around your mask, down into your lungs. Theoretically, she said, it certainly is an aerosol. We cannot rule it out.

Obama’s stubborn insistence on no travel ban is more perplexing, as is the claim that he wants to bring infected patients from Africa here for treatment, but our troops can be treated in Liberia, should they become infected. The situation in Liberia has improved somewhat, there aren’t dead bodies lying around in the streets any more. Out in the villages, who knows.



Everything You Need To Know About Obama’s Response to Ebola:

Judicial Watch, the public watchdog group, says that the president is “actively formulating plans” to admit Ebola-infected non-citizens to the United States just to be treated. “Specifically, the goal of the administration is to bring Ebola patients into the U.S. for treatment within the first days of diagnosis.

President Obama issued an executive order to call up National Guard and Reserve troops to aid in halting the spread of Ebola in west Africa for Operation United Assistance.

About 500 military personnel in Liberia have erected a 25-bed hospital, and are living in local hotels as they build accommodations for  the 4,000 troops on the way.

Deployed troops have received about four hours of training in protocols for protection from Ebola. They will not be expected to come into contact with any Ebola patients, so haz-mat suits are not considered necessary. A team of two from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID)can train as many as 50 personnel over that four-hour time frame. All training is tiered to the level of risk each person may encounter.

If any American soldiers in Liberia contract the deadly Ebola virus, they will be quarantined, stabilized and evacuated to a medical facility for treatment, according to the commander of Operation United Assistance, Major General Darryl Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa.

“The risk of infection is relatively low,” he said.”As long as you exercise basic sanitation and cleanliness sort of protocols using the chlorine wash on your hands and your feet, get your temperature taken, limiting the exposure — no handshaking, those short of protocols , I think the risk is relatively low,” explained the general.

Seems to me there’s a remarkable lot of  “but what if” hanging around in those bits of information. But there you are.



Staying Off the Golf Course Would Be Good Public Relations.

President Obama’s weekly address was meant to be a calming message about the threat of Ebola. Didn’t work. Mr. Obama seems to think we are in a state of panic about Ebola, and think we are in the midst of an epidemic. We’re not. We are worried because our elected officials, including our president, and appointed officials can’t seem to talk straight about the disease. Reminding us that “our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu,” is not particularly helpful. Thousands of Africans die from Malaria because they are not allowed to spray their huts with DDT. That’s not helpful either. It has no bearing on this particular disease.

“Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.” Well, no, it’s not difficult to catch. We have two nurses who have contracted it while they believed they were following the proper protocols. The hospital just hadn’t figured them out. It is transmitted through the air. Sneezing or coughing transmit bodily fluids in very tiny droplets that can remain in the air.  It can be transmitted through sweat left on airplane armrests, lavatory faucets or bus seats.

That was Obama’s second point. “Third,” he said, “we know how to fight this disease. We know the protocols.”Well, no. We’re learning all the time. 21 days may not be a long enough isolation period. Temperature checks at the airport are probably useless. Teaching people about the protocols may not be enough to overcome natural human carelessness. U.S standards for protecting healthcare workers from Ebola are weaker than those widely used in West Africa, according to the vice president of the aid group Samaritan’s Purse.

When Samaritan’s Purse health workers treat patients in Liberia, they wear two pairs of gloves and spray themselves with disinfectant twice before leaving the isolation ward. They have a three-foot “no touch” policy and hold safety meetings every day.

In U.S. hospitals — such as Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which has had three cases of Ebola — workers don’t have to hose down their gear and are told it’s OK for gloves to expose their wrists.

“If you slip, and you touch your skin on the wrist, you’re going to get Ebola,” said Isaacs, who has worked on-the-ground disaster relief in countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Bosnia. “Can we trust CDC? They said they were going to stop it in its tracks, but I don’t know.”

Does that sound like Ebola is “actually a difficult disease to catch?” Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, has said “any hospital with an intensive care unit” can stop the disease from spreading. The CDC still does not know how the two nurses became infected. Frieden seems torn between trying to pacify politicians and pacifying the people. He must be the source for Obama’s confusion.

The Nurses union, National Nurses United, has been fiercely critical of the hospital this week, saying that the disease spread because of poor training and incompetent management. One nurse said she watched people at her hospital violate basic principles of nursing and medical care. Potentially exposed nurses would go into other patients rooms without disinfectants. All nurses should have been constantly monitored for 21 days because of exposure to Duncan.

President Obama’s Weekly Address is here. What is clear is that he takes as gospel the information he is given, and does not do any further inquiry on his own. Dr. Frieden  is not keeping up with the toilers in the fields of Ebola Central. The next post that pops up after the one about Samaritan’s Purse is from the CDC: “Airborne Ebola possible but unlikely.” Perhaps I misunderstand the meaning of airborne contagion. If it is not sneezes and coughs — what is airborne?

President Obama is so concerned that he spent only five hours on the golf course today, and held a nighttime Ebola meeting, the second in the last few days. His new appointee as Ebola Response Coordinator, Ron Klain, didn’t attend either meeting. Neither did the Ebola Czar, Dr. Nicole Lurie, who remains invisible.

The meeting included members of his national security and public health teams to update him on the response to the domestic Ebola cases. Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Kent Sepkowitz called the selection of Ron Klain as “stagecraft and politics.” He said it was disappointing that this was becoming, not a public health issue, but an optics “how are we going to look?’ issue, and ‘what’s it going to mean to the Senate races? issue.” Dr. Sepkowitz is, at least, clear on the priorities.



Here’s Some Good News For a Change!

The price of crude oil is tumbling downward towards $80 per barrel. The Brent crude price of $82.60 is the cheapest since 2010.”On October 1, Saudi Arabia’s  national oil company announced that it had abandoned a policy of price protection and would start to focus on protecting its market share. Combined with falling global demand and rising supplies elsewhere, oil prices have fallen accordingly.

Natural gas supplies are plentiful and warm weather so far means weak demand, which means lower costs for natural gas.

For our fracking, the break-even price is around $50-$70 bbl. Supply is bulging. Gasoline prices will come down, transportation prices will come down, which means that costs at the grocery store will ease.

States like Iran, Venezuela, and Iraq can only balance their budgets at oil prices ranging from $110 to $135 per barrel. This is good. If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, there will be real financial squeezes, and even regime change in Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq or Libya and would give Vladimir Putin some real trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

It’s not clear what Saudi Arabia is up to, but they are definitely not approving of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor of ISIS’ ambitions either. They may be just protecting their market share, as we are close to surpassing them in production.

If we start exporting natural gas to Europe, that would relax the strangle hold Russia holds over their energy supplies.

It’s good news, just when we need some.




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