American Elephants


The Inexorable Growth of Big Government Continues Apace by The Elephant's Child

us-capitol-sky-brightening-apIf you understand thoroughly the proposition that the Federal Government has no money of its own, you are on the way to economic enlightenment. It’s true, and failing to understand that simple fact leads to all sorts of economic confusion. The government gets its money—all its money — from the taxpayers.

I mention this because we are inclined to forget it when politicians are promising nice things around election time. You will have to pay for those “nice things.” That was what Democrats wanted you to ignore when they started promising health care for all, and health care for the needy. They weren’t offering health care, but only government control of health insurance, and through the 20,000 pages of regulations for the entire medical establishment, control of  the doctors and nurses and technicians and hospitals and medical equipment and services and anyone connected to the medical establishment that I forgot to mention. It was not about health, but about control.

The Democrats in Congress believed that medical care cost too much. They claimed that if they just told everybody what to do and how to do it, things would get cheaper. [Well, not really. What they really wanted was single-payer health care like the care that has been financially ruining Britain for years, but they didn't think Americans would go for it right off the bat.] If you take out all the carefully constructed language, and just flatly describe the project, it doesn’t sound so appealing at all, and with good reason.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health care more affordable, but a study of insurance policies before and after ObamaCare shows that average premiums have skyrocketed  — for some groups as much as 78%.

Average insurance premiums in the sought-after 23-year-old demographic rose most dramatically, with men in that age group seeing an average 78.2 percent price increase before factoring in government subsidies, and women having their premiums rise 44.9 percent, according to a report by HealthPocket scheduled for release Wednesday….

The premium increases for 30-year-olds were almost as high as for 23-year-olds — 73.4 percent for men and 35.1 percent for women — said the study, titled “Without Subsidies Women & Men, Old & Young Average Higher Monthly Premiums with Obamacare.”

Between higher healthcare premiums, lower quality health care, higher food costs, ever more taxes — there goes the standard of living. How are people supposed to save for retirement, for their kids education, for their own home?

Democrats favor big government, not because they are particularly enamored of bigness as such, but because they keep ‘improving’ everything with more laws and regulations, which requires more workers, and more agencies and first thing you know, government has just grown bigger and bigger. I touched on this with a quotation from Rob Stein, founder of the Democracy Alliance — who candidly explained the importance of being in control of government to the Democrats, and I’ll repeat it here, because it’s important.

The reason it is so important to control government is because government is the source of enormous power,” Stein continued. “One president in this country, when he or she takes office, appoints…5,000 people to run a bureaucracy, nonmilitary nonpostal service of 2 million people, who hire 10 million outside outsource contractors–a workforce of 12 million people–that spends $3 trillion a year. That number is larger than the gross domestic product of all but four countries on the face of the earth.

So the reason we’re doing what we’re doing…and the way we get progressive change, is to control government,” Stein said. “That’s what this is about.

Ah, but there’s the rub. Philip K. Howard explains:

Modern government is designed to be a kind of legal machine.But it is badly designed. Indeed, it may be one of the worst machines ever invented. Its core flaw is that it aspires to make choices without human judgement at the moment of action. …

Grinding public decision through a legal apparatus is not the handiwork of a demented management theorist. It’s a philosophical mandate. Government decisions, we believe, must comply with what is known as the “Rule of Law.” This hallowed concept is universally regarded as the foundation of a free society.

The Rule of Law aims at making sure government uses its powers properly, in an orderly fashion, and not by the whim of some official. By drawing boundaries of prohibited conduct, law limits the scope of state power and assures citizens of a protected zone of their freedoms.

“Automatic law,” Howard says, “causes public failure. A system of detailed dictates is supposed to make government work better. Instead it causes failure.” And when things don’t work, the response of government is to make another law or add some more regulations.

The goal of preventing action by the whim of some official leads to an inability to make decisions, even truly necessary ones. Agencies have formal budgets, and the goal becomes to spend enough to use up all budgeted funds, for that makes it possible to get an increase for the next fiscal year, rather than being cut back. There is no goal of cutting expenditures.

Now and then there is a push for cutting back. President Obama proudly proclaimed eliminating the law that classified spilled milk in the farmyard as an oil spill. (EPA regulated milk as it does petroleum because of butter fat content. Ditto vegetable oil) But it didn’t go much beyond that. Philip Howard proposes a 15 year limit attached to all legislation. At the end of 15 years, a law would have to be revisited, and either renewed for another 15 years, or dumped. Makes sense to me. Congress always means well, but never ends up discarding useless laws. Anyone have a better suggestion?



Can Democrats Win an Election Without Cheating? by The Elephant's Child

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A video has emerged from Illinois (why am I not surprised?) that a “calibration error” that just happens to cause voting machines to switch votes from Republican to Democrat. You punch the box to vote for the Republican candidate, and it registers that you voted for the Democrat candidate. The video purportedly shows voting machines in the Moline, Illinois public library registering votes for the Democrat candidate when the Republican is the intended choice.

That makes it nice and simple, doesn’t it? Doesn’t even have to be somebody there  miscounting ballots, or hiding some — just program it into the voting machine, just enough to win the election, but not enough that anybody would immediately call FRAUD!

Same thing is happening in Maryland. “Calibration Errors” that cannot be replicated. People with fat fingers, or long nails perhaps? I get suspicious of anything that involves changing the vocabulary from a simple and straightforward “vote fraud” to a broad generalization like “calibration error.” I have never read anywhere of a ‘calibration error’ changing a Democrat vote to a Republican vote, but perhaps that’s just a coincidence?

We’ve had a lot of vote fraud here in Washington State, and the people have not forgotten. Governor Christine Gregoire was not elected until they recounted the votes enough times to find just enough to give her a small margin of victory. She had lost in the first count, and in the second, but by the third count they found some votes in a box in the back room or left in somebody’s car — something like that.

The pro-amnesty Hispanic-activist organization the National Council of La Raza has been promoting a Washington Post article explaining in which states “undocumented” people can vote without having to present photo ID. Most states request some form of ID but don’t require it. Another 20 states don’t require identification. The Washington Post has a handy graph outlining the requirements.

Democrats scoff that vote fraud is merely a figment of Republican imagination, but serious survey data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study produced estimates of 1,408.000 non-citizens voting in 2008, and 484,000 voting in the off-year election in 2010. That’s enough to decide an election.

Here in Washington State, we have switched to Mail In Ballots, which are much more conducive to vote fraud than plain old voting at your local school or retirement home with a hand marked ballot. Those people saw to it that you showed ID, signed in, and there were election judges there. Now we just do it any old-time prior to the election, fill them out at home, and hope they get counted. I liked the formal trip to the polls, greeting poll workers that I hadn’t seen since the last election — it was inconvenient, but a small price to pay for executing my civic duty. It felt good.

Do you remember in 2012, there was a thing about military ballots. Republicans were trying to make sure that soldiers got their ballots and that their votes were recorded. Then there was something in the news about the plane going down in Afghanistan, and too late to get more ballots or something, but there was never any report of the crash, or about survivors, or a death toll. Curious.

Discover the Networks  has a section intended to refute, with hard evidence, the foregoing assertions of the Left. The section consists of excerpts from hundreds of news stories reporting  on fraud and improprieties in the voter-registration process as well as at the ballot box. Do take the time to visit and see for yourself the extent of the fraud that Democrats claim does not exist. If you are really curious, enter the “Secretary of State Project” in the search function there. Now supposedly discontinued, there could have been no other purpose for the project than to elect Democrats to control  the State office that oversees elections.

Obama came from the Chicago political machine. It’s the only kind of politics he knows.



Just What You Thought! Silicon Valley Billion-Dollar Firm Pays Illegal Workers $1.21 an Hour. by The Elephant's Child

About those Silicon Valley claims that they just can’t find enough talented STEM workers in this country:

Although there is a surplus of American high-tech workers, high-tech companies continue to clamor for more guest-worker visas to lower the wages of their workers. Companies like Microsoft have lobbied for massive increases in foreign workers even while laying off 18,000 American workers.

Electronics for Living is a billion-dollar manufacturer of computer peripherals with sales of $727 million last year. They apparently have an operation and employees in Bangalore, India. The company decided to install a new computer system and imported eight workers from India to do this work. The first arrived in September 2013, and the last left in December of that year.

The workers continued to be paid at their Indian wages plus  an apparently tiny bonus, in rupees, or 74 Indian rupees an hour. In American dollars, their total pay was $1.21 an hour. Oops! Temporary or not the were completely covered by both federal and California minimum wage law, the latter calls for at least $8.00 an hour and time-and-a-half  for overtime. At least one of the workers was forced to work 122 house in a week, but details for the others are not available.

They were busted, but while both workers and corporation were egregiously violating the Immigration and Naturalization Act. they got off with a minor slap on the wrist. The Dept. of Labor figured the difference between $1.21 and the state’s minimum of $8.00 an hour plus the missing overtime payments came to about $20,000. Labor did double that figure, and each worker got about $5,000 or $40,000 all together. And they added in a $3,500 administrative  fee to the total. Electronics for Living  said “We unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local U.S. standards.”

When India-based Infosys was called into court for multiple violations of the INA, they were smacked with a $34 million fine. The two cases are separate, but if you look upon whines from Silicon Valley about their inability to find satisfactory STEM graduates in this country with a bit of a jaundiced eye, you cannot be blamed.

Importing foreign workers pushes the wages for available jobs downward. Massive increases in guest-worker visas will cut off opportunity for American workers to enter the middle class through technology jobs.



You Pushed Pure Partisanship and Made a Prodigious Mess Of It! by The Elephant's Child

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October 2014. Americans are worried. The world is heating up and our government seems utterly clueless at best, and quite unable to understand just why Americans are so worried.

Much of what the Obama administration and the Center for Disease Control initially told us about the Ebola crisis was false. The virus did infect Americans here at home. The CDC protocols did not protect the nurses. Nobody else would arrive with Ebola because we now have Ebola screening at five airports, which means taking temperatures and asking travelers where they have been, which we are told is useless. The president says travel bans would do more damage, but does not explain how, and claims that people might go “underground” but does not explain what “underground” might be if there is no air travel. Seems to be spin.

The terrorists of the Islamic State could have been contained if only we had left some peacekeepers in Iraq in 2011 when it was mostly quiet, to help train up the Iraqi Army. Politics, not strategic logic, explained that reckless action. Confronted with the Islamic State, we try to understand why they are so angry. Obviously, it must be our fault. We are racist, Islamophobic, religious bigots, Zionists, insensitive or perhaps just socially unjust.

We have had six years of piling on debt, piling on regulations, growing deficits, raising fees and penalties, slashing defense just as Russia is trying to reconstitute the old Soviet Union, and China is trying to claim the entire South China Sea as their private territory. We are newly told today that North Korea has finally figured out how to miniaturize a nuclear weapon to fit on a missile.

Trusted federal agencies have turned out to be crooked fiefdoms right out of “Yes Minister,” the British comedy about eternal bureaucracy. No one can trust the IRS any more, whether you are audited will depend on your political activity. The Department of Veterans Affairs has imposed callous wait times on veterans needing treatment, and in some cases our veterans have died while waiting for help. The Justice Department has played politics, incited race riots, accused any state of calling for voters to show photo ID  of voter-suppression, and covered up any administration indiscretions. The EPA in a lawless grab for power may be dooming New England residents to freeze in the coming winter.

The Democrats have tried every treasured progressive idea and we are still left with a jobless economy, more people on food stamps than ever before in history, more poverty, and more billions invested in “renewable” energy only to find that the wind is incurably intermittent, solar energy is incurably diffuse, and ethanol does more damage than plain old gasoline. The pursuit of biofuels may do more damage to the military than the enormous budget cuts that are slashing military readiness just when the world heats up.

Republicans have a bulging quiver of time-tested remedies for what is wrong with the economy, but while Republicans in the House have passed more than 200 bills, Harry Reid has twisted himself into contortions to avoid allowing any of them to reach the president’s desk. He has passed only 59, the lowest number since the 60s, yet Democrats claim the absence of legislation is due to Republican intransigence. Uh huh.

But Obama will still be president for two more years, even if Republicans do take over the Senate. With a big enough majority they can override a veto. With control of the  Senate, they can defund bad policies.

With all the problems facing us right now, President Obama’s number one interest remains politics, which trumps all else. Democrat candidates running for office want Mr. Obama to stay away from their campaigns, he is poison at the polls. Yet he cannot keep himself from hints of what he will do “after the election.” Amnesty for illegal aliens, 100,000 Haitians admitted to the country and given work permits. More illegals from Honduras and other Central American countries who will become Democrat voters in gratitude for citizenship.

It’s the things that don’t seem to be on his list that are worrying. Eliminating the threat of ISIS, securing the border, a travel ban on Ebola Central, eliminating wasteful spending, there’s Enterovirus D-68 which has killed more kids in this country than Ebola. We have a government that cannot talk straight, that covers up anything that does not reflect positively on itself, or grow the Democratic Party.

We have had partisan administrations before, but never one that put the welfare of its own political party ahead of the welfare of the nation and its people.



A Lefty Explains The Purpose of Government by The Elephant's Child

The Democracy Alliance is not just another nonprofit liberal organization, but was meant to be a funding clearinghouse for progressive groups. They solicit contributions from left-wing billionaires and multi-millionaires who are accepted as “partners.”The organization serves as a pass-through that funnels their money to favored organizations. It is a highly secretive group that avoids any public scrutiny.

Powerline brought this quotation from the founder of the Democracy Alliance to our attention. In The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer, Democracy Alliance founder Rob Stein explains candidly the politics of the Left:

The reason it is so important to control government is because government is the source of enormous power,” Stein continued. “One president in this country, when he or she takes office, appoints…5,000 people to run a bureaucracy, nonmilitary nonpostal service of 2 million people, who hire 10 million outside outsource contractors–a workforce of 12 million people–that spends $3 trillion a year. That number is larger than the gross domestic product of all but four countries on the face of the earth.

So the reason we’re doing what we’re doing…and the way we get progressive change, is to control government,” Stein said. “That’s what this is about.

Did you see anything in that statement about protecting the country, improving the economy or reducing government interference in the lives of the people or helping the downtrodden? Of course not. It is all about power.  They want power to enrich themselves and their friends. They want to remake the world to fit their own personal preferences — they’re just not sure what their goals are, but they will be good. It’s the power that counts. As has often been said: inside every liberal is a totalitarian trying to get out.

That’s why Liberals are so terrified of the Tea Party. Those radical extremists want to reduce the power of government, to reduce its control over the lives of the people, to cut regulation and allow businessmen and corporations to run wild. They even want to reduce taxes. They want government to leave them alone. No wonder the left wants those groups listed as dangerous right-wing extremists. With their guns and their Bibles, who knows what damage they might do?

The reason Mr. Stein is so candid, is because he regards it as the natural role of government. He assumes that the goal of the Republicans is the same as his, they are just more devious about it, trying to deprive Democrats of power for their own ends.

They have no particular principles to guide them. They’ll figure those out when they get the government under complete control. That’s why they want to get rid of the Constitution, or at least reform it so it is more to their liking. They have no interest in free market capitalism, they are opposed to corporations and business in general which at a very minimum needs more regulation.

All that power, and so much sheer incompetence.



Americans Deserve Better Than This! by The Elephant's Child

Jim Geraghty has a simple closing message: Americans Deserve Better Than This.

“The American people deserve to be treated better than the way their government treats them.”The

People who like their doctors and health insurance deserve to keep them. Our veterans deserve care in a timely manner. The American people deserve the truth about illegal immigrants released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They deserve straight answers from the Centers for Disease Control, and when a promise is made, it should be kept. Americans deserve a secure border, and when there is overwhelming support for restricting flights from countries with severe Ebola outbreaks, the option deserves careful consideration, not arrogant dismissal.

Americans of all political stripes deserve to be treated equally in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, with no special targeting based upon political views. Our ambassadors and those serving our country overseas deserve protection when they ask for it. If American taxpayer money is going to be used to save a car company, the people deserve to know whether that company is making unsafe cars.

They deserve to send and receive e-mails, texts, and calls without the National Security Agency peering over their metaphorical shoulder without a warrant. They deserve a director of national intelligence who does not lie in testimony to Congress. For the amount of money we spend on gathering intelligence, we deserve better performance — or for an administration to act upon that intelligence more promptly. In a dangerous world, we deserve leaders who don’t fool themselves into thinking jihadists on the rise are just “the JV team.” They deserve a Secret Service that takes its job seriously and corrects its mistakes.

Republicans are not perfect, to be sure. They are ordinary people like us. You may have noticed that the big tent contains a lot of argument and disagreement, usually about who is a true Republican or a true Conservative, and who isn’t, which is silly. We are meant to argue and disagree because that is how we gradually find our way to better governance and better laws.

Democrats, on the other hand, speak with one voice, or at least one talking point, which has been analyzed for voter appeal in all sorts of focus groups and subjected to the best of skillful wordsmiths who pick just the right words to influence most widely. They are willing to excuse most problems of government, or announce some bold-sounding reform that proves to be a self-serving catastrophe like ObamaCare.

Republicans tried to tell the nation that you really can’t criticize health care for costing too much, impose 20,000 pages of rules and regulations for the medical establishment and the insurance industry, add all sorts of untested ideas that you’re just sure will save money, top it all off with a vast Federal bureaucracy that has to be paid for, and expect it to cost less and be more efficient. We haven’t even begun to see the depths to which this appalling law will reach, and the cost of it in both money and human health and well-being. Americans deserve better from their government.

There’s ISIS, which is being dismissed as a generational problem— and thus not worth our serious efforts, an attempt to make a “deal” with Iran, an apparent plan to flood the nation with millions of illegal immigrants in hopes of a permanent Democrat majority, which tells the world that we are not serious about our immigration laws, and the border is open to all, including ISIS.

The refusal to place any kind of travel restrictions on those coming from Ebola central beggars common sense. There’s the insistence on refusing to call terrorists — terrorists. And that does not begin to even touch the enormous numbers of well-known scandals. The American people do deserve better than this.

If Republicans capture the Senate, then there is a real possibility of defunding some of the policies that should never have been enacted.



The Fine Art of Drawing A Line — A Real One. by The Elephant's Child

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The president apparently is gearing up to do some massive amnesty by executive order, after the election, of course. Why he is so determined to do this is a bit of a puzzle, but the assumption seems to be that they will, being nativos, and poor, rely on welfare and become Democrat voters. There is no particular need for more gardeners, laborers and unskilled construction workers, since the people who usually fill those jobs are currently unemployed at a completely unsatisfactory high rate.

If the current Democrat drive to raise the minimum wage succeeds, the unemployment rate for unskilled workers will increase even more, as more employers go out of business or increase their use of mechanization in one way or another.

Many people want a fence on the Southern border, while others believe it to be useless, which, from the pictures of people climbing over, seems to be the case. The whole world currently knows that our Southern border is essentially wide open should they choose to get in. And when we offer free schooling, welfare, housing, food stamps and free medical care to all comers, why wouldn’t the world move in?

Giving “amnesty” to “Dreamers” will do nothing to improve the situation, nor will some kind of amnesty that requires them to pay a fine and wait a number of years to become a citizen. If you want to stop the influx, you have to make it clear that illegals are not welcome. No exceptions, no excuses.

The Carter administration was casually passive and weak. When Ronald Reagan became president, everyone expected a continuation of the same state of affairs. After all, he was a former movie star. Then 13,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization  (PATCO) walked off the job. Reagan recognized the stress-filled demanding nature of their jobs, and offered an 11 percent wage increase. PATCO demanded  a 100 percent pay increase which would have been a blow to taxpayers at a time when Reagan was trying to trim the federal budget.

Under a provision of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, the strike was illegal. Reagan ordered the controllers back to work. Reagan told his Labor Secretary “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, at any time.” He gave then a 48-hour deadline. Some returned to work. When the 48 hours expired, Reagan fired 11,345 striking controllers. Striking controllers were banned from federal employment.

It was a national security issue, for American AWACs bombers were in the skies every day, and PATCO in effect controlled the skies. In a show of true bipartisanship, congressional Democrats stood behind the president. Many airport support and military personnel were pressed into service, and a significant number of flights decreased. The Soviet Union, and this was at the height of the Cold War, saw that the American president’s rhetorical toughness would be matched by tough action. It changed everything. George Shultz, Reagan’s most effective secretary of state said the PATCO decision was the  most important foreign policy decision  Reagan ever made.

You can’t do legal  immigration if nobody believes that you mean it. You cannot say we’ll just admit all these cute little children, or these good workers who overstayed their student visas, and then expect the terrorists to stay out. When the world believes that the United States is open to all, and all they have to do is get here and there’s free schooling and welfare and food stamps, and citizenship sooner or later — you cannot pretend that there are rules and that we protect our borders — when it is not true. This means that some very nice people have to go back to their country of origin, and get in line. Sorry. If you are illegal, you must leave. Come back the legal way.

Make it impossible for anyone to hire an illegal. No benefits of any kind. I think immigrants, legal immigrants, are of great value to the country, and most welcome. There should be opportunity for temporary workers. Immigration reform should be fair and welcoming, and carefully planned to create American citizens who know our history, or laws and our ideals and want to be part of us and contribute to the country. There is no other way. Trying to be “nice” doesn’t always end up being kind.




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