American Elephants


Quarantine or A Time for Contemplation? by The Elephant's Child

Had I been to West Africa treating Ebola patients, I would surely understand the reason that I might be quarantined. I can’t imagine many things worse than having to live with the knowledge that I had caused someone else’s illness or death.

So, faced with being quarantined for 21 days, what could you do about it? Can I assume a laptop, a phone and a TV, a bed, a shower and a bathroom? I could knit a sweater, take a couple of online courses, call friends to chat, watch movies, build a model, read the books I have been wanting to have time to read. I could write a diary of my quarantine, real or imaginary. Most of us complain about not having enough time for the things we want to do, and ordinary life intrudes.

A phone, a laptop and a credit card will get you exactly the materials you need, and the gift of free time gives you the time for study or contemplation. Is that really all bad? Boredom is a choice, not a given.

On the other hand, when members of the military are quarantined on their return, are they quarantined together, when one exposed person could expose the whole group or separately? Has anybody thought that one through?



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?



The Obligatory Daily Ebola Post, Continued. by The Elephant's Child

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What is a quarantine, and what is not, and what is inhumane treatment that requires a lawsuit to escape?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructs health workers returning from West Africa to monitor their health for 21 days and that “during the time that you are monitoring your health, you can continue your normal activities.” Only after a health worker’s temperature reaches 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit does the CDC advise that he or she go to a doctor, “limit your contact with other people” and “avoid public transportation.”

A lot of people were shocked to hear that when Ebola-infected doctor Craig Spencer returned to New York City from Guinea, after serving there with Doctors Without Borders, he went for a three-mile run, stopped at a coffee stand,  ate at a meatball restaurant, rode on three New York subway lines, met friends at a bowling alley and used an Uber sedan to return home — none of his actions violated CDC directions. and he apparently felt fine.

The president has consistently treated Ebola as a crisis of public relations, that can be fixed with a new manager  or a more fortuitous choice of words. Instead of telling us up-front what we know for sure and what we don’t know for sure, the CDC has consistently attempted to pacify rather than take firm precautions.

Obama promised Americans that his administration was taking the necessary precautions so that someone with Ebola didn’t get on a plane, which Thomas Eric Duncan did just four days later, and due to much confusion about CDC protocols managed to infect two nurses before he died of Ebola.

Kaci Hickox returned from West Africa after tending Ebola patients there, and immediately began complaining when she was quarantined. Inhumane treatment! she shrieked, and threatened to sue. When she was sent home to Maine with a promise that she would carefully self-monitor and remain at home, immediately decided that self-quarantine was unnecessary and went out.

Ebola is not easily cured, and has something like a 70% death rate. One would think that staying home for 3 weeks would be easy if  you knew that you were preventing your fellows from catching a fatal disease from you. File under lack of character.

Australia has simply shut its borders to citizens of the countries of Ebola Central. That followed  decisions by the U.S. military to quarantine soldiers returning from an Ebola response mission (including one General). The U.N. and the afflicted countries say all this is unnecessary and might stop people agreeing to volunteer just when they desperately need thousands of volunteers. Dr. Frieden, head of CDC called for isolation of “people at the highest risk for Ebola infection” but said most returning medical workers would require monitoring without isolation. Frieden said:

At CDC, we base our decisions on science and experience … And as the science and experience changes, we adopt and adapt our guidelines and recommendations.

File this under “I’m a doctor, don’t doubt me.”

The hospital where Thomas Eric Duncan died and two nurses were infected, was unprepared, had not trained for the possibilities, nor studied the protocols. The media keeps talking about the “mass panic” — which has not yet appeared, and ignoring the anger — which has appeared.  Ebola has appeared in Africa for many years. We gave extra funds to the CDC, the office in HHS of the Ebola Czar, other agencies so they could study up and determine how best to address the disease. All the agencies were grateful for the extra cash and quickly spent most of it on frivolous grants and more fun stuff.

Research shows that certain strains of Ebola can remain on surfaces up to 50 days. It typically lives on a dry surface for a matter of hours, but in moist conditions like mucus, it is extended, according to the UK’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

The State Department had quietly made plans to bring Ebola-infected doctors and medical aides to the U.S. for treatment, according to an internal document  which argued that as the only way to get other countries to send medical teams would be to promise the U.S. as the world’s medical backstop. The Obama administration if furiously backpedaling, claiming they are not going to do it.

Since the administration will not be truthful about Enterovirus D-68 deaths, the connection to unaccompanied minors, nor just where the illegal children have been sent and what schools they are attending, they seem not to be aware that the lack of clarity about one health threat harms public attitudes about another health threat.



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.



Yoo Hoo, Mr. President! Yoo Hoo, Tom Frieden! by The Elephant's Child

Take the time to watch the whole thing. Straight Talk, for the first time!

A Sane Man Speaks on Ebola:
“If West Africa is a gas can that was waiting for a match,
the rest of Central Africa is a gasoline tanker waiting for a match,
and nobody anywhere has a Plan B for what happens
if this gets out further….”

This is Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), originally aired on C-SPAN.

Finally, straight talk! Contrary to the emanations of the media, the American people have not been “panicking” about Ebola. Most of us have not been to West Africa nor do we know anyone who has. But we do recognize that it is a hell of a nasty virus, and in Africa, a very large percentage of the people who get it — die in a nasty way.

We want to believe that our government grasps the worst potentials of this disease, and is truthful and straightforward with the information they give us, and knows what they are talking about, and knows what they don’t know. And is just not trying, once again to cover their own behinds and avoid any blame for mistakes. That really isn’t asking too much. We are quite as much adults, if not more so, that the elites in the nation’s capitol.

(h/t: Vanderleun)



Ebola Is Not Airborne? Here’s A Slow-Motion Sneeze. by The Elephant's Child

img45b61dd7900d4reflections-mirror-5-image-sneeze

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.




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