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.



Vote Fraud? Perish the Thought — Please! Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell! by The Elephant's Child

I got a little curious today, about the prospects for vote fraud in the upcoming election, so I did what we all do when we’re curious, I went to Google for a cursory search. What I found was fascinating. The websites I consider reliably Left, reliably said— nothing to see here, move right along. No such thing, proclaimed large numbers. Republican claims of vote fraud are untrue. Real but rare, they insist. Oh come on. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Chicago? In two elections, Barack Obama fortuitously managed to get court-sealed divorce records of his opponent opened just before the election. My next door neighbors for many years were from Illinois, and they had some remarkable stories. We had some real vote fraud here in Washington State. Military ballots gone missing. Documented. The arguments will continue — there’s a great deal at stake, and Democrats will continue to insist it is all figments of the Republican imagination.

The Washington Post asked a few days ago “Could non-citizens decide the November election?” They went to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) for answers.

How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.

Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.

Estimated Voter Turnout by Non-Citizens
2008 2010
Self reported and/or verified 38 (11.3%) 13 (3.5%)
Self reported and verified 5 (1.5%) N.A.
Adjusted estimate 21 (6.4%) 8 (2.2%)

The study did not indicate any advantage coming from Photo ID, because illegals were able to vote anyway. The researchers say that perhaps the United States should move to legalize some electoral participation by non-citizens as many other countries do—though they offer no justification for so doing. Election rules in Kansas and Arizona are set to bar thousands of people in coming weeks from casting ballots in state primaries even as the federal government allows some of them to vote in congressional races. The comments in the article are about what would be expected:

“There is a very real problem with aliens being registered to vote,” said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who said about a dozen states are likely to pass such measures in coming years.

Democrats have countered that there are few examples of fraud at the polls and that such steps suppress the vote of such groups as minorities and women.

So there you go. The more things change, the more they stay the same.



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.



There They Go Again! Democrats Try to Shut You Up! by The Elephant's Child

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Friday night news dump. As the media went home for the weekend, the Democrats sneaked in a last minute proposal that the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) be allowed to heavily regulate political content on the internet. They have in mind sites like YouTube, blogs, and the Drudge Report. Why? You can go to YouTube and watch campaign commercials, and even worse, find things that President Obama and other politicians said in the past, and demonstrate their constant overweening hypocrisy.  There’s no telling what awful things you will find on blogs, and the Drudge Report is simply an aggregator of news from — the media.

The problem, of course, is the First Amendment to the Constitution, which protects freedom of speech, most especially political speech. We cannot be a free people without free political speech. First thing you know, they will put you in jail for criticizing the president, or shut your business down, or subject you to an IRS audit.

Obama FEC Commissioner Ann M. Ravel announced that the FED was preparing new regulations to give itself control over videos, Internet-based political campaigns and other content on the web. She insisted that “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long overdue.”

Well, not exactly. The First Amendment was made permanent back in December of 1791, and has served us very well indeed, although the totalitarian sector of the Democratic Party keeps trying to get rid of it.

Democrats really don’t like criticism or being disagreed with. They have trouble defending their ideas, because they just say things, and have never, never done their homework. Rather than studying up on a policy and its inevitable consequences, they just want to pass it into law, and think that if there are problems, they’ll just add some regulations or make more laws. Evidence for that statement? I give you ObamaCare.

The vision of the left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves — a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create “social justice” and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalted vision that few are ready to give up, or to risk on a roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to. Maybe that is why there are so many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages, or innumerable other issues — and why they react so visceraly to those who challenge their vision. ………………………………………….Tom Sowell 1/22/2014

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, a Republican, said that if regulation extends that far, then anybody who writes a political blog, runs a politically active news site or even chat room could be regulated. “I have been warning that my Democratic colleagues were moving to regulate media generally and the Internet specifically for almost a year now,” Goodman told FoxNews.com. “And today’s statement from Vice Chair Ravel confirms my warnings.”

FEC Vice Chair Ravel said:

Since its inception, this effort to protect individual bloggers and online commentators has been stretched to cover slickly-produced ads aired solely on the Internet but paid for by the same organizations and the same large contributors as the actual ads aired on TV,” she said. Ravel vowed to “bring together” people from “across the spectrum” next year to look at the issue.

This set off alarm bells, as it should.

“The FEC’s approach to free speech on the Internet should be hands-off,” Goodman said, urging the public to go to the FEC website to comment on the issue.



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.



American Government Grinds Slowly to a Halt. by The Elephant's Child

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.




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