American Elephants


No Tricks, Lots of Treats! by The Elephant's Child

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Happy Halloween 2014

Witches can only come out at midnight and they must be gone by the time the first morning star appears.

Witches are very curious, and they stop to count everything. You can protect yourself from witches by placing a broom or a bowl of salt outside your door. The witch will stop to count the straws in the broom or the grains of salt in the bowl. Before she can finish counting them, the morning star will appear, and then she will have to leave. You can also sleep with a sieve over your face. The witch will try to count all the holes in the sieve, but she will be unable to.

Witches do not like the color blue because it is the color of the heavens. If you wear a blue bead or a blue bracelet, a witch cannot get you. If you paint your windowsill blue, a witch cannot come into your room.

If you carry a penny in your pocket or wear a new dime in each shoe, witches can’t harm you.

Witches have fun on Halloween.

(From The Hodgepodge Book)



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?



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.



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.



Collectivism: “We’re All In This Together” Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

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.




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