American Elephants


The Age of Global Warming Is Over: Sanity Returns. by The Elephant's Child

Mankind cannot predict the future. We attempt it constantly. Prediction has become a profession of sorts, with strategists, planners, futurists—and governmental agencies. We’re not always successful with our plans for tomorrow, which should teach us something about prediction, but hope springs eternal.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, is a prime example. Weather forecasters can predict the future pretty well for the rest of the week, but the IPCC attempts to do a “gigantic weather forecast for a century or more.”And they know that because they have computer programs the tell them so. The total absurdity of such predictions is clearly expressed by Christopher Booker in The  Telegraph:

When future generations come to look back on the alarm over global warming that seized the world towards the end of the 20th century, much will puzzle them as to how such a scare could have arisen. They will wonder why there was such a panic over a 0.4 per cent rise in global temperatures between 1975 and 1998, when similar rises between 1860 and 1880 and 1910 and 1940 had given no cause for concern. They will see these modest rises as just part of a general warming that began at the start of the 19th century, as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age, when the Earth had grown cooler for 400 years.

That’s four-tenths of one percent! And the panic over that 0.4 percent of warming has become a religion, with ardent true believers who want to send “denialists” to prison. That 0.4 percent has drawn forth massive government investment in low-flush toilets, banning lightbulbs, massive wind farms, solar arrays, electric cars, ethanol, biofuels, and pages and pages of regulations. The stage of the panic can be partly measured by the list of things caused by global warming. The amount of money misapplied to preventing global warming, with no visible result, is immeasurable. The totals would be humiliating, and we will probably never know. Wasted. Completely wasted.

Also in The Telegraph, Charles Moore reviews The Age of Global Warming by Rupert Darwall.

The theory of global warming is a gigantic weather forecast for a century or more. However interesting the scientific inquiries involved, therefore, it can have almost no value as a prediction. Yet it is as a prediction that global warming (or, as we are now ordered to call it in the face of a stubbornly parky 21st century, “global weirding”) has captured the political and bureaucratic elites. All the action plans, taxes, green levies, protocols and carbon-emitting flights to massive summit meetings, after all, are not because of what its supporters call “The Science”. Proper science studies what is – which is, in principle, knowable – and is consequently very cautious about the future – which isn’t. No, they are the result of a belief that something big and bad is going to hit us one of these days.

James Delingpole, another Brit, reports on the latest Climate Change Reconsidered report by the NIPCC — the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change, an independent research body funded by the Heartland Institute:

The latest verdict is in on ‘climate change’— and the news is good. The planet is greening, the oceans are blooming, food production is up, animals are thriving and humans are doing better than ever; and all thanks to CO2 and global warming.

Mr. Delingpole summarizes the work of the NIPCC, and the scientific studies which support it. Nice to have a concise summary of where we stand. And the scientists and  ordinary people who disagree with the true believers are not “deniers,” they are skeptics— skeptical that humans are causing a disruption in the climate of the earth, skeptical that computer programs based on a superficial understanding of climate and a lot of sheer guesses can predict the climate 50 to 100 years out, and very skeptical that we should be spending billions to attempt to change the climate.

Do read all three pieces. They’re not long, and they give a good picture of the real world of climate change.

 



There Is No Right To Be Free From Being Offended. by The Elephant's Child

How did we get to this spot in the history of the world when the guiding rule of society seems to be —”You must not offend anyone.” Is it an outgrowth of the self-esteem movement that did so much damage to our national psyche?  Do not disagree with me or you might damage my self-esteem?

In the last few days, a Mozilla executive was expelled from his position at the firm he co-founded by left-wing campaigners who determined to punish him, not for something he said in his role at the company, but for a donation he made to a California ballot initiative that defined marriage in the customary terms in which it had been defined for several thousand years. A donation that was made 6 years ago. The Los Angeles Times helpfully had published a list of all donors to the anti-Proposition 8 ballot issue.

Also in the last few days, one Adam Weinstein, who writes at Gawker, called for literally sending people who have the incorrect views about global warming to prison. “Those malcontents must be punished and stopped,” he wrote. He is not the first to suggest that conservatives should be sent to prison or a concentration camp for their crime of disagreeing with liberal thought.

Charles Murray, an important social scientist of our times, was denounced as a “known white supremacist” by Texas Democrats for holding improper views about education policy.

Condoleezza Rice was invited to speak at this year’s commencement ceremony at Rutgers University where she would receive an honorary doctorate. The faculty criticized the university decision, saying “Condoleezza Rice…played a prominent role in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.” The editorial staff of The Daily Targum said “Do the positive aspects of her personal accomplishments really outweigh the destruction of war she contributed to during her political career? She was a major proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which has been arguably the worst and most destructive decision in the history of U.S. foreign policy.” All of which goes to prove that if you want to major in history, you should select some other university.

Then there’s Lois Lerner who is facing contempt charges relating to her role in using the IRS as a weapon against the Obama administration’s political enemies for their improper thought and advocacy.

Harry Reid, a liberal champion of campaign-finance reform, was caught channeling tens of thousands of dollars to his granddaughter, while carefully omitting her surname (same as his) from official documents, and hiding the transaction. When discovered, he quickly wrote a check to his campaign to cover-up his indiscretion. At the same time,Mr. Reid has been viciously attacking the Koch Brothers, who are prominent philanthropists, especially in seeking a cure for cancer, for implausible crimes because the Libertarian brothers donate to conservative causes.

I don’t know what part the self-esteem movement, in which most of our current adults were raised, plays into this liberal failure to recognize that good and honest people may have opinions that differ from theirs, or if it even does; but it is all right, and they just need to suck it up. Conservatives often marvel at the march in lockstep of Liberals. They regularly espouse the same ideas in exactly the same words, and apparently assume that no one will notice.

I have generously always assumed that the wordsmiths at Think Progress come up with what they hope will be the most fortuitous description of an idea or a policy to sway the minds of potential voters, then run the preferred words by a few focus groups to assure that they’ve got the best verbiage, then send it out to every Democrat politician who might use the words in public.  If that is the case, you must also assume that the Democrats in question don’t bother their pretty little heads with boring things like economics and history, and the long-term effects of past legislation. No scientific studies for this bunch, they will be told the proper language. Consider the words “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” that’s some major wordsmithery!

As evidence, I offer the media’s longstanding effort to capitalize on Republican disagreement—all that crowing about how Republicans are at war among themselves. We don’t all think the same, we do study history, we do pay attention to how legislation actually plays out, and we even read scientific studies. We are ordinary human beings and we have our own opinions, and aren’t afraid to disagree. Disagreement is —normal.  We’ll present our evidence, and try to compromise eventually, but we never, never march in lockstep.

Jonathan Rauch said it nicely in his Kindly Inquisitors, using ‘liberal’ in the classical sense: “Liberal science is built on two pillars. One is the right to offend in the pursuit of truth. The other is the responsibility to check and be checked.”

Irving Kristol wrote: “In every society the overwhelming majority of people live lives of considerable frustration and if society is to endure, it needs to rely on a goodly measure of stoical resignation.”

Feel free to offend. Stand up for what you believe. Refuse to be cowed by those who claim to be offended. We don’t do “thoughtcrime” in the United States of America, do we?



A Secretive Government Trying to Avoid Blame. by The Elephant's Child

I wrote just recently about the backlog of disability claims, the backlog of requests for medical exams that was rolling over and over, month after month, and how they dealt with this by just destroying veterans medical records or requests—in a program called “System Redesign.” They didn’t have the resources to do all those exams. They were getting around 3,000 requests a month and only had the resources to do about 800, so they just cancelled the backlog. They figured that a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery or—died.

Now it appears that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) blocked the release of the names of hospitals where 19 veterans died because of delays in medical screenings. CNN reported in January that 19 veterans died as a result of delayed gastrointestinal cancer screenings, while another 63 were seriously injured. CNN obtained internal documents from the VA listing the number of “institutional disclosures of adverse events,” bureaucracy-speak for a mistake that gravely harms or kills a patient.

The documents did not list the hospitals or clinics where the “adverse events” took place. A Tampa Tribune reporter asked the VA for the names of the hospitals and was told that he would have to file a FOIA request. His FOIA request was denied.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs launched a website this week highlighting the VA’s habit of failing to respond to press requests. Yes, press exposure of your failings can be embarrassing or worse, but that’s why the FOIA law requires agencies to respond within 20 days. I wrote about that recently too. No federal agency wants to expose their misdoings or shortcomings to public scrutiny, or press scrutiny— though the press, is for the most part, such a slobbering lapdog for the administration—because people could get fired, the agency could lose funding.

And now there’s another shooting at Fort Hood, with at least 4 dead and many wounded. Will this be another case of “workplace violence” where those injured do not get the benefits to which they are entitled? I just wrote about that too. I take no pleasure in writing about these things, I write because I worry. Our government is increasingly attempting to avoid any possible blame. That may be a natural failing, but it is unacceptable. Americans rely on an open and transparent government in which officials appreciate the honor of being entrusted with high office—and strive mightily to live up to the office. It’s a matter of character.



Obama’s Changing The Rules Again! by The Elephant's Child

That March 31st deadline to sign up for ObamaCare—they didn’t really mean it—if you started signing up and just couldn’t get done, or if you can offer some valid excuse (anything at all) well, you can finish up sometime in April. The law is completely fluid until we have enough people signed up to make this thing work.

The White House and congressional Democrats are ramping up a coordinated effort to celebrate the fourth anniversary of ObamaCare. The White House has provided members of Congress with packets that detail state by state benefits of the law and what the cost of repeal would mean for constituents within their districts. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-SF)  has provided members with data and sample language for members to use on new Medicare drug savings data.

The president and other senior administration officials will mark the anniversary through efforts to highlight the individual stories of consumers who say their families have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.

White House staffers will tweet a series of six graphics highlighting the dumb ideas that guarantee that the program cannot work: eliminating lifetime limits, prohibiting denial because of pre-existing conditions, and mandate free birth control and free mammograms. The graphics feature an image of the president’s very own signature on the ObamaCare bill.

Many Democrats would prefer “single-payer” which means that you can go to a doctor who is a salaried employee of the state and not have to pay at the point of service. Liberals think that is the ultimate good. Everyone is dependent on the government, which is their ideal, and you just raise taxes enough to pay for it. This makes our ruling class proud that they are doing this wonderful charitable thing for the people, but they really don’t care much about what kind of care the people are getting, and they will just issue regulations and directives to reduce costs.

Liberals like the warm, fuzzy feelings of doing good for others. It is really good, isn’t it with free contraceptives. Women can have all the sex they want with no consequences. But you will notice that already, before it has really even begun, the cost of the thing means you can’t have keep your doctor, your local hospital may not be available, you may be sent to a nurse-practitioner instead of a doctor, and your insurance doesn’t cover anything outside of your local program, so if you travel to another town and have a heart attack, you’re out of luck. Planning a trip to Europe? You will have to find a separate policy to insure you for the trip. And people are already saying that they cannot afford the premiums. Wait till next year.

The Ruling Class plays hardball. They want ObamaCare. They want to gradually move it to a single-payer plan specifically to glorify themselves. They will fight repeal tooth and nail, and attempt to “reform” it enough to make it palatable, and they will try to scare people that any Republican plan will probably kill them.

ObamaCare fails basic math and basic economics. The National Health Service in Britain is so dire that it is killing people, particularly the old and helpless. The French hate their health care. The Canadians have long, long waits for service and many of the diagnostic machines we count on are either unavailable or there is too long a wait for a diagnosis. The federal government runs Veterans healthcare, and has made a mess of it.The backlog of requests for appointments grew so long that they just dumped the requests and pretended they didn’t exist. The Indian Health Service is reportedly dreadful. The Secretary of the Interior just denied a needed road so a community of Aleuts could get out to get health service because it might disrupt the shorebirds.

The Democrat’s “narrative” is that Republicans are merely out to sabotage ObamaCare because they object to the race of the president. When they start crying “racism” you can tell they know they are in trouble. Kevin Williamson has a column today on “Antithought” — the “use of language as an instrument for concealing or preventing thought.”There’s a lot of that going around, and we must be on our guard.



The Media Embarrassed Itself Once Again, And Showed Their Bias. by The Elephant's Child

I have not been unduly impressed with our journalists in general for a number of years. I got curious a while back and looked up Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism and Northwestern’s as well, and learned that the coursework offered concerned how to write a lede and writing about foreign policy or fashion, that sort of thing. This was some time ago, so I may have forgotten the particulars, but I had been looking for requirements in history or law, and international relations. In my quick perusal, it seemed to all be about how to write one kind or another of piece.

My investigation was superficial at best, and I sort of assumed that perhaps the study of history and foreign affairs and important things were requirements to get in to journalism school, and left it at that. But I kept noticing that journalists simply parroted what other journalists were saying, and didn’t seem to know what they were talking about. They did seem to be reliably of the leftist persuasion, however. But I already knew that.

Then this week, Governor Brewer of Arizona vetoed a law sent up by the legislature, the origin of which seemed to be a case in another state in which a baker refused to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding because gay marriage was against his religious convictions. That case seemed to be a set-up when the gay couple sued, rather than go to any one of innumerable other bakeries available.

The national press, inspired by what American universities actually do teach — Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies, Imperial, Transnational and Postcolonial Studies, critical theory or creative writing, spoke in one voice. “Arizona Governor Brewer vetoes controversial anti-gay bill,” Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill,” and other slight variations. Every radio announcer repeated the same thing.

The words “gay” or “homosexual” do not appear in the bill at all, nor was the bill directed at any criticism of gay people. There was no “anti-gay” in the bill. The bill was a simple effort to protect the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. Very obviously, the journalistic profession had not read the bill, but were off on a religious jihad. The text of the bill is here.

Governor Brewer vetoed the bill because, as she said, “Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.

Ed Whelan, at National Review wrote:

There has been a blizzard of hysterical misinformation about Arizona’s SB 1062.  As anyone who takes the trouble to consult the text of the legislation will readily discover, SB 1062 does not mention, much less single out, gays or same-sex ceremonies.

As Douglas Laycock (who supports redefining marriage to include same-sex couples) and other leading religious-liberty scholars explain in a letter to Arizona governor Jan Brewer, SB 1062 “has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics.”

This is an absolutely pure example of media bias, which is real and pervasive. You just have to question what you are reading and hearing if you want to know the truth. Requires a little more work, but you avoid feeling sleazy when you find out that you’ve been had. Studies show that the media is much more liberal than the American people, and more likely to agree with the liberal position on policy matters than members of the general  public. The public, according to public opinion polls sees the media as politically biased, inaccurate, intrusive and a tool of powerful interests. Huh. Wonder why.



Controlling the American Press by Policing the Newsrooms. by The Elephant's Child

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As the Obama administration has degraded American and world trust in our institutions, each new downgrade seems more ordinary and unexceptional and less surprising. So it is that Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index the other day. Those of us who still believe in a strong, independent and above all a free press found it disheartening. Who would be surprised that China, Syria and North Korea inhabit the bottom layer at the rankings of press freedom? One would think that the explosion of new sources, and vast new channels of information would increase freedom.

The United States of America has slipped in the fifth year of Obama’s reign by thirteen spots to 46th in the world — right between Rumania and Haiti. That fall is based largely on the Obama administration’s remarkably determined efforts to curb dissent, to plug and track down leaks, and control the press.

Obama brought with him from Chicago a kind of governance to which we are unaccustomed. The Obama administration leaks profusely with the news they want out. This is normal, all administrations work at getting out that which they want to get out. But no president wants to hear surprises from the media. No administration in memory, however, has gone to such lengths to control the press, control leaks and punish those who are uncooperative.

The Democrats are facing an upcoming election this fall in the looming shadow of the ObamaCare Disaster. The Left is deeply involved, at every level, in pretending that all is well, or will be well — tomorrow. Obama’s signature achievement cannot fail. And they will go to whatever ends they must to make sure that it does work.

The Tea Party is deeply frightening to the Left. Obama told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that the IRS scandal of attempting to intimidate and derail conservative groups as merely some “bone-head decisions” by confused local agents, without even a “smidgen” of corruption. The president portrayed himself as a victim of Fox News’ efforts to harp on the case, to drive its own anti-administration agenda. Nine months back, he denounced the same affair as an outrage, and promised a thorough investigation.

Now that the media is firmly under control, The Federal  Communications Commission (FCC) will launch this Spring a nationwide “study” of newsroom values, priorities and processes to see if they meet a list of government “critical information needs.” This will also involve print media over which the FCC has previously had no authority whatsoever under the Constitution.

The FCC will place “researchers” in U.S. newsrooms, supposedly to learn about how editorial decisions are made. They will invade radio, television and even newspaper newsrooms. It is called the “Multi-Market Study  of Critical Information Needs.” They’re always good at coming up with innocuous-sounding names. I mean what could be more innocuous than “the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?” And look where that’s gotten us.

Remember when the government seized Associated Press phone records, and tailed the mother of a Fox News reporter? That flared up for a bit, briefly, but there was “nothing to see there, just move along,” and it vanished down the memory hole.

The media has noticed that the administration can be somewhat assertive in waving around the vast power and majesty of the government of the United States of America. The media may not write about it, but they notice when the automobile industry is taken over by the federal government, and when Gibson Guitars is shut down and all their instruments and supplies are removed. Did you think there was pride in a free press? Not much and no courage.

The National Association of Broadcasters said the FCC “should reconsider” “qualitative” sections of its study, it wrote.  Um, powerful statement.

Ajit Pai, a commissioner with the FCC, warned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (pay-wall) that under the rationale of increasing minority representation in newsrooms, the FCC, which has the power to issue or not issue broadcasting licenses would seek “voluntary” compliance about how news stories are decided, as well as “wade into office politics” looking for angry reporters whose story ideas were rejected as evidence of a shutout of minority views. Pai questioned if such a study could really be voluntary given FCC’s conflict of interest.

News agencies ought to be screaming bloody murder, but the boat must not be rocked. The Obama administration has a record of going after its opponents. Race and minority status come in very handy. That’s why our press has dropped 13 places to a disgraceful 46th on the ranking of press freedom.

The Left is still seething over the failure of the defunct Fairness Doctrine. Their goal is to win. It’s that simple. They’ve had a taste of success and they won’t give up.



Six Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions: by The Elephant's Child

Here are Six Answers to your Most Pressing Questions today, or they would be the most pressing if you’d thought of them.

  1. When Obama Rewrites ObamaCare, Why Doesn’t Anyone Sue Him? Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has a remarkable legal mind, and it pays to listen. “President Obama has repeatedly suspended parts of the Affordable Care Act without the consent of Congress. The latest unilateral action happened Monday night, when the administration announced another delay of the employer mandate, the law’s provision that businesses with more than 50 employees must provide their employees with insurance starting in 2014 or pay large fines.
  2. Why is Janet Yellen so concerned and disturbed about income inequality? James Pethokoukis explains why “income inequality” is a flawed enthusiasm of the Left. “A ‘very concerned’ Janet Yellen told a congressional panel today that she thinks income inequality is “one of the most important issues and one of the most disturbing trends facing the nation at the present time.”
  3. Actually, We Won the War on Poverty, And sorry liberals; It was conservative ideas that did it. “After all, despite the alarm of the current debate about America’s poor, the country has actually reduced poverty more than we often appreciate—and that decline in poverty has been less about the liberal programs of the New Deal and Great Society and more about economic growth and center-right welfare reforms than is widely recognized.”
  4. Why I’m Getting Sick of Defending ObamaCare: Incompetence, politics, and delays frustrate advocates of health care reform. Waiting for a Democrat to notice that all is not well? Ron Fournier is beginning to have trouble with it. “It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation.
  5. HIT Apologia: Health Information Technology, promised by the Left to save all the costs racked up by ObamaCare, forced on the health care industry with a $20 billion appropriation from the HITECH law to upgrade information technology. A team of RAND Corporation researchers projected in 2005 that rapid adoption of HIT would save the U.S. more than $81 billion annually. Not the first time people got a little overexcited by the wonders of high tech. Seven years later, information on efficiency and safety are mixed and health care expenditures have grown by $800 billion. The evidence is overwhelmingly negative. You doctor probably has more interaction with his computer than he does with you. They gave the problem to engineers to solve instead of doctors to develop what would work for them.
  6. “ObamaCare both sucks and blows” John Podhoretz offers up full-throated outrage at the latest announcement that “the Obama administration is once again unilaterally delaying a key aspect of its health-care law and what this act of astonishing royalism suggests about the president and his fundamental disrespect for the American system of checks and balances.” For your enjoyment.


Gaze Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair! by The Elephant's Child

From the archives, September 28, 2010:

President Barack Obama was interviewed by Rolling Stone, and is typically modest about his accomplishments.  He tells the Democrats to “wake up” and gaze upon his works:

When I talk to Democrats around the country, I tell them, “Guys, wake up here. We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable.” I came in and had to prevent a Great Depression, restore the financial system so that it functions, and manage two wars. In the midst of all that, I ended one of those wars, at least in terms of combat operations. We passed historic health care legislation, historic financial regulatory reform and a huge number of legislative victories that people don’t even notice. We wrestled away billions of dollars of profit that were going to the banks and middlemen through the student-loan program, and now we have tens of billions of dollars that are going directly to students to help them pay for college. We expanded national service more than we ever have before.

The Recovery Act alone represented the largest investment in research and development in our history, the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower, the largest investment in education — and that was combined, by the way, with the kind of education reform that we hadn’t seen in this country in 30 years — and the largest investment in clean energy in our history.

You look at all this, and you say, “Folks, that’s what you elected me to do.” I keep in my pocket a checklist of the promises I made during the campaign, and here I am, halfway through my first term, and we’ve probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do — and by the way, I’ve got two years left to finish the rest of the list, at minimum. So I think that it is very important for Democrats to take pride in what we’ve accomplished.

We hear from international statistics on education that our kids are deficient in math, science, reading and just about everything except that they excel in self-esteem, where they are right off the charts.  Brings a bit of verse to mind, from Shelley:

I MET a traveller from an antique land
Who said: —Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.  Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

What made me think of this were the 2013 Twitchy Awards for this year’s top 5 most malignantly narcissistic Obama moments: (which made me laugh), and it seemed appropriate to add this Photoshop, but I don’t know who created it.

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Finally, Someone in The Media Fesses Up! It’s Not Affordable. by The Elephant's Child

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USA Today passed out a nugget of truth as a Boxing Day Gift:

More than half of the counties in 34 states using the federal health insurance exchange lack even a bronze plan that’s affordable — by the government’s own definition — for 40-year-old couples who make just a little too much for financial assistance, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Many of these counties are in rural, less populous areas that already had limited choice and pricey plans, but many others are heavily populated, such as Bergen County, N.J., and Philadelphia and Milwaukee counties.

More than a third don’t offer an affordable plan in the four tiers of coverage known as bronze, silver, gold or platinum for people buying individual plans who are 50 or older and ineligible for subsidies. …

The prices of exchange plans have shocked many shoppers, especially those who had plans canceled because they did not meet the ACA coverage requirements. But experts are not surprised.

“The ACA was not designed to reduce costs or, the law’s name notwithstanding, to make health insurance coverage affordable for the vast majority of Americans,” says health care consultant Kip Piper, a former government and insurance industry official. “The law uses taxpayer dollars to lower costs for the low-income uninsured but it also increases costs overall and shifts costs within the marketplace.”

The law’s name notwithstanding! That’s why we call it “ObamaCare” not the Affordable Care Act.



Your Power Bill Is Going Up. Blame The Environmental Movement. by The Elephant's Child

America is is the midst of an energy boom. Fracking technology has released abundant oil and gas stored in shale deposits. The amazing paradox of the domestic fossil-fuels boom has been overwhelming destructive federal government policy. The U.S.Oil boom driven by private investment and ingenuity has transformed North American oil markets. The International Energy Agency estimates that America will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producers by 2015.

Oddly, in the midst of an energy boom, U.S. electricity prices have skyrocketed to new highs. This paradox is not a result of the free market, but of runaway “green” regulation by the government. In November, the BLS Electricity Price Index hit 202.284, an all-time record high nearly 20% higher than just six  years ago. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2008 the U.S. produced 2.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Today, it’s 12.3 billion cubic feet and growing fast. But as energy booms, electricity prices are going up as well.

What is at work here is the green movement’s moral beliefs about what kinds of energy are “good.” Wind and solar power, which are “morally pure” cannot exist without generous governmental (taxpayer) subsidy. Wind and sunshine are of course free, but as producers of electricity, very expensive. The wind is intermittent and must be backed up 24/7 by conventional power, and the wind may not blow for days at a time. The sun goes down at night, and only shines in the day when the clouds don’t cover it. Trust me, I live in the Seattle area. We call the occasional appearances of the sun “sun-breaks.”

Electricity is now one of the most regulated goods in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency has sweeping powers to regulate CO2 — a power not found anywhere in the Constitution, electricity has become even more expensive, and will get more so. The EPA’s new rules, put in place to pander to the environmental movement will remove 34,705 megawatts of coal-based energy capacity off the market. This will increase electricity prices and the cost of everything where electricity is used.

This is a de facto ban on all new coal-fired power plants in spite of the fact that coal produces a third of all electricity in the country due to its cheap coast and plentiful supply.  Despite the fact that CO2 levels are falling in the U.S., not rising, and despite the fact that the earth is cooling, not warming, as it has been for the last 17 years.

The demonization of coal and other fossil fuels means that utilities must shut coal-fired plants, and replace them with more costly energy sources like wind and solar. This is an enormous hidden energy tax, levied on every individual and every business — killing jobs and adding to the unemployment rolls.

Chicago political rules mean you must reward your financial supporters. The environmental movement is flush with money, wind and solar are awash with crony capitalism, and besides, the cost of higher electric bills will be borne by taxpayers.

Of course higher electricity bills on top of higher grocery bills, higher cost health insurance and higher cost of medical care may seem unreasonable. When confronted with a problem, Democrats first reaction is to make a law, to regulate. But that’s where the whole problem came from in the first place — excessive regulation.

Ironically, the very success of economic and  political freedom reduced its appeal to later thinkers. The narrowly limited government of the late nineteenth century possessed little concentrated power that endangered the ordinary man. The other side of the coin was that it possessed little power that would enable good people to do good.  And in an imperfect world there were still many evils. Indeed, the very progress of society made the residual evils seem all the more objectionable. As always people took the favorable developments for granted. They forgot the danger to freedom from a strong government. Instead, they were attracted by the good that a stronger government could achieve — if only government power were in the “right” hands.
…………………Milton and Rose Friedman: Free to Choose



The Great Summing Up by The Elephant's Child

I always hate the week between Christmas and New Years. The Media does the “Great Summing Up.” Lists and rankings, best and worst, biggest news stories, best photos, most notable deaths, the best books, the worst books, the funniest cartoons and the best and worst movies. These are not exactly think pieces.

The American Dream is dying, or dead. Things are really bad and only getting worse. The Least Productive Congress in History? The Do-Nothing Congress has been good for America, and if they pass few new laws, we can breathe slightly more easily.  Congress passed just 70 laws, which may be too many. But Obama and Congressional Democrats planned an array of Big Government initiatives — gun control, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, more job creation, infrastructure (again!), climate change, and education, to name only a few. Congress ended the year with none of those initiatives signed into law. And we are far better for it. No major tax hike, and the probability of a major tax hike in the next year has fallen.

Congress’ approval rating fell to a new low in a November Gallup poll at 9%, and 72% of Americans agreed that “big government” was the nation’s Number One threat. That is an encouraging opinion.

It used to be that a limited government with only modest aims was the guiding principle of nearly every Congressman. Until some sanity is restored to Congress, gridlock may be the best thing we can hope for. A year spent thoughtfully repealing useless laws, wretched excess, and governmental duplication would do us a world of good.

Markets have been encouraged by governmental inaction. Businessmen are not quite so frightened about what government might do next. In 2013, the growth oriented NASDAQ has surged 40%. Markets look six months to a year on down the road.

The EPA is facing real questions about just what ‘science’ they are relying on in their push for power and control. They are backing off their attempt to require 15% corn ethanol in gasoline, which will save many cars and all sorts of small engines. Inaction from the EPA would be a real boon to the economy.

The Democratic majority is running scared from the ObamaCare disaster and its potential influence on the 2014 election. The President is not going to win back the approval of the American people easily. The economy might survive after all. Let’s hear it for gridlock, and root for another do-nothing year in the nation’s capitol.



U.S. Sells Off the Last of Its General Motors Stock— At a $10.5 Billion Loss by The Elephant's Child

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On March 30, 2009, the president of the United States told an anxious nation “Let me be clear: The United States government has no interest in running GM.” Just another whopper from the presidential book of lies. The day before, he had fired General Motors Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner. Where is it written that any president has the authority to take over a private business? This unprecedented hostile takeover of a former American manufacturing giant demonstrated that the basic social contract between the U.S.  government and private business was being torn up on live television. Vladimir Putin can get away with this sort of thing. Was the American media so ignorant of the rule of law in this country and such a complete doormat for the president that it was perfectly fine?

Does the wilfulness of this president allow this White House to seize any company that it deems a “systemic risk” without regard to the law, basic economic principles, and simple restraint? The president used TARP funds, (Troubled Asset Relief Program) signed by President Bush in October of 2008, to buy mortgage-backed securities and other “toxic assets” from financial institutions. The TARP law specifically referred to financial institutions, not car companies. American Bankruptcy law successfully allows companies to reorganize, regroup, and might have allowed GM to tackle the basic cause of their problems, out of control union contracts.

U.S. taxpayers no longer own any of General Motors. The Treasury sold the last of its remaining 31.1 million GM shares yesterday. The $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers is supposed to be regarded as a success for the Obama administration. The Treasury had put $49.5 billion of taxpayer money into illegally bailing out GM. It recovered $39 billion from selling the stock.

The administration emphasizes that the loss it took on GM shares is far less costly than had BM been allowed to fail.

Inaction could have cost the broader economy more than one million jobs, billions in lost personal savings, and significantly reduced economic production,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement announcing that Treasury had sold all its remaining shares.

Excuse me, there is a standard procedure called bankruptcy, an enormously successful way of allowing companies to reorganize and regroup free of immediate pressure from the holders of their debt. But standard bankruptcy would have tackled overgenerous union contracts, bondholders would have had first claim on assets according to the law. The union got a big share of ownership of GM because Obama gets big funding from unions. The bondholders got shafted.

It’s no use pondering “what might have been”— there’s no way of knowing. The administration would prefer that you don’t think about it. And what’s another $10.5 billion loss — we have so many, and $10 billion is just chump change in terms of today’s debt.




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