American Elephants


Would You Pay $200,000 to Hear Hillary Speak? by The Elephant's Child

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As a woman, I have never understood the idea of “the first woman” and why that would seem important to any voter. The highest office in the land depends on qualifications and proven competence. Whether it is a woman, a man, or the first person of any particular race, ethnicity or sexual preference should not make the slightest difference. I have opposed Barack Obama, not because of his race, but because he had no real qualifications. To assume that there is something special about a president because of his race is absurd. You would have to be remarkably racist to assume that skin color has anything to do with qualifications and competence.

By the time someone aspires to the presidency, they need to have a solid record of accomplishments. I’m never enthusiastic about senators as presidential candidates. Their accomplishments are largely in making speeches and in their voting record. Those who champion an important bill and push it through have an accomplishment. Those who just vote aye or nay haven’t got much.

Hillary originally thought that being married to the president qualified her to be his co-president, until the people rose up and said ‘Wait just a minute—we didn’t elect you.’ When Patrick Moynihan died, a safe Democratic senate seat opened up, and Hillary quickly bought a home in the district and ran for the Senate. Her qualifications were that she had been first lady. Members of Congress who die in office are often replaced by their widows, who get elected on name familiarity or sympathy, not qualifications. Hillary’s senate career was unremarkable. Her tenure as Secretary of State was unremarkable and tallied up only in air miles.

The Benghazi scandal was typical Hillary. She didn’t know, she wasn’t informed, she met the parents when the bodies were returned and told them that they would get the guy who made the video — which she surely knew at the time was a complete crock. Hillary has remarkably poor political instincts— understanding instinctively how something will play with the public. And she’s always stepping in it. When she does, she reacts poorly as “What difference does it make” demonstrates.

An ambassador killed because he does not have the protection he requested. Two former SEALS who ran to the sound of the guns, saved 30 people and waited and waited for seven hours for help that never came. How can anyone have such abysmal political instincts that they do not understand how that will play out with the American people. But she didn’t. And there are dozens more examples of the same lack.



Oh-Oh! “The National Strategy For Biosurveillance” by The Elephant's Child

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Under the new Affordable Care Act, hospitals and clinics are required to computerize patient records. This is supposed to save vast amounts of money. So far the expense of putting everything on newly acquired computers linked in newly acquired programs is massive. Doctors now interact more with the computer than the patient, but that’s the way it goes.

The overarching theory was that the federal government would thus gain access to American’s private medical information, and government experts thus could decide what treatments were judged to be best, and what was too expensive, and what was not worthwhile. This would give the experts all the information they need to be, well, expert, and just save vast amounts of money when all those little used treatments were discarded. One size fits all. Like school lunches. CNS News reports:

The federal government is piecing together a sweeping national “biosurveillance” system that will give bureaucrats near real-time access to Americans’ private medical information in the name of national security, according to Twila Brase, a public health nurse and co-founder of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is currently seeking public comment on a 52-page draft of the proposed “National Health Security Strategy 2015-2018” (NHSS).

The deadline for comment is 5 pm EST on May 21st. (See Draft National Health Security Strategy 2015-2018.pdf)

“Health situational awareness includes biosurveillance and other health and non-health inputs (e.g., lab/diagnostics, health service utilization, active intelligence, and supply chain information), as well as systems and processes for effective communication among responders and critical health resource monitoring and allocation,” the draft states.

You might want to send the feds your comments, but keep it clean.

Brase notes that the information collected by the government will be “all-encompassing.” It would include our health status, if we exercise, how often we get a cold, what medications we take, how much we drink, do we have guns in the house, what is our preferred gender, race, and national origin. I added the last because that’s what they are asking these days.

According to the draft proposal, NHSS will create “health situational awareness” by “collecting, aggregating and processing data from both traditional and nontraditional sources (such as social media) and from various governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders…decision makers will have the capacity to visualize and manipulate data from many sources to create an operational picture suited to the specific situation and the decisions before them. Brase wars that the government’s biosurveillance plan is much more intrusive that the data collection currently being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But the fact of the matter is that [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] HIPPA already allows the federal government and the state government and the local government and anyone who is a public health agency to have access to our medical records – identifiable medical records – without our consent. It’s in the HIPPA Privacy Rule, which has the full force and effect of law. But that wasn’t actually put in by Congress. It was put in by the Department of Health and Human Services.” (See HIPAAPrivacyRegs_EconomicStimulusChanges.pdf)

President Obama cited the NHSS and “the first-ever National Strategy for Biosurveillance which was announced by the White House in July 2012 as a “top national security policy.” Bet you missed that.

You should read the whole thing, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act forces every doctor to have “interoperable electronic medical records by January 1, 2015 or face penalties from Medicare, financial reductions in their payments.

HIPPA and the HITECH Act (part of the 2009 stimulus bill) together already allow 2.2 million entities to have access to your private medical records without your consent.

People might worry about things like HIV or depression, something that is stigmatizing or embarrassing. They should be concerned about the fact that this is a strategy to oversee your entire life, supposedly with the intent to keep you healthy.

But you will find alternate purposes in North Korea, Communist China’s one-child policy, the belief of some radicals on the left that the earth is overpopulated. The intent may be benign, or not. It is too open-ended, too uncontrolled, and there are too many big government bureaucrats at the other end. And so far, under the administration that produced ObamaCare, government bureaucracies are producing one scandal after another, each more devastating than the last. Some just have SWAT teams breaking down your door, or cost you a lot of money. Some scandals kill people.

Anyone who has worked in government (not politicians) will tell you, if they are honest, that you should not trust the government. The bigger government gets, the less trustworthy it is. Bureaucracy breeds bad behavior. When responsibility is spread across too many, nobody is responsible, and nobody can be blamed — it’s just the bureaucracy.



ObamaCare Has Barely Begun, And The Horror Stories Start! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is crowing about enrolling 8 million Americans in ObamaCare. The number seems to have no relation to reality. Nobody is enrolled until they have paid.

In Georgia, insurers received more than 220,000 applications for health coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchange as of the official deadline of March 31, according to state officials. The Insurance Commissioner, Ralph Hudgens says that premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies which cover 149,465 people. Half.

In California open enrollment is closed, many of the newly insured are finding they cannot find doctors, landing them in a state described as “medical homelessness.” One of the major claims was that ObamaCare would reduce the use of emergency rooms by the uninsured. Uh huh.

Kaiser says it will only get worse. Aging baby boomers increasingly need more care. The  growing medical needs of that group are creating a huge burden for the existing health care workforce. The retirement of many doctors in the boomer cohort is compounding the problem. The federal government estimates the physician supply will increase by 7 percent in the next 10 years. The number of Americans over 65 will grow by about 36 percent. Medical students are avoiding primary care and are choosing specialties instead. 20 percent of Americans live in areas with an insufficient number of primary care physicians, 16 percent in areas with too few dentists and 30 percent in areas with a lack of mental health providers.

Well why can’t we have single-payer health care like, say, Sweden? Sweden is always raised as a rare example of a socialist country that works. But a closer look at its health care system tells a different story. Universal public health care means the average Swede with ‘high risk’ prostate cancer has to wait 220 days for treatment. The overall quality of their universal public health consistently ranks among the very best. That quality can be achieved by regulating treatments to follow specific diagnoses as well as standardizing procedures.

But Sweden’s problem is access to care. According to the Euro Health Consumer Index 2013, the average wait time from referral to start of treatment for ‘intermediary and high risk ‘ prostate cancer is 220 days. For lung cancer the wait between an appointment with a specialist and a decision about treatment is 37 days.

The waiting is what economists call “rationing,”— the delay or even failure to provide care due to government budgeting decisions. The number of people seeking care far outweighs the capabilities of providers— insurance in name but not in practice. This is the inevitable result of ObamaCare as well. That’s why there is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) who will decide what the federal government will pay for.

Stories of people in Sweden suffering stroke, heart failure and other serious medical conditions who were denied or unable to receive urgent care are frequently reported in the Swedish media. Recent examples include a one-month-old infant with cerebral hemorrhage for whom no ambulance was available, and an 80-year-old woman with suspected stroke who had to wait four hours for an ambulance. It’s the same deal in Britain’s NHS, which is so admired by the ObamaCare designers.

Here at home, a New York woman suffering from a neurological disease that has required four brain surgeries has been dropped by all of her doctors and denied medications because of her ObamaCare plan. Margaret Figueroa, 49, suffers from a disease that has her vomiting, she has lost 22 pounds and the pain is unbearable. The ObamaCare plan she purchased assured her that she was covered, but when she went to fill her prescriptions, her insurance card was denied. She cannot find a doctor who will see her. Her congressman,Rep Michael Grimm (R-NY) has intervened to help her obtain vital prescriptions. Grimm says he’s already received calls from at least a dozen Staten Island residents facing the same problem with ObamaCare’s “narrow networks”— extreme restrictions on doctor and hospital access imposed by ObamaCare.

The top cancer centers across the country are not available to those on ObamaCare.  38 percent of all ObamaCare plans only allow patients to pick from just 30% of the largest 20 hospitals in their area. The narrow network horror stories will only continue to grow, and the effects will be disastrous. But Obama is crowing about enrolling 8 million people.



Democrats Care About “People Like Me.” by The Elephant's Child

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When people express their political preferences, at least according to the polls, they identify the Democratic Party as the one that “cares about people like me,” or “cares about little people,” or “ordinary people.”

Republicans are apt to react to that with jaw-dropping astonishment. Isn’t it obvious that they couldn’t care less, that all the caring speech is just a pose? Well, no it isn’t, and that is a problem for Republicans. It’s pure politics.

President Obama had an op-ed in the Las Vegas Sun this weekend that really demonstrates the problem. And it may well be an essay that represents his sincere thinking. Democrats are not inclined to investigate the economics of a policy, nor consider carefully the unintended consequences. Politicians like to describe their ideas in prose that will make what they want to do as appealing as possible, so you can’t tell what Obama really believes by reading what he says.

“Honest work should be rewarded with honest wages” — whatever that means—if anything, sounds good, but just what is an “honest wage?” He continues: “That certainly means that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.” And that is true. No one who works full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour qualifies as being “in poverty.” The poverty level for an individual in 2014 is $11,670.

It is meant to be a “starter” wage for a person with no real skills, and that’s why it’s not worth much. The low-skilled need training. The majority get a raise within six months, as they become trained workers who know what they are doing. The federal minimum wage differs from the prevailing minimum wage in some locations, and states too have “minimum wages.”   The minimum wage where I live is $9.25 an hour. Seattle is debating raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The president’s proposal would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016 in three annual steps. Republicans argue that this will kill jobs, because if government boosts the cost of labor, employers will buy less of it, and it will do little to reduce poverty. The CBO estimates that the higher minimum wage would reduce jobs by about 500,000. Wage increases would raise the incomes of families in poverty by about $300 annually.

Robert Samuelson says: “An administration serious about job creation has to sacrifice other priorities to achieve it.” The CBO has estimated that the health insurance subsidies in ObamaCare will discourage people from working resulting in a loss of an estimated 2.5 million full-time workers by 2014. There are choices. For the most part the White House has voted against job creation, a fact that it tries to hide. The proposed increase is much larger than most of the increases that have been studied, and the minimum would be indexed to inflation, rising automatically with prices. Also new.

The minimum wage has a great advantage as a political idea. If employers are forced to pay a  “living wage” then no one will live in poverty. Low-information voters and reporters will go for that. Easy.

ObamaCare has been eliminating full-time jobs right and left, and transforming them into part-time jobs. A mandated minimum wage set at a level above what unskilled labor is worth, eliminates jobs. Teenage unemployment is now at 20.7 percent, black teenage unemployment is a horrendous 38 percent. The average family income of minimum wage earners is $48,000 a year. Raising the minimum wage accelerates the trend to automation and robotics.

If you can. go back and read the president’s op-ed and see how appealing it is, and how dishonest. That’s a major problem for Conservatives.

The picture above is Obama’s photo-op comforting Donna Vanzant, whose North Point Marina sustained widespread damage in Hurricane Sandy. Obama promised her “immediate” assistance, help from FEMA, and the photo went viral in the days before the election. Donna Vanzant suffered around $500,000 in damages. After his visit, and promise of help on national television, Donna Vanzant sent an email to President Obama. Many days later, she got a response—a form letter that thanked her for supporting the troops—the only response she ever received.  The exit polls after the election showed the vote for Obama’s second term depended mostly on his compassionate response to Hurricane Sandy.



Interior Knew World War II Vets Would Be Shut Out Of Their Monument. by The Elephant's Child

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National Review Online did a little investigation, and public records show that the Department of the Interior knew beforehand that two ‘honor flights’  of aging World War II veterans would be visiting the World War II Memorial when the partial government shutdown began on October 1, but decided to barricade the open air site anyway.

This was a clear political effort to make the public angry about the partial government shutdown. The World War II Memorial is an open-air memorial, and the National Park Service had to go to the effort of erecting barriers and adding guards to prevent the old veterans from visiting the memorial. A remarkably nasty ploy. The honor flights raise private money to pay the expenses of veterans to see the national memorial erected in their honor. Sort of a last chance thing, for the youngest vets from that war are 87. The visit is a pretty big deal.

The internal e-mails show that the National Park Service was worried, with some justification, about the potential public reaction. The administration was not prepared for the reaction of the veterans, nor for the public reaction to attempts to close all National Parks, and memorials.

National Review’s piece includes e-mails and clear evidence of the administration’s intent. You can read the whole thing here.

What this episode shows, once again, is the totalitarian temptation of the Left. Politics trumps people every time. People are to be manipulated, used. The goal is power and winning, and that need will always trump ordinary people. Enrolling people in government controlled health care which can be morphed into single-payer, is far more important than any cancer patient getting their life-saving meds, more important than access to the special hospital. Winning, power, and progress towards the shining goal will always trump humanity.

 



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.



The Letter ‘S’ in IRS Apparently Stands For ‘Scandal’ by The Elephant's Child

Powerline has today a letter from William Henck who has worked in the IRS Office of the General Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. Powerline says:

Although it goes over some old ground, we submit the following personal account by Mr. Henck for the consideration of readers in the context of current controversies without further comment. He writes:

I have been an attorney in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel for over 26 years. Over a number of years, I have attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to alert the public to abuse within the IRS. One of my kids suggested that I contact a blog and Power Line has graciously agreed to publish this account.

I do not personally know whether the IRS has targeted conservative groups or individuals, but I do know that the environment within the agency is ripe for such activity and there is nothing to prevent it from occurring. As stated in more detail below, I have personally witnessed improper giveaways of billions of dollars to taxpayers with inside access at the agency, bullying of elderly taxpayers, the cover-up of managerial embezzlement and misappropriation of thousands of dollars in government funds, and a retaliatory audit. I have also heard credible accounts of, among other things, further improper giveaways, blatant sexual harassment, and anti-Semitism. All of these matters have been swept under the rug.

Do read the whole thing. It sheds a bit of light on all the controversy about the IRS  targeting of conservative groups. As I’m sure you have heard Mr. Obama say, it is simply a phony controversy, nothing to see here, just move along. The problem is that Ms. Lerner kind of blew that to smithereens with her attempt to plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating herself.

Corruption in government is no small thing. It spreads. Public sector unions are much to blame. When a miscreant can no longer be fired, government’s ability to have an ethical agency is ended. And the damage goes on from that.

When Rudy Giuliani was Mayor of New York City, he had enormous success with his “broken windows theory” of policing. You take care of the small things like graffiti, turnstile jumping, and the attention to the small things shows that you are going to take care of the bigger ones. He made a big difference in crime in New York.



Al Qaeda Training British and U.S. ‘Jihadists’ In Syria To Set Up Terror Cells At Home by The Elephant's Child

You are aware, of course, that al Qaeda has been “decimated and is “on the way to defeat.” Since the Benghazi attack, President Barack Obama has touted al Qaeda’s demise at least 32 times, even though  Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magarief, members of Congress, an administration spokesman and several press reports said that al Qaeda played a role in the attack. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, on November 1, Obama said “Thanks to sacrifice and service of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, al Qaeda has been decimated, Osama bin Laden is dead.

But nobody told the British newspapers. The Telegraph today says that Al Qaeda is training hundreds of British and European jihadis in Syria — and telling them to return home to set up terror cells.

British people fighting in Syria are being trained as “jihadists” and then encouraged to return to the UK to launch attacks on home soil, an al-Qaeda defector and western security sources have told the Telegraph.

In a rare interview on Turkey’s border with Syria, the defector from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) said that recruits from Britain, Europe and the US were being indoctrinated in extremist anti-Western ideology, trained in how to make and detonate car bombs and suicide vests and sent home to start new terror cells.

British security and intelligence agencies believe the threat of would-be terrorists being indoctrinated and directed back to the UK by al Qaeda organizers in Syria is growing. Foreign fighters are proud of 9/11 and the London bombings. A defector from ISIS said of the foreign fighters he met in Syria: “They talked often about terrorist attacks. The British, French and American mujahideen [holy warriors] in the room started talking about places that they wanted to bomb or explode themselves in Europe and the United States. Everyone named a target. The American said he dreamed of blowing up the White House.”

Up to 500 fighters from Britain have joined the struggle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, many already known to MI5 for their radical sympathies. Some have gone with the intent of fighting the regime but are brainwashed by al Qaeda and urged to return home and launch attacks there instead.

The French interior minister, Manuel Valls, said the possibility of French citizens  returning from Syria as hardened jihadists was “the biggest threat that the country faces in the coming years.” France and Europe risk being “overwhelmed” by the phenomenon.

Shiraz Maher, a senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, estimated last week that up to 50 British fighters have already returned home.

I don’t suppose that anyone here is apt to think of this as a warning about open borders, uncontrolled illegal immigration, amnesty, and the declining rate of real assimilation among new immigrants. Europe may have a rude awakening over their rush to encourage immigration to relieve declining birthrates in Europe, and their inability to assimilate their immigrants. We may have a rude awakening over our administration’s insistence that al Qaeda has been defeated, and is no longer a concern.



The Wayback Machine Captures the Obama Pitch from 2010 by The Elephant's Child

The lies of Obama’s Obamacare sales pitch were fraudulent from the beginning.  Over the past three weeks we have seen it clearly demonstrated that Obama’s promises about ObamaCare didn’t hold water.  Here are Obama and Eric Cantor, addressing the issue in January 2010, at the so-called health care summit that Obama staged for Republicans.

As usual, Mr. Obama draws analogies that are unrelated, and asserts that people will find the policies in the exchanges better. That is clearly completely false. Monthly payments are doubling and tripling, deductibles are far higher. People will lose their doctors, they may be sent to hospitals other than the most convenient. There will be far fewer choices, and far less portability.

John Nolte, over at Brietbart, has provided a transcript of the relevant part.

CANTOR: …Because I don’t think you can answer the question in the positive to say that people will be able to maintain their coverage, people will be able to see the doctors they want, in the kind of bill that you are proposing.

OBAMA: Since you asked me a question, let me respond. The 8 to 9 million people you refer to that might have to change their coverage — keep in mind out of the 300 million Americans that we are talking about — would be folks who the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, estimates would find the deal in the exchange better — would be a better deal. So, yes, they would change coverage because they got more choice and competition.

Remember that this is January of 2010. He’s still using the same sales pitch, which is designed to please, not to be truthful. If he had told the truth, the bill would never have passed. It’s just a cold-blooded lie, wrecking American health care for his personal political preferences.



It Was Not a “Tragedy” — It was an Evil Act. by The Elephant's Child

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In the Navy Yard shooting, 12 people were killed, 8 were injured. The shooter, Aaron Alexis, bought an uncontroversial shotgun from a licensed dealer,  a background check was done according to the rules. Our laws do not really have any way to identify those who have mental illness.

Government officials are sure that evil acts can be prevented by making a law to prompt government action. Background checks do not weed out the mentally ill. Police response time in the case of the Newtown shooting was 20 minutes, and can vary up to an hour or more depending on traffic. Making laws to ban guns makes politicians feel good, but accomplishes nothing at all. Banning guns does not reduce murder and suicide. Chicago, where guns are banned, is the murder capital of the world.

In 1993, one of President Bill Clinton’s first acts upon taking office, was to ban guns at all military installations — like the Navy Yard, and Fort Hood. Merely a coincidence of course.



He’s Going Around Congress Again, To Get His Own Way! by The Elephant's Child

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One of President Obama’s favorite “big ideas” is universal pre-kindergarten. It has long been a cherished liberal idea that the poor suffer from the absence of the advantages of the stuff that the middle class takes for granted. If you give them free phones, free food stamps, free housing vouchers, and free pre-kindergarten with breakfast and lunch, then they will become happy middle class people.

Republicans believe in a safety-net for those in need, but believe that you can best help people to get out of poverty by offering opportunity. We have lots of examples of accomplished black Americans who climbed out of a childhood of poverty through the encouragement of a strong mother, a grandfather, who saw to it that the child had the opportunity and insisted on the dedication and struggle to make the best use of it. Celebrated Neurosurgeons, CEOs, Supreme Court Justices, Scholars, Economists, Writers, Society’s elite.

Head Start was established in 1965, as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society poverty program. It originally was a summer school program that would help poor children catch up to their age-group with what they needed to know to start kindergarten. A federal program is forever.

It quickly grew to a year-round program, funded a program that would become Sesame Street. The program has provided education, health and social services for nearly 30 million children between the ages of 3 and 5.  There’s also an Early Head Start Program for prenatal outcomes, healthy families and infant and toddler development. There are programs for migrant and seasonal farm workers as well as Native American children.

Just before Christmas, Health and Human Services (HHS) were preparing to release their  long-overdue evaluation of the Head Start Program. Since it’s inception in 1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program. The HHS scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to a group receiving Head Start  services or a group that did not participate. It followed their progression from age three or four through the end of third grade.

The first-grade study found that any benefits the children may have accrued while in the Head Start program were gone by the time they reached first grade. It also found that Head Start failed to improve the literacy, math and language skills of the four year-old cohort and had a negative impact on the teacher-assessed math ability of the three-year-old cohort. The results of the third-grade evaluation were even worse.

HHS sat on the study for  four years. They had finished collecting all the data in 2008.  In spite of prodding from Congress, they did not make the study public until the Friday before Christmas. A possible attempt to attract no attention at all?

Well, my goodness. $180 billion on a program that produces no benefits at all. Would you be surprised that many members of Congress argued that the way to fix this would be to appropriate more money? So they did. You will find another $100 million in new funding for Head Start tucked into the Hurricane Sandy relief bill — ostensibly to provide funds to Head Start centers in the Northeast  affected by the storm. The $100 million will be divided up among 265 centers at more than $377,000 per center.

Head Start fails children and costs taxpayers exorbitant amounts of money every year. And it’s just one of 69 federal preschool programs.

Congressional Republicans looked at the evidence and refused to finance a new expensive universal preschool proposal from President Obama, even with the president’s proposal to fund it by raising tobacco taxes. As the president has told us — if Congress won’t cooperate with his big ideas, he will just go around Congress — and so he has.

Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have turned to discretionary funding allocations in Race to The Top, a federal education grant to the states and even to ObamaCare. A provision in ObamaCare set aside money for both state and federal authorities to fund school readiness programs for at-risk children. There’s a $500 million pile of money for state education projects, and the Education and HHS have doled out $89 million to six states for early childhood education.

A far better opportunity would be if they just let the kids take their share of Head Start funding to a private preschool provider of their own choosing.  But we all know that’s not going to happen — even if we have all these piles of money sitting around in one program or another.

Just one of 69 federal preschool programs!!!



Media Bias: How It’s Done. by The Elephant's Child

Republicans are noted for bellyaching about media bias. Here’s a particularly good, but silly, example, The Associated Press is usually a good example.

Under the headline “Iowans express support for health care expansion” —the article begins : “Iowa residents are largely expressing support for a plan to expand low-income health care, although there are still questions about some of the details.” That certainly give you the impression that the people of Iowa really like ObamaCare, doesn’t it? You have to read the whole (very short) article to discover that they are writing about a meeting attended by 75 people. Bwa-ha-hahaha. Really?




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