American Elephants


Our Public Schools Are Being Flooded With Sick, Infectious Children by The Elephant's Child

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The “mystery” virus that is hospitalizing children all over the U.S. seems to be closely related to “Human rhinoviruses and entroviruses in influenza-like illness in Latin America.” The federal government has been anxious to get the illegal alien children creating chaos near the border indiscriminately distributed around the United States. Since the object is amnesty for all, and putting all into our public schools, they want to get them out of the inadequate facilities where they are first “processed.”

Too many embarrassing pictures are being posted. It is noticed that no one is being shipped back home. They’re not getting medically screened, but just put on buses or planes to another part of the country, and theoretically told to report back for their hearing in 15 days, but only a miniscule percentage actually turn up.

Twin Cities internist Chris Foley wrote to Powerline to address the case of the mystery virus.

This is basically the same virus commonly seen in the equatorial Americas and South America. The very odd emergence of this virus at this time – especially just prior to the new school year and now fueled by the congregation of children in schools – demands an explanation. The only plausible one is that this has been brought here from south of the – now non-existent – border.

Although there will be a good deal of epidemiological work to be done before this can be scientifically associated, there is a deafening silence on the part of public health officials and the mainstream media in even speculating about this association. This is not simply a case of being politically selective about the news, it is downright dangerous and could be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the emergence of diseases long absent from daily life in America now suddenly popping up “inexplicably.” By the way the article from the Journal that I cited [linked above] likely represents gross underreporting which is typical in South America.

Obama has been so anxious to regularize the influx of illegals, particularly children, that he has ignored one regulation or law after another— apparently making it up as he goes along. The kids have been shipped out all over the country, and local public schools have been told to accept them without asking any questions. Like have they been medically screened? How old are they? (There are reports of 31 year-old ‘children’). They do not speak English. Who is going to pay for this influx? Have they reported back for their formal immigration hearing? Are they going to be deported or returned to their home country? School districts are beginning to scream about how they are to cope and who is going to pay.

All is based on the illusion that Hispanic voters want illegal aliens to receive amnesty, but that seems not to be the case. Sixty-four percent of Hispanics say they want them sent back home, and 77 percent of Americans also want them returned home. Only 11 percent of the people favor amnesty. Obama is getting a slight inkling that amnesty is not popular—he is putting it off till after the election. That grab-bag of unpopular ideas put off till later when, hopefully, no one will notice.

This is seeming like a political move, poorly thought out, that is showing more and more evidence of turning into a colossal catastrophe. And the now-open borders promise terrorist attacks. This is not just simple incompetence, it’s far, far worse.

The United States will never have control of its borders, and the influx will not stop until we say our laws have clear meaning, and illegal aliens must return home. After that, our immigration laws can be rewritten with work permits for those who want only the opportunity to work, and perhaps some leeway for those who have been here for years through no fault of their own. But at some point you must demand that the laws be obeyed — in spite of all protestations. There is no other way.



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.




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