American Elephants


Obamanomics 101: Understanding How the Obama Economy Works by The Elephant's Child

Democrats Don’t Understand the Principle of Insurance. by The Elephant's Child

When Sandra Fluke appeared at a hastily arranged pretend congressional testimony event to demand that taxpayers pay for birth control for all deserving young women,  many were offended at the idea that all young women were going to have premarital sex as a matter of course and we were supposed to pay for it. Many were a little embarrassed, and glad that it wasn’t their daughter making such a public claim. Attention quickly turned to Rush Limbaugh who suggested that she was a slut, and then to shrill claims that there was a “War on Women.”

This falls under the “full of  storm and fury signifying nothing” category. Democrats, who consider Feminists as one of their major support groups, always overestimate feminist numbers.  Nevertheless, they are apparently planning to organize their entire convention around the “War on Women.” Barbara Boxer, always ready to fight in that war, is delighted.

Ms. Fluke’s impassioned plea for free contraceptives so all young women will be free to be sexually active without consequence, spoke of bills for $35 and $45 and more a month. It was quickly determined that discount pharmacies had the prescriptions for no more than $9 a month, which would seem to be affordable.

The idea of insurance is protection from catastrophic events by spreading the potential cost to many people, which will pay for the rare catastrophe. Actuaries, people good at math, do studies to determine how frequent and how expensive catastrophes are. The federal government apparently doesn’t have actuaries, and just wants everybody to pay for whatever free stuff the politicians want to give folks in exchange for their votes. This really isn’t how insurance is supposed to operate. And that is the point.

You don’t expect your car insurance to pay for replacing your wiper blades, replacing worn tires, changing your oil.  You expect it to be there when you get in a wreck, because your car cost a lot, and if somebody sues you it will cost a lot, and you are not prepared to keep that amount of money set aside for the disastrous event.

Ms. Fluke is wrong, Barbara Boxer is wrong, and there is no silly “War on Women.”

Same problem, different event. Obama is bragging about fixing Medicare. He has eliminated the “donut hole” in the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. There is a lot of criticism among Republicans of the Bush administration for passing it. No one, as far as I can tell, has attempted a serious study of the extent to which the plan is saving lives, for many seniors have their lives extended with new drugs. I understand that the Democrat Congress was going to pass the Drug plan anyway, but Republicans managed to insert the so-called “donut hole.” This  is a major incentive inserted in the program to get seniors to participate in keeping costs down. And it has worked spectacularly.  Bear with me, I know it’s insurance talk but I’ll be brief.

Seniors may choose from a number of different plans. There is a monthly premium and a yearly deductible. Once the deductible is met, there is a co-pay for drugs, high for brand name, low or free for generics. Once  the senior and the plan have spent $2,930 for covered drugs, she is in the “donut hole.” As it was, the senior then had to pay her own costs until she had spent $4,700 for the year— when her coverage gap ends, and she pays only a small co-pay till the end of the year. Lots of incentive to avoid the “donut hole” where she has to pay for her own drugs — using generics whenever they are available, using mail-order pharmacies. Most will never reach it. If they needed help during the donut hole, it was available. That incentive made the drug plan come in far below estimates of what it would cost — a novelty in government programs. They never cost less than estimated.

Democrats, however, have a different understanding of insurance. Republicans believe you spread the cost to protect against catastrophe. Democrats believe that insurance means they give you free stuff and make the taxpayers pay for it.

The left could not stand the “donut hole”— it was so mean. So they are working on getting rid of it entirely.  But what they are removing is the incentive to keep costs down.

Democrats don’t understand incentives, and it always shows up in their policies.



New Republican Governors Are Doing What They Promised! by The Elephant's Child

In 2010, influenced by the Tea Party and it’s focus on the economy, 17 states elected new Republican governors. And since January of 2011, every one of those states saw their rate of unemployment drop an average of 1.35%. Fewer people without jobs, compared to the national rate of 8.2 percent unemployment.

Kansas – 6.9% to 6.1% = a decline of 0.8%

Maine – 8.0% to 7.4% = a decline of 0.6%

Michigan – 10.9% to 8.5% = a decline of 2.4%

New Mexico – 7.7% to 6.7% = a decline of 1.0%

Oklahoma – 6.2% to 4.8% = a decline of 1.4%

Pennsylvania – 8.0% to 7.4% = a decline of 0.6%

Tennessee – 9.5% to 7.9% = a decline of 1.6%

Wisconsin – 7.7% to 6.8% = a decline of 0.9%

Wyoming – 6.3% to 5.2% = a decline of 1.1%

Alabama – 9.3% to 7.4% = a decline of 1.9%

Georgia – 10.1% to 8.9% = a decline of 1.2%

South Carolina – 10.6% to 9.1% = a decline of 1.5%

South Dakota – 5.0% to 4.3% = a decline of 0.7%

Florida – 10.9% to 8.6% = a decline of 2.3%

Nevada – 13.8% to 11.6% = a decline of 2.2%

Iowa – 6.1% to 5.1% = a decline of 1.0%

Ohio – 9.0% to 7.3% = a decline of 1.7%

The national unemployment rate is 8.2 percent. Among the remaining states (12) with Republican governors, only Arizona (8.2), and New Jersey (9.2) are as high or higher than average. Texas (6.9%), Utah (6.%), Virginia (5.6%), Nebraska (3.9%) and North Dakota (3.%) are distinctly under.  Just a coincidence, of course.



The Attempts to Rewrite History. by The Elephant's Child

Oh dear, it’s apparently time again for the Huckleberry Finn controversy.  Mark Twain published Huckleberry Finn 126 years ago, and it has been widely considered one of the great American classics ever since.  With great frequency, since the late 1950s, mothers of schoolchildren have been horrified to find that a book that their children have been required to read contains the “N” word.

Calls for the removal of Huck Finn from reading lists have been regular occurrences.  Huck Finn is the fourth most banned book in the U.S. A., according to Twain scholar Alan Gribben who is working with a small Southern publishing company to publish an edition in which the “N” word, which appears 219 times, is replaced by the word “slave.” Tom Sawyer uses the word four times.

Of course outrage has arisen.  “Censorship.” Bowdlerization,” but it’s “Art.” And so forth.  Ideas about what is proper reading for children have always been a matter of controversy.  Books that are somewhat “different” or address uncomfortable subjects usually provoke mothers by the dozens, usually mothers who are not widely read themselves.

I was lucky.  I was blessed with parents who didn’t particularly supervise my reading, for I was a voracious reader.  Things that were over my head simply did not register.  When I was in 8th grade, our teacher was reading National Velvet to us in class, eliminating all the bad words like damn or hell.  We checked out the book at lunchtime to see what she was leaving out.  At home I was reading The Big Sky,  by A.B. Guthrie Jr., which led my teacher to call my mother to find out if she knew. She did.

Mark Twain was writing about a world and a time when racism was common, and making some important points about it.  Sometimes novelists can get closer to the truth of an era than historians can. There’s controversy about that among historians.

There is a segment of society that wants desperately to rewrite history.  To make the past agree with what they believe to be true today.  They are ashamed of the past as it was, and want it not to be so; and they don’t want others to know that it was as it was.  History is what happened.  We no longer chop off people’s heads nor do we burn them at the stake.  Most of us no longer believe in witches.  Though in some societies these things still happen.

This is in part the same controversy that has arisen over the Republicans’ reading of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House.  From the interesting comments of Ezra Klein to the folks on MSNBC, they simply do not understand the use of reading the document, when every legislator must swear an oath to:

solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

This is hard for Democrats who look upon the Constitution as an old-fashioned document that is hard to understand and is simply nor appropriate for the 21st century.  Am I ranging too far afield to draw these comparisons?

Democrats insist upon an “evolving” Constitution, not one that can be amended when it seems necessary.  Do remember the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) was ratified January 16, 1919, and repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment, on December 5, 1933.  This is pertinent only as a reminder that this is how the Constitution “evolves,” rather than in courtrooms or the halls of Congress. It does not “evolve” according to what is currently popular in European courts.

It was a good thing that the Constitution was read in the House today, and that both Democrats and Republicans participated.  It was of course, a stunt of sorts, but perhaps a very necessary one.  Will it send citizens scurrying to get their own copy of the Constitution? The Cato Institute has a dandy little pocket edition that contains both the Declaration and the Constitution.  The Huck Finn controversy will end up where all the previous controversies have, and seems even sillier in the era of popularity of rap music.  It’s hardly like kids do not hear the “N” word in full.

The world is not improved by attempting to alter history to make the unpleasant parts more palatable.  History is to be studied to see what we can learn.  Human nature is fixed, but we can only learn from our mistakes and successes and the mistakes and successes of those who have gone before.  Ignoring history is a recipe for disaster.



America Gives Pelosi the Boot! by American Elephant
January 5, 2011, 11:42 am
Filed under: Election 2010, News, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

Oh frabjous day! Callooh Callay!

The most unpopular Speaker, from the most unpopular congress EVER is Speaker no more!

But while Americans kicked her out of the Speaker’s office, Democrats are poised to re-elect her today as their new minority leader. In other words, the American people threw Democrats out of power in the biggest electoral ass-kicking in 75 years , and Democrats response is to flip the American people the bird. They have nothing but contempt for the American people. And they have absolutely no intention of changing anything about their agenda, they will only fight harder and dirtier. After so-called “moderate” Democrats bore the brunt of their losses in November, the Democrat party is now far more radical and more extremist than ever. The only thing they have any intention of changing is the “tone” of their propaganda and lies.

Meet the new face of Congressional Dems — same as the very old, very unpopular face.



Repudiated, but Utterly Predictable. by The Elephant's Child

Liberals are so predictable!  Back after January 20th 2009, Barack Obama couldn’t stop saying at every occasion , “I won.”  He was unprepared to tolerate any dissent or disagreement.  “I won,” he said.

The Democrats assembled in back rooms, to which Republicans were not admitted.  They wrote bills to which Republicans were not allowed to contribute.  They were uninterested in Republican ideas, nor were they interested in statistics and experience about the ideas they were enacting.  They produced 2000 page bills laden with pork and bad ideas and then didn’t allow Republicans enough time to even read the bills, and forced them through on party line votes by bribing and twisting arms.  They spent more money to no purpose than any Congress ever has.  They raised the national debt and the deficit to unheard of levels, and utterly squandered it.

In November, the Democrat Party suffered in 2010 the greatest defeat following a new president’s election since 1922.  A Repudiation, a shellacking.

This was supposed to be the era of permanent Democrat dominance.  Having been soundly repudiated, they gathered their defeated, fired members back to Washington DC to try to ram all their wishes through in a last-minute Lame Duck session.  A session the Constitution never intended to take place. Nor did it intend for legislators who have been voted out of office to continue making laws.

Now, as predictable as the sun dropping below the horizon at night, Democrats are whining about bipartisanship!  Why aren’t the Republicans cooperating!  Why aren’t they helping the President to get what he wants?  How dare Republicans oppose the sainted Obama!

The President has left for Hawaii, celebrating all his accomplishments.  He seems to believe that getting things passed that the American people reject is an accomplishment.    His self-regard and arrogance know no bounds.



The Triumphant Trip to Asia Didn’t Work Out So Well. by The Elephant's Child

The article in the Wall Street Journal begins:

“Has there ever been a major economic summit where a  U.S. President and his Treasury Secretary were a thoroughly rebuffed as they were at this week’s G-20 meeting in Seoul?  We can’t think of one.  President Obama failed to achieve  any of his main goals while getting pounded by other world leaders for failing U.S. policies and lagging growth.

The root of this embarrassment is political and intellectual: Rather than leading the world from a position of strength, Mr. Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came to Seoul blaming the rest of the world for U.S. economic weakness. America’s problem, in their view, is the export and exchange rate policies of the Germans, Chinese or Brazilians. And the U.S. solution is to have the Fed print enough money to devalue the dollar so America can grow by stealing demand from the rest of the world.

A subsequent piece is titled “Obama Tries to Repair Damage” in the World News section of the paper, and describes  his visit to Japan for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.  That didn’t go well either.  In a news conference that closed the summit, Mr. Obama said:

“Part of the reason the United States is attracting dissent is we’re initiating the ideas.  The easiest thing for us to do is take a passive role and let things drift. But we thought it was important for us to put forth more structure” for a global economy emerging from financial crisis.

American Spectator suggests that since the President took a “shellacking” the other day, he might be looking for someone weaker to bully.  So during his visit to Indonesia he attacked the people of Israel for its decision to advance the approval of some 1,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem during a sensitive time in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Netanyahu fired back: “Jerusalem is not a settlement.  It is the capital of Israel.”

When the Palestinians stop firing rockets into Israel and stop training their children to be jihadists, there might be room for an agreement, but it is not going to come about because of Mr. Obama’s bullying.

The source of all this angst is, of course, the 2010 election which represented “the greatest defeat for a newly elected president in a midterm since the Republican Party under Warren Gamaliel Harding in 1922.” pointed out James Ceaser in an essay at Real Clear Politics.  James Ceaser is a professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a senior visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Jonathan Last suggests that President Obama’s problems are rooted in his vanity, in an article at the Weekly Standard, titled  “American Narcissus.” His vanity, Last says, is overwhelming.  It defines him, his politics, and his presidency.”

The point of all this is that Mr. Obama pointedly refuses to acknowledge the unmistakable message of the midterm election.  The problem, Mr. Obama claims is just that he isn’t creating jobs fast enough, and Americans are frustrated.

As James Ceaser says: The Democrats’ open campaign is to persuade the public that the election did not mean what Republicans thought, and “there is an allied effort underway, far more subtle, to undermine and weaken the Republican position.  It comes from a group of self-proclaimed wise men who present themselves as being above the fray.  These voices, acting from a putative concern for the nation and even for the Republican Party, urge Republicans to avoid the mistake of Obama and the Democrats after 2008 of displaying hubris and overinterpreting their mandate. With this criticism of the Democrats offered as a testimony of their even handedness and sincerity, they piously go on to tell Republicans that now is the time to engage in bipartisanship and follow a course of compromise.”

All very connected stories, and very interesting.




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