American Elephants

Uncle Jay Explains 2008 by The Elephant's Child
December 30, 2008, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Election 2008, History, Humor, News, Politics, Pop Culture

A Reality Check on Health Care Costs. by The Elephant's Child

Democrats are preparing to address health care again next year, so promises are forthcoming at a furious rate.  When there is a brief note of the reality of the vast expense of “universal” coverage, taxpayers should pay attention.  We need to know just what they are doing, not just “for us” but to us.

Peter Orszag, the former head of the Congressional Budget Office,  has left the CBO to become Barack Obama’s budget director.  The CBO is the office responsible for estimating how much legislation will cost the government.

They recently released two reports on health-care financing that should hit Congress like the proverbial ton of bricks.  The short version is that liberal health care reforms will be extremely costly, while measures intended to save money won’t begin to live up to even conservative estimates.

When the reform proposals are added up, even Democrats concede that their new health programs will cost $150 or $200 billion a year. Perhaps in a year when ‘billions’ and ‘trillions’ are everyday terms, Congressional Democrats have lost their sense of  just whose money they are spending so casually. We need to remind them.

These are only estimates.  The real costs will be higher.  Efforts to cut costs, such as information technology, will result in only modest savings.  Current efforts at introducing information technology in hospitals have resulted in massive cases of identity theft, with no way at present to solve such a problem.

The Wall Street Journal issues a cautionary note. Do read the whole thing.   You cannot afford to be ill-informed on this issue.  Your life may depend on it.

Snowbound, and released once again. by The Elephant's Child

THE sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.

With compliments to John Greenleaf Whittier, we have been snowbound.  Snowed in since the Friday before Christmas.  People with four-wheel drive managed to get around gingerly, but the rest of us were just stuck. We had 8 to 10 inches of snow,  and here in the hilly Seattle area it quickly turns to ice.  In Seattle, the mayor decided that salt was beyond the pale for it might run into the salt waters of Puget Sound, and many streets were to be left undisturbed, to form a nice snowpack.  Sigh.

On the Eastside, city road crews plowed, but short neighborhood streets are left till last, and through streets get first attention, which is fair.  We have a well-stocked pantry, so were not reduced to eating strange things; a good-sized woodpile (the result of last winter’s storms) and  a snow shovel.

The snowplow came by the day after Christmas and, with some vigorous shoveling we escaped to crowded malls and grocery store to get ready for a postponed Christmas celebration.  Merry Christmas to all, and a happy New Year.

Not everyone has Christmas off by American Elephant
December 25, 2008, 2:43 am
Filed under: Freedom, Military | Tags: ,

Not everyone can be home for Christmas. Why not take a moment to send a Christmas email to our troops! The peace we do enjoy on Earth is due in no small part to their hard work and sacrifice.

Christmas in the so-called Space Age by American Elephant
December 24, 2008, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Cool Site of the Day, News of the Weird, Pop Culture | Tags: ,

Thanks to reader Joseph for reminding me! You and kids can track Santa on his trip around the world with satelite maps and embedded YouTube videos, thanks to NORAD (and your tax dollars) here.  He and his reindeer have finished their rounds of Asia and Australia (he’s apparently even vistited the International Space Station), and are currently working their way through Africa and Eastern Europe. He is currently in Perin, Slovakia as of this writing.

And who knew, but Santa has his own blog, as do his reindeer. (How they type is beyond me.)

All this, as well as Christmas crafts, printable cards, games, stories, and recipes can be found at

Merry Christmas! by American Elephant
December 24, 2008, 2:05 pm
Filed under: History, Movies, Music, News | Tags: , ,

Joy to the World!

(video: The Nativity Story; Music: Josh Groban)

Every year at Arlington National Cemetery. by The Elephant's Child

Wreaths Across America is a voluntary effort started in 1992 by Morrill Worcester of the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine.  Arlington is the largest focus of the commemorative ceremony, but nationwide some 100,000 wreathes are laid at over 300 cemeteries in all 50 states.  Its goal is to put a wreath on as many service members’ graves as possible.

James Robbins tells the story of the 17th annual wreath-laying in a lovely article at National Review Online. If you can spare a few minutes during the Christmas rush, do read the whole thing.

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