American Elephants

Misleading Claims Don’t Inspire Much Confidence! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is back on the campaign trail.  Yes I know, many will wonder, with some justification, just when he ever left it.  Democrats running for reelection and those running for office for the first time are trying hard to avoid presidential endorsement or even acquaintance.

So Obama is out trying to convince disaffected Democrats that all that change he promised them — is still coming, it just takes time.  He has done everything right, but he has been hampered by the criticism of the evil Republicans who, although Democrats control the entire Congress, still have the nerve to disagree with him.

Mr. Obama’s problems, however, are largely of his own making.  He promised change, but most people thought he meant changing the atmosphere in Washington.  They were astonished when they found that he wanted to change the best health care system in the world into a replica of England’s National Health Service, close to the world’s worst.  At least that is the system that Obama’s health care advisers most admire.

The president went on to make his problems worse with promises that have already proved to be false.  People don’t like being misled.

Mr. Obama said over and over that if you like your current coverage, you can keep it.  Many employers will stop offering insurance, benefits will go down and co-pays will go up.  Pilgrim Health in Massachusetts has already announced that its 22,000 seniors will be dropped from Medicare Advantage.

The president said that health-care reform would stop insurance premiums from rising rapidly, but would reduce them by $2,500 a year for a family.  Uh huh.  Ours has just gone up by 16% because of the new mandates.  When you add more people, it costs more.  When you make sure that nobody can be turned down, it costs more. When you insist on all sorts of “preventative” care, that costs more. Elementary school math.  Price-WaterhouseCoopers has found that, with reform, premiums are likely to rise by 111% over the next ten years, compared to an increase of 79% if nothing had been done.

Remember that odd phrase —”bending the cost curve down?” The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has found that we will spend an estimated $311 billion more over the next ten years than if the bill had never passed.

The bill will cover some of the uninsured, but over 20 million will remain uninsured.  The plan is for Medicaid to cover 30 million more, but there are not enough doctors now for all Medicaid patients, and more and more doctors are refusing to take Medicaid patients because the government does not pay for their costs.

Obama made a big deal of children being able to be covered on their parent’s policies, but parents who could not afford insurance insured their children on inexpensive separate children’s policies to make sure the children were protected. Parents try hard to protect their children. But child-only policies are no longer available, and the parents still cannot afford insurance.

The president promised no tax increase for the middle class, but there are hefty taxes on medical equipment and medical devices.  So no increase in taxes unless you need a cane or a wheelchair, a stent, or a prosthesis.

Employers’ existing plans will not be legal under Obamacare, they will have to change significantly to accommodate all the mandates and regulations to come. As plans get more expensive, they will have to raise premiums to pass the costs along.  But Obamacare puts limits on how expensive a policy can be. Too expensive, and it will just have to be a loss for the insurance company. Private insurers will not operate at a loss, but go out of business.

And this is what we know with a system that is not yet fleshed out with all the mandates and regulations.  The bill, all 2000+ pages of it, establishes dozens and dozens of agencies, bureaus, offices, and departments of this and that — each of which will devise another ream or two of regulations and procedures. Secretary Sebelius is supposed to set this all in motion, and she doesn’t want anyone claiming that anything is not the insurance companies fault.  If you attempt to blame it on the Obama administration, you will have to go to reeducation camp.

Health care doesn’t matter much when you are healthy.  You can pretty much do without it.  Health Care matters when you are sick, or old and frail, or badly hurt. Democrats hate it when you use bad examples from other systems.  They call them “scare stories.”  And of course they are. Because that’s the important question.  How are you treated by a failing system when you are in need? If you don’t like the answer, you don’t just write it off as just a “scare story.” You recognize that could be you, and try to prevent such a situation from ever coming to pass.

John Hinderaker from Power Line assembled some stories from Britain’s National Health Service,  Easy Opinions blog took the Power Line list, and annotated it for easier searching: Annals of Government Medicine, annotated. That is the inevitable end result of ObamaCare.  Did you think the Brits did this on purpose?Progress

Report Card Time! How’d Your Governor Do? by The Elephant's Child

Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards has done a 2010 report card on America’s Governors.  We know that some states are in real trouble.   State governments have had to make some tough budget choices as a result of a poor economy, lower tax revenues and high unemployment.  Some have chosen to cut spending,  look hard at what is necessary and what is not.  Others just went for large tax increases.

Many states have raised taxes over the past two years, which hurts businesses and families just when they are already struggling.  Many of the taxes are the sneaky type, a little tax on plastic bags here, on candy bars there.  The governmental nannies console themselves that they are not really “raising taxes” but either saving the environment or making you thinner.

Cato’s 10th biennial Fiscal Policy Report Card looks at state budget actions since 2008.  It uses statistical data to grade the governors on their records of taxing and spending.  Governors who have controlled their budgets, cutting taxes and spending, get the best grades.

Four governors were awarded an “A” in this report card:  Mark Sanford (R) of South Carolina; Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana; Tim Pawlenty (R) of Minnesota; and Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia.

And seven governors got a big fat “F.” Our very own Chris Gregoire (D) of Washington State;  Jim Doyle (D) , Wisconsin; Bill Ritter (D), Colorado; Pat Quinn (D), Illinois; Jodi Rell (R) Connecticut; David Patterson (D), New York; and at the very bottom Ted Kulongoski (D), Oregon.

Cato points out that the evaluation includes the period from 2008 to the present, and therefore does not necessarily cover the governor’s entire term.  It is valuable to read the full report which clarifies just what is meant by good management — and conversely just why those who should be sent to the corner have created problems for the citizens of their state.

This is a very tough year for the country, and voters are paying more attention. Here’s a good way to be more informed about your own governor, comparative governors, and about governors who may be running for higher office.

Democrats Just Can’t Stop Screwing Up the Economy. by The Elephant's Child
September 29, 2010, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Taxes

If the Bush tax-cuts are not extended, Democrats will have to face up to the consequences of raising taxes during a recession.  The Bush administration was only able to get the tax cuts passed by agreeing to their expiration on January 1, 2011.

So unless the House acts to extend them, they are initiating a huge tax increase on all Americans. President Obama claims to want to extend the middle class tax cut, but to allow tax cuts for those who earn over $200.000 for singles or $250,000 for couples to expire, increasing taxes on “the rich.”

A group of 31 House Democrats facing tough reelection battles has already sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi  and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urging them to extend the expiring tax breaks for all income levels, including the wealthy.  But the real number of Democrats who oppose the tax hikes is even bigger.

The question of what to do about capital-gains tax rates and dividend tax rates which are also scheduled to increase is up in the air.  Even more Democrats are parting ways with the president.  “Our fiscal policy should be one that maximizes economic growth and private sector job creation” said the Democrat lawmakers.

Today, House Democrats squeaked out a 210-209 vote to adjourn the House without extending the tax cuts.  39 Democrats voted against adjournment.

Mark Knopfler: Whoop De Doo, The Only Live Performance of This Song. by The Elephant's Child
September 29, 2010, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Music, YouTube | Tags: , ,

Great sounding recording of Mark´s charity gig at Boothbay Opera House in September 2006. in Maine. It was the one and only live performance of this song so far! Very unique show without a drummer! Richard Bennett on 2nd guitar, Guy Fletcher on Keyboards and Glen Worf on bass.  Nice.

h/t: Maggies Farm

There’s A War Going On on Our Southern Border. Has Anybody Noticed? by The Elephant's Child

There is a war going on next door in Mexico, and our government seems much more concerned about Arizona’s efforts to control illegal immigration.  In recent weeks mayors in five Mexican cities have been murdered by the drug cartels, eleven in 2010.  On the Arizona border, for the first time in history, control of some of our own territory is being ceded to the cartels.

The Los Angeles Police Department warns that five cartels have set up logistics operations in their city.

The cartels in Mexico are more than a police problem.  President Felipe Calderon warns that everything about  the cartels’ actions says that they mean to take over.  In Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, the death toll since 2006 is over 6,000.  The most recent outrage was the murder of a 6-year-old little girl.  She was murdered as she slept in her bed on Monday, shot point-blank in the face by a cartel gunman.

Over 230,000 residents of Juarez, a city of 1.3 million have fled in fear of their lives, 54% have gone to El Paso.  The Los Angeles Times has an interactive map delineating the drug related deaths from January 1, 2007 to June 5, 2009.  In Chihuahua — 2,481 deaths; in Baja California —890; in Sonora — 304;  Sinaloa — 1,240 deaths; Durango — 669; Coahuila — 174;  Nuevo Leon —213; and Tamaulipas —221 deaths.  These are just the states close to our Southern border, and up to June of last year. The Times has stories up-to-date listed as well.

Washington DC is much more concerned that Arizona’s efforts to get federal attention to their border might offend some illegal immigrants, and discourage the votes of illegal immigrants, than it is for the safety of American citizens in their own country.  There are roads in Southern Arizona that border patrol agents keep drivers from using after dark. The border fence is ignored, and Obama’s increased border patrol agents have reportedly been assigned to desk jobs.

We help out with about $400 million to Mexico a year, way less than the estimated $8 to $25 billion that Latin American cartels make in U.S. drug profits each year.  This month, Investors says, the State Department withheld $26 million in U.S. war aid to Mexico based on State’s assessment of  Mexico’s “human rights progress.” Which sounds like our State Department.

Nobody promised that there wouldn’t be hard problems popping up all over.  That’s one reason why presidents try to appear strong, decisive and in control.  Soviet expansionism slowed drastically after President Ronald Reagan broke the air-traffic controllers’ strike by firing the whole bunch of them.  The Soviets decided that he was definitely not a pansy, and reduced their efforts.

Mexico’s war sounds like a conflagration that could become our problem as well as theirs.  Fires, unattended, have a tendency to grow.

ADDENDUM: Another mayor in Mexico has been killed, this one in Michoacan— in a small town in  western Mexico, and one of the main sources for immigration to the United States.  He was stoned to death.  This was the third attack on a public official in less than a week. The bodies of Gustavo Sanchez, mayor of Tancitaro in Michoacan state and an aide were found.

On Friday the mayor-elect in northern Chihuahua state was found shot in the head and chest by suspected drug hitmen, leaving him in critical condition.

Here’s Why We Think Patty Murray Needs to be Defeated. by The Elephant's Child

Patty Murray was elected from Washington State in the “Year of the Woman,” whatever that was, and she ran as a “mom in tennis shoes.” She’s been pretty much a cipher until this last session when she got to be the chair of a subcommittee, and is supposedly in the Senate Democrat leadership, which speaks really poorly of the Senate leadership.

It’s high time that we in Washington State have some intelligent and responsible representation instead of a reliable Democrat party-line vote.

That’s What We Need, the EPA Running Industrial Policy for America! by The Elephant's Child

Back on Labor Day, President Obama was in Milwaukee.  He vowed to “keep fighting every single day, every single hour, ever single minute, to turn this economy around and put people back to work and renew the American Dream.” Stirring rhetoric or pure puffery?

I, for one, am thoroughly up-to-the-ears with politicians promising to “fight” for this that and the other thing.  Nobody “fights” for anything, they do deals in back rooms.  Obama promises to create and save jobs, as some other governmental department is busily destroying them.  And the claims of “created or saved” jobs was nonsense in the first place. Happened only in a computer program.  GIGO.

The villain, once again, is the EPA.  A new proposal threatens to regulate industrial boilers — the boiler MACT rule.  (maximum achievable control technology standards).  What?  This sounds really technical, but Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s agenda is to set industrial policy for the nation. Their pending regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act will extend the federal bureaucracy into every corner of American life.

In an afternoon press conference on December 07, 2009, the EPA announced that the agency had decided that greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide pose a threat to human health and welfare.

This was possibly the silliest announcement ever made by any governmental agency in the history of the republic. We breathe out CO2, plants take in CO2, it is one of the basic building blocks of life.  No CO2, no life.  There is nothing that the EPA can do that will have the slightest effect on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. But this is not intended to control CO2, it is intended to control the American economy.  They think big, these people.

The Boiler MACT rule’s impact would be pervasive and damaging.  The United Steelworkers says the proposal “will be sufficient to imperil the operating status of many industrial plants.”  They represent hundreds of thousands of workers in the most heavily impacted industries — pulp and paper, steel, rubber, and more thousands of jobs in the supply chains and in the communities where these factories are located.

Members of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (ICEA) which represents manufacturers with more than 750,000 employees say “We cannot emphasize more forcefully the need for the EPA to completely rethink this rule.”  Member companies say this proposed rule “will leave companies no recourse but to shut down the entire facility, not just the boiler.”

On top of this, the EPA is planning to revise the current ozone standard under the Clean Air Act.  The Clean Air Act was never intended by Congress to be twisted to such a power-grab.  Even the EPA estimates that the new ozone standard could cost the economy as much as $90 billion.  Another $90 billion in a recession is small change?

It takes a significant amount of incompetence to make such a mess of this economy.  An ideology that hates capitalism, doesn’t understand business, and thinks that everyone should engage in public service and wealth redistribution as the only noble pursuit; busily regulates to get more control for the very people who don’t know how to manage anything, while  eliminating jobs in the pursuit of a green fantasy land.

Power Grab, Power Grab, Power Grab. by The Elephant's Child
September 28, 2010, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Taxes | Tags: ,

President Obama had a small good idea. He would address the problems of small business with some targeted tax cuts for capital gains and faster depreciation.   But he couldn’t leave it alone.

He stuck it in a new $30 billion mini-TARP plan, and as part of the plan, the Treasury would buy stock in the community banks that qualify, those banks would have to pay an annual dividend of 5 percent to the government.  If those banks made loans to small businesses, the dividend payment would drop to 4 percent.  If the banks didn’t use the money for loans, the dividend payment would become a penalty at 7 percent.   Thus the Treasury would get control of small banks that play this game.

What sane businessman would sign up for this?  Small businesses and community banks want no part of this.  They want no part of Obama’s $30 billion program.

William Chase Jr., CEO of Triumph Bank in Memphis, Tenn. said “We have taken a strategic decision not to have our primary regulator, the government, also be a partner in our bank.”  Small banks took a look at what TARP regulation has done to big banks, and they don’t want any part of it.  Mr. Chase added that his “business customers are mired in uncertainty and are reluctant to invest in their businesses.”  They need customers. What businessman is going to take out a loan to expand with no idea when or if customers will come back, and make the government a part owner of his business?

Is there no one in the White House or Congress who has the slightest conception of how a business operates?  Well, no, there isn’t. That’s the problem.

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

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.

Battleground! Comparing Middle Class Credentials. by The Elephant's Child

Democrats in Washington DC were startled by Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in the nation’s capitol, they didn’t expect it to be successful, they didn’t expect the hundreds of thousands that attended, and it was peaceful, happy, and the attendees cleaned up after themselves.  They didn’t even seem to be — “extremists.”

This coming Saturday, a confederacy of liberal groups plans to descend on Washington to make the case that they, not those extremist rightist groups, represent the middle class.  The rally is called “One Nation Working Together”and  hopes to supplant what they say “is the Tea Party’s divisiveness with a message of unity to promote jobs, justice and education.”

The crowd will represent some 300 liberal groups — including  the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Council of La Raza and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.Also the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, Code Pink, The Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, The Communist Party USA, Democratic Socialists of America, International Socialist Organization and  Planned Parenthood.  It’s easy to see how the diversity in this group is clearly, um, much more representative of America’s middle class than all those ordinary people with their divisive signs. And besides they are the true descendants of the 1963 March on Washington where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech.  Does the word “diversity” appear in the speech?  Just wondering.

“We’ll look like the progeny of that march, with our diversity,” said Benjamin T. Jealous, President of the NAACP. “‘We’re living through a moment of decreasing prosperity and increasing diversity.  That’s a formula for a battleground, not common ground.  We say, ‘Let’s get the country moving back to common ground.”

Mr. Jealous and Mr. Graham who proposed the march, say they hope it will be larger than Mr. Beck’s rally.  “We believe that our satellite photos will stack up nicely to his satellite photos” said the appropriately named Mr. Jealous.

Does the rally’s platform represent the middle class?  Extend unemployment benefits, raise the minimum wage, end the foreclosure epidemic, enact legislation making it easier to join unions, increase infrastructure spending to create jobs, fix our broke (sic) immigration system and end immigration round-ups that “encourage racial profiling.” They even claim it’s non-partisan.

The trouble with always trying to line up group support to get big bucks, is that the groups expect some return on their money. You are indebted, and expected to slant your legislation to favor the groups who supported you — which is just the problem that the Democrats are actually having.  When union management donates big money to a campaign, they’re inclined to expect a bailout for their pension plans, where they got that big money.

It’s really hard to devise a program that will answer the demands of this ‘diverse’ bunch.

Here’s Why We Like Dino Rossi. by The Elephant's Child

Good guy. Experienced as a businessman and as a legislator in getting things done.  He understands basic economics, and what will work and what won’t.  Good down-to-earth common sense.  That’s what we need in our nation’s capitol, that seems to be sadly missing today.

He would be a strong voice in Washington DC, for the folks in Washington State.

Desperate Democrats are Calling Us Stupid Again! by The Elephant's Child
September 27, 2010, 6:43 am
Filed under: Politics

An irritable U.S.Senator John F. Kerry put his expensively shod foot firmly in his mouth again yesterday.  He blamed clueless voters with short attention spans for the uphill battle beleaguered Democrats are facing in the upcoming election.

We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth of what’s happening, Kerry told reporters.

This seems to be the theme of the Democrat political elite.  The reason all those crazy people are protesting and carrying signs is because they are just not smart enough to appreciate the brilliance of their elected representatives.

Kerry made the remarks following questions about U.S.Rep. Barney Frank’s re-election campaign and queries about securing federal funding for a Massachusetts hospital.

I think a lot of the anger today — while its appropriate because Washington is broken — is not directed at the right people.  Barney is prepared, as others are, to explain what we’re doing.  I think when people hear the facts and they see what we’re doing, it frankly makes sense.

The facts as Nancy Pelosi has stated them about ObamaCare?  “We will have a cap on costs, and we will have no cap on benefits.” Remedial economics recommended.

Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm mandated that 20% of the state’s power come from renewable resources, and then demanded that utilities cut their consumer rates by 20%. Ms. Granholm’s economics were so brilliant that President Obama named her to to his 17 member economic advisory team.

There are almost no people in the administration who have worked in the private sector, and few Democrats in Congress have any business experience.  It shows. While Obama makes speeches about jobs, his policies keep destroying them.  LSU economics professor Dr. Joseph Mason’s has published a new critique of the Obama administration’s Inter-Agency Economic Report which has underestimated the effect of the moratorium on drilling by as much as 60%.

The administration’s approach, which harms business activity in the name of environmental defense, is part of a trend of stifling economic growth.  Dr. Mason said he found it shocking that an economic analysis was not conducted before putting the ban in place. Policy after policy has the unintended consequence of causing more unemployment.

This is the same crew that seems to believe that they can insure 30 million more people, cover all pre-existing conditions and still make health care cost less.  They believe that they can flood 30 million more people into a Medicaid that is already short of doctors and funds — for Medicaid is run by the states and underfunded — without breaking the system.  The states disagree.

It’s not the first time that Democrats in the political class have suggested that the ordinary folks out here have less than the necessary quota of native intelligence.  There was something about clinging bitterly to our guns and religion, as I remember.

John Kerry created some outrage once before, when he spoke at a Pasadena College rally and said “You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, uh,you, you can do well, if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” That didn’t go well either.

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