American Elephants

So Long, Goodbye, and Good Riddance! by The Elephant's Child

The 111th Congress if officially over, and according to Gallup, it is officially the worst Congress in the history of polling.  A 13% approval rating is not exactly a badge of merit.  Those who still hail its accomplishments are those who voted for those “accomplishments” in the first place.  Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) says she is proud of the legislation she has passed.

So just what were those accomplishments that she finds so satisfying?

1. ObamaCare was supposed to be the remedy for everything wrong with American health care.  There wasn’t much wrong with American health care, which was widely recognized as the best in the world.  They tossed around figures like the infant mortality rate, ignoring the fact that Americans count every baby born alive — as a live birth, and try to save the baby, no matter how small.  Other countries have cut-off points — too small, or too early and it’s not a live birth, nor deserving of  expensive care.  Nothing about the bill promises to work.  Costs will increase sharply, wait times will skyrocket, seniors will lose access, and the legislation that nobody wants will mean trillions of dollars of new spending.
2. The Stimulus The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was promised to create 3.5 million jobs by the end on 2910.  Economists have shown that it accomplished nothing at all.  The money paid down some debts, but the unemployment rate is still 9.8% , and Obama has admitted that there weren’t any “shovel-ready” projects.  It was a waste.
3. $3.2 Trillion of New Debt. $10,429.64 for every American man, woman and child who was counted in the census.  That’s more debt than was created by the previous 110 Congresses combined.  The total debt by the last day of  the 111th Congress: $13,859 trillion!
4.Wall Street Reform. Democrats weren’t about to accept the idea that the financial crisis was caused by government actions.  The most convenient target was Wall Street. The Dodd/Frank bill created 243 new rule makings by 11 federal agencies, a bonanza for lobbyists and lawyers, and failed to address the real problems of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the real problem of “too big to fail.” It does nothing to prevent future government bailouts, and makes a TARP like bailout system permanent.
5. Government Union Bailouts: Union management has been hugely supportive of Democrat candidates, but the extent of the payback at $2.6 billion in the summer of 2010 for government unions and profligate states was excessive at $26.1 billion.  These funds were theoretically going to “save” jobs, but jobs weren’t actually at risk.

Last year’s Omnibus Bill contained over 9,287 earmarks for such as a tattoo removal program in Mission Hills CA.  Cash for Clunkers cost taxpayers $3 billion, or $24,000 per car.  Cap-and-Trade was intended to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in the hope of curbing global warming. Fortunately failed, but would have raised gas prices by 58% and average household electric rates by 90% by 2035, while accomplishing nothing.  Obama hopes to accomplish it by EPA regulation.  New START seems to be an ill-advised give-away to the Russians, damaging our missile defense, but much remains to be seen.  The Russians understanding of the bill seems to be at odds with what Obama claims for it.

Ezra Klein Exposes Himself on MSNBC. by The Elephant's Child
December 30, 2010, 7:31 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, Law, Television | Tags: ,

Ezra Klein seems to be a young man who blogs for the Washington Post.  He was interviewed on MSNBC. and questioned about the Republican plan to have the Constitution read at the beginning of the 112th Congress. They asked Klein because he is apparently a “wonk” and the Constitution is about “wonkery.” The Constitution, Klein says ” has no binding power on anything.”  And besides that it’s old.  It was written more than 100 years ago (more than twice that) so it’s too hard for modern people to understand.

Well, there you go.  The Progressive view exposed.  All that other old hard stuff like Shakespeare, Chaucer, Aristotle is too hard. Modern man goes for 2,700 page bills that nobody understands, but the Constitution is too hard?

Iowahawk, the funniest man on the internet, was pleased to take on Ezra Klein. He thanks Mr. Klein for his interest in the Washington Post’s Young Pundit Essay Contest.  Don’t miss it.

More Joys of Socialized Medicine by American Elephant

Another preview of what you can expect from Obamacare, this time from Sweden which “progressives” often hold up as the ideal:

Swedish man forced to have penis amputated after waiting over a year to learn he had cancer.

“Free” healthcare is awesome — until you actually get sick.

For the “Photoshops I wish I’d done” file: by American Elephant
December 30, 2010, 9:54 am
Filed under: Cool Site of the Day, Humor, Movies | Tags: , ,

Things in New York are worse than we’ve been told.

(via HotAir)

A New Surtax on Energy for “the Common Good” by The Elephant's Child

It is hard to know just what Barack Obama believes.  Some say that his real opinions are set in concrete — that he simply does not change his mind, and is not open to opposing opinion.  On the other hand, his speeches and his actions often do not match, and what he says today may be very different than what he said a few months ago.  He does not reveal much of his thinking.

Does he really believe in the clean green economy that he advocates?  Does he believe that wind energy and solar energy are the wave of the future? Does he believe that electric cars are the coming mode of transportation?  Does he believe that coal companies must be bankrupted as he has so often stated?  Coal-fired power plants supply about half of our nation’s electricity.  Does he believe that they can simply be replaced with wind turbines from China?

There are vast bodies of information from serious and reliable sources that say these things are pipe dreams. They say that subsidies invested in these intermittent power sources are a waste, for wind and solar can never supply significant amounts of power.  The formulation of public policy seems to rely on overt political calculation and science shaped and tailored  in the service of a political objective.

Now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has placed a $300 million to $500 million annual surtax on Michigan’s electric utility bills.On December 16 FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff announced new rules that would essentially “socialize” the cost of transmission lines across 13 states in the Midwest.

According to utility companies, this region-wide pricing scheme will force Michigan to pay about 20% of as much as $20 billion costs of new high-voltage utility lines.  Because of this new tariff, everything in Michigan will be more expensive to make.  FERC’s vision is hundreds of miles of transmission lines that will link to windmills in Iowa and the Dakotas.  Michigan businesses and homeowners will get little benefit.  Indiana will have higher costs, and will industries and utility rate-payers in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

In June, FERC drafted a rule creating a new national transmission policy to link wind and solar energy projects to the national electricity grid.  Previously, and by law, FERC  has set prices on the standard that users pay for the cost of the electricity that they consume.  Now all is to be socialized, and everyone is to be charged for what the Obama administration conceives to be the common good.  What they call “public policy goals” are supposed to spread the cost of multibillion dollar transmission lines because neither wind nor solar can compete with coal, natural gas nor nuclear power.  Intermittent wind will be two to three times as costly as conventional power, and of course wind and solar both require 24/7 full-time backup from a conventional power source.

This means that states that adopted renewable standards get to make the folks in other states pay for their folly.   It’s probably unconstitutional, and certainly unethical, but nothing is to stand in the way of the latest Leftist Utopian vision.  Not even the probability that it just plain won’t work.

Rudy Favard’s Gift. by The Elephant's Child
December 29, 2010, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming | Tags: , ,

If you need a warm-hearted story for the last days of 2010, here it is.  It’s the story of Rudy Favard, a son of Haitian immigrants, and a severely disabled  8 year-old boy named Sammy Parker.  It is a story of a simple life-changing act of kindness.  Do take the time to read their story and see the picture.  Very, very nice!

It’s Official: The Polar Bear is NOT an Endangered Species. by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2010, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Environment, Junk Science | Tags: , ,

It is official.  The Polar bear is not an endangered species.  The word comes down from the Obama Administrations’ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  They’ll stick with the Bush-era designation of “threatened”.

“The single greatest threat to the polar bear is the melting of Arctic Sea ice due to climate change,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, but the Endangered Species Act “is not the appropriate tool for us to deal with what is a global issue.”

Environmentalists will sue.

The Telegraph reports that “Polar bears face extinction in less than 70 years because of global warming.”  This probably goes along with their reports that snow is a thing of the past in Britain.

Science Daily reports that “Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed, Forecasting Expert Asserts”

So there you go.  It is all perfectly clear, is it not?  The Arctic ice melts every summer, and freezes up again in the winter.  Polar bears are thriving, and with restrictions on shooting them, they are multiplying nicely.  They can swim for very long distances — I have read 30 miles and 60 miles, which is a lot more than I could do, and you wouldn’t get me into Arctic water in any case.  I like nice warm water.

Health Care for High-Risk Patients Attracts Few, Costs More Than Expected. by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2010, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Health Care, Junk Science, Statism | Tags: , ,

One of the much-heralded features of ObamaCare — the one that allows people who are already sick to obtain insurance — is not attracting many customers, and is costing far more than expected.

The chief actuary of the Medicare program predicted that 375,000 people would sign up for the new high risk pools by the end of 2010.  As of early December, only 8,000 people had enrolled.

In some states the “high-risk pools” are proving very costly.  There is doubt that the $5 billion allotted by Congress to start up the plans will be enough.  It is also questionable whether the high-risk pools are even serving their intended purpose — making affordable insurance available to people who are already sick.  One researcher reported  that “from my perspective, [the new plans] are not a good match for people who have expensive conditions.

Montana is one of a few states where medical bills from those who have joined are huge. New Hampshire’s plan has only 80 members, but they have already spent nearly double the $650,000 the state was allotted in federal money.  There is certainly no evidence that early predictions of costs have much basis in fact.

In Britain, their National Health Service (NHS) is cutting more and more services. Services already deleted or to be cut include heart surgery over the age of 65, kidney dialysis over age 55, much hospice care, many cancer treatments and most nursing homes.

Once the government becomes the arbiter of just what medical care services you may receive, then a bunch of bureaucrats who know no particulars will decide on a nation-wide basis what will be available, without regard to your personal case.  You will be only a statistic.  Too bad.

The end-of-life advisory incentives for doctors to discuss “options” for the end of life care through regulation were removed by Congress from ObamaCare.  Now under a new Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.  The White House is also planning an aggressive campaign to counter any suggestion of “death panels” from Republicans.

Dr. Donald Berwick, was appointed as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in a recess appointment that avoided any Congressional  confirmation or approval process.  There is some doubt that he could have been confirmed.  Under the new health care law, he is an unaccountable sole authority. He is an acknowledged admirer of Britain’s NHS, and looks upon health care as a system of financial redistribution or “social justice.”

The sorry state of the NHS makes Dr. Berwick’s admiration puzzling.  One must assume that his ideological rose-colored social-justice glasses prevent him from seeing the families that have to come into hospital to bathe and change their relatives, and the patients who are terrified of going into hospital because of the prevalence of infections like MRSA.  National Health Care doesn’t work anywhere, but the situation in Britain is truly dreadful.

Disillusioned Democrats Already Seeking New Messiah by American Elephant
December 28, 2010, 1:35 pm
Filed under: News, Politics, Progressivism, Socialism | Tags: ,

“Kamala Harris: Democrats’ anti-Palin”

It’s easy to understand why Kamala Harris, California’s next attorney general, is being called the future of the Democratic Party…

…the president and Harris have much in common: Both are mixed-race children of immigrants raised by a single mother; both are eloquent, telegenic big-city lawyers with strong liberal credentials…

…the San Francisco prosecutor won big endorsements from party heavyweights, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, as well as endorsements from labor unions like the Service Employees International Union

Smart Kid! by American Elephant
December 28, 2010, 10:16 am
Filed under: Humor, Military, News | Tags:

Marines politely welcome Obama to their base in Hawaii, while one of their sons, less encumbered by the rules of etiquette, shows his true feelings.

Child Abuse! by The Elephant's Child

Instapundit posted the tale last week of the annual Toy Gun Bash in the gymnasium of Pleasant View Elementary School.

Dominic joined dozens of children yesterday at the annual Toy Gun Bash in the gymnasium of Pleasant View Elementary School. There, they lined up to toss their toy guns, from dainty purple water guns to camouflage-painted pistols, inside the Bash-O-Matic, a large black, foam creature with churning metal teeth and the shape of a cockroach spliced with a frog.

Prodded by Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, who wore a fuzzy Santa hat, the children stared curiously as the Bash-O-Matic mashed up their guns and digested them into a plastic bin near its tail. . . . Some children were not thrilled with the trade.

Malik Hall, a round-eyed second-grader, looked apprehensive as he stood in line with his favorite toy, a thick, blue gun with plastic sword underneath the muzzle. The 8-year-old was furious when his mother, Amanda, told him he would have to give it up. Yesterday morning, he tried to hide it under his pillow, she said.

“I’m worried,’’ she said. “He might cry.’’ . . . Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College, said police and parents coming together to destroy toy guns sends a powerful message to children.

This is such a wrongheaded message that it boggles the mind.  But the appearance in the news of a story about a small child being expelled from school because he drew a picture of a gun has become common.  Kids having to give up their water pistols because they are “guns” is absurd.

But then I belong to the part of America that teaches gun safety early, a part where many depend on a fall hunt to fill their freezer for getting through the winter.  I had learned to shoot a .22 before I was eight.  Most of the shooting was to demolish bottles or tin cans.

And I’m currently in the market for a very large water gun — one with a big tank and a long reach.  It’s a matter of intrusive squirrels and my bird feeder.  Can we have a little common sense here?

HHS Secretary Sebelius Grabs for Power, American People Suffer. by The Elephant's Child
December 27, 2010, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Politics | Tags: , ,

The passage of the 2,700 page “law” called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, was only the beginning.  It set up hundreds of agencies and administrations to control and regulate every aspect of Americans’ lives, but those agencies and administrations were further empowered to issue more regulations and controls.

As Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius was not satisfied with the immense amounts of power that she would acquire under ObamaCare if it is not repealed, but she has now issued a 136-page rule that will give her and her subordinates unchecked power to pass judgment on the prices of health insurance throughout the United States.

Forty-three states already regulate and approve health insurance premiums, based on actuarial and solvency data.  Sebelius claims that we need more concentrated, centralized protections against insurers’ profit motive, namely herself. State regulators will continue under the status quo, unless HHS decides that their reviews aren’t “effective.” Under the 136-page rule, the government will now decide what counts as ” unjustified and excessive health insurance premium growth.” Mrs. Sebelius’s true goal is to punish the insurance industry for rising health costs that the new government demands have inflicted upon the industry, thereby embarrassing the government.

If certain insurers show a “pattern” of unjustified rate increases, they will be excluded from ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges.  After some insurers spoke of rising costs, she warned that “there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.”

Jeffrey Anderson says:

It’s staggering that one person would think that she should ultimately get to decide what a product, which Obamacare would soon require all Americans to purchase, should cost.  …Sebelius’s “rule” marks “an effort to end-run Congress, which by some miracle declined to give the HHS the formal legal authority to explicitly block premium increases, despite a direct appeal from President Obama.”

Anderson also links to Charles Kesler’s Claremont Review of Books editorial.  Kesler writes about Obamacare’s administrative regime:

Faster than one might think, a government of equal laws turns into a regime of arbitrary privileges.

A “privilege” is literally a private law.  When law ceases to be a common “standard of right and wrong” and a “common measure to decide all controversies” then the rule of law ceases to be republican and become despotic.  Freedom itself ceases to be a right and becomes a gift, or the fruit of a corrupt bargain, because in such degraded regimes those who are close to and connected with the ruling class have special privileges.

The more people learn about ObamaCare, the less they like it.  “The bill would raise taxes, deficits, and health costs… It would lead to a government monopoly and rationed care.  It would be a financial and medical nightmare.”

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