American Elephants

A Carol For the Shortest Day of the Year: by The Elephant's Child
December 21, 2011, 7:16 pm
Filed under: Global Warming, Music

Gloucester Cathedral Choir: “In the Bleak Midwinter,” lovely carol, beautiful but — bleak. Tomorrow it starts getting lighter again, and the days will grow longer.

Obama Rates Himself Very Highly, With an Exception or Two by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s 60 minutes interview with Steve Kroft was posted on the CBS web site, but there was a moment when Obama judged himself against the great presidents of the past.  CBS protected Mr. Obama by leaving that bit on the cutting room floor.  Obama told Steve Kroft:

“The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Obama seems to carry a vision of himself in his head that is not open to conflicting information.  He knows what he believes, what he believes is correct and it is not open to challenge.  Those who disagree are simply wrong, or evil Republicans. So his first two years saw a vast stimulus bill that put the economy on the path to recovery — the recovery is just coming about more slowly than expected.  Those shovel-ready jobs he was promised  weren’t really shovel-ready. But other than that, it was a good start. Lots and lots of new government jobs, some really good ones as czars of this or that.

He rescued the automobile industry which was about to collapse, and saved it from having to go through regular bankruptcy proceedings, where a judge would have reorganized the auto workers, bringing their pay and benefits more in line with the rest of the economy. Obama was able to save the companies for the workers, and if the bondholders got illegally screwed — they were just a bunch of rich guys anyway.  He made great strides in turning the whole industry down a new 21st century road to a truly green economy, where cars are quiet, electric, and don’t emit noxious carbon, planet-destroying fumes.

The Volt is a beautiful car — it does catch on fire inappropriately— but they’ll get that fixed. It is expensive at $44.000, but the rich guys who are buying it, like his buddy Jeffrey Immelt at GE, are stepping right up to the plate to buy 12,000 Volts, and lots of cities are buying them for their people. It only costs the taxpayers $7,500 per car, but it’s a good start on the cars of the future.

Some might resent paying $7,500 to buyers of $97,000 Fiskar Kharmas. Fiskar is more than a year behind in deliveries, but two have been delivered, one of them to Leonardo DiCaprio.  Did we taxpayers give him a $7,500 discount? They are building them in Finland, but it helps the Finnish economy and we want to be good neighbors. Tesla, who makes that cute little Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5 and Fiskar together have secured nearly $1 billion to jump-start production of their cars.  After all Obama has promised to have one million electric cars on the road by 2015.

Of course the used car market for those who can’t afford $100,000 cars has pretty much collapsed after so many cars and so many parts were destroyed by “cash for clunkers,” but hey, it got a lot of old gas-guzzlers off the road, and we want more people to be using public transportation. I keep hearing public-service announcements on the radio encouraging me to ride the bus.

Obama’s biggest accomplishment has to be the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; I mean the Left has been wanting this for years, and Obama did it! All those people who couldn’t get health insurance because of some pre-existing condition will be covered — well, if we can just get them to sign up.

The federal government mandates that the states set up insurance “exchanges” where people can do one-stop shopping for their mandated health insurance policies. It is not a simple process because of the mix of federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare and all the varied regulations that each entails about eligibility, guaranteed issue. States are having a hard time figuring out how to do it.

The exchanges would need to incorporate state and federal data on income, employment and residency. Enrollment is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2013. If the states can’t make the deadline, then the government will step in and run the program from the beltway. Technically, data from all sorts of government agencies needs to be collected into one system which then must be linked with computer systems in 50 states and the District of Columbia.  There is some doubt about whether there is enough physical capacity in the IT systems world to get it all done in time. Details, details.

The new “comparative effectiveness review” (CER) that is supposed to compare alternative treatments for a given medical condition is turning-out to be a problem. Benjamin Zycher states the principal problem succinctly:

The federal government does not have patients.  Instead, it has interest groups engaged in a long twilight struggle over shares of the federal budget pie.  Less for one group means more for others, and even modest reductions in the huge federal health-care budget are a tempting goal for other constituencies.

In other words, there can be no such thing as unpoliticized science in the Beltway.  It is inevitable that political pressures will lead policymakers to use the findings yielded by CER analyses to influence decisions on coverage, reimbursement, or incentives within Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs.

Venture capitalists or would-be investors in new and improved medical technologies cannot know in advance how a CER analysis of interest will turn out or how the findings will be used.  The findings will be driven by the design of the underlying studies — by bureaucrats. So who is going to invest?  With reduced funding, medical innovation will fall dramatically. With all the pressures in a bureaucracy who knows if the analysis will even benefit patients?

And of course there are all the problems of ObamaCare costing way more that the splendid medical system that we are leaving behind, and a very large percentage of the people want the whole damn thing repealed, but Obama got it passed and nobody calls it the PPAACA — they call it “ObamaCare”— It even has his name on it.

And there’s one big thing —where Obama can put his accomplishments up against any president — even Lincoln and FDR and Johnson. No one, not all the presidents from Washington on down through Clinton, all put together,  have spent so much money and raised the national debt so high. Fifteen trillion dollars! Nobody can beat that!


Palestrina’s Sicut Cervus by the Voices of Ascencion by The Elephant's Child
December 21, 2011, 12:24 am
Filed under: Politics

Performer: Voices of Ascension, Dennis Keene
CD: Beyond Chant – Mysteries of the Renaissance
Composer: Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi da (1525-1594)

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)

We Wish We Were ready for Christmas, We wish… by The Elephant's Child
December 21, 2011, 12:22 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Humor, Liberalism | Tags: , ,

I apologize for being a little erratic with the blogging. Behind with Christmas. Everything takes longer than expected, traffic is bad, parking is troublesome, stores are crowded and once again I will swear to have everything done by the end of October.  To make sure of that, I will start right in January.

How many years have I been making that pledge? Let me count the ways.

With Christmas carols playing and at least a little Christmas spirit, I’m reluctant to spend the few days before Christmas complaining about Liberals, but I may not be able to help myself.

Are you efficient?  Been done for ages? I don’t want to hear about it.

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