American Elephants


What Do Doctors Think of ObamaCare? by The Elephant's Child
September 30, 2012, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Election 2012, Health Care, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Dr, Jill Vecchio, speaking to an Americans for Prosperity rally

From a new report by the Physicians Foundation:

— 52% of physicians have already limited the access of Medicare patients to their practices or are planning to do so.

— 26% have already closed their practices to Medicaid patients.

— More than 50% of physicians will cut back on patients seen, will switch to part-time, switch to concierge medicine, or retire within the next four years.

— 62% believe Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are either unlikely to increase healthcare quality and decrease costs.

— 59% say PPACA has made them less positive about the future of healthcare in America.

— 57.9% would not recommend medicine as a career to their children or other young people.

— Over one-third of physicians would not choose medicine if they had their careers to do over.

— 77% percent are somewhat pessimistic or very pessimistic about the future of the medical profession.

ADDENDUM: Did anyone think that ObamaCare was going to save us money? Aside from the 158 new departments, bureaus, agencies and offices?  The Tax Foundation has estimated that compliance with ObamaCare is estimated at eight million man-hours.  It will keep 40,000 workers busy doing paperwork and sorting through a confusing pile of government regulations. And Obama claims that regulation is not a problem— just that Republicans are trying to de-regulate Wall Street so they can do it all over again. (No explanation of what he thinks “it” is.)



Four More Years? by The Elephant's Child

The Dismantling of American Culture and What to Do About It by The Elephant's Child

From David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge:

Let us assume, then, that each party partakes equally of the human capacity for good and bad, for corruption, for misguided compassion, and of overweening cupidity; and that each will suffer failures of projects both good-willed and merely monstrously self-serving.

The question as posed by Milton Friedman, was not “What are the decisions?” — any human or conglomeration is capable of decisions both good and bad — but “Who makes the decisions?” Shall it be the Government, that is, the State, or shall it be the Individual?

In some cases it must be the Government, which is, in these, the only organ capable of serving and protecting individual  liberty and freedom; notably, in defense, the administration of justice, and maintenance of and oversight of Federal Infrastructure, e.g. Roads, Interstate Travel, Waterways, Parks, and so on. But what in the world is the Government doing meddling in Education, Health Care, automobile Production, and the promotion of dubious, arguable or absurd programs designed to bring about “equality”? Should these decisions not be left to the Individual or to a Free Market, in which forces compete, to serve the Individual who will be the arbiter of their success?

“But which system,” Mamet asks, “Free Enterprise, or the State, is better able to correct itself?”

Nothing is free.  All  human interactions are tradeoffs.  One may figure out a way to (theoretically) offer cheap health insurance to the twenty million supposedly uninsured members of our society.  But at what cost — the dismantling of the health care system of the remaining three-hundred-million-plus? What of the inevitable reduction, shortages, abuses, delay and injustice caused by all State rationing?

All civilizations need and get Government. But how much and at what cost? Many governments began as Welfare States dedicated, they claimed to distributing the lands abundance to all. And as redistribution  increases, so does resistance to those choices, and the Welfare State descends into dictatorship. The cost of all this benevolently intended redistribution is shortage, famine, murder, and the eventual collapse of the state.

We are in the process of choosing, as a society, between Liberty— the freedom to pursue happiness free from the State — and Equality, which can only be brought about by a State empowered to function in all facets of  life which means totalitarianism and dictatorship.

Does the State decide for the citizen? Or does the individual insist on a reduction of State powers to that point at which the power is reserved only for the application as specified by law, where one individual or group abridges the liberty of another?

The latter is the revolutionary understanding of government spelled out in that Constitution elected officials swear to defend.  They are elected as public servants, the public granting them only that freedom of action necessary to fulfill that oath.  Is it not time for a return to that revolutionary understanding?

David Mamet is the noted playwright, author, director and filmmaker, Pulitzer prizewinner, and former liberal, who awakened,  examined his politics seriously and at great depth, and wrote a highly entertaining and enjoyable book about his conversion.



There is Prodigality, But this is Ridiculous! by The Elephant's Child

The United States Government spent 200 times more on the Obamas than the British spent on the royal family. Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining for President Obama and his family, according to Presidential Perks Gone Royal by Robert Keith Gray. In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57 million on the royal family.

The $1.4 billion is the total cost of the Presidency, factoring the cost of “the biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever” a 50 percent increase in the numbers of appointed czars, and an Air Force One “running with the frequency of a scheduled airline.”Gray said “the most concerning thing, I think, is the use of taxpayer funds to actually abet his re-election.”

Taxpayer dollars are subsidizing Obama’s re-election effort when he uses Air Force One to jet across the country campaigning. When the trip is deemed political, it’s customary for the president to pay the equivalent of a first class commercial ticker for certain passengers, but that hardly covers the taxpayer cost of flying the president and his staffers around on Air Force One.

There are, however, special perks: The president can vacation for free at Camp David. Gray says that each round trip to Camp David costs the taxpayers $25,350. It is also estimated that the combined transportation and personnel costs for a Camp David visit are $295,000 per night.

The president has a full-time movie projectionist in the White House Theater. Projectionists sleep at the White House and are there 24 hours a day in case anyone needs to see a movie. “Compared to the 450 times President Carter used the movie theater in his four years in the White House, the average American citizen goes out to see a movie slightly less than five times a year.” Gray writes.

The president’s dog gets its own high-paid staffer. “Bo made the news when he and his handler were flown to join the president on vacation in Maine.” Gray wrote about the Obama family dog. “It has been reported that the first family’s dog handler was paid $102,000 last year.”

Aside from a salary, the president gets a $50,000 a year expense account, a $100,000 travel account, a $19,000 entertainment budget and an additional million for “unanticipated needs.”

There is no mechanism, said Gray, ” for anyone’s objection if a president were to pay his chief of staff $5,000,000. a year. And nothing but a president’s conscience can dissuade him from buying his own reelection with use of some public money.”

It was reported elsewhere that Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s Rasputin, has been assigned full-time Secret Service protection, which would be 6 agents 24 hours a day, including on the Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

How odd that in all these lavish expenditures, we cannot seem to find the funds to secure a consulate in Benghazi.

Priorities.



Harvesting Wheat in The Palouse. by The Elephant's Child

On the other side of Washington State and into Idaho, lies the Palouse country, with rolling hills of wheat, embroidered with small stands of evergreen  woods.  Beautiful country, and it takes a different kind of combine to do the harvest in such hilly country. Here’s what it looked like near Spokane around 1910, when the combine had to be pulled by horses — lots of horses.  Shows what mechanization has meant. Sorry about the music, turn your volume down.



Now They’re Lying About Lying About the Benghazi Attack. by The Elephant's Child
September 27, 2012, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Politics

Your government has been lying to you, but you knew that. When President Obama gave his speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, he talked about the September 11 attack on the U.S consulate in Libya. “There should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.” He didn’t say a word about what he would be doing about the security lapses, the intelligence failures, and lack of planning that contributed to the murders of our ambassador, his associate and two former SEALS who stepped into the breach to protect the ambassador. And as far as that goes, he’s been” relentless” before, to little effect.

It is well-established that the administration knew within 24 hours who the attackers were and where at least one of them lived.The administration insisted that the consulate was properly defended, the U.S. had no reason to prepare for any attack, though in previous years embassies across the Islamic world took extra precautions.

UN Ambassador Susan Rice, a leading candidate for Secretary of State, made the rounds of the talk shows insisting that what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction…as a consequence of the ‘disgusting’ video.

“The office of the director of National Intelligence has said we had no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She called the security measures “robust.”

Witness statements and cell phone photos soon showed the attack to be well-coordinated, and carefully planned, with fighters armed with guns, RPGs and diesel canisters which were used to set the buildings on fire. Ambassador Christopher Stevens died of smoke inhalation, and the consulate had no fire protection. When the administration briefed Congress, they changed their story and blamed it on al Qaeda.

On the night of the assault, four lightly armed Libyans and five.  American security officers were on duty. Neither the consulate in Benghazi nor the embassy in Tripoli were guarded by U.S. Marines, whose deployment to Libya was not a priority. After the attack, a CNN reporter picked up a seven page notebook belonging to Ambassador Stevens, which said he was concerned about the ‘never-ending”security threats in Benghazi and said he was on an al Qaeda hit list.

Four Americans died in  an assault that seemed to be a carefully planned operation. The administration has failed to accept responsibility, tried to blame others, and to stonewall. Yet starting last spring, U.S. intelligence had been worried about radical militias in eastern Libya. In August, State warned American citizens who were planning to travel to Libya about the threat of assassination and car bombings. Yet our diplomatic missions had little security. We apparently were not clear about how much we could expect from Libyan police and military forces.

Yesterday, Secretary Clinton indicated for the first time that there was an explicit link between the al Qaeda franchise in North Africa and the attack on the diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans.

Last week Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center said that intelligence analysts were investigating ties between local Libyan militias and al Qaeda, but hadn’t come to any conclusions. He did say that the assault was a ‘terrorist attack.” The next day, Jay Carney said “It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” Obama himself has not used the word. I think it’s not in the Homeland Security book of euphemisms.

So the despicable YouTube video has fallen by the wayside, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been jailed for a parole violation, has gone into hiding, has put his house up for sale, and a constitutional law professor says it is ‘highly unusual’ for a judge to order detention on a probation violation for a nonviolent crime. According to the radio, he is in jail, but since many prisoners are Muslims, there is concern for his welfare.

When faced with a mess, it’s best to fess-up promptly. Cover-ups seldom work.

 



You Know How Milk Gets Into Those Cartons, Don’t You? by The Elephant's Child
September 27, 2012, 6:34 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy | Tags: , ,

You know about cows, of course, Jerseys, Guernseys and Holsteins, contented cows, modern dairy farming? Bet you had no idea it was like this. I know I didn’t. A little break from politics into more placid territory. Enjoy.



Obama Fiddles While America Burns. by The Elephant's Child

U.S. economic growth is dangerously slow. The media is not about to talk about it, the president is campaigning and doesn’t want anyone to know, so he’s telling whoppers again; and he’d rather talk about how Romney is rich and doesn’t care, and makes gaffes.  We’re coming up on stall speed, and the president is still trying blame someone else, deny reality, and pretend that everything is turning out just fine.

Stephanie Cutter, Obama campaign spokesperson, says not to worry, the economy is going to create 12 million jobs all by itself over the next four years. Magic. Just lie, get voted back in, and maybe they can think of something — after the election — that moment in time where everything unpleasant is being hidden.

The second quarter Gross Domestic Product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — has been revised downward to 1.3 percent. $16 billion less than the estimate issued last month. The downward revision and a chillingly large drop in Durable goods orders is bad.  “There is growing risk that a 2013 tax shock could push the economy back into recession” and there is little that the Fed can do.

Four major business groups see gloomy times ahead for the job market and the economy, according to a string of separate surveys and polls released this week that cast fresh doubt on hopes that the economic recovery may have turned the corner. Top executives and small-business owners polled by the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Federation of Independent Business, and chief financial officers surveyed by Deloitte pointed to uncertainty posed by new regulations, shaky demand overseas and the “fiscal cliff” facing the federal government as prime reasons keeping companies from investing and hiring at a faster pace.

Clyde Wayne Crews, a Competitive Enterprise Institute vice president has made a working project of his “Tip of the Costberg”report which he regularly updates. In it, he compares the cost of regulations estimated by federal agencies to a much broader list of estimates from several federal and independent sources.Even then, he said, it doesn’t include hard-to-calculate costs associated with antitrust intervention, regulation of electricity networks, or the cost of constrained access to natural resources.

When Congress or a federal agency issues a new regulation, it’s in the guise of fixing something, making somebody stop doing something, or wouldn’t it be nice if they…In other words, they think in terms of what they want to force someone else to do. They don’t think much in terms of the consequences of their big idea.

Whatever-it-is probably requires a lot more paperwork. The government loves paperwork, but more paperwork requires more people to do the paperwork, they require salaries and benefits and parking places. If the regulation says you can’t use this ingredient in your product, then there is a long search for a different way to produce the product, which may require new machinery, or more electric power. The new costs of the new people and the new machinery may require cutting expenses elsewhere.

“While the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reports amounts of up to $88.6 billion in 2010 dollars,” says Crews, “the non-tax cost of government intervention in the economy, without performing a sweeping survey, appears to total up to $1.806 trillion annually, and in many categories perhaps even considerably more, is a defensible assessment of the annual impact on the economy.”

The Small Business Administration has estimated $1.7 trillion, which the White House rejected. For comparison, the total U.S. GDP is $15 trillion. Taking$1.7 trillion out of GDP to satisfy the bright ideas of a bunch of politicians who have never worked in the private sector and have no understanding of how you make a business turn a profit, seems absolutely insane.  But then you have to consider the Democrats who, at their convention, thought banning profit was a good idea.  Elizabeth Warren, Democrat candidate for the Senate in Massachusetts, actually said much the same thing in her speech to the convention.

It is hard to adequately explain the problem of overregulation.  The administration rejects the idea, and Obama on the campaign trail, sneers that Republicans just want to eliminate all the regulations on Wall Street so they can cause another financial crisis. There’s so much wrong with that idea that it is breathtaking. Compliance with ObamaCare is estimated at 80 million man hours per year.

Last week, 1.571 new pages of regulations were published in the 2012 Federal Register That is the equivalent of a new regulation every 2 hours and 13 minutes — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

According to a recent study,  the Pew Research Center said that only 15 percent of Democrats believe that recent economic news is mostly poor.

Headline in the Heritage Foundation blog this morning: “Obama and Congress Are Choosing to Cause a Recession.” “The very fact that we can see a  recession coming is shocking. ‘Economic forecasters almost never forecast recessions” explained Heritage’s J.D. Foster. “Those who do forecast recessions do with great frequency and belong to the doom-and-gloom school of economics.’ Yet we can see this one a  mile away;”

What makes this recession different, and predictable, is that the disruptive force is Washington policies and, even more, Washington behaviors—policies and behaviors for which the nation can thank the Congress and especially President Obama. The policy is Taxmageddon. The behavior is intentional, insistent inaction. The consequence is recession. The response should and will be outrage.



The First Amendment Is Very Hard For Some People to Understand. by The Elephant's Child

In response to indignant assertions that even in the case of offensive political videos the Constitution guarantees the right of free speech — specifically political speech — some on the Left have claimed that perhaps we overvalue the idea of free speech. Have we come to this?

Well, yes we have. University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner created an internet sensation with an article for Slate in which he argued that the United States overvalues free speech. This was in response to the “Innocence of Muslims” video which President Obama and the State Department preferred to blame for the deaths of four Americans in Libya, rather than take any responsibility. And for which the filmmaker was hauled in for questioning.

Robert Shibley, Senior Vice President at FIRE responded today at the Daily Caller, so you can read both sides of the argument. Our ideas about free speech have changed and evolved. It is very hard to ignore despicable speech, and let me use Nazi Anti-Semitism as an example, and very easy to take offense and demand punishment for the malefactors.

The issue of free speech is best understood by considering the fear under which one must live if there are laws against certain kinds of speech. When a population is ruled by a despot and any criticism severely punished, everyone must take care of what they say for the most innocent remark can be ruled illegal.

Democrats think of the issue from the other end — being indignant about what someone said. Democrats are outraged by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which ruled that the money that corporations donate to favor or oppose an issue is political speech and Constitutionally protected. It is the left-leaning faculty at American colleges and universities that has instituted speech codes, while claiming at the same time that they are teaching critical thinking. It is the left that has promoted laws against “hate speech,” a peculiar concept that a crime is somehow worse if it is done with hate in mind.  Which presumes that society  is officially authorized to do mind-reading, which is absurd.

To be fair, it depends on whose ox is getting gored. Posner refers to the 60s as the time when free-speech loving lefties were demonstrating against a war.  Free speech is hard. We are gradually learning how to honor the First Amendment. It is far, far better to suffer briefly from being offended then to live in fear that your life may be ended by how what you say in interpreted.

There have apparently been numbers of anti-Semitic ads in the New York Subways. (I don’t know, I live on the other coast). Pamela Geller, blogger and activist, won the legal right to post a defensive ad, which says “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel.”Egyptian-American CNN columnist and activist Mona Eltahawy was offended, and tried to paint over the poster with spray paint.  Eltahawy is affiliated with MSNBC, and often smears the Islamist “right wing” and the American right wing.  She was arrested for defacing the subway poster.

Like I said, free speech is hard. Which is what Geller’s poster was all about.



Worst Loss for Marine Squadron VMA-211 Since Wake Island. by The Elephant's Child

The U.S. Marine Corps has suffered its worst air squadron catastrophe since Vietnam. The VMA-211 squadron has taken its worst hit since the defense of Wake Island in World War II. On Friday, September 14, at around 10:15 p.m. local time, a force of Taliban gunmen attacked Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province — the main strategic base in southwestern Afghanistan.

Fewer than two dozen insurgents wearing U.S. Army uniforms, divided into three teams, breached the perimeter fence and assaulted the airfield. That includes the  U.S. Camp Leatherneck and the U.K.’s Camp Bastion where Prince Harry, an AH-64 Apache pilot is stationed. The Taliban reportedly are anxious to get Prince Harry, who would prefer to be treated just like anyone else.

The attack killed VMA-211 squadron commander Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and destroyed or permanently disabled eight of the ten top-of-the-line Harrier AV-8B attack aircraft in his squadron. The Harrier has been out of production for more than a decade, and the aircraft can never be replaced.

The attackers had RPGs, AK47s, perhaps mortars, and used a suicide vest to breach the perimeter fence. Two Marines were killed in the fighting.

This is a serious loss for the Marines. With the loss of the planes, the coalition ground forces cannot count on the close air support provided by the Harrier. The Marines were compelled to buy second-hand RAF Harrier GR9s to keep the AB-8B in service beyond 2030 when it will be replaced by the F-35B.The Marines, I believe, have a long history of ‘making do’ for their equipment usually arrives after everyone else is supplied.

This is all terrible news, and not widely reported. The media arm of the Obama campaign doesn’t want to cast any shadows on his claim of foreign policy expertise, though he’d doing a fair job of that to himself.



President Obama Spoke at the UN Today. by The Elephant's Child

The president spoke to the United Nations this morning. Jennifer Rubin described it nicely:

President Obama is so soaked in the State Department/Western European/ leftist intellectual goo of moral relativism and disdain for core American values that I doubt he understood how offensive were his remarks  at the United Nations today.

The Washington Post headline captured the spirit: “Attacks on U.S. missions and diplomats violated ideals.” Mmm. Strong words. He condemns intolerance,  We must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. You can read the whole thing at the links. I did, and do not feel rewarded by the experience. It was about what you’d expect.

He could not come out and say it was a terrorist attack. We are doing everything the Islamists supposedly want us to do. He has gotten out of Iraq. He is getting out of Afghanistan. He has pandered and apologized. It was NOT about the video. The video is and was an excuse. Muslims are rioting all over the Middle East, and even burning Obama in effigy. Why — when he has done everything they want?

Because he is projecting weakness. They don’t think we’ll do anything except make nice speeches about violating ideals.

Can Obama still believe that there is only turmoil in the Middle East because Israel and Palestine haven’t made peace? And who will stop the Palestinians from shooting Rockets at Israel and teaching their little children to hate?



Imagine There’s No YouTube by The Elephant's Child

So the President contacted Google and tried to get the YouTube video that supposedly offended Muslims removed? And they want the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision overturned because corporations shouldn’t have a voice in elections, though it’s fine for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). There seems to be something about the idea of free speech that they don’t quite get.




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