American Elephants

No Tricks, Lots of Treats! by The Elephant's Child

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Happy Halloween 2014

Witches can only come out at midnight and they must be gone by the time the first morning star appears.

Witches are very curious, and they stop to count everything. You can protect yourself from witches by placing a broom or a bowl of salt outside your door. The witch will stop to count the straws in the broom or the grains of salt in the bowl. Before she can finish counting them, the morning star will appear, and then she will have to leave. You can also sleep with a sieve over your face. The witch will try to count all the holes in the sieve, but she will be unable to.

Witches do not like the color blue because it is the color of the heavens. If you wear a blue bead or a blue bracelet, a witch cannot get you. If you paint your windowsill blue, a witch cannot come into your room.

If you carry a penny in your pocket or wear a new dime in each shoe, witches can’t harm you.

Witches have fun on Halloween.

(From The Hodgepodge Book)

Quarantine or A Time for Contemplation? by The Elephant's Child

Had I been to West Africa treating Ebola patients, I would surely understand the reason that I might be quarantined. I can’t imagine many things worse than having to live with the knowledge that I had caused someone else’s illness or death.

So, faced with being quarantined for 21 days, what could you do about it? Can I assume a laptop, a phone and a TV, a bed, a shower and a bathroom? I could knit a sweater, take a couple of online courses, call friends to chat, watch movies, build a model, read the books I have been wanting to have time to read. I could write a diary of my quarantine, real or imaginary. Most of us complain about not having enough time for the things we want to do, and ordinary life intrudes.

A phone, a laptop and a credit card will get you exactly the materials you need, and the gift of free time gives you the time for study or contemplation. Is that really all bad? Boredom is a choice, not a given.

On the other hand, when members of the military are quarantined on their return, are they quarantined together, when one exposed person could expose the whole group or separately? Has anybody thought that one through?

The Inexorable Growth of Big Government Continues Apace by The Elephant's Child

us-capitol-sky-brightening-apIf you understand thoroughly the proposition that the Federal Government has no money of its own, you are on the way to economic enlightenment. It’s true, and failing to understand that simple fact leads to all sorts of economic confusion. The government gets its money—all its money — from the taxpayers.

I mention this because we are inclined to forget it when politicians are promising nice things around election time. You will have to pay for those “nice things.” That was what Democrats wanted you to ignore when they started promising health care for all, and health care for the needy. They weren’t offering health care, but only government control of health insurance, and through the 20,000 pages of regulations for the entire medical establishment, control of  the doctors and nurses and technicians and hospitals and medical equipment and services and anyone connected to the medical establishment that I forgot to mention. It was not about health, but about control.

The Democrats in Congress believed that medical care cost too much. They claimed that if they just told everybody what to do and how to do it, things would get cheaper. [Well, not really. What they really wanted was single-payer health care like the care that has been financially ruining Britain for years, but they didn’t think Americans would go for it right off the bat.] If you take out all the carefully constructed language, and just flatly describe the project, it doesn’t sound so appealing at all, and with good reason.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health care more affordable, but a study of insurance policies before and after ObamaCare shows that average premiums have skyrocketed  — for some groups as much as 78%.

Average insurance premiums in the sought-after 23-year-old demographic rose most dramatically, with men in that age group seeing an average 78.2 percent price increase before factoring in government subsidies, and women having their premiums rise 44.9 percent, according to a report by HealthPocket scheduled for release Wednesday….

The premium increases for 30-year-olds were almost as high as for 23-year-olds — 73.4 percent for men and 35.1 percent for women — said the study, titled “Without Subsidies Women & Men, Old & Young Average Higher Monthly Premiums with Obamacare.”

Between higher healthcare premiums, lower quality health care, higher food costs, ever more taxes — there goes the standard of living. How are people supposed to save for retirement, for their kids education, for their own home?

Democrats favor big government, not because they are particularly enamored of bigness as such, but because they keep ‘improving’ everything with more laws and regulations, which requires more workers, and more agencies and first thing you know, government has just grown bigger and bigger. I touched on this with a quotation from Rob Stein, founder of the Democracy Alliance — who candidly explained the importance of being in control of government to the Democrats, and I’ll repeat it here, because it’s important.

The reason it is so important to control government is because government is the source of enormous power,” Stein continued. “One president in this country, when he or she takes office, appoints…5,000 people to run a bureaucracy, nonmilitary nonpostal service of 2 million people, who hire 10 million outside outsource contractors–a workforce of 12 million people–that spends $3 trillion a year. That number is larger than the gross domestic product of all but four countries on the face of the earth.

So the reason we’re doing what we’re doing…and the way we get progressive change, is to control government,” Stein said. “That’s what this is about.

Ah, but there’s the rub. Philip K. Howard explains:

Modern government is designed to be a kind of legal machine.But it is badly designed. Indeed, it may be one of the worst machines ever invented. Its core flaw is that it aspires to make choices without human judgement at the moment of action. …

Grinding public decision through a legal apparatus is not the handiwork of a demented management theorist. It’s a philosophical mandate. Government decisions, we believe, must comply with what is known as the “Rule of Law.” This hallowed concept is universally regarded as the foundation of a free society.

The Rule of Law aims at making sure government uses its powers properly, in an orderly fashion, and not by the whim of some official. By drawing boundaries of prohibited conduct, law limits the scope of state power and assures citizens of a protected zone of their freedoms.

“Automatic law,” Howard says, “causes public failure. A system of detailed dictates is supposed to make government work better. Instead it causes failure.” And when things don’t work, the response of government is to make another law or add some more regulations.

The goal of preventing action by the whim of some official leads to an inability to make decisions, even truly necessary ones. Agencies have formal budgets, and the goal becomes to spend enough to use up all budgeted funds, for that makes it possible to get an increase for the next fiscal year, rather than being cut back. There is no goal of cutting expenditures.

Now and then there is a push for cutting back. President Obama proudly proclaimed eliminating the law that classified spilled milk in the farmyard as an oil spill. (EPA regulated milk as it does petroleum because of butter fat content. Ditto vegetable oil) But it didn’t go much beyond that. Philip Howard proposes a 15 year limit attached to all legislation. At the end of 15 years, a law would have to be revisited, and either renewed for another 15 years, or dumped. Makes sense to me. Congress always means well, but never ends up discarding useless laws. Anyone have a better suggestion?

Can Democrats Win an Election Without Cheating? by The Elephant's Child


A video has emerged from Illinois (why am I not surprised?) that a “calibration error” that just happens to cause voting machines to switch votes from Republican to Democrat. You punch the box to vote for the Republican candidate, and it registers that you voted for the Democrat candidate. The video purportedly shows voting machines in the Moline, Illinois public library registering votes for the Democrat candidate when the Republican is the intended choice.

That makes it nice and simple, doesn’t it? Doesn’t even have to be somebody there  miscounting ballots, or hiding some — just program it into the voting machine, just enough to win the election, but not enough that anybody would immediately call FRAUD!

Same thing is happening in Maryland. “Calibration Errors” that cannot be replicated. People with fat fingers, or long nails perhaps? I get suspicious of anything that involves changing the vocabulary from a simple and straightforward “vote fraud” to a broad generalization like “calibration error.” I have never read anywhere of a ‘calibration error’ changing a Democrat vote to a Republican vote, but perhaps that’s just a coincidence?

We’ve had a lot of vote fraud here in Washington State, and the people have not forgotten. Governor Christine Gregoire was not elected until they recounted the votes enough times to find just enough to give her a small margin of victory. She had lost in the first count, and in the second, but by the third count they found some votes in a box in the back room or left in somebody’s car — something like that.

The pro-amnesty Hispanic-activist organization the National Council of La Raza has been promoting a Washington Post article explaining in which states “undocumented” people can vote without having to present photo ID. Most states request some form of ID but don’t require it. Another 20 states don’t require identification. The Washington Post has a handy graph outlining the requirements.

Democrats scoff that vote fraud is merely a figment of Republican imagination, but serious survey data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study produced estimates of 1,408.000 non-citizens voting in 2008, and 484,000 voting in the off-year election in 2010. That’s enough to decide an election.

Here in Washington State, we have switched to Mail In Ballots, which are much more conducive to vote fraud than plain old voting at your local school or retirement home with a hand marked ballot. Those people saw to it that you showed ID, signed in, and there were election judges there. Now we just do it any old-time prior to the election, fill them out at home, and hope they get counted. I liked the formal trip to the polls, greeting poll workers that I hadn’t seen since the last election — it was inconvenient, but a small price to pay for executing my civic duty. It felt good.

Do you remember in 2012, there was a thing about military ballots. Republicans were trying to make sure that soldiers got their ballots and that their votes were recorded. Then there was something in the news about the plane going down in Afghanistan, and too late to get more ballots or something, but there was never any report of the crash, or about survivors, or a death toll. Curious.

Discover the Networks  has a section intended to refute, with hard evidence, the foregoing assertions of the Left. The section consists of excerpts from hundreds of news stories reporting  on fraud and improprieties in the voter-registration process as well as at the ballot box. Do take the time to visit and see for yourself the extent of the fraud that Democrats claim does not exist. If you are really curious, enter the “Secretary of State Project” in the search function there. Now supposedly discontinued, there could have been no other purpose for the project than to elect Democrats to control  the State office that oversees elections.

Obama came from the Chicago political machine. It’s the only kind of politics he knows.

The Obligatory Daily Ebola Post, Continued. by The Elephant's Child


What is a quarantine, and what is not, and what is inhumane treatment that requires a lawsuit to escape?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructs health workers returning from West Africa to monitor their health for 21 days and that “during the time that you are monitoring your health, you can continue your normal activities.” Only after a health worker’s temperature reaches 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit does the CDC advise that he or she go to a doctor, “limit your contact with other people” and “avoid public transportation.”

A lot of people were shocked to hear that when Ebola-infected doctor Craig Spencer returned to New York City from Guinea, after serving there with Doctors Without Borders, he went for a three-mile run, stopped at a coffee stand,  ate at a meatball restaurant, rode on three New York subway lines, met friends at a bowling alley and used an Uber sedan to return home — none of his actions violated CDC directions. and he apparently felt fine.

The president has consistently treated Ebola as a crisis of public relations, that can be fixed with a new manager  or a more fortuitous choice of words. Instead of telling us up-front what we know for sure and what we don’t know for sure, the CDC has consistently attempted to pacify rather than take firm precautions.

Obama promised Americans that his administration was taking the necessary precautions so that someone with Ebola didn’t get on a plane, which Thomas Eric Duncan did just four days later, and due to much confusion about CDC protocols managed to infect two nurses before he died of Ebola.

Kaci Hickox returned from West Africa after tending Ebola patients there, and immediately began complaining when she was quarantined. Inhumane treatment! she shrieked, and threatened to sue. When she was sent home to Maine with a promise that she would carefully self-monitor and remain at home, immediately decided that self-quarantine was unnecessary and went out.

Ebola is not easily cured, and has something like a 70% death rate. One would think that staying home for 3 weeks would be easy if  you knew that you were preventing your fellows from catching a fatal disease from you. File under lack of character.

Australia has simply shut its borders to citizens of the countries of Ebola Central. That followed  decisions by the U.S. military to quarantine soldiers returning from an Ebola response mission (including one General). The U.N. and the afflicted countries say all this is unnecessary and might stop people agreeing to volunteer just when they desperately need thousands of volunteers. Dr. Frieden, head of CDC called for isolation of “people at the highest risk for Ebola infection” but said most returning medical workers would require monitoring without isolation. Frieden said:

At CDC, we base our decisions on science and experience … And as the science and experience changes, we adopt and adapt our guidelines and recommendations.

File this under “I’m a doctor, don’t doubt me.”

The hospital where Thomas Eric Duncan died and two nurses were infected, was unprepared, had not trained for the possibilities, nor studied the protocols. The media keeps talking about the “mass panic” — which has not yet appeared, and ignoring the anger — which has appeared.  Ebola has appeared in Africa for many years. We gave extra funds to the CDC, the office in HHS of the Ebola Czar, other agencies so they could study up and determine how best to address the disease. All the agencies were grateful for the extra cash and quickly spent most of it on frivolous grants and more fun stuff.

Research shows that certain strains of Ebola can remain on surfaces up to 50 days. It typically lives on a dry surface for a matter of hours, but in moist conditions like mucus, it is extended, according to the UK’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

The State Department had quietly made plans to bring Ebola-infected doctors and medical aides to the U.S. for treatment, according to an internal document  which argued that as the only way to get other countries to send medical teams would be to promise the U.S. as the world’s medical backstop. The Obama administration if furiously backpedaling, claiming they are not going to do it.

Since the administration will not be truthful about Enterovirus D-68 deaths, the connection to unaccompanied minors, nor just where the illegal children have been sent and what schools they are attending, they seem not to be aware that the lack of clarity about one health threat harms public attitudes about another health threat.

Keeping Warm in Winter: The People v. Barack Obama. by The Elephant's Child


After 6o years of operation, Salem Harbor coal-fired power plant shut down permanently in June. Candidate Barack Obama said that under his plan for “cap and trade,” electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.

He didn’t manage to get “cap and trade” through Congress, so he went through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get his way. The wishes of the representatives of the American people have never counted with this president, and this winter New England residents will pay the price. In 2013, residents of the northeast spent as much during the winter as they did in the whole of 2012.

There was a nuclear plant in Vermont, Vermont Yankee, that has been retired. Basic economics: less supply to meet demand — higher rates. The environmental loonies feel the demand to shut down any possibility of  a CO² – emitting coal-fired plant is so urgent that they can’t manage to replace the electricity it produced. And nasty nuclear — banished. They want more electricity from natural gas, but haven’t moved ahead to build pipeline capacity, which would take all sorts of permissions and environmental impact surveys.

National Grid, Massachusetts’  biggest utility will seek a 37% rate increase for the six months beginning November 1st.  In New Hampshire, the public Utilities Commission has already granted an average 47% rate increase to Liberty Utilities. In New Hampshire, Public Service of New Hampshire reports that their rates will remain pretty much the same. They are the largest utility in the state and have a large scale clean coal-fired power plant. Last  year they saved their customers over $100 million, and may be able to repeat that feat this winter — which may be even colder than last year.

Last year’s brutal winter meant that natural gas inventories are starting at 10.7% less than last year and 11.4% less than the five-year average. The green illusion that “renewable energy” can replace the kind of energy they do not like continues, but they are wrong. Wind energy cannot become a major supplier of energy because it requires too much land. To keep up with world energy demand, you would have to add 4 times the current wind capacity— each year.

The John Kerrys and  Barack Obamas believe in renewable energy because — that’s what good Democrats believe. The EPA ‘lost’  the science they say their work depends on several years ago. Nobody reads the science or studies up, Republicans are knuckle-dragging deniers and have no interest in saving the planet, and what more do you need to know?

Cold with higher energy cost is deadly. In the UK alone over 35,000 excess winter deaths have been recorded since 1998. Cold affects mostly the poor or elderly, and is associated with flu, respiratory and circulatory disease. Many have to choose between heat and eating. Governments in Europe have stopped the subsidies for renewables. Germany is building 24 coal plants and reinstating nuclear power. 600,000 Germans had their power turned off  because they could not afford to pay their bills. NASA keeps forecasting warmth, but according to their own data, US winters have been cooling for 25 years.

Remember that next time you see the loonies out protesting coal and fossil fuels, fracking and pipelines. The probabilities are bleak, and will expose major errors once again in government climate and energy policy.

No Access, No Posts. Disconnected. by The Elephant's Child
October 27, 2014, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Domestic Policy, Environment | Tags: , ,

We have been without internet access all day. Water-main break a few blocks away where they are widening and redoing a major street. Just got access back. They must have cut a buried cable.

Big windstorm Saturday night, major branches down and enough fir cones to set up a Christmas store.  Drumming and crashing on the roof all night.

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