American Elephants


The Mounting List of Obama Administration Scandals: by The Elephant's Child

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— The new head of the Veterans Administration, Robert McDonald, told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important?”

“What’s important is what’s your satisfaction with the experience?”

American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett excoriated McDonald: “The American Legion agrees that the VA secretary’s analogy between Disneyland and VA wait times was an unfortunate comparison because people don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain.”

“We also disagree with the substance of his comment because wait times are very important to not just the satisfaction quotient, but in some cases the veterans health,” he said in a statement.

Well, clumsy, at best. Then there was the new study that established that between 1012 and 2015, less than 10 percent of new hires were actually physicians. Lots of lawyers and public affairs officials though.

The Wall Street Journal reported that there were 4,201 errors which mistakenly declared living veterans dead — terminating their benefits. A simple paper mistake for the VA, a nightmare for the vet who has to straighten out the mess.

— Congress is currently attempting to impeach IRS Director Koskinen. It seems the IRS is still trying to keep conservative organizations from gaining the tax-free status to which they are entitled. And as well, they were just never able to find the emails and other documentation that was requested under FOIA requests. A lower court had accepted the IRS statement that targeting had stopped, but it seems that no one has been held to account and the targeting continues today.

Kim Strassel notes that the “IRS team claimed that the fault for some of the scandal rests with the conservative groups for not pushing back hard enough.” They smugly claimed the conservative groups had blown their chance for nonprofit approval when they turned down the “fast track” status if they just agreed to give up their political speech rights. (A Treasury Dept idea.)

A new lawsuit asks a federal court to force the IRS to obey the law.

The IRS also improperly paid out $15.6 billion through the Earned Income Tax Credit Program. The OMB notes that this is a “high risk” program for improper payments, but the IRS says they are “taking steps” to reduce error.

— Federal Bureaucrats announced earlier this year they plan to change the way Medicare Part B pays for drugs. The goal is to save money by getting doctors to alter their treatment choices to the cheapest drugs available. More than 300 cancer clinics have closed over the past decade as Medicare has shrunk payments for cancer care. This would seem to be a venture in bad medicine, which is a usual result in socialized medicine. Those who see “single payer” as a desirable outcome should have some real second thoughts.

The Obama administration frames this experiment as a way to stick it to drug companies and save taxpayers money. They believe that doctors are not prescribing the “right” drugs—meaning the least expensive ones, even if they are the least appropriate. They suggest that doctors are motivated by money, and not their patients’ best interests.

Surely you have noticed how often the administration sneers at “Big Pharma.” The object is not to save lives, but to place the blame for getting rid of cancer-ridden patients before they cost too much money.

— Obama is planning to release another 22 or 23 long time Guantanamo detainees to about half a dozen countries. These are the “worst of the worst” and can be expected to return to the battlefield fairly promptly. Obama is motivated by the opinion of the European  Left who always opposed the Iraq War and assume that Gitmo is an American torture chamber, rather than the model prison it actually is. Not all of the foreign destination countries are ready to be identified, Obama wants to empty Guantanamo by this summer.

— Last year, Congress went to considerable trouble in crafting and passing a consensus bull to replace the outdated and unworkable No Child Left Behind. One of the goals was to reduce federal interference in education which remains a state and local issue. Obama is ignoring the law that he signed, and attempting to rewrite the implementation rules that claim powers specifically denied by the statutory language.

The law specifically states that the federal government may not use it to “mandate equalized spending per pupil for a state, local educational educational agency or school.” But that’s what the Education Department is attempting to do. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Chairman, confronted Education Department John King in a hearing telling him”The plain fact of the matter is that the law specifically says you cannot do it.”

This remains a nation of laws, no matter how much Obama tries to arrogate power to himself by simply claiming them. He says his agenda “can’t wait” for Congress to act.

— ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has spent at least $18.5 million to fly “unaccompanied children” caught crossing the border illegally, to locations inside the U.S. The numbers shed light on the extent of a program that concerns lawmakers and the federal courts that the federal government is effectively aiding smugglers. The administration has gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of minors, and claims their actions are appropriate. They are transporting minors to facilities run by HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement. ICE said about 10,000 children have been transported by charter flights.

— Obama’s Big Transgender Restroom Diversion is pure Saul Alinsky, the communist who has directed the Left in how to manipulate the American people. “Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.” If there is a problem (no GDP growth) for which you have no answer, change the discussion and hit them with something new.

Members of the transgender population, about 0.3% of this nation, have managed to relieve themselves for generations in existing restrooms. Imagine the cost of revamping millions of public restrooms, and for such a tiny slice of the population. Now this has become a national cause, a provocation drummed up to divert attention from far more pressing issues.

— I posted “President Obama’s Legacy in 9 Simple Charts from the Federal Reserve“at the end of September last year. Not much has changed.



The Miraculous Explosion of Human Progress in the Past Two Centuries by The Elephant's Child

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“Two centuries ago, the average world income per  human (in present day prices) was about $3 a day It had been so since we lived in caves. Now it is $33 a day—which is Brazil’s current level and the level of the U.S. in 1940. Over the past 200 years, the average real income per person—including even such present-day tragedies as Chad and North Korea—has grown by a factor of 10. It is stunning. In countries that adopted trade and economic betterment wholeheartedly, like Japan, Sweden and the U.S., it is more like a factor of 30—even more stunning.” That’s from an article by economist Dierdre McCloskey.

An American, on average earns $130 a day, China is roughly $20 a day, and India at $10 after their release from a crippling socialism of $1 a day. And the growth of material plenty has been stunning. McCloskey quotes Matt Ridley in his book The Rational Optimist (2010) that what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” There is no end to what people can do when they are set free to have ideas and have the freedom to act upon them. Once you have the ideas, getting the wherewithal to do them is simple because they are so obviously profitable.

“The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment.” How very odd then that the Progressives are so sure that the only route to a better world is for enlightened leaders like themselves to control and regulate the economy, and the people. (As I just said, they really don’t understand cause and effect).

The Heritage Foundation just released their annual report on the tide of red tape that threatens to drown American consumers and businesses. The Obama administration has added 20,642 new regulations during his presidency. More than $22 billion per year in new regulatory costs were imposed on Americans last year.

Professor Richard A. Epstein wrote in an article for the Hoover Institution that:

One of the most disturbing trends in the United States is the relentless concentration of power in the federal government. Ever since the New Deal, the classical liberal vision of limited government and strong property rights has taken a back seat to a progressive vision of a robust administrative state, dominated by supposed experts, whose powers are largely unimpeded by legal constraints. Wholly apart from Congress, the new administrative state has adopted and enforced its own laws and regulations, and is defined by unilateral actions by the President and other members of the executive branch, all of which threaten the system of checks and balances built into the original constitutional design.

The Leftists are so sure of their moral superiority, and that their aims are correct that they feel no need to study up on the questions of the day. Obama frequently notes that some things are “on the right side of history” and others are on “the wrong side of history. “Cosmic forces both agree with him, and are unimpeachable. Anything to do with climate is “settled science”and those who disagree should be punished.

Yet one gets the distinct impression that the president has never read a word of the science, and only seen that which is presented to him as from “unimpeachable sources,” without considering the possibility that there is another view.

The view that it is freedom that releases people to come up with the ideas and that the generation of new ideas leads to more and more creativity, growth and prosperity is so foreign to the philosophy of the Left that they are literally frightened of what people might do if left without the guidance of the enlightened and morally correct public servants of the nation’s capitol. For our “public servants’, Herb Meyer remarked recently, Washington D.C. is not a city, it is a profession.

We must be guided, controlled, and led down the correct paths to a brighter future. There is no other way.

See: “The Myth of Progress” by  Victor Davis Hanson, from the Hoover Institution.

The Rise of American Socialism” by Paul R. Gregory, from the Hoover Institution

 



It’s Not Really About Transgenderism by The Elephant's Child

The Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has added a new rule change to the Affordable Care Act. All health providers receiving taxpayer dollars must perform sex-change operations or lose their federal funding.

Can government possibly become any more absurd? Sex-change operations do not change anyone’s sex. That is not possible. Sex is determined by your DNA and cutting off temporarily offending organs does not change sex, but merely mutilates. Transgenderism is a dysphoria, or mental problem. Other dysphorias are Anorexia, whose victims see themselves as fat and essentially starve themselves to death. Bodily dysphoria has led victims to amputate healthy limbs, or if they cannot find a surgeon who will do it, amputate Cat mantheir own. Several cases who identify as cats have been reported.

The new rule sates that under Title IX any hospital receiving funding from HHS must “treat individuals consistent with their gender identity.” The administration sent letters to every school district in the country mandating that they open bathrooms lockers rooms and showers to all students, regardless of their biological sex.

The drive for transgender bathrooms is part of the Cultural Marxist attack on modesty and personal privacy. Children should be taught from an early age that sexual behavior is harmless physical gratification, completely unimportant. There are no consequences of physical gratification that cannot be prevented or “taken care of” by a visit to the doctor. Marriage and the family are only lifestyle choices, and not different from any other. Useless people can be disposed of by physician assisted suicide, minor misbehavior should not mean punishment and things like shoplifting, drug use, petty theft, fraud, or forgery should be misdemeanors.

Cultural Marxism demands a compliant state-dependent population who will vote as they are told, and request ever more comforts from an overpowering government. You can see the results in Venezuela, where a hamburger costs $170, and food is getting desperately short. And there’s Cuba, of course. Lots of examples. The kids are being trained in government controlled schools, or haven’t you noticed the nuttiness going on in our colleges? A generation of progressives went a little crazy in the sixties, and they have never really recovered. They don’t want to be told what to do, they want to protest and man the barricades and really want a real revolution, as long as there isn’t any violence and nobody hurts anyone’s feelings.



Hard Work, Opportunity, Perseverance or Just Luck? by The Elephant's Child

A year and a half ago, California voters passed Proposition 47, also known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” How could anybody vote against that? Silly, why do you think they give propositions names like that?  What it effectively did was to decriminalize a bunch of crimes, including shoplifting.

What do you suppose would happen if you decriminalize shoplifting? For normal people it’s fairly obvious, but for Democrats it is puzzling. They believe that crime is the fault of society, bad parents, lack of a good education, poverty, drugs, or lack of opportunity, not the fault of the victim who stole something that did not belong to him.

So what happened to shoplifting in the absence of punishment? It more than doubled. It has made the struggle of small businessmen to survive far, far more difficult. Anything valued at less than $950 keeps the crime a misdemeanor, which means the criminals won’t be pursued and there will be no punishment. Some shoplifters carried calculators to total up the stuff they had grabbed to avoid re aching the $950 barrier. The ballot measure also lowered the penalties for forgery, fraud, petty theft and drug possession. You might get a ticket. It’s a slap on the wrist the first time, the second time and the 20th time.

Proposition 47 was backed by George Soros money. Newt Gingrich wrote an editorial in support of it.

It is time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on locking up low-level offenders. Proposition 47 on the November ballot will do this by changing six nonviolent, petty offenses from felony punishments (which now can carry prison time) to misdemeanor punishments and local accountability.

The left’s interesting relationship with crime continues. President Obama told graduates at the historically black Howard University that they are living in an era of unprecedented opportunity, but he was speaking to the inequities blacks face. He excused crime at one point as a result of an “unfair and unjust system” and said that success is all just”luck.” He went on to claim that crime was a result ot the system, not the actions of criminals.

That’s a pet peeve of mine — people who have been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky. That God may have blessed them; it wuddn’t nothin’ you did. So don’t have an attitude.”

This line invokes his “you didn’t build that” gaffe from 2012 when Obama insisted that people with a successful business “didn’t build that” on their own and that government was really the catalyst for success.

The President’s commencement message is essentially that if you are black in the U.S. and you are successful, it was just luck and most blacks are held down by an “unfair and unjust” system that won’t allow them to succeed

What an odd point of view and what  a troubling speech to graduates. If you are not responsible for your own success or failure—but it’s all just luck, then you don’t have to take responsibility for much of anything, and nobody can blame you for anything.  Explains a lot.

Does that point of view effect the whole Democrat Party? California’s Prop. 47 goes right along with their Sanctuary City policies, and the decline of San Francisco into a remarkably dirty city. I can remember when if ladies wanted to go to “the city” to shop or attend an event, they wore hats and gloves. But that was a long time ago, and San Francisco was a different place.



Words of Wisdom: Copy and Send to Your School Board by The Elephant's Child

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“Schooling is done in public places, but the roots of an education grow only in the hidden ground of the mind. Lessons are taught in social institutions but they can be learned only by private people. The acts that are at once the means and the end of education: knowing, thinking, understanding, judging, are all committed in solitude. It is only in a mind that the work can be done. There is no such thing as “collective thinking.” Our schools can be an instrument for socialization or an incentive to thoughtfulness, but they cannot be both.”

…”At the root of our widespread and institutionalized illiteracy is a fevered commitment to socialization and an equally unhealthy hostility to the solitary, and thus probably anti-social work of the mind. In school, the inane and uninformed regurgitations of the ninth-grade rap session on solar energy as a viable alternative to nuclear power are positive, creative, self-esteem-enhancing student behavioral outcomes; the child who sits alone at the turning of the staircase, reading, is a weirdo. The students did not bring that “appreciation” to school: they learned it there.”
………………………………………………………. Richard Mitchell
……………………………………………………….The Graves of Academe



The Fraud Lawsuit Over Trump University Can Go To Trial This Fall by The Elephant's Child

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A New York judge has ruled that the fraud lawsuit brought against Donald Trump and his real estate school, Trump University, by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will go to trial. This is an unprecedented situation where the Republican front runner could have to testify this fall when he is possibly in the process of a campaign for the presidency.

Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, filed a civil lawsuit against the now-defunct Trump University in 2013 alleging that it exploited Mr. Trump’s celebrity status to persuade people to enroll in expensive courses that failed to deliver on their promises. Trump University defrauded more than 5,000 students in New York out of thousands of dollars each, according to the complaint, by billing itself as a real estate school and charging students as much as $35,000 for enrollment without having proper licensing.

A separate and pending lawsuit in California against Mr. Trump, filed in 2010 by former students, alleges that Trump University defrauded students around the country and made false promises about helping them achieve financial success.

A judge dropped one of two fraud claims in 2014, but in March a four-judge panel in Manhattan reinstated the claim and allowed Mr. Schneiderman to move forward with both fraud claims. Mr. Trump has denied the allegations and accused Mr. Schneiderman of “gross incompetence” and of “wasting millions” in taxpayer money.

Students could take a free introductory course, and then sign up for three-day seminars at a cost of $1,495. They were then encouraged to buy advanced training programs for about $35,000.

The institution rebranded the “university” in 2010 and renamed itself the “Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.” According to court documents it informed the New York Department of Education that it had ceased operation in 2010.



How to Talk To Progressive Millennials by The Elephant's Child

This speech by Bill Whittle was the keynote speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 West Coast Retreat earlier this month in Palos Verdes, CA. He’s a terrific speaker, and in this case he was talking about talking to the millennials — Progressive millennials.

So his speech became sort of a lesson in how to talk to progressive millennials who have a lot of preconceived notions about conservatives — about some of today’s common issues of disagreement, like Citizens United, and guns, and Socialist paradises and science — that sort of thing. And because he’s a terrific speaker, he does it very well indeed. You can watch, or if you prefer to read the transcript it is here.

I’m inclined to read transcripts myself, because I go back and read some sentences over again when I think something is particularly well said, and there’s a lot of that here.




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