American Elephants


The Summing-Up: At Some Point Reality Appears by The Elephant's Child

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People generally liked Barack Obama. He was handsome, stylish, clearly a good family man and cared deeply about his daughters. I’m not sure if he liked his dogs, but he put up with them for his daughters’ sake.

When it came to the economy, it gradually became clear that he didn’t know what he was doing, nor did his advisors. It’s not clear to what extent he listened to advisors. He remarked more than once that he knew more about speeches than his speechwriters, and more about most any subject than the experts he picked. There is a suspicion that he really meant that.

So what we ended the Obama presidency with was a fairly high approval rating because people liked him, and a very terrible approval rating on the right direction/wrong direction part. He will return from his post-inauguration vacation soon, and we can expect him to have forgotten completely George W. Bush’s polite silence to give the new guy a chance to do his best.

Progressives can’t help themselves. They want to control, to regulate, and to fix ordinary human nature, unfortunately they want to do it with other people’s money. To fix things and make themselves feel good about what they are doing, they want to do lots of welfare, but they can’t manage to take away enough of the money of the well-off to make the not well-off equal, which was their goal.  It never works, but the lure of socialism seems eternal.

Venezuela, out of toilet paper and most anything usually found on store shelves, can’t afford to deliver the oil which they have in abundance to anyone who might pay them for it. They are dead broke. Another lesson in why socialism never, never works, but the enthusiasts won’t learn it this time either.



The Coming Religious Wars by The Elephant's Child

ap_16313812863044-sized-770x415xt“Progressivism is not a political doctrine, it is a religious doctrine.” That quote was from Paul A. Rahe, Historian and author. and professor at Hillsdale College, but I’ve seen the same theme widely expressed today. And they are right. You have to believe. They see themselves as pursuing a great good where everyone will agree and there will be peace, and harmony when they are able to put all their wondrous ideas in place and are fully in charge.

It’s clearly an authoritarian state they’re after, but when they finally get all of us whipped into shape, they won’t need to be so authoritarian anymore. If you think communism or socialism, you’re not too far off—though they would undoubtedly deny it. It’s just that they really don’t like human nature, which clearly needs improvement. They are not all that much for freedom, either, because people get to thinking that they can disagree and not do what they are told.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a conservative suggest putting the Leftists into camps, but they come up with that idea for us quite regularly. They just hate disagreement. Partly because they are so sure they are right and partly because they don’t have good responses to good economic ideas and good evidence from the right.

Just think about the simple subject of energy. Our country runs on so-called fossil fuels—natural gas, petroleum, coal. They want it to run on cheap, free wind and solar energy from the sun which are unable to supply a significant amount of energy due to their own intrinsic failings.

Wind only blows sometimes, not all the time. And it doesn’t blow a lot in the places where it is needed, and the wind may be free but the land and the giant wind turbines and the power plants to convert wind to electricity and the power lines are not cheap. It delivers only a minuscule portion of our energy needs. Solar energy is too diffuse to be effective, the sun sinks beneath the horizon at night, and there is the problem of clouds. Nuclear energy is effective and cheap, but way too scary for the left. You see, it is a religious faith.

The Left is meant to be in charge. Hillary was going to extend the reign of the Left for another 8 years. They were not just confident, but found the idea of Donald Trump laughable, and he made fools of them. The election was clearly unfair. Popular vote. Electoral college. Russian interference. How dare they suggest there was vote fraud. (Because it has been well documented for years? )

Democrats lost 63 House seats, 11 Senate seats, 947 State lawmakers and 13 Governors. They haven’t really absorbed it yet. Their initial response is to try to bring down Donald Trump. They have brought down presidents before—Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, they didn’t get George W. Bush out, but they demonized him so much that people began to think that he was a failure as a president. Somebody remarked that our military deaths were back in the headlines for the first time since G.W.Bush, and it’s true. This is a concerted attack on Donald Trump, talking points distributed and the Democrats have marshaled their forces and gone to work.

Here’s one of the funnier examples from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: She declared that “her party, the Democratic Party, does the will of God, while Republicans dishonor their Creator.” And the blog from SFGATE (The Chronicle) ran a piece titled “Week One of Go to Hell, America: the Trumpocalyse so far, in a grotesque – and rather terrifying nutshell.” It only took 10 days for Obama to start criticizing his successor, and after he promised too. Hillary is going to write a book about how she lost the election and will go on a national speaking tour. Will she draw huge audiences, or does she just not realize that it’s over. Even the majority of white women, 57%, voted for Trump, and only 42% for Hillary. But it is their religion, and they don’t give up.



The Embarrassing Press at Obama’s Last Press Conference by The Elephant's Child

We have mentioned the disgraceful partisanship of the Washington D.C. press before. The adoration is clearly shown in this mashup from President Obama’s final press conference. If you can’t maintain a skeptical point of view, you’re not doing journalism, but they apparently never learned that in journalism school. Elected politicians are supposed to do what they told us they intended to do. Presidents are imperfect, make mistakes, sometimes very big ones, and sometimes they turn out to be something other than what they claimed. If journalists don’t do their job, it makes it much harder for the rest of us who will probably never meet those politicians in person.



President Trump, The Press, The Profession of Journalism, and Sean Spicer. This is Going to be Fun! by The Elephant's Child

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There is a tentative war going on between the press and the new Trump administration. The Washington press corps has been remarkably partisan during the entire campaign season, and they never imagined a Trump presidency.

We have a new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, beginning to set new rules for how White House press conferences are going to go. He didn’t call on the front row first, but gave the first question to the New York Post, seated toward the back. He called early on reporters from the Christian Broadcasting network, Fox, and Univision. He even announced four “Skype seats” for reporters not in the Washington area. This is very scary stuff for the Washington media.

He noted that the  press routinely publish corrections, and said the administration “should be afforded the same opportunity.”

Press behavior during this political campaign left a great deal to be desired. We had reporters publishing unverified leaks, giving their stories to the candidates for approval before publication, warning candidates of upcoming stories. And in one case, the New York Post noted “the complete collapse of American journalism as we know it.” “The shameful display of naked partisanship by the elite media is unlike anything seen in modern America,” wrote Michael Goodwin.

The largest broadcast networks — CBS, NBC and ABC — and major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post have jettisoned all pretense of fair play. Their fierce determination to keep Trump out of the Oval Office has no precedent. By torching its remaining credibility in service of Clinton, the mainstream media’s reputations will likely never recover, nor will the standards. No future producer, editor, reporter or anchor can be expected to meet a test of fairness when that standard has been trashed in such willful and blatant fashion.

“The University of Georgia does an Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates which surveys J-School grads, their habits, salaries and the jobs they take.” They don’t read print media. Just one third had read a newspaper the day before taking the survey. That’s down from 81% in 1994. Three quarters read news off the internet and many watched TV. Almost all went on a social media website the day before taking the survey.

Which draws the automatic query: if they don’t read their own writing, why should they expect us to?

Newspaper ad revenue is way down. Ads are reaching fewer customers. Magazines with which I am familiar are thinner, with fewer ads. But for the most part I only see magazines at the hair salon or the doctor’s office.  Two local bookstores are closing. It’s not that people are reading less, they are reading online. More and more online sources are creating a subscription barrier, and there are more and more ways to avoid that wall. There is so much information available for free, that people are reluctant to pay. I don’t know where this is all going, but everything is fluid and changing.

I don’t know what journalism schools are teaching their students besides social justice, nor what their requirements are, but journalists seem remarkably lacking in the history department, and just general world knowledge—reflecting wide reading. Starting salaries are worse than for most other professions, and there are more and more clumsy errors that are not caught by editors.

Computers are changing the world. Our sources of information are changing. Social media is becoming more important than  we understand. Occupations are changing. We are always slow to understand the changes and how to adapt, and those who do understand and adapt quickly are probably the millionaires and billionaires of the future.

An article by Stefan Kanfer in City Journal last February mourned the decline of Time magazine and the shrinking readership of newspapers and magazines. He wrote:

Contemporary tendencies—from know-nothing reportage to grade inflation—can be corrected. But the blackboard is large, and the erasers grow fewer by the year. When once-formidable newspapers like the New York Times print regular, lengthy columns of misattributions and misinformation, and when a newsmagazine cannot identify the sex of an author, much less his/her significance, Americans can no longer depend on periodicals to set things straight. That job, ironically, has been ceded to the freewheeling and often irresponsible Internet. Thus by default the solution must come, as it did long ago, from diligent instruction—private, parochial, and public. It had better. For as Abraham Lincoln observed, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” (A former Illinois congressman, Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States.)



The Women’s March on Washington is Bunk. by The Elephant's Child

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Saturday, and we are to be annoyed with the “Women’s March ” which seems to be mostly anti-Trump  posturing with abortion rights thrown in for extra credit. I am so sick of the Left’s ignorant outcry that I have little patience left for this sort of thing. Guaranteed unrestricted sexual choice is not an absolute good. All the old sexual diseases have returned and are rampant. Planned Parenthood’s selling of baby body parts is not only criminal, but unbelievably disgusting. Contraceptives are widely available and cheap in many locations. I see no reason why taxpayers should be saddled with that expense.

The anti-Trump protests are so disconnected from reality that it’s hard to believe that these people live in the same country as the rest of us. Rachel Maddow asks if she will be “put in a camp?” People go on about “Fascism” in a way that makes it clear that they have no idea what fascism is. Donald Trump is not an Anti-Semite, his daughter Ivanka has converted to Judaism, as her husband is an orthodox Jew. Trump is not anti-gay, nor prejudiced against Muslims nor Mexicans. He merely emphasizes that unlimited and uncontrolled immigration, ignoring our immigration laws, opens the door to drug trafficking and people trafficking and, in the age of al Qaeda and ISIS, opens the door to terrorist attacks. Obama remarked in the last few days that we really haven’t had any terrorist attacks in this country under his watch, which prompted some very puzzled disagreement, beginning with Fort Hood, and running through a lot of other sad venues.

Of course. women who voted for Donald Trump are not welcome, but women who oppose Planned Parenthood or oppose abortion are not welcome either. It is just another leftist event. They find Trump sexist, racist, misogynist, and fascist, of course.  They may even mention equal pay for women, but that has been settled law for years, not that it is observed in places like the Clinton campaign.

I hope they have a good time, because their message is bunk. There is no such thing as social justice. We have one kind of justice in this country and it is concerned with the Constitution, the courts and the body of law. The only diversity that matters is diversity of ideas and the freedom to express them. Skin color hasn’t mattered to anyone for a very long time. And if you think that trying to force everyone to be equal is a good idea, you might try reading the Black Book of Communism, or reading up on Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia, and Soviet Russia.

 



Squeezing in as Many Last-Minute Orders as Possible! by The Elephant's Child

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There are only eight days until the inauguration. President Obama has given his farewell speech to a few thousand of his most enamored fans, who loved every single word, most of which were “I”.  President Obama has a legacy to shore up. So far, there’s not much there. Liz Peak, who usually writes for The Fiscal Times wrote a piece for Fox News on “Obama’s full-blown, year-end temper tantrum

Let’s be honest: President Obama is throwing a good old-fashioned foot-stomping world class temper tantrum. He is just beside himself that the stupid American voter elected Donald Trump. How could the country willfully dismiss the erudite recommendation of nearly every news organization in the nation – as well as Obama’s personal plea that not electing Hillary would be a personal insult to him? How could young people not respond to Obama’s call to “bend the arc of history in a better direction?” It is beyond comprehension.

But it happened, and Obama is having an extremely difficult time dealing with what may be his first-ever serious setback. …

So he is attempting to squeak in everything he possibly can in these last few days. He announced that his administration is ending the longstanding immigration policy that allowed Cubans fleeing their communist country to remain in this country if they can get here. The change means that Cuban nationals who come to the U.S. illegally will be returned to Cuba to face torture or death. “The future of Cuba should be in the hands of the Cuban people” Obama said. Unfortunately it is not in the hands of the people but in the hands of Raul Castro and his police forces, and they don’t like dissent.

Democrats are beside themselves with fear of what they see as “the new authoritarianism” of the incoming administration. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has been an outspoken advocate of charter schools, which the teacher’s unions oppose, but is for kids stuck in poorly performing schools, a lifesaving step for poor black children. She is also an opponent of Common Core. Reporters and Democrat activists advocated donations to the ACLU and other organizations devoted to civil liberty in the wake of an authoritarian government. It seems that Betsy DeVos has donated extensively to F.I.R.E. (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), a splendid organization that protects students’ rights to free speech, and is seeking to overturn an Obama administration policy that made it easier to discipline students accused of sexual harassment or assault. Way too many false accusations, and FIRE advocates for the interests of both the accuser and the accused, rather than just expelling students after kangaroo court show trials as activists demand.

Democrats in the House and Senate have proposed new legislation that aims to ensure that companies pay taxes on “excessive” employee pay. It’s meant to stop senior employees fro getting huge bonuses that the companies can deduct from their corporate tax bill each year. Nothing in the legislation to affect the excessive employee bonuses in federal agencies meant to use up the appropriated funds, so the agency can get a bigger appropriation next year. Under current law, companies can deduct employee salaries from their taxable income as long as the pay does not exceed $1 million a year.

President Obama has designated three new national monuments having to do with the Reconstruction era and the civil rights movement. He announced the establishment of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, the Freedom Riders National Monument and the Reconstruction Era National Monument. The Birmingham Civil Rights Monument protects the historic A.G. Gaston Motel. The Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama includes a Greyhound Bus Station and a site where the bus was firebombed. The Reconstruction Era includes four sites which will tell the story of  Reconstruction after the Civil War. He also announced the expansion of other national sites, the California Coastal National Monument and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The federal government is anxious to turn ever more private land over to the government to control. The problem is that the federal government does a lousy job of taking care of its parks and monuments.

ObamaCare is still trying to sign up the young. The failure of ObamaCare to sign up enough younger and healthier individuals to offset the cost of covering older and sicker enrollees is one of the big problems with the program. Trouble is Millennials aren’t anxious to buy coverage to pay for those older and sicker people. Which is just one of the reasons that ObamaCare is collapsing and Republicans want to repeal the law.

It’s all rather embarrassing. If Congress does not choose to ignore them and they become law, it is unfortunate and takes time to undo. If Congress reacts, that takes up their time that could be spent doing other things. Remarkably petty. But that’s Obama.

ADDENDUM: Obama is having the Justice Dept. Inspector General look into Comey’s  release of information about Hillary’s “private” insecure email systems at her home, run by some haywire operation in Colorado. It perhaps spread information about her emails a little wider, but her emails had been public knowledge for some time. Seven more days. Obama will cram in as many more regulations and executive orders as he can. So much for the peaceful transition.



Repealing ObamaCare, and The Problems Involved. by The Elephant's Child

medical_doctorsRepublicans are planning to repeal ObamaCare immediately.
They have a lot of good ideas about how to make a health care program more effective and less costly, like allowing health insurance to be sold across state borders. As it stands, each state has an insurance commissioner who approves or disapproves insurance policies for their particular state, so you get 50 different kinds of regulations.

An increase in competition always makes things cheaper and more efficient, because bad ideas get weeded out because they cannot compete. Freedom to solve problems and the promise of reward for solving them has resulted an an astonishing rise in the standard of living in the whole world.

All sorts of scholars have been working for 8 years to come up with better ideas for doing health insurance. The best idea, however, came from Thomas Sowell, and he stated it very simply:

If we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs now, how can we afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs. in addition to a new federal bureaucracy to administer a government run medical system?

The federal government has no business putting a bunch of bureaucrats in charge of American’s healthcare. The federal government has demonstrated over and over that they do not know how to do healthcare, with the VA, with Medicare, with Medicaid, and with the Indian Health Service.We don’t need top-down central planning.

ObamaCare wanted national records of healthcare practices so at  they would have more knowledge about how to make healthcare more efficient.They ordered hospitals to computerize, get rid of the handwritten notes of patient encounters. Medical centers spent enormous sums of money buying computer systems for each office and examining room. The basic idea was totally wasted because the computer systems can’t talk to each other. They were all different setups.

Patients weren’t all that happy about their private health records being available to anybody who could log onto the system. It also meant that doctors were spending their time interacting with computers instead of patients. Doctors hired scribes to take notes on the computer while the doctor actually interacted with the patient. Think about how much all that added to the cost of doing healthcare.

I think it was Medicare that ordered their physicians to limit patient encounters to 7½ minutes. Great way to cut costs, except the encounters are with real human beings with very different reasons for going to the doctor. Stupid.

Bureaucrats decided that the place to cut costs was in what medical professionals were charging for their services. You’ve seen your insurance records, the medical establishment charged $150 for the encounter, the insurance company allowed $47, and you paid half that in your co-pay. So, quite naturally, a good many physicians will not see people on Medicaid, Medicare, or the Indian Health Service, and so far veterans are stuck with the VA. You’re left hunting for someone who will see you, and are they the less accomplished doctors?

Bureaucrats think all doctors are rich, and some of them are. However, they spent a long time studying to be able to get into medical school, after that studying for their specialty, and interning. Most have huge school loans to pay off, and their offices have medical assistants, lab technicians, receptionists, nurses, a respectable office with all sorts of equipment and several examining rooms with all sorts of equipment. Doctors have years and years of training compared to ordinary bureaucrats, and at some point they expect to reach a point where they can live fairly well. Bureaucrats see them as the part of medical care that can be slashed to save money.

It’s not the doctors that cannot be afforded, it’s the bureaucrats. The federal government needs to get out of the business of running health care. They don’t know how to do it, they are no good at it. Turn it over to private enterprise, to find ways to provide care that the country can afford. The Left does not believe in private enterprise, they think competition is a bad thing, they believe that they are the smartest and most able people around, and they cannot understand why a heart surgeon should make more money than they do.

Consider the outcry against Trump’s nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to HUD because he had no experience in government. That’s a revealing, and typical, Leftist response.

Here’s a post from 2012 about the Oklahoma Surgical Center which would seem to suggest that there are real possibilities out there. I have not followed up to see if it is still as successful.

I am afraid that Republicans in Congress will just devise another government-run program that will have some better ideas, will not solve the problem of escalating costs, and when the Democrats return to power, as they will at some point in the distant future, we’ll do it all over.

Republicans believe in private enterprise, and freedom. When people are free and encouraged to find better ways and rewarded for so doing, miracles happen every day. How did you think Dr, Leonard McCoy got those amazing instruments that he used on the Enterprise?




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