American Elephants


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?



The Economic Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Sowell by The Elephant's Child

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The great economist Thomas Sowell has written his last columns, and at age 86, is turning his attention to his photography. He has always had a special genius for stating ideas in a simple but memorable way. When people wanted to honor his long list of columns over the years, they made lists of their favorite Sowell quotations. Here are some of mine and some of economist Mark Perry’s.

  1. ObamaCare: 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?
  2. Predicting the Future:  Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do– and nothing is more unpredictable.
  3. Economics vs. Politics: The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”
  4. Economics vs. Politics: Economics and politics confront the same fundamental problem: What everyone wants adds up to more than there is. Market economies deal with this problem by confronting individuals with the costs of producing what they want, and letting those individuals make their own trade-offs when presented with prices that convey those costs. That leads to self-rationing, in the light of each individual’s own circumstances and preferences.
  5. Predicting the Future: Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do– and nothing is more unpredictable.
  6. Politicians as Santa Claus: The big question that seldom— if ever— gets asked in the mainstream media is whether these are a net increase in jobs. Since the only resources that the government has are the resources it takes from the private sector, using those resources to create jobs means reducing the resources available to create jobs in the private sector.
  7. Helping the Poor: It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club.It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.
    Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing “compassion” for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.
  8. Thomas Sowell on Obama’s Health Care Reform


The Middle East Problem by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Dennis Prager with a brief video from Prager University, explaining the Middle East Problem, and why the much vaunted “Two-State Solution” doesn’t work, why Obama’s effort to abstain from voting for the Security Council  resolution is so foolish and so remarkably damaging.

Back before Barack Obama was nominated, Richard Epstein, who knew him at the University of Chicago, wrote that Obama had absolutely fixed ideas that were set in concrete. Once he made up his mind, Epstein said, that was it—set in stone, and unchangeable. The rockets fired into Israel, the attempts at mass murder, the refusal of the so-called Palestinians to consider recognizing the Jewish state  have made no impression. They don’t care that the Jews were there first, and continually.

Nor does the fact that it is quite clear that the Palestinian people want Israel destroyed, make an impression on Obama. The Israelis regularly are trusted by Palestinian parents to perform complicated and life-saving operations on their children. Arabs living in Israel participate fully in Israeli life, serve in government and are the freest Arabs in the Middle East. Curious.



Exit Stage Left: Whiny, Self-Justifying, With Elaborate Excuses by The Elephant's Child

obama-olderIn Juno of 2008, a younger Barack Obama spoke eloquently about his future role as a transformative president.

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

The caring for the sick part didn’t work out so well, The Obama bureaucrats could not conceive of a plan where the decisions were left to physicians, and wrapped the medical establishment in a cocoon of regulations; for example, an encounter with a patient was supposed to last just 7½ minutes. Keep an eye on your watch and think that one through.

Young Emily Smith has an unexplained itchy rash, prescription written easily within the time limit. Mrs. Grundy, however, has been having chest pains and is running a fever, is about 40 pounds overweight, and may well have heart disease. 7½ minutes? The failures of ObamaCare, Medicaid, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and VA hospitals have a lot in common. The administrative state, over-regulation, silly rules, and the inability to hold bureaucrats to account adds up. There’s a reason why so many doctors will not accept patients with these versions of government insurance.

The good jobs that were promised have also gone a glimmering. Obama has proudly enumerated all the new jobs created each month, but it turns out that almost all the new jobs created during the Obama administration were part time or temporary jobs. The administration’s conviction that they are smarter than the ordinary people out there has meant an overweening impulse to control and regulate. In 2016, the lame duck administration has added 3,853 regulations, 18 for every law — a record 97,110 pages of red tape. Small business is drowning in them. Three of my favorite small businesses have given up the ghost, and I’ll bet that several of your favorites have too.  All too often, bureaucrats invent new regulations with no idea of how they affect business in the real world. This description of “the Administrative State.” shows clearly how it all happens.

The [Federal Trade] Commission promulgates substantive rules of conduct. The Commission then considers whether to authorize investigations into whether the Commission’s rules have been violated. If the Commission authorizes an investigation, the investigation is conducted by the Commission, which reports its findings to the Commission. If the Commission thinks that the Commission’s findings warrant an enforcement action, the Commission issues a complaint. The Commission’s complaint that a Commission rule has been violated is then prosecuted by the Commission and adjudicated by the Commission. This Commission adjudication can either take place before the full Commission or before a semi-autonomous Commission administrative law judge. If the Commission chooses to adjudicate before an administrative law judge rather than before the Commission and the decision is adverse to the Commission, the Commission can appeal to the Commission. If the Commission ultimately finds a violation, then, and only then, the affected private party can appeal to an Article III court. But the agency decision, even before the bona fide Article III tribunal, possesses a very strong presumption of correctness on matters both of fact and of law. (this comes from Steven Hayward, quoting Boston University Law Professor Gary Lawson in an article for the Harvard Law Review)

The Obama Administration has put forth 25 “midnight regulations” rules that are published between Election Day and before the next president in inaugurated on January 20. According to the American Action For4um, they will cost the economy $44.1 billion. Obama’s eight years in office did not include even one year of economic growth at the normal 3% historical average.

Obama has ordered the EPA to proceed with its controversial Stream Protection Rule—which would make mining so difficult it would make 85 percent of the nation’s coal reserves unrecoverable. On Tuesday he designated most federally owned land in the Arctic Ocean and large swaths off the Atlantic Coast closed to drilling, which would prevent any production of huge reserves of oil and gas.

George W.Bush went to great lengths to make the transition easy for the incoming Obama administration, recognized that his time in the spotlight was over, and refused to comment on his successors failures and mistakes. And even in spite of being blamed for everything that didn’t work out, Mr. Bush remained a gentleman. Mr. Obama learned nothing from his predecessor, and will exit—whiny, self-justifying and full of excuses. In his “exit interview” on CNN with his former advisor David Axlerod, Obama pledged he would abide by tradition and retire with dignity as ex-president. We’ll see about that.



A Vaccine For A Virus: Burying Ebola by The Elephant's Child

How about a little good news for a change? An invention has come along that has changed the landscape completely.

A vaccine invented in Canada was tested in a large scale inoculation in Guinea and Sierra Leone by the World Health Organization to assess just how well it protected people against Ebola—the dreadful virus that ravaged Africa in 2014, killing 60 percent of the people who were infected. What happened? It succeeded spectacularly. It protected 100 percent of the people who received it. This is the first and only therapy for Ebola other than the previous supportive measures.

The vaccine, which is a glycoprotein (1) called rVSV-ZEBOV, was tested in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The group gathered samples from an individual, either alive or dead who had a positive lab test for Ebola, and then identified a cluster of their contacts, contacts of the contacts, and the contacts of the contacts who weren’t around when the team arrived. Each uninfected person got a single injection of the vaccine in the arm. The results are stunning.

The group identified a total of 4539 people in 51 clusters between March 2015, and January 2016. About half (2119 people) received the vaccine immediately, and another 2041 got it 21 days later.

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The name of the vaccine sounds daunting, but it’s really not. The “r” means recombinant—formed by alteration of viral DNA, which can be done using standard molecular biotechnology techniques. VSV stands for vesicular stomatitis virus—the virus that was modified (2). ZEBOV is short for Zaire Ebola virus, which was the most deadly circulating strain.

This is a very big deal. The safety profile is excellent, and only two adverse effects were attributed to the vaccine itself. It is an enormous achievement, and could rid the world of a very scary, very dangerous disease.

The epidemic in 2014-15 claimed the lives of 11,300 people in West Africa, spread the virus as far as New York and Texas, and demonstrated the failures of the world public health system.”The public health bureaucracy resists therapeutics, which threaten traditional manpower-heavy quarantines and tracking.” By 2015, cases were low and declining and researchers were able to gather real world information on an accelerated schedule. The study was so successful that it was stopped early since not providing the vaccine to the control group was unethical.

Ebola is a complex and mutating pathogen, and no scientific triumph is ever final. But the public-health bureaucracy demonstrated no such humility, and its overconfidence showed how unprepared the world is to respond to biological threats. Developing and deploying more vaccines like rVSV-Zebov may be the best defense.



The Big Donors Want Answers! What Happened? by The Elephant's Child

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waits to be introduced during a campaign event at Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wis., Tuesday, March 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Hillary has wanted to be the first woman president forever. She wanted to be the co-president with Bill in 1993. She thought they would have a two-for-one deal, but the American people reminded them that she was not elected. So it has been an enormous loss for her, both in 2012 and now. I could almost feel sorry for her.

Donors, most importantly, want to know where Clinton spent the nearly $1.5 billion in campaign resources she collected in the closing months. They especially want introspection, or what they’re calling a “dispassionate, centralized analysis,” of how Clinton failed to read the mood in swing states, and how her Brooklyn-centric  operation so badly misread polling data.

From what I have read, the big change in polling came about with “the Deplorables” comment. Whatever you want to say about Bill Clinton, he has excellent political instincts, but he was essentially banned from the campaign. Hillary was, quite frankly, a lousy candidate. She is not particularly likeable, as many have said. And for someone who aspired to the highest office in the land, she did not build up her qualifications. As Carly Fiorina said “titles are not qualifications.” The only bill she introduced in the Senate was to name a post office. And as Secretary of State, her accomplishment was frequent-flyer miles. She denied help to her ambassador to Libya who begged over and over for additional help because the post in Benghazi was so dangerous, and we all know how that turned out.

Had she studied up on the situation in Libya, she would have known that Ghadaffi had given up any interest in nuclear weapons after the demise of Saddam Hussein, and was considered as a dictator who was keeping the lid on in a violent country. She urged his overthrow, and celebrated his demise with a public cackled “We came, we saw, he died.” and laughed about it.

She is a compulsive liar, and everyone knew it, though that doesn’t matter to Democrats. She lies about silly things to enhance herself, that are clearly false, like being named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who hadn’t climbed any mountain until long after she was named. The account of arriving in Bosnia under sniper fire, was shot down by videos of the welcoming party with children with flowers.

The big campaign donors are not buying her Russia excuse or the Comey excuse either. They want to know what went  wrong. They were promised a big victory and look what happened!

But in the weeks since, the wealthy Democrats who helped pump over $1 billion into Clinton’s losing effort have been urging their local finance staffers, state party officials, and campaign aides to provide a more thorough explanation of what went wrong. With no dispassionate, centralized analysis of how Clinton failed so spectacularly, they insist, how can they be expected to keep contributing to the party?…

Absent a single campaign infrastructure those donors can use to do that, a handful of Democrats have looked to step in and provide a centralized outlet for donor planning. One is Clinton ally David Brock, who is planning a retreat for top party finance players in Aventura, Florida, over the Thursday-to-Saturday of Trump’s inauguration week….

Among the gathering’s planned sessions: “Learning from 2016: Strategy, Policy, and Building a lasting winning Coalition,” “Campaign Tactics of the future: Polling, Social Media, and Targeting,” “The New Face of the Right,” “Holding Trump Accountable,” and “Ethics Watchdog on Steroids.”

It was fairly obvious. Hillary had no message. She criticized Trump, She was going to do the same thing Obama has done. To a lot of voters—that was no recommendation. She said in a paid speech with Brazilian bankers that her dream was open trade and  open borders with a continental open market. Obama kept bragging about all the jobs he had created, but ordinary folks just saw the increasing numbers of people who had given up looking. The small businesses they liked had closed their doors, and immigrants had taken all of the construction jobs. Union leaders backed Hillary, and assumed their workers would follow suit. They didn’t. And besides, the American people just didn’t like being called “Deplorables.”

In a new poll, more than two-thirds of registered voters oppose any attempt by President Obama to pardon Hillary Clinton before he leaves office next month. This was a Fox news poll, and Obama blames  Fox News for all of his troubles.




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