American Elephants


Ideology Overrides Common Sense And Law. by The Elephant's Child

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Donald Trump got a lot of support from his announced plan to build a “Great Big Wall and make Mexico pay for it.” The commentariat reacted immediately with cries of racism and xenophobia, (the fear of anything new or different), but in fact, countries all over the world are reacting to migrants with new fences or walls. Turkey’s new Syrian border fence will have a smart tower every 1,000 feet featuring “a three-language alarm system and automate firing systems” supported by zeppelin drones.

Israel’s Separation Barrier with the West Bank has been hotly debated. There is a Moroccan Wall in the Western Sahara. The Great Wall of Jordan (costs half a billion dollars), and Kenya has an anti-terror wall on its Somalia border.

Saudi Arabia is building a 600 mile “Great Wall” to protect against border infiltrators from Iraq that begin with sand berms, twin chain link fences with razor wire 100m apart separated by concertina fence, then 40 watchtowers equipped with radar and daylight cameras, command-and-control centers, 38 separate communication towers and 32 military response stations. They are serious, but ISIS regards the capture of Saudi Arabia home to the”Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal.

Many of the EU states are erecting border fences, but those who consider the nation-state to be a fiction, and who sneer at border fences as attempting to keep the barbarians out, note that “barbarians can be defined however the wall -builders desire.” Technology is dismissed as a leftover Cold War trend. An essay from UPI suggests since the advent of the War on Terror, border barriers have been framed as a state’s response to terrorist acts, but are a distorted mirror image of terrorist intentions. Building a wall is easier for a more authoritarian state, and part of a policy framework that includes state-sanctioned repression. But then Evelyn Gordon reports at Commentary about the 13 year-old Israeli-American who was murdered in her bed this morning, stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager.

I would submit that people are by nature tribal. The Middle East is deeply divided by tribes who all seem to be fighting each other. People who share a language, a background and customs are apt to stick together. America was settled by tribes or groups who settled together, the British in new England, the Dutch in New Amsterdam, the Germans in Germantown, members of  religious sects came together. Many were despised when they first arrived, but assimilated, integrated and intermarried — and then they formed new tribes, barn builders,  quilters, musicians and horse breeders and so on and on.

Victor Davis Hanson wrote recently  that “The history of nations is mostly characterized by ethnic and racial uniformity, not diversity.”

Most national boundaries reflected linguistic, religious, and ethnic homogeneity. Until the late 20th century, diversity was considered a liability, not a strength. …

Many societies created words to highlight their own racial purity. At times, “Volk” in German and “Raza” in Spanish (and “Razza” in Italian) meant more than just shared language, residence, or culture; those words also included a racial essence. Even today, it would be hard for someone Japanese to be fully accepted as a Mexican citizen, or for a native-born Mexican to migrate and become a Japanese citizen …

America is history’s exception. It began as a republic founded by European migrants. Like the homogenous citizens of most other nations, they were likely on a trajectory to incorporate racial sameness as the mark of citizenship. But the ultimate logic of America’s unique Constitution was different. So the United States steadily evolved to define Americans by their shared values, not by their superficial appearance. Eventually, anyone who was willing to give up his prior identity and assume a new American persona became American.

Consider the agenda of the Obama administration. Diversity is to be enforced, including forcing suburbs to accept people from the inner city, and forcing people from the inner city to relocate to unfamiliar suburbs. Refugees are to be planted in communities across the country. Idaho just got 7 refugees with active Tuberculosis (TB), following seven other states who have reported active TB among refugees resettled in their states. Of 4,650 refugees resettled in Idaho between 2011 and 2015 — 896 tested positive for latent TB infection. TB is a very serious disease. It had been nearly eradicated. And TB is just one of the diseases that Obama is quite deliberately spreading around the country in the name of ideology.

Illegal alien unaccompanied children have been sent to every state, including Alaska and Hawaii.  Attempting to reach some ideological goal by forcing diversity of race and ethnicity in the name of achieving “equality” goes against the natural inclinations of the people involved — to solve a solely political goal of the administration. A goal that seems to be mostly about making themselves feel noble and important, because it certainly has nothing to do with the people and what they want.



Senate Democrats Block Zika Virus Funding by The Elephant's Child

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Most of the news about the Zika Virus is bad. Babies are born with malformed brains, adults who suffer the progressive paralysis of Guillaine-Barré syndrome, Americans diagnosed after travel to the topics, active transmission of the disease in U.S. territories, but primarily because of regulatory requirements no vaccine is likely to become available before the end of the decade.

The FDA is “blocking real progress on a vital tool to control the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry and transmit Zika and the viruses that cause dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.”

Using genetic engineering techniques, the British company Oxitec (a subsidiary of American-owned Intrexon) has created male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with a specific mutation that causes them to need a certain chemical (the antibiotic tetracycline) to survive. Without it, they die—and their offspring die before reaching maturity. Releasing the males over several months causes a marked reduction in the mosquito population. Because male mosquitoes don’t bite, they present no health risk, and, because their progeny die, no genetically engineered mosquitoes persist in the environment.

Turf battle: the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which has the authority and expertise to oversee genetically engineered insects vs. the USDA (budgetary concerns and anti-genetic engineering among senior USDA people) who sent it over to the FDA which is unqualified to review the mosquito and unwilling to move it along. If all this sounds nuts, it is.

Brain damage in Zika babies is far worse than doctors expected. The virus attacks lobes of the fetal brain that control thought, vision and movement.

The Senate voted to approve a $1.1 billion bill to fight Zika by a 52 to 48 margin, with funds to go to help develop a vaccine. (Not enough to get the bill to the floor). It was slightly less than what Obama requested, but his budget request earmarked over half a billion for Zika programs in other countries and shortchanged public health here at home. (ObamaCare has a 2 billion slush fund for public health).

Harry Reid called the bill “nothing more than a goodie bag for the fringes of the Republican Party” and said they had no choice but to block it. Their real complaint was that Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be able to get a portion of the funds directed to public health departments and hospitals that are reimbursed by public health. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) claimed that the Republican bill “limits access to birth control services needed to help curb the spread of the virus and prevent terrible birth defects.”

The Democrat’s idea was that the mainstream press would blame the GOP for the bill’s demise, but even the liberal media wouldn’t buy this mess of pottage. The headlines for CNN, NBC, CBS and even the NY Times were uniformly something in the line of “Senate Democrats block Zika funding.”

Scientists are getting closer to understanding how Zika causes Microcephaly, but they’re not there yet. The Senate’s stupid move makes it impossible for Congress to send legislation to the president before July 4. This means the bill is dead, and a new bill will have to be written and submitted. Both chambers are back in session for just one week before leaving for summer vacation July 15 and not returning till after Sept 5.



My Very First Broken Bone! by The Elephant's Child

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This is the first time, despite my advanced age, that I have ever had a broken bone. Right foot, 5th metatarsal, spiral fracture. I get a fancy ski boot with all sorts of Velcro and canvas and buckles that I apparently have to wear for months and months. It lets me walk on my injured foot, which makes life easier. No cast, for which I am grateful.

I didn’t even break a bone when my horse pitched me off trying to show off her ability as a cutting horse. She was pretty good. I wasn’t all that much as a cutting horse rider.



Sorry about the Erratic Blogging. by The Elephant's Child

Sorry about the light blogging. Dramatic version: I fell down the stairs and broke my foot. Reality: It was just the last step, and I thought it was just a sprain, but it is indeed broken, painful, puffy, and bright purple.

I shall write as soon as possible, cranky as ever, and there’s a remarkable amount to be cranky about.



How Healthy Are Your State’s Finances? by The Elephant's Child

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The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has published a new study on the fiscal condition of the states. They rank each state on their fiscal health based on short-and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations including unfunded pension liability and  healthcare  benefits. Growing pension obligations and increasing healthcare costs are straining budget planning.

Many states are facing big jumps in insurance premiums. Humana is seeking a 50% ObamaCare price hike in Michigan, deductibles are going up. Silver plan deductibles of $6,000 and $7,000 are not uncommon.

Ranking the 50 states is based on five separate categories.

  • Cash solvency: Does a state have enough cash on hand to cover its short term bills?
  • Budget solvency: Can a state cover its fiscal year spending with current revenues, or does it have a budget shortfall?
  • Long-run solvency: Can a state meet it’s long-term spending commitments? Will there be enough money to cushion it from economic shocks or other long-term fiscal risks?
  • Service-Level solvency: How much “fiscal slack” does a state have to increase spending if citizens demand more services?
  • Trust Fund Solvency: How much debt does a state have? How large are its unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities?

The top five states, Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota rank in the top five. Pensions and healthcare will be long term challenges, but these states are considered fiscally healthy. The top five have changed since last year. Wyoming moved up and edged Florida out, but Nebraska moved up to second place.

Kentucky, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut are in the bottom five largely owing to low amounts of cash and big debt obligations. That little bright red spot at the bottom is Puerto Rico.



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.



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.




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