American Elephants


But We Were Sure It Would Save Money! by The Elephant's Child

obama-signs-obamacare

One of Obama’s big promises about ObamaCare was that once people had the wonderful new “Affordable Care”insurance,  emergency room use would sharply decline and the country would save all sorts of money on medical care. Conservatives knew that was bunk, but the Affordable Care Act passed without a single Republican vote — for good reason, and really, not because we hate the president. We just hate his health care bill.

A peculiarity of Progressives is that they decide a policy would be another step on the path to a ‘better world,’ but they don’t spend much effort on analyzing how it would actually work. They have enrolled lots more people who were uninsured in Medicaid. They feel wonderful about that — all ‘Lady Bountiful’. That they have at the same time, in order to make it affordable, cut back so far on what they will pay doctors, that nobody in need of health care can find a doctor who will accept Medicaid’s low payment. Voila! Increased use of emergency rooms.

ABC reports that Bakersfield Memorial Hospital broke records and now serve 300 people daily in the ER. A Registered Nurse, Jenny Wilson, with Memorial Hospital explains that they have developed a fast track system that categorizes the patients based on illness and directs the less serious cases with sprains, cold or cough to get quick treatment and then releases them.

A Los Angeles Times article confirmed that according to state records, Los Angeles County’s 74 emergency rooms, 11 treated an additional 2,000 patients or more in the first six months of 2014 compared with the same time in 2013.

The VA scandal arose when veterans died before they could finally get an appointment to be seen. Higher-ups demanded that hospitals see more patients in less time in order to save money, but hospitals could not meet the demand, so in order to save their jobs, they parked people on hidden wait lists. Apparently nobody asked if it was possible to do what was requested. It wasn’t. But veterans inconveniently died when forced to wait too long.

ObamaCare was going to save all sorts of money by computerizing everybody’s records, so everybody could share them, and the federal government would have national records of the nation’s health that they could study and find even more ways to save money. Hospitals and clinics, at great expense and trouble have indeed computerized.

My local hospital and all the associated clinics are getting used to the system, though it means that in most cases the doctor spends his time interacting with the computer instead of the patient. That’s a problem. An even larger problem is that hospitals can’t talk to each other. Their systems were separately designed, and the programming cannot and will not connect unless re-done. Affordable Care isn’t affordable.

Rules create incentives, regulations have consequences— often unintended. That is true in all of life. Progressives eyes are so fixed on the warm feelings to be engendered by their action that they just don’t expect any untoward consequences. Need proof? These are the people who think they can run up the national debt to $18 trillion, without understanding that they have to pay it back.



What Did Obama Mean By “Fundamentally Transform”? by The Elephant's Child

Obama lecturing

Most of us are apt to divide the world up into the good guys and the bad guys. Opposites.  Simplistic thinking, of course. No nuance. (when did that word slip into the daily vocabulary?) Winners and losers. Short and tall, rich and poor, hard-working and lazy, handsome and ugly, cruel and kind, smart and stupid. It helps us to understand those things we encounter in the world, we can modify our judgment later.

World War II was clear — Allies and Axis, and the Cold War — Communists and the Free World. Things began to get confused with the War in Vietnam. Protesters couldn’t decide who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Jane Fonda has never been forgiven for her stupidity, but she was not alone among the far left. It was a confusing time, and when the Draft was ended, surprisingly so were the protests.

Questions today on the internet ask “Is Obama a Christian?” and “Is Obama a Muslim?” But those are the wrong questions. Obama has given every indication of signing up with the bad guys, the Axis, the Communists, and those who oppose our country. His dislike for the Israeli prime minister is obvious; his distaste for the United Kingdom is clear; his support for a deal with Iran; his support for the Muslim Brotherhood; for the deposed president of Egypt; inability to reach a status of forces agreement with Iraq; Benghazi; refusal to help the dissidents in Iran, and in Syria; and the silly outreach to Cuba; and the support for most anti-American governments in South America.

There is a pattern.  A pattern which is behind Rudy Giuliani’s asking if the president loves America. One would think that the media would be somewhat aware of the direction of the entire Obama administration, instead of dissolving in wrath when someone actually notices. (Or is that why the media boiled over —they’re beginning to notice?)

I think he is just doing exactly what he said he would do: attempt to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Everybody was so excited with the idea of the first black president, the mellow baritone voice, the moving phraseology “Yes We Can!,” “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!,” that they didn’t really pay any attention to what he actually said that he wanted to do. I don’t think he is trying to destroy the country, he just wants to “fix” it.

We are paying the price for our inattention. And it’s up to us to find out exactly what he meant by “fundamentally transform.” It matters. It matters a lot.



It’s The Little Things That Finally Get To You! by The Elephant's Child

Conservatives frequently complain about Big Government, and the excesses of Big Government that badly need to be whittled back.

There has been some celebration of the end of another extension to unemployment insurance which meant that some of the long-term unemployed suddenly went out and got a job. With a gentle kick in the pants, some who had been unable to find the job to equal their last position, decided they’d be better off with a job, even if it didn’t measure up to their hopes. (I defer to David Horowitz:)

Democrat campaign themes are monotonously the same. They scare voters by accusing Republicans of imaginary crimes. And always the same crimes: Republicans wage wars on women, on minorities, and on the vulnerable. They defend the rich and don’t care about the poor. Their policies inflict pain on working families to benefit the wealthy few.

Big Government is the goal of the Left. They envision a government that supports most everybody, because they like to develop policies that do nice things for the people. It makes them feel good to be Lady Bountiful. Nancy Pelosi explained recently when she spoke to an audience of musicians and artists in San Francisco. “they needn’t bother working, because the taxpayers of the United States would cover their health care. Without a job they would be free to focus on their talents, passions and aspirations because they wouldn’t be “job locked.

The “better world” to which the Left aspires is a bountiful government that takes care of everyone’s needs. If the program or policy is well-meant, then it is successful. ObamaCare, for example, includes people who could not afford insurance, and gives them Medicaid.  What a wonderful thing! It costs too much, so they just pay the doctors less, which results in few doctors who are willing to see Medicaid patients. So there you are—the ideal Leftist policy.

It’s that  “better world” dream that impels them. They’ll just raise taxes on the rich, and the corporations. It doesn’t really affect them, because they are the ones in charge. And the people will be so dependent that they will never turn to those mean Republicans who care about abstractions like independence and individual liberty.

That was the dream in Cuba, and they achieved it. The people are well cared for. Everyone gets an allowance of $20 a month, their health care is free, they just have to bring their own medicine and bedding, and the doctors are mostly off in Venezuela where their work is being traded for oil. They get ration cards for food. The infrastructure there is really crumbling, and the Castros are obscenely rich, but it is clearly working. America just surrendered to the Castros, that proves it. 

What inspired my rant about Big Government?  It seems the federal government has a major problem with federal employees spending their time on the taxpayer dollar watching pornography. “It’s appalling that it requires an act of Congress to ensure that federal agencies block access to these sites,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) as he introduced legislation. as chairman of the operations subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

An inspector general report released last year revealed that an EPA official who was caught with thousands of downloaded porn files on his government computer and had watched up to six hours a day while on the job. He was not fired.

The Veterans Affairs Secretary, being challenged by Congress over construction delays, and cost increases at a Denver VA hospital snapped at Rep.Mike Coffman (R-CO) “I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?” Mike Coffman has served in both Iraq wars,  but did not respond at the hearing, in a later statement said: “I have never run a federal agency that tolerates corruption the way the VA has. I’ve never built a hospital that’s years behind schedule and hundreds of millions over budget. And I’ve never been a shill for inept bureaucrats who allowed American heroes to die on a medical waiting list.”

On the West Coast, the ports are piling up as the ILWU (the longshoremens’ union) is doing a work slowdown to force the ports to give them automatic pay raises, or they will shut down the ports.

A shutdown would not only impact the hundreds of thousands of jobs working directly in America’s transportation supply chain, but the reality is the entire economy would be impacted as exports sit on docks and imports sit in the harbor waiting for manufacturers to build products and retailers to stock shelves.

The average dockworker makes $147,000 a year in salary, plus $35,000 a year in employer-paid health care and an annual $80,000 pension. Where is Ronald Reagan when you need him so? (You do remember when he fired the Air Traffic Control workers, don’t you?)

Obama’s Big Government is not working, and it’s getting worse every day. You notice one little thing after another, and begin to pay attention.



The Basic Problem Is That The Left Is Not Troubled By Lies! by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times Well’ column, which seems to be about ‘living well,’ is today going on about the reliability of human memory, and how memories can be distorted or embellished over time, and then wanders into consulting a leading memory researcher about Brian Williams’ long, long history of “distorted” memories.

I hasten to add that I do not get my news from NBC, and I’m not at all sure that I have ever watched Brian Williams. Scientific studies, researchers, fabricated, distorted, embellished, mistakenly, etc. etc. It’s still pretty clear that the embellishing served the purpose of making Mr. Williams look a little better in his own eyes and the eyes of others. And yes, everybody lies:” You look really nice, dear” and so on and so forth, but we all know when it crosses the line into something else entirely.

And we seem to be entirely into the “entirely” category. We are unable to decide whether our president lives in a fantasy world, thinks the common folk out there will believe anything he says, is purposefully distorting, or is just a pathological liar.

Then we have the IRS, the EPA, HHS, NSA, OMB, NOAA, DOE, DHS, VA, I could go on, but you get the idea, and these are only a few of the agencies that have been in the news for scandal of one sort or another. I can ‘t remember any time when there are so many questions about the behavior of so many government agencies, or any time when confidence in government was so lacking. This is not normal.

Congress is still trying to pry out some information about the attack on our facility in Benghazi, the murder of four Americans (one of them an Ambassador of the United States of America) and that was back in September of 2012!

We have a president, a graduate of Harvard Law School, who does not feel it necessary to pay attention to the Constitution, let alone the preserve, protect and defend oath he took on Lincoln’s Bible. The Constitution is quite clear that Congress gets to make the laws, and the President’s job is the executive part.

Is falsehood contagious? Does falsehood in the Executive Department spread to the agencies by some sort of osmosis? Or do instructions go out to each department head about what may be said and what may not? Examples made by the swift firing of someone or other? How does it all work?

Why do I find more clarity about an event in this country by reading about it in the British press rather than our own?

We now have the biggest science scandal ever, in which the official temperature records — on which the entire global warming panic has rested and about which billions of taxpayer money has been spent — temperature records which were systematically adjusted to show the Earth as having warmed significantly more than was justified by the actual data.

I reject the idea that it has always been thus. Candidates in the next election must convince us that next time things will be different. And we’re not going to be all that easy to convince any more.

So to clarify everything and restore honesty to the situation, NBC is going to suspend the aforesaid Mr. Williams for six months. At that point maybe everybody will have forgotten, or moved on,  and Brian Williams will have forgotten all those unfortunate misremembered memories.



Jonathan Gruber Returns With a Direct Tax on Body Weight by The Elephant's Child

JonathanGruberYou remember Jonathan Gruber PhD, MIT Economist, architect of ObamaCare, became famous for calling the American  people stupid, and for devising a health care plan that was designed to sweep everyone, over time, into an unworkable single-payer plan like Britain’s that is currently going broke. He has even admitted. sorta. kinda, that he knew all along that the cost of ObamaCare was not going to go down. Have to figure out some ways to save money. But he already did that — in a paper he delivered in 2010 to the National Institute for Health Care Management entitled “Taxing Sin to Modify Behavior and Raise Revenue.”He considered the case of cigarettes, alcohol, and obesity:

Ultimately, what may be needed to address the obesity problem are direct taxes on body weight. While it is hard to conceive of this approach being a common public policy tool in the near term, such taxation may be happening indirectly through health insurance surcharges.

It is important to remember that the  “Affordable Care Act” does not give you health care. It gives you a card that says you have government sponsored health insurance. It does not guarantee that you can find a doctor or a hospital that will accept your insurance.

They brag about all the formerly uninsured people they signed up for Medicaid, then to reduce the cost of all those  people, they cut way back on the amount with which they will reimburse doctors and other health care providers — which has meant that few doctors will accept Medicaid patients. Nice to have that card though.

In the case of Veterans insurance, Obama’s 2016 Budget Proposal, now that the VA scandal has kind of blown over, proposes rolling back the program that gives veterans the right to receive faster care outside of the scandalously long wait lists at the troubled Veterans Affairs medical system.

For Medicare, it’s the same deal. They added some extra gimmicks to make it sound like they were doing nice things for the old folks, then cut back on the payments to doctors and medical providers with the natural result that fewer doctors will see Medicare patients.

ADDENDUM: President Obama’s budget proposal is important only in the view it gives of his priorities. Congress will do the budget. Buried in the proposal is a $50 million cut to one of the U.S. longstanding vaccine programs for the under-insured and uninsured. This comes right at the time when we are in the middle of a severe measles outbreak, and the CDC is worried about how much it may spread. 102 cases so far, and both children and adults need to be vaccinated.

For the left, the important thing is that they have given the American people a health care plan. It makes them feel good about themselves. That the plan does not assure that you can see a doctor, or the specialist you need, or it doesn’t cover you when you are traveling, or costs more than you can afford — is not a big deal. They’ll fix that later. They really do think that way.



Obama’s Analysis of His Own Presidency! by The Elephant's Child

A strange day indeed. President Barack Obama appeared on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” He said he was most proud of “saving the American Economy” and he is “very confident that America is stronger, more prosperous, safer, and more influential today than it was when I took office.”

Huh?

“I’m proud of saving the American economy. We still have a long way to go. Essentially what we did was stabilize it, lay a new foundation to move forward. As I said in the State of the Union address, that gives us, now the capacity to tackle what was an overriding theme of my campaign way back in 2008.  And that is to restore middle class economics and the capacity for people to get into the middle class and start seeing higher wages and a broader shared prosperity inside the United States.”

“Internationally, I’m proud of the fact that we’ve responsibly ended two wars. Now, people will say, well, you’re back in Iraq, but we’re not back in Iraq with an occupying army, we’re back with a coalition of 60 countries helping to stabilize the situation.”

“And so one of the things I’ve learned in this job over the last six years is that sometimes progress is incremental. But when I look at overall the steps that we’ve taken, I believe they are the right ones. I am very confident that America is stronger, more prosperous, safer, and more influential today than it was when I took office.”

Republicans, online, have expended volumes of words trying to understand this president and why he does — what he does. Not very successfully. That is the things he does are not successful and our understanding is not successful. But David Horowitz, in his new book Take No Prisoners, offers some clues.

The Democratic Party has moved steadily leftward since the 1972 presidential campaign of George McGovern until it is now a party of the Left, led by progressives who are convinced that their policies are way stations on the path to a “better world.”

The vision of moral and social progress that Democrats share has profound consequences for the way they conduct their political battles. Unlike conservatives, progressives are not in politics merely to improve government practices and ameliorate social problems. They are missionaries who want to “change society” and “solve” its problems. They are out to create an entirely new order, which they call ‘social justice.” They think of themselves as social redeemers. Their belief in a redeemed future accounts for their political passion and for their furious personal assaults on those who stand in their way. …

The very grandeur of their ambition turns progressives into zealots. They dream of using the power of the state to make everyone equal and to take care of everyone’s needs. They are going to legislate—and dictate—social equality and social justice. How intoxicating is that idea? It explains why progressives approach politics differently from conservatives. It doesn’t matter to progressives that the massive entitlement programs they created—Social Security and Medicare—are already bankrupt. They can take care of that by making wealthy people pay their “fair share.” Progressives believe that if they can appropriate enough money and accumulate enough power, they can make their glorious future work. Everything Democrats do and every campaign they conduct is about mobilizing their political resources to bring about this result. It is about social transformation—one program and one candidate at a time. No Republican in his right mind thinks like this.

I recommend the book highly. I wish I could quote more. Eyeopening! I keep reading the first chapters over as the examples from my own experience prove every word.



The Current Measles Outbreak Is “100 Percent Connected” To The Anti-Vaccine Movement! by The Elephant's Child

measles-boy-blotchyface

The majority of current measles cases in 14 states are linked to an outbreak traced to Disneyland. Reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington State. From January 1, to January 28 there have been 84 cases reported— representing 64% of reported cases, according to the CDC

In 2014, the U.S. experienced 23 measles outbreaks, totaling 640 cases, including one large outbreak of 383 cases, occurring predominately among unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio. Many of the 2014 cases were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines.

measles-cases-616pxIn spite of cases brought in from other countries, the U.S. seemed on the road to eradicating the disease entirely.  2014 saw the worst outbreak in two decades. What happened last year? More than 13,000 parents nationwide claimed on forms that vaccinating their children from preventable diseases like measles violated their “personal beliefs.”

Before 1963, when the measles vaccine became available for public use in the U.S., there were more than 500,000 reported measles cases every year, according to the CDC. On average 432 cases a year resulted in death. After an effective vaccination campaign, that number shrank to 86 measles cases by 2000 with zero fatalities.

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases on record, incredibly contagious among those who have not been vaccinated. The virus can linger on surfaces for up to two hours, and before those infected have any symptoms they can be spreading the disease. Aside from the blotchy red rash, you can get pneumonia, croup and diarrhea. The worst complication, which only occurs in about one in 1,000 cases is encephalitis which can lead to permanent brain damage or be fatal. The elderly or children under five are more prone to complications.

The current outbreak is “100 percent connected” to the anti-vaccine movement among the ill-informed. Most children are required to receive vaccinations to attend schools, but misinformed parents cite ‘health,’ ‘religious’ or ‘philosophical’ reasons in order to get an exemption. They are not only putting their own child at risk, but many other children as well. Oddly enough, it’s some of the wealthiest communities that are most unvaccinated, and have the most cases, like Marin County, California. and Orange County in Southern California, where unvaccinated students are not allowed to attend classes. Bad parenting.




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