American Elephants

How This Election Came About, Who Is Responsible, and What the Heck We Are Going to Do. by The Elephant's Child

This is possibly the weirdest election year ever, though there have been some pretty disturbing ones in the past. We have candidates in each of the major parties who were not only not my choice, but far from it. We had our primaries and conventions, and this is what they came up with. We have two equally impossible candidates in the two minor parties.

The earth has shifted, and much has changed — and we are beginning to wake up to it. First, consider the news. The world of information as we knew it consisted of the news (solemn, reasonably accurate, and fairly non-partisan), and opinion — partisan, but you could identify those on your side and decide who among them to pay attention to. The news came on at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. A good percentage of the American people also got a daily newspaper, some even got two, and maybe some magazines. Where do you get your news today?

The powers that be do want desperately to divide us into classes — the upper class. middle class, working class and the poor — they have other names for the “upper” class, and the “they” clearly represents those who want to be considered “upper.” Charles Murray wrote:

Harvard economist Robert Reich was the first to put a name to an evolving new class of workers in his 1991 book, The Work of Nations, calling them “symbolic analysts.”Reich surveyed the changing job market and divided jobs into three categories; routine production services, in-person services, and symbol-analytic services. In Reich’s formulation, the new class of symbolic analysts consisted of managers, engineers, attorneys, scientists, professors, executives, journalists, consultants and other “mind workers” whose work consists of processing information. He noted that the new economy was ideally suited to their talents and rewarded them accordingly.

Murray, in The Bell Curve, called this new classthe cognitive elite,” and said that currently when he uses the term  new upper class, he is referring to a fuzzy set of people who run the nation’s economic political and cultural institutions, and at the top are those who have risen to jobs that affect the nation’s culture, economy and politics. So if you are one of those who mumbled about all of us working for a living, there you are.

So where do you get your information? Note that we no longer have a “news” class — it’s all opinion. Brief rants on Twitter are as apt to make the “news” as the latest from the wire services. (Are there still wire services?) Count up the sources you have for information — takes a heck of a lot more than two hands.

We are all human beings, including those we send to Congress as well as those we send to the White House, and to judges chambers, and those currently serving time. Oddly, the new upper class, who need so badly to think well of themselves, usually forget that—possibly because being human means we don’t know as much as we think we do, we make mistakes, some of us lie, commit fraud and are false to our best ideals — and worse. We are told that we must commit to lifetime learning, but when you come home at the end of the day, an old movie seems more enticing. Those who run for political office have an extra gene for public speaking and imperviousness to criticism, and of course ego. Don’t expect too much.

In the meantime, the Left has changed dramatically. Kim Holmes has written a fascinating book to explain the changes that have taken place.

For most of the 1980s and 1990s, leftists worked, if not underground, then certainly below the political radar. They were still operating in a Reagan or post-Reagan era. They inhabited universities and activist organizations that had existed on the fringes of American liberalism since the 1960s. This marginal existence ended in the 2000s under the presidency of George W. Bush. Progressive activists launched a movement against the war in Iraq, and eventually the Democratic Party broke with the moderation of the Clinton years. Energized and radicalized, Democrats moved left and began to take on the old liberal establishment, much as the New Left had done in the Kennedy and Johnson years. The result is a far more aggressive liberal party. This cause triumphed with the election of Barack Obama, a quintessential postmodern leftist, to the presidency in 2008.

The new Left is better characterized by groupthink and intolerance.  Hillary has disavowed her husband’s accomplishments in office, but her only real ambition has always been to get very rich and be the first woman President of the United States. She hasn’t given much thought to what would be good for the country as is easily evidenced by her claim to make college and university free to all.  (And how do we afford that?) She has arranged the rich part through the worst kinds of graft in pubic office, and ‘the first woman part’ seems fairly absurd in the wake of women presidents and prime ministers and heads of state around the world, not to mention long history of queens who headed states. The Big Whoop has pretty much gone out of it. Nobody cares.

We are stuck with 4 candidates that we mostly don’t like very much. We need to stop blaming it on the uneducated in backwoods districts, and realize that this is all entirely the work of the far left press. We had 17 candidates, too many, but the Republicans have a big bunch of extraordinarily successful governors. All were left desperately trying to get some attention while the press was only interested in what Donald would say next.

Most people don’t spend a lot of time on politics, and aren’t all that familiar with policy. They just know when things are not right and their lives are being turned upside down. They may not know all that much about government, but they revere their Constitution, their freedoms, and the idea that we have a system for immigrants that has, through the years, done an excellent job of welcoming immigrants and turning them into American citizens. So there you are.

Donald Trump blurts out whatever occurs to him — apparently in the vein of Obama’s statement “If they bring a knife to the fight, you bring a gun.” Hillary is a crook. She is not just untrustworthy, or lies occasionally — she has used the high office entrusted to her to enrich her family Clinton Foundation by responding to donations by doing federal favors for the donors. That is called graft. Or selling out your country for cash. Trump says things he shouldn’t say. Hillary does things that are very, very illegal and very damaging to our country.

Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate, a successful governor and a “pot entrepreneur,” and is for drug legalization, and other unacceptable views. Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate,  a doctor of internal medicine, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard and Harvard Medical School, and a complete environmental nut who expects the United States to be underwater by 2030 or so, and is an environmental activist, sit-ins and protests too many to measure.

Forgive Me For My Inattention! by The Elephant's Child

Sorry about the light blogging. I have not been lolling on a sunny beach with a cold beverage. My broken foot has healed, I can wear shoes once again, and the neglected yard demands attention, right now!  Add veterinary appointments for 2 sick cats, doctors appointments, and I have been somewhat ignoring you, my beloved audience.

Besides, what does one say in an electoral year like this! Everyone is at everyone else’s throat. I have NEVER seen anything like this, and I’ve seen a lot of electoral seasons.  The comments sections on most blogs are downright vicious. Today it is in the high 80°s, and we in the Pacific Northwest who are not accustomed to much sun, retreat to the darkest corners with our electric fans in fear that our mossy backs will dry out and wilt.

Declining Wages, Declining Government Statistics, Declining Trust. by The Elephant's Child

That was President Obama, back in February, boasting about the latest jobs report which showed the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level in eight years.”Inconvenient for Republican stump speeches” as they “continued their gloom and despair tour” he chortled.  Zero Hedge points out that once again, that was then, this is now.

In yet another stunning tribute to the “accuracy” and “consistency” of economic propaganda data being reported by our government agencies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics yesterday reported a massive downward revision of the 1Q 2016 YoY real wage growth from +4.2% to -0.4% (a 4.6% swing). But we wouldn’t worry much about it because the revisions resulted in only “small” changes in the underlying data according to the BLS:

 Indexes of all hours-related measures in the business, nonfarm business, and nonfinancial corporate sectors show historical revisions because hours in the base year of 2009 were revised; resulting revisions to percent changes are small.
Revising the real Year on Year wage growth downward by 4.6% is perhaps better described as  “disastrous” or “abysmal” or even just awful. The revisions to manufacturing wages and durable manufacturing wages were far worse Real manufacturing was revised from + 2.8% down to -4.3% (-7.1%) and durable manufacturing was down by 7.5%, from +1.9 down to -5.6%. Those are really big “revisions.”
It seems impossible to get accurate information from the federal government, but that’s just me — I worry about stuff like the national debt nightmare Obama is leaving for us, and the VA which can’t seem to properly serve our veterans — while buying $300,000 worth of TVs and simply storing them, and we learned today that the VA has 167 interior designers on staff, but they can’t get around to serving patients promptly.  That sort of thing.

The Indian Health Service is Just as Bad, or Worse, than the VA by The Elephant's Child

As long as I’m beating up the Obama Administration for their unbelievably dreadful performance on health care — at the Veterans Administration we have found needless patient suffering, fatal delays in medical treatment, and retaliation against whistleblowers — they are as well the shameful traits of the Indian Health Service.

Part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Indian Health Service is required by treaty to deliver health care to Native Americans around the country, with more than two million depending on this federal agency. Unfortunately, it appears to be failing. Tribal members have told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about alarming conditions at hospitals run by the IHS. During the committee’s investigation, which began last summer, we have heard accounts of nurses unable to administer basic drugs, broken emergency-resuscitation equipment, unsanitary medical facilities, and seriously ill children being misdiagnosed. …

The situation has gotten so bad that inspectors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have issued multiple Statements of Deficiencies over the past few years identifying four IHS hospitals in the Great Plains that are putting patients in “immediate jeopardy.” Our investigators have found evidence that the IHS, like the VA, maintains a culture of cronyism and corruption. Many staff members collect government paychecks without fear of accountability.

Tribal Leaders have contacted the Department of Health and Human Services specifically identifying underperforming supervisors and upper-level management who deserve to be fired. There is no sign that these people have been terminated. Instead employees who perform poorly are transferred to other facilities and in some cases even get raises and  promotions with work files that show no records of bad performance. Nice work if you can get it.

According to HHS, Indian Health Service funding has expanded by 43% since 2008, so more money is not a solution. What’s required seems to be a culture change at the agency from leadership in D.C. down to local hospitals. Some hospitals in the Great Plains area actually had money left over at the end of the fiscal year — but made the choice not to spend it on patient care.

When an administration consistently shows that politics and the next election trump duty and responsibility, and the Constitution is just an old tired document, those attitudes seep through the whole administration, and you get a Navy Commander surrendering boats to the Iranians because he believed that Obama’s Iran Deal was so important to the President, you get sexually-confused bathrooms, a military open to transsexuals, women in combat roles, and an administration unable to say “Islamic terrorism” because the words might offend, though it might also kill a lot of Americans.

Contrary to the hard Left who believe all things are better done and controlled  by the best and brightest in the federal government, there are few things that the federal government actually does well. There are a lot of things that must be done by a federal government, but most are better left to the states which are more directly responsible to their citizens. Health care is just one of them.

ObamaCare is slowly falling apart, Medicaid is a disaster, we have read of way too many failings of the Veterans Administration health care, and now the Indian Health Service, required by treaty to deliver health care to Native Americans around the country has more than two million depending on that service.

Free Markets, Free People and lots of competition — works every time. Presented with challenges and the opportunity to be free of meddling bureaucrats, ideas for better care pop up and little miracles happen all over.

“Compassion” is what the Hard Left Thinks They’re All About, Except When They’re Not. by The Elephant's Child

The headline at National Review for an article by Wesley J. Smith reads “Keeping Patient Alive Can Be ‘Non-beneficial Treatment.'”

The medical bureaucrats and technocrats are changing the meaning of definitions and terms to permit health care rationing and coerced withdrawal of care.

This is the “futile care” controversy, sometimes called “inappropriate care,” or in my parlance, “futile care theory.”

The idea is that when a doctor or bioethics committee believes the patient’s life not worth sustaining based on their values about quality of life or cost, wanted treatment — even that requested in an advance directive — can be unilaterally refused.

Futile care is akin to a restaurant posting a sign stating, “We reserve the right to refuse service.”

The International Journal for Quality in Healthcare is doing the hard Left’s politically correct trick of changing the language to fit their desired goal. The goal is essentially to get rid of expensive treatments for those whose illness is not expected to result in improvement in quality of life. In such cases the technocrats, bureaucrats, hospitalists and other doctors and bioethicists will decide if it is “non-beneficial treatment (NBT).” Keeping the patient alive because the patient wants to be kept alive has no part in the discussion. The bureaucrats are redefining the core purpose of medicine. And of course there will be an acronym to further disguise what they’re up to.

You have perhaps noticed that one state after another is attempting to pass “Assisted Suicide” laws. They usually succeed by suggesting that you, old and feeble, and suffering from dreadful pain, with no hope might want to end your misery by getting your doctor to kill you. That will help get rid of some whose expectations don’t involve improvement in their quality of life, but adding on a bunch of bureaucrats to make those decisions brings back memories of Logan’s Run, or Solyunt Green. They don’t make movies like that anymore —uncomfortably close to reality, not the politically correct party line.

Anyone who isn’t frightened by the prospect of technocrats, bureaucrats, hospitalists and other doctors, and bioethicists — strangers to the patient — deciding that continuing to live is non-beneficial hasn’t thought the question through.

In Britain, the National Health Service (NHS) has been accused of denying elderly patients food and water to help them die more quickly, but the NHS is socialized medicine.

Obama is Dismantling Medicare by The Elephant's Child

Modern medicine has been a blessing for seniors. Before Medicare, old folks ended up in nursing homes or in wheelchairs with crippling illnesses. Now more seniors are able to get hip and knee replacements, cataract operations and heart procedures to spare them some of the worst parts of aging. And they are living longer. The American Journal of Public Health reported that a man turning 65 can expect to live 5 years longer than he would have in 1970.

The Obama administration has, as usual with the left, included lots of unnecessary goodies in order to get people to sign up with ObamaCare and Medicare. And with Medicare, they carefully eliminated many of the features that controlled costs and encouraged older folks to use it more carefully.  The so-called “donut hole” was designed as an incentive for seniors to use cheaper generic drugs instead of name-brands when they were equivalent.  It worked very successfully. Obama eliminated that.

Medicare has always faced the problem of the sheer numbers of retiring baby boomers, which has meant trouble for Medicare finances. Under the guise of “reform,” President Obama is dooming seniors to disability, needless pain and shortening their lives.

Hillary, economically clueless, is proposing to open Medicare to people in their 50s, so younger, healthier people would be competing with seniors for resources. Brilliant.

Obama, under the pretense of “reform,” is issuing a 962 page of new Medicare regulations. The reforms will make it harder for seniors to get joint replacements. New payment rules will shortchange doctors, discouraging them from accepting Medicare in the first place — which is already a problem. Hospitals will get bonuses for spending less on each senior patient, despite having higher death and infection rates. Seeing Medicare patients will be a money loser.

Because of new regulations on how doctors treat patients (the feds know better than the doctors) doctors spend time completing reports for the government. They spend their time with the patient glued to a computer screen instead of interacting with patients.

“Doctors who want to provide individualized care” will have to “either opt out of Medicare or simply not comply,” explains Richard Amerling, past president of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.

Obama’s rules are “far too complex and burdensome to be workable for most physicians,” warns John Halamka, a Harvard medical professor.

The new rules also make seeing Medicare patients a money loser. Annual fee increases for doctors are capped at a fraction of 1 percent — even though rents and other costs go up every year.

No wonder nine out of 10 solo practitioners admit they’ll avoid Medicare patients — right when 10,000 new baby boomers are joining each day.

Old folks with cancer will be in trouble. Doctors administering chemotherapy are getting a pay cut and told to choose the cheapest drug, regardless of what medication is best for the patient. Seniors needing knee and hip replacements likely to need rehab may have to settle for painkillers instead.

The administration claims the rules reward quality instead of quantity, but that’s a lie. Betsy McCaughey says that five of the hospitals who had the worst scores on patient outcomes — who get more infections and die sooner from heart problems and pneumonia than at other hospitals — have all gotten bonuses from Medicare because they are low spenders.

Remember the 2012 campaign when Obama accused Republicans or plotting to “end Medicare as we know it” and a video depicted a Republican pushing Granny’s wheelchair off a cliff?  Nasty and false claims, but now the Democrats are pushing America’s seniors off a cliff indeed.

Obama has made several remarks indicating that medical care is more important  for the young, who have more years ahead of them, than having expense wasted on the old, who could depend on pain killers instead. It would be a lot less offensive if he were not at the same time wanting to insure the votes of young women by promising free contraceptives to all, although they cost so little  few would have a hard time paying.

In a free competitive market, competition brings prices down, and the promise of profit makes people have new ideas, and take the risk to make them work. The Left despises the free market, and wants ever more control. They believe that they have the best ideas and they just need to be put to work. And if they aren’t working, new and more regulation will fix things. It’s a war of Individualism versus Collectivism — or Freedom versus Socialism. Perhaps you have noticed that they are starving in Venezuela and being killed in food riots. And their hospitals have no medicine, no antibiotics and no pain pills either.

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

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.

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