American Elephants


A Bill to Repeal ObamaCare Has Been Sent to the Oval Office. by The Elephant's Child

obama-has-re-taken-the-lead-in-an-average-of-national-pollsThe U.S. Congress has, for the first time sent legislation to the president that repeals large portions of ObamaCare. The House of Representatives has passed bills repealing ObamaCare in every Congress since the bill was first enacted, but was unable to get them past the Harry-Reid-controlled Senate. The Senate continually blocked the bills from reaching President Obama’s desk. That he will veto the bill is certain, but the ObamaCare repeal Vote counts.

The House voted 241 to 181 to pass the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act” which followed a Senate vote for passage of 53 to 47.

ADDENDUM: Many will ask why, when Obama is sure to veto the bill, it’s such a big deal. Most of us don’t really grasp the slow and difficult pace of getting a bill passed in both Houses of Congress. Each member has his or her own constituents to please, and important businesses and organizations within their state or district. And each of them is a cantankerous fallible human being as well. This puts Congress on record as opponents of ObamaCare, which is failing, as we said it would. And it puts the President on record with his veto.

It is worth noting that Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is facing a major financial crisis. The NHS trusts have run up a deficit of almost £1 billion in just the first three months of the fiscal year. Over 9,000 people die each year needlessly because of NHS. Britain is far from being a model  for ObamaCare or the single payer plan beloved by the Democrats. In Canada wait times have increased even more, and they were already bad.



The Organic Food Zealots Are Wrong, And So Is Your Grocery Store! by The Elephant's Child

4886682532_b29722fd6b_bI have been pondering the many ways we are confused by fads, hype, advertising and lies. The Chipotle restaurant chain has been much in the news for a rash of very bad e-coli cases. Chipotle, the once-popular fast food Mexican restaurant chain  fell in line with a pop-culture idea for their advertising. “We source from farms rather than factories,””we’re working to cultivate a better world,” which they aimed to do by favoring local foods and organic food and all things natural.

Partly, it’s the Greens distaste for oil, petroleum in all its forms. Why? It’s black and smells industrial, and they have a passion for things “natural.” Nitrogen fertilizer makes things grow better. Common agricultural fertilizers are made from petroleum, which immediately falls into the ‘Eeew’ category for those who are intolerant of modern corporations and industry. Natural fertilizers come from cow or chicken manure, and organic produce is not pesticide free. Instead it is grown with more primitive pesticides that can be significantly more hazardous to humans and to the environment.

Contrary to popular opinion, organic foods are not superior in any way to ordinary food at the grocery store. The label is a bit of a scam, for it refers only to how the food is produced and requires growers to use “natural” manure and “natural ” pesticides, but the FDA has concluded that organic food is four to eight times more likely to be recalled over safety concerns than conventionally grown products. Organic foods also exclude the benefits of genetically improved techniques that, for example, reduce the population of insects that allow toxic molds to infest corn. Dr. Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is a research fellow at Stanford  University’s Hoover Institution writes:

Chipotle rejects modern synthetic fertilizers in favor of suppliers who use manure on their crops. This approach may be “all natural” and “organic” and make some customers feel warm and fuzzy, but it should not come as a surprise that applying stool, feces and excrement to growing fruits and vegetables significantly raises the risk of spreading disease.

“Food poisoning,”he adds, “is a serious business. Four years ago, 53 died and 3,950 were sickened from an E. coli outbreak in Germany caused by organic bean sprouts.

ADDENDUM: The term “organic” is popping up in peculiar places where being grown with manure is not really a particular additional recommendation. A current radio commercial advertises sheets and pillowcases made from “organic” cotton. The fact that the cotton was fertilized with manure does nothing for the quality of the cotton. I once bought some “organic” lotion ( which was silly), but it came in lemon verbena, and I love lemon verbena.  Watch out for “natural” too.



So You Think You’re Right, Do You? Well, Think Again! by The Elephant's Child

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The general mood in America seems, on Christmas eve, to be fairly sour — at least according to comments and gripes and posts and articles. The public is unhappy with our government. Republicans are furious with Republicans, especially over the so-called Omnibus spending bill. The purity police are out in full force arguing over who is and who is not a proper conservative. Breitbart has even gone so far as to give each Republican voting member of the House or Senate a red-flagged grade according to their purity — according to Breitbart.

Whatever happened to the big tent? The amusing thing is that they are getting close to the kids on campus demanding an end to free speech, and the Democrats who are furious with anyone who has the gall to disagree with them, and scream bloody murder about Citizens United. You must think the way we demand that you think.

Democrats, or Progressives if you prefer, have long despised anyone who disagrees with them. They’ve tried to have RICO charges brought against anyone who does not accept the notion that 97% of all scientists insist that global warming is going to cook the earth and all its creatures. Some have gone so far as to suggest jail and felony charges. Republicans demand an end to any subsidy for Planned Parenthood. Democrats demand full funding. But sorry, it’s not that simple. There are Democrats who don’t like abortion, and Republicans who do.

There are 435 members of the House. And after the last election 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats and one vacancy. In the Senate, there are 100 members, 2 for each state, and 44 are Democrats and 54 are Republicans, and two independents —Sanders and King. Immediate family does not agree on much of anything, and politically it’s even more unlikely. We are all human and fallible. Democrats are more likely to forget the human part.

Being human means that even the brightest people can be quite stupid in some departments. There was a story in the last few days about a robber who had an exceptional number of tattoos, including devil’s horns on his forehead and written across his forehead was “F##k the Police.” The business he held up was unsurprisingly able to identify him, and the police were quickly able to apprehend him. We are all stupid in ways small and very large. Some are definitely sins, and others are just unfortunate. We just don’t know as much as we think we do.

Yet that is what Christmas is all about and what we never seem to learn. A little more humility please, and try to remember that we all are human and struggling to find our way through this life that we don’t understand very well. It’s hard to know when to be tough and when to give comfort, when to teach and when to listen carefully. More tolerance please, and more listening. We will not agree, but it will go down better if we explain why. And knock it off with the purity police. Your definition of correctness ( did I hear the word political correctness applied to Republicans?) is not necessarily correct. Michael Ramirez said it more succinctly than I could.



A Smart Bandage Signals Infection by Turning Fluoresent Green by The Elephant's Child

smart.bandages.1x519From the MIT Technology Review: A smart bandage signals infection by turning a fluorescent color. Researchers have developed a new kind of wound dressing that could serve as an early-detection system for infections. This could not only save lives, but reduce the need for antibiotics.

Bacterial infection is a fairly common and potentially dangerous complication of wound healing, but a new “intelligent” dressing that turns fluorescent green to signal the onset of an infection could provide physicians a valuable early-detection system.

Researchers in the United Kingdom recently unveiled a prototype of the color-changing bandage, which contains a gel-like material infused with tiny capsules that release nontoxic fluorescent dye in response to contact with populations of bacteria that commonly cause wound infections.

Led by Toby Jenkins, a professor of biophysical chemistry at the University of Bath, the inventors of the new bandage, which has not yet been tested in humans, say it could be used to alert health-care professionals to an infection early enough to prevent the patient from getting sick. In some cases it may even be able help avoid the need for antibiotics, says Jenkins.

Battlefield wounds are often dirty, infection, gangrene all too often led to amputation or death. I’m re-reading my way through the Patrick O’Brien Aubrey/ Maturin series of 18th Century sea stories, and there are plenty of shipboard wounds, and amputations,  usually successful because Stephen Maturin was an excellent 18the century physician. But in the real world, it is a real problem. Our current military provides wonderful care, compared to their forebears. My family lost a young uncle on each side of the civil war to a battlefield wound and sepsis.

The article reminds us that caring for infected wounds costs billions of dollars annually. This is early on, but very promising.



Controlling the American People With a $183 Billion Web of Regulation This Year Alone by The Elephant's Child

A-spiders-web-007Thanksgiving approaches — a major American holiday in which our attention turns to a brief reflection on the Pilgrims, and a major focus on turkey, stuffing and football. Everyone is looking forward to a day off. While we are distracted, the Obama administration released its plans for 2,224 federal rules on Friday. This is a preview of just how many more regulations the president intends to issue before he leaves office.

You probably thought we were already thoroughly over-regulated, which we are. It is a major drag on the economy, not just in make-work and annoyance, but financially. Michael Bastach is on the case at The Daily Caller. The Left has realized that to install socialism, they don’t need to own the means of production, they just need to control it, and this can be accomplished with a web of regulation.

Obama’s Fall 2014 regulatory agenda was released the Friday before Thanksgiving with 3,400 new regulations. Obama’s Spring 2015 agenda detailing the reach of 2,300 new federal rules was released the eve of Memorial Day weekend. You are not supposed to notice. There are new rules for coal mines, and rules banning common pesticides, major energy and environmental requirements, added to more federal control over U.S. waterways, new hydraulic fracturing rules and even stricter smog rules. Notice how many are from the EPA.

The last week’s batch of regulation imposes $1.8 billion in costs, according to the American Action Forum (AAF) which brings the total for 2015 to a startling $183 billion. Half of it comes from final rules and the other from proposed rules. The per capita regulatory burden is $570 for 2015, for every man woman and child. That’s 72,898 pages of regulations. Think of a busy spider spinning webs over  your family. At first you don’t even notice, but by the time you do, you are already wrapped up and stowed away on the web for dinner, later.

There is always some overreach, and organizations and businesses fight back, and some end up in court. The EPA has frequently been smacked down in court, but some of their rules stick. Are they accomplishing anything positive for society? No. We are already over-regulated. It isn’t about  improving anything, it is about control.     

You may have noticed that the progressives are a little weak in the economics department. They get all confused with Keynesian ideas about money multiplying as it circulates through the economy. They don’t get the burden that per capita $570 inflicts on us all, in higher costs for everything we use, the disappearance of small businesses that we patronized, the annoyance of new rules, the shrinking of our lifestyle, more unemployment, more national debt, and a shrinking economy.

The evidence is there, and very clear. Socialism does not work.  It will not be different this time, nor next time. Progressives are not interested in free markets, nor free people, but believe everything will mysteriously be  better when they are firmly in control.

Trust in Government is at an all-time low. Is anyone surprised?



Is This the Start of Something Big? by The Elephant's Child

—Knoxville, Iowa:  The town had placed a temporary memorial to fallen soldiers in their city park. It was a silhouette display of a kneeling soldier with a white cross, meant to help the town raise the soldier-memorial-knoxville-IA-WHO-HD-640x480money for a permanent memorial. A citizen, an atheist citizen, complained demanding that it be removed because of the Christian cross, claiming that it violated the separation of church and state. The city council promptly folded in fear of a court fight. In response some 2,000 small white crosses were planted in front yards all over town. The voters promptly voted out the town council.

—In the three states where the proportion of residents without health insurance declined the most, Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia, all elected Republican Senate candidates who oppose the Affordable Care Act. Control of the West Virginia House of Delegates flipped from Democrats to Republicans. Arkansas elected Republican supermajorities to both house and senate along with a Republican governor.

— Croatia’s conservative opposition won the country’s first election since it joined the European Union in 2013 in response to the migrant issue, seeking stricter border controls to manage the flow of people crossing the small Adriatic state of 4.4 million. This follows a landmark victory by opposition conservatives in Poland last month. The Polish Law and Justice party pledges to oppose mandatory quotas for relocation of migrants in the EU.

—Violence erupted in the streets of Berlin as thousands of 2E343CFA00000578-0-image-a-88_1446926053681anti-immigration protesters took to the streets to protest against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy. Refugees have turned out to be quite demanding, rejecting food not to their taste, and expecting full welfare benefits.

— Washington State voters have approved an initiative to cut the state sales tax if lawmakers don’t allow a vote on a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority for a tax increase. Voters in this left coast state have made it clear that they want the authority to amend their state constitution to require a supermajority to approve a tax increase. Voters have repeatedly approved ballot measures requiring a two-thirds majority for any tax hike.  The initiative specifies it will lower the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5% if the legislature does not follow through.

—Last November, President Obama expanded eligibility for a program the president set up in 2012 to allow immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to get “deferred action” status and be eligible to work legally. The new effort also included a new initiative to grant the same status to illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders. Up to 5 million people were estimated to be eligible. Republicans objected, claiming the president was exceeding his authority under the Constitution.  Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the effort nationwide, saying that the changes to immigration were so significant that the administration needed to put them out for official notice and comment before moving forward. Obama appealed. The 5th Circuit praised Hanen’s ruling, calling it “impressive and thorough.” The Appeals court said — you can’t do that. The Fifth Circuit asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else.

—Perhaps this is just a hungering for people to stand up and say, as the Court did to President Obama — You can’t do that! Europeans are beginning to stand up to the EU and to their governments who have gone too far. College administrators seem frightened by students behaving badly, and at a loss to know what to do. I’ve been nattering on about one example or another for quite a while. Are these examples signs of something or other, or is it just wishful thinking?



Nearly 500 Hospitals Have Misbehaved, Or Have They? by The Elephant's Child

hospHospitals in 43 states will pay a combined $250 million in fines to settle charges that they violated Medicare requirements when implanting cardiac devices in patients.

The heavy hand of government descended on 457 hospitals accused of implanting cardioverter defibrillators in patients between 2003 and 2010 before Medicare coverage allowed. It seems that Medicare will cover the devices, which cost around $25,000, but only if doctors wait the recommended 40 days after a patient has had a heart attack and 90 days after a patient has had bypass surgery to do the implant. The waiting periods are designed by some bureaucrat to “give the heart an opportunity to improve function on its own to the point that the defibrillator may not be necessary.”

The DOJ said most of the hospitals were named in a lawsuit brought on by whistleblowers under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the proceeds of any settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant.

The lawsuits were filed by a cardiac nurse and a health care reimbursement consultant in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The DOJ said the whistleblowers received more than $38 million from the settlements.

This may be all on the up and up. Over-cautious doctors disobeying the ordered 40 day wait time and costing Medicare money. The doctors motives for squandering Medicare money? The whistleblowers motives to go for $38 million? Did all or any of the patients survive? Don’t know.

Where are the whistleblowers who get big rewards from stopping, say, the EPA from wasting taxpayer money? With 457 different hospitals, the whistleblowers had no chance to observe incorrect wait times. Perhaps the doctor’s judgement is different?  I make no accusations. I just find it all odd, and sadly, I trust Doctors much more than I trust Medicare bureaucrats.

 




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