American Elephants


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.



Is The White House Trying to Hide Bowe Bergdahl Charges? by The Elephant's Child

bergdahl-active-duty

Yesterday, Both Fox News and NBC News have reported that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion.

“I have been told and confirmed by two other sources that his attorney has been given what we call a charge sheet,” retired Army Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a respected military analyst, told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly on Monday. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski quoted senior defense officials on Tuesday as saying charges could be referred within a week.

“A charge sheet is the results of investigation listing out the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that have been violated,” Shaffer explained. “The key violation is desertion.”

According to Shaffer, an analyst with the London Center for Policy Research, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, who played a key role in the cover-up of administration malfeasance in the Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans, has been laboring to keep this information under wraps as long as possible. …

Same day, New York Post headline: “Army denies that Bowe Bergdahl is set to be charged with desertion.”

In a statement, Maj. Gen. Ronald F. Lewis, chief of public affairs for the Army, denied the reports, insisting that no decision has been made about Bergdahl.

“The reporting from Fox News and NBC on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is patently false. To be clear there have been no actions or decisions on the Sgt. Bergdahl investigation. The investigation is still with the Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command who will determine appropriate action — which ranges from no further action to convening a court martial. We understand the public interest in this case and once a decision has been made, the Army will be open and transparent in this matter.”

The White House does not want Bergdahl to be charged with desertion. There was the big Rose Garden scene with the Bergdahl parents, President Obama actually traded five top Taliban commanders who had been held at Guantanamo Bay to the Taliban for then private Bergdahl.

Bergdahl walked away from his combat post in 2009 in a time of war, leaving behind his weapon, his gear and his fellow soldiers. At least six soldiers were reported to have been killed in operations looking for him.

A statement attributed to Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, called the release of the commanders from Gitmo as a “great victory.”

The trade told the world that America was now willing to deal with terrorists. It also broke a law that requires congressional notification of such a trade, and a longstanding pledge that America would never negotiate with terrorists. There is also a federal statute which makes it a felony to provide material assistance to any terrorist organization. It makes no exception for who and under what circumstances.

Col. Schaffer spoke of a “titanic struggle behind the scenes” with the Army trying to do the right thing while the White House worried about the images of a president welcoming the parents of someone now charged with desertion and an ugly terrorist trade-for-deserter narrative coming out.

At the time, several of the men from Bergdahl’s unit came forward to say that he was a deserter. President Obama was taken aback, for he thought that Americans would cheer one of our boys being rescued after five years as a hostage of the Taliban.

It will come out. Too much has already been made public. Obama, as far as I know, has never accepted blame for a mistake or an error in judgment. He may claim credit for someone else’s accomplishments, but he is never, never to blame. It’s going to be interesting.



“Middle Class Economics” Also Known as Income Redistribution by The Elephant's Child

Obama is in the sixth year of his presidency, and he has just discovered that the middle class is not doing so well. So he wants to take up what he calls Middle Class Economics. He seems to describe his economic programs based on their origin, so middle class economics begins with the middle class and expands outward to benefit everyone. Just how this works is unclear.

The number of food stamp beneficiaries exceeds 46,000,000 for the 38th straight months. Republicans consider this a shocking comment on the continued slow recovery. Democrats consider it to be a remarkable accomplishment. It ‘s worthwhile to keep that difference in mind.

Another problem afflicting the middle class is stagnant wages. We are just not seeing the growth in wages that we should  six years after the official end of the Great Recession. Some would attribute that fact to a plentiful supply of workers looking for jobs, but the Obama administration wants to go directly to the cause. They will just force employers to pay workers more.

Hence Obama plans a massive expansion of overtime, raising the cut-off for overtime from the current $23,600 to $50,000, a significant jump— time-and-a-half for anything over 42 hours, and of course he’s got the employers over a barrel on the other side with ObamaCare penalties.

Have you been saving money for the kids’ college education? The money (already taxed) that you put into a  529 plan might have had the audacity to grow, so it’s only fair that you tax the growth — Right? And just in case they have missed anything, they want to raise taxes on capital gains. And he ‘s still plumping for an increase in the minimum wage.

Republicans would consider any request to raise taxes dead in the water, but just what Mr. Obama might attempt to do by executive order remains an unknown.

Nobody thought he’d try to do the things he already has done by executive order or executive memo which is the same thing and carries the same force of law.

Nobody is quite sure what to do with a president who deliberately ignores the constitutional separation of powers. He’s supposed to see that the laws are carried out, and the Congress is supposed to make the laws. The Judicial branch is not supposed to be making laws either, but that’s a separate story.



Give Credit Where Credit is Due: Eric Holder Got Something Right. by The Elephant's Child

eric_holder_fast_furious_contempt_chargesEric holder’s Justice Department finally got something right. He did a good thing. On Friday, the attorney general barred state and local  police from using federal law to seize property from citizens without any criminal charges or even a warrant. Under a program called Equitable Sharing, police could pull someone over for a minor infraction and if they found a large amount of cash, or anything suspicious, they could seize the car and the cash without any evidence that the cash had been obtained illegally. They citizen would then have to prove his innocence to get it back.

The program began back in the early 1980s as a tool to fight the illegal drug trade, which is conducted largely in cash. After 9/11 it was ramped up to fight terrorism.

It has evolved into something far beyond the original intent. Abuses were likely, and it became clear that local police departments could substantially increase their revenue by seizing property and making the property-owners fight to get it back on their own dime.

Ilya Somin detailed some particularly egregious cases at The Volokh Conspiracy. Do follow the link, particularly if you are unfamiliar with civil asset seizure. It seems unbelievable that they could get away with this kind of thing for so long. Civil asset forfeiture is based on the premise that law enforcement official could seize property if they could show a connection between the property and illegal activity. It does not require the property owner to be convicted of a real crime.

Read about the Caswells who owned a motel that his father had built in 1955. The U.S. Department of Justice intended to seize the motel, sell it for perhaps $1.5 million and give 80 percent to the Tewksbury Police Department which has a budget of just $5.5 million.

Lots of examples from Reason, including lots of samples of ‘Christmas Gifts’ Cops seized from people who had purchased the gifts with their own money. These examples of police misbehavior have undoubtedly played a part in the recent accusations against police.



Barbarians At The Gates Of Paris! by The Elephant's Child

By the best estimates France now has a Muslim population of 6 million or approximately 10%of its 65 million people. David Goldman suggests that “if only 1% of this population are radicalized to the point of engaging in or providing support for terrorist activities, that is a pool of 60,000 individuals.” not 60.000 bombers or shooters, but a support network that would allow a smaller number of terrorists to blend into the population.

In the suburbs of Paris there are “no-go ” zones that are ruled by Muslim gangs that can intimidate the Muslim population. “France has already lost the capacity to police a part of its territory, which means that it cannot conduct effective counter-terror operations.”

To put the 60,000 number in context ,”the whole prison population of France is less than 70,000, of whom 60% are Muslims…. France has had the toughest enforcement policy against radical Islam among the major European nations. The use of assault rifles and (reportedly) a rocket launcher in the center of Paris is a statement of contempt toward the authorities on the part of the terrorists.”

Islam is a political religion.

In contrast to Christianity, Judaism and all the other religions we know, Islam means to control every aspect of life, including both government and private life. The West, bowing to political correctness, multiculturalism and vague ideas about ‘can’t we all just get along’ does not know how to deal with Islam.

The perils of multiculturalism and open borders have reached critical mass in Sweden. There are Muslim enclaves where postal, fire and other essential services — even police officers themselves —require police protection.

A police report released last month identifies 55 of these “no-go zones” in Sweden. These zones are similar to others that have popped up in Europe in recent years. They formed as large Muslim populations emigrating to politically correct and tolerant European states refuse to assimilate and set up virtual states within a state where the authorities fear to tread.  (emphasis added)

The Swedish Police Academy is revising their curriculum to include coursework of cultural sensitivity intended to achieve “greater understanding of the intercultural perspective. Sweden will not be profiling.

Nor will there be any here. The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis has “Little Mogadishu,” home to America’s largest concentration of Somali immigrants. This neighborhood has become a recruiting ground for Islamic terrorists. CBS has reported that as many as 40 young men have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria. A Fox affiliate in Minneapolis-St Paul reported the case of Abdirahmaan-Muhumed. Before he went to Syria, he worked for Delta Global Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Airlines. His job was to clean aircraft, and he had a security clearance that gave him unfettered access to the tarmac and passenger jets.

Political correctness and cultural sensitivity aren’t going to do it. Nor are open borders and  “amnesty.” Last week the Wall Street Journal had a fascinating piece about the uses European countries are finding for all their empty churches. We, perhaps, need to reexamine our melting-pot tradition, that welcomed immigrants from all over the world and had a remarkably successful record of assimilation — turning immigrants into proud Americans. What has changed?



Americans Are Fed Up. The Problem is The Government! by The Elephant's Child

From Investors Business Daily:obama-angry-8-560x350

A new Gallup poll finds that Americans are fed up with ever-encroaching, corrupt and incompetent government, as represented by ObamaCare and other federal policies.

For the first time since Gallup has conducted polling, people say that the “biggest problem” in America is “the government.” It topped all other categories, including terrorism. “2014 was the first year ever in Gallup records that dissatisfaction with government topped the list,” the 80-year-old firm said. “Government includes dissatisfaction with President Obama.”

And angst over government has been climbing each year since 2009, when Obama took office, breaking a long period of relative satisfaction with government.

Americans aren’t buying what the administration is selling. They believe that government should play a small role in the lives of American citizens. They want to run their own lives, thank you very much. They are simply not convinced that the federal government can do anything very well, and does most things badly. Obama has nattered on about preserving our freedom and our happiness, but Americans would rather do it themselves.

We are entering an unusually dangerous period. The administration has believed that the U.S. national security presence in the world — the American military —has been too large and is determined to reduce that presence. Mr. Obama delivered this statement recently on NPR:

“When it comes to ISIL, us devoting another trillion dollars after having been involved in big occupations of countries that didn’t turn out all that well” is something he is hesitant to do.

Instead, he said, “We need to spend a trillion dollars rebuilding our schools, our roads, our basic science and research here in the United States; that is going to be a recipe for our long-term security and success.”

What on earth does he mean by that straw man argument? Is it just the usual roads and bridges he pulls out whenever he is being criticized? A trillion dollars for precisely what? And how does that protect us from an Iranian nuclear device or a loss of Iraq and Afghanistan to the terrorists emboldened by his disinterest. The success of ISIS has emboldened other terrorist groups. Yemen, Libya, Nigeria. How soon with the Taliban move to retake Kandahar now that the “combat mission” is ended. Ukraine? Russia ? Latvia is moving heavy armor up to their border.

A recent  Pew Survey found that:

The international survey found that the U.S. leads the world in the belief that you determine your fate. It found that Americans are the “least likely to say they are not the masters of their fate” and the most likely to say that their fate is in their own hands.

“The percentage of Americans who say hard work is very important to getting ahead in life is among the highest across all 44 countries,” Pew said. This is the opposite of Obama’s worldview.

Obama is arrogant and belligerent. He will veto any Keystone bill or anything else that does not conform to his worldview. And if he is not sent bills of which he approves, he will take action on his own. So there you are.



Harvard Professors Are Furious About the Cost of ObamaCare by The Elephant's Child

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Sometimes the Democrats are simply a gift that keeps on giving. Unions did everything in their power to get the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed, and then they found out how it actually affected them and they started screaming. Now it’s the Professors at Harvard. Harvard health experts helped to craft the law, and now they are finding out that it actually affects their own pocketbooks.

Harvard administrators say that ObamaCare pushed them to make cost-saving — for Harvard — changes to their health benefit plan.

Harvard provided ridiculously generous benefits to its faculty. Elizabeth Warren is said to have been paid $400,000 a year for her position on the Law School faculty as an ‘ethnic minority.’  Tuition, room, board and fees for  2014-2015 year for the student who pays full freight, adds up to $58,607. Harvard’s endowment falls just between the GDP of Jordan and Latvia at $36.4 billion. So you can see that one could reasonably expect generous benefits.

Now these poor faculty members face a $250 deductible and out-of-pocket costs that could top out at $1,500. Imagine!

Harvard economics professor Jerry Green complained to the New York Times that this is “equivalent to taxing the sick” — completely exposing why no one should study economics at Harvard. By Professor Green’s comparison, making people pay for food is the equivalent of “taxing the hungry.” Will this horrid experience with ObamaCare cause the Harvard faculty to look a bit more askance at Big Government proposals?

Don’t count on it any time soon.




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