American Elephants


Thanks, Obama! U.S. Drops to Number 20 In The Human Freedom Index. by The Elephant's Child
August 21, 2015, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Environment, Health Care, Freedom, Progressivism, Taxes, Capitalism, Regulation, Bureaucracy

The Cato Institute, the Libertarian think-tank, publishes an annual Human Freedom Index, ranking 152 countries in the world according to the level of liberty enjoyed by its citizens.

The index represents a broad measure of human freedom. which can be understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 76 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in these areas:

Rule of Law
Security and Safety
Movement
Religion
Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
Expression
Relationships
Size of Government
Legal System and Property Rights
Access to Sound Money
Freedom to Trade Internationally
Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

This reflects the degree to which people enjoy the freedom to engage in voluntary exchange and enjoy major liberties such as freedom of speech, religion and association. Also measures freedom of movement, women’s freedoms, safety and security and the rule of law.

Hong Kong and Switzerland top the list, followed by Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Malta, Luxembourg, Chile, Mauritius —and finally, The United States at Number 20, followed by the Czech Republic, Estonia, Belgium, Taiwan and Portugal.

The U.S. was 17th in 2014. but think of EPA regulations, scheduled speakers disinvited, the government confiscating a big chunk of a raisin farmer’s crop, ObamaCare regulations, you might try tallying up the new constraints you have seen or felt. Swat teams breaking into the wrong house, Lois Lerner, the attack by the Left on anything connected to the South and it’s Civil War history. The attack on free speech has been not only notable, but widespread — things you cannot say. So we are at number 20 and declining. We talk a lot about the Left’s drive for increased regulation and increased control — and just look at where that’s got us!

11-Liberal-Gated-Community-copy



Now It’s The IRS Again, With 334,000 Stolen Identities. If They Haven’t Got You Yet, They Soon Will. by The Elephant's Child

The news about our favorite bureaucracies just keeps coming. In this case it is the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS reported a wee break-in to its computer systems back in May. Now they have admitted that an additional 220,000 taxpayer accounts have been compromised.

So if the ObamaCare Hospital required computer breach didn’t get you, you have another chance to get your identity hacked by the IRS — that trusted organization that deals so efficiently with your taxes. There were also 170,000 instances of “suspected attempts that failed to clear the authentication processes.” whatever that means.

So the number of stolen identities now adds up to 334,000 , nearly three tunes the IRS original estimate of 114,000.

Why, it was only about a month ago that it was the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that admitted that Chinese-origin cyber attacks on its computer networks compromised the personal data of 22.1 million Americans who had been employed by the government.

And earlier this month defense officials said that Russia had launched a “sophisticated cyber attack” on the Pentagon’s unclassified email system used by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the end of July. That breach affected approximately 4,000 military and civilian employees, including Chairman General Martin Dempsey.

The IRS break-in occurred in an online service called “Get Transcript” an application that helps taxpayers get their prior year return information. It has been shut down. The IRS will notify taxpayers who were potentially affected as soon as possible and provide them with support — such as free credit protection.

It would be reassuring to hear a strong voice from Washington, telling us that tech experts are already hard at work hardening off or rendering government computer systems impregnable from enemy attack. Instead, we hear the Democratic candidate for president insisting that she never received, saw, or heard of a classified document, and certainly never sent one. That server of hers was all yoga exercises and wedding plans and baby showers and messages to Bill, who has never sent an email message in his life.

Can we expect Cyber-Security from the folks who gave us ObamaCare?



The Great Unlearning: How Our Society Became So Stupid. by The Elephant's Child

Bill Whittle takes on the big problem.

Parents? The Schools? Television? Social Media? The Press? Hollywood? Absence of knowledge of history, math, economics, in favor of gender, sexism, racism, inability to read? What is most important and what should we tackle first?



Employment and Unemployment for July, 2015. by The Elephant's Child

So the job situation for the month of July remains — dismal. There were 215,000 new jobs in July, a little less than the expected 225,000. 93,770,000 working-age people, 16 and older, aren’t working. This takes us back to 1977 levels of employment, and we are a bigger country now. This is a 36-year low. A record 56,209,000 women are not in the work force.

Since 2007, 1.4 million manufacturing jobs have been lost. There are 1.4 million new waiter and bartender jobs that have been created in the same time period.

Possibly a more interesting discussion for the debates? How are you going to fix this one?

Unemployment



The Encounter Between 9 Serious Men and One Large Ego. by The Elephant's Child

Donald_Trump__3158264bThe subject of the day is the debates, and Donald Trump. He does seem to suck all of the air out of the room.

My father would have described him with a rather old-fashioned word, “blowhard.” His candidacy can be summed-up as — I am Trump, I am very famous and very rich and you should vote for me.

Trump popped up just in time for the Republican Debates, loudly punching what is a hot button for many on the Right,  President Obama’s personal repeal, on his own “executive authority,” of the United States of America’s immigration laws. They have watched the trains with hundreds of illegals on top of the boxcars, they have watched them arrive, be sent all over the United States, and are inclined to blame it on Mexico.

Trump bellowed that he would build a big wall, a gigantic wall and make Mexico pay for it, and he might put in a big door for legal immigrants. Voilá, problem solved. Except it’s a shallow and superficial answer. Most of the immigrants have not been Mexican. It’s absurd to suggest that the Mexican government would pay for it.

It’s a huge and real problem, and nobody seems to know how to deal with it except to say that we must reform our immigration laws. Democrats want more Democrat voters, and their goal is to get them all registered to vote as quickly as possible. But this is not a column about immigration, but about Trump. He makes no serious effort in behalf of any issue, nor seems to have the discipline to master an issue.

Asked about ruling out a third-party run, he said if you nominate somebody I respect, then maybe he won’t. That sounds like somebody who has only been a Republican for the last few minutes.

(That’s not a nice picture, but I couldn’t resist. People always wonder — ‘What’s with the hair?’)



After Over 20 Years in Government, Why is Hillary So Unprepared for Questions? by The Elephant's Child

hillary-stern-550x367
When you are running for the office of President of the United States, you get asked questions. Hillary has attempted to avoid answering any questions whatsoever, but that will just last so long, even with a partisan press. She was asked this week about Planned Parenthood, and her response was cautious:

“I have seen pictures from them and I obviously find them disturbing,” Mrs. Clinton said in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader. She followed that with a cloud of verbiage:

“Planned Parenthood is answering questions and will continue to answer questions. I think there are two points to make,” Clinton said. “One, Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services. And this raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country.”

“And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one part of it,” she said.

The idea that Planned Parenthood is a “women’s health organization” is clearly bunk. They do abortions. They are the highest-volume practitioner of abortions. They do not do cancer screenings, they do not do mammograms, they send people to clinics where they can get a mammogram, and where they can get help to pay for it. They don’t have the necessary equipment to do mammograms. It’s very expensive.

The claim that harvesting aborted fetal tissue for medical research is a good thing is immoral. There was a time when researchers thought that fetal stem cells would overcome the any problems of rejection in patients. That has proven not to be true, and new techniques of using one’s own stem cells have been successful.

There is much more to be revealed. We are told there are nine videos. The Planned Parenthood claims of “heavily edited video” that distorts the position of the person who is speaking is nonsense, as the entire videos were released at the same time as those edited for release

But then, Hillary has long been a great admirer of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, a fashionable position for Democrats, but she was also big on population control, controlling birth rates, that couples should have to get a license to have a child, that no one should be allowed more than one birth, and that large families were immoral. She also wanted to get rid of the unfit or defectives.

“The president certainly will not support another effort by Republicans to try to defund an organization that offers important and needed health-care services to women across the country,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, echoing the Planned Parenthood publicity.

(Not “needed health-care services” All they do is abortions)



Doing Battle With Bureaucracy by The Elephant's Child
July 30, 2015, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Domestic Policy, History, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: ,

100923 520 evergreen point bridge

I had to go do battle with the toll bridge authority. They have an office here in a plain storefront with their catchphrase “Good to Go” over the door. A plain large room with a counter at the end opposite the door. A taped off aisle for those waiting to confront the occupants of the three chairs (out of six) behind the counter. V-e-r-y long line of very grumpy people. One of the walls was adorned with photos of the new toll plazas on the state’s three tolled bridges, mounted on plain black paper. No frames.

The wait was l-o-n-g, about 40 minutes, which gave me time to observe my surroundings. The three people at the counter mostly typed on their keyboards, frequently rising to punch the security keys on the one door behind the counter, and vanish into the back room, apparently to consult the commissar. I know she was a commissar because she appeared briefly from the back room, and returned promptly to her more luxurious quarters in the rear. If you can identify a commissar by appearance, she fit the bill.

Robert Conquest, famed historian, author of several important books about Russia, The Great Terror, about Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties, and The Harvest of Sorrow, which exposed Stalin’s collectivization and the terror-famine that starved millions of peasants in the Ukraine to death, once remarked that “the behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.”

That’s a good quotation to remember when you are standing in a line with a dozen or so other testy people. I had won my previous battle with the agency when the judge threw it out of court. I lost this one.




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