American Elephants


How Do You Deal With A Problem That You Refuse to Recognize? by The Elephant's Child

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One of the British papers remarked recently that people were beginning to refer to themselves as ‘English’ rather than ‘British.’I think that is significant, but I’m not quite sure just what it means. The BREXIT exit is still in a state of uncertainty. PM Theresa May was not in favor of leaving the European Union, but believes that the people have spoken and intends to shepherd the nation’s exit. There’s been a  legal ruling that says she has to get approval from Parliament, but I’m not sure of all that either. Across Europe there is rumbling of populism, but what will happen remains unknown.

In Sweden, sexual assault has increased by 70%. Many are saying that Angela Merkel will not survive another election.  Mark Helprin, writing in the Claremont Review of Books suggests that Europe has constantly shifted between unification and dissolution.

The European Continent and for a time even the British Isles have been partially unified—by the Romans, Charlemagne, Spain, Austria, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler, and the European Union.  Even if it didn’t get very far, the Mongols, Muslims, and Turks gave it the college try, and then there was the papacy. The Romans were champions of endurance, but Napoleon’s stint was as short as he was, the empire of the Thousand Year Reich didn’t make it by 995½ years and the Soviets got only halfway across.

As it evolved from the European Coal and Steel Community into the European Economic Community, and the the Schengenized “E.U. plus,” bureaucracy’s pacific conquest of Europe was different, its weapons the ballot box, rubber stamp , and pen. Furthermore, other than in one civil war, the U.S. had shown that 50 states could unite to great advantage.

Now we have Britain ready to leave the E.U., Scotland and Wales want independence, Belgium and Italy want to break in two and Spain in three parts. Yugoslavia is already is pieces, Hungary may either be expelled or quit. Greece is a complete mess, and Marine Le Pen wants France out, and everybody blames Angela Merkel for inviting the Middle East in.

One need not be hostile to the idea of this union to know the essential flaw in its conception, namely the statist assumption that bureaucratic conceit will prevail over geography, history, tradition and individual attachments, preferences, and loyalties. Greek profligacy and German prudence cannot sleep in the same bed. Good luck to the Frenchman who tells an Englishman how much sugar to put in his tea. Rivers, alpine ranges, marshes, and seas have carved into the landscape physical barriers that for millennia have shaped the economics, histories, and cultures of these disparate nations. Unlike the United States—at its founding English in culture and language, with a pressure-relieving wilderness to the west—Europe as it united was a densely populated grudge-filled continent with scores of major languages and their dialects. Its people had been governed in a hundred different ways , fought countless wars, and inherited dozens of philosophical traditions.

Grand designs don’t work. If government becomes a machine, then everything becomes a machine part. This is where the Left’s dream of addressing human needs with a universal mechanism always fails and fails badly. Humanity cannot be fixed. Human nature may be untidy, but any war against that untidiness is designed to fail.

But the question of the invasion of Europe by Islamist “refugees” can be avoided only so long. As I said, Sweden has had an increase of 70% in sexual assaults. There are No-Go areas everywhere, where even the police are reluctant or refuse to go. Angela Merkel invited the refugees; empathy and kindness were presumed to be the way to welcome them. The hordes have more young men than families, and the young men are of military age. They have been instructed by their religion that European women, as unbelievers, are whores and fair game., and assaults are the rule. Hungary has put up a wall and is refusing to admit refugees. ISIS brags that they have sent their forces to Europe. Many of the refugees refuse to work and expect to be supported.

Refugees seem to be from all over, including Russia and Africa. If the morality you have been taught is empathy and religious freedom, it’s very difficult to turn hostile without feeling like a bad person. Syria is obviously a battleground and unsafe, but Syrian passports are cheap and readily available. Terrorist attacks happen and are deadly. Top that mess off with an unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels that is not responsive to the fears of the people, and there  you are. What do you do, what do you believe and how do you deal with it? Nobody seems ready to decide, but to just wait and see how things work out.   There will be more terrorist attacks.

Our history is not the same as Europe’s, and our immigrants have mostly wanted to become Americans, learned the language, and in a generation or two become indistinguishable from anyone else. But we have had an administration that refuses to identify terrorism by name. And in his “farewell speech” Obama blithely said that we haven’t had any terrorist attacks here. I’m not sure that that is any less avoidance than Europe’s, and the results of avoidance will be undoubtedly be much the same.

 



Andrew Klavan’s “One State Solution” by The Elephant's Child

Obama hasn’t managed to get his much vaunted two-state solution, possibly because there has never been a state of Palestine. Israel has pointed out over and over that they would be happy to have a two state solution if the Palestinians will recognize the State of Israel, and stop trying to kill the Israelis. Arabs are citizens of Israel, and participate at all levels of government except the military. Israeli Arabs are the freest Arabs in the Middle East. Andrew Klavan may have a better solution.



Ten More Days. What More Can Obama Do To Sabotage the Inauguration? by The Elephant's Child

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It’s quite clear that President Obama is having a temper tantrum in his final days as president. He seems to be doing absolutely everything he can think of to cause problems for the incoming administration and the American people. Talk about a graceless exit!

Most importantly, Obama wants the American people to believe that Hillary lost the election and the opportunity to retain all of his policies, because of Russian hacking. Not just that, Trump, you see, said he wants to try to get along with President Putin, and Trump even said that Putin is a “strong leader.” And Trump has named as his Secretary of State, one Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. Besides being head of a world renowned evil OIL company, Mr. Tillerson actually knows Vladimir Putin, and has a friendly relation with him. Obviously Mr Trump is planning to turn America over to the Russians, or something like that.

The reason why it is so important that you blame Hillary’s loss on the Russians, is because she was going to extend Obama’s wonderful policies, otherwise people might think that the Democrats’ loss of the election was somehow a rejection of the Obama administration. And the American people could not possibly have meant that. Obama said that if he could run for a third term, the American people would vote for him.

It is clear that if there was any Russian hacking, it had no effect whatsoever on the outcome of the election, unless millions of citizens read that the Russians had possibly hacked the Democratic National Committee, and John Podesta’s email, and suddenly decided that because of that they had to change their vote and vote for Trump.  Sound likely? Didn’t think so. There was no hacking that affected the electoral vote whatsoever. Didn’t happen.

Here’s Investor Business Daily’s take on the Russian Election Hacking case.

Here’s fearless reporter Sharyl Attkisson with Eight Facts on the”Russian Hacks.”

Here’s John Hinderaker at Powerline “Today’s Intelligence Report Proves Nothing (Updated)

David Harsanyi at The Federalist: “Russia Isn’t our Friend, But That Doesn’t Make the Left’s Conspiracy Theories True.”

Here’s Victor Davis Hanson, who sums up the whole flap in “Obama’s Legacy of Deceit”

Why does the Obama administration contort reality and mask the consequences of its initiatives?

Two reasons come to mind. One, Obama advanced an agenda to the left of that shared by most past presidents. Obamacare, the Benghazi catastrophe, the Iran deal, his strange stance toward radical Islam, and the Bergdahl swap were unpopular measures that required politically-driven recalibrations to escape American scrutiny.

Second, Obama’s team believes that the goals of fairness and egalitarianism more than justify the means of dissimulation by more sophisticated elites. Thus Gruber (“the stupidity of the American voter”) and Rhodes (“They literally know nothing”) employ deception on our behalf. Central to this worldview is that the American people are naive and easily manipulated, and thus need to be brought up to speed by a paternal administration that knows what is best for its vulnerable and clueless citizenry.

Such condescension is also why the administration never believes it has done anything wrong by hiding the facts of these controversies. Its players believe that because they did it all for us, the ensuing distasteful means will be forgotten once we finally progress enough to appreciate their enlightened ends.



Repealing ObamaCare, and The Problems Involved. by The Elephant's Child

medical_doctorsRepublicans are planning to repeal ObamaCare immediately.
They have a lot of good ideas about how to make a health care program more effective and less costly, like allowing health insurance to be sold across state borders. As it stands, each state has an insurance commissioner who approves or disapproves insurance policies for their particular state, so you get 50 different kinds of regulations.

An increase in competition always makes things cheaper and more efficient, because bad ideas get weeded out because they cannot compete. Freedom to solve problems and the promise of reward for solving them has resulted an an astonishing rise in the standard of living in the whole world.

All sorts of scholars have been working for 8 years to come up with better ideas for doing health insurance. The best idea, however, came from Thomas Sowell, and he stated it very simply:

If we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs now, how can we afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs. in addition to a new federal bureaucracy to administer a government run medical system?

The federal government has no business putting a bunch of bureaucrats in charge of American’s healthcare. The federal government has demonstrated over and over that they do not know how to do healthcare, with the VA, with Medicare, with Medicaid, and with the Indian Health Service.We don’t need top-down central planning.

ObamaCare wanted national records of healthcare practices so at  they would have more knowledge about how to make healthcare more efficient.They ordered hospitals to computerize, get rid of the handwritten notes of patient encounters. Medical centers spent enormous sums of money buying computer systems for each office and examining room. The basic idea was totally wasted because the computer systems can’t talk to each other. They were all different setups.

Patients weren’t all that happy about their private health records being available to anybody who could log onto the system. It also meant that doctors were spending their time interacting with computers instead of patients. Doctors hired scribes to take notes on the computer while the doctor actually interacted with the patient. Think about how much all that added to the cost of doing healthcare.

I think it was Medicare that ordered their physicians to limit patient encounters to 7½ minutes. Great way to cut costs, except the encounters are with real human beings with very different reasons for going to the doctor. Stupid.

Bureaucrats decided that the place to cut costs was in what medical professionals were charging for their services. You’ve seen your insurance records, the medical establishment charged $150 for the encounter, the insurance company allowed $47, and you paid half that in your co-pay. So, quite naturally, a good many physicians will not see people on Medicaid, Medicare, or the Indian Health Service, and so far veterans are stuck with the VA. You’re left hunting for someone who will see you, and are they the less accomplished doctors?

Bureaucrats think all doctors are rich, and some of them are. However, they spent a long time studying to be able to get into medical school, after that studying for their specialty, and interning. Most have huge school loans to pay off, and their offices have medical assistants, lab technicians, receptionists, nurses, a respectable office with all sorts of equipment and several examining rooms with all sorts of equipment. Doctors have years and years of training compared to ordinary bureaucrats, and at some point they expect to reach a point where they can live fairly well. Bureaucrats see them as the part of medical care that can be slashed to save money.

It’s not the doctors that cannot be afforded, it’s the bureaucrats. The federal government needs to get out of the business of running health care. They don’t know how to do it, they are no good at it. Turn it over to private enterprise, to find ways to provide care that the country can afford. The Left does not believe in private enterprise, they think competition is a bad thing, they believe that they are the smartest and most able people around, and they cannot understand why a heart surgeon should make more money than they do.

Consider the outcry against Trump’s nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to HUD because he had no experience in government. That’s a revealing, and typical, Leftist response.

Here’s a post from 2012 about the Oklahoma Surgical Center which would seem to suggest that there are real possibilities out there. I have not followed up to see if it is still as successful.

I am afraid that Republicans in Congress will just devise another government-run program that will have some better ideas, will not solve the problem of escalating costs, and when the Democrats return to power, as they will at some point in the distant future, we’ll do it all over.

Republicans believe in private enterprise, and freedom. When people are free and encouraged to find better ways and rewarded for so doing, miracles happen every day. How did you think Dr, Leonard McCoy got those amazing instruments that he used on the Enterprise?



The Economic Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Sowell by The Elephant's Child

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The great economist Thomas Sowell has written his last columns, and at age 86, is turning his attention to his photography. He has always had a special genius for stating ideas in a simple but memorable way. When people wanted to honor his long list of columns over the years, they made lists of their favorite Sowell quotations. Here are some of mine and some of economist Mark Perry’s.

  1. ObamaCare: If we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs now, how can we afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs. in addition to a new federal bureaucracy to administer a government run medical system?
  2. Predicting the Future:  Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do– and nothing is more unpredictable.
  3. Economics vs. Politics: The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”
  4. Economics vs. Politics: Economics and politics confront the same fundamental problem: What everyone wants adds up to more than there is. Market economies deal with this problem by confronting individuals with the costs of producing what they want, and letting those individuals make their own trade-offs when presented with prices that convey those costs. That leads to self-rationing, in the light of each individual’s own circumstances and preferences.
  5. Predicting the Future: Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do– and nothing is more unpredictable.
  6. Politicians as Santa Claus: The big question that seldom— if ever— gets asked in the mainstream media is whether these are a net increase in jobs. Since the only resources that the government has are the resources it takes from the private sector, using those resources to create jobs means reducing the resources available to create jobs in the private sector.
  7. Helping the Poor: It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club.It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.
    Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing “compassion” for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.
  8. Thomas Sowell on Obama’s Health Care Reform


The Middle East Problem by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Dennis Prager with a brief video from Prager University, explaining the Middle East Problem, and why the much vaunted “Two-State Solution” doesn’t work, why Obama’s effort to abstain from voting for the Security Council  resolution is so foolish and so remarkably damaging.

Back before Barack Obama was nominated, Richard Epstein, who knew him at the University of Chicago, wrote that Obama had absolutely fixed ideas that were set in concrete. Once he made up his mind, Epstein said, that was it—set in stone, and unchangeable. The rockets fired into Israel, the attempts at mass murder, the refusal of the so-called Palestinians to consider recognizing the Jewish state  have made no impression. They don’t care that the Jews were there first, and continually.

Nor does the fact that it is quite clear that the Palestinian people want Israel destroyed, make an impression on Obama. The Israelis regularly are trusted by Palestinian parents to perform complicated and life-saving operations on their children. Arabs living in Israel participate fully in Israeli life, serve in government and are the freest Arabs in the Middle East. Curious.



A New Year. No Resolutions, Only Hope. by The Elephant's Child

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A new year. I’ve always resisted the idea that the change of the numerical designation of a year on the calendar is a big deal. I don’t do resolutions. Not sure if I ever did, but I have too frequently promised myself that tomorrow I will …, and next week I will …, and you probably know how that goes. I have discarded a lot of stuff that should have been discarded long ago, but that was another broken resolution.

I do have an extensive picture file on my computer, and I deleted Hillary, which took some doing. I had a lot of pictures of Hillary, only some of them flattering. I deleted the rest of the Clintons as well. I took great pleasure in deleting Harry Reid, and Barbara Boxer, and at least the first term of President Obama—the ones with the halos. Don’t try to tell me those were accidental. I could have believed it with 3 or 4, but dozens?

Democrat operatives try not to miss any chance of swaying public opinion. It’s been said that the 2012 election was decided by Hurricane Sandy and the picture of Obama hugging Donna Vanzant, who had just seen her marina destroyed. And I was struck by the White House photo of President Obama being pensive in the Green Room with the good light from the window. That meant he had to leave the Oval Office, go to the Green Room, lean on the back of a red chair with green wallpaper in the background, to look pensive. Uh Huh. It would be nice if opinions were meant to be influenced by deeds rather than visual propaganda.

President Obama has said that he wants to make the transition as easy and helpful as he can, that he plans to stick around in Washington and fight every move of the new president, and is embarked on a program to flood the administration with as many executive orders and regulations as he can, since Mr. Trump has threatened to eliminate as many of the executive orders and cancel as many of the regulations as he can.

Obama’s going to make the job as difficult as he can, and he is ramping up his supporters to try to save ObamaCare. The administration’s contempt for the Constitution could not be more obvious. He clearly learned nothing, nothing at all, from George W. Bush’s graceful and helpful exit. And continued to blame everything on GWB for the next four years. Character counts.




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