American Elephants


The IRS Scandal: Day 335 — Heating Up! by The Elephant's Child

The IRS scandal is heating up again. Darrell Issa’s committee has released emails that show Democratic staffers from the House’s Government Oversight and Reform Committee communicating with the IRS about True the Vote, an anti-voter fraud organization that the Democrats wanted to suppress. It appears that Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, to whom these staffers reported, may have lied during a committee hearing when he denied that his staffers had put the IRS on the trail of True the Vote.

The emails show the Democrats calling True the Vote to the IRS’s attention and requesting records about that organization. Lois Lerner was anxious to provide for them. The staffers do consistently refer to “publicly available” information, so there is no evidence that the IRS shared confidential taxpayer information with the Democrats.

House Republicans are closing in on Lois Lerner. The Department of Justice under Eric Holder has failed to do anything about the IRS scandal, or any other scandal involving the Obama administration. It is clear that Lois Lerner has broken the law. The House is threatening to hold her in contempt. If Eric Holder refuses to act, they can, if necessary, arrest and imprison her.

There is no evidence that the IRS pursued any progressive group at any time. Documents show that Ms. Lerner actively corresponded with liberal campaign-finance groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center which had asked the IRS to investigate if conservative groups including Crossroads GPS were violating their tax-exempt status. After personally meeting with those groups, Ms. Lerner contacted the director of the Exempt Organizations Examinations Unit in Dallas to ask why Crossroads had not been audited. “You should know that we are working on a denial of the application,: Ms. Lerner wrote in an email.

The Ways and Means Committee disclosed that in January 2013, Ms. Lerner asked her staff to examine five conservative groups that the website ProPublica had called “controversial dark money groups,” including Americans for Responsible Leadership, Freedom Path, Rightchange.com, America is Not Stupid, and A Better America. Four of those groups eventually got the full IRS super-scrutiny treatment and three were audited.

It is particularly interesting that the groups that had to undergo extra examination from the IRS were those who wanted to prevent voter fraud, and those who expected to donate to Republican candidates. Democrats have been aggressive in trying to block any attempt to require photo ID to assure voters are who they say they are and entitled to vote. Kinda’ makes you thing that Democrats depend heavily on voter fraud to win elections, doesn’t it?



What is this “Social Justice” Thing? by The Elephant's Child

Everybody, or at least all Liberals, seem to talk about “Social Justice” all the time, but what do they mean by that? What is social justice?

We have a Constitution that has served us well for 228 years, and in all that time has been amended only 27 times. We have laws and courts that, for the most part, administer the law fairly, and when it isn’t fair, we try to fix it. Leave it to the Left to come up with a whole new kind of “justice” that will better serve their feelings. Now they are trying to expand social justice to environmental justice and economic justice. Make everybody absolutely equal except for us important people in the progressive aristocracy, who will administer the justice. It is of course, hogwash.

Jonah Goldberg explains the hidden agenda behind the words, and it is not either noble nor caring, and turns out to be something that is clearly — not just at all.



Progressives Don’t Really Believe Anything They Say! by The Elephant's Child

Surfing the internet, it is clear that the Obama era is a particularly frustrating period for the Right. Simply trying to understand what the Left is going on about is puzzling, and each passing year reveals the difficulty of defeating those who hold no inviolable positions or beliefs. Above all, what they say they believe has no relation to their own lives. All is fluid, depending on who is about to vote, and for what. Jim Geraghty tackles the Progressive Aristocracy which notes:

[P]rogressives wide-ranging willingness to contradict their own professed principles: gun-control proponents who travel with armed bodyguards, voucher opponents who send their kids to private schools, and minimum-wage-hike advocates who pay their staff less than the minimum wage, among others.

So what do progressives really want? If, as I suspect, the currency of progressivism isn’t policies or results, but emotions, what does that approach build? What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?

The evidence before us suggests progressives’ ideal society would be one where they enjoy great power to regulate the lives of others and impose restrictions and limitations they themselves would never accept in their own lives. Very few people object to an aristocracy with special rights and privileges as long as they’re in it.

President Obama had a staffer sign  him up for ObamaCare at the DC exchange in symbolic unity with ordinary Americans, but the president’s health care will continue to be provided by the military at Walter Reed, by the White House physician, and by the physician who travels with the president’s extensive entourage when he travels.

Remember when Obama envisioned a future in which Americans would sacrifice their comfort to the need for combating climate change: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times …and then just expect that other countries are going to say ‘okay.’” In the White House, Obama cranks up the thermostat. David Axlerod said: “He’s from Hawaii, OK? He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

“While touting green technology and lobbying the federal government on environmental policy, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt have put 3.4 million miles on their private jets in recent years, polluting the atmosphere with 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide,” the Blaze reported. Geraghty again:

The party that spent the Bush years screaming about the “Imperial Presidency” overwhelmingly decides that the legislative branch is an unnecessary obstacle to setting its preferred environmental policy. We’ve reached the point where vehemently anti-Bush Democrats in Congress now write-up executive orders for President Obama to implement unilaterally.

The legislative branch matters, until it doesn’t. The filibuster matters, until it doesn’t. Yesterday’s positions get dropped if they interfere with today’s needs. The Right is dealing with extremely adaptive foes who, for the most part, have no hesitation about lying to get what they want.

In the Obama-era Left, a promise repeatedly emphasized with passion and vehemence can and will be suddenly dismissed with a shrug. The highest-profile example of this is “If you like your plan,  you can keep it.” Even today, long after the promise has been declared the “Lie of the Year,” the White House website has a page labeled “Reality Check” that proclaims the accuracy of the pledge:



If You Want More Jobs, Stop Destroying Them. Incentives Matter. by The Elephant's Child

ObamaCare is not a popular subject, and as people actually begin to interact with it, it’s going to be a lot less popular. Democrats are desperate to make their stand for the mid-term elections about something entirely different. They have decided on the culture wars.

Today it is “Equal Pay for Women” which everyone thought was dead as a doornail after it became illegal to pay a woman differently than a man for the same job— way back in 1963— when the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed. President Obama is out there again today trying to claim that women are paid only 77¢ for the same job for which a man was paid $1.

Since that is against the law, it’s hardly surprising that the only place it still happens is in the increasingly lawless White House, where female aides are indeed paid less than male aides.

whitehouse

Obama brags about the Lily Ledbetter Act which he claims was to make equal pay for women a reality, but it actually only eliminated the time limit for filing discrimination claims — and was more correctly referred to as a law to benefit trial lawyers (who donate to Obama).

Nevertheless you constantly hear the 77¢ claim. Why? It is a statistical anomaly. When you look at male and female careers, men are apt to do the dangerous or high risk jobs. They have traditionally been in logging, mining, high-rise construction, linemen, explosive experts —jobs that pay way more because of the risk involved. Women are more apt to be secretaries, teachers, social workers. Women frequently drop out of the job market to raise children, for a few years or for longer periods.Women just assume more responsibility for child-rearing than men. The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act recognized that fact.

The 77¢ number comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure refers to the annual earnings of full-time, year-round workers. It doesn’t compare comparable men and women, and does not reflect that full-time men work 8%-10% more hours per week than full-time women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) is based on the faulty idea that “It’s Not Fair” in the interest of capturing more votes from women. The bill forces employers to raise women’s pay by sharply reducing their ability to defend what they believe is a justified differential in pay based on merit.  The PFA limits the use of work experience or education to discriminate by requiring employers to demonstrate that they are job-related ‘necessities.’ The bill authorizes grants to supporters of the bill like the AAUW for training women in negotiation skills. Men are excluded. It will increase the cost of employing women, and so reduce job opportunities. It will also provide a bonanza for lawyers.

If you make it more costly to hire someone, employers will hire fewer someones. The current theme in the media is the continuing dearth of jobs, the Great Recession with few jobs, why aren’t there more jobs? No one seems to point out that Obama is passing more and more laws and more regulations that eliminate jobs. Whether the Affordable Care Act, the continuing drive to shut down coal-fired power plants and destroy the entire coal industry in the name of climate change, or the simple refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline — Obama talks jobs, but his ideas are that only government really creates jobs. Then we’re back at “crumbling roads and bridges,” job-training programs, and improving education. Same old talk.

It drags on. Businesses I patronized regularly close. Supposedly the job situation here is fine, but health clubs are closing and the biggest ones are increasing their advertising. If you pay attention to new advertisers, you can tell what businesses are hurting.



EPA Subjects Human Victims to Lethal Pollutants, Doesn’t Warn of Risks! by The Elephant's Child

McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency has for years been basing their actions on the need to protect human beings from dangerous air pollutants and fine particulate matter (PM). The findings of the Office of Inspector General’s March 31 report say the EPA has followed all laws and regulations concerning human studies research.

While the IG’s report absolves the agency of breaking rules, it notes that the EPA did in fact expose human test subjects to concentrated airborne particles or diesel exhaust emissions in five studies done in 2012 and 2011. And it didn’t bother to plainly inform the subjects of the dangers the agency emphasizes in the proposals for their actions. When the EPA tells Congress about a proposed action, they can tell you exactly how many kids will die from asthma, and how many old folks will die from heart attacks. That’s how they get their way. What congressman could risk refusing to save dying kids?

The agency has said that fine particulate matter can cause premature death, a risk for older individuals with cardiovascular disease. A 2003 EPA document says even short-term exposure to PM can result in heart attacks and arrhythmias for people with heart disease. Long-term exposure can result in reduced lung function and even death. A 2006 review by the EPA reiterates that short-term PM exposure can cause “mortality and morbidity.”

“Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should,” former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress on September 22, 2011. “If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels it would have the same impact as find ing a cure for cancer in our county.”

So why has the EPA been subjecting unknowing human guinea pigs to high levels of carcinogens and potentially lethal pollutants in order to justify tough new air quality standards?  The EPA has been carrying out these unethical human experiments in which subjects are made to inhale freshly pumped-in diesel truck exhaust fumes — without advising them of the risk to their health — which the EPA claims may be mortal. Junk Science.com, October 5, 2012:

EPA has admitted to a federal court that it asks human guinea pigs to sacrifice their lives for regulatory purposes — at $12 per hour.

  • Failure to provide/obtain written consent. The Common Rule, as codified in federal regulation 40 CFR 26.117, specifically requires that written informed consent be obtained when risk of serious injury or death is involved in an experiment. As the consent form provided by EPA makes no mention of the risk of death, written consent acknowledging that they are willing sacrifice themselves for EPA regulatory purposes is not obtained.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy sounds much like her boss. She doesn’t know anything about that, all studies are of the highest quality, etc. etc. etc.

Steven Milloy, founder and proprietor of JunkScience.com, which attempts to inject real science into phony government claims, has impeccable credentials. He writes that the “EPA air pollution scare is debunked by the best data set ever assembled on particulate matter and deaths.” In a subsequent column he explains just what the rules are on different kinds of studies.

Every time the EPA introduces a new policy that results in another power grab, the need for the power grab is couched in terms of how many kids are going to die from asthma, although doctors don’t even know what causes asthma. I find that suspicious. Yet with all the dead kids off there in the not distant future, the EPA is involving kids in their experiments without informing them or their parents of what the EPA believes to be their expected demise. They are deliberately exposing kids with asthma to what they regard as dangerous levels of toxic pollutants— which they then try to cover up. How do they get volunteers? Breitbart dug up some examples.

I am convinced that the EPA is an organization of environmental zealots solely interested in their own power. I have been writing about them for years, and I think the agency should be shut down and permanently shuttered. They exist only because of the bogus environmental scares fostered by the U.N.’s IPCC for political reasons, not scientific ones.

If fine particulate matter is not dangerous to human health, the EPA needs to stop using it to justify its power grabs. If it is dangerous the EPA has no business conducting tests on human subjects. And not to fully inform the poor guinea pigs of the dangers of the tests is beyond despicable.



There Is No Right To Be Free From Being Offended. by The Elephant's Child

How did we get to this spot in the history of the world when the guiding rule of society seems to be —”You must not offend anyone.” Is it an outgrowth of the self-esteem movement that did so much damage to our national psyche?  Do not disagree with me or you might damage my self-esteem?

In the last few days, a Mozilla executive was expelled from his position at the firm he co-founded by left-wing campaigners who determined to punish him, not for something he said in his role at the company, but for a donation he made to a California ballot initiative that defined marriage in the customary terms in which it had been defined for several thousand years. A donation that was made 6 years ago. The Los Angeles Times helpfully had published a list of all donors to the anti-Proposition 8 ballot issue.

Also in the last few days, one Adam Weinstein, who writes at Gawker, called for literally sending people who have the incorrect views about global warming to prison. “Those malcontents must be punished and stopped,” he wrote. He is not the first to suggest that conservatives should be sent to prison or a concentration camp for their crime of disagreeing with liberal thought.

Charles Murray, an important social scientist of our times, was denounced as a “known white supremacist” by Texas Democrats for holding improper views about education policy.

Condoleezza Rice was invited to speak at this year’s commencement ceremony at Rutgers University where she would receive an honorary doctorate. The faculty criticized the university decision, saying “Condoleezza Rice…played a prominent role in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.” The editorial staff of The Daily Targum said “Do the positive aspects of her personal accomplishments really outweigh the destruction of war she contributed to during her political career? She was a major proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which has been arguably the worst and most destructive decision in the history of U.S. foreign policy.” All of which goes to prove that if you want to major in history, you should select some other university.

Then there’s Lois Lerner who is facing contempt charges relating to her role in using the IRS as a weapon against the Obama administration’s political enemies for their improper thought and advocacy.

Harry Reid, a liberal champion of campaign-finance reform, was caught channeling tens of thousands of dollars to his granddaughter, while carefully omitting her surname (same as his) from official documents, and hiding the transaction. When discovered, he quickly wrote a check to his campaign to cover-up his indiscretion. At the same time,Mr. Reid has been viciously attacking the Koch Brothers, who are prominent philanthropists, especially in seeking a cure for cancer, for implausible crimes because the Libertarian brothers donate to conservative causes.

I don’t know what part the self-esteem movement, in which most of our current adults were raised, plays into this liberal failure to recognize that good and honest people may have opinions that differ from theirs, or if it even does; but it is all right, and they just need to suck it up. Conservatives often marvel at the march in lockstep of Liberals. They regularly espouse the same ideas in exactly the same words, and apparently assume that no one will notice.

I have generously always assumed that the wordsmiths at Think Progress come up with what they hope will be the most fortuitous description of an idea or a policy to sway the minds of potential voters, then run the preferred words by a few focus groups to assure that they’ve got the best verbiage, then send it out to every Democrat politician who might use the words in public.  If that is the case, you must also assume that the Democrats in question don’t bother their pretty little heads with boring things like economics and history, and the long-term effects of past legislation. No scientific studies for this bunch, they will be told the proper language. Consider the words “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” that’s some major wordsmithery!

As evidence, I offer the media’s longstanding effort to capitalize on Republican disagreement—all that crowing about how Republicans are at war among themselves. We don’t all think the same, we do study history, we do pay attention to how legislation actually plays out, and we even read scientific studies. We are ordinary human beings and we have our own opinions, and aren’t afraid to disagree. Disagreement is —normal.  We’ll present our evidence, and try to compromise eventually, but we never, never march in lockstep.

Jonathan Rauch said it nicely in his Kindly Inquisitors, using ‘liberal’ in the classical sense: “Liberal science is built on two pillars. One is the right to offend in the pursuit of truth. The other is the responsibility to check and be checked.”

Irving Kristol wrote: “In every society the overwhelming majority of people live lives of considerable frustration and if society is to endure, it needs to rely on a goodly measure of stoical resignation.”

Feel free to offend. Stand up for what you believe. Refuse to be cowed by those who claim to be offended. We don’t do “thoughtcrime” in the United States of America, do we?



“Mission Accomplished” says Obama. Now What? by The Elephant's Child

I had a routine doctor’s appointment last week. As she interacted with the new computer system rather than me, my doctor said “I should have gone to secretarial school instead.”

So after “Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment—his triumphal Rose Garden speech claiming ObamaCare is now here to stay—where are we? No one believes Obama’s lofty claims for the numbers of enrolled people, and the number who have actually paid their premiums (the only point at which the numbers are real) are numbers that will have to come from the insurance companies.

The underlying signs of the health of this dreadful medical law are something quite different. Kaiser Health News published the following:

Janis Finer, 57, a popular primary care physician in Tulsa, Okla., gave up her busy practice two years ago to care full time for hospitalized patients. The lure? Regular shifts, every other week off and a 10 percent increase in pay.

Lawrence Gassner, a Phoenix internist, was seeing four patients an hour. Then he pared back his practice to those who agreed to pay a premium for unhurried visits and round the clock access to him.  “I always felt rushed,” said the 56-year-old. “I always felt I was cutting my patients off.”

Tim Devitt, a family physician in rural Wisconsin, took calls on nights and weekends, delivered babies and visited his patients in the hospital. The stress took a toll, though: He retired six years ago, at 62.

Physician stress has always been a normal fact of life, but anecdotal stories suggest a significant increase in the level of discontent, especially among primary care doctors who play the central role in coordinating patient care. Just as millions of Americans are obtaining health insurance through ObamaCare because of the threats of fines, or because their insurance policies were cancelled— often because the benefits they chose did not match the government’s one-size-fits-all standard.

A 2012 Urban Institute study of 500 primary-care doctors found that 30 percent of those age 35 to 49 planned to leave their practices within five years. The rate jumped to 52 percent for those over 50. A RAND study for the American Medical Association found that nearly half of physicians called their jobs “extremely stressful” and more than one-quarter said they were “burning out.” Unhappy doctors make for unhappy patients, and unhappy patients result in unhappy doctors.

Janice Finer, who left primary care to work with hospital patients, didn’t want to have to deal with insurers, hiring staff, and the business of a practice —sold her practice to a hospital. But hospital administrators dictated the pace. She was required to see 22 to 28 patients a day. At one point, she said, she was scheduled to see patients every 11 minutes. But meeting patients’ needs is not just busy work, but it doesn’t generate revenue.

President Obama contributed billions to help defray providers’ costs of going digital. The goal was a national system that would provide the government with statistics for further control. Not happening. Every hospital may have a different system, and none of them talk to each other. Digital records mean entering numbers and words in lots of repetitive boxes, but the old kind of personal, nuanced information that was in a doctor’s note, aren’t included. “Many physicians told us “I used to be a doctor, now I’m a clerk.” Anyone who uses a computer can recognize the potential for error. Typos are a way of life. Some doctors have started using ‘scribes’ —laptop carrying assistants who fill in the blanks and take notes— which adds another level of cost.

The association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the U.S. will be short about 45,000 primary care doctors in 2020 when 260,000 are projected to be practicing. Doctors used to encourage their kids to go into medicine. They’re not doing that anymore.

President Obama in his “Mission Accomplished” speech stressed the objective of the Democrats who drummed up this mess: “We are making sure that we are not the only advanced county on earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.” Tinkering and improving are expected to lead to single-payer health care which is the their ultimate goal.

Nationalizing health care inevitably leads to conflicting problems.Government programs always cost more than was estimated — way more. The government’s sole incentive quickly becomes a demand to reduce costs.

The incentive for hospitals and clinics is the need to get adequately paid for their services. Those incentives lead to a reduction in innovation unless it is proved to reduce costs— so fewer medical inventions, fewer new drugs.

And pressure on doctors and personnel is to do more in less time with fewer and cheaper materials.  The incentive is also for doctors to leave the profession or for doctors to become government employees. What is inevitable is a lot of burned-out doctors who become more cynical and less caring. Ezekiel Emmanuel, who was one of the advisers for ObamaCare, has advocated disposing of the Hippocratic Oath.

The problem for patients becomes getting an appointment, getting use of expensive diagnostic equipment, and facing long waits for seeing a doctor and seeing a specialist and just getting the needed care. A frequent look at British newspapers’ accounts of the latest NHS scandal is proof of where it all leads.

If health care is free or low-cost at the point of service, the incentive is to overuse medical care which is what got us here in the first place. When someone else is paying the bill, there is no incentive for thrift,  which drives up costs and the vicious cycle repeats and  grows slowly worse, and harder to change.  Incentives matter.

 

 



SWAT Teams From the EPA, NOAA, and the Department of Education? by The Elephant's Child

SWAT team

The proliferation of federal SWAT teams is troubling. In late February four armed federal agents with a drug-sniffing dog descended on the Taos Ski Valley in what was called a “saturation patrol.” The agents were working on tips of possible drug selling and impaired driving in the ski resort’s parking lot and surrounding area. The armed agents were from the U.S. Forest Service.

Did you know that the Department of Education has SWAT teams? They can invade your home at gunpoint and hold you and your family in custody for hours. In 2011, federal “education” agents busted down the front door of Kenneth Wright’s Stockton home at 6 in the morning. Wright’s terrified children— 3, 9, and 11 were forced to sit in a patrol car for two hours, Wright was in custody for six hours.

The Education Department had a broad search warrant and seized paperwork and a personal computer. The agents, 13 from the Education Department and a couple of police officers — told him they were investigating his estranged wife’s use of federal aid for students. She didn’t even live in the house.

Are you obeying all the thousands of regulations in the Federal Register? Are you prepared for early-morning break-ins by the USDA, Railroad Retirement Board, Bureau of Land Management, Tennessee Valley Authority, Office of Personnel Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, EPA, Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Park Service, and NOAA— the folks who monitor the atmosphere and forecast the weather have 96 special agents and 28 armed enforcement officers.

An armed EPA raid in Alaska sheds light on 70 federal agencies with armed divisions. The incident that sparked the raid was last August when a team of armed federal and state officials descended on the tiny Alaska gold mining  town of Chicken,  Alaska — looking for possible violations of the Clean Water Act. This is not the first time the EPA has descended on citizens with a SWAT team, but it is clearly excessive. Violating the Clean Water Act indeed.

We’re getting into Fourth and Fifth Amendment territory here.



Slash the Budget of the Department of Agriculture! by The Elephant's Child

Just briefly looking around the USDA website convinced me that the Department of Agriculture has way too many bureaucrats employed, and their conception of what they should be doing is way too broad. I have never known anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the USDA’s guidelines as to just what we should be eating, which is just as well because they have mostly been wrong anyway.

The schools, unfortunately, have to pay attention because they get funding, but anyone who has ever visited a school lunchroom notices that enormous quantities of food end up in the garbage. The kids have mostly hated Michelle Obama’s school lunch program. The USDA’s high carb diet was all wrong, butter is fine, they’re still trying to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions” although carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is what makes plants grow, and apparently, according to the EPA, soon their mission will be to reduce cow flatulence.

The federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is currently working on updating nutritional guidelines to conform with Mrs. Obama’s ideas and new scientific evidence. Mrs. Obama has been behind the drastically altered school lunch menus and the federal push to change restaurants’ most popular items to healthier fare and add calorie counts to every menu. She also has a new nutritional food labeling scheme.

One of the committee members, Miriam Nelson,  feels the guidelines shouldn’t be confined to nutrition, but should include the long-term sustainability and environmental impact of crops recommended for eating.  Another committee member is pushing a “plant-based diet” — suggesting that meat eating is not sustainable.

Another new idea under consideration are federal phone texts to obese citizens warning them regularly of their unhealthy eating behavior.

I pay no attention to the “my plate” guidelines, and I’m sure you don’t either, but the work of this committee guides the food purchases by the feds for government cafeterias, school meals across the country, all branches of the U.S. military and the entire federal prison system.

Michelle has insisted that the White House chef change from sugar to fruit purees to sweeten foods, but the White House consumes six different kinds of pie for Thanksgiving, The state dinner for the president of France came in at 2,500 calories per plate — a more-than-healthy whole day’s allowance. Remember that when you get your text-message from the government telling you what to eat, and reminding you that you are officially categorized as obese.



Oh Harry Reid, Harry Reid, For Shame! by The Elephant's Child

Harry Reid glum

Poor Harry Reid is caught between a rock and a hard place, and he’s not up to defending his position. It’s difficult, he’s majority leader of the Senate, and he has to defend the disastrous ObamaCare policy. Really frightening stories are emerging, about cancer patients who are suddenly denied the doctors and the care that was giving them the hope that they might live, and all Harry can think of is to call them all liars. Callous and insensitive doesn’t begin to describe it.

Now he has dissed a fellow senator, a medical doctor who is himself battling cancer, because he pointed out ObamaCare’s disastrous impact on cancer treatment. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) noted that the majority of cancer centers in this country aren’t covered under ObamaCare.

“Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense. But I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill.”

When cancer patient Julie Boonstra appeared in a TV ad telling how Obamacare had jeopardized her treatment with rising and unpredictable premiums and co-pays. Reid took to the Senate Floor: “There’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue.”

He also coldly dismissed Edie Sundby, a stage four cancer patient, who was told that the plan that had paid out $1.2 million and helped her to survive, was substandard, and would be cancelled because it didn’t fit the one-size-fits-all ObamaCare standard.

Coburn said that under ObamaCare, out of “Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under ObamaCare.” Coburn said the cut-rate payments of the Affordable Care Act provides for those treatments. “You know, it’s a market,” Coburn said,”and what they’ve done is they’ve priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them aren’t going to participate because they don’t get paid [enough] to cover the costs.”

During the government shutdown, House Republicans wanted to pass a stand-alone bill to fund the National Institute of Health so children with cancer could continue to participate in clinical trials. Reid called that move “reckless and irresponsible” by those obsessed with this ObamaCare.” A reporter asked “If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Reid said “Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. [because of the shutdown] They have a few problems of their own.”

I understand that for Senate Democrats, ObamaCare is about power, and more control of the American people. But for the rest of us it is about the American people getting the care that they have been promised, that the rest of us are paying for.



A Secretive Government Trying to Avoid Blame. by The Elephant's Child

I wrote just recently about the backlog of disability claims, the backlog of requests for medical exams that was rolling over and over, month after month, and how they dealt with this by just destroying veterans medical records or requests—in a program called “System Redesign.” They didn’t have the resources to do all those exams. They were getting around 3,000 requests a month and only had the resources to do about 800, so they just cancelled the backlog. They figured that a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery or—died.

Now it appears that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) blocked the release of the names of hospitals where 19 veterans died because of delays in medical screenings. CNN reported in January that 19 veterans died as a result of delayed gastrointestinal cancer screenings, while another 63 were seriously injured. CNN obtained internal documents from the VA listing the number of “institutional disclosures of adverse events,” bureaucracy-speak for a mistake that gravely harms or kills a patient.

The documents did not list the hospitals or clinics where the “adverse events” took place. A Tampa Tribune reporter asked the VA for the names of the hospitals and was told that he would have to file a FOIA request. His FOIA request was denied.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs launched a website this week highlighting the VA’s habit of failing to respond to press requests. Yes, press exposure of your failings can be embarrassing or worse, but that’s why the FOIA law requires agencies to respond within 20 days. I wrote about that recently too. No federal agency wants to expose their misdoings or shortcomings to public scrutiny, or press scrutiny— though the press, is for the most part, such a slobbering lapdog for the administration—because people could get fired, the agency could lose funding.

And now there’s another shooting at Fort Hood, with at least 4 dead and many wounded. Will this be another case of “workplace violence” where those injured do not get the benefits to which they are entitled? I just wrote about that too. I take no pleasure in writing about these things, I write because I worry. Our government is increasingly attempting to avoid any possible blame. That may be a natural failing, but it is unacceptable. Americans rely on an open and transparent government in which officials appreciate the honor of being entrusted with high office—and strive mightily to live up to the office. It’s a matter of character.



Triumphant But Angry: How Dare You Disagree. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama addressed the nation his supporters yesterday in the Rose Garden, obviously trying to reignite enthusiasm for the Affordable Care Act. He announced that 7.1 million people have signed up. His precise decimal point brought wide derision. But the speech was more of an angry pep-rally. How dare you not agree that ObamaCare is wonderful.

The key point came late in the speech: “It is making sure that we ae not the only advanced county on Earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.”

He added: “But today should remind us that the goal we set for ourselves—that no American should go without the health care that they need.” He said:” The Affordable Care Act hasn’t completely fixed our broken health care system, but this law has made our health care system a lot better—a lot better.

Our health care system was not broken. By law, anyone, whether they could afford it or not, could go to any emergency room and be treated. The cost of health care had been declining steadily in recent years, and the decline had nothing to do with ObamaCare, but with new diagnostic treatments, new drugs that made a real difference in shorter hospital stays, preventing major illnesses, and keeping more people alive and in good health. Early diagnosis saves lives.

Democrats rely on World Health Organization numbers regarding our health care,  meaningless numbers  based on skewed information. WHO numbers rank us low for live births, because we call every birth with a live baby a live birth—including those too small to survive—or too premature— because we try to save them all, with pretty good results. Other countries do not count those as “live births,” and do not attempt to save them. We also have a lot of highway deaths because we have a lot of highways and a lot of vehicles. It’s a big country. The WHO also grades us down sharply because we don’t have free health care for all (socialized medicine).

What the president’s pep-talk largely showed was that he doesn’t really understand how insurance works. You have insurance for the big stuff: house fires, car crashes. Because those things statistically don’t happen to everybody regularly, everyone can pay a small amount which will go to the few who do have a big catastrophe, and you are protected against the time it happens to you. You don’t insure against a leaky roof, or needing new carpeting. You don’t insure against flat-tires or worn-out windshield wipers. The free contraceptives and free mammograms are the flat-tires of health insurance. Adding all the goodies makes the insurance unaffordable, as those forced onto ObamaCare will discover when they get their insurance costs for next year.

Back in the Bush administration, Democrats badly wanted a free drug plan for Medicare. As his price for signing the bill, Bush insisted on an incentive for seniors to, when possible, select a generic drug (way cheaper) than a brand name drug —all things being equal. Contrary to Progressive thinking, Seniors are not dummies. Incentives work. If the cost of  your drugs added up to a significant amount, you had to pay the full price (unless you could not afford it, in which case there was government subsidy) until the cost reached another level, at which point they were free. That gap was, for most people, avoidable if they relied on generic drugs, and Seniors found it quite sensible to do so. This meant the Medicare Drug Plan was the only big government program in history that came in costing less than projections.

President Obama announced triumphantly that “We’ve closed a gaping hole in Medicare’s prescription drug plan. We’ve closed the donut hole“— in other words they have eliminated the incentive that kept the Medicare Drug Plan costs reasonably low, and costs will skyrocket. Some triumph!

Despite this law, millions of Americans remain uncovered in part because some governors in some states for political reasons have deliberately to expand coverage under the law.” Well, yes they did. The federal government demanded that States dramatically increase the amount they spent on Medicaid. No federal help, just a demand that states come up with more funding, and raise taxes or whatever it took.
Some governors said their state could not afford it, and they were unwilling to raise taxes to meet the federal requirement that the feds wouldn’t pay for.

And we didn’t make it a hard sell. We didn’t have billions of dollars of commercials like some critics did.” Bw-ha-ha-ha. Billions for commercials? Sebelius admitted to $677 million on the failed website up to October, but we don’t really know what it has cost— the work has continued. Hawaii’s ObamaCare spent $35,749 per ObamaCare enrollee— at a cost of $205,342,270. The District of Columbia spent $133,573,927 to sign up just 6,518 people. Cover Oregon spent over $200 million and has not enrolled a single person. Maryland has spent over $125.5 million on an unworkable website and is now considering buying Connecticut’s system.

The law is a disaster. We are already told that premium costs will double or triple next year. Insurers have pared costs back by narrowing the provider list and eliminating the ability to be covered when you travel. The despairing stories of people who have been significantly harmed continue to pile up. Americans must fight back. The president is out fund-raising again today.

 




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