American Elephants


Affordable? Not So Much. Some Big Hikes. by The Elephant's Child

Conservatives have always giggled at the title chosen for ObamaCare — “the Affordable Care Act” — because having observed all the tricks and mandates crammed in, knew it was going to be increasingly unaffordable. And so it is. State Insurance Commissioners are beginning to report in.

Obama said at a July town hall in Nashville, Tennessee that he expected premiums to come in significantly lower than what’s being requested. He added that Tennesseans had to work to ensure the state’s insurance commissioner “does their job in not just passively reviewing the rates, but really asking, “O.K, what is it that you are looking for here? Why would you need very high premiums?”

The Tennessee commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak responded on Friday by approving the full 36.3% increase sought by the biggest health plan in the state, BlueCrossBlueShield of Tennessee. She said the insurer demonstrated that the hefty increase was needed to cover higher than expected claims from sick people who signed up for individual policies in the first two years of the Affordable Care Act.

Oregon’s Laura Call allowed an average 25.6% increase for that state’s biggest plan. In Ohio, it was 14.5%, in Michigan, 11.4%.

Democrats typically add mandates designed to make particular groups like the plan, then are astonished to find that it costs a lot more. Do remember that the Affordable Care Act was passed without a single Republican vote because Republicans thought it would not work and would soon become unaffordable. They just had no idea that it would happen quite so soon.

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Some plans offered low rates for the first and second year eager to  capture new business. Others simply found that business was more expensive than expected. Some programs designed to cushion insurers  against high risk participants are ending. Some state commissioners have not yet reported their decisions, or completed their analysis.



There Is No Iran Deal. It’s All Just a Pretense. They Pretend to Obey the Sanctions. We Pretend to Believe Them. by The Elephant's Child

Sardar-haj-qasem-soleimani-04Iran has never stopped violating the sanctions, never stopped violating the “agreement” that was reached in Brussels, and is continuing to do everything it can to demonstrate that it has the upper hand as a result of the deal it negotiated with the United States and its five partners. It twists understandings of the terms of the deal to justify its ‘misbehavior’ or just goes ahead and does what it chooses anyway.

President Obama and his Secretary of State are so eager for a deal that they are not pushing back, they are only pushing hard to get a veto-proof congressional vote of approval.

Iran plans to sign a contract for four advanced Russian surface-to-air S-300 missiles as early as next week, following a visit to Moscow by Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani (seen above) in violation of an international travel ban. The Quds Force is the designated arm of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to export the revolution abroad —which is just what they have been doing.

The sanctions against Qassem Soleimani “will stay forever” John Kerry said on Tuesday. “He oversaw the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, its efforts to destabilize Iraq, to support Bashar Assad in Syria, and the IRGC’s proliferation of WMD. The Quds Force supports the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah, Shiite militants in Iraq, and Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” Other than that, he’s not apt to pay much attention to sanctions.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is planning “a massive ballistic missile test” in the near future, according to the Fars News Agency.

Earlier this year, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajiadeh said they plan to upgrade and replace Iran’s existing Fateh, Qiyam, and Qadr missiles with a new generation of missiles — despite international sanctions on the Iranian Missile program.

The issue has arisen in the debate over the Iran Deal in Congress. Lawmakers have criticized the agreement for allowing the international arms embargo to be lifted after five years and the ballistic missile sanctions to be lifted after eight years. Perhaps they should criticize the IRGC for ordering new missiles from Russia last week, and having tests “in the near future.” Perhaps they should be arguing, not about what “the agreement says”— but about what Iran is actually doing.

Iranian leaders have declared that their arms shipments to allies in the region, such as their terrorist proxy Hezbollah will continue in spite of the UN Security Council arms embargo that is still in effect for five years.

Secretary Kerry said: “The arms embargo is not tied to snapback. It is tied to a separate set of obligations. So they are not in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms part of it.”

There isn’t any “snapback” anyway, that would require agreement among the other parties to the agreement, and that’s not going to happen. The other parties are busy planning trade negotiations with Iran as soon as they can send them off. With sanctions lifted and money flowing back to Iran, they will be in the market for all the interesting things the western nations produce. Nobody is shouting ‘Death to Germany,’ or ‘Death to France’— the Europeans need to sell more stuff, and they want to buy Iranian oil which will help to lift the energy blackmail that Putin favors. They don’t believe that Iran has any interest in nuking them, it’s our problem. And if Obama wants to be a patsy, that’s our problem too.

Democrats in the House and Senate are lining up to support Obama’s disastrous deal out of blind partisan loyalty to Obama. They are assuming that the inspections will deter Iran for at least another ten years, as Kerry claims. Yet the military sites such as Parchin, where they are working on militarization of nuclear weapons, will not be inspected by the IAEA. Instead the Iranians will inspect their own military sites, and provide soil samples to the IAEA with their own record of the inspection. That should work.

Chief negotiator Wendy Sherman is the one who successfully negotiated the agreement with North Korea —where Kim Jong Un is currently threatening to nuke South Korea. If this was a movie,  you might just walk out because it’s all so completely unbelievable, and sticking around to find out how it turns out is way too uncomfortable.

In spite of all this, President Obama envisions himself flying to Tehran to shake hands on the agreement with the Supreme Leader. He sees it as a triumphant moment when he turns over the Middle East to the sovereignty of the ancient nation of Persia, and brings all Americans home, never to interfere in the nasty world again. Even better than Nixon opening up China. Or something like that. When Iran sets off an EMP attack decimating the East Coast and killing millions of Americans Obama won’t even have finished raising the billion dollars he wants for his presidential library.



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: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Environment, Freedom, Health Care, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes

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!

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When Is a Treaty Not a Treaty? Democrats Like to Re-Name Things. Can They Get Away With It? by The Elephant's Child

It seems to me that the Iran Deal is the most urgent, most important issue before the American people. The administration says that Congress must pass it, and if they don’t, Obama will sign it anyway. Orde Kittrie, writing in the Wall Street Journal says that Congress can Rewrite the Iran Deal. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the Deal is not a treaty because they couldn’t get a treaty through Congress, so it isn’t a treaty.

This is a nonstarter for the administration. Mr. Obama warns that failure to approve the deal as is means that America will lose its “credibility as a leader of diplomacy,” indeed “as the anchor of the international system.” Mr. Kerry asserts that refusing to approve the deal would be inconsistent with “the traditional relationship” that has existed “between the executive and Congress.”
Does just calling it an “executive agreement” make it not a treaty? You can call a pig a dog, but that doesn’t make it a dog, nor make it any less disreputable.

In an interview published Aug. 5  with Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg, John Kerry said of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, that “the ayatollah constantly believed that we were untrustworthy, that you can’t negotiate with us, that we will screw them.” And we believed that Iran was trustworthy and that we could negotiate with him? Please! Clearly, we didn’t care that Iran was not trustworthy, so we gave in to them on every issue.

Kerry said that “Congressional rejection of the deal “will be the ultimate screwing,” he added, noting that “the United States Congress will prove the ayatollah’s suspicion, and there’s no way he’s ever coming back. He will not come back to negotiate. Out of dignity, out of a suspicion that you can’t trust America. America is not going to negotiate in good faith. It didn’t negotiate in good faith now, would be his point.”

During two years of negotiations, Obama and his international partners agreed to keep discussions of ballistic missiles out of the nuclear talks after Tehran refused to continue the talks if the issue was not excluded. Did nobody ask why they needed intercontinental ballistic missiles if their nuclear efforts were simply for peaceful energy? Unless they are worried about Venezuela, we are the only folks on a different continent.

Obama clearly did not expect the negative reaction to the Iran Deal.According to Gallup, only one in three Americans approve of Obama’s handling of Iran. Unsurprisingly, even leftist Jewish organizations are lining up to oppose the deal.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Obama was asked if he thought it was “appropriate of a foreign head of government to inject himself into an American affair.”That one is laughable. Obama has an extensive history of injecting himself into the affairs and elections of other countries, both by word and deed. He sent his campaign advisors to Israel, and to Britain to help the opposition party, and has injected himself into the affairs of Australia and Canada, without invitation.

America has long had a list of countries designated by us as state sponsors of terrorism. It has been a fairly exclusive club, with states like North Korea and Syria. The Obama administration has, for political reasons, shown remarkable solicitude toward two countries that were on the list when he became president: Cuba and Iran.”Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission,”  was the explanation of the State Department. John Kerry has trekked off to Cuba to raise the flag over a reopened U.S. Embassy there. Nothing has changed. The Castros state firmly that nothing will change, and Cuba hasn’t lost its taste for terrorism and spying.

Iran is a different deal. The Ayatollahs have long had their fingers in every terrorist effort from Iraq to Syria, to Yemen, Georgia,Thailand and India, not to mention a number of other countries around the world.  Unacknowledged is the fact the throughout the negotiations, Iran has continued its work toward a weapon. The Europeans want Iran’s oil, and trade with Iran. Obama wants their good graces and is engaged in the worst kind of wishful thinking. To assume that Havana and Tehran can be reformed by kindness and respectful talk is an unbelievably foolish and dangerous error. Obama is desperately searching for a “legacy,” it will not be found in millions of dead Americans.



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?



CO2 is Greening the Earth, Benefiting the Biosphere, and Lifting the Poor Out of Poverty. by The Elephant's Child

greeningCraig D. Idso is the founder and former President of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, and currently serves as Chairman of the Center’s board of directors. He has written:

At a fundamental level, carbon dioxide is the basis of nearly all life on Earth, as it is the primary raw material or “food” that is utilized by plants to produce the organic matter out of which they construct their tissues…

Typically, a doubling of the air’s CO2 content above present-day concentrations raises the productivity of most herbaceous plants by about one-third; this positive response occurs in plants that utilize all three of the major biochemical pathways of photosynthesis.

There is no doubt elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 lead to enhanced plant photosynthesis and growth. This well-known fact has been confirmed over and over again in literally thousands of laboratory and field studies conducted by scientists over the past several decades. In recent years, however, the growth-enhancing benefits of atmospheric CO2 have been increasingly studied and observed in the real world of nature using Earth-orbiting satellites. Such instruments have the capability to remotely sense plant growth and vigor at altitudes miles above the Earth’s surface; and they have generated a spatial and temporal record of vegetative change that now spans more than three decades. And what has that record revealed?

The take-home message of the satellite data is two-fold. First, at the global level, all recent studies show there has been a significant greening of the planet over the past few decades despite the occurrence of a number of real (and imagined) assaults on Earth’s vegetation, including wildfires, disease, pest outbreaks, deforestation, and climatic changes in temperature and precipitation. Greening has more than compensated for any of the negative effects these phenomena may have had on the global biosphere during that time. Second, there is compelling evidence that the atmosphere’s rising CO2 content—which is considered by many to be the chief threat  to the future of the biosphere via climate change—is most likely the primary cause of the observed greening trends.

Do read the whole thing, including the references. This is why Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” will accomplish nothing beyond putting a lot of coal miners and power plant workers out of work. CO2 is NOT a pollutant, but essential to life on earth. If all the billions of dollars of new wind farms and solar arrays were actually to accomplish anything, it might make a difference of 0.03ºC by 2100. Just another failure to add to the legacy.



Not a Lot of Media Coverage of the Decline and Fall of the EPA by The Elephant's Child

gty_mine_wastewater_spill_03_jc_150811_4x3_992-e1439327486898-620x266Have you noticed that there is not a lot of media coverage about the big EPA toxic mine tailings spill? Have you noticed that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is not out in the Navajo lands consulting with Navajo Nation president Russell Begaye? The spill has been quietly upped from one million gallons to three million gallons, but that’s pretty complicated math and probably nobody knows.

This is very big and very bad news for the EPA and for the Obama Administration. It has been six days, and we still don’t know just what happened, just how toxic the surge is, and how long-lasting it will be. They have spoken of  toxic metals, lead, arsenic, cadmium (which I assume is responsible for the yellow color) and what else? There are lots of farms and ranches. How do they cope with water being trucked in, and what do they do with their livestock?

Perhaps the national press will take notice when the plume of yellow muck reaches the Grand Canyon National Park. I have been interested to see the utter contempt with which many seem to regard the Environmental Protection Agency.




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