American Elephants


“Compassion” is what the Hard Left Thinks They’re All About, Except When They’re Not. by The Elephant's Child

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The headline at National Review for an article by Wesley J. Smith reads “Keeping Patient Alive Can Be ‘Non-beneficial Treatment.'”

The medical bureaucrats and technocrats are changing the meaning of definitions and terms to permit health care rationing and coerced withdrawal of care.

This is the “futile care” controversy, sometimes called “inappropriate care,” or in my parlance, “futile care theory.”

The idea is that when a doctor or bioethics committee believes the patient’s life not worth sustaining based on their values about quality of life or cost, wanted treatment — even that requested in an advance directive — can be unilaterally refused.

Futile care is akin to a restaurant posting a sign stating, “We reserve the right to refuse service.”

The International Journal for Quality in Healthcare is doing the hard Left’s politically correct trick of changing the language to fit their desired goal. The goal is essentially to get rid of expensive treatments for those whose illness is not expected to result in improvement in quality of life. In such cases the technocrats, bureaucrats, hospitalists and other doctors and bioethicists will decide if it is “non-beneficial treatment (NBT).” Keeping the patient alive because the patient wants to be kept alive has no part in the discussion. The bureaucrats are redefining the core purpose of medicine. And of course there will be an acronym to further disguise what they’re up to.

You have perhaps noticed that one state after another is attempting to pass “Assisted Suicide” laws. They usually succeed by suggesting that you, old and feeble, and suffering from dreadful pain, with no hope might want to end your misery by getting your doctor to kill you. That will help get rid of some whose expectations don’t involve improvement in their quality of life, but adding on a bunch of bureaucrats to make those decisions brings back memories of Logan’s Run, or Solyunt Green. They don’t make movies like that anymore —uncomfortably close to reality, not the politically correct party line.

Anyone who isn’t frightened by the prospect of technocrats, bureaucrats, hospitalists and other doctors, and bioethicists — strangers to the patient — deciding that continuing to live is non-beneficial hasn’t thought the question through.

In Britain, the National Health Service (NHS) has been accused of denying elderly patients food and water to help them die more quickly, but the NHS is socialized medicine.



Obama is Dismantling Medicare by The Elephant's Child

Modern medicine has been a blessing for seniors. Before Medicare, old folks ended up in nursing homes or in wheelchairs with crippling illnesses. Now more seniors are able to get hip and knee replacements, cataract operations and heart procedures to spare them some of the worst parts of aging. And they are living longer. The American Journal of Public Health reported that a man turning 65 can expect to live 5 years longer than he would have in 1970.

The Obama administration has, as usual with the left, included lots of unnecessary goodies in order to get people to sign up with ObamaCare and Medicare. And with Medicare, they carefully eliminated many of the features that controlled costs and encouraged older folks to use it more carefully.  The so-called “donut hole” was designed as an incentive for seniors to use cheaper generic drugs instead of name-brands when they were equivalent.  It worked very successfully. Obama eliminated that.

Medicare has always faced the problem of the sheer numbers of retiring baby boomers, which has meant trouble for Medicare finances. Under the guise of “reform,” President Obama is dooming seniors to disability, needless pain and shortening their lives.

Hillary, economically clueless, is proposing to open Medicare to people in their 50s, so younger, healthier people would be competing with seniors for resources. Brilliant.

Obama, under the pretense of “reform,” is issuing a 962 page of new Medicare regulations. The reforms will make it harder for seniors to get joint replacements. New payment rules will shortchange doctors, discouraging them from accepting Medicare in the first place — which is already a problem. Hospitals will get bonuses for spending less on each senior patient, despite having higher death and infection rates. Seeing Medicare patients will be a money loser.

Because of new regulations on how doctors treat patients (the feds know better than the doctors) doctors spend time completing reports for the government. They spend their time with the patient glued to a computer screen instead of interacting with patients.

“Doctors who want to provide individualized care” will have to “either opt out of Medicare or simply not comply,” explains Richard Amerling, past president of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.

Obama’s rules are “far too complex and burdensome to be workable for most physicians,” warns John Halamka, a Harvard medical professor.

The new rules also make seeing Medicare patients a money loser. Annual fee increases for doctors are capped at a fraction of 1 percent — even though rents and other costs go up every year.

No wonder nine out of 10 solo practitioners admit they’ll avoid Medicare patients — right when 10,000 new baby boomers are joining each day.

Old folks with cancer will be in trouble. Doctors administering chemotherapy are getting a pay cut and told to choose the cheapest drug, regardless of what medication is best for the patient. Seniors needing knee and hip replacements likely to need rehab may have to settle for painkillers instead.

The administration claims the rules reward quality instead of quantity, but that’s a lie. Betsy McCaughey says that five of the hospitals who had the worst scores on patient outcomes — who get more infections and die sooner from heart problems and pneumonia than at other hospitals — have all gotten bonuses from Medicare because they are low spenders.

Remember the 2012 campaign when Obama accused Republicans or plotting to “end Medicare as we know it” and a video depicted a Republican pushing Granny’s wheelchair off a cliff?  Nasty and false claims, but now the Democrats are pushing America’s seniors off a cliff indeed.

Obama has made several remarks indicating that medical care is more important  for the young, who have more years ahead of them, than having expense wasted on the old, who could depend on pain killers instead. It would be a lot less offensive if he were not at the same time wanting to insure the votes of young women by promising free contraceptives to all, although they cost so little  few would have a hard time paying.

In a free competitive market, competition brings prices down, and the promise of profit makes people have new ideas, and take the risk to make them work. The Left despises the free market, and wants ever more control. They believe that they have the best ideas and they just need to be put to work. And if they aren’t working, new and more regulation will fix things. It’s a war of Individualism versus Collectivism — or Freedom versus Socialism. Perhaps you have noticed that they are starving in Venezuela and being killed in food riots. And their hospitals have no medicine, no antibiotics and no pain pills either.



A Painful Hearing About Ensuring Sound Science at the EPA by The Elephant's Child

The U.S. Department of Energy says the the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, will reduce economic growth, increase the cost of electricity, and result in almost 400,000 lost jobs over the next 15 years.

Testifying before the House Science Committee, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says that the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy  is wrong and “what they claim is exactly opposite of what we believe will happen based on our independent analysis.” Based on Ms. McCarthy’s record over the years it is highly unlikely that the EPA is correct on anything beyond their grasp for power and control for their agency.

CONGRESSMAN LAMAR SMITH: “The non-partisan Energy Information Administration at the Department of Energy has found that the Clean Power Plan will reduce economic growth, increase electricity costs, and result in almost 400,000 jobs lost over the next 15 years; and all this is with very little impact on climate change itself. So why has the Obama Administration imposed this regulation on the American people?”

Administrator McCarthy said she hadn’t read this report, but she’d be happy to take a look. Which sounds remarkably like her past testimony in any of the cases in which she was called to testify, by I may be mistaken.

CONGRESSMAN SMITH: “It’s nice to have the Administration at war with itself.”



Fantasy and Talking Points In Search of a Legacy for Obama by The Elephant's Child

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The Democrat’s Convention platform is slowly being revealed, unprobable bit by bit. It will include a plan to get the United States completely off of fossil fuels by 2050. Oh dear. Not going to happen.  Who writes these talking points? Doesn’t anyone ever check in with reality?

President Barack Obama met at a “Three Amigos” summit in Ottawa this week with  Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. The three NAFTA partners will pledge that in less than 10 years, half of North America’s energy will come from “clean” sources. The administration patted itself on the back and called it “ambitious.” How about “improbable” or “a joke?”

The U.S. accounts for three quarters of the energy produced by the three countries., so living up to the agreement falls on the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, so-called “clean energy”— nuclear, hydro electric, solar, wind, biomass makes up a total of less than one-fifth of U.S. energy production.

Nuclear accounts for around 8% of all clean energy, and California plans to shut down Diablo Canyon, their last nuke, which produces two times more energy than all of California’s solar arrays put together. The environmentalists who are energy-literate are beginning to understand that only nuclear power is currently capable of generating significant amounts of baseload electricity. The first new nuclear plant is starting up in Tennessee with environmental support. Biomass accounts for 4%, solar and wind put together only 3% of our energy needs and hydroelectric a little more than 2%. Environmentalists oppose hydro, because they don’t like damming up rivers, and most of the good spots are already taken.

Even if they went whole hog for Nuclear energy, it wouldn’t make any difference over the next decade.The permitting, construction and approval steps alone would take more than 9 years. Obama said he was sure that some 15 year-old was working on a new energy source in his bedroom, or perhaps it was his garage.

But that leaves wind, solar and biomass. Production levels from these sources would have to increase by something like 470% in nine years to add up to half of the nation’s energy production. Well, maybe everyone will have forgotten his silly pledge in 9 years. Keep trying, maybe you’ll find something to claim as a legacy.



Ideology Overrides Common Sense And Law. by The Elephant's Child

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Donald Trump got a lot of support from his announced plan to build a “Great Big Wall and make Mexico pay for it.” The commentariat reacted immediately with cries of racism and xenophobia, (the fear of anything new or different), but in fact, countries all over the world are reacting to migrants with new fences or walls. Turkey’s new Syrian border fence will have a smart tower every 1,000 feet featuring “a three-language alarm system and automate firing systems” supported by zeppelin drones.

Israel’s Separation Barrier with the West Bank has been hotly debated. There is a Moroccan Wall in the Western Sahara. The Great Wall of Jordan (costs half a billion dollars), and Kenya has an anti-terror wall on its Somalia border.

Saudi Arabia is building a 600 mile “Great Wall” to protect against border infiltrators from Iraq that begin with sand berms, twin chain link fences with razor wire 100m apart separated by concertina fence, then 40 watchtowers equipped with radar and daylight cameras, command-and-control centers, 38 separate communication towers and 32 military response stations. They are serious, but ISIS regards the capture of Saudi Arabia home to the”Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal.

Many of the EU states are erecting border fences, but those who consider the nation-state to be a fiction, and who sneer at border fences as attempting to keep the barbarians out, note that “barbarians can be defined however the wall -builders desire.” Technology is dismissed as a leftover Cold War trend. An essay from UPI suggests since the advent of the War on Terror, border barriers have been framed as a state’s response to terrorist acts, but are a distorted mirror image of terrorist intentions. Building a wall is easier for a more authoritarian state, and part of a policy framework that includes state-sanctioned repression. But then Evelyn Gordon reports at Commentary about the 13 year-old Israeli-American who was murdered in her bed this morning, stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager.

I would submit that people are by nature tribal. The Middle East is deeply divided by tribes who all seem to be fighting each other. People who share a language, a background and customs are apt to stick together. America was settled by tribes or groups who settled together, the British in new England, the Dutch in New Amsterdam, the Germans in Germantown, members of  religious sects came together. Many were despised when they first arrived, but assimilated, integrated and intermarried — and then they formed new tribes, barn builders,  quilters, musicians and horse breeders and so on and on.

Victor Davis Hanson wrote recently  that “The history of nations is mostly characterized by ethnic and racial uniformity, not diversity.”

Most national boundaries reflected linguistic, religious, and ethnic homogeneity. Until the late 20th century, diversity was considered a liability, not a strength. …

Many societies created words to highlight their own racial purity. At times, “Volk” in German and “Raza” in Spanish (and “Razza” in Italian) meant more than just shared language, residence, or culture; those words also included a racial essence. Even today, it would be hard for someone Japanese to be fully accepted as a Mexican citizen, or for a native-born Mexican to migrate and become a Japanese citizen …

America is history’s exception. It began as a republic founded by European migrants. Like the homogenous citizens of most other nations, they were likely on a trajectory to incorporate racial sameness as the mark of citizenship. But the ultimate logic of America’s unique Constitution was different. So the United States steadily evolved to define Americans by their shared values, not by their superficial appearance. Eventually, anyone who was willing to give up his prior identity and assume a new American persona became American.

Consider the agenda of the Obama administration. Diversity is to be enforced, including forcing suburbs to accept people from the inner city, and forcing people from the inner city to relocate to unfamiliar suburbs. Refugees are to be planted in communities across the country. Idaho just got 7 refugees with active Tuberculosis (TB), following seven other states who have reported active TB among refugees resettled in their states. Of 4,650 refugees resettled in Idaho between 2011 and 2015 — 896 tested positive for latent TB infection. TB is a very serious disease. It had been nearly eradicated. And TB is just one of the diseases that Obama is quite deliberately spreading around the country in the name of ideology.

Illegal alien unaccompanied children have been sent to every state, including Alaska and Hawaii.  Attempting to reach some ideological goal by forcing diversity of race and ethnicity in the name of achieving “equality” goes against the natural inclinations of the people involved — to solve a solely political goal of the administration. A goal that seems to be mostly about making themselves feel noble and important, because it certainly has nothing to do with the people and what they want.



The Private Sector Fires Incompetents. The Feds Reward Them! by The Elephant's Child

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It was only a day or two ago that I wrote “The federal government has too many people working for the government, and there isn’t enough work for them to do. Government workers make 78%  more for comparable jobs, according to Cato. They call themselves “public servants,” but they don’t mean it. When they start to think of the U.S. Constitution as an impediment rather than a guarantee that the government belongs to the people and the public servants are there to work for us, not the other way around, we’re in trouble. So here we are.”

Federal workers make on average nearly twice as much as those in the private sector, but government employee unions want a pay increase more than three times larger than President Barack Obama proposed.
The American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, American Postal Workers’ Union and 20 other unions representing federal workers sent a letter to Congress seeking a 5.3 percent pay hike next year. President Obama proposed a 1.6 percent raise.

How about a 10% pay cut to bring them more into line with the rest of the country?  If you include benefits, the average federal employee earns about $119,000 annually, including salary and benefits compared to the private sector average of $67,000. (an October 2015 study by the Cato Institute) If you add in health care and pensions, it’s even a bigger gap.

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All the workers in the federal government are, according to the federal government — above average. This rating of worker performance is clearly absurd, as anyone who has ever had contact with a federal bureaucrat can attest. But a review of federal worker performance ratings by the GAO found that 99.5% of them got a “fully successful” rating or above. More than a third were given the highest rating of “outstanding.” At the other end of the ratings only 0.4% were rated as “minimally successful” and 0.1% as “unacceptable.”

Don’t everybody rush to get a government job at once. These “fully successful” workers “blew $2 billion on a botch Healthcare.gov website, made more than $100 billion in overpayments to go to government beneficiaries, run the TSA, fired veterans unto deadly wait lists for care, allowed their databases to be hacked, spent over 10 years and $1 billion trying to digitize 100 immigration forms only to get just one done.” And the list goes on — and on.

It is not just hard to fire a federal employee, but nearly impossible to rate them as anything less than “fully successful.” A manager who does must spend significant time developing performance improvement plans. Workers who don’t get a gold star can and do appeal their ratings by filing a union grievance with the Merit Systems Protection Board. That may be another agency we could do without.

The private sector has a direct financial interest in weeding out bad apples, and accurately assessing worker performance. Those incentives just don’t exist in the government. Failure usually results in bigger budgets and more money.

Republicans talk a lot about reducing the size and scope of the federal government. You haven’t been paying attention. They mean it, but they need encouragement, lots of it, because it is very hard to do. And needs doing very badly.

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Why Have Immigration Laws if The President Just Makes Up His Own? by The Elephant's Child

In the case over the Obama administration’s controversial immigration reforms, U.S. v. Texas, the Supreme Court confessed its inability to bring clarity to the broader debate over the scope of  executive authority, splitting four-four and affirmed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by an equally divided vote. This essentially means that in all likelihood, had Justice Antonin Scalia not passed away earlier this year it would have been settled.

On Thursday the Supreme Court shot down Barack Obama’s illegal executive amnesty – something he alleged at least 22 times he did not have the authority to pass before he went ahead and pushed through his executive authority anyway.

“During his comments Barack Obama once again argued that we need illegal aliens to “make our beds.” Well, never mind. “Speaking shortly after the Supreme Court’s immigration decision, President Obama made it ‘very clear’ that deporting illegal immigrants is not a priority of his administration.”

We knew that. We are interested in why this president who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution believes that he should overrule it.  Obama wants more Democrat voters. He has lied about deportations insisting that he has deported more people than any other president in history. That’s hooey. There are always consequences. Criminal immigrants reoffend at a higher level than ICE has suggested.  A smuggling network brings Middle East illegalsObama-shoes-3 to our border. Obama accuses a judge of “scaring’ illegal aliens from signing up for amnesty. Here are the shoes handed out to many of the “unaccompanied children” who arrived last year, to remind them of just who allowed them in, and gave them shoes.

Six diseases that had been near eradication are making a comeback, thanks to Obama’s refugee resettlement industry.  They are 1.Tuberculosis 2.Measles 3.Whooping Cough 4.Mumps 5.Scarlet Fever and 6. Bubonic Plague. The number of communicable TB cases, dubbed active TB, increased by 1.7 percent to 9,563 in 2015, after 23 years of steady decline in the United States. Parents who got all excited about the canard that vaccination is bad, should investigate those claims a little more thoroughly.

The problem is not so much illegal immigration, as it is that the President of the United States seems to believe that he is above the law and has no need to follow the laws. That’s really a problem.




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