American Elephants


The Media Shreds Hillary Clinton After the FBI Report On Her Email Conduct by The Elephant's Child



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.



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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We the People of the United States of America — are Pretty Ticked-Off by The Elephant's Child

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—Over at Powerline, John Hinderaker asked rhetorically “Why are Liberals so Hateful?” Good question. James Taranto pulled up a 2010 piece from Charles Krauthammer, to explain why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting. Krauthammer finds a pattern:

— Promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

— Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

— Disgust and alarm with the federal government’s unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

— Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

Taranto says: Krauthammer portrays this as a cynical game: “Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. . . . What’s a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument.”

Because their motives are pure, their intellectual superiority and managing expertise entitle them to rule over the rest of us ignorant, backward, stupid, religious nuts, and clinging intolerant bigots.

We daily hear about “the elites” and “the working class”— where do they get that? The “elites” naturally include as the cognitive elite the nation’s reporters, columnists and scribes. Businessmen are not really part of the elite—they are more apt to be included in “Wall Street” or excluded as manufacturers. We do have some wealthy playboys (and girls) but most everybody else supposedly works for a living, yet “the working class” are those who perhaps went to trade school or do those “dirty jobs” that Mike Rowe built into a successful career,( with some very good advice for future members of the employed ranks.) That leaves rather a large segment of the American public who actually do work for a living, enjoy it at least part of the time, and feel good about putting supper on the table and enjoying a movie now and then—out of the picture as — what, unmentionables?

Are BREXIT and Trump and all the international anger about being sneeringly called “the working class” when we are obviously more than a little short of work? Unemployment is a big problem in the EU as well as here. Holman Jenkins, business columnist for the Wall Street Journal remarked recently:  “It turns out government cannot spare us collectively from having to adapt and compete in an economy.”

The Left, in their headlong race towards what they conceive to be a more perfect world, when they get the rest of us bullied into shape, simply do not grasp basic human nature. We are flawed creatures, imperfect, and human nature is not perfectible. At the end of their relentless drive towards an imaginary utopia is — Venezuela, or Cuba, or Auschwitz or the Gulag.

Well, no wonder they think of themselves as an “elite.”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 than the private sector 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.

I think it was Mike Lofgren, author of The Deep State, who captured the essence of Leftist discourse: “Take offense, call your opponent names, refuse to let them speak, decline to debate.”

That pretty much covers it.



Unity and Diversity, Integration and Segregation, Sense and Utter Complete Nonsense. by The Elephant's Child

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The Obama Administration, in its final months, is on a drive to integrate America. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a new program called “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) which requires any locality (think suburbs) that receives any block grant funding — to rezone their neighborhoods based on income and racial prerequisites.

This is based on the 40-year-old Fair Housing Act. What they mean is there are not going to be any more low-income housing projects, all will be integrated into the suburbs. The push is to reduce economic and racial segregation in favor of  “diversity.”

We recognize that a growing body of research supports the benefits of socioeconomic and racial diversity in schools and communities, and that such diversity can help establish access points for opportunity and mobility. We also recognize that children raised in concentrated poverty or in communities segregated by socioeconomic status or race or ethnicity have significantly lower social and economic mobility than those growing up in integrated communities.

HUD, and Departments of Education and Labor will all work together to make local and state education and transportation departments consult the federal government about where they can site schools and public transportation lines, Head Start programs, and community colleges and similar entities in designing new communities and redesigning old ones. The federal government is taking over the American suburb to change it in the name of equality. Small town America will disappear.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has decided that since the rest of the world is polyglot, America should have the same rich culture with lots of different languages and different ethnicities. States are to instruct early childhood students in home languages different than English to help them retain separate cultural richness. “not recognizing children’s cultures and languages as assets” may be hurting them with their schoolwork.

America has long had a process of becoming a citizen that is quite unique. One has to begin to learn English, learn about our history and culture in citizenship classes. volunteer for the military if called upon in a national emergency. Obama has been eliminating those requirements by executive order. He has said in a video aimed at convincing migrants to pursue American citizenship that they didn’t need to assimilate.

Europe doesn’t have such citizenship policies. To become a German citizen, you have to have German ancestors. But you can see in the news daily that the flood of migrants and terrorists flooding Europe is all going very well. Just a few occasional mass killings and rapes. I don’t know if these migrants ever become citizens. They just live in segregated communities and tear the European nations apart. Here, a proud new American has the same rights and privileges as those whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower or on the Winthrop Fleet.

Meanwhile, back at the universities, Yale students have told the English professors to change the curriculum. “They don’t think it should feature so many English poets who were straight, white, wealthy and male.” The “Major English Poets” sequence, a mandatory two-course commitment for English majors covers Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth and T.S. Eliot. The students believe that the sequence “creates a culture that is hostile to students of color.” Poor saps want the Major English Poets abolished.

When students are made to feel so alienated that they get up and leave the room, or get up and leave the major, something is wrong. The English department loses out when talented students engaged in literary and cultural analysis are driven away from the major. Students who continue on after taking the introductory sequence are ill-prepared to take higher-level courses relating to race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, ability, or even to engage with critical theory or secondary scholarship. We ask that Major English Poets be abolished, and that the pre-1800/1900 requirements be refocused to deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism, and ethnicity.

Parents — you’re wasting your money. Take them home, spank them soundly and send them to bed without any supper.

At DePaul University, the Black Leadership Coalition is infuriated that the college invited Milo Yiannopoulos to visit the College in May. They have a long list of demands that seem to add up to demanding segregation again. There is not enough support for students who are suffering from “microaggressions” and “racial profiling” at the school and there were chalk signs on campus that said “Build the wall” and “Blue Lives Matter!”

If there is a plan or a need for a plan or a rationale for a plan behind all this nonsense, it escapes me. The idea seems to be that inner city residents are seething with envy about wealthier people who live in suburbs, and want to move there, or to be forcibly moved there. And that such changes will fix something or other, and some kind of Improved Outcome will be guaranteed. I doubt it, but then I was an English major.

I don’t expect much from the students. Unfortunately the current crop seems to be unaware that the reason they are in college is because they are young and very stupid, and are there to be educated — not to be pandered to. They are there to be exposed to ideas and writings that are new to them and different from their expectations. The real world is not particularly concerned with gender, race, and sexuality, but with finding a job and putting food on the table and shelter for their families. Ask the folks in Venezuela.



The Decline and Fall of Socialist Venezuela by The Elephant's Child

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( A food line in San Cristobal, Venezuela)

Bernie Sanders is out in the hustings talking about banning fracking, the new way of producing oil and natural gas that has brought down the cost to consumers so dramatically. In Venezuela, the price of oil, Venezuela’s only significant export, has plummeted which means that government income will probably be down by around 40 percent this year. A disaster for this socialist paradise.

The government’s massive borrowing—a legacy of the days when oil prices were far higher, is blamed, but specifically, the lingering death of a beautiful country can be blamed directly on socialism. You will notice that the reporting on the decline and death throes of Venezuela seldom contains any mention of socialism. It is undoubtedly not on the list of approved talking points. They’re having trouble repaying their foreign debt. On top of that there has been a drought, which has meant trouble for the country’s hydropower generation, which in turn has meant that  power is only available part of the time. It’s back to candles if you have any.

The Manhattan Contrarian has been checking left-wing websites: the Huffington Post has a post titled “Why Venezuela is on the Verge of Actual Collapse” on May 20. Five reasons are given: 1. Murder—lots of murder; 2. Low oil prices—not always a good thing;  3. Plummeting economy; 4, Scarcity of essential goods; 5. Widespread corruption.

I particularly like reasons 3 and 4. The economy is collapsing because the economy is collapsing! Why hadn’t we figured that our on our own?

Socialism is unmentioned, though anybody with any knowledge of history has a long list of collapsing economies due to Socialism. It’s what economies that turn to socialism do. I guess you can’t run around badmouthing socialist systems when your presidential candidates seem to think it’s the answer to something or other.

It is, of course, the answer to government control of everyone. Every Progressive has dreams of becoming Ceasar Chavez, or Fidel Castro, or Pol Pot — becoming fabulously rich and being in charge of everything.

Zero Hedge talked to Fernando Aquirre who recorded the hyperinflation in Argentina in 2001, and has followed the story of other collapsing economies.

The greatest points to keep in mind is overwhelming corruption. People get lost on what exactly went wrong in Argentina, in Venezuela, or what’s happening right now in Brazil. What they all have in common is that the people in charge had no real interest in doing things right; they really didn’t care about destroying the country. They just cared about filling their pockets as much as possible.

Think of Venezuela this way: you have a country where water is more expensive than gasoline. What sense does that make? I mean, you had Hugo Chavez walking down the street pointing with his finger saying “Nationalize this. Nationalize that”. And when he was saying “nationalize”, he was saying “Steal this“. He didn’t have any great plans or political grandeur going on in his mind. He just wanted to steal as much as he could.

I know for a fact that they’re slaughtering one another in the streets right now in Venezuela. For at least three years it’s been a case of out-of-control crime and corruption over there. It’s not getting better any time soon unless something changes on a deeper level.

It’s not just that there’s no toilet paper. There’s no medicine, and those dependent on medicines are dying. The middle class person who still has a good job would need two years of wages to pay for a single plane ticket out. Aguirre said that if he was in Venezuela right now he would leave on foot, any way he could. And we have college students who think socialism is a great idea, and ‘feel the bern’ for Bernie.

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Here’s economist Thomas Sowell with “Socialism for the Uninformed

And law professor Glenn Reynolds: “Don’t Be a Sucker for Socialism



Who Would Have Ever Dreamed that American College Students Would Have So Little Understanding of Freedom? by The Elephant's Child

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They have noticed that their climate change propaganda has not been as effective as it used to be, that countries are backing away from their subsidies for wind and solar energy, or perhaps it’s that the Paris Accords didn’t transfer enough wealth to the have-nots. In any case, the effort to prosecute climate skeptics for “denying” the urgency of battling climate change is not going as well as it was.

The letter that 20 professors fired off urging President Obama to investigate climate skeptics for suspected violation of the RICO laws for denying that climate change is an earth-shaking problem, has been described as a “big mistake.”

The professors have hired Climate Nexus, a PR firm that specializes in global warming publicity and spin, and they’ve gone into full damage control mode. Activists have been urged to emphasize the role of fossil fuel companies instead. More people are susceptible to the idea that fossil fuel companies are somehow evil. Besides they’re big and rich.  The American people just don’t rank climate change among their most urgent issues. It usually ranks at the bottom of their concerns.

The California Senate failed to take up a landmark bill arguing for the prosecution of climate change dissent. It would have “authorized prosecutors to sue fossil fuel companies, think tanks and others that have ‘deceived or misled the public on the risks of climate change.'”

This bill explicitly authorizes district attorneys and the Attorney General to pursue UCL claims alleging that a business or organization has directly or indirectly engaged in unfair competition with respect to scientific evidence regarding the existence, extent, or current or future impacts of anthropogenic induced climate change,” said the state Senate Rules Committee’s floor analysis of the bill.

The big deal here is not the argument about whether or not climate change is a major threat. The big deal is the push by the Left to silence anyone who disagrees with them. Freedom of speech is under attack across the globe, which simply emphasizes how far to the left the Left has moved.

The President of the unelected executive arm of the European Union has stated that he will block all “right-wing populists” from power across the continent. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission promised to exclude Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party from all EU decision-making if elected ahead of yesterday’s presidential vote. Across the continent there has been a surge to the right, and the decidedly undemocratic Commission could be in for a battle if they attempt to exclude every elected government that they choose to call “far right.

On college and university campuses across the country, the effort of student activism has been to silence dissent, eliminate any trace of free speech, and forbid anyone from saying anything whatsoever that might offend sensitive feelings. Surely all of this denial of the most basic speech rights protected in America by our Constitution is not a mere coincidence. Who would ever have dreamed that our college students would know so little about American history, the U.S. Constitution and how it came about, or the importance of free speech in keeping a people free. Or, as far as that goes, why there is any particular value in freedom anyway.




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