Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Election 2014, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Health Care, National Security, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Big-Tent Conservatism, Free Markets / Free People, United We Stand
[American Elephant adds: While I wrote the paragraph quoted from our "About" page, I did not write this post and do not agree with the insulting characterization of the Tea Party.]
If you have ever clicked on the “ABOUT” line in the sidebar, it says :
American Elephants is the internet home of big-tent conservatism — black, white, brown, gay, straight, Christian, Jew or Hindu — it takes elephants of all persuasions, united, to beat back the liberal clowns and lead the circus of politics. So, ladies and gentlemen! Children of all ages! Step right up and come on in under the Big Top!
I have no story about my magical conversion from a youthful romance with the Democratic party, I have always been a Republican. In fact, I’m a 4th generation Republican, one of my great-grandfathers wrote around 1860 that he “was a quiet but interested member of the Republican Party.”
“Republican” is a term in current disfavor, Liberals have gone to great lengths to call us racist, bigots, mean, uncaring, racists, and now “conservative” is the preferred term. My party registration remains the same. The “Big Tent” part has lapsed into disfavor among many Republicans as the Tea Party people are furious with the Republicans in Congress because they haven’t taken down the Democrats, impeached the president, and denied funding to ObamaCare. Business interests are furious with the Tea Party because of their encouragement for shutting down the government, and opposition to increased immigration. Libertarians keep complaining about the regulatory state, and want more conversation about liberty — personal and economic. Republicans disagree about a lot of things, but they also agree about most of the really important ones.
Democrats apparently agree about everything, They even agree in exactly the same words, so one must assume that “the words” are passed down from a particular source, probably the Center for American Progress, the home of those who now want to be called ‘progressives’ instead of ‘liberals’ because ‘liberal’ has become somewhat out-of-favor word. Since they are well-informed by the left-wing media, they scrupulously avoid anything that might question their certainties, which makes it hard to find ways to compromise with opponents.
There is a lot on which Republicans agree. Free markets, free people, respect for the Constitution, support for the military, small government, avoiding over-regulation, low taxes, balanced budgets, fiscal conservatism — a very partial list. But some are neglecting what is meant by a big tent. The Founding Fathers put together a government where the process was meant to be slow so that all sides could be heard and disagreements fully aired. Individuals have their own opinions. Expecting everyone else to agree, or attempting to drum out of the party those who do not agree is a recipe for disaster. Concentrate on the areas of agreement, and support those who agree most of the time.
I agree with the Tea Party. I think the Obama administration is the most incompetent and corrupt administration that we have ever had. I agree with the Libertarians that big government and the administrative state are way out of control, and that Americans are perfectly capable of managing their own affairs without government interference. I agree with business that over-regulation and uncertainty are devastating to business; and if we want a recovery we need to remove the barriers we put in the way of business. There is no reason in the world why America should have the world’s highest corporate tax. Corporations don’t pay taxes, they pass them through to consumers in the price of their goods. No candidate is going to be perfect. We are human, a quarrelsome, flawed species, and we are not going to agree on everything. Don’t expect perfection. If we are going to win, we need everybody in the big tent.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Election 2014, Taxes | Tags: electoral fraud, IRS Regulations, Silencing the Tea Party
During the long negotiations over the budget deal, Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal reports that Obama’s top priority was keeping the IRS clamp on Republican 501(c)(4) groups. The vehicle for that is the recently proposed IRS rule that redefines “educational activities” as excluding anything of a political nature that 501(c)(4) non-profits have routinely conducted.
This would be anything like moral opposition to ObamaCare’s contraception-coverage regulation. Or training poll-watchers, or other efforts to true the vote. This puts a muzzle on Tea Party groups who want to train their members in responding to political skullduggery, and intends to put them out of business. Democrats depend on fudging the vote with previously deceased voters, voting in more than one location, finding “extra” votes, and helping those who are not qualified voters — to vote, like illegals and felons.
Treasury is going to great lengths to keep the process behind the rule secret. The Obama supporter who was put in charge of the investigation of the IRS has unsurprisingly found no real fault, but only misunderstandings and a little mismanagement. The FBI could find no problem with the IRS, except careless mistakes and nothing that could be prosecuted. The 90-day comment period on the proposed IRS regulation ends on February 27.
Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents targeted tea party groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Treasury and the IRS in December, demanding documents or correspondence with the White House or outside groups in the formulation of this rule. By law, the government has 30 days to respond. Treasury sent a letter to Ms. Mitchell this week saying it wouldn’t have her documents until April — after the rule’s comment period closes. It added that if she didn’t like it, she can “file suit.” The IRS has not yet responded.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Election 2014, Politics | Tags: A Year of Action, Blameless & Lawless, No New Ideas
President Obama’s in his weekly address, called for “A Year of Action.” He visited a company in Raleigh, North Carolina that makes electric motors that might save businesses money on energy costs and cut “harmful [but nonexistent] carbon pollution.” He said it was part of his push to make America home to more high-tech manufacturing to make America more attractive for good jobs for the middle class.
Then he added these shameless whoppers:
And increasingly, we are. Thanks in part to our all-of-the-above strategy for American energy, for the first time in nearly two decades, we produce more oil here at home than we buy from the rest of the world. We generate more renewable energy than ever, and more natural gas than anybody. Health care costs are growing at their slowest rate in 50 years – due in part to the Affordable Care Act. And since I took office, we’ve cut our deficits by more than half.
So we are primed to bring back more of the good jobs claimed by the recession, and lost to overseas competition in recent decades. But that requires a year of action. And I want to work with Congress this year on proven ways to create jobs, like building infrastructure and fixing our broken immigration system.
Our booming production of oil has nothing to do with his “all-of-the-above” strategy. It is entirely produced by private enterprise on private property in spite of all his efforts to shut down any possibility of drilling. Health care costs are not slowing because of the ACA, but because of the recession and new diagnostic tools and new drugs saving lives. And the deficit was cut by the sequester. Other than that, he will act on his own to create opportunity and jobs, fair shot to get ahead, infrastructure, jobs lost to overseas competition (in other words don’t blame him), and a Year of Action— and he firmly believes this can be a breakthrough year for America. He’s focused on that every single day of this year.
Clueless. Utterly clueless.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Election 2014, Health Care, Law, Politics, Regulation | Tags: $56 Billion In Faulty Payments, Fiscal Irresponsibility, Waste and Fraud
John Steele Gordon wrote at Commentary magazine:
Imagine that a health insurance company chose a random sample of payments made to its claimants and found that 10.1 percent of them should not have been paid at all, either through error or fraud. What do you suppose would happen?
First, whoever was in charge of accounts payable would be fired on the spot, his office contents on the sidewalk in cardboard boxes before the day was out. Second, a thorough overhaul of procedures would be quickly put into place to make sure the error rate was reduced to as near zero as possible. Third, a federal prosecutor would open an investigation into possible criminal activity. Fourth, a congressional committee would convene hearings and beat up the CEO for charging such high premiums when simply running his company properly would have allowed them to be drastically reduced.
But when Medicare’s fee-for-services programs ran exactly this error rate, the result was … oh, look, a squirrel!
At what point do we start talking about “real money?” Do our government officials get so accustomed to speaking in terms of trillions (the budget deal just signed into law) and billions that they lose any sense of what their casual expenditures and sloppy bookkeeping mean to a taxpayer’s family budget? Or do they simply think of it all as “government money” and fail to recognize that it all came out of the pocketbooks of real people?
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had exactly that error rate in 2013, and paid no less than $33.2 billion that it shouldn’t have paid at all. Overall they paid out $55.9 billion improperly. Was anyone in accounts payable escorted to the street accompanied with their office contents? Don’t be silly.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid services spokesman Tony Salters said CMS doesn’t even attempt to recover all of its estimated overpayments. He said that agency contractors attempt to recover improper payments, and get “most” of that back, but those improper payments represent only a fraction of the total amount paid out incorrectly.
The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that in just 13 “high-error programs” in fiscal 2012 wrongly paid out a shocking $101.3 billion. That’s a 2.86 percent of total federal spending — $16 billion more than the entire sequester for fiscal 2013. The sequester, with shrieks of pain and suffering, amounted to $85.4 billion and the end of the world.
Insurance companies, criticized and demonized, run tight ships, constantly looking for ways to cut costs and eliminate fraud and error. Any business with a 10.1 percent error rate would quickly end up in bankruptcy court. But there seems to be no check on government agencies. They cannot go bankrupt, and they apparently cannot be held to account for their intransigence. After all, it’s just “government money.”
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Education, Election 2014, History, Law, Politics, Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: Eliminating Tea Party Opposition, IRS Targeting Continues, Winning Elections
Republicans are arguing — as usual — about who is a Conservative, an Establishment Republican, a Moderate, a RHINO, a Tea Party member, a Libertarian, and who is the right representative of the right side of the political spectrum. And not just that — but who is conservative enough — call it the purity test.
Republicans are arguing about ideas, principles and policies, what is Constitutional and what is not. They are furiously writing blogs, op-eds, books, tweets and deluging their members of Congress with their opinions, worries and anger.
Democrats, on the other hand, are focused intently and exclusively on winning the next election. That’s what Democrats do. They have gone to great pains to insist that they knew nothing about any IRS targeting of 501 (c)(4) conservative nonprofits before the 2012 election. The IRS has claimed, um, mismanagement, ever so sorry, all fixed now. The FBI has obediently said that criminal charges will not be filed, nothing to see here, and no, we didn’t find it necessary to interview any of the 501(c)(4) groups who were targeted by the IRS. We just knew that there couldn’t be any criminal act here. This is your federal government.
That taken care of, the Democrats have been at even greater pains this week to ensure that the same conservative groups are silenced in the 2014 midterms. Kim Strassel explains in the Wall Street Journal:
That’s the big, dirty secret of the omnibus negotiations. As one of the only bills destined to pass this year, the omnibus was—behind the scenes—a flurry of horse trading. One of the biggest fights was over GOP efforts to include language to stop the IRS from instituting a new round of 501(c)(4) targeting. The White House is so counting on the tax agency to muzzle its political opponents that it willingly sacrificed any manner of its own priorities to keep the muzzle in place.
The Treasury Department and the IRS introduced a new rule during the Thanksgiving recess to “improve” the law governing nonprofits. What the rule does is recategorize as “political” all manner of educational activities that 501(c)(4) groups now engage in. This is again IRS targeting, this time by administration design and with the straightforward political goal of putting tea party groups out of business, according to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).
Kim Strassel says according to her sources, Democrats had their own priorities, but “went all in” on keeping the IRS rule, even if it meant losing their own plans. Mr. Camp’s committee notes that Treasury appears to have combed through the list of previously targeted Tea Party groups, compiled a list of their main activities and then restricted those functions. The White House is using the IRS to win an election this fall.
Democrats have been alarmed by the Tea Party. They are unaccustomed to Republicans as activists, speaking out, picketing, holding demonstrations. The idea of ordinary Americans uniting in opposition to the policies of the administration is really scary. Who knows what they might do next? Treasury is going to great lengths to keep secret the process behind the rule which is directed only at 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups. Mr.Obama’s union foot soldiers who file as 501(c)(5) can continue to play politics.
Democrats freely admit that they have no principles, but act on circumstances. Their policies have not done too well, and ObamaCare has awakened the nation to that fact. They have, however, gone to great lengths to make sure they win elections by fair means or foul.
There was the “Secretary of State Project” designed to elect Democrats to that office in every state, because that was the officer in charge of elections. There is the ongoing effort to claim that asking a voter to show picture ID to prove their identity and their eligibility to vote is racist, and make it unlawful to require such identification. Here in Washington State where vote fraud has been a way of life, we now vote by mail, which makes fraud much easier, and voter ID more difficult to confirm.
If your only goal is winning, you don’t have to worry about the effect of your policies on the nation. That is becoming significantly apparent.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Law, Politics, Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: Barack O'Blameless, Declining Cost of Healthcare, Wal-Mart Style Reform
In the beginning there was darkness upon the land, and then we were blessed with the coming of the lightbringer. Before, the costs of health care were spiraling out of control, and people were dying in the streets for lack of care, but people were also using the emergency rooms too much and costs of health care were spiraling out of control, so which is it? The White House, as usual will accept no blame for anything that does not work, and attempt to take credit for anything that actually does work.
For years, healthcare costs in America skyrocketed, with brutal consequences for our country. The Affordable Care Act, for the first time in decades, has helped to stop that trend.” Thus wrote one Jeanne Lambrew, healthcare adviser to President Obama.
That’s one take. The administration has noticed, finally, that costs have been coming down, and they desperately want to claim credit for this. Unfortunately, the
costs of healthcare started coming down long before ObamaCare began to take effect. Credit goes to the private sector, to new technologies that brought us marvelous new diagnostic machines, new medicines that prevent or delay disease, lower drug costs. Businesses have increasingly shifted to consumer-directed plans that encourage workers to watch their health care spending. Health savings accounts have exploded in popularity, because they work. HSAs now account for more than 20% of the employer market up from zero in 2005. A RAND study concluded that expanding the HSA market share to 50% would cut health care costs by nearly $60 billion a year.
Wal-Mart offers its employees individual coverage for about $40 a month, with a deductible of $2,750, access to a wide network of doctors and hospitals, and at least $250 deposited in a worker’s own health reimbursement account, according to the Washington Examiner.
Under ObamaCare, the best a 27 year-old can do in any one of 18 major cities is $122 a month for the skimpiest bronze plan. Even with subsidies, a young worker making just $29,000 a year will still pay more than $110 a month for ObamaCare insurance according to the Kaiser Family Foundation — and that’s for plans that have limited provider networks and deductibles over $6,000.
You’ve seen the prices of policies under ObamaCare, and the huge deductibles. The young people who are expected to pay for the older folks are not signing up at all, the things that were supposed to save all sorts of money — like less use of emergency rooms are turning out to be false, as they were in Massachusetts under Romney Care.
Computerizing everything has cost a bundle, and my doctor says that mistakes are common, which makes sense considering how often I make a typo. People are denied access to the doctors they need because they are out of the network. ObamaCare plans do not cover travel, or anything out of the network. Democrats are sure that the problems are only in the website and will be fixed, but I don’t know how long Obama can keep changing the law by executive decree.
People are beginning to notice that a president does not legally get to do that.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Foreign Policy, Health Care, History, Junk Science, Politics, The Constitution | Tags: Policies Based On Mistaken Logic, Progressive Fallacies, The Fallacy of Big Government
I am constantly fascinated by language, and the extent to which we use it to confuse or elucidate, to sway minds and to get our way. We have terms for three of the things that can go awry:
- Unintended consequences —nobody knew that if you did this, that would happen. Pretty straightforward. Sometimes one side has warned about the consequences, but the other denied that it would happen.
- Paradox — A seemingly contradictory statement that may nevertheless be true. Hegel: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” To be thoroughly confused, consult Wikipedia’s paradox page.
- Fallacy — An idea or opinion founded on mistaken logic or perception, a false notion. This is the word that describes the entire Obama administration, and the specific reason that there has been no real economic recovery.
President Obama made it clear from the first that he believed the Iraq War was a “dumb war,” and the only reason for being in Afghanistan was to “get” Osama bin Laden. When bin Laden was killed, Obama clearly believed that al Qaeda had been defeated, and was “on the run.” This was mistaken logic, and al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah, and is resurgent throughout the Middle East.
President Obama was sure that spending lots of stimulus money on infrastructure would create the jobs that were needed to restore the economy to prosperity. He discovered that “all those shovel-ready jobs weren’t really shovel ready”.
He was determined to kill two birds with one stone and create green jobs while also saving the earth from global warming. There weren’t really any “green jobs,” the installers came from the manufacturers, and they tried to cover up the lack by labeling janitors, bus drivers, garbage men and secretaries in energy installations as “green jobs,” but that didn’t work. Unemployed men were trained for so-called “green jobs” in government jobs programs like installing insulation, but discovered that to be a competitive field in most communities, who didn’t need additional employees. And the globe hasn’t been warming for over 17 years.
It turned out that green energy merely raised the cost of power, was as inclined to pollute as much demonized petroleum. We have Solyndra, and dozens and dozens of other bankrupt green-energy companies. Electric cars caught fire or turned into bricks, or cost so much that only multi-millionaires could afford to buy the federally subsidized cars. The EPA pushed 15% ethanol in gasoline that would destroy many car engines, and ruin small engines like boats or lawnmowers.
The more you look, the more fallacies you find. The Keystone XL pipeline offers 20,000 direct jobs, and thousands of spin-off jobs. Obama announces a new effort to create jobs, yet refuses to approve the project, which annoys our most important trading partner, and may send the energy to China.
Obama announces a pivot to jobs, while his Environmental Protection Agency is churning out regulations that kill jobs. We have had five years of fallacy.We hired a president who had no experience at running anything, no experience in managing anything. The people with whom he surrounds himself in the White House are as new and inexperienced as the president himself. Their ideas are founded on mistaken logic or perception.
Fallacy. They don’t know what they are doing, and while they may mean well, they lack understanding of the consequences of their actions. In today’s news are more studies that show that giving people insurance — Medicaid for the uninsured — actually significantly increases their use of emergency rooms, raising health care costs rather than saving money.
But we knew that. That was the experience of Romney Care in Massachusetts — the health care the Obama administration liked to pretend they were copying. A complete fallacy in itself. As a policy is put into practice, it collapses or fails to work due to it’s own internal misconceptions.
Filed under: Politics, The Constitution, Economy, Health Care, Freedom, Democrat Corruption, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: Meaningless Speeches, Nothing Works In Practice, Government Does Not Have The Right
President Obama frequently speaks about education, and he seems to feel passionately about improving outcomes for poor minority children.
And yet, despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we’ve let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us. Let me give you a few statistics. In 8th grade math, we’ve fallen to 9th place. Singapore’s middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one. Just a third of our 13- and 14-year-olds can read as well as they should. And year after year, a stubborn gap persists between how well white students are doing compared to their African-American and Latino classmates. The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, it’s unsustainable for our democracy, it’s unacceptable for our children — and we can’t afford to let it continue.
What’s at stake is nothing less than the American Dream….It’s that most American of ideas, that with the right education, a child of any race, any faith, any station, can overcome whatever barriers stand in their way and fulfill their God-given potential.
So why in early 2009, was one of President Obama’s first acts in office to end the DC school voucher program? He even sought to revoke scholarships that had already been promised to children for the coming term. The children who benefitted from the program were mostly of African-American descent, a constituency Obama carried by 96% in 2008. Ever since taking office, President Obama has maintained a pernicious fixation on rooting out school choice programs. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have instituted voucher programs which allow students from low-income families to escape failing schools. Why are they not celebrated?
Louisiana is the latest frontier in the fight for school choice. The program has initially proven to be wildly popular and successful. 93% of parents whose children receive vouchers approve of the law. In August, the Justice Department abruptly intervened to halt the Louisiana Scholarship Program on the grounds that it exacerbates segregation in public schools. As students leave certain schools to migrate to others, the racial makeup at each end is changed. And that is important because?
What has been little noticed is that this kind of conflict between the soaring speech and reality on the ground is the rule rather than the exception. Obama was going to save people from the climbing cost of health care, and the depredations of the despised insurance companies; and we are just learning how much more expensive ObamaCare is going to be, and how costs will continue to soar.
We were withdrawing from Iraq because it was a dumb war, and we had to bring our troops home; so now we are rushing supplies and equipment back to Iraq to help government forces combat an explosion of violence by an al Qaeda backed insurgency that is gaining territory in both western Iraq and neighboring Syria. This happens in the context of the deaths of more than 8,000 Iraqis in 2013, the highest level of violence since 2008.
Obama speaks about creating jobs, yet refuses to deal with the Keystone XL pipeline which promises 20,000 high-paying jobs on the pipeline and many more spin-off jobs servicing the pipeline. Obama shut down drilling in the Gulf, even as he brags about the increased production of oil and gas from private lands and private interests in the Dakotas, which he opposed.
Obama wanted to save the world from the depredations of global warming, so he spent billions on windmills and solar farms to free the nation from our slavish dependence on foreign oil — while the fracking that he opposed has brought us a wealth of oil and gas that is making the United States the energy capital of the world. We should be exporting oil and gas and growing the economy.
The latest distraction from ObamaCare is inequality, which is a bad thing. Everybody should be equal? How is that to be accomplished? Obama quickly increased inequality just before he left for Hawaii by giving a raise to government workers, only 1%, but the District of Columbia and surrounding counties are the wealthiest in the country.
It is a pattern, repeated over and over. Soaring rhetoric, visions of sugarplums, theater, on the one hand, and in the real world — nothing works. He wants people to think well of him, so the words are meant to please. ObamaCare is the big divide.
The”Lie of the Year”was too big. The slowly exposed truth too obvious, too expensive, too frightening. But we’re on to him. It isn’t just the website, that was just ordinary incompetence exposed. But they don’t know how insurance is supposed to work, they don’t understand the doctor-patient relationship, they don’t understand free markets and how incentives work. Scores of think-tanks and scholars and experts have come up with ideas about how to make the relationship between people and their health and their care providers work. Exciting ideas. But all the Democrats have in their filing cabinet is a big thick folder titled “Regulation.” They will tell you what to do, how to do it, how much you can charge, and what services to provide to the people. Control, and one-size fits all.
It’s too late. We’re on to him. It isn’t going to work — like all the other big ideas that don’t work. Some people think big thoughts about changing the world; while others roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of organizing, planning, and fixing and making the damn thing run smoothly. When your car breaks down on a snowy winter road, who would you rather have along, a professor of women’s studies or a competent mechanic? When and how did we give the Democrats in Congress the right to decide what medicine we may have, which doctor we may consult, whether we may have the operation we need, and which hospital we may go to? In what imaginary world did we give them that power? Government does not have the right, even if they have the power, to decide what is good for us.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Election 2014, Health Care, Politics, The Constitution | Tags: Incompetence and Malfeasance, Not a Single Republican Vote, The Collapse of ObamaCare
- Obama Repeals ObamaCare: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 20, 2013
- Obamacare is Falling Apart Before Our Eyes: The Weekly Standard, Dec. 20, 2013
- Obamacare Initiates Self-Destruction Sequence: Bloomberg, Dec. 20, 2013
- The Obamacare Generation: National Review, Dec. 19, 2013
- Obamacare’s Death Spiral: Hoover Institution, November 18, 2013
- Even More Security Risks Discovered at Healthcare.gov: Breitbart, Dec. 20, 2013
- Medical Experts Tell Congress about the Obamacare ‘Damage’ to Come: PJMedia, Dec. 19, 2013
- Obamacare Disinformation Runs Deep: National Review, Dec. 13, 2013
- An Outbreak of Lawlessness: Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2013
- Who Says Obama Hasn’t United The Country?: National Review, Dec. 20, 2013
- The Politicization of Everything: Hoover Institution, Nov. 21, 2013
I cannot resist. I have to read everything, hoping for the imminent collapse. Yet I believe the Democrats will fight on to the bitter end. If President Obama can override legislation passed by the Congress with a mere wave of his imperial hand, will he simply declare “Single-Payer” as the law of the land? What will be hidden until “after the election?” How much vote fraud will there be in the 2014 election?
What damage to the American people will there be because of this incompetent law, and how many lives will be lost?
It cannot be “fixed.” The incentives are wrong, the taxes are damaging, the attempts to save money misdirected. It must be rooted out in its entirety.