American Elephants

You Need a New Analogy, Mr. President! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama loves his analogy of the previous administration “driving the car into the ditch.”  He repeats it ad nauseum at every opportunity.  But since January 20, 2009, it has been his car to drive.  Lately he has embellished the analogy by indicating that “the Republicans have to sit in the back.” Nice.

So let’s take it a little further.  Obama is the licensed driver, and the Republicans are in the back seat.  But Obama is driving recklessly, taking left turns against the yellow light, going too fast.  Those of us in the back seat are nervous, asking him to slow down, to be more careful, but he goes careening on.

Now we are frightened, he’s weaving all over the road, we beg him again to slow down, consider what he is doing.  We cite statistics of the dangers to our health from his reckless driving, warn of difficult curves in the road ahead, all to no avail.  There’s wet pavement ahead, glistening with an oil slick — he may lose control.   But he will not listen.

He knows better what speeds the car is capable of.  Never mind the speed limit signs, the yellow lights flashing, and now there’s a siren.  Finally, he’ll have to stop.  He is endangering us all.  The people are waving their arms trying desperately to catch his attention, screaming.  Patrol cars are right on our tail.  We cling together, bracing ourselves for the crash.  If we survive this — he will surely have to pay, and pay, and pay.

Premiums Up. Costs Up. Government Control Up. Consumer Confidence Way Down. by The Elephant's Child

Consumers are, about now, receiving the bad news about their health care premiums.  They are going up, and in many cases going up very significantly.  Naive members of Congress believe that just because something would be “nice” that writing it into law would be a fine idea.  The Law of Unintended Consequences simply says that the actions of people — especially  people in government — often have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.

Because Democrats are reluctant to rely on the evidence of the experience of others, or to  look  at studies and scholarly investigations with care, they get socked with unintended consequences more often than Republicans do, but Republicans have their share as well. Democrats can be depended on to rail against evil insurance companies without any understanding that issuing health insurance policies  is a business. The  Health Care Plans business ranks #86 by profit margin,  at 3.3%.  There are 85 industries more profitable than health care plans which includes companies like Cigna, Aetna, Well Point, etc.

So why will insurance costs go up?  1) Mandated Benefits. The CBO estimates that the benefit mandates in ObamaCare will increase premiums 27-30 percent in the individual market and up to 3% in the small group market.

2) Preventive Services. No cost sharing. Preventive care is likely to increase costs, and do little to improve health outcomes.

3) Minimal Discount for the Young and Healthy. Estimated premiums for those 18-14 will rise by 45 percent, 36 percent for those age 25-59 and 26 percent for those age 30-34.

4) Limits on Cost Sharing and Deductibles.  Means that individuals have little incentive to economize on their use of health care services.  The CBO says a 10% decrease in cost sharing increases spending by 1-2 percent.

5) Elimination of Good Health Discount.  In order to keep costs down for older folks, young healthy people will have to pay a larger share.

6) Taxes on Insurers, Pharmaceutical Companies and Medical Device Makers.  These taxes will all be passed on to consumers, increasing premiums by 2.5 % or more.

These are only a few of the many unintended consequences that will raise costs to consumers. Common sense will tell you why they will kick in.  The authors of the bill seemed to think that making lots of tests free for patients would catch potential disease in the early stages, but lab tests and scans are very expensive, and usually ordered by a doctor in  response to a symptom.  A lot of tests on perfectly healthy people will not turn up much disease.

The mandates for everyone to buy insurance depend on the young and healthy bearing much of the cost for those not quite so young and not quite so healthy.  ObamaCare also relies heavily on the idea that there are “best practices” that can be chosen by bureaucrats that all doctors must follow.  This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the doctor-patient relationship.

When you get down to the most basic ideas behind this whole thing, you find an arrogant belief that the elite in Washington know better than you do, and can, with enough regulation of doctors and hospitals and providers of all sorts make health care cost less. Most doctors will not accept Medicaid patients, and drastic cuts in Medicare payments suggest that Medicare will soon follow.

My sense of the whole thing is that it will fail in a fairly short time span if it is not repealed.  Perhaps I am overly cynical, but I am familiar with the evidence from other countries. We have had the best health care system in the world.  Costs have risen unnecessarily because of government interference in the marketplace.

The members of Congress who had a hand in writing this 2,409 page monstrosity have a lot to answer for.  We should get rid of the lot of them this next week.

If Nothing Else Works, Call Them Racists and Bigots! by The Elephant's Child

Democrat pollsters like Charlie Cook are telling Democrats that the election in November is going to be a “wave” election.  Democrats are running scared, and they’re desperate.

They were going to run against George W. Bush, but that’s not working.  Obama has been president for 19 months, and the “blame Bush” theme has worn out. Most people don’t blame Bush. Then Democrats were going to blame Republicans as “The Party of No,” but that won’t work either.  Democrats have control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency.  It doesn’t matter if Republicans say no.

Democrats have done exactly what they wanted to do, and it isn’t working.

Liberals just hate it when you disagree with them. They are quick to assign evil motives to conservatives when they disagree, and they quite literally hate conservatives for having the nerve to do so.  Part of the problem is that liberals start with the policy that fulfills their dreams, and aren’t much interested in evidence of how that policy has worked previously.  Liberals assume that of course it will work.  Conservatives want to know how a policy will work before they pass it into law, so they look for studies and examples and history.

What this means is that when liberals are ecstatic about having passed a long-desired bill, there are the conservatives carefully explaining why it is not going to work, with facts and figures.  Liberals cannot understand this way of operating, and assume that conservatives are just being their normal, evil, disgusting selves trying to destroy the liberal accomplishment.

So now, not only are conservatives saying bad things about liberals’ amazing accomplishments, but they are convincing the common folk out there that the Democrats were wrong.  That makes them very angry.

So we return to the question of the mosque at Ground Zero. It is, technically, 360 feet from the World Trade Center site. The building that the mosque purchased was damaged when the undercarriage of one of the planes fell through the roof.

Muslims, of course, have freedom of religion: the only argument is that it is inappropriate  to build a mosque so close to the site of 9/11, an attack made in the name of Islam.  The families who lost their loved ones and friends in the World Trade Center are offended that the backers do not understand the inappropriateness of the mosque site.

Democrats saw an opportunity to demonize Republicans and are out in full-throated attack mode.  Republicans are bigots and racists.  They can have no other reason to oppose the mosque.  Isn’t it about time they got over 9/11?  Hypocrites  as well — always talking about the Constitution as if it is a holy document and they can’t even recognize the poor Muslims’ right to freedom of religion.

  • Michael Kinsley, editor at large, The Atlantic”: “Is there any reason to oppose the mosque that isn’t bigoted, or demagogic, or unconstitutional? None that I’ve heard or read.”
  • Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times blog, August 19: The far right-wing has seized on the issue as an occasion for fanning hatred against Muslims.”
  • Tony Norman, columnist, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “…a handful of politicians who cynically conflate the religion of American Muslims with the nihilism of the 9/11 terrorists.”
  • More, much more, from the likes of Peter Beinart, Tony Norman, Keith Olberman, James Zogby, Andrew Sullivan, here, and here,and here.

So some brilliant PR person has decided that the best move is to accuse Conservatives of being racist, evil, disgusting bigots.  But what do they say about the moderate Muslims who say that of course the mosque is intended as a provocation?  Other sources have noted that several floors of the “community center” are intended as offices for an effort to promote Sharia law in the United States.

I do believe that those who immigrate to the United States have an obligation to become Americans. They don’t get to bring their culture here and insist that the religious laws of their former country be observed here.

Only 39% Believe That President Obama’s Policies Have “Saved Us From the Brink” by The Elephant's Child

Pat Caddell was a long-time Democrat pollster and political consultant.  He worked for Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, Gary Hart, Joe Biden and Jerry Brown.  His analysis on polls and campaign issues has often put him at odds with the current leadership of the Democrat Party; and as he has become more conservative and criticizes Democrats, they like him less.

Democrats don’t like disagreement in the ranks.  But Caddell is quite free with his criticism of Republicans as well.  The odd thing is that Republicans don’t mind.  He is a frequent guest on Fox News, and as he knows his way around politics intimately — he’s very interesting.

Do They Have Budget Counselors for Congressional Democrats? by The Elephant's Child

April 15, we mentioned once before, was not only tax day, but the day that was the deadline for Congress to pass a budget. Democrats have, as yet not even introduced one, nor do they intend to.  If they introduced a budget, then they would be on record about the immense future deficits that their policies will create.  Democrats have a 77 seat majority in the House and an 18 seat majority in the Senate.  Filibusters don’t work on budgetary matters.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer made official Tuesday morning what most insiders have known for months: Congress won’t do a budget this year.

Instead, Democrats are pushing an alternative route that falls well short of the more rigorous annual budget resolution — a short-term resolution that will call for discretionary spending lower than in President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget. But he said Congress wouldn’t take longer-term budget action before hearing from Obama’s fiscal commission in December. Republicans have lambasted Democrats for not passing a budget resolution, saying that’s the first time it’s happened since 1976.

The primary responsibility of Congress under the Constitution
is to pass a budget for the federal government.

Minority Leader John Boehner sent out a statement that said:  “We regret to inform you that the congressional budget for fiscal year 2011 has been canceled due to Washington Democrats’ out-of-control spending spree.”

Representative Gerry Connolly told the LA Times that no member of Congress ever lost an election because of a failure to pass a budget.  Democrats believe that.

Never in history has a Congress failed to even
bring a budget to the floor.

Instead they are going to vote on a fake budget.  Instead they will pass a “deeming resolution” to fund government programs while not mentioning the red ink.  They really don’t want to show a lot of red ink in an election year.  A traditional budget resolution sets discretionary spending levels and lays out the fiscal policies for future years.  So-called “deeming resolutions” set spending caps but lack the statement on future spending and tax policies — and that is what they are trying to hide.

Their fake budget would be attached to war funding, oil spill aid, and — the president’s favored $20 billion bailout of public sector unions.  Where cap-and-trade or its equivalent fits into this picture, I don’t know.  We are told that cap-and-trade is dead but everyone keeps talking about the supposedly dead body.

President Obama Sends 1,200 National Guard troops to Border, but They Are Not to Enforce Immigration Laws. by The Elephant's Child

— President George W. Bush  sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border as a temporary measure, while the numbers of the border patrol were being built up.  His administration significantly increased the number of border patrol agents by 20,000, and then removed the troops.

— Janet Napolitano, former Arizona Governor and now Secretary of Homeland Security, says the Southern Border is secure. But that’s what she claimed when she was Governor too.

— A team of Justice Department attorneys has written a recommendation challenging the Arizona immigration  law.  The draft claims Arizona exceeded its authority, or there might be abuses based on race, but no formal recommendation has been sent to the White House.  If the administration eventually does sponsor a challenge to the Arizona law, the president’s move to send 1,200 National Guardsmen to the Arizona border does begin to look like a bit of political theater.

— The Mexican embassy released a statement on the Guard deployment: “Additionally, the Government of Mexico expects that National Guard personnel will strengthen US operations in the fight against transnational organized crime that operates on both sides of our common border and that it will not, in accordance to its legal obligations, conduct activities directly linked to the enforcement of immigration laws.

— The administration has clarified the role of the 1,200 National Guard troops it is sending to the Arizona border.  They will not be enforcing immigration laws.  “US National Guard troops being sent to the Mexican border will be used to stem the flow of guns and drugs across the frontier and not to enforce US immigration laws, the State Department said Wednesday.”

— State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said “We have explained the president’s announcement to the government of Mexico, and they fully understand the rationale behind it.” … “The extra troops would be used to free up civilians engaged in support functions so that law enforcement personnel can be increased along the 2,999 mile-long border.”

Let’s see, we have immigration laws, but Mexico doesn’t like them, so we won’t enforce them.  Russia doesn’t like the anti-missile defense against Iran that we arranged to deploy in Eastern Europe, so we canceled that.  Russia said it would agree to some mild sanctions on Iran, but they didn’t like the restrictions on their sales of missiles and weapons to Iran, so we said go ahead and sell them.  South Korea is incensed at North Korea’s torpedoing their ship and killing over 40 South Korean personnel, but we’re not willing to throw our weight around.

Do you think that there is a pattern here?

Supporting Liberty is the Most Basic American Value. The Obama Team Can’t be Bothered. by The Elephant's Child

Here at American Elephants, we are especially critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.  We are big believers in liberty, and if freedom appears at all on the Obama team agenda, it’s way, way down at the bottom of the list.

If you need evidence, I offer the Green movement in Iran.  Afraid that displeasing the Mullahs could mean an end to the hopes of the administration for an opportunity to persuade Iran to give up their nuclear efforts,  the administration could not bring themselves to offer even vigorous verbal support for the dissidents.

Then there is the administration’s support for the legally ousted president of Honduras, lack of support for Georgia, for Israel, for Columbia and South Korea. Casual insults to our closest allies in Europe — and even Australia and Canada are inexplicable.

For another look at ” the freedom agenda,” the Wall Street Journal today has a splendid article on just what it means to make freedom a priority:

No one seems to know precisely who is behind the “Miss Me Yet?” billboard—the cheeky one featuring a grinning George W. Bush that looks out over I-35 near Wyoming, Minn. But Syrian dissident Ahed Al-Hendi sympathizes with the thought.

In 2006, Mr. Hendi was browsing pro-democracy Web sites in a Damascus Internet café when plainclothes cops carrying automatic guns swooped in, cuffed him, and threw him into the trunk of a car. He spent over a month in prison, some of it alone in a 5-by-3 windowless basement cell where he listened to his friend being tortured in the one next door. Those screams, he says, were cold comfort—at least he knew his friend hadn’t been killed.

Mr. Hendi was one of the lucky ones: He’s now living in Maryland as a political refugee where he works for an organization called And this past Monday, he joined other international dissidents at a conference sponsored by the Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University to discuss the way digital tools can be used to resist repressive regimes.

He also got to meet the 43rd president. In a private breakfast hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Bush, Mr. Hendi’s message to the former president was simple: “We miss you.” There have been “a lot of changes” under the current administration, he added, and not for the better.

Adrian Hong, who was imprisoned in China in 2006 for his work helping North Koreans escape the country (a modern underground railroad), echoed that idea. “When I was released [after 10 days] I was told it was because of very strong messaging from the White House and the culture you set,” he told Mr. Bush.

There is much more, and real food for thought.  Do read the whole thing.  Standing up for  individuals who are risking their lives for freedom should not be a partisan issue.  It is he most basic of American values.

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