American Elephants


Astroturfing For Obama! Exposed! by The Elephant's Child
January 26, 2010, 2:02 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Politics | Tags: , ,

This is the “Letter to the Editor” from Ellie Light:

Today, the president is being attacked as if he’d promised that our problems would wash off in the morning. He never did. It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything.

It appeared at Politico; the Philadelphia Daily News, the San Francisco Examiner; the Washington Times; and a USA Today blog. Also small town papers like the Los Banos Enterprise, the North Adams Transcript and the Danbury News-Times, and more. Speedy-traveller Ms. Light claimed to be a resident in each area.

This letter to the editor that has appeared all over the country comes from Jan Chen, Gloria Elle, Mark Spivey and yes–Ellie Light, and many more.

As one listens to the Republican anger over health care reform, one can imagine an anti-government protester cheerfully paying premiums on insurance policies that drop you after you make a claim, or happily sauntering out of an emergency room that denied them treatment because of a coverage problem. One can imagine a town hall sign-waver enthusiastically forking over most of their pay to bill collectors after suffering a catastrophic injury, thinking, “Wow, the free market system is great.”

Patterico of Patterico’s Pontifications is following the trail, and readers are submitting the names on the same letters in their local papers.  All pretend to be locals.

Wasn’t it Nancy Pelosi who claimed that the Tea Parties and the AngryVoters at Town Halls were simply “Astroturfing” — just a bunch of people paid for by “Rich Republicans” to protest to keep “tax-cuts for the Rich in place?’

I guess that’s like the union members who got $60 each for holding signs for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, who said they were there because they needed the money, but they were voting for Scott Brown.  Nancy Pelosi’s sheer gall never ceases to astound.



Yoo-Hoo! Nancy, Harry, Barack! by The Elephant's Child

The people of the United States are trying to tell you something.  And you are not listening!  America has the world’s best health care system.  It has flaws.  There is no perfection in this world.  The flaws can be improved, if not fixed completely, but there is nothing that you are doing that actually fixes anything.

You claim to cover the uninsured, but at least 22 million remain uninsured under your plan.  You claim to be saving Medicare by letting younger people “buy-in,” and then slashing Medicare payments by 20 percent.  Are you nuts? There are many doctors that will not accept 20 percent less than what already does not cover their costs.  They just won’t accept Medicare patients.

Many doctors have said that if this goes through, they will simply quit the practice of medicine. Did you think that a hollow threat?  I wouldn’t bet on it.

One of your most precious ideas is the notion that a bevy of bureaucrats in Washington can look at a bunch of statistics that are only dimly understood, and decide from that who will get what treatment.

Medicine is not a one-size-fits-all deal.  Patients are individuals and have different reactions to medicines, to treatments, to tests.  Doctors learn skills in medical school and residencies, but the practice of medicine remains an art — trying to figure out just what is the right treatment for the individual patient. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal when you have your own Cadillac plan with a complete clinic on call right downstairs. You forget that you are dealing in real people’s lives.

Medicare and Medicaid are already in the red. You’re going to cover everyone who is uninsured by forcing them to buy insurance, cover everyone who has a pre-existing condition, cover  illegal immigrants, promise to cover all ills — just before you explain that we can’t afford it.  Then you try to tell us that it will “bend the cost curve down?” This is simply the grossest kind of Liberal nonsense.

And where did you get the idea that in the United States of America you can plot Liberal fantasies in back rooms, behind closed doors, in secret?  This is not the Soviet Politburo. You are way out-of-line: arrogant, historically ignorant, impervious to evidence and economically illiterate. You are making a mess.

This is a wake-up call!  You really need to pay attention.

The splendid cartoon is by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ramirez. See his political commentary every day here.



Nancy Pelosi Tells C-Span: “There Has Never Been A More Open Process” by The Elephant's Child

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA),  responding to C-Span’s letter to congressional leaders asking to film the debate on the health care bills in which the President’s promise of “transparency” was quoted, said firmly — when she emerged from the secret meetings behind closed doors:

“There has never been a more open process for any legislation.”

Do write that on a 4 x 5 card and tack it up where you can see it every day until the next election.

She also “hinted” that holding informal negotiations — likely without TV cameras — might be the “most practical” way to push the legislation through.

“We will do what is necessary to pass the bill.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md), assistant to the Speaker said the healthcare bill had been “subjected to unprecedented level of public scrutiny.”

“We don’t even know if there’s going to be a conference committee,” he said, alluding to the likelihood that Democrats will reconcile the two bills behind closed doors.



New Democrat Breaks FOUR Promises in First HOUR! by American Elephant
November 6, 2009, 6:42 pm
Filed under: Health Care, News, Politics, Progressivism, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Pelosi Owens

(Update: Traffic from Drudge appears to have crashed the linked site, if the link doesn’t work, try again later.)

That’s gotta be record-breaking dishonesty, even from the notoriously dishonest Democrat party.  Brand-spanking new Democrat congressman, Bill  Owens (NY-23) has broken at least FOUR campaign promises in his very first hour!

Owens told voters he did not believe a public option was appropriate, he said he was opposed to cuts in Medicare, he said he was opposed to taxing health care benefits, and said he was opposed to increasing taxes on the middle class.

But now that he has been sworn in, this new weasel among weasels has pledged to vote for the Pelosi bill, which:

  1. contains a public option.
  2. cuts Medicare.
  3. taxes benefits, and
  4. increases taxes on the middle class!

That’s four campaign promises broken in his very first hour!  When dealing with a group as reliably dishonest as the Democrat party, it’s hard to plumb new depths of dishonesty, but congratulations NY-23! Your new congressman may have set a new record!

Update: Ace has Owens statement of support for the bill.



Pelosi Lies to America Again by American Elephant
November 6, 2009, 3:44 am
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Socialism | Tags: , ,

pelosi_mad

Nancy Pelosi breaks pledge to put final health care bill online 72 hours before vote.

She doesn’t WANT Americans to be able to read about the vast amount of power she is going to assert over them, the vast amount of money she is going to steal from them, or the vast amounts of liberties this bill will destroy. She is changing America from a nation of people with a government to a government with a people. She is intentionally regulating the private health care industry out of business, so that as then candidate Obama promised, in 5 to 10 years, all Americans will be forced onto government run health care, which Democrats believe people will elect them to control. And that’s what it’s all about. They don’t care about your health. They blocked amendments that would make them have the same care. They care about power and control.

Have you called your representatives yet?

They intend to vote on this biggest-power-grab in American history by Saturday. Make sure you tell your representatives what you think of it. If you are ready to work to defeat anyone who votes for it, be sure you tell them that.

Particularly if your representatives are on this list of targeted, vulnerable Democrats. Call, get your family and friends to call. Blue Dog Democrats are starting to truly worry about their jobs after Tuesday’s election results — tell them they are right to worry. Polls show  that a large majority of Americans do not want this bill, and they feel very strongly about it, much more strongly than the minority of Americans who support it. Call often!

My congressman is already voting against it, so I have called vulnerable Democrats in neighboring districts to tell them that if they vote for this bill I will come volunteer in their districts to make certain they lose their jobs.

This is the last chance to kill the bill in the house. I hope everyone will call!



So What’s a Progressive? They Say They’re All Progressives Now. by The Elephant's Child

In a recent article from the blog at The American Heritage Foundation, the author quoted an excerpt from historian Thomas G. West, author of The Progressive Revolution in Politics and Political Science:

The Founders thought that laws should be made by a body of elected officials with roots in local communities. They should not be “experts,” but they should have “most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society” (Madison). The wisdom in question was the kind on display in The Federalist, which relentlessly dissected the political errors of the previous decade in terms accessible to any person of intelligence and common sense.

The Progressives wanted to sweep away what they regarded as this amateurism in politics. … Only those educated in the top universities, preferably in the social sciences, were thought to be capable of governing. Politics was regarded as too complex for common sense to cope with. … Only government agencies staffed by experts informed by the most advanced modern science could manage tasks previously handled within the private sphere.

The Progressives did not intend to abolish democracy, to be sure. They wanted the people’s will to be more efficiently translated into government policy. But what democracy meant for the Progressives is that the people would take power out of the hands of locally elected officials and political parties and place it instead into the hands of the central government, which would in turn establish administrative agencies run by neutral experts, scientifically trained, to translate the people’s inchoate will into concrete policies.

This, the blog says, is why you have Obama’s Energy Secretary telling auto makers how they must build cars.  This is why Obama’s health care plan empowers a panel of “experts” to reorganize one-sixth of our economy from the top down.  Commonsense questions like “Won’t our electricity bills go up if we mandate power companies to use more expensive alternative energy sources?” and “Won’t our health insurance premiums go up if everyone is charged the same price and nobody can be refused coverage”” can’t be tolerated.  People voicing such criticisms must be isolated and silenced.



Can We Insert a Few Facts Into the Health Care Debate, Please? by The Elephant's Child
August 2, 2009, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Health Care | Tags: , , ,

The claims of those attempting to promote a government takeover of the American Medical System grow ever more strident.  Now Nancy Pelosi and her crew are attempting to blame the insurance companies for whatever is wrong.  They’re very sure that “envy” is the key.  If they portray the CEOs of  health insurance companies as “greedy” people making too much money, then you will want to turn everything over to those clever folks in Congress.  “Class envy” is a favorite Democrat trick.  You will note that Congress itself never does anything wrong, and all congressmen are sincere and  honest people who read every word of each bill they vote on, and understand all of the economic consequences of what they have decided.

President Obama seems to believe that his charisma and mellow baritone will offer veracity to his increasingly false pronouncements.   At every “Town Hall Meeting”  he makes more claims that are contradicted by the very words of the bills before Congress.

Some things need improvement, but the American medical system remains the best in the world. Here are a few facts about our health care system from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

Fact No. 1: Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers. Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom.  Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the U.K. and 457 percent higher in Norway.  The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.

Fact No. 2: Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians. Breast cancer mortality is 9 percent higher, prostate cancer is 184 percent higher and colon cancer mortality among men is about 10 percent higher than in the United States.

Fact No. 3: Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries. Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit are taking statins, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease.  By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons and 17 percent of Italians receive them.

Fact No. 4: Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians. Take the proportion of the appropriate-age population groups who have received recommended tests for breast, cervical, prostate and colon cancer:

  • Nine of 10 middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to less than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent).
  • Nearly all American women (96 percent) have had a pap smear, compared to less than 90 percent of Canadians.
  • More than half of American men (54 percent) have had a PSA test, compared to less than 1 in 6 Canadians (16 percent).
  • Nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) have had a colonoscopy, compared with less than 1 in 20 Canadians (5 percent).

Fact No. 5: Lower income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians. Twice as many American seniors with below-median incomes self-report “excellent” health compared to Canadian seniors (11.7 percent versus 5.8 percent).  Conversely, white Canadian young adults with below-median incomes are 20 percent more likely than lower income Americans to describe their health as “fair or poor.”

The whole list of 10 Surprising Facts by Scott Atlas is available at the National Center for Policy Analysis, with sources as well as a list of the 10 Most Important Recent Medical Innovations (with the country of origin).

Do read the whole thing.  It will open your eyes a bit and give you terrific arguments when you talk to  your congressmen while they’re home in August.



How Much Will It Cost? Way More Than They Expect! by The Elephant's Child
July 29, 2009, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care | Tags: , , ,

President Obama is trying to find someone to blame if his party is unable to pass a health-care reform bill before August 1.  His target is the Congressional Budget Office and director Douglas Elmendorf.  Remember that the office is intended to be completely non-partisan, and oriented towards giving congress good and responsible estimates of what a bill will cost.

The administration was so upset over the estimate that the CBO produced over the health-care bill that they summoned Elmendorf to the White House, a very improper step.  The CBO is expected to be free of interference from the administration and from congress.

Peter Orszag, President Obama’s Budget Director, was previously Director of the CBO.  He should know what the rules are.

Stephen Spruiell notes at National Review:

Last weekend’s outburst from Obama’s budget director, Peter Orszag, was the equivalent of a player upending the chess board and calling his opponent a cheater.

The irony is that, just a few months ago,  Orszag was on the other side of the board.  Before Obama appointed him to run the Office of Management and Budget, Orszag was in charge of the CBO.  And just before he left the legislative for the executive branch, he took measures to make sure the CBO would be well equipped to play its role in the health-care debate, expanding the number of health-care economists on staff and ordering a new computer capable of modeling the effects of complicated legislation.

In a Saturday post on his White House blog, Orszag implied that the CBO’s latest analysis was guilty of “exaggerating costs and underestimating savings,” and he said that the agency had “overstepped its bounds.”

The Washington Times chimed in last week to point out that the CBO had vastly underestimated the number of small businesses and the number of people from that source who would switch to the government plan.  They said:

CBO — incredibly — assumes that only 3 million people will switch from employer-provided coverage to government insurance.  But the Lewin Group, a health care policy research and management consulting firm, estimates that 119 million Americans will switch from their current private insurance to government insurance.  If these figures are accurate, the program’s cost could easily be $4.5 trillion over 10 years, not the $1.04 trillion CBO is claiming. That new financial burden would be a disaster for the deficit.

The House bill, however contains: (Pg. 50, Section 152) Health Care will be provided to ALL non U.S. citizens, illegal or otherwise.  I wonder if the CBO is including in its estimates the entire non-citizen population? Intelligent guesstimates suggest around 1.3 million illegal immigrants. I don’t know if the CBO  includes adding them the the health insurance rolls.

Government bills or policies that come in costing less than estimated are as rare as an occasion when Obama did not blame the Republicans.  This is his mess, and at some point he will have to own up to misleading the public.



The United States Deficit Exceeds $1,000,000,000,000 by The Elephant's Child
July 14, 2009, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , , , ,

toon062509

Count all those zeroes! That’s not the National Debt, but the Deficit — what we owe on our national credit card. And of course, just like a credit card, the interest charges pile up.  One trillion dollars.  If you need a picture, go here.

The stimulus isn’t working, and stimulus plans have a long history of not working.  Only 17 percent of Americans think the stimulus has been very effective according to the latest IBD/TIPP  Poll.  53 percent believe it has not been effective in getting the economy going in the right direction.

Since the start of the recession, 7.2 million people have lost their jobs. These are scary numbers, and many companies are asking people to reduce their hours.

Barack Obama has created quite a bunch of jobs with hefty salaries in his assortment of Czars, 28 domestic and 6 international.  No one is quite sure what these Czars are supposed to be doing, since most activities which are of proper concern to the government are represented by a department with a Secretary, an Assistant Secretary, a Deputy Secretary, and an Assistant Deputy Secretary or something like that, with dozens to hundreds of other employees, all of whose generous wages are paid by taxpayers.

The normal way of dealing with a recession is to try to alleviate some of the taxes on business, so that business is more able to create jobs.  And for government to reduce spending as much as they can after providing unemployment help for those who have lost their jobs.

This administration, however, has chosen to “not let a crisis go to waste”, and determined to “act swiftly” to get through a bunch of programs that they would never be able to get through Congress if the people were paying attention.

Of course when the President just turns over stimulus creation to Congress with only the stipulation of getting a lot of money into the economy quickly — then congressmen get lots of goodies to take home to their constituents.

Nancy Pelosi, for example, gets a $30 million program for renovating the salt marshes in San Francisco Bay to save the salt marsh harvest mouse.  A  cute little fellow that may be endangered.  There are probably  jobs involved, but they may not be those most needed by unemployed San Franciscans.

The usual rule is to avoid raising taxes during a recession.  Once you have done what can be done with unemployment benefits and food stamps, then you do everything you can to favor the small businesses that are always the source of new jobs.  Instead, this time Democrats plan to raise taxes on small business.  First, Obama has promised to let the Bush tax cuts expire.  That will raise the top personal rate from 35% to 39.6%.  If those taxes expire, so will various tax deductions and exemptions bringing the top marginal rate as high as 41%.

Chairman Rangel wants to impose a “surtax” on individuals with an adjusted gross income of more than $280,000 — “the rich.”  But more than six of every 10 who earn that much are small business owners, sole proprietors or subchapter S corporations who pay the individual rate.  Then phasing out various deductions and exemptions would bring the tax rate up to around 46% — a level that hasn’t been seen since 1986.

If that weren’t enough to discourage businesses from hiring or expanding; government has shown a willingness to take over private business, tell business how much they may earn, change regulations and add new ones, and impose economy-destroying mandates like the Waxman-Markey climate bill which would raise costs throughout the economy.

“Capital,” the late Walter Wriston said, “will go where it is wanted, and stay where it is well treated. It will flee from onerous regulation of its value or use and no government power can restrain it for long.”  Must be true.  Steven Ballmer has threatened to move Microsoft overseas, and businesses are leaving California in droves.

________________
The cartoon is by Michael Ramirez at IBD Editorials



Any and All Democrat Mistakes, Failures, Flubs and Fouls are Bush’s Fault. by The Elephant's Child

Much in the news today is Congressional “shock” that they were not briefed by the CIA on a program that they originally authorized; but which never came close to becoming operational.

This seems at first glance to be an attempt to butter over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the CIA lied to Congress. (CIA Director Panetta briefed both the house and the Senate on the same day, but the Senate Intelligence Committee has had nothing to say).

Director Panetta has said that there was no indication of anything illegal or inappropriate about the effort.  But Democrats on the House committee demanded that Panetta take back his claim that the CIA has never misled Congress.  Now why would that make me think that they were trying to give political cover to Ms. Pelosi?

The program was a plan to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives, and never — according to a CIA senior intelligence officer — came close to becoming operational.  Though I’m not sure what the fuss is about.  Wasn’t that what we wanted, to capture or kill al Qaeda?

Panetta said that according to his notes, Vice President Cheney directed the CIA not to tell Congress specifics of the secret program.  Possibly because secret programs have a way of appearing on New York Times front page shortly after intelligence committees are briefed?

Never mind.  It’s just another case of politics as usual.  Dragging out “Bush did it” is the favorite attention deflector in the Obama playbook.



Chuck Schumer ADVOCATED Torture by American Elephant

Yes, that’s right boys and girls — it’s another episode of Democrats were for it before they were against it. And yes, they were for torture.

Not only did Nancy Pelosi know about and approve the use of water-boarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, top Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York is on the record, in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing no less, defending the use of real torture on tape — not water-boarding, not enhanced interrogation, but actual torture:

Ahhh, but that was before Democrats saw an opportunity to actively undermine national security for partisan gain.

Now, these very same Democrats want to prosecute Bush Administration lawyers for merely giving their legal opinions that water-boarding does not constitute torture and is therefore permissible. Let me emphasize that — they are not talking about prosecuting people who water-boarded, they want to prosecute people for expressing an opinion.

And yes, the same Chuck Schumer is among those calling for investigating Bush officials for prosecution:

I don’t know what more evidence anyone could possibly require to prove that Democrats have knowingly, actively undermined national security for partisan gain. We have top Democrats not only approving enhanced interrogation, but advocating for the necessity of actual torture, and we have them on the record, actively trying to undermine those tactics they admit are necessary for the defense of the nation. For years they have been dragging the United States through the mud for all the world, and all our enemies to see, for using tactics they themselves admit are necessary.

It’s time for prosecutions all right — but not prosecutions of President Bush and his administration for their legal protection of the country — it’s time to prosecute Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer and other Democrats for their open, blatant treason against the United States of America for partisan political gain.

(h/t HotAir)



It sounds like a bit of a mess, but the EPA is riding to the rescue, really really soon. by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration giveth with one hand and snatcheth away with the other.  Obama himself has guaranteed auto warranties, so you don’t have to worry.  Greg Pollowitz noted in Planet Gore at National Review:

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has opened the door to allowing higher mixes of ethanol in gasoline, a potential boon to farmers and the struggling ethanol industry, but opposed by auto makers whose consumer warranties typically are tied to the current EPA standard.

Well, of course.  Ethanol producers have been going bankrupt left and right. If they go bankrupt, then farmers in the corn states won’t be able to sell their corn to to ethanol producers.  Then there are auto makers, in deep trouble, possibly facing bankruptcy. They must come up with satisfactory plans promptly.

Obama wants them to make smaller, more energy-efficient cars, preferably hybrids or electric cars.  Americans don’t want hybrids or electric cars.  They want SUVs to cart the kids and their friends around safely, get around in the snow, and haul stuff from Home Depot around. Congress has mandated new mpg requirements that car makers cannot meet, and besides, the car makers  are busy going bankrupt.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently reported on a series of test crashes between minicars and midsize models; and the death rate in minis is three times higher than in large cars.  We’ve been hearing a lot about the green promise of high-efficiency cars.  A 2002 National Research Council study found that CAFE standards contributed to about 2.000 deaths per year because of their restrictions on size and weight.

General Motors Volt , Obama’s car advisory group said, is not ready for prime time.  It costs around $40,000 and goes only 40 miles on a charge.  But then, the advisory group has only had 3 weeks to learn how to run a car company.  Obama wants the Volt still on the table, as it is an all electric car.

Americans are not likely to use enough gas next year to accommodate the 13 billion gallons of ethanol that Congress has mandated. Current regulations limit the ethanol content in a gallon of gas to 10%.  The industry wants that quantity lifted to 15% or even 20%.  But only a fraction of cars on the road can run with ethanol blends higher than 10%.  It can damage engines, corrode automotive pipes and impair some safety features.  It can also mess up catalytic converters.  It’s even worse in boats, snowmobiles, lawnmowers and so  on.  And to boot, there is little or no net reduction in CO2 over ordinary gasoline, if you are actually worried about CO2. The EPA has decided it can regulate CO2 as a dangerous pollutant because they are unfamiliar with photosynthesis and breathing.

U.S. oil refiners will be on the hook for liability for any problems arising from ethanol blending, because Congress refused to grant legal immunity for selling a product that complies with the mandates that it ordered. They just don’t like oil companies.

The refiners are also set to pay stiff fines for not fulfilling Congress’s mandates for second-generation cellulosic ethanol.  The makers already admit that they won’t be able to churn out enough of the stuff to meet the targets that Congress decided on two years ago.

This is all aside from the fact that ethanol production has raised the cost of food by about $47 per year, per American.  Plus, ethanol only gets produced with major subsidies from taxpayers. And there isn’t as much energy in a gallon of ethanol as there is in a gallon of gas — no matter what the source of the ethanol.  So it doesn’t go as far.

In March 2008, a report commissioned by the Coalition for Balanced Food and Fuel policy (a coalition of eight meat, dairy and egg producers) estimated that the biofuel mandates passed by Congress will cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion from 2006 to 2009. It also acts as a regressive tax on the poor to whom Obama is mailing checks called tax cuts, as soon as he get around to it.

There’s more, but you get the idea.  Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are right on top of everything.  We’ll get it all ironed out really, really soon.  Trust us.




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