A Glimpse into Obamacare

So Obamacare is going to save us money and undoubtably run like a swiss watch. Most government programs do.

Just picture the following on a national scale and be afraid. Be very afraid.

Also, keep in mind that this department was created in 2009, just 3 years ago.

By Snejana Farberov:

In Washington DC, being dead is no reason not to take full advantage of one’s health care benefits.

A new audit by the Office of the Inspector General has revealed that the municipality spent nearly $700,000 on Medicaid coverage for the deceased.

In total, there were 129 cases involving payments for services rendered that were made after a patient had died.

In one case, a payment was made nearly nine years after the patient’s passing.

According to the audit, the city’s Department of Health Care Finance shelled out nearly $4 million in erroneous payments in 2009, most of which went toward claims with an invalid or nonexistent Social Security number.

Officials are also investigating allegations that the department might have overpaid its billings by $22.6 million.

Some of the overpayments have been blamed on changes in insurance rates between the time of billing and the time of payment.

While the department, which was created in 2009, has corrected many of the clerical errors that caused these costly gaffes, the findings of the audit are likely to result in calls for increased scrutiny of its operations at an upcoming oversight hearing.

“We will dig into why this happened, what has been done to correct it, and how to prevent similar overpayments from happening in the future”, said at-large DC Councilman David Catania, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Health.

In response to the audit, a spokesperson for the agency told the Washington Examiner that in December 2010, the department put into place a new system capable of discontinuing payments after a patient’s death. What a great idea!

The department’s troubles do not stop there, however. The audit has found that the agency paid $22.6 million extra on Medicaid claims totaling $124 million. In one case, the department nearly made a payment of $5.6 million for a $100 claim.

According to the spokesperson, it was a case of ‘fat fingers’ that nearly caused the multimillion-dollar error when a clerk held down the ‘5’ key long enough to create a $5.6 million entry.

Officials are now going over all 78,361 claims that might include an error.

In its first year of operation, the Department of Health Care Finance paid about $1 billion.

And We’re the Mind-Numbed Robots?

From  of The Blaze:

Occupy Oakland demonstrators plan to hold a major “unwelcoming” of Israeli President Shimon Peres Tuesday during his visit to a San Francisco synagogue.

“Israeli President Shimon Peres will come to Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco to give a talk titled ‘Israel and the Jewish People: A Vision of Tomorrow,’” Occupy Oakland announced in a post on its website Sunday. “In light of this theme, we want to show Peres what our vision of tomorrow would look like by warmly greeting him with a mass protest against apartheid outside of the temple.”

Peres, Occupy Oakland charges, has “signed into law racist and colonialist legislation” and “a series of laws and amendments disenfranchising and ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their land” The group also blasts him for including former President George W. Bush, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Ruport Murdoch and Henry Kissinger in his annual Israeli Presidential Conference, calling them “guilty of collaboration with the apartheid regime”:

Shimon Peres serves the wealthy colonial elite and the settler state of Israel. Peres tours the world speaking on behalf of Jewish people, co-opting the history of the Holocaust. At the same time, he has on his conscience a massive arms trade and racist laws which advance the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinian peoples. His very presence at a synagogue in San Francisco normalizes settler colonialism here and in Israel, connecting two settler states in the name of Judaism and an imperial and colonial “vision of tomorrow.”

To contest the normalization and cultural violence of this event, a number of Bay Area activists, including the proposers, are organizing a protest outside of the synagogue on March 6, 2012 at 6:30 PM. This proposal does not seek to create a formal Occupy Oakland working group, but does not oppose this, and will participate if one is formed. We ask Occupy Oakland to take a stand against apartheid and settler colonialism by endorsing, participating in, and helping plan this action. We hope Occupy Oakland will help think up and enact creative ways for us to show Peres that he is not welcome to promote apartheid and colonialism in the already colonized Bay Area.

The group’s announcement ended with a note of caution, saying: “organizers of this demonstration are committed to anti-oppression principles and will not be represented by any oppressive language or behavior at the demonstration, which includes anti-Jewish racism.”

Anti-Israeli Administration

Obama came out and proclaimed to Israel, “I have Israel’s back”. The following film is evidence that couldn’t be further from the truth. Also, although it’s just a small point, isn’t it interesting he said, “I have” and not “We” or “America has your back”.

Look Out Below!

David Stockman was the brash former whiz kid Budget Director of the Reagan Administration & one of the architects of the Reagan Revolution. 

He’s older & grayer now. He has become a scared investor who doesn’t own a single stock for fear of another financial crisis.

The following is a question and answer session he did with the Associated Press  [emphases added]:

Q: Why are you so down on the U.S. economy?

A: It’s become super-saturated with debt.

Typically, the private and public sectors would borrow $1.50 or $1.60 each year for every $1 of GDP growth. That was the golden constant. It had been at that ratio for 100 years save for some minor squiggles during the bottom of the Depression. By the time we got to the mid-’90s, we were borrowing $3 for every $1 of GDP growth. And by the time we got to the peak in 2006 or 2007, we were actually taking on $6 of new debt to grind out $1 of new GDP.

People were taking $25,000, $50,000 out of their home for the fourth refinancing. That’s what was keeping the economy going, creating jobs in restaurants, creating jobs in retail, creating jobs as gardeners, creating jobs as Pilates instructors that were not supportable with organic earnings and income.

It wasn’t sustainable. It wasn’t real consumption or real income. It was bubble economics.

So even the 1.6 percent (annual GDP growth in the past decade) is overstating what’s really going on in our economy.

Q: How fast can the U.S. economy grow?

A: People would say the standard is 3, 3.5 percent. I don’t even know if we could grow at 1 or 2 percent. When you have to stop borrowing at these tremendous rates, the rate of GDP expansion stops as well.

Q: But the unemployment rate is falling and companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 are making more money than ever.

A: That’s very short-term. Look at the data that really counts. The 131.7 million (jobs in November) was first achieved in February 2000. That number has gone nowhere for 12 years.

Another measure is the rate of investment in new plant and equipment. There is no sustained net investment in our economy. The rate of growth since 2000 (in what the Commerce Department calls non-residential fixed investment) has been 0.8 percent — hardly measurable.

(Non-residential fixed investment is the money put into office buildings, factories, software and other equipment.)

We’re stalled, stuck.

Q: What will 10-year Treasurys yield in a year or five years?

A: I have no guess, but I do know where it is now (a yield of about 2 percent) is totally artificial. It’s the result of massive purchases by not only the Fed but all of the other central banks of the world.

Q: What’s wrong with that?

A: It doesn’t come out of savings. It’s made up money. It’s printing press money. When the Fed buys $5 billion worth of bonds this morning, which it’s doing periodically, it simply deposits $5 billion in the bank accounts of the eight dealers they buy the bonds from.

Q: And what are the consequences of that?

A: The consequences are horrendous. If you could make the world rich by having all the central banks print unlimited money, then we have been making a mistake for the last several thousand years of human history.

Q: How does it end?

A: At some point confidence is lost, and people don’t want to own the (Treasury) paper. I mean why in the world, when the inflation rate has been 2.5 percent for the last 15 years, would you want to own a five-year note today at 80 basis points (0.8 percent)?

If the central banks ever stop buying, or actually begin to reduce their totally bloated, abnormal, freakishly large balance sheets, all of these speculators are going to sell their bonds in a heartbeat.

That’s what happened in Greece.

Here’s the heart of the matter. The Fed is a patsy. It is a pathetic dependent of the big Wall Street banks, traders and hedge funds. Everything (it does) is designed to keep this rickety structure from unwinding. If you had a (former Fed Chairman) Paul Volcker running the Fed today 7/8— utterly fearless and independent and willing to scare the hell out of the market any day of the week — you wouldn’t have half, you wouldn’t have 95 percent, of the speculative positions today.

Q: You sound as if we’re facing a financial crisis like the one that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

A: Oh, far worse than Lehman. When the real margin call in the great beyond arrives, the carnage will be unimaginable.

Q: How do investors protect themselves? What about the stock market?

A: I wouldn’t touch the stock market with a 100-foot pole. It’s a dangerous place. It’s not safe for men, women or children.

Q: Do you own any shares?

A: No.

Q: But the stock market is trading cheap by some measures. It’s valued at 12.5 times expected earnings this year. The typical multiple is 15 times

A: The typical multiple is based on a historic period when the economy could grow at a standard rate. The idea that you can capitalize this market at a rate that was safe to capitalize it in 1990 or 1970 or 1955 is a large mistake. It’s a Wall Street sales pitch.

Q: Are you in short-term Treasurys?

A: I’m just in short-term, yeah. Call it cash. I have some gold. I’m not going to take any risk.

Q: Municipal bonds?

A: No.

Q: No munis, no stocks. Wow. You’re not making any money.

A: Capital preservation is what your first, second and third priority ought to be in a system that is so jerry-built, so fragile, so exposed to major breakdown that it’s not worth what you think you might be able to earn over six months or two years or three years if they can keep the baling wire and bubble gum holding the system together, OK? It’s not worth it.

Q: Give me your prescription to fix the economy.

A: We have to eat our broccoli for a good period of time. And that means our taxes are going to go up on everybody, not just the rich. It means that we have to stop subsidizing debt by getting a sane set of people back in charge of the Fed, getting interest rates back to some kind of level that reflects the risk of holding debt over time. I think the federal funds rate ought to be 3 percent or 4 percent. (It is zero to 0.25 percent.) I mean, that’s normal in an economy with inflation at 2 percent or 3 percent.

Q: Social Security?

A: It has to be means-tested. And Medicare needs to be means-tested. If you’re a more affluent retiree, you should have your benefits cut back, pay a higher premium for Medicare.

Q: Taxes?

A: Let the Bush tax cuts expire. Let the capital gains go back to the same rate as ordinary income. (Capital gains are taxed at 15 percent, while ordinary income is taxed at marginal rates up to 35 percent.)

Q: Why?

A: Why not? I mean, is return on capital any more virtuous than some guy who’s driving a bus all day and working hard and trying to support his family? You know, with capital gains, they give you this mythology. You’re going to encourage a bunch of more jobs to appear. No, most of capital gains goes to speculators in real estate and other assets who basically lever up companies, lever up buildings, use the current income to pay the interest and after a holding period then sell the residual, the equity, and get it taxed at 15 percent. What’s so brilliant about that?

You worked for Blackstone, a financial services firm that focuses on leveraged buyouts and whose gains are taxed at 15 percent, then started your own buyout fund. Now you‘re saying there’s too much debt. You were part of that debt explosion, weren’t you?

A: Well, yeah, and maybe you can learn something from what happens over time. I was against the debt explosion in the Reagan era. I tried to fight the deficit, but I couldn’t. When I was in the private sector, I was in the leveraged buyout business. I finally learned a heck of a lot about the dangers of debt.

I’m a libertarian. If someone wants to do leveraged buyouts, more power to them. If they want to have a brothel, let them run a brothel. But it doesn’t mean that public policy ought to be biased dramatically to encourage one kind of business arrangement over another. And right now public policy and taxes and free money from the Fed are encouraging way too much debt, way too much speculation and not enough productive real investment and growth.

Q: Why are you writing a book?

A: I got so outraged by the bailouts of Wall Street in September 2008. I believed that Bush and (former Treasury Secretary Hank) Paulson were totally trashing the Reagan legacy, whatever was left, which did at least begin to resuscitate the idea of free markets and a free economy. And these characters came in and panicked and basically gave capitalism a smelly name and they made it impossible to have fiscal discipline going forward. If you’re going to bail out Wall Street, what aren’t you going to bail out? So that started my re-engagement, let’s say, in the policy debate.

Q: Are you hopeful?

A: No.

Constitution 101 (2)

Lesson 2: The Declaration of Independence

Study Guide

 

Lesson Overview:

The soul of the American founding is located in the universal political principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. The meaning of equality and liberty in the Declaration is decisively different than the definition given to those principles by modern liberalism.

Liberty is the right to be free from the coercive interference of other people. It is derived from nature itself, and is a natural right—something possessed simply because one is a human being.

Equality means that no one is by nature the ruler of any other person. Each human being is equal in his right to life, liberty, and property, which the Declaration calls “the pursuit of happiness.”

Equality, liberty, and natural rights require a certain form of government: republicanism, based on the consent of the governed. Legitimate government, based on the consent of the governed, must accomplish three things: the establishment of civil laws that protect man’s natural rights; the punishment of those who infringe on others’ natural rights; and the protection of natural rights through a strong national defense.

The people themselves also play a vital role in protecting their rights. They must be educated in “religion, morality, and knowledge.”

Modern liberalism uses the same language of “liberty” and “equality” as the Declaration of Independence. Yet modern liberals mean something other than what the Founders meant by those words. For the Progressives, “equality” means equal access to resources and wealth, while “liberty” means the ability to utilize a right, rather than the right in itself. Both of these ideas necessitate government programs that help mankind liberate itself from its “natural limitations.”

The Declaration of Independence and modern Progressivism are fundamentally opposed to each other. The modern misunderstanding of “equality” and “liberty” threaten not just the Declaration of Independence, but the whole of the American constitutional and moral order.

 

My Opinion, Sandra Fluke and Contraception

By now, everyone is familiar with this poor poor woman spending $40,000 per year at Georgetown Law & can’t afford her $1000.00 per year contraception bill. It’s not fair she should have to pay for her own birth control out-of-pocket despite the fact that she knew ahead of time that her  health insurance through Georgetown, a Catholic University, would not cover contraception.

This thing regarding the testimony of the Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke is a dodge. It has been a set up from word go.

 Don’t get me wrong. I give credit for the redirect to the Obama handlers, the democrats and the zombies in the mainstream media. (I guess that’s a bit redundant. The media are the Obama handlers).

 It has been established long ago that the media gets their marching orders directly from the White House and it’s surrogates.

We should have seen this coming from the time George Snuffleupagus, asked Mitt Romney if States should be able to outlaw contraception. The question came seemingly from out of nowhere.

But, of course, it didn’t come from out of nowhere, nor was the question fashioned by the moderator or anyone else in the news (stenography) business.

It came directly from someone in the Obama administration, or from one of the many organizations that walk in lock step.

Yes, I know. I, like you, am shocked to learn that a respected journalist (you may chuckle if you’d like) such as Stephanopoulos would agree to posit a question merely to advance the administration’s agenda.

So, what’s the agenda, the dodge, the redirect? It’s twofold. First is to get the media, the candidates and the public to concentrate on something other than the economy. Second is the female vote. Obama has been losing support of women for quite sometime. The abortion issue is not playing the way it used to. Something had to be done to bring women back to the dems and Obama. Just like magic, a new issue appears.

Evidently, they’ve decided that contraception is their battle cry. On behalf of helpless damsels everywhere, they will bring the fight directly to the evil Republicans, those who would deny women the right to  contraception. Huh?

Well, that’s the way it’s been framed, has it not?

Now, anyone who has a thought in their head, would realize, as Mitt Romney stated, no one is going to take away a woman’s contraception, nor is it even a healthcare issue. That matters not to the left. Their only concern is the advancement of the agenda at any cost.

I was going to say that the left are masters at forcing an issue to the fore. At redirecting the conversation away from what is truly important in this country today. I stopped myself due to the realization that they don’t have to be masters. They have every major TV (save Fox), print and Internet outlet to do their bidding. I’ll give them kudos for coming up with idea, but advancing it is easy.

And, as always happens, we conservative dolts play right along.  Let us not discuss domestic energy policy, more bankrupt solar companies, European meltdown or the Middle East blowing up. Surely our heroes getting killed in Afghanistan are not worthy of discussion.

I am only writing of this to show how wearily trivial it is and to demonstrate how easy, with a complicit media, a topic can be advanced. 

Even Rush Limbaugh was sucked into this. For days he belabored the topic of Fluke and her testimony before Pelosi’s committee. What a waste of valuable airtime. It was great for the left. They had every excuse to hammer on the subject, even getting candidates to denounce Limbaugh. Our people naturally oblige them and appear content to play along.

If you are a regular reader of mine, you know I’m no fan of Newt Gingrich. However, one of the things I do appreciate about Gingrich is his eagerness to take the fight to the lefties. He will call them out when he sees their attempt at advancing propaganda .

Like Newt, we need all conservatives to stand up & say, enough. This topic is a Trojan horse, & we will not discuss it anymore. We know what you’re trying to do and we will no longer play along.

A Toast to Your Health, With Coffee

In the Avionics shop at the Naval Air Station I was assigned to, there was a coffee station. Several pots were going at any given time, morning, noon and night. Up on the wall, over the pots, was a sign that read, “Warning; more than 3 cups of coffee per day may be harmful to your health”. 

Just like everything else that tastes good, coffee was going to be the death of us.

And, like the other food scares throughout history, the coffee-killer myth has been proven to be just that, a myth.

(Reuters) – Coffee drinkers have no more risk of getting illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, and are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a German study involving more than 40,000 people over nearly a decade.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, came in the wake of many previous studies that produced conflicting results, with some tying coffee drinking to an increase in heart disease, cancer, stroke and more.

“Our results suggest that coffee consumption is not harmful for healthy adults in respect of risk of major chronic disease,” said Anna Floegel, lead author of the study and an epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke.

The researchers collected information at the beginning of the study on coffee drinking habits, diet, exercise and health from more than 42,000 German adults without any chronic conditions.

For the next nine years, the team followed up on the participants every two or three years to see whether they developed any health problems, particularly cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, diabetes and cancer.

They found that coffee drinkers and non-drinkers were similarly likely to develop one of those illnesses.

For instance, 871 out of 8,689 non-drinkers developed a chronic disease, compared to 1,124 out of 12,137 people who drank more than four cups of caffeinated coffee a day — about 10 percent in both groups.

On the other hand, the researchers found that coffee drinkers were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, the form that does not need insulin and is linked with obesity, than those who didn’t drink coffee.

Among those who drank four cups a day, 3.2 percent later reported that they had type 2 diabetes, compared to 3.6 percent of people who drank no coffee.

After taking into account factors that could influence diabetes, such as weight and smoking, the researchers determined that frequent coffee drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop diabetes, a result that squares with other studies.

That doesn’t mean that coffee is responsible for preventing type 2 diabetes, but experiments in animals have hinted that certain chemicals found within coffee could positively affect metabolism.

“We do not encourage people to start drinking coffee if they do not enjoy this, but the overall evidence on coffee and health suggests that there is no reason for persons without specific health conditions to reduce their coffee consumption in order to reduce their risk of chronic diseases,” said Rob van Damn, a professor at National University of Singapore, who was not involved in the study.

Arrested for a Drawing

A Canadian father was arrested and strip-searched Wednesday after his 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun in her kindergarten class.

Ontario dad Jesse Sansone told the Toronto Sun his little girl’s drawing was supposed to be him, getting monsters and bad guys. Her teacher apparently thought differently, and the school contacted child protective services. When Sansone arrived to pick his daughter up, three police officers were waiting to take him into custody.

“I’m picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I’m locked up,” he told the Waterloo Region Record. “I was in shock. This is completely insane.”

Police questioned Sansone’s daughter and his other children, who gave a “detailed description” of a firearm supposedly located in the house and easily accessible to them, Inspector Kevin Thaler of the Waterloo Regional Police said, according to the Calgary Herald.

“The kids were scared,” said Thaler. “It is a 4-year-old that we’re taking the information from, but the fact is that this disclosure was very descriptive and very alarming to the officers investigating this.”

He said the arrest was made “because it was the end of the school day” and officers felt they needed to “secure and locate the firearm.”

When Sansone got to the school, he was told only that he was being arrested for possession of a firearm and given no additional details. At the police station, he was forced to remove his clothes for a full strip search. While he sat in a jail cell, police even brought his pregnant wife to the station for more questioning.

This selfless dedication to public safety really paid off:

Sansone said police searched his house and found a plastic toy gun that shoots foam darts.

The cops didn’t find any bad guys or monsters either, at least until they went home and looked in the mirror.

Attributions: The Blaze, The Daily Caller

Constitution 101 (1)

The following is Lesson One in a Ten Part program presented by Hillsdale College on understanding The United States Constitution. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we understand our founding documents, particularly the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution.

Lesson 1: The American Mind

You may feel free to simply watch or follow along with the attached Study Guide

Lesson Overview:

America’s Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson said, was the product of “the American mind.” Our Constitution was made with the same purpose as the Declaration—to establish a regime where the people are sovereign, and the government protects the rights granted to them by their Creator.

The word “constitution” means “to ordain and establish something.” It also means “to set a firm thing strongly in place.” It is linked to two other words: statute and statue. All three words—constitution, statute, and statue—connote a similar idea of establishing something lasting and beautiful.

The Constitution, then, is a work of art. It gives America its form. To fully know the “cause,” or purpose, of America, one must know the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, its author, mentioned four thinkers for their contribution to molding “the American mind”: Aristotle, Cicero, Algernon Sidney, and John Locke.

Studying these philosophers is a wondrous task in itself, and it greatly helps our understanding of America, just as it informed the statecraft of the Founders. Knowing the meaning of the Declaration and Constitution is vital to the choice before us today as to whether we will live under a Constitution different than the one bequeathed to us.