July 22, 2010

Santa Is Coming to Town … Hall!

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 2:27 pm

http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx40/mmatters/RomneySigningRomneyCare… with a big bag of detailed, analytical & critical truth about the train wreck that is RomneyCare.

Why it’s Christmas in July!

Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity are NOT going to be happy that their boy-toy (Sean’s man-crush) has been criticized in this forum.

Kudos to Michael Cannon, CATO’s healthcare policy scholar. He and senior fellow Michael D. Tanner have been banging this drum for years.

The piece is also cross-posted at CATO@Liberty.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
RomneyCare Advocates: We Swear, This Time Centralized Planning Will Work
Posted by : Townhall.com Staff at 4:16 PM
Guest blog post by Michael Cannon

You know things aren’t going well in Massachusetts when supporters of RomneyCare write “there’s some evidence that the reforms signed into law by Mitt Romney in 2006 are struggling.” That’s how The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein puts it in a post defending RomneyCare. The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn offers a similar defense.

Klein mentions only a few of the difficulties confronting Massachusetts. Here are a few more:

The Commonwealth Fund reports that even though Massachusetts already had the highest health insurance premiums in the nation, premiums rose faster post-RomneyCare than anywhere else; 21-46 percent faster than the national average.

A recent study estimates that RomneyCare has so far increased employer-sponsored health-insurance premiums by an average of 6 percent.

…Contrary to Klein’s post hoc spin that RomneyCare “was never an attempt to control costs,” Romney himself promised that “the costs of health care will be reduced.”

…Evidence is mounting that, despite stiffer penalties than ObamaCare will impose, increasing numbers of people are gaming the individual mandate by only purchasing health insurance when they need medical care. Such behavior could ultimately cause the “private” insurance market to collapse.

…RomneyCare and its progeny ObamaCare are attempts by the Left’s central planners to clean up their own mess. If Klein and Cohn want to defend those laws, pointing to the damage already caused by their economic policies won’t do the trick. They need to explain why government price & exchange controls, mandates, and subsidies will produce something other than what they have always produced.

Please read the entire piece here. Cannon explains that despite the rationalizations of RomneyCare (no pun intended), it merely tweaked – and made worse – a system that needed a complete overhaul. More band aids on gaping wounds…by a Republican no less, and no one but CATO has had the brass to call him out.

I’ll say it until every last deceived Romniac hears me, and there are good people who continue to be fooled by his slick, polished appearance; if Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney is your answer, then you’re still asking the wrong questions.

Shirley Sherrod’s Disappearing Act: Not So Fast

Filed under: Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:20 pm

Note: This item went up at the Washington Examiner’s OpinionZone Blog and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday afternoon. It has garnered quite a bit of visible and behind-the-scenes attention.

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My oh my, that happened quickly. Perhaps too quickly.

Until Monday, Shirley Sherrod was Georgia Director of Rural Development for the USDA. Earlier in the day at Big Government, Andrew Breitbart put up a video that exposed Ms. Sherrod as someone all too willing to discriminate based on race.

Within hours of the video’s release, USDA Director Tom Vilsack announced Sherrod’s resignation, and in the process issued an exceptionally strong condemnation (“We are appalled by her actions … Her actions were shameful … she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man”).

The NAACP, at whose Freedom Fund Banquet Sherrod spoke of her discriminatory posture, and at which the audience seemed to indicate approval of her outlook, followed a short time later, virtually echoing Vilsack.

So I guess we’re supposed to forget about Shirley Sherrod from this point forward.

Not just yet.

Luckily, she’s inviting further scrutiny by complaining about Fox News and the Tea Party leading to her dismissal. Keep it up, ma’am, because you and the USDA both deserve further scrutiny.

Ms. Sherrod’s previous background, the circumstances surrounding her hiring, and the USDA’s agenda may all play a part in explaining her sudden departure from the agency. These matters have not received much scrutiny to this point.

An announcement of Ms. Sherrod’s July 2009 appointment to her USDA position at ruraldevelopment.org gives off quite a few clues:

RDLN Graduate and Board Vice Chair Shirley Sherrod was appointed Georgia Director for Rural Development by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on July 25. Only days earlier, she learned that New Communities, a group she founded with her husband and other families (see below) has won a thirteen million dollar settlement in the minority farmers law suit Pigford vs Vilsack.

What?

The news that follows at the link, which appears to pre-date the announcement of Ms. Sherrod’s appointment, provides further details:

Minority Farm Settlement

Justice Achieved – Congratulations to Shirley and Charles Sherrod!

We have wonderful news regarding the case of New Communities, Inc., the land trust that Shirley and Charles Sherrod established, with other black farm families in the 1960′s. At the time, with holdings of almost 6,000 acres, this was the largest tract of black-owned land in the country.

… Over the years, USDA refused to provide loans for farming or irrigation and would not allow New Communities to restructure its loans. Gradually, the group had to fight just to hold on to the land and finally had to wind down operations.

… The cash (settlement) award acknowledges racial discrimination on the part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the years 1981-85. … New Communities is due to receive approximately $13 million ($8,247,560 for loss of land and $4,241,602 for loss of income; plus $150,000 each to Shirley and Charles for pain and suffering). There may also be an unspecified amount in forgiveness of debt. This is the largest award so far in the minority farmers law suit (Pigford vs Vilsack).

The Pigford matter goes back a long way, and to say the least has a checkered history, as this May 27, 2010 item at Agri-Pulse demonstrates (bolds are mine:

As part of a April 14, 1999 class action case settlement, commonly known as the Pigford case, U.S. taxpayers have already provided over $1 billion incash, non-credit awards and debt relief to almost 16,000 black farmers who claimed that they were discriminated against by USDA officials as they “farmed or attempted to farm.” In addition, USDA’s Farm Service Agency spent over $166 million on salaries and expenses on this case from 1999-2009, according to agency records.

Members of Congress may approve another $1.15 billion this week to settle cases from what some estimate may be an additional 80,000 African-Americans who have also claimed to have been discriminated against by USDA staff.

Settling this case is clearly a priority for the White House and USDA. Secretary Vilsack described the funding agreement reached between the Administration and advocates for black farmers early this year as “an important milestone in putting these discriminatory claims behind us for good and in achieving finality for this group of farmers with longstanding grievances.”

However, confronted with the skyrocketing federal deficit, more officials are taking a critical look at the billion dollars spent thus far and wondering when these discrimination cases will ever end. Already, the number of people who have been paid and are still seeking payment will likely exceed the 26,785 black farmers who were considered to even be operating back in 1997, according to USDA. That’s the year the case initially began as Pigford v. (then Agriculture Secretary) Glickman and sources predicted that, at most, 3,000 might qualify.

At least one source who is extremely familiar with the issue and who asked to remain anonymous because of potential retribution, says there are a number of legitimate cases whohave long been denied their payments and will benefit from the additional funding. But many more appear to have been solicited in an attempt to “game” the Pigford system.

Here are just a few questions about Ms. Sherrod that deserve answers:

  • Was Ms. Sherrod’s USDA appointment an unspoken condition of her organization’s settlement?
  • How much “debt forgiveness” is involved in USDA’s settlement with New Communities?
  • Why were the Sherrods so deserving of a combined $300,000 in “pain and suffering” payments — amounts that far exceed the average payout thus far to everyone else? ($1.15 billion divided by 16,000 is about $72,000)?
  • Given that New Communities wound down its operations so long ago (it appears that this occurred sometime during the late 1980s), what is really being done with that $13 million in settlement money?

Here are a few bigger-picture questions:

  • Did Shirley Sherrod resign so quickly because the circumstances of her hiring and the lawsuit settlement with her organization that preceded it might expose some unpleasant truths about her possible and possibly sanctioned conflicts of interest?
  • Is USDA worried about the exposure of possible waste, fraud, and abuse in its handling of Pigford?
  • Did USDA also dispatch Sherrod hastily because her continued presence, even for another day, might have gotten in the way of settling Pigford matters quickly?

The media and the blogosphere shouldn’t be so quick to forget about Shirley Sherrod.

Lucid Links (072210, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:18 am

Assuming Gallup is back to doing things and/or disclosing things consistently, something which wasn’t the case with a different poll discussed yesterday, this finding is stunning:

http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx40/mmatters/GallupCongress0710

Shoot, if you take the Beltway area residents and federal employees out of the sample, the result is probably in single digits.

What’s at least as important is another finding in the survey of “Confidence in Institutions” – Confidence in “the presidency” dropped 15 points from 51% to 36%, more than double the six-point drop of Congress.

Related: “A nine-point swing in two months.”

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PC Gone Mad:Obama’s Electronic Health Records Czar: HIV Status and Abortions Need Not be Included.”

Uh, it’s sort of helpful for a physician to know whether or not his/her patient is HIV positive in any number of medical situations, including an emergency where the patient might be unconscious or unable to communicate, doncha think? This would appear to seriously endanger care providers and the patients themselves if the doc provides or prescribes treatments that would be fine for non-HIV+ patients that would clearly be dangerous to those who are.

Whether or not a woman has or hasn’t had an abortion is also relevant to a number of potential medical diagnosis and treatment issues.

Apparently, not “stigmatizing” someone with information about them that is factual is more important than keeping that person and those who might treat him/her safe.

But these same electronic records MUST have everyone’s Body Mass Index.

This is madness.

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A picture of how dark life really is under communism.

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You don’t say: “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Wednesday the economic outlook remains ‘unusually uncertain …’”

As noted Sunday in discussion of the economy, which Mort Zuckerman calls “Obama’s Katrina,” it’s been that way since the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy began in June 2008. What the Fed has been doing for almost two years has largely added to it.

Related“Increased housing commitments swelled U.S. taxpayers’ total support for the financial system by $700 billion in the past year to around $3.7 trillion, a government watchdog said on Wednesday.”

Also related (I only heard this on a radio news report and haven’t found online corroboration) – Bernanke said the Fed may resort to buying stocks if the recovery doesn’t recover as quickly as desired. At a minimum, this would be serious line-crossing with a massive potential for manipulation and insider dealing. At worst, it would end up being a form of backdoor nationalization. Once the Fed gets in, can it really get out?

Also, also related: “Lie Du Jour: ‘No More Taxpayer Bailouts.’”

Proof that the Lie Du Jour is the Lie Du Jour — “In An Attempt To Reliquify Economy, FDIC Starts To Retroactively Pay Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars To Depositors In Failed Banks.”

Positivity: Pope creates new diocese for Malawi, bishop calls it ‘moment of grace’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:31 am

From Rome, and Malawi:

Pope Benedict XVI officially erected a new diocese in the African nation of Malawi on Wednesday. According to the bishop who has overseen the area until now, the announcement represents a “moment of grace.”

The Diocese of Karonga, in northern Malawi, was created from a third of the land previously contained within borders of the Diocese of Mzuzu. It separates 61,000 people in five parishes from what was the Diocese of Mzuzu’s Catholic population of 400,000.

Along with the announcement of the new diocese came the appointment of its bishop. Fr. Martin Anwel Mtumbuka, who will soon be ordained to lead the faithful of the diocese.

Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza, who currently heads the Diocese of Mzuzu, told CNA on Wednesday that creation of the new diocese and the appointment of the bishop-elect “means quite a lot” to the area.

He explained that the addition was “necessary, because it is quite taxing to travel to some places from headquarters.” The bishop described difficult travel on poor roads in all-terrain vehicles to parishes as far as 250 miles (400 kilometers) away.

This announcement, he said, “is a moment of grace,” adding that “the care of the parishioners will be easier because the bishops will not have to move as far.

“We will be more available,” he said in the phone interview. …

Go here for the rest of the story.