Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fraud Begets Fraud in ObamaCare Land

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has issued a fraud alert - apparently, the passing of ObamaCare has unleashed a torrent of miscreants peddling fake insurance policies. The Associated Press reports:
After Obama signed the law March 23, a proliferation of scams involving bogus health-insurance policies has been reported. Some hustlers are going door-to-door, claiming there's a limited open-enrollment period to buy health insurance now. Not so. Moreover, even after new marketplaces open for business in 2014, door-to-door salespeople are unlikely to be part of the outreach. Scam artists also have set up toll-free lines.
Secretary Sebelius has gall indeed to issue a fraud warning - the entire ObamaCare edifice is itself a fraud, perpetrated on the American people by a duplicitous governing class. Almost nothing that the administration has promised about the health bill is true. To take but a few glaring examples:

The Claim - ObamaCare will reduce the deficit. The President even hailed his bill as "the most significant step" toward deficit reduction in years."

The Truth - Administration officials and Congressional leaders were given cover for this ruse by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimated that the bill as written would reduce the deficit by over $100 billion for the first decade.

However, that estimate assumes that cost control provisions, such as the nearly half a trillion in Medicare cuts, will actually materialize - which hardly anyone believes. As former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin writes in the New York Times, the CBO "is required to take written legislation at face value and not second-guess the plausibility of what it is handed. So fantasy in, fantasy out." Holtz-Eakin concludes that "if you strip out all the gimmicks and budgetary games [from the health care bill] and rework the calculus, a wholly different picture emerges: The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $562 billion."

The Claim - ObamaCare will "bend the cost curve down," reducing health spending in the United States and saving us money.

The Truth - Oops. Obama's own Medicare actuary Richard Foster warned that ObamaCare would bend the cost curve up, increasing health spending nationally by $222 billion over ten years.

The Claim - ObamaCare will reduce health insurance premiums.

The Truth - By what economic logic does flooding the insurance pool with a new wave of sick individuals who cannot be turned away lower insurance premiums? Fantastical logic, of course. As the Associated Press recently reported, according to their analysis, under the new health care regime: "Beginning in 2014, most Americans will be required to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty. That's when premiums for young adults seeking coverage on the individual market would likely climb by 17 percent on average." The effect? "The higher costs will pinch many people in their 20s and early 30s who are struggling to start or advance their careers with the highest unemployment rate in 26 years." You don't say. Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation concurs, saying that under ObamaCare, "There's no question premiums are still going to keep going would be miraculous if premiums actually went down relative to where they are today."

In addition to serial and flagrantly false fiscal promises, the very method of ObamaCare's passing - bribery and backroom deals with lobbyists and special interest groups - undermines the administration's moral authority to chastise alleged health insurance hucksters. Politico helpfully lists some of the more flagrant carve outs made during the year-long health care negotiations with key interest groups:
PhRMA, the drug industry's powerful Washington lobbying group, cut a $90 billion deal with the White House and Senate Democrats. The AHA and the hospital industry cut a $155 billion deal with Democrats to help pay for reform. The union AFSCME successfully lobbied the White House to soften the tax on high-end insurance plans.
No wonder Secretary Sebelius is angry at con artists who are selling phony health insurance plans based on false promises - clearly, she feels, that's the job of the Obama administration.

This post was written by Matt Patterson, policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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Posted by Matt Patterson at 12:02 AM

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Britain Censors Climate News

ASALogo.png...but maybe not in the way you expect.

It seems Britain's independent, non-governmental Advertising Standards Authority, charged with monitoring advertising for truthfulness, has banned advertisements by Britain's Labour government for exaggerating the risk posed by greenhouse gas emissions.

The ads claimed heat waves, storms and floods will become more "frequent and intense" thanks to "climate change."

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled it is impossible for the government to make such a claim with certainty.

ADDENDUM: Here's what the banned ads look like (open in another window to enlarge):



The ruling doesn't mean the government has stopped telling mis-truths about global warming, however. For example, on a webpage entitled "Climate change myths and misconceptions," the British government claims climate regulations will lower the cost of energy:

If this were true, the market would take care of the matter without the need for government interference.

I don't mean to single out the British government, however. Our own lies about global warming rather often.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:38 PM

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eric Holder Blames the "Process" (Mafia Attorneys: Please Don't Read This)

I just love how Attorney General Eric Holder blames an inanimate "process" for his own failure in a quote cited at the end of this Legal Times blog post:
"While I made a good faith effort to fully answer the Committee's questions in my initial submission," Holder wrote, "it appears that the process I used to search manually and electronically for relevant material from my three decades in public life was deficient."
Should we have confidence the errors were inadvertent, when the Attorney General sees such a need to couch his terms?

I wonder how many defendants being prosecuted by DOJ for obstruction of justice will now use this defense before a jury:
"While I made a good faith effort to fully comply with the Justice Department's subpoena, it appears that the process I used to search manually and electronically for relevant material was deficient."
Defense lawyers may have a bit of fun with this one. Here's hoping the ones who do are defending innocent people.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:53 PM

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wall Street Journal on Climategate Grant

"WSJLogoFuzzy.jpgMichael Mann Received Stimulus Money: A Case Study in One Job 'Saved'," the Wall Street Journal editorializes this morning on the stimulus funds grant received by Climategate scientist Michael Mann:
As for stimulus jobs - whether "saved" or "created" - we thought readers might be interested to know whose employment they are sustaining. More than $2.4 million is stimulating the career of none other than Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann.

Mr. Mann is the creator of the famous hockey stick graph, which purported to show some 900 years of minor temperature fluctuations, followed by a spike in temperatures over the past century. His work, which became a short-term sensation when seized upon by Al Gore, was later discredited. Mr. Mann made the climate spotlight again last year as a central player in the emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, which showed climatologists massaging data, squelching opposing views, and hiding their work from the public.

Mr. Mann came by his grants via the National Science Foundation, which received $3 billion in stimulus money. Last June, the foundation approved a $541,184 grant to fund work "Toward Improved Projections of the Climate Response to Anthropogenic Forcing," which will contribute "to the understanding of abrupt climate change." Principal investigator? Michael Mann...
Read the rest here.

We're not quoted in this, but National Center Senior Fellow/Free Enterprise Project director Tom Borelli provided information to the Journal for the piece.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:18 AM

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Investor's Business Daily Covers Our Work on Misdirected Stimulus Funds; Spying on Icebergs

InvestorsBusinessDailyLogoFuzzy.jpgInvestor's Business Daily is editorializing today about our press statement on the half-million-dollar "stimulus" grant to Climategate scientist Michael Mann of Penn State.

I love the beginning (the title, "Stimulating Fraud," is pretty hard-hitting):
With double-digit unemployment in a jobless recovery, half-a-million stimulus dollars have saved a ClimateGate scientist whose work could lead to economic disaster. To save this job, we'd lose millions of others.

As we've gone from jobs saved or created to jobs funded in ZIP codes and congressional districts that don't exist except in galaxies far, far away, many interesting nuggets have been mined from the government's, which tracks the administration's lack of progress.

It's one thing to fail to create real jobs. It is quite another to fund the jobs of people who would put millions of Americans out of work...
Read the rest here.

Also, I neglected to mention when it happened, January 7, that Investor's Business Daily published an editorial about our statement on intelligence resources being used to monitor climate change:
We can't stop terrorists from boarding planes with explosive undies, but the CIA has assets sufficient to monitor Arctic ice and look for signs of global warming? Is al-Qaida recruiting polar bears?

One wouldn't think that the increasing polar bear population and the increasing rate of recidivism of former Guantanamo detainees released into the wild were related, but they are.

At the urging of Al Gore... the rest here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:31 PM

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Borelli Questions Use of Intelligence Assets on Fox

Here's a video of Project 21 full-time fellow Deneen Borelli on Fox and Friends this morning, discussing the diversion of national security intelligence resources to climate research.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:04 PM

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Media Matters Attacks Us Again

MediaMattersLogo.jpgMedia Matters is attacking us again. This time, it claims our assertion that "the Obama Administration is tasking some of our nation's most elite intelligence-gathering agencies to divert their resources to environmental scientists researching global warming" is wrong because "the program... 'has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering.'"

Two months before the Christmas Day would-be bomber flew over U.S. airspace in what President Obama himself reportedly called an intelligence "screw-up," U.S. intelligence officials were, according to William J. Broad of the New York Times, "collaborating on an effort to use the federal government's intelligence assets -- including spy satellites and other classified sensors -- to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change..."

In light of the Christmas Day Underwear Bomber incident and other threats, and the fact that the U.S. military is currently engaged in two wars, this is one American who is not comfortable having our apparently-overburdened intelligence officials focusing on climate change -- even part of the time.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:49 PM

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Project 21's Deneen Borelli to Appear on Fox and Friends Thursday; Will Discuss Spying on Icebergs

FoxandFriendsLogoProject 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli will be a guest on the Fox News Channel's Fox and Friends morning show at 6:20 AM Eastern [Editor's note: after this blog post was published, the scheduled time for the interview was moved up by five minutes, to 6:15 AM Eastern] on Thursday, January 7 to discuss comments she and her husband, Tom Borelli (who directs the National Center's Free Enterprise Project) made today about the Obama Administration's diversion of national security intelligence resources toward the climate change issue.

Deneen and Tom's comments can be found in the following press release:
Spying on Icebergs Instead of Terrorists?

Obama Program Diverts Intelligence Assets to Climate Research

As terrorists continue to infiltrate America, the Obama Administration is tasking some of our nation's most elite intelligence-gathering agencies to divert their resources to environmental scientists researching global warming.

Experts with The National Center for Public Policy Research are decrying this practice as a distraction from important counterterrorism duties. They further question if it is a possible avenue to renew climate change subterfuge already plaguing some of these scientists.

"This is another example of President Obama not taking terrorism seriously," said Deneen Borelli, a fellow with the National Center's Project 21 black leadership network. "Our enemies must be laughing at the Obama Administration's incompetence."

A January 5 article in the New York Times reported that the White House restarted a program in which scientists are obtaining classified intelligence data from the Central Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office. Information from these secret government surveillance programs is being used to track climate change.

A similar program was discontinued by the Bush Administration in 2001. Former vice president and current climate change entrepreneur Al Gore began lobbying for its renewal in 2008. It now reportedly has the strong support of CIA Director Leon Panetta.

"Given the very real threat posed by terrorists, it is ridiculous and downright dangerous to divert any intelligence resources to monitoring polar ice," added Project 21's Deneen Borelli. "Its said this won't hinder regular intelligence-gathering, but it's also clear that agencies can't yet share data and track a terrorism suspect who was identified by his own father. It's unwise to further distract our intelligence network by forcing it to consult with scientists about icebergs, polar bears and sea lions. The Obama Administration appears to be putting a left-wing political agenda before the safety and security of our nation."

Speaking on the involvement of Al Gore, Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center's Free Enterprise Project, noted: "If anything, Al Gore is the real national security threat. Gore's climate change fear mongering, which lines his own pockets with cash, has stoked a war against the fossil fuels so vital to our nation's economic prosperity and national security. His self-serving agenda is stymieing domestic energy exploration and production efforts. Now, he successfully lobbied to resurrect this diversion of our intelligence assets after the Bush Administration wisely ended it."

The claims of some scientists are already suspect after the Climategate scandal. Tom Borelli pointed out: "We've already seen climate scientists discussing the idea of destroying raw data to preserve climate change models that may be seriously flawed, and then it turns out that very same sort of data was allegedly 'lost.' How can we trust them to not behave similarly with CIA data - such as denying the proper peer review under the guise that the data is secret? The real question is: who's going to be watching the scientists?"

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan educational foundation based in Washington, DC. It receives less than one percent of its funding from corporate sources.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:06 PM

Friday, September 25, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Tax-Financed Business Loans to Wealthy, Politically-Connected Investors

I need go no further than posting the first sentence of Josh Mitchell and Stephen Power's Wall Street Journal News story, "Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large U.S. Loan: "A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000."

If it makes you feel any better, the loan was approved by a senior advisor to Obama's Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu. The car venture is partially backed by a firm of which Gore is a partner. The firm has made $2.2 million in political donations, mostly to Democrats, including Obama.

Mitchell and Powers quote Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste saying about the car, "This is not for average Americans. This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It's status symbol thing."

Do read the whole thing.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:47 PM

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Postage Stamp Rationing Followup

If you followed with interest our articles from August (here and here) about how the U.S. Postal Service has been rationing stamps, you may want to check out Meredith Jessup's followup to it on the blog, and the comments to her post there.

I find amusing the people who -- on the blog and elsewhere -- complained that the real problem is that we wanted to buy 3,000 stamps in the first place.

C'mon, people! The post office makes its money by selling stamps. Plus, 3,000 letters is a miniscule amount of mail to the postal service.

As noted earlier, at least no one relies on the post office for health care.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:43 PM

Friday, August 21, 2009

Postal Rationing Confirmed?

A lot of mail came in about David Almasi's blog post about D.C. area post offices rationing stamps.

Of those we were given permission to publish, the following two stood out:
i am a long time window clerk. cant say where for fear of retribution. this is nothing new. i have seen stamp increases where we do not have the supplemental stamps available at all. for ex.. price increase from 29 to 31.. no 2 cent stamps.. at all.. or ones.. limited 3 centers.. so let the customer buy them.. or how about running out of forever stamps.. or how about down to 26 total 44 cent stamps available period.. that includes coils.. we are not supposed to break coils of 100 apart.. believe me. .i have done it.. many many times.. clerks are put in an embarassing situation.. has been going on for about 10 years now... bad bad bad.. and no acct for management... they tell clerks.."do what you have to do"...or "deal with it"
-Name Not Published

It really gets to me when people (the President included) make statments when they are ignorant as to the facts.

I have been a dedicated Postal employee for over 29 years. The Post Office Department used to be totally funded by the government. The current Postal Service is supported solely by the sale of all types of postage.

One of our biggest challenges is that when we became self-supporting, congress did not give up control to allow us to run efficiently.

Another challenge is that we are pre-funding future employees' retirement benefits. What other business/company/entity in the United States has to do this??

Furthermore, whenever a post office is announced to be closed, the community rallies their congressman and the post office remains open. If you ran a business and you paid $45K for 1 person (there may be more at that particular office), $35K in rent, $20K in water bills, electricity, etc. to just be open and your revenue from stamp sales equals about $1k per week, would you keep it open at a minimum annual loss of $48K????? Multiply a minimum net loss of $48K by thousands of offices across the US. The total is staggering. We are hemorrhaging cash and we can do nothing to prevent it!!!

Does any other business have a congressman telling them what they can and cannot do when they are required to be successful and self-sufficient?? I am not a gambler, but I will bet your answers are NO!

The last, but huge issue is that congress itself has abused us for years in another way. They are allowed to mail ALL correspondence without paying a cent. They are required to pay at the end of the year a "percentage" of what they sent out. In reality, almost NONE have ever repaid this burden of cost upon the Postal Service. Mail does not process itself. There are costs involved to move it by donkey, boat, truck, or plane. Congress finally admitted a few years back that they were guilty. They also pledged to repay us at a rate of $29M per year. This did not happen. They again responded that we were correct and would begin repayment. Again, they did not make the pledged payment. I have seen no such statement or document that they have done so to date.

Faxes, scanners, and on-line catalogs have all but destroyed most of our services. I too am guilty of using both, but back to the beginning... Before people make such statements -or- perpetuate statements of others, homework should be done PRIOR to the publishing deadline. You have done a dis-service to your readers and postal employees everywhere. This response is not to offend you, but I hope it will encourage you to do more research about the Postal Service before a public statement. We are so often the brunt of much, but have many hardworking, dedicated employees that give much for so little.


Robert S. Hartsel, Jr.
Manager, Transportation
U S Postal Service
Roanoke, VA
Notice in the second letter the allegation that Members of Congress have been cheating the post office. Ethics investigation, anyone? The comments below, plus others we received by email but were asked not to print, do bear witness that Mr. Hartsel is correct: the post office does have many dedicated employees. ran a link to David Almasi's blog post and allowed comments.

A few samples:
That must be happening nationwide...that is what happened at our P.O. too. I was told it was to force customers to spend that dollar doing it online.

This is happening in my office too. I've had no stamps to sell on more than one occasion.

If this is true, we are truly led by morons.

Put a sign in the lobby. When they find out they are rationed, you will have lobbies full of people buying more stamps then they need. Human nature, like filing taxes on the 15th of April. Think about it!

This is NOT a problem.
The Postal Service will issue I.O.U.s in lieu of stamps.
Now quit your whining get back to work.
-V.P. Of I.O.U.s

What a load of bull! This 'article' is nothing more than a conservative organization's thinly veiled attack on the current health debate. The PO has never, and will never have a need to ration stamps! Whereas a lone clerk, station manager or PM might be inclined to make such a grievous error based on misguided logic, the PO would never turn away any paying customer, provided we could accommodate them immediately. This is our job! They print stamps whether we sell them or not. This article is an affront to the hardworking people of the PO, and yes as much as I regret saying it, even management.

Those of you that choose to buy into this propaganda are way too gullible, too eager to slight the PO, or perhaps have never worked for the PO. Spreading this kind of baseless rhetoric is ridiculous and undermines the PO.
Get real!

This absolutely IS occuring in Westchester County in New York. We have been told we cannot order stamps as we always have on an "as needed" basis. We are currently out of MANY types of stamps the customers need and continually ask for and the district tells us we must wait until a certain date to put in an "emergency" order. It is a pathetic situation as I watch many customers walk out without the stamps they came in to purchase bewildered as to how their local Post Office cannot get them. I've never in my many years on the job seen this before. So, don't tell me it's propaganda!

We are being harrased of late about our stamp stock being "too high." This has never happened in years past. Our postmaster now gives us stock in small amounts compared to what we used to get. Theyt run out quickly. She says she's been told she can't get the usual allotment anymore. Hence, we are always low or out of the fast movers. It's a joke.

The only thing were good at selling,besides BS,and now we cant get our mitts on enough of em.No wonder this business model won't work.

Ummm, lets see... We sell postage to generate the money that runs the company. We're in the hole big time so top brass decides to ration the thing that brings in money? What am I missing here?
You couldn't make this s--- up!

Idiotic stuff like this IS true. We have a very strict limit that we can have on hand. If we run out of something and have to do and "emergency" order for something then we can not do another one for 21 days. If we are going to go "over" our limit of stamp stock, then the stamp distribution office will not send you your stamp order.(We only get one day each month for a "scheduled" stamp order.)
It's ridiculous. It is supposedly to keep theft/risk down, save time when conducting stamp audits etc.
In the meantime, sometimes we are not able to have on hand what our customers need at the time. We are supposed to "guesstimate" what our customer's needs are.
I too think they are trying to drive out all the business from the P.O. counters. That way they can have the tanning salon down the street sell stamps w/o having to pay the bennies and salaries!
-wake up and smell the stink

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:18 AM

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