…to break down what’s happening to him that is.
That’s James Taranto to a “T.”
…to break down what’s happening to him that is.
That’s James Taranto to a “T.”
Read the following and choose which answer best describes how it makes you feel:
A. Makes me feel all warm and cozy-safe inside
B. I’m having flashbacks to ‘Enemy of the State’ and seeing ski-mask-clad goons invading my house, planting bugs and stealing my blender
C. What was the question?
Hackers have “come close”several times to shutting down elements of the nation’s infrastructure, she said, noting that Wall Street firms and transportation systems are frequent cyberattack targets.
“I think we all have to be concerned about a network intrusion that shuts down part of the nation’s infrastructure in such a fashion that it results in a loss of life,” she said.
Asked how many cyberattacks might have occurred over the course of her 45-minute Q&A session, Napolitano responded, “Thousands.”
The Department of Homeland Security is in the process of hiring about 1,000 cybersecurity specialists to combat the fast-evolving issue — and Napolitano said she would have “every cyber geek in the United States” working for her if she could.
The 1,000 hires may sound impressive, but it pales in comparison to the 3,000 specialists that the National Security Agency plans to hire to combat the issue by the end of fiscal 2012 — and the thousands more fighting cybercrime at an alphabet soup of other agencies.
But in the end, Napolitano said she believes that Homeland Security needs to serve as the nation’s “incident response center” in the event of a major attack.
Even if this is true….Do we really want the federal government creating an army of hackers empowered to go wherever the federal gov’t perceives a “threat?”
I don’t, sorry.
Raise your hand if this story surprises you:
Within hours of its debut, the federal government’s ballyhooed new jobs board was on the fritz: USAJobs crashed repeatedly, error messages popped up over and over, résumés disappeared, passwords were obliterated.
It even got basic geography wrong, with searches for Delaware, for example, turning up jobs in Germany.
OK, now those of you with their hands raised, get out your calendars so we may schedule your appointments with the clue bat.
For the rest of you who managed to show up on time when those clues were first distributed, raise your hand if you’re pretty freaked out that the same geniuses who came up with are about to be in charge of hiring and directing the people who’ll create the massive new national healthcare database where all your most personal health records will be stored by (and accessible to) the federal government?
OK, now take that hand, fold all the fingers of it down except the middle one, and point it in the general direction of Washington D.C.
On Saturday night with the House vote in favor of the health reform bill, the trial lawyers sliced themselves a nice little piece of that bonanza.
It’s Section 2531 of the bill — to be precise Section 2531(4)b — and it provides as follows:
The new health bill will empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to states that reform their medical malpractice systems. There are just two conditions: Those reforms must not “limit attorneys’ fees or impose caps on damages.”
Which is like saying that we’re going to encourage you to develop a personal weight loss plan that includes neither exercise nor changes in diet.
Think about it, someone actually wrote that down.
Do you think there are other ways to reform the malpractice system that would a) reduce healthcare costs b) reduce the cost of malpractice insurance? Because really, are there other reasons to “reform” the malpractice system? They couldn’t possibly be suggesting the gov’t will pay states to “reform” the system to pay lawyers MORE or INCREASE damage awards can they?? (Dear God, I think maybe they could be…..)
So I’m pissing off many of my friends on FB this week by criticizing (that’s putting it mildly) Sarah Palin for her support of “Conservative” party candidates, particularly in NY’s 23rd district. My gripe is that she is an outsider who doesn’t have the first clue about what politics are like in that part of the country, never mind that state, and that she has no business inserting herself into that race in such a high-profile way that seems so obviously designed to garner attention for HER and her PAC than to get a win for Hoffman. I say that b/c Hoffman is trailing the GOP candidate who herself is trailing the Dem. in a district that used to go for the GOP, but went for Obama by 52% in the Presidential election!
Don’t get me wrong, I think the GOP candidate is not even a RINO, she’s more like a Democrat who hasn’t made it official yet, I get that the local GOP is pandering a bit, duh. But I look at the bigger picture which is that the way to change party politics is not to “go rogue” and tear your party to shreds even MORE, especially during a time when critical decisions are being made that affect the future of the country, not just the local people in that district. The way to change them is to pressure the local party big-whigs between elections to change the platform or nominate people who really DO reflect the wishes of the people. To me, the townhall meeting screaming should be aimed in the direction of your own party just as much as the other guys if you’re unhappy! And the truth is, I don’t even think the people of that district ARE that unhappy with the selection. If they were, they wouldn’t be polling for the DEMOCRAT who’s running in such high numbers. But it seems to me that splitting the vote in this way and turning into the Ralph Nader of the right is not only going to hand another seat to a Dem in November, it’s going to turn the GOP into a permanent minority as more moderate conservatives, finding they have nowhere to go (having been deemed not pure enough by their compatriots) end up either voting Dem. or not voting at all.
I think Palin forgets that Obama didn’t win because there are more left-wingers than right-wingers, he won because he attracted MODERATES in the MIDDLE. That’s not to say the GOP has to get all mealy-mouthed and fence-sitting, just that it needs to stop moving farther and farther to the RIGHT on wedge issues. There are pro-life Dems. and there are anti-gay marriage Dems. Somehow they manage as a party to include them ALL. Sure, the base gets all fired up and makes threats all the time, but really, where are THEY gonna go? To the GOP? Not in its current form, that’s for sure!
I just see this as a losing direction for her and the GOP, I really do. What they need to be doing is finding a NEW center–one that’s not halfway between Dem. and traditional GOP, but one that actually does offer NEW solutions, solutions that take into account the reality that urban Republicans and rural ones are NOT going to see eye-to-eye on social policies, and so either the tent needs to get bigger, or the subject needs to be left OUT of the platform altogether and they should return to TRUE conservatism which does NOT push any particular set of values or beliefs onto other people, but rather CHAMPIONS individual liberty to the fullest extent of the law.
Some of my FB friends have argued that she’s never pushed policy that is anti-gay or pro-life, but I’m not sure that’s the point. She has certainly given a ton of lip service to both, and I’m as pro-life as the day is long, I’m just saying that for many women–fiscally conservative women–the issue is still red-hot. Turning the party, a party that never was historically hard-core ANTI-abortion until the Bush administration, into one that flatly rejects any pro-choice candidate, or becomes hostile to them regardless of their other qualifications seems counterproductive. Even the Democrats haven’t been THAT hard-core with guns! If they put into their platform positions on guns and God that were the polar opposite of what the GOP has in theirs on gays and abortion, we would justifiably be calling them radical left-wingers. So why is the reverse OK? Whether “policy” is sought or not, championing candidates who act like the only true “conservative” is one who would deny gays equal rights or who’d rather kick a woman out of the party than accept the fact that she’s not convinced that life begins at conception (never mind that life on Earth began only 6000 years ago) seems, uh, ass-backwards?
y MICHAEL O. LEAVITT
Responding to a building wave of opposition to the “public option,” the Obama administration is now signaling that it may dress up government health care in yet another set of clothes. This time, it will be called a health insurance “co-op.” Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) is floating the idea, Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) has offered his initial support, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has listed three conditions it needs to meet.
Mr. Schumer’s conditions are a national structure, federal financing, and a ban on federal appointees who have ties to the insurance industry. This “co-op” would be federally controlled, federally funded, and federally staffed. Expressing his opposition to smaller organizations and his demand for a national “co-op,” Mr. Schumer says, “It has to have clout; it has to be large.” He adds, “There would at least be one national model that could go all over the country,” which would require “a large infusion of federal dollars.”
I’m quite familiar with real co-ops. As a teenager, I filled my family’s tractor with fuel purchased at a farmer’s co-op, which was organized by local people to solve a common problem. My family got its electricity from a rural electric co-op. I was later a director of an “insurance reciprocal,” a form of a co-op. Co-ops are a part of American culture: people uniting to solve common problems. What the Democrats are proposing bears little resemblance to this.
The Democrats are insisting that their version of a “co-op” wouldn’t be government-run health care, but I ran Medicare and Medicaid as secretary of Health and Human Services, and I know this isn’t true. When Washington provides the money, names the directors and ultimately pays the bills, government controls health care. Lobbyists will lobby, Congress will respond, and bureaucrats will decide who gets care, what drugs are prescribed, what procedures are covered, and how much money providers can charge. This is true for Medicare, it’s true for Medicaid, and it would be true of Mr. Conrad’s “co-ops.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is from Iowa farm country. He knows co-ops, and hopefully he also knows a plan for a government takeover when he sees it. He’s said he’s against a “public option,” no matter what it’s called. Yet Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, describing what he wants out of “co-op” legislation, spoke plainly, as reported by Politico earlier this summer, when he said, “It’s got to be written in a way that accomplishes the objective of the public option.”
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Our health-care system needs real reform. We need to abolish the unfair tax that favors employer-sponsored insurance over self-purchased insurance. We need to foster a more vibrant private market with greater competition and choice. We need to make prices transparent and give consumers more freedom to pursue health-care value.
Every American needs to have access to affordable health insurance. But we don’t need a “public option” that would jeopardize the employer-provided insurance of millions‚Äîan option that employers would be able to choose at their employees’ expense. And we don’t need the government running a bunch of so-called “co-ops,” rationing care at taxpayers’ expense.
The Democrats are getting worried that the Trojan Horse they have offered in the form of a “public option” has been spotted for what it is. So now they are looking for a new way to get government-run health care through the gates.
Let none of us be co-opted by their latest ploy.
Mr. Leavitt, former secretary of Health and Human Services (2005-2009), has served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and as governor of Utah (1993-2003).
Well well well! How very INTERESTING. The Republicans voted for the amendment, gee, wonder why
the Dems didn’t? What’s good enough for us isn’t good enough for them (again?)
What does this tell you about that public option they say will be “as good or better” than what we have today? Either they haven’t a clue how good the care we already have IS, or they think it’s slightly better than a shit sandwich, and that’s good enough for us to keep because why else would they be reassuring us we’ll be able to keep it even if they get their public option passed?
Do these people seriously believe we are THAT DUMB??? (Well, maybe, they don’t send their kids to the same schools as us plebes either).
I’m having visions of special hospitals and doctors for “party leaders” reminiscent of the former Soviet Union. Why is that? Hmmm…I wonder…..?
At what point will Obama supporters and fans of the so-called “public option” sit up and take notice? The numbers do NOT add up.
This whole issue makes me want to stop liberals mid-talking point to ask the following:
What is your goal?
1) “coverage” for everyone? (coverage which, btw, does NOT guarantee CARE, you can be “covered” and not find a doctor who’ll see you, just ask Medicare/Medicaid patients, ahem)
2) lowered costs for everyone?
3) a gov’t run single-payer system “just cuz” you think it’s everyone’s God-given right in a so-called “RICH” country to have “free” healthcare provided for and paid for by the state, at any price?
There *might* be other options, but I can’t think of any right off the bat, and clearly #s 1 and 2 do NOT line up right now. At all. Under ANY Of the bills passing through committee (never mind the bill already passed in the House).
And if number 1 is your answer and you would argue that it’s a “national security issue” that all Americans (correction, all PEOPLE occupying American soil) be given health insurance, even if they can’t afford it and/or forced to buy it if they can, why? What possible gain is there to be had from FORCING everyone into a third-party-payer system (whether it be gov’t or an insurance company)? Why the extra layer?
I keep coming to one conclusion: Americans have no idea how to sacrifice today for what they might need tomorrow. We are not savers anymore. We have no “rainy day” fund in the bank or in a jar in the pantry or top of the fridge. Unlike our grandparents who didn’t have insurance, we look at the cost of a doctor visit in HORROR!! “Heavens to Mergatroid!” We say. “How can I possibly come up with $250 TODAY, right now, just b/c junior is sick and needs ABX? Mon Dieux! How in the name of Jesus on the River could I possibly be expected to come up with the cost of Junior’s well-visit for shots? EEK! I don’t keep that kind of cash around!”
Mind you, we somehow manage if the car dies or the a/c goes out or if we finally get so angry at TWC that we decide on the fly to switch to Direct TV. We somehow manage to spend more than $3 a piece on a COFFEE drink, and having a TV in every room of your house these days is pretty much a given (and cable boxes on each one too). Cell phones? Got ‘em. Game boys? Got them too. Closets full of cheap clothes and shoes? Yup, gotta have them! Blueberries in December and Oranges in July? You betcha!
Just don’t tell us we *might* need to spend a few thou a year on doctor visits or an ER trip for some stitches, EGADS! Who has that kind of money??
My POINT is, as we learned in the other thread, many of the “uninsured” are so b/c to them, having “insurance” is a losing proposition! They are HEALTHY, they are not wealthy. Spending (and it is “spending” don’t use it, you lose it) $6,000 a year for a family on insurance (or in my case, closer to $12,000) is just NOT smart! Is it a gamble? Sure, but I’d bet you dollars to donuts most of the people doing this are doing it knowing that it is, and prepared to do what it takes to work things out to pay big bills if they come. They don’t NEED “everything but the kitchen sink” insurance. They WOULD like catastrophic insurance I bet, but for young healthy people this ought to be relatively inexpensive. The odds of you getting hit by a bus or getting cancer at age 30 are still relatively LOW, low enough that such a policy shouldn’t be anywhere NEAR the full $6-12 thousand a year! And if you eschew drugs (as I do and as man people do who don’t have chronic conditions) all the more reason you don’t see the need for comprehensive coverage. It’s like owning your car outright and taking damn good care of it. How would you like it if the gov’t FORCED you to carry collision insurance b/c, well, if you totaled it, you MIGHT not be able to afford a new one? The analogy ain’t perfect, but it’s fair enough.
The only reason to FORCE everyone to carry insurance (and therefore to make “universal coverage” a goal) is to benefit FINANCIALLY from the healthy people in the risk pool! The theory is they won’t USE what they’ve paid for, and other sicker people will benefit from their dollars in the pool. Now if you TAX these people more to boot (let’s say they own a small biz with more than $250K in payroll, i.e., MOST small biz btw), you stealing from them and depriving them of their liberty on TWO fronts. You’re not taxing them for the cost of THEIR insurance or the cost of other services they use (roads, schools, etc…), you’re taxing them b/c they have and someone else does NOT. Bad enough to take from those who don’t really have it in the form of an insurance mandate (which Obama IS open to/allowing right now), but to take from those who do have ALSO, people who are choosing to pay in as it is? Talk about a slap in the face.
Now I can hear what people are saying “OK FINE, but if they get hurt, who’s gonna pay? They better not just show up at the ER!” Why? Illegal aliens do. Legal aliens do. So what? The issue isn’t whether they USE the ER it’s whether they end up PAYING for those services, and if they’re not paying NOW, it’s likely b/c they are uninsured AND told this is someone else’s fault. Change the rhetoric, tell them they will be charged and will be put on a payment plan and will NOT get the gov’t to pick up the cost unless they actually qualify as POOR, and they will. I’m pretty confident of it. In fact, I’d be willing to bet they already have “rainy day” funds for just this purpose, but they are saving at their pace and convenience, not at OURS. No one else owes it to ME to stay healthy unless they’re using MY money to pay for their sickness. And I don’t hear any of the same people pushing for this plan decrying the way Medicaid is used or how many obese people there are on it, or how many smokers or consumers of HFCS or women who have a lot of children sign up for an duse it (never mind don’t sign up but expect it to pay ANYWAY).
So why soak the “rich?” And why force those in the middle class who might be more responsible than those who are “insured” to pay for something they don’t want or need? It stops being the human protection of a “right” when the person you’re “protecting” doesn’t WANT your protection.
I must admit, I hadn’t really thought of this angle, but I agree with my Dad whose comment on the following was:
So true. It would have been easier and more sensible to permit bonuses tied to performance with a reasonable limit on the total. As it is, some banks who should be taking money only to expand their ability to lend, wont because they are solvent and their executives understandably dont want to lower their compensation just to be able to make more probably risky loans which will only “benefit” the govt’s objective of keeping people in homes they can only afford by getting modified mortgages.
This is one of the problems with making policies that *feel* good or satisfy some emotional need (like socking it to the Wall St. baddies who did this to us, GRRRR). Unscrupulous or selfish people aren’t going to stop being that way, and contrary to Claire McKaskill’s ranting, they are not “idiots” either, far from it I’m afraid.
Pay Collars Won’t Hold Back Wall Street’s Big Dogs
By JASON ZWEIG
Of all the decrees that come spewing continually out of Washington, there is only one that works every time: the law of unintended consequences.
This past week, the Obama administration slapped a $500,000 cap on cash compensation for senior financial executives whose firms receive future federal aid. That put an official U.S. stamp on the outrage of the investing public.
[Intelligent Investor art] Heath Hinegardner
In 2008, Wall Street lost more than $35 billion and triggered trillions more in losses around the world — but rewarded itself with $18.4 billion in cash bonuses. That defies the common-sense judgment that it is good results, not bad, that should be rewarded; most dog owners know better than to give Fang a biscuit after he takes a chunk out of somebody’s finger.
So Wall Street got its just deserts. Unfortunately, while this move rightfully punishes yesterday’s fools, it may inadvertently create tomorrow’s culprits. The Treasury Department stated that the pay cap is meant to “ensure that the compensation of top executives in the financial community is closely aligned not only with the interests of shareholders … but with the taxpayers providing assistance to those companies.”
If only it were so simple. “The search for ways to get around this,” says one expert on Wall Street compensation, “started within minutes of the announcement.”
For starters, the limits seem to apply only to “senior executives” — the chief executive, chief financial officer and the like — and not to many of the people who can earn the really big bucks on Wall Street, like traders, hedge-fund managers and the mad scientists who cooked up all those derivatives that almost destroyed the world financial system. Leaving the compensation of these hot shots intact, while reducing the pay of the people who are supposed to boss them around, isn’t going to make the investing world any safer.
Outsourcing is another way to get around a pay cap. In 2003 and 2004, managers at Harvard University’s giant endowment came under withering fire from the ivory tower for earning upward of $35 million apiece. They soon left to start their own firms, which were promptly hired by the endowment and got paid a percentage of assets under management rather than a cash salary and bonus. That new form of payment stopped the criticism cold — even though it isn’t likely the managers earned any less. Nor did it reduce risk-taking: One spinoff from Harvard Management Co., Jeff Larson’s Sowood Capital, blew up in 2007, dealing Harvard a $350 million loss.
Wall Street firms could easily follow in Harvard’s wake, spinning off a trading or underwriting operation as a new company and retaining an ownership stake in exchange for a share of the profits and losses. The top dogs at the new firm would no longer face limits on their compensation, but the shareholders’ capital at the original firm — including taxpayer dollars — might be at even greater risk than before.
Finally, the new rules from the Treasury Department permit Wall Street’s “senior executives” to get incentive pay in the form of preferred stock that can’t be cashed in until the taxpayers get their money back. But there s no rule yet against cashing all of it in at that point — what compensation experts call cliff-vesting.
Thus, managers may be tempted to take greater risks in hopes of speeding up their preferred-stock payoff. If the risks go bad, Uncle Sam will eat the losses. “It’s the classic trader’s option,” says George Wilbanks, a managing director at executive recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates: “Heads I win, tails you lose.” He adds, “That’s my biggest fear: that people are going to swing for the fences to get to the cliff-vest faster.”
Psychologist Elke Weber of Columbia University has a different take. She doesn’t feel that managers will become reckless now to speed up their preferred-stock payoff. But that risk could rise rapidly as firms come closer to getting Uncle Sam off their backs.
The whole financial fiasco is one big unintended consequence. Securitization was supposed to spread risk to folks willing to bear it but instead ended up concentrating it in the hands of people who didn’t understand it.
Wall Street imploded largely because the inmates — the star traders and quant geniuses — took over the asylum. Paying the wardens less won’t put the inmates back in their cells.
Think of this man and how he died:
No, it wasn’t an eeeevil private company that cut off his power and caused him to freeze to death in his own home, it was his CITY, a city in Michigan that runs its own power company.
The story makes me so sick and angry I can’t even stand it.
So the next time you hear about how the state wants to put limiters of any kind in YOUR home to regulate how much power YOU can use, and you think it sounds like a good idea–you know, maybe b/c it can help with global warming and all–think twice. They let this man suffer and DIE b/c of their incompetence, not b/c of greed. It was their job to protect him, instead they killed him.