Archive for October, 2010

Government payments to dead people

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, Culture, Government Waste/Fraud/Abuse, Take back America on October 31, 2010 by DaMook

One of the very few voices of reason in the senate, Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a practicing physician, a true conservative, and a fiscal hawk. On many occasions he has pointed out waste/fraud/abuse in the federal government. One can only hope that Coburn and others (like Jim DeMint) will have a greater role in putting things in order after the coming elections.

Last Friday Coburn’s office released a report, entitled “Federal-Programs-To-Die-For-2,” on government payments to dead people. Here is the introduction to the report:

Over the last decade, Washington sent over $1 billion of your tax dollars to dead people. Washington paid for dead people’s prescriptions and wheelchairs, subsidized their farms, helped pay their rent, and even chipped in for their heating and air conditioning bills.

In some cases, these payments quietly gather in a dormant bank account. In many others, however, they land in the pockets of still-living people, who are defrauding the system by collecting benefits meant for a now-deceased relative.

Since 2000, the known cost of these payments to over 250,000 deceased individuals has topped $1 billion, according to a review of government audits and reports by the Government Accountability Office, inspectors general, and Congress itself. This is likely only a small picture of a much larger problem. Among the agencies making
payments to the deceased:

  • The Social Security Administration sent $18 million in stimulus funds to71,688 dead people and $40.3 million in questionable benefit payments to1,760 dead people.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services sent 11,000 dead people $3.9million in assistance to  pay heating and cooling costs.
  • The Department of Agriculture sent $1.1 billion in farming subsidies to deceased farmers.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development overseeing local agencies knowingly distributed $15.2 million in housing subsidies to 3,995 households with at least one deceased person.
  • Medicaid paid over $700,000 in claims for prescriptions for controlled substances written for over 1,800 deceased patients and prescriptions for
    controlled substances written by 1,200 deceased doctors.
  • Medicare paid as much as $92 million in claims for medical supplies prescribed by dead doctors and $8.2 million for medical supplies prescribed for dead patients.
  • Congress has established HIV/AIDS funding distribution based on historic numbers of deceased HIV/AIDS patients, while many individuals living with AIDS desperately wait for medical care.

In June, the administration announced new steps to stop itself from making these payments: agencies are now supposed to check their payees against the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Death Master File (DMF). But SSA admits its records are fraught with errors. “[I]t is extremely expensive and may even be impossible to determine if a person is alive or dead particularly if the person died many years ago,” the Commissioner of SSA, Michael Astrue, explained in 2009. So the administration’s new process cannot ensure the payments will end or improperly deny live, eligible Americans their benefits.

These erroneous payments are not the fault of the administration alone. Congress has repeatedly failed to give agencies the legislative tools they need to combat this waste, and we have fallen short of our solemn duty to oversee government operations. This report finds room for improvement across the government, but nowhere are the shortcomings more glaring than on Capitol Hill.

At a time when our country has incurred a $1.3 trillion deficit and a $13.4 trillion dollar debt, these wasted funds would be better spent reducing the deficit or addressing real needs during this time of economic uncertainty.

At this point in our nation’s history, it is of the utmost importance that every tax dollar spent by the government be put to good use. This means spending within our means on the living, not outside our means on the dead.

While no one can be certain what will happen in this election until Wednesday, it sure would be nice to have a few more like Tom Coburn in congress. I’m not confident that the country club establishment republicans will get the message or not, but they better listen up. The TEA Party is not going away, it will only get stronger. The establishment republicans ignore its message at their own significant risk. They will certainly face an even angrier electorate in 2012 and beyond if they don’t bend to the will of the people.

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Last Kennedy out of congress – don’t let the door hit you in the ass

Posted in Congress, Culture, Take back America on October 31, 2010 by DaMook

The 2010 elections will see the last member of the Kennedy family out of congress and finally end the era of “Camelot.” The scandals of this powerful family are legendary (more here, here, here, and here) beginning with the father of JFK, RFK, and Ted – Joseph Kennedy.

Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), a carpetbagger and no stranger to scandal himself, has decided not to run for re-election this year and a republican is within striking distance of the hand-picked democrat for “Kennedy’s seat.” (story here) Kennedy is the son of the late senator Ted Kennedy, whose seat was scarfed up by republican Scott Brown in a sensational special election last spring.

Two years ago, it would have been unthinkable that both seats held by Kennedy family members could be won by Republicans.But Scott Brown’s January election to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s former Massachusetts seat paved the way, and now the GOP is hoping Rhode Island state Rep. John J. Loughlin II will give an encore performance in the race for the U.S. House seat held by Patrick J. Kennedy, the late senator’s son, in Tuesday’s election.

“What we are finding in Rhode Island is exactly what we found in Massachusetts during Scott Brown’s election, and that is extreme voter unrest about the liberal, big-government, agenda that is bankrupting our nation,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, the architect of Mr. Brown’s win and now a strategist with the Loughlin campaign.

“People are just now beginning to wake up to the fact that our country is on the brink of financial ruin and Rhode Island is not immune to the voter backlash that we are witnessing in other parts of the country.”

In other words the public is tired of liberal/progressive socialism and the Kennedy name doesn’t hold the same “magic” it used to. Jeez, ya think??

Whatever the outcome of the race, the election will mark the end of an era in American politics that dates back to 1946 when John F. Kennedy won a House seat in Massachusetts. Each year since then, at least one member of the Kennedy family has been in the White House, the U.S. House, or the U.S. Senate.

“It really is the end of the line for the Kennedys politically because when Patrick Kennedy leaves office I think the only Kennedy left is someone on the Santa Monica City Council,” said Darrell M. West, a former Brown University professor who now works at the left-leaning Brookings Institution. “When you think about the fact that at one point they had a president and two senators and now they are down to a city council seat, that pretty much tells the story.”

This is a good time to point out that a seat in congress does not belong to an individual or a family. It belongs to the people who hopefully will have the good sense to remind these pricks that they work for us, not the other way around.

While I hesitate to speak ill of the dead, Ted Kennedy should never be thought of as an icon. The fact that he was able to get away with nefarious behavior that would have put the average citizen behind bars speaks volumes to the corrupt nature of our political system. Power, money and political influence have ruled the day for a long time – too long. It’s high time to put a stop to it and this upcoming election is a good place to start.

Friends in high places – Google edition

Posted in BIG Government, Computers and Technology, The Regime on October 29, 2010 by DaMook

Google has apparently taken a page from the Goldman Sachs playbook on how to infiltrate the government (more on Goldman here). All the more reason to give Google the heave-ho (previous post).

In a scandal earlier this year, it was revealed that after being hired by the White House as Deputy Chief Technology Officer, former Google public policy director (lobbyist) Andrew McLaughlin had ongoing discussions with Google lobbyists and officials concerning regime policy. (stories here and here) At the very minimum, this violated WH staff ethics rules. It was also revealed that McLaughlin tried to hide these communications by using private email accounts. He was “reprimanded” by the regime.

This story (from BigGovernment.com) reveals how the FTC dropped its investigation of Google’s spying, data mining, and privacy violations (Wi-Spying) – one week after one of their employees hosted a $30,000 a plate fundraiser featuring our dear comrade leader. As the Church Lady would say, How conveeeeeeeenient! Here’s the timeline:

  • “Google’s Marissa Mayer is hosting President Obama for a Democratic party fundraiser tonight. Tickets are $30,000-a-head….” – San Francisco Chronicle, October 21, 2010
  • “After analyzing the unencrypted WiFi payload data captured by its Street View cars, Google now admits that the system captured entire e-mails, URLs and even user passwords.” – ZDNet, October 23, 2010
  • “The Federal Trade Commission [has] closed its investigation into Google’s collection of consumer data through its Street View cars….”  San Francisco Chronicle, October 27, 2010

The FTC decision is a classic DC whitewash, but it a pattern for this administration which has repeatedly given Google “get out of jail free” cards, no-bid contracts and undisclosed lobbying and business access to top administration officials.  And when Big Government exposed the administration coordinating privately with Google, what happened?

Nothing.

That isn’t true everywhere.

  • The Canadian Privacy Commissioner recently found that Google did indeed capture personal sensitive information as part of its Wi-Spying
  • The British Government just re-opened their investigation into Google Wi-Spy over the weekend
  • Over 35 States Attorneys General continue to investigate privacy violations related to WiSpy

But in the United States, where a top Google executive hosted a $1.8 million fundraiser in her home for President Obama last week?

Nothing.

Google’s Eric Schmidt recently said, “The average American doesn’t realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists”.  He was clearly speaking from experience.

Congress must hold hearings on this FTC whitewash to put the facts on the table and find the truth.

Indeed. Our dear comrade leader often excoriates the republicans as being in bed with “big business.” Unfortunately the state-run media is asleep at the switch when the regime’s big business ties are exposed.

Good work, BigGovernment.com…

Joe “Smartass” Biden, our delusional VP

Posted in FAIL, Huh? WTF?, The Regime on October 28, 2010 by DaMook

A long-known sufferer of chronic Foot In Mouth disease and Rectal-Cranial Inversion, Joe “Smartass” Biden was probably the ideal choice for Vice President. He can say the stupidest things (which his boss generally agrees with) and everyone just shrugs and attributes these absurdities to his disabilities. Oh well, that’s just Joe – you know how he is. Uh, yeah, but he’s the bloody Vice President for cripes sake – second in line to the presidency. Sheeesh…

At a recent fundraiser in NY, Biden claimed that the democrats would “keep the senate and win in the house.” (story here) Because, you know, they have to keep hammering the economy into submission.

“We’ve done a lot in the last 20 months,” VPOTUS said. “The economy has grown four quarters in a row, not what it needs to, but it’s growing, it’s not shrinking. Just since January, 860,000 private sector jobs, not nearly enough. But guess what? That’s more jobs than were created in the entire eight years of the Bush Administration. That’s factual.”

[Biden] predicted the federal government will grind to a halt if the House or Senate fall under GOP control. He predicted Democrats would “keep the Senate and win the House.”

Hey Joe, put down the crack pipe – the dems are going to get slaughtered.

The money quote from Biden was this gem:

“Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive,” he said. “In the middle of the Civil War you had a guy named Lincoln paying people $16,000 for every 40 miles of track they laid across the continental United States….No private enterprise would have done that for another 35 years.”

Huh? WTF? Are you kidding me? “Government vision” is an oxymoron. “Government incentive” is not only the ultimate oxymoron but when uttered in the same sentence with “great idea” is tantamount to blasphemy. Matt Welch over at Reason Magazine sums it up nicely:

What was the “government vision and government incentive” that produced the assembly line? Motion-picture film? Air conditioning? The electric guitar? How about the personal computer? The mobile phone? Non-violent resistance? Aspirin?

Though Biden is generally not to be taken seriously, the government-centrism of his comments are an accurate reflection of his boss, and part of the reason why next Tuesday is going to be an awkward day of work at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

We can’t get rid of this clown soon enough. What an embarrassment…

Moron of the Day – Dude!

Posted in Culture, Huh? WTF?, UGH! on October 28, 2010 by DaMook

Meet Matt Gone, Moron of the Day. Described as a “tattoo enthusiast” in this story, Matt recently injected ink into his own eyes.

TattooFool

Moron of the Day - Matt Gone

No, Matt is not a “tattoo enthusiast” – he’s an idiot. An unemployable one at that.

Hey Google – UP YOURS!

Posted in Computers and Technology, Culture, UGH! on October 26, 2010 by DaMook

After reading this story, I have removed the Google toolbar and all links to Google, and closed my GMail account. As far as I’m concerned, I hope this hideous company goes out of business.

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, is not only a high-order douchebag, but also a sanctimonious asswipe to boot. As evidence of this, here are some of his comments on some of the widely-panned and nefarious Google activities that have recently come to light:

  • Addressed criticisms of Google’s stance on privacy by saying, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
  • Claimed people want Google to “tell them what they should be doing next.”
  • Said of Google, “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”
  • Said this: “One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that.”
  • Suggested name changes to protect adults from the Web’s record of their youthful indiscretions.
  • Said this: “What we’re really doing is building an augmented version of humanity, building computers to help humans do the things they don’t do well better.”

His most recent comment was the impetus for this post and the final straw for me.

And Schmidt’s far from done. Appearing on CNN’s “Parker Spitzer” program last week, he said that people who don’t like Google’s Street View cars taking pictures of their homes and businesses “can just move” afterward to protect their privacy. Ironically, he said this on the very day that Google admitted those cars captured more than just fragments of personal payload data.

Interestingly, CNN has since edited that quote out of Schmidt’s segment. Did Google ask CNN to remove it? Who knows. Perhaps the company has finally realized that Schmidt’s penchant for indulging in this sort of pedantic dorkery doesn’t do much for its public image.

Freaking people out with asinine power-tripping pronouncements might be great fun for Schmidt, but it isn’t a wise PR strategy, particularly when Google is a company about which the public and government are increasingly concerned.

So if you don’t like having photos of your house shown on a world wide map and your wireless network data stolen, you can “just move?” How about I toss a spike strip or scatter a box of roofing nails in the street the next time I see one of your data stealing cars coming? Too bad you didn’t say this on a real news program instead of the lowest rated primetime cable show.

Previous Google posts:

Cities weigh letting non-citizens vote – Huh? WTF?

Posted in Culture, Government Folly, UGH! on October 26, 2010 by DaMook

According to this story (from FOXNews) there are several cities that are considering allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections. While their reasons may be noble, voting rights are, and should be, limited to American citizens. Furthermore, since many local elections are held during national elections, can we be certain that the proper mechanisms would be in place to prevent these local-only voters from casting votes in the national and state-wide elections?

Like his neighbors, Claude Rwaganje pays taxes on his income and taxes on his cars. His children have gone to Portland’s public schools. He’s interested in the workings of Maine’s largest city, which he has called home for 13 years.There’s one vital difference, though: Rwaganje isn’t a U.S. citizen and isn’t allowed to vote on those taxes or on school issues. That may soon change.

Portland residents will vote Nov. 2 on a proposal to give legal residents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in local elections, joining places like San Francisco and Chicago that have already loosened the rules or are considering it.

Noncitizens hold down jobs, pay taxes, own businesses, volunteer in the community and serve in the military, and it’s only fair they be allowed to vote, Rwaganje said.

“We have immigrants who are playing key roles in different issues of this country, but they don’t get the right to vote,” said Rwaganje, 40, who moved to the U.S. because of political strife in his native Congo and runs a nonprofit that offers financial advice to immigrants.

Whoa, whoa, whoa – just wait a bloody minute. This guy has been here 13 years and hasn’t made the effort to become a US citizen? I’ve got news for you, pal, voting is a privilege of US citizens. Just because you live here and work and pay taxes, you are not entitled to the full benefits of US citizenship. If you want to vote, become a citizen – it’s that simple.

To become a citizen, immigrants must be a lawful permanent resident for at least five years, pass tests on English and U.S. history and government, and swear allegiance to the United States.

Supporters of Portland’s ballot measure say the process is cumbersome, time-consuming and costly. The filing fee and fingerprinting costs alone are $675, and many immigrants spend hundreds of dollars more on English and civics classes and for a lawyer to help them through the process.

Sorry, but that doesn’t sound like such a huge effort to me. If you want to be just a tenant here, that’s fine but don’t expect the full rights and privileges afforded to those who have made the effort to become full citizens.

Abdirizak Daud, 40, moved to Minneapolis 18 years ago before coming to Portland in 2006. He hasn’t been able to find a job. Some of his nine children have attended Portland schools, and he’d like to have a say in who’s looking over the school system and the city, he said.

But between his limited English and the financial demands, Daud hasn’t been able to become a citizen.

“I like the Democrats. I want to vote for Democrats, but I don’t have citizenship,” he said.

Ah, I see now…