Friday, January 17, 2014

Gary Cohen, Director for CMS Information and Insurance Oversight – Has no Clue About How The Affordable HealthCare Act is Functioning – C-Span Hearings akin to watching a train wreck in action.

Last night, for entertainment, I turned to C-Span to see what might be happening with books or reviews, and I found a Congressional Hearing in Session. I normally watch or not depending on the content, and one understands that content might be dry as toast, and have little national impact. This time, however, I was mesmerized. The premise was the Congressional Committee Hearing (which aired at approximately ending 11:00 pm, on the functionality of the program better known as the Affordable Health Care Act, and the individual responsible for all facets of this program, one Gary Cohen. In watching this man attempt to answer questions , one was reminded of a kid about to get his had slapped by a ruler by some teacher who felt he was not completely telling the entire story. As time went on it became apparent that the hypothetical teacher would have been in error. The man was holding back simply because, he had no answers.

No answers to things such as how many are enrolled? How many have lost coverage, How many have paid, How many are on the Federal Plan? How many are on the State Plan – no answer to simple questions as to the management of this program. Watching this gave me absolutely no confidence in the ability of the government to hire people to-do a job and do it correctly. Understanding that we elect government officials, that might have learned a thing or two, is one thing, but that the hiring process obviously needs to be overhauled is evident. It may not be this poor Gary Cohen’s fault that he knows not how the program he oversees runs- to be fair, he may be surrounded by simpletons. However, that would entice a sane person to quit.

Some points form, which was the first available glimpse at the train wreck, which is not yet available on C-Span:

Speaking before a congressional committee on Thursday, an official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed that the federal government continues to be unable to determine just how many Affordable Care Act enrollees have actually paid for their coverage.

Gary Cohen, deputy administrator and director for the CMS’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, told Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) that the mechanism required to determine whether or not an enrollee has paid for coverage has not yet been built.

“So, we don’t know at this point how many people have actually paid for coverage?” Harper asked.

“That’s right,” Cohen confirmed.

Watch the clip below via C-SPAN:

Note: click here for mind boggling video, cannot imbed

What was most disconcerting was the fact the payment system for this program, which is to be fully functional has not yet been set up (daily caller)

From watching the proceedings, this is the gist:

The government program will pay insurers who have losses insuring those under, these are private business, they will most probability be paid by taxpayers, and this won’t occur until 2015, the government is not collecting premiums, so that brings up a ton of questions, the fact that they cannot estimate how many people in small business plans that renew this year will maintain their coverage appears disingenuous, as Cohen admitted that they knew private carriers would not meet the standards.

The man sweats, hems, haws, and looks a tad perplexed that he is being asked questions by those rascally Conservative republicans. My favorite was Cory Gardner a Congressional Rep from the State of Colorado, who had his health insurance coverage dropped – Imagine that testimony - there was a great deal of backpedding. He has been asked (Gary Cohen) to support the legalese behind the changes that have been made to the program without the consent of Congress.

Therein lays the crux of the matter, the implementation, and the changes to the program, are all under Congressional purview, and yet, they have had no hand it in – therefore, one suspects that those erstwhile conservatives, will be challenging the entire program at some point soon.

If one was in the least concerned as increasing amount of medical appointments are being cancelled about the Bay State (as in one cannot get in to see a doctor without at least 4 cancelled appointments, and this is without Obama-Romney Care policies, it is clear that the writing on the all for those who feared a loss in access to providers.

One thing is certain, confidence levels in this program and this administration should not be in the 30’s (see Gallup), they should be in single digits, should any of the general public be privileged to watch this man answer questions for 20 minutes. That man being Gary Cohen – and yet, that brings up a whole can of worms – exactly how many Gary Cohen’s have been appointed or hired by the government and how inept, inefficient and incompetent are the various heads of all departments. 2014 cannot get here fast enough for the benefit of the general public.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Changing of the Guard by the Quiet American – Historical Patterns Justify A Change in Political Ideology and Parties – The 42% Principle

Of Conservative Attack Ads against Incumbent Democrats to Susan Collins Explaining Benghazi – It is no wonder the is antipathy towards the Parties that Be?

One might think that the overall lack of enthusiasm by the general public as far as getting out the vote and standing by a particular political party brand is the result of gridlock in Washington, or perhaps the centuries old fight between the two major parties for power over one another has become tiring, however, it just may be that there is simply put, a desire for something different, something more stable in nature that is the driving force behind the growth of the “Independent” voter.

In January of this year, USA reports that Gallup polling revealed a 25 year high among individuals that identified themselves as “Independent of any political party” – the number now stands at 42% of the nations voters. Further 42% is a rather large percentage, leaving the both major parties, as well as minor parties, without enough of a base to carry a national, or for that matter, state election with any certainty.

This leads to the question, it is perhaps time for a new party, or new parties to replace the older parties, or reinvigorate an older party? The last shift in major party politics was in the lead up to the civil war, circa 1820-1854 – form the formation of the Republican Party and the Democrat Party. The Democrat-Republicans from the south and west of the nation – became the Democrat Party, while the Free Soil party formed the Republican Party – (Read full article with party shifts (Whigs, Know Nothings, etc.) here at – it has been 150 years since two major parties were born and have controlled the government and its branches. The civil war brought about these phenomena, along with an interest in minor parties by U.S. citizens.

It’s time for another change.

The “Leadership” in both parties must now face the mid-term elections of 2014 – out of which, one might guess, will come a newer and stronger ideology – one that is focused more on personal liberty and the U.S. Constitution. That would be those much maligned Libertarian leaning Republican’s who the leadership refers to as “wacko birds”. There will also be challenges form more fiscally conservative Tea Party candidates also running as Republicans. There may not even be a change in name of the old party, rather a change in personnel.

This is the same scenario taking place in the Democrat Party, and has been since the Progressives began to successfully run and obtain seats from the older Democrats. If one were to go back in time 40 years, and stand a Democrat next to a Republican of today, to those of yesteryear, there would be no way to tell the difference! Thus the conundrum for voters as to who is more trustworthy, no matter which political party brand, and offers them the opportunity for growth in this nation.

If one looks at the statistics from local elections held in 2009, one finds that across the nation, incumbents lost local elections to a fairly large percentage. It did not matter if one were a Republican or a Democrat; the vote was for the challenger. Those political strategist who feel that there is nothing amiss with either party, should take a deeper look at challenges coming from political groups or PAC’s, going into the 2014 mid-terms. It has begun. One might also look to which party members are, in a word, either appearing to distance themselves from their current party and or prove to their constituents that they are just like the primary opposition they might face.

The New York Times wrote a recent piece on the proliferation of attack ads against incumbent Democrats over Obama Care (or the Affordable Health Care Act), which has Conservative Groups (not affiliated with the Republican Party) running ads which are effective, against these incumbent Democrats.

Meanwhile, those Republican’s seen as not Tea Party, and busy bulking up their Conservative Credentials. For example, Susan Collins (R) ME recent press release on Benghazi, shows she worked in a bi-partisan manner, and investigated who might have been responsible for calling a terrorist attack, a protest, when it occurred Report in PDF from 2011 the updated release follows below.

One might wonder why that may be necessary – Susan Collins is a solid Republican (Safe) to win re-election in 2014 –unless of course, a tea party candidate emerges, then, she would be – not safe (Public Policy Polling).

One might suggest to the Massachusetts Republican Party that they put up a challenger to every single political slot (given the great disparity between the two major parties in MA), and sit back and watch what happens. Of course, they may have to fight the Tea Party or the Libertarian Party at the same time (or Green Party for that matter). To do nothing in 2014, for any one remotely thinking about challenging an opponent, would be a wasted opportunity. Call it the 42% principle - which may now be a lot higher – those 42% are seeking someone who will lead, on all levels, and or for those low information voters, someone who is not currently holding office. The winds of political landscape change are blowing and it will be extremely interesting to see where it stands once the dust of 2014 settles.

The Release from Senator Susan Collins, Republican, Maine


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Senate Intelligence Committee, of which Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) is a member, today released a bipartisan report on the September 11-12, 2012, terrorist attacks against U.S. personnel at the Temporary Mission Facility and CIA Annex in Benghazi, Libya.

In December 2012, while serving as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Senators Collins and Chairman Joe Lieberman released their own report, "Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack at Benghazi," which determined there was a high risk of a "significant" terrorist attack on U.S. employees and facilities in Benghazi in the months before the September 11, 2012 assault on the Mission, and the State Department failed to take adequate steps to reduce the Mission's vulnerability.

The Lieberman-Collins report found that, while there was an absence of specific intelligence about an imminent attack, this "should not have prevented the Department of State from taking more effective steps to protect its personnel and facilities in Benghazi."

Following the release of today's report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Collins released this statement, which she also filed as Additional Views to the report:

"The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) "Review of Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, September 11-12, 2012," represents the most extensive review to date of the actions and analysis of the Intelligence Community (IC) leading up to, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi. I commend the SSCI leaders and staff for drafting a report that joins the only other Senate report on Benghazi, "Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack at Benghazi," an analysis that Joseph Lieberman, the former Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), and I authored and issued in December 2012. Our Homeland Security Committee conducted the first bipartisan investigation of what took place during the terrorist attack that cost four Americans their lives. Although hampered by time constraints and insufficient cooperation by the Administration, our report is an indictment of the State Department's failure to adequately secure the Benghazi compound despite numerous indications of an extremely dangerous threat environment. "Like our report, the SSCI report joins an increasing number of analyses to reach the sobering verdict that the State Department could have and should have done much more to prepare for the terrorist attack in Benghazi. The critical findings of this and previous reports regarding the judgments, actions, and management processes at the Department of State beg for accountability, and yet, more than a year after the attack, no one has been held responsible for the critical management failures that contributed to the vulnerability of the American personnel and facilities in Benghazi.

"The SSCI report, while adding considerably to our knowledge, would have been strengthened if it had placed greater emphasis on the lack of accountability for the broader management failures at the State Department. It would have been premature for earlier reports published in the months immediately following the attack, such as the Accountability Review Board and the "Flashing Red" report, to reach final judgments with respect to the State Department's personnel actions because the contributing factors to the vulnerability of the facility were still being pieced together. This report could have more fully evaluated the accountability issues because sufficient time had elapsed for the State Department to demonstrate whether or not decision-makers would be held accountable for poor judgments, refusals to tighten security, and misinformation.

"For example, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy testified before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last year that the threat environment in Benghazi was "flashing red," yet our investigation found that Under Secretary Kennedy, and other State Department officials, failed to ensure that a facility he personally approved in December 2011 had the necessary security to match the heightened threat environment.

"The SSCI report describes many of the management deficiencies that contributed to the inadequate security posture: excessive confusion in the State Department's security decision-making process, uncertainty regarding the facility's future, and the absence of sufficient communication at State Department headquarters. As referenced in the report, the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) also found that the Department lacks a conceptual framework and process for risk management, and the Independent Best Practices panel found that security standards waivers for overseas facilities are commonplace. Of the 29 Accountability Review Board (ARB) recommendations, fully 26 relate to systemic management reforms in the Department according to the OIG.

"Furthermore, this report, as well as other reports examining Benghazi, has found that the State Department failed to act upon some of the lessons learned from previous attacks. The State Department OIG's September 2013 audit of the ARB process listed four pages of recommendations by the Benghazi ARB that mirror similar recommendations from the report of the ARBs following the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings nearly fourteen years earlier. The OIG blamed this outcome, in part, on the absence of sustained oversight among Department principals, who are defined as the Secretary, deputy secretaries, and under secretaries.

"A broken system overseen by senior leadership contributed to the vulnerability of U.S. diplomats and other American personnel in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. This is unacceptable, and yet the Secretary of State has not held anyone responsible for the system's failings. This leads to a perception that senior State Department officials are exempt from accountability because the Secretary of State has failed to hold anyone accountable for the systemic failures and management deficiencies that contributed to the grossly inadequate security for the Benghazi facility.

"To be clear, the responsibility for the attack lies with the attackers themselves. Unfortunately, the promises of the President and other senior Administration officials to bring any of the attackers to justice have ringed hollow thus far. The report finds that more than a year after the attack, the terrorists who perpetrated the attack have still not been brought to justice.

"The report includes an important recommendation I requested, in consultation with the Chairman and Vice Chairman, that the U.S. government must bring the attackers to justice in spite of the unwillingness or lack of capacity of the Libyan government to assist in this effort. Failure to do so would be to repeat one of the mistakes that contributed to the lethality of the attack, which was the excessive reliance on a local Libyan security force that lacked the capacity or willingness to defend the compound.

"The failure to follow through on this promise undermines the credibility of the United States, diminishes the commitments made to the families who lost loved ones that night, and ignores the fact that our adversaries pay very close attention to our response to terrorist attacks. In general, inaction has not made the United States any safer. The failure of the United States to respond meaningfully, in the view of our adversaries, to attacks prior to 9/11/01, such as the 1998 al Qaeda attack against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 USS Cole bombing, served only to embolden the terrorists to plan and execute larger and more deadly attacks.

"Finally, the report does not go far enough to address the Administration's failure to correctly label the incident as a deliberate and organized terrorist attack in the days following the attack. As our "Flashing Red" report found, there was never any doubt among key officials, including officials in the IC and the Department of State, that the attack in Benghazi was an act of terrorism. Yet, high-ranking Administration officials, including the President himself, repeatedly cast doubt on the nature of the attack, at times attributing it to the reaction to an anti-Islamic video and to a spontaneous demonstration that escalated into violence.

"The SSCI report accurately describes that the IC moved too slowly to correct errors about a protest that never happened, and describes eyewitness testimony that should have been made available or pursued by the intelligence community more aggressively. The report does not, however, describe all of the operational reporting that should have been available to the IC after the attack.

"The "Flashing Red" report identified two emails from the State Department Diplomatic Security Operations Center on the day of the attack, September 11, and the day after, September 12, 2012, which characterized the attack as an "initial terrorism incident" and as a "terrorist event." In addition to the eyewitness testimony and the State Department reports, agencies and offices responsible for terrorism, including the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis, and the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, were immediately involved with gathering information about the attack. Indeed, how could there have been any doubt in anyone's mind that, when a large number of armed men break into a U.S. diplomatic facility, set fire to its building, and fire mortars at Americans, that is by definition a terrorist attack?

"Despite the fact that the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi were recognized as terrorist attacks by the Intelligence Community and personnel at the Department of State from the beginning, Administration officials were inconsistent and at times misleading in their public statements and failed for days to make clear to the American people that the deaths in Benghazi were the result of a terrorist attack. It took eight days before the Administration communicated clearly and unequivocally to the American people and to Congress regarding this fact through testimony by NCTC Director Matthew Olsen before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on September 19, 2012.

"Even after the Administration finally published the complete timeline of the changes made to the talking points, it is baffling how a fundamental, unclassified fact that was known to the IC from the beginning was only communicated clearly to the American people by the Administration after the issue had already been sufficiently muddled to result in confusion.

"While I support the SSCI report and appreciate its thorough analysis of much of what went wrong, I believe that more emphasis should have been placed on the three issues I have discussed: (1) the Administration's initial misleading of the American people about the terrorist nature of the attack, (2) the failure of the Administration to hold anyone at the State Department, particularly Under Secretary Kennedy, fully accountable for the security lapses, and (3) the unfulfilled promises of President Obama that he would bring the terrorists to justice."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Obama – “I’ve Got a Pen and a Phone” – speaking Executive Orders – The difference between abuse of power and the basics of a normally benign executive order.

The President is obviously frustrated and in need of a campaign slogan – what better use than to take to the executive order and blame it on those Republican’s –while implementing God knows what next – changing legislation, ignoring legislation, the sky appears to be the limit. The story on CBSLocal Boston is an attempt to explain how this President is applying executive order in the same manner as his predecessors. The comment section suggests that the people aren’t buying it anymore. In fact reading the comment sections was more entertaining than the article. View that at

The fact that executive orders have been in use for some time is true – the history of each and every one of them since the first is outlines at - and one sees an anomaly as soon as one hits the main page.

Beginning with Herbert Hoover who issues 906 orders executive orders, through Roosevelt (in 3 terms) who issued 3466, to George W.Bush, who issued merely 290 in 8 years, to Barack Obama, who at present has issued 165, which appears to be on the low side. It is not necessarily the amount of executive orders on President Decrees; it is the content of that order that is at question. Most executive orders suggest naming of days, or bridges, or offering awards as in, or establishing councils as in Bush’s President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, in other words, basic fluff.

Mother’s Day was created by Executive Decree –however, President Obama’s Executive Decrees appear to be more endruns around the Constitution, not for example the following: Prohibiting Certain Imports of Burmese Jadeite and Rubies, Accelerating Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency. Establishment of the Council of Governors- most of the President appear to be the establishment of sanctions/and or committees or councils to work to oversea every single department of the Federal government, or to oversea industry, in and outside of the US. –on the face of it, it appears to be used as a management tool, and the majority of what is there, is within the guidelines of the Constitution, yet, most would be Congresses purview. Therein lays the crux of the matter.

It is worth the read, as some of the executive orders are pretty interesting, inspiring, or boring, take one’s pick.

The use of the Pen, and the Telephone as he noted, so strongly, appears to suggest his is becoming frustrated and needs to get certain legislation trough by hook or crook to up his historical worth in the long term –Given the healthcare plan has had more than a few bumps in the road – and bailouts to insurance carries, to hold rates low until 2016 smacks of political chicanery.

Therefore he is establishing himself, like any other president of this modern time – nothing more and nothing less. In a few short years, he will be history, and history, like no other subject can be cruel in the long term. In the short-term, since he has lost the trust of the public, anything he attempts will be viewed with suspicion.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Affronted - Obama Care (Affordable Health Care Act) – Buffers Big Business (Insurance Companies) against Loss – is Anyone Surprised? - The 1 Trillion Dollar Budget.

According to Bob Laszewsk, writing his Health Care Policy and Market Place Review blog – the Obama administration’s bill subsidizes insurers against adverse losses they might incur up to 2015 – this allows the carriers to limit any increases in the cost of policies, before everything skyrockets in 2016.

The Washington Post article (here) written by Ezra Klein, describes Mr. Laszewsk as “president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a policy and marketplace consulting firm that has him working closely with many in the health industry as they try to navigate the Affordable Care Act” - He goes on, in an interview, to suggest fixes for Obama care’s computer woes, and does so with an eye toward inevitability, as well as for his clients, the insurance companies.

Although Laszewsk’s blog is technical in style written for those who are more familiar with insurance profits/losses and terminology- it is easy to get the gist – Obama care is a taxpayer funded project – right down to buffering the insurance companies.

Time and again, one sees the Federal government vested in Corporate America, which is a tad disconcerting to those who are concerned, regardless of party, when business (See K Street), benefits from Federal tax dollars. It runs against the grain of those who believe in free enterprise, without strings, fail or flourishing on one’s own steam.

With the new budget in place topping 1 trillion dollars – the Establishment GOP is thrilled to have preserved Incandescent light bulbs, and been granted a few concessions, here and there (Washington Times) – which screams both parties are either in collusion or being bi-partisan – and can do well without any interference from smaller parties influence. Those that may prefer to curtail spending, and reduce the debt per person in the nation (taxpayer), while prohibiting corporate collusion with government programs, should be gnashing their teeth at this latest budget.

Monday, January 13, 2014

On Personal Liberty and the Question of Marijuana Legalization

Eric Erickson over at Red State appears to be in a bit of a quandary over the question of Legalization of Marijuana. He ties the Sexual Revolution of the 60’s (the downside) and the legalization of Marijuana in the same piece. He ends by being conflicted – to Legalize involves personal liberty – but to take a look at what other states experience might be prudent.

There is a problem with most of those who believe the legalization of marijuana is somehow unique, and that the fact that Alcohol, as a drug, doesn’t seem to enter the Lexicon. Both substances lower inhibitions, thus – throw the sexual revolution out the window. It boils down to personal liberty. Should one wish to smoke marijuana, one should have the same rights as one driving to the local package store to pick up a six-pack, pint of whiskey or bottle of wine. During Prohibition the rise of bootleggers and subsequent crime equated with producing and distributing a controlled substance made fortunes for some (Kennedy’s) and for others led to incarceration, sin, and death. Once Prohibition was lifted, the smuggling ended as there was no need. (Those intent on being criminal to begin with just moved onto other endeavors.)

Therefore, as it has not been proven that there is much of a difference between the two substances, then it follows, that the monies spent on law enforcement and prison sentences would be better served elsewhere in all states. The added revenue to the states of taxes, (since it is a substance that is similar in scope to Alcohol) would be a bonus. The fact that the Federal Government is looking at the option of legalization – is more than probably born out of need or desire for an increase in revenue. Not to mention those of an age to be running the nation also were listening to Cheese and Chong during their formative years.

As a Libertarian leaning Independent, it is sensible to allow the states to do what the people decide, as to the Federal Government’s involvement, one is always leery of another stream of income given to those who are least fiscally sane.

The good in legalization, far outweighs the bad as in the potential for underage users to purchase, the potential for out of wedlock children born from lowered inhibitions. Nothing appears to be stopping underage children from drinking –nor is the siren, alcohol the likely reason for more out-of-wedlock births (the option of welfare and free college may be), therefore, one is left with the potential in having the same moral issues in play, but with a tax stream for the State or Federal Government, a decrease in crime, a decrease in costs to the courts or the prison system. Pragmatically, including medical use, it is a win-win situation the real bonus, a boon for personal liberty.

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