Obamacare Encourages Emergency Room Freeloaders

A rational healthcare system would discourage emergency room frequent flyers from abusing the system to make room for serious cases and those who pay their way.

But we live in 21st Century America, the Obamanation where dependency and irresponsibility are nothing of which to be ashamed.

Complete details are in my NEWSMAX column here:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Costs-Healthcare-Obamacare-Medibid/2014/08/22/id/590296/

Taxpayers Fund Public & Private Porn

Your tax dollars are being used to pay sleazy federal bureaucrats whose days consists of surfing porn sites on the government dime. Even when public–spirited employees report the abuse, the pubic–spirited escape punishment.

And don’t get me started on the vile ‘art’ the misnamed National Endowment for the Arts supports with our money.

You can read it all in my new Newsmax column posted here: http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Ethics-Taxpayers/2014/09/08/id/593177/

 

Pre–K a Multi–Billion Dollar Handout to Potential Democrat Voters

My new NEWSMAX column is ready for your perusal. Head Start/Pre–K are failed programs that Democrats continue to support because the programs create client groups that vote Democrat and expand the size of government.

Feel free to post on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Details here: http://tinyurl.com/kn9cahf

eBay for Elective Surgery Faces Potential Government Crackdown

The biggest breakthrough in health care cost saving may be squashed like a bug if government regulators get involved. Uncle Sam doesn’t like competition with Obamacare.

You can read all about it in my Newsmax Insider column:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Costs-Healthcare-Obamacare-Medibid/2014/08/22/id/590296/

Bob McDonnell Gives Ingratitude a Bad Name

No, that's not Maureen & her daughter. It's the official 1st Lady portrait.

No, that’s not Maureen & her daughter. It’s the official 1st Lady portrait.

The Bob & Maureen McDonnell corruption trial is not proving to be the unmitigated disaster for the McDonnell family that I first assumed. As the trial continues Maureen is looking more and more like her official portrait, currently on display at the Richmond Salvation Army Store.

She can’t do anything about the age difference — the youngster in Maureen’s “First Lady” portrait appears to be graduating from college next fall — but the size differential is rapidly closing. There’s nothing like the Federal Corruption Trial Diet to help remove those unwanted pounds that appear barnacle–like over the years.

A few more weeks in the courthouse and Maureen will be down to her fighting weight, which may come in handy if she’s sentenced to hard time.

The McDonnell saga, which in many ways represents the typical I–won–the–lottery–and–blew–it–all story has been invaluable for those who write. If you’re interested in brushing up on the whole story here are the relevant columns:

Politicians and their lack of will power when it comes to gifts are here.

The McDonnell family’s descent into a life of dependency in the governor’s mansion is here.

And why Bob McDonnell should have resigned as governor is here.

The prosecution has now rested its case and regardless of whether or not McDonnell is guilty, the picture painted of the family is only flattering if you compare them to the Kardashians.

Trial testimony left out the thousands of dollars it cost when the McDonnell kids raided the mansion’s pantry to take food to college. (That was only tax dollars and everyone knows those are free.) Instead the trial focused on what Jonnie R. Williams showered on the governor. There is the $20,000 shopping tab Maureen ran up on her New York City shopping trip that was chaperoned by Williams. His unintentionally funny description of the outing into Women’s Territory warmed the heart of every husband who’s sat bored on a mall bench outside a clothing store as the women shopped and the credit card smoked: “It went on for hours.”

Then there is the brand new set of golf clubs, golf bag with the UVA logo and golf shoes given to Bobby McDonnell who thought the give was “excessive” but not so excessive that he sent it back. In fact he and his father and brother played multiple rounds of golf and charged hundreds of dollars in green fees, caddy fees, food and golf accessory purchases to Williams during 2011 and 2012.

There’s even a rumor they tried to flag down Marine One and invite Obama to join the threesome.

The haul from the Jonnie Williams ATM was so extensive the WaPost designed an excellent graphic that shows whom got what that you can find here. Weddings were profit centers, the family was showered with plane tickets, a trip to Cape Cod, the Final Four (ironic that, because McDonnell’s governor term was the final four years of his political career), Florida, another golf bag, flights on private planes, a watercolor and a turkey dinner (wait, sorry, that was Ken Cuccinelli’s thanksgiving gratuity from Williams). And since the McDonnells were good conservatives they would NEVER stoop to taking an Obamaphone, but they did pocket two Williams’ iPhones.

The mental image one has after reading the list is of the Beverly Hillbillies living it up in their new California mansion, but that’s completely unfair to the Clampetts, because they were using their own money.

Now that the prosecution’s story of Rent–A–Politician has concluded, the defense strategy is two–fold. First Maureen is a maniac who had hot pants for Williams and hid everything from her husband. She was the mastermind behind the plot to trade official support for Williams’ patent medicine product, Anatabloc, in return for Williams making the McDonnells his foster children.

My favorite story involving Maureen is from the WaPost and it concerns her efforts to sell Mitt Romney on the diet supplement during a trip to South Carolina. Now I’ve seen Mitt’s legs and they are about the size of a pipe cleaner, so Maureen’s instincts were good. Mitt could use some bulking up.

Staffers sensing a disaster put a stop to that plan, but they couldn’t intercept Mrs. McDonnell before she cornered Ann Romney on the campaign bus, where Maureen’s pre–trial bulk made it impossible for Mrs. Romney to escape.

Exhibiting her usual tact and concern for the feelings of others, Maureen blurted to Ann that Williams’ Anatablock was so great it could “potentially cure MS.” Ann Romney —who no doubt had a few choice words for the advance staff after the event — has multiple sclerosis, so the sales pitch was vulgar, insensitive and fit Maureen as snugly as one of Williams’ free designer dresses.

Or as McDonnell political advisor Phil Cox said on the stand, “I was horrified. I thought it was a train wreck.”

Bob’s defense is different. He’s not crazy, but he may be the biggest ingrate in Commonwealth history. Big Watch Bob’s story is reciprocation is not a word in his vocabulary. He accepted $120,000.00 in no–doc loans to shore up his failing real estate investments, wore the Rolex, presided over the acceptance of the other thousands of dollars in booty and did absolutely NOTHING in return for Williams.

He just sent all William’s calls to voice mail where they died a lingering death. It would have made more sense for Williams to forget the McDonnells and hire a lobbyist, but come to think of it 120K probably wouldn’t be enough to hire a Hamas spokesman.

As far as strategies go this is a variation of the Viet Nam defense: We destroyed the reputation in order to save it.

And just to make sure there was no doubt as to McDonnell’s ingratitude the WaPost writes, “In the afternoon, defense attorneys presented a parade of former McDonnell cabinet secretaries to testify to all the things McDonnell could have done to assist Williams and his company. In turn, each witness agreed that McDonnell never took those actions.”

In other words don’t loan Bob your lawnmower with the expectation that you can borrow his rake later.

I can see the fun couple’s social life drying up the longer the trial continues. Who wants to host a couple that will never return the favor and might ask you to take them to the mall before they leave?

Ingratitude as a get–out–of–jail strategy can’t be helping fund raising for McDonnell’s legal defense. (Lawyers are something else for which McDonnell doesn’t deign to pay.) If a signature loan for 120K doesn’t warm the cockles of Bob’s heart when he’s facing foreclosure, what is your measly 5K for lawyers going to achieve?

Block Grants Don’t Block Spending

Busy week. My latest column is up on Newsmax.com. Rep. Paul Ryan (R–Packers) has a new plan to fight the War on Poverty. And no, it’s not an exit strategy.

Unfortunately, in spite of his best effort, there is less to the plan than meets the eye. Please see for yourself: http://tinyurl.com/mfelxld

You’re Paying to Subsidize the One Percent’s Entertainment

Crony capitalism is bad enough, but crony culturalism is simply beyond the pale!

My latest column on Newsmax.com explains the outrage and what Rep. Paul Ryan wants to do about it. Please read and rate:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Ryan-Budget-TV-Subsidies/2014/07/31/id/586043/

Peer Pressure Crushes Silicon Valley Entrepreneur

Monkey bureaucratsAnne Wojcicki is one of those Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that started a “disruptive” company aiming to change how we view an established industry. But she’s not one of those brain–rich, resource–poor visionaries passing the hat among bored World of Warcraft players window–shopping on Kickstarter.com.

No, she and her partners, Lucy Page and Laura Arrillaga–Andreessen — respectively the wives of Internet billionaires Sergey Brin (Google), Larry Page (Google) and Marc Andreessen (Netscape) — didn’t have to do anything so common as asking for money.

Google kick–started the project, so to speak, with an initial investment of $3.9 million and soon other vulture capitalists jumped on the bandwagon. The company, 23andMe, made its debut among the one percent at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, rubbing elbows with the likes of Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and other political or economic plutocrats.

Alexandra Wolfe writes in The Wall Street Journal, that as guests left the annual Google blowout, they were asked by “spit coaches” for a sample of their saliva. (This is one of the major differences between a redneck party and a one–percent party. At the redneck bash no permission is necessary. You just attempt to match the various pools of vomit with the contributors.)

In return for spitting in a cup the guest would receive a free DNA analysis and report. (Yet another aside: No wonder tech companies have zero concept of customer privacy, if management gives a DNA sample to a complete stranger, it’s not surprising they expect to be able to snoop freely in our secrets.)

Whereas in the past captains of industry might have indulged the little woman in a dress boutique or tea shoppe, Internet titans and their wives think bigger. Wojcicki and partners want to “drive this revolution where an individual had more of a say in health care.” Mainly by giving them a complete DNA report and analysis of individual genetic tendencies toward disease.

I don’t have a problem with any of this. It’s Google’s money and I’m not a stockholder. If the board doesn’t see a conflict of interest is funding wifey’s company, who am I to complain? Wojcicki also travels in different circles than I do and networking at the top only makes sense.

My problem is what she’s done after the product went public.

The Sultan of Spit recently made a charm offensive trip to DC and received lavish coverage in the WaPost. Wojcicki explained, “23andMe’s customers mail a test tube containing their saliva to the company, which analyzes their DNA. And for $99 they get back a report detailing any risk for more than 240 health conditions.” Time magazine was so impressed that the product was named invention of the year for 2008.

The Post writes that “celebrities gleefully tweeted their results” letting fans know if celebrity genes made it more likely for them to die of a heroin overdose in a squalid shooting gallery, suddenly change their image from that of clean teen to sex–act–simulating slut or be prone to shouting homophobic insults when surprised by a photographer.

By June of this year Wojcicki was negotiating to sell the results from an amazing 700,000 DNA samples to Edward Snowden because information wants to be free.

And then the FDA struck.

She received a “scathing letter” ordering her to cease all sales of the DNA analysis kit because it had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In the letter the FDA threatened “seizure, injunction and civil money penalties.”

Why were the bureaucrats at the FDA so exercised? The Journal summary said, “The FDA contended that genetic results aren’t always accurate and can mislead consumers. Officials feared that, without the supervision of a physician, users of the service might have unnecessary elective surgery based on inconclusive genetic information.”

And even if they did, what hospital would let a walk–in start ordering medical procedures?

Alberto Gutierrez, head of the FDA’s Office of In Vitro Diagnostics, was quoted by the WaPost, as claiming “Results from questionable tests can be unnecessarily alarming, adding that some women have undergone surgery, for example, based on tests that purport to gauge the risk for ovarian cancer.”

And right here we discover why HealthCare.dud didn’t work. Federal bureaucrats are delusional. The reasoning behind the stop–and–desist order is surreal. I don’t take my car into the shop without talking to the service consultant first. Does the FDA really think there’s a danger of someone getting a DNA analysis and calling the hospital to schedule a mastectomy?

And the worry about unnecessary surgery is politically selective. If a deeply disturbed patient decides he wants a surgeon to vandalize his private parts to turn him into a woman — the definition of unnecessary, dangerous and permanently damaging surgery — the FDA, American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association all have no problemo with that monumentally flawed decision.

I’m wondering when the FDA is going to get around to regulating newspaper horoscopes and palm readers. Gullible consumers make all sorts of life–altering decisions based on these pseudo–sciences, to say nothing of the devastation wreaked in many families by teenage nutritionists deciding to “go vegan.”

DNA results in the mail pale in comparison.

So far I’m in Wojcicki’s corner. She wants to give consumers access to more medical information so they can make their own, informed decisions. As Wojcicki told the Journal, “For example, patients often don’t know how much a procedure at a doctor’s office costs ahead of time. “That’s why I felt we had to drive this revolution where an individual had more of a say in health care.”

Her research has shown that in India hospitals post prices lists for procedures so that patients can see what their cost options are. Rumor has it that in China organ harvesters will even price their products on a sliding scale according to the age of the replacement part.

She’s on a mission and then turf–conscious, unresponsive federal bureaucrats issue an arbitrary decision that eviscerates her business. She’s faced with months of tedious hearings, requests for documents and bureaucrat butt–kissing. And all the while she can’t sell her product. It’s all outgo and no income until the problem is solved.

Prospects for reversing the FDA edict through channels aren’t promising. The Obama administration has issued over 1,800 rules and regulations in less than three years and the WaPost reports that every single one of them are illegal since the rules violate the 1966 Congressional Review Act. Yet none of the rules have been rescinded.

This leaves Wojcicki with three options:

  1. She can file a lawsuit. This is not my favorite because it puts your fate in the hands of lawyers and judges and only serves to increase their baleful impact on modern life. I’ve never had much affection for a process that lets everyone make money from my misfortune, except me.
  2. She can try to put political and media pressure on the bureaucracy and force them to reverse the decision. If you think cockroaches scuttle for the shadows when you lift a rock and expose them to the sun, you should see a bureaucrat in the glare of publicity. For a brief time it looked like this was her intent. The WaPost coverage of her “charm offensive” and her testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee looked to be the beginning, but it seemed to peter out quickly.
  3. She can surrender and hope FDA bureaucrats, once they get around to finalizing their decision, leave her a business to operate.

But what Wojcicki choose to do appears to be the worst of all possible worlds. Five days after returning to California from the DC trip, she hosts a $32,400–a–person fund–raiser for the architect of her business problems: Barack Obama!

DC bureaucrats pull the plug on her business and she responds by raising money for the man and the party that support even more crippling regulation and expanding government intrusion. Why not just sign a quit–claim on your investment and give it to the Democrat National Committee?

Evidently being part of the leftist insider tech crowd is more important to Wojcicki than saving her business and striking a blow for the free market. If 23andMe goes out of business it will be bad news for employees and the other investors, but Wojcicki will be fine. Her money comes from a company that started too small for busybody federal bureaucrats to notice and by the time they did, it was too big to stifle.

That company is Google and it can afford to indulge the lifestyle leftism of its founders and support Obama and Democrats like the rest of the cool kids.

Strike a Blow Against Crony Capitalism!

My latest column is up on Newsmax.com. Time for Export–Import bank — a zombie program from the 30’s — to be given a decent, Christian burial. Please read it here:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Export-Import-Bank/2014/07/23/id/584455/