American Elephants

Legal, but Extremely Foolish. by The Elephant's Child

OMG.  The colossal nerve!  The Ground Zero Mosque that elicited such an uproar when people learned that Islamists wanted to build a mosque and community center only a little more than 500 feet from the site of the World Trade Center has recently applied for a $5 million federal grant from a fund designed to rebuild lower Manhattan after 9/11, according to “The Daily Beast”. It was the lack of — empathy.

The application was submitted under a “community and cultural enhancement program administered by the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation.

Park51’s developers clearly have a legal right to apply for the grant. A list of Frequently Asked Questions that accompanied the application specifically states that religious organizations can make funding requests for capital projects “as long as the request is for a facility or portion of a facility that is dedicated to non-religious activities or uses.” According to an individual familiar with the Park51 application, it requests funds to cover a number of cultural, educational and community development aspects of the proposed 13-story building—but the prayer room is excluded from the grant application.

Oh well, freedom of religion, political correctness, no discrimination and all that.  Requesting public funds is legal, but my goodness, so crass.  They can, but they shouldn’t.

Al Gore Fesses Up: He Was Just Pandering for the Farm Vote. by The Elephant's Child

Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and candidate for the office of President, former senator has become far more noted for his public appearances than his former offices. He is especially noted for his power point presentation called “An Inconvenient Truth”, often forced on American schoolchildren, which is so rife with errors that it cannot legally be shown to British schoolchildren unless they are first informed about all the errors.

Now he has suddenly reversed himself on his support for corn-based ethanol, weeks before tax credits are up for renewal. U.S. blending tax breaks or ethanol make it profitable for refiners to use the fuel — even when it is more expensive than gasoline.  Biofuels worldwide received more subsidy than any other form of “renewable” energy.  U.S. subsidies reached $7.7 billion last year according to the International Energy Industry.  Gore said:

It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol.  First generation ethanol I think was a mistake.  The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.  It’s hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going.

One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president. (emphasis added)

In other words he was just pandering for the farm vote.

Hot Air adds:

David Pimentel, a professor of ecology at Cornell University who has been studying grain alcohol for 20 years and Tad Patzek, an engineering professor at University of California, Berkeley wrote a recent report that estimates that making ethanol from corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel itself actually contains.

Not Confirmed, Not Accountable, No Restraints, but Ready to Ration Your HealthCare: Dr. Donald Berwick. by The Elephant's Child

There is a commercial airing now on the radio, attempting to reassure Seniors that Medicare will still be wonderful, don’t worry, all is well.  It consists of a conversation between a couple and the woman tells the man how wonderful the new changes to Medicare are, for now Medicare pays 50% of the cost of all drugs in the “donut hole.”

When George W. Bush got the drug benefit added to Medicare, many Seniors celebrated, and many budget hawks groaned —  the last thing we needed was a new entitlement.  We are now in trouble with the entitlements we have, and the huge numbers of baby boomers now beginning to reach retirement age mean that action on entitlements is not a choice, but a necessity.

That said,  the drug benefit included incentives to keep the costs of the new benefit down.  The entire thing, so far, has come in significantly less than estimated — something new and novel for any government program.

The drug benefit does not tell you which drugs you must take, but it separates them into categories.  There is a monthly payment,  a deductible until total prescription costs reach $150, then an initial coverage period.  Seniors pay less for preferred generic drugs, say $5 ; more for non-preferred generics, $35;  and way more for Brand name drugs 34%.

When the amount you and your plan have paid reaches $2,830 you reach the “donut hole” — the gap between $2,830 and $4,550 — you pay all the costs.  The point of this was to provide a powerful incentive for patients to ask for generics, and use a generic when their doctors agree.  If the patient cannot afford to pay the $1720, there is a program to pay for that. Once the patient reaches the $4550 threshold, there is only a small co-payment, and Medicare pays the rest.  It is essentially catastrophic care.

As far as I can tell, there have been no studies to determine to what extent the drug benefit has reduced Medicare costs.  Many newer drugs prevent more serious complications, including major surgery.  I don’t know if the cost-benefit could be determined, but if seniors take the drugs that are prescribed, lives are prolonged.

What Democrats have done is insert a little benefit that may not be needed, and decreased the incentive that lowers everyone’s cost.  What is interesting is that seems to be the only thing the Democrats have to brag about in a commercial directed at Seniors. Dr. Berwick bragged on it in his Congressional appearance.

So the Senate Finance Committee had Dr. Donald Berwick in to chat.  Dr. Berwick was sneaked into an office overseeing the world’s second largest health insurance company — the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — with a “recess appointment” which avoided a single hearing by Congress, in absolute defiance of Constitutional intent.

Senators got to meet him, but were allowed no time to question him.  The prepared transcript of his remarks portrayed a very different person from the Dr. Donald Berwick that we have met through his writings and through YouTube videos.  The transcript presented him as a strong patient advocate and champion of patient rights.  Go to YouTube and the internet for his speeches and statements, and you’ll see a different person.

Berwick is known for his extraordinary admiration for Britain’s failing National Health Service.  In his book New Rules he writes” “Today this isolated relationship (between doctor and patient) is no longer tenable or possible.  Traditional medical ethics, based on the doctor–patient dyad must be reformulated to fit the new mold of the delivery of health care…Regulation must evolve.”

Berwick hates the American system of health care, believes firmly in rationing (and that he is just the person to do it), and believes that health care should be a system for wealth redistribution.  He has always regarded himself as a “leader” who needs to radically change American HealthCare and particularly qualified to do it.

Do follow the link to read the full opinion of Dr. Hal Scherz, a pediatric urological surgeon at Georgia Urology and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, serves on the faculty of Emory University Medical School and is president and co-founder of Docs4Patient Care.

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