C N S News Scroll

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Health Care Reform – David vs. Goliath

Restoring Quality Health Care – A Six-Point Plan for Comprehensive Reform at Lower Cost – Scott Atlas, M.D. (Hoover Institution Press)

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when the Democrats in Congress passed the so-called Affordable Care Act (AKA - Obamacare) they sold the American people a bill of goods. The original bill topped out at over 2700 pages and since then the Obama administration has issued in excess of 20,000 pages of regulations to implement the clearly flawed plan.

Aside from all of the baloney about keeping your doctor and your plan and saving you money; the goal of some of those pages was an effort to improve the quality of the care delivered in the United States. While I won’t engage in an argument with idiots who think that Cuba’s health care delivery surpasses that available here in the States, as someone who’s day job is in health care, I will say that there is always room for improvement in the delivery of care. The problem is that the government and regulations are probably the worst possible vehicles for driving improvement.

In the time since Obamacare passed and was signed into law, there has been an ever shifting sands of rules and regulations that health care providers have been forced to address; each coming with a higher and higher price tag. Much of it boils down to additional reporting and paperwork and the manpower needed to handle it all. One unfortunate side effect is that health care providers have tried to maintain cost and larded this mountain of additional work on existing staff, which drags down their ability to actually provide care.
 
As if to illustrate my point about the government being the worst vehicle to drive up quality, Scott Atlas, M.D., a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a member of Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Health Care Policy, has served up the new book, Restoring Quality Health Care – A Six-Point Plan for Comprehensive Reform at Lower Cost. Minus the end notes and index, Dr. Atlas managed to offer up a concise and comprehensive plan in an easily read 99 pages.

Many of Dr. Atlas’s suggested reforms involve the streamlining of processes; process improvement is one of the cornerstones and goals of any strong health care provider, so it would make sense that a physician would bring this approach to the table. Process improvement…not a government bureaucrat’s long suit.

Dr. Atlas also suggests injecting market based reforms into the health care process, including the expansion of and incentivizing of Health Saving Accounts (HSA) for all Americans. Atlas even goes so far to suggest that HSAs be issued at birth like Social Security numbers. By beginning the process early, incentivizing people to contribute to the accounts through tax breaks, making the HSA portable, and allowing these account to pass to family members without taxation upon a patient’s passing, a deeper level of understanding and control over health care spending would become ingrained in a society. This is a clear market force that would drive up quality.

Dr. Atlas also explodes the myth of Medicare excellence. He describes Medicare as being “a disjointed and antiquated system designed for decades long passed.” Again he offers a common sense reform for streamlining the bulky, bloated and confusing systems of Parts A, B, and D which only serve to increase administrative costs and baffle the seniors the plan was designed to aide. As Atlas points out in the book, the cherry on top of this mess is the plan fact that the Medicare system is in dire financial straits.

While the government tried to “fix” health care with a lumbering, bloated, Goliath of a plan, Atlas choose to go the route of David and offer up a quick, nimble plan to reform and improve the quality of health care we all receive.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Real American Heroes

Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor – Clinton Romesha (Dutton Books)

Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet and interview military leaders ranging from battle hardened warriors who earned their stripes to those who have been derisively called “perfumed princes” who came to leadership via one of the U.S. Military academies and never broke a sweat on the field of battle. I have spoken with military historians, educators and planners have developed and reviewed countless battle plans.

After reading Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor, by Medal of Honor recipient Clinton Romesha and I came to two conclusions; one -  Romesha is one of those battle hardened warriors, men who come by leadership not in the classroom, but as a calling and two – there is a reason why the term military intelligence has become an oxymoron.

Some may believe that Red Platoon reads like an action book, but the reality is, it is the telling of the kind of story that generations of military men have avoided telling. Even when asked about their experiences, most vets remain stoic and silent, choosing to keep the memories of what they encountered and more often what they lost, to themselves. Based on the courage he displayed the made him the recipient of the Medal of Honor we have a clear picture of Romesha’s courage, valor and bravery, but it is a different kind of courage he displays in committing to paper what he and his fellow soldiers faced at Combat Outpost Keating.

It is the positioning of COP Keating, certainly not at a critical locale of high importance, that makes me question what those charged with planning and placement of these outposts could possibly have been thinking when the decided to place Keating. It was that incomprehensible plan that lead directly to Romesha and his fellow soldiers to be placed into the situation he describes; an at times chilling and harrowing tale that found them outnumbered by a force of 5 to 1.

With all of the useless political chitter chatter about the 1% I think that all Americans, both those who are supportive of our military and those less than supportive types need to read Red Platoon to get a better understanding of the truly critical 1% of our population; those who sign on to take on the daunting task of defending our nation.

This Guy Gets It…Period

Worth Dying For: A Navy SEAL’s Call to a Nation – Rorke Denver (Howard Books)

If you come to this book looking for heroic stories of Navy SEALs in action doing what Navy SEALs do, then you may end up disappointed. If that is what you seek, there are plenty of other books out there that will more than fill the need.

If however you are seeking not only leadership, but life insight from the perspective of a retired Navy SEAL commander who clearly views things through a prism created by his training and hard fought and battle tested decision making process, then this just might be the book you are looking for.

In Worth Dying For: A Navy SEAL’s Call to a Nation, Rorke Denver a Navy SEAL commander and NY Times bestselling author (Damn Few) serves up his well-honed perspective on being a leader and a better person. Denver brings more to the table than just military training and experience; he holds a BA from Syracuse and a master’s degree in Global Business Leadership from the University of San Diego.

Based on his first-hand experience, Denver clearly gets the what and the how of this equation. Where he really steps up and stands out is when he takes his opinions down to a more granular level and gives us the why. Lots of people have opinions or thoughts on a subject, but when pressed on why they believe what they believe, that’s when the wheels on the bus come flying off. Not the case with Denver; he can deliver the strong a opinion, but also make the case for why he believes what he believes.

That steadfastness is bound to drive liberals and mushy middle of the road moderates who stand for nothing over the edge, but that also makes this one required reading.

In Search of Unicorns

The Killing of Osama Bin Laden – Seymour M. Hersh (Verso Books)

Merriam-Webster define journalist as: “a writer or editor for a news medium”. I would tend toward including the fact that a journalist is a dogged pursuer of the truth

Aside from Watergate duo Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, perhaps no man alive has been lauded more for being a journalist than Seymour Hersh, Sy to his friends. While so many praise Hersh for being a dogged seeker of the truth, I hate to burst the bubble and break the news that this guy is at best a liberal opinion-ist and at worst out right delusional.
 
The Killing of Osama Bin Laden is so larded down with un-named “sources” and so chock full of convoluted conspiracy theories it will make your head spin. Hersh goes so far as to create a mythical unicorn;  “moderate Taliban” members who are apparently on the side of the United States. Show of hands…anyone buying that one?

Early in the book Hersh lays claim to quoting a former Navy SEAL commander as saying, “let’s face it, we’re going to commit murder.” Sorry, but NO, and I mean NO Navy SEAL commander would have said, that in battle they are committing murder!

The problem with this, and most conspiracy theories is they fall apart, collapse under the sheer weight of the number of people involved standing up to any level of scrutiny.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

See…It’s Really Not That Hard

Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You for a Ride – and What You Can Do About It – Kristin Tate (Center Street Books)

In a world over run with political correctness, micro-aggressions (?!), over-regulation and general government intrusions into every level of our existence, I find it both surprising and somehow heartening that there are young up and coming conservatives who really seem to get it. You know those younger folks who don’t buy into the Feel the Bern hucksterism of a politician/sugar granddaddy offering up “free” stuff.

One such person comes in the form of self-described Libertarian Chick, Kristin Tate, a conservative author, columnist and commentator who is out with her debut book, Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You for a Ride – and What You Can Do About It. Tate busts out her take on some of the major issues facing the country and along the serves up so not so common sense in her on unique fashion.
 
Tate is about a subtle as a claw hammer when it comes to delivering her opinion. As an old school conservative I throw some people for a loop when I talk about the so-called war on drugs. I am right there with Tate’s take on things…the war is a failed effort and any true free market conservative knows that we could solve a whole boatload of money issues if moved away from incarcerating personal users and in the process started taxing the crap out of people’s habits. There’s a reason that tax stamp is wrapped over the cap of your favorite adult beverage at the liquor store.

While Tate is shy about telling you what she thinks and she at times comes off as a little too hip for me, I clearly get that her just leave me alone and let me do my thing attitude is what that country truly needs. Like her, I don’t care who you sleep with, I don’t care what you ingest, if you leave me alone, I will return the favor. Now is that too hard to understand? Oh and let’s not forget, I take care of me and mine, and I’ll expect you to do the same.

Friday, April 15, 2016

All Politics is Local


Going Red: The Two Million Voters Who Will Elect the Next President – and How Conservatives Can Win Them – Ed Morrissey (Crown Forum)

Comedian Darrel Hammond used to do a bit on Saturday Night Live playing former President Bill Clinton, usually in a bar, trying to come to grips with something and uttering the line “what the hell happened?!” It was that familiar refrain that sadly became the catch phrase of Republicans following the 2012 Presidential election as they tried to understand exactly what the hell happened!

Conservative blogger, writer and radio host Ed Morrissey reminds us of the painful details of what was clearly a White House ripe for the taking following a 2010 Republican mid-term blowout, President Barack Obama mired in the controversy of Benghazi, and the mess that is Obamacare. And yet it didn’t take long to see the Election Day handwriting on the wall for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with his lack of testicular fortitude and inability to close the deal to send Obama packing.
 
Well now Morrissey not only dissects what went wrong, but how serves up a roadmap for how to fix the problem in 2016 and take politics down to a granular level in his new book, Going Red: The Two Million Voters Who Will Elect the Next President – and How Conservatives Can Win Them. Morrissey spent time on the ground researching and investigating not only the so-called battleground states, but those pivotal counties within those all-important states.

There are a handful of political prognosticators that have the ability to drill down into the ground game that has become part and parcel of winning national elections and in many cases even statewide races. Morrissey is one of those folks. His deep dive into politics at the micro-level really proves that all politics is local and that successful candidates will have to custom craft their messaging to target these microcosms of voters. This is truly an intriguing proposal for victory, it will interesting to see if the Republicans are will to take up the mantle.

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Still Buying the Democrat Bullshit

Listen, Liberal: or What ever Happened to the Party of the People – Thomas Frank (Metropolitan Books)

Author and opinionist, Thomas Frank is out with a new political tome that has him turning his gun sites away from his traditional targets on the right and focusing his ire on the Democrat party in Listen, Liberal: or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People.

Sure to outrage lefties, anyone with an ounce of brains and common sense, aka Conservatives will see through Frank’s canard because he continues to delude himself by thinking that the Democrat party was ever “the party of the people.” I laughed out loud when I read that Frank was the founding editor of something called The Baffler (whatever that is/was) because he seems utterly baffled by reality.


Frank can’t quite resist the urge to play the smart ass liberal card when he comments on President Obama and the Clinton’s proclivities to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard claiming that “people in many parts of the country have never even heard of it.” Really?! Does this guy really buy into the liberal belief that the people in so-called “flyover country” are just a bunch of dumb clucks without the worldliness to know about Martha’s Vineyard? Now who’s the dumb ass?

Here’s a dose of reality for Mr. Frank; liberals/Democrats are not the party of the people, they are merely willing to play the class warfare card of rich versus poor, and the only reason why the rich guy is rich is because you are poor, not because he worked harder and achieved. Liberals are willing to give handouts, lie about taking Grandma’s Social Security, tell big government can solve all your problems and pretty much whatever else it takes to get elected or remain in office. In short, the Democrats are the party of bullshit and Frank is buying what they are selling.