Taxpayer-funded sex changes: They aren't just for traitors and illegal immigrants anymore!
While the rest of the media was racing from story to story over the weekend, HHS quietly tried to disguise the reversal of a 33-year-old coverage ban on gender reassignment surgery. In a 48-hour span that saw the resignation of the VA chief and the potentially illegal release of five top Taliban terrorists, taxpayer-sponsored genital reconstruction almost seems tame by comparison. Every week, the competition for most scandalous decision gets stiffer, as evidenced by this story - which, under any other circumstances, would be front-page news. Instead, it's just another sign of an administration wildly out of control - and out of excuses - for its taxpayer-funded extremism.
After Friday, HHS has ruled that it's "no longer reasonable" to expect older Americans to pay for their own sexual reassignments. Instead, it now recognizes the surgery as a "medically necessary" and "effective" treatment for people who can't come to grips with their own biological gender. Like Denee Mallon. The 74-year-old Army veteran was the driving force behind the change, even going so far as to sue HHS for the benefit - which, according to some estimates, could run as much as $50,000 a procedure. (And we wonder why America is more than $17 trillion in debt?) more >>
A close relative of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer and has begun aggressive treatment at the Mayo Clinic. I was discussing the situation with my grandfather and mentioned the shock we all felt when we discovered how pricey cancer treatments are. A seven-week course of radiation at the Mayo Clinic, or most any other cancer treatment center for that matter, runs well over $200,000. Chemotherapy adds an additional $120,000 to the bill. Confronted with this information, my grandfather immediately launched into a tirade on the crookedness of the health care industry: Greedy doctors and hospitals in cahoots with miserly insurance companies and pharmaceutical interests, only concerned with profits and the almighty bottom line. Setting aside the fact that the Mayo Clinic happens to be a non-profit entity, I agreed with him that the high cost of cancer treatment, and medical care in general, is frustrating, but told him that I'd much prefer the frustrations of the private health care market to the inefficient, unaccountable bureaucratic nightmare that characterizes government-administered health care, e.g. the Veterans' Affairs Administration and their shameful neglect of our nation's heroes.
It probably won't surprise any readers to learn that I am a Republican and my grandfather is a Democrat, and while there's much we do agree on at critical points our fundamental difference in worldview causes us to reach radically different conclusions on questions of public policy. We each have our bogeymen. For my grandfather there exists a deep-seated suspicion of "big business," while I have a kneejerk skepticism regarding the supposed beneficence of "big government." To his credit, my grandfather was appalled when I explained to him the current scandal involving the VA, but he seemed skeptical when I suggested that the government is just as prone to corruption and wrongdoing as are the evil private businesses he loves to hate. "People are dishonest and prone to corruption. It's a universal tendency, even in government." I told him. "Especially in government!" I could tell that he was completely unable, or perhaps unwilling, to see my point.
This conversation got me thinking. Why are so many people are willing to place their faith in government, over and over again, despite mountains of historical evidence demonstrating that government tends to become more inefficient, corrupt, and oppressive the more powerful it becomes? I'm sure there are many great conservative thinkers who can and have offered a better explanation than I can, but based solely on first hand experience with Progressive-minded folks in my own life, this is what I've concluded. more >>
The VA scandal has raised the issue of whether VA hospitals need fundamental reform. A question from Bill Kristol that left Tavis Smiley speechless suggests an idea long championed by conservatives could gain some traction.
Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, and Smiley, a liberal pundit and talk show host, were on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sunday debating how to reform the Veterans Administration in light of the current scandal involving delayed care of veterans and forged documents.
"The VA needs to be fundamentally reformed. And one way it could be reformed is to, in fact, let people take a voucher and go to a hospital, the same hospitals we all go to, instead of having to go to the VA," Kristol said. more >>
CNN described President Barack Obama's announcement of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation "dramatic." I would call it a dramatic disgrace to our Veterans and another example of the president not holding his Cabinet Secretaries and other high level people in his administration accountable. The IRS's Lois Lerner, director of the Exempt Organizations Division, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius were allowed to resign amid scandals when they got good and ready.
Last week, Obama stood in the same White House briefing room and defended Shinseki, refusing to utter the word resignation. What changed in nine days? The Veterans Affairs scandal started stinking to high heaven. Congressional Democrats demanded Obama get rid of Shinseki and even the usually fawning liberal media criticized his failure to deal with the problem when reports of long patient wait times surfaced almost two months ago.
If "responsibility for things always rests ultimately with me, as the President and Commander-in-Chief," as Obama declared last week, why didn't he immediately call for Shinseki's resignation? Why wait, especially since as Senator and candidate in 2008, Obama was seized with the issue of improving access to care for veterans at the VA, which has been a decades long problem? more >>
"Wow, there's fraud, inefficiency and dishonesty at the VA hospitals?" said no one - except Democrats in D.C.
Not only did Obama feign surprise, other Democrats said they were "shocked" by the matter. It is yet to be determined if Nancy Pelosi was shocked by the allegations, since her face always looks shocked.
Once again, Obama said he only heard about this scandal through the media. Perhaps he was too busy not knowing about the IRS scandal, Benghazi, NSA spying, wiretapping of media opponents, the GSA, the ObamaCare website debacle and Secret Service hooker scandals. There seem to be no limits to what Obama does not know. He holds press conferences, not to tell us things, but to find out what is going on in his administration. He was briefed by Entertainment Tonight on the Kanye West/ Kim Kardashian marriage; he seems to be up to speed on that. more >>
A recently released study from researchers in Germany has concluded that a link exists between pornography usage and lower brain mass.
Published last week by JAMA Psychiatry, the cross-sectional study was conducted by Dr. Simone Kühn of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and Dr. Jürgen Gallinat of University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendor in Hamburg.
The researchers surveyed 64 adult males in good health, who had varying levels of pornography consumption. more >>