Quick Hits

Another in our series of quick comments on stories in and around the world.


ABC News reports the government has paid benefits people that are deceased. The amount is staggering.

The federal government has doled out more than $600 million in benefit payments to dead people over the past five years, a watchdog report says.

Such payments are meant for retired or disabled federal workers, but sometimes the checks keep going out even after the former employees pass away and the deaths are not reported, according to the report this week from the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general, Patrick McFarland.

It is important to note that this is not a failure of the Obama administration. It is not a failure of the Bush administration. This is a failure of the Federal government – the same group of folks that says it need more and more tax dollars in order to keep paying benefits to (dead) people.

This type of failure of the system is not isolated and is an on-going and continuing issue:

Last year, government investigators found that more than 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each from the massive economic recovery package went to people who were either dead or in prison.

While the amount is small in the total of the budget, (both in percentage and dollar amount) this is the type of waste conservatives look at and say “there is no need to raise more taxes when we should be working on eliminating the waste first.

There is no way to sugar coat the next story. Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress.


The end.

New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress.

On May 3, 2011, Holder told a Judiciary Committee hearing, “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

Yet internal Justice Department documents show that at least ten months before that hearing, Holder began receiving frequent memos discussing Fast and Furious.

The referenced memos are below:

Read the July 5, 2010 memo

Read the “It’s a tricky case” email

Read the memo to AG Holder from Asst. AG Lanny A. Breuer

Holder has to go as he has lied to Congress. The question that needs to be looked into is whether President Obama knew about the Fast and Furious program. If he did, this is certainly an impeachable offense.

There are many calls out there from people for Obama to be impeached for his decisions. Impeaching someone over disagreements in policy is not Constitutional. Yet this is not policy. This was an illegal sale of illegal weapons to illegal drug cartels. The sale foreseeably led to the deaths of Amercians. As a lawyer and as the President, Obama had a duty to stop this program.

If Obama knew about the program, there is little doubt in our mind he has to follow Holder out the door and possibly into prison.

UPDATE: CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson is getting blowback from the Administration on her investigation into this story. Attiksson appeared on the Laura Ingram show and discussed the reaction she is receiving from the Obama administration.

Ingraham: So they were literally screaming at you?
Attkisson: Yes. Well the DOJ woman was just yelling at me. The guy from the White House on Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me. [Laura: Who was the person? Who was the person at Justice screaming?] Eric Schultz. Oh, the person screaming was [DOJ spokeswoman] Tracy Schmaler, she was yelling not screaming. And the person who screamed at me was Eric Schultz at the White House.”

[The White House and Justice Department] will tell you that I’m the only reporter–as they told me–that is not reasonable. They say the Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, the New York Times is reasonable, I’m the only one who thinks this is a story, and they think I’m unfair and biased by pursuing it.

The audio of the interview can be heard here:

Denmark has instituted what is essentially a tax on foods it deems bad for you.

Starting Oct. 1, Danes will see a price increase in products that are high in saturated fats, which researchers at Denmark’s Institute of Food and Resource Economics have attributed to the cause of 4% of the country’s premature deaths.

Butter, oils, and high-fat dairy products will see the biggest price increases; products with more than 2.3% saturated fat will be taxed 16 kroner per kilogram ($2.90 USD) of saturated fat. Shoppers should be ready to pay up to 30% more for a pack of butter, 8% more for a bag of chips, and a liter of olive oil will cost 7.1% more than usual.

This is an extension of the idea that if the state is controlling heath care, it then has the right to limit behavior people engage in as that behavior affects health costs. We have already seen cities and states here in the US ban certain types of drinks and food. The irony is the banning is always done under the banner of “helping people to make healthy choices.” If you don’t have choices, there are no healthy choices,” just forced behavior.

Lastly, out of Tampa, Florida comes the story of some parents who wanted to feed their children better food at school.

[At MacFarlane Park Elementary School, a] West Tampa magnet school for international studies, population 374, the PTA runs programs for health and wellness.

Last year that job fell to Tristan Schofer, a mother of three who grew up on after-school trips to McDonald’s. Wanting to do better with her own brood, she organized a fundraiser with Evos, a chain that serves health-conscious food with organic ingredients, and sometimes delivers to private schools.

The MacFarlane PTA was able to arrange deliveries two days a week. Parents would order online, and volunteers would receive the meals at the school and distribute them to some 40 children.

The school district has put an end to the program that was being run by the parents.

School officials said parents could pack lunch for their children, bring food from outside to share with their children, or let their kids eat cafeteria food. But they can’t have it delivered.

There were several reasons, said district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe: Sole-source provider agreements for cafeteria food do not allow competition from other vendors. And the district would have no way of monitoring nutritional content or sanitary conditions.

Then how can parents pack or take lunch to their kids?

“That’s a parent delivering it directly to the child,” Cobbe said.

There are a ton of fallacies with the district’s position. If they are not monitoring the nutritional content of bagged lunches, they cannot say they have at right to monitor the content of other lunches. That right remains with the parents. The same is true for the sanitary conditions.

If the parents want to pay for the food, they should be able to. If we are the company that is providing the food to the school system, we should improve to compete with the food the parents are sending in, or shut up.

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