Archive for the 'Law' Category

More of the same

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013


neither the federal insurance exchange nor the federal subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of low-income people are “federal health care programs.” The surprise decision, disclosed last week, exempts subsidized health insurance from a law that bans rebates, kickbacks, bribes and certain other financial arrangements in federal health programs, stripping law enforcement of a powerful tool used to fight fraud in other health care programs, like Medicare.

Surprise decision? Apparently the NYT hasn’t been paying attention to the MO of these characters.

Another little problem

Sunday, November 10th, 2013


the caller sounded so official that she agreed to meet him the next day at her home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He told her the law meant she would have to update her Medicare card. Ms. Mirzayans, a retired small-business owner, was grateful that the government was taking such interest in her insurance coverage. Over glasses of pomegranate juice last month, Ms. Mirzayans divulged to her visitor crucial Medicare, Social Security and personal information.

Not to worry. Such things affect 5% of Americans at most.

Can silence be evidence of a conspiracy to commit fraud?

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Andrew McCarthy:

Fraud is a serious federal felony, usually punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment — with every repetition of a fraudulent communication chargeable as a separate crime. In computing sentences, federal sentencing guidelines factor in such considerations as the dollar value of the fraud, the number of victims, and the degree to which the offender’s treachery breaches any special fiduciary duties he owes…

Justice Department guidelines, set forth in the U.S. Attorneys Manual, recommend prosecution for fraud in situations involving “any scheme which in its nature is directed to defrauding a class of persons, or the general public, with a substantial pattern of conduct”…

For a fraud prosecution to be valid, the fraudulent scheme need not have been successful. Nor is there any requirement that the schemer enrich himself personally. The prosecution must simply prove that some harm to the victim was contemplated by the schemer. If the victim actually was harmed, that is usually the best evidence that harm was what the schemer intended.

To be more illustrative, let’s say our schemer is the president of a health-insurance company, and that it was clearly foreseeable to him that his company’s clients would lose their current insurance plans if the company adopted his proposal of a complex new health-insurance framework…

The concept of fraudulent deception, like the concept of perjury and other forms of actionable false statement, often entails not only affirmative lies — e.g., the general manager who tells a baseball player, “I will not trade you if you sign the contract,” and then proceeds to trade the player after he signs; the concept also commonly involves the omission of material facts (what’s called “material omission”)

McCarthy’s piece has a political slant, but there’s potentially another, if we’re reading him correctly. By the middle of 2010, the CEO’s of publicly traded insurance companies must have known that up to tens of millions of their customers would be canceled by their companies. Arguably, the willful concealment of this information affected the price of their stock. Was their silence about material facts affecting share prices and their own compensation permissible under SEC disclosure rules? We don’t know. Just asking.

Spending and corruption

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

In 1959, the federal government spent $92 billion, of which $40 billion was military spending. President Eisenhower warned of the corruption danger inherent in the military industrial complex with that $40 billion in spending.

Now federal spending is around $3.5 trillion, and half a trillion of that is defense. So we’ve gone from $50 billion in 1959 to $3000 billion today in federal non-military spending.

The corruption is rampant and it is bi-partisan. James DeLong gives many nasty details about how healthcare policy and lobbying work. Peter Schweizer describes how DC politicians with modest salaries become rich through practices that are legal for them but would get businessmen thrown in jail. That’s the government today.

Pants on fire yet?

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Jonah Goldberg:

Say I like my current car. The government says under some new policy I will be able to keep it and maybe even lower my car payments. But once the policy is imposed, I’m told my car now isn’t street-legal. Worse, I will have to buy a much more expensive car or be fined by the IRS. But, hey, it’ll be a much better car! Why, even though you live in Death Valley, your new car will have great snow tires and heated seats. This is what the government is saying to millions of Americans who don’t want or need certain coverage, including, for instance, older women — and men — who are being forced to pay for maternity care.

Meanwhile: “The White House and State Department signed off on surveillance targeting phone conversations of friendly foreign leaders.” Meanwhile, you can still keep your insurance. The good news is that in the parallel universes of reality and BS, it’s getting really hard to ignore the BS, even for the biggest fanboys and girls.

When you don’t know what you don’t know

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

What happens when you put a guy with zero e-commerce experience in charge of the healthcare equivalent of Amazon? You get a disaster that even the NYT is forced to notice. And the spin is made funnier in that it is so divorced from reality. This was entirely predictable of course. The faculty lounge doesn’t care much for the businessman, and they think they know better to boot. We suspect these nincompoops were genuinely surprised by the failure of reality to conform to their airy-fairy dreams.

Cuts and subsidies

Thursday, October 10th, 2013


Here are the number of pages published on certain recent days in the Register: 498 pages on September 11, 193 on September 17, 369 on September 20, and 401 on September 30…The 401 pages on September 30 included such proud bureaucratic work as: a proposed Agricultural Marketing Service rule to increase assessment rates for blueberry promotion, a notice from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration about exemptions for commercial vehicle operators with diabetes, and a proposal from the Fish and Wildlife Service to provide threatened status for the bird known as the rufa red knot.

The good news is that the funds saved by furloughing the Federal Register employees has been used to pay overtime to Park Rangers so that they can stand guard at formerly unguarded open-air memorials to shoo their owners away.

Welcome to the future…..maybe

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Henninger and Geraghty:

Big labor unions and smaller franchise restaurant owners want out. UPS dropped coverage for employee spouses. Corporations such as Walgreens and IBM are transferring employees or retirees into private insurance exchanges…the Cleveland Clinic has announced early retirements for staff and possible layoffs. The…Achilles’ heel is technology. The software glitches are going to drive people insane. Creating really large software for institutions is hard. Creating big software that can communicate across unrelated institutions is unimaginably hard…software has to communicate—accurately—across a mind-boggling array of institutions: HHS, the IRS, Medicare, the state-run exchanges, and a whole galaxy of private insurers’ and employers’ software systems…

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will no longer be selling new individual insurance policies in 41 Wisconsin counties, including Dane, Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Rock. Whether its through the exchanges or not, individuals will only be able to buy new policies in 31 out of 72 counties…insurance plans bought by individuals will end in 2014…Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon customers appear to be the first to receive their notices this week. Three customers contacted The Oregonian complaining that they face premium hikes of between 30 and more than 100 percent if they stay with Regence…The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) says it has received dozens of phone calls and emails from Washington residents upset by letters from their health-insurance carriers informing them their current health plan will be discontinued at year’s end

Running a business is hard work and very complicated, whether it’s a $2 million revenue restaurant or a $200 million complex industrial company in a highly technical field. You have to take great care when you make incremental changes, and enormous training is necessary when you implement things like a new ERP software system to control the guts of the business — from production planning and control to managing supply chain issues. 18 months or so of detailed careful planning and training at all levels of our industrial company.

Health care has elements of both kinds of business above, and by the way, it’s a company with revenues of $3,000,000 million or so. Healthcare Inc is 15,000x bigger than the industrial company above, and that understates its complexity, since it spans technology, finance, manufacturing, and the delivery of complex services on a variable timetable whose planning horizon can be as low as zero minutes. The young are the only group that supports the insane restructuring of the largest industry in the country all at once at 12:01 am next week. And of course the joke’s on them, since they are the group that subsidizes everyone else. With a little luck, the Julias will not be low information voters very much longer

Some reading and a little on defunding

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Strange times these. Without getting into the substance of most of the following, here are some interesting pieces. Daniel Henninger‘s shows why even MoDo is using the word “weird.” Jeremy Rabkin raises both historical and legal questions about Syria. J.R. Dunn dives right in, and the more controversy the better as far as he’s concerned.

Finally, wrt Karl Rove’s taking issue with the ACA defunding tactic, we wonder why the hawks don’t settle for this: yes, we are going through some motions, and no, there’s not going to be a government shutdown, which would be a PR nightmare. But we want the other guys to own the ACA, and so we’re going through this kabuki so you will remember in 2014 that it wasn’t us who sold you the fantasies that the ACA would generate $2500 savings per family, while you keep your doc, and will create 4 million jobs while saving $1.3 trillion dollars. Perhaps you’ll know better next time not to believe rubbish. BTW, how are those 30 hours a week jobs working out for you young voters? We’re with the crew that says, don’t stand in front of an impending train wreck, photograph it from every angle as it happens and replay it, over and over again in slow motion.

Back to their comfort zones

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Whew, that was fast. A few days ago, it seemed like all-Syria-all-the-time, and the media was discomfited. Then a deranged guy killed 12 people and all was back to normal; round up the usual suspects. Assault weapons! (Oops!) Sequester! Sigh.

However, there’s still some Syria for those who continue to be fascinated by that train wreck. The NYT has a very interesting piece on Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. With the way he behaves he couldn’t make it in the US State Department of today, which tells you a lot about us and them.

Your government at work

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

USA Today:

after the opening kickoff of the Arizona Cardinals’ preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, Cardinals season ticket holder John Coulter wanted to take a picture. He says he asked his 15-year-old son to hold his beer cup while he did so. Seconds later, two undercover officers with the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control approached him. Coulter says they told him that what he did was illegal and that he could be arrested for it. In the end, officers escorted the father and son out of the University of Phoenix Stadium. Officials say Coulter is lucky he was able to walk away from the situation. “Providing alcohol to an underage person or an underage person in possession of alcohol is a Class 1 misdemeanor,” said Sgt. Wesley Kuhl of the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control. “The consequences could be up to, and this is a maximum, of two years in jail”

Hey, the guy was guilty of something after all. Steyn has more on the snooper state. What percentage of government employees with police or snooping powers are smart, have sound judgment, and always play by the rules? What are the others doing?

Needed: a new Hays Code and more

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

A culture is sick when it bends over backwards to accommodate any tiny group with a perceived problem, but refuses to deal with truly enormous issues. Fatherless families are the source of much of the senseless violence the nation experiences. In Detroit, 79% of births are to unwed mothers; how can any good come of this?

Another enormous issue is the widespread acceptance of vulgarity, which is shorthand for the abandonment of cultural standards. The Hays Code was eliminated in 1968, and we’ve seen what that has produced. Not all of it is bad of course, but cable TV and the internet have made inappropriate language and other material available to any toddler who can work his iPad. And look at Twitter, where celebrities feel free to say disgusting things in strings of four letter words. Role models!

Moreover, popular music has developed a vile two-track system of debasement. The over-the-air radio version of a tune is edited to delete the real lyrics of the music, though the kids have the real version in the club and in the Cloud. Did we mention that luxury goods and liquor companies conspire with the disgusting producers of this music to get product placement in the lyrics?

So if you create incentives for lost youth — fatherless families, no cultural standards, and encouragement of exploitative, often violent, hedonistic behavior — is it any surprise that you get what you incentivize for?

It’s worth mentioning that the Hays Code was a private, commercial agreement, not government censorship. In the present day, the Twitters and Facebooks of the world could decide to not publish four letter word postings. The broadcasters could decide not to air music that had a non-bowdlerized version available elsewhere. The consumer products companies could decide not to subsidize this rot. There’s probably a way for technology companies to better ensure that the toddlers get Barney instead of porno Barney. As for the unwed mothers and fatherless families, most of those in media and politics have been gutless wonders on this major issue, but we’ve been encouraged to see liberals like Juan Williams and libertarians like Larry Elder speaking clearly about the devastation this has caused. Hard to counter the non-stop propaganda, however.

A new world gets recreated with every new generation. We’ll just have to see whether our current troubles are an irreversible secular decline or more of a cyclical, self-correcting phenomenon.

Make him an offer he can’t refuse

Monday, August 19th, 2013


Federal authorities have opened a bribery investigation into whether JPMorgan Chase hired the children of powerful Chinese officials to help the bank win lucrative business in the booming nation, according to a confidential United States government document.

In one instance, the bank hired the son of a former Chinese banking regulator who is now the chairman of the China Everbright Group, a state-controlled financial conglomerate, according to the document, which was reviewed by The New York Times, as well as public records. After the chairman’s son came on board, JPMorgan secured multiple coveted assignments from the Chinese conglomerate, including advising a subsidiary of the company on a stock offering, records show.

The Hong Kong office of JPMorgan also hired the daughter of a Chinese railway official. That official was later detained on accusations of doling out government contracts in exchange for cash bribes, the government document and public records show.

The former official’s daughter came to JPMorgan at an opportune time for the New York-based bank: The China Railway Group, a state-controlled construction company that builds railways for the Chinese government, was in the process of selecting JPMorgan to advise on its plans to become a public company, a common move in China for businesses affiliated with the government. With JPMorgan’s help, China Railway raised more than $5 billion when it went public in 2007…

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced criminal charges against two of the bank’s former traders in London, accusing them of masking the size of the $6 billion loss.

The S.E.C., conducting a parallel investigation, is seeking to extract a rare admission of wrongdoing from the bank related to the losses. A settlement, which could come as soon as this fall, will also include a hefty fine, according to people briefed on the matter.

The agency’s bribery inquiry could pose an even steeper challenge to JPMorgan. Although banks are prone to the occasional trading blunder — JPMorgan produced record quarterly profits despite the losses in London last year — a corruption inquiry could leave a more lasting mark on its reputation. It might also spur the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation.

It’s been Mob Week on AMC. We hold no brief for corrupt practices of US corporations, but this looks like pretty small beer. Investigated by the government for hiring somebody’s daughter 10,000 miles from Washington? The same thing happens all the time right here in the US among folks who run companies, hedge funds and investment banks, and their directors and clients. Hmmmm. Would it surprise you to learn that while Jeff Immelt plays ball with the gang in DC, Jamie Dimon is a foe of the wrecking crew? Didn’t think so.

Unreality TV

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Five years ago America stopped being a country and became instead a TV show. Rubbish that would make a carnival barker blush was broadcast regularly. The media did not guffaw; they swooned. Critical judgment ceased in the era of the app. Scandals became as serious as a tweet, or even less serious than that. We’ve now gone through two generations of Julias who know neither Shakespeare nor the Bible, yet think they are the font of all wisdom. They believe in things like catastrophic AGW, and feel free to mock those who are skeptical. Things that are not only insane but totally unworkable are now law. Hard to see this ending well.

Easy solution: stop all those guys with briefcases on Park Ave at 8am

Monday, August 12th, 2013


a federal judge has found that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities in New York… The stops, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, as well as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, according to the 195-page decision. Judge Scheindlin’s criticism extended beyond the conduct of police officers; in holding the city liable for a battery of constitutional violations, the judge found that top police officials acted with deliberate indifference…The Supreme Court had long ago ruled that stop-and-frisks were constitutionally permissible

Bloomberg: “It’s worth remembering that as recently as 1990, New York City averaged more than six murders a day. Today, we’ve driven that down to less than one murder a day. Think about what that change really means: if murder rates over the last 11 years had been the same as the previous 11 years, more than 7,300 people who today are alive would be dead.” More disturbing statistics here.

As Taranto would ask, Fox Butterfield, is that you?


Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Why is a guy who says this still alive? He has patiently explained his motive for multiple murders, even if some in the media are in deep denial. So he freely admists he’s guilty of multiple murders based on the same rationale that the US routinely dispatches drones to incinerate his confrères, and all this happened four years ago. Why is he still breathing? Why do we read this: “Jurors were told the trial could take months.” Huh?

Jeantel = Julia

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

“They old, that’s old school people” said Jeantel, speaking of the Zimmerman jury. “We in a new school, our generation, my generation,” she continued, and she is correct. The Ivy League’s Vietnam draft dodgers, in a war the US waged incoherently and generated 360,000 KIA or WIA, became graduate students with deferments until 1968, and after that the protests became so intense that the draft itself was cancelled in 1973. They went on to teach, and became chairs of departments in history, the social sciences, and the appalling graduate schools of education in the US. (Perhaps things would have turned out the same if the US had chosen victory in Vietnam rather than defeat, but the ten years of slow bleeding in a Korea 2.0 that few understood had some awful consequences.) Now we’ve gone through two succeeding generations of professors and teachers mentored by them, each one progressively less learned and more hostile to traditional America. The young, like Jeantel and Julia, have been indoctrinated to believe that their forbears are old school, and represent values and ideas to be buried ASAP. Jeantel = Julia. The Julias voted against the ancien regime by 5.4 million votes. The dumbification of America has proceeded apace for forty years and the oldsters ignore it at their peril.

Aw, forget it. The elite universities of the West have been in decline in the humanities and politics for a couple of generations now, Vietnam or no Vietnam.

What they’re teaching all the Julias

Monday, July 15th, 2013

This is well worth reading regarding the deranged quality of criticism of the trial of the hour. We found a couple of things particularly interesting. First is the comparison to anti-semitism, which is something we hadn’t thought of before. Second is the characterization of Thomas Jefferson. Let that one sink in an consider the implications of viewing US history from such a perspective. No wonder the Julias are lost. Finally, Alan Dershowitz’s reflections are interesting, as is the alleged attempt by the prosecutor to get Dershowitz punished for his criticisms.

Two views, and more

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

A law professor at the University of Colorado via Salon:

the trial of George Zimmerman for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin was all about race. And because it happened in America, the people who benefit politically from the same invidious forces that led both to Trayvon Martin’s killing, and the acquittal of his killer, will deny that race had anything to do with either the killing or the verdict.

Suppose Trayvon Martin had been a 230-pound 30-year-old black man, with a loaded gun in his jacket. Suppose Zimmerman had been a 150-pound 17-year-old white kid, who was doing nothing more threatening than walking back from a convenience store to his father’s condo.

Suppose Martin had stalked Zimmerman in his car, until Zimmerman became afraid and tried to elude him. Suppose Martin had gotten out of his car and pursued Zimmerman. Suppose this led to some sort of altercation in which the big scary black man ended up with a bloody nose and some scratches on the back of his head, and the scared skinny (and unarmed) white kid had ended up with a bullet in his heart.

How do you suppose the big scary black man’s claim of “self-defense” would have gone over with a jury made up almost entirely of white women? But of course this is America, which means that the scary figure in this story is the skinny unarmed teenager, because in America pretty much any black male over the age of 12 in this sort of situation is going to be presumed to be the ”aggressor,” the “thug” – in short,” the real criminal,” until he’s proved innocent, which he won’t be, even if he’s now a dead, still unarmed teenager. And his killer is a grown man who provokes a fight with an otherwise harmless kid, starts losing it, and then shoots the kid dead.

Because this is America, pointing out that a black boy can be shot with impunity by a more or less white man because many white Americans are terrified by black boys and men is called “playing the race card.” The race card is what the people who benefit politically from the fact that many white Americans are terrified by black boys and men call any reference to the fact that race continues to play an overwhelmingly important, and overwhelmingly invidious, role in American culture in general. And in the criminal justice system in particular.

Trayvon Martin was stalked by George Zimmerman because he was black. Trayvon Martin is dead because he was black. George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin because the boy Zimmerman killed was black. If you deny these things, you are either a liar or an idiot, or possibly both.

Roger Simon:

Forget the over-zealous prosecutors and the repellent state attorney Angela Corey (who should be immediately disbarred or, my wife said sarcastically, elevated to director of Homeland Security) and even the unfortunate Trayvon Martin family (although it is certainly hard to forget them — they have our profound sympathies), the true loser at the Zimmerman trial was Barack Obama.

By injecting himself in a minor Florida criminal case by implying Martin could be his son, the president of the United States — a onetime law lecturer, of all things — disgraced himself and his office, made a mockery of our legal system and exacerbated racial tensions in our country, making them worse than they have been in years. This is the work of a reactionary, someone who consciously/unconsciously wants to push our nation back to the 1950s.

It is also the work of a narcissist who thinks of himself first, of his image, not of black, white or any other kind of people. It’s no accident that race relations in our country have gone backwards during his stewardship.

Congratulations to the jury for not acceding to this tremendous pressure and delivering the only conceivable honest verdict. This case should never have been brought to trial. It was, quite literally, the first American Stalinist “show trial.” There was, virtually, no evidence to convict George Zimmerman.

There has been a fair amount of reaction to this case in the political and celebrity worlds. Having listened to commentary from left and right, we observe that the narratives believed by each correlate pretty well with how they vote, which isn’t that surprising. It’s also, sadly, not surprising that the partisan media failed to do its job or that in the increasingly post-religious vulgarian America, many people don’t think twice about calling for the jury to be murdered.

Odds and ends

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

The state of the media today, common sense MIA. Strange doings at MSNBC. In some cases, PC is not only suicidal, but abets murder. Speaking of PC, look at the case of the author of one of the best sci-fi novels of recent decades. Sorry, there is no compromise. A Jacksonville paper, Jack Cashill and Larry Elder comment on you-know-what. An piece on invisibility. FPRI says Syria is Iran’s Stalingrad. This NYT story went on for almost 5000 words. What a world. Here are a few jokes to lighten the mood.