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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Time It Takes The Government To Process A Social Security Disability Claim: 491 Days

But don’t worry, these idiots can totally make your health care more efficient. We just need to give them the opportunity. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., is demanding answers from the Social Security Administration about how they have used more than $2.5 billion in increased funding since 2006. The funding was aimed at reducing processing times for Social Security disability cases but has barely made a dent in the problem of long delays. The senator said the average processing time nationally for Social Security disability claims is now 491 days. “This is unfair to the very people who have become disabled, paid for disability insurance, and now spend a year and a half waiting for the federal government to give them an answer. I think it`s an outrage and we have to fix it,” said Dorgan. Just wait until you’re stuck waiting 491 days to get your knee surgery approved.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gregg Ditches Commerce Post, RNC Offers Specter

With the announcement that Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) has pulled out of his bid to become President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce the Republican National Committee (RNC) today offered Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) as a replacement. “Sen. Specter is a career lawyer and politician, but he’s a fast learner and could be quickly trained to run the Commerce Department,” said RNC Chairman Michael Steele. “Of course, Republicans would miss his stalwart, reliable voting in the Senate. Conservatives never have to wonder how Arlen Specter will vote.” White House insiders suggested Sen. Specter could get the same deal from Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former chair of the Democrat National Committee, that Sen. Gregg made with his state’s Democrat governor — to appoint a Republican replacement once he’s confirmed as Commerce Secretary. However, Mr. Steele said such a concession would be unnecessary, since replacing Sen. Specter with a Democrat would be an “ideology-neutral” move. A White House spokesman said Mr. Obama bears no hard feelings toward Judd Gregg, praising his abortive nominee as “a man who paid his taxes on time.” The administration claims it’s still on-target to fulfill its number one goal for the first 100 days, which is to fill all cabinet posts. “The president is all about creating and retaining jobs,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. “However, at this pace there is some concern that getting an additional four million people hired may take more than one term of office.” RNC Chairman Steele said he’s committed to helping the new president fill those jobs, and has also offered Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, whom he recommended as “team players, depending on which team you’re talking about.”

'War On Terror' Ends, Obama Starts 'Case Against Terror'

(2009-01-23) — With the signing of executive orders to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, to prepare to grant full U.S. citizen legal rights to foreign enemy combatants, to end the threat to ‘high value targets’ of ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques, and to shutter so-called ‘black sites’ operated by the CIA in foreign countries, President Barack Obama sent a clear signal yesterday that George Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ is over, and Barack Obama’s ‘Case Against Terror’ has begun. “America’s enemies should not view these moves as surrender,” said an unnamed White House spokesman, “but rather as an effort to level the playing field and to make sure that our enemies get a fair shake.” “The battle will now be joined in the Case Against Terror,” he said, “not with lethal weapons, but with subpoenas and motions and detailed arguments. The next time one of these criminals destroys one of our skyscrapers, detonates himself in a shopping mall, poisons our water supply or unleashes a dirty bomb in a crowded subway station, he does so with the knowledge that the full power of the U.S. legal system will be unleashed on him, with no limit to the cash damages that his victims’ families can collect.” While Bush administration tactics produced nothing measurable, beyond seven years of attack-free living on American soil, the source said, the Case Against Terror will be effective, legal and morally right, thus engendering respect among those who wish to destroy America’s way of life. “If a Khalid Sheik Mohammed, for example, knows he’s not going to be waterboarded, he’ll sense our inherent fairness and probably be more forthcoming with information.” the administration source said, “If he resists, then he knows with certainty that he’ll spend months, and perhaps years sitting in a courtroom, listening to attorneys argue fine points of process. He’ll be begging for the waterboard.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We have financial, not economic, problems

Sometimes the markets just get things wrong. It doesn't happen very often. Usually the market's collective wisdom is more perceptive than the individual opinions of the investors who comprise it. But every now and then - about twice every decade - markets make spectacular blunders, completely losing touch with the real economy of consumption, investment, employment and world trade. The markets' behaviour last week suggested that such a time has arrived.

On Friday, share prices around the world collapsed as Wall Street was gripped by rumours about the bankruptcy of the two largest financial institutions in the world: the US Government-backed mortgage insurers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose combined debts are almost $6 trillion, equivalent to roughly double Britain's entire GDP. Yet what has been happening in the world of real economic activity to explain such extreme market action?

While Wall Street has gone into meltdown since the beginning of June, conditions in the real economy have been unambiguously improving. The latest employment figures, published two weeks ago, confirmed that economic conditions had stabilised after their sharp deterioration in the winter, while purchasing managers' surveys, the most reliable indicator of very recent economic trends, suggested a continuation of the modest but clear improvement that began in April. Sales figures from leading retailers were much stronger than expected, showing that tax rebates designed to provide a shot of financial adrenaline to all but the richest US households were doing exactly what the doctor ordered - offsetting the depressing effect on consumption of the credit crunch and the housing slump.

As a result, consumer confidence, although an unreliable and lagging indicator, showed its first improvement for six months. Even the figures on home sales have now been near-stable for four consecutive months, after almost a year of vertiginous falls. Most important of all, the monthly trade figures, published on Friday in the midst of the Wall Street meltdown, proved that the remarkably adaptable US economy was responding to the credit crunch exactly as the optimists had hoped - by undertaking an immense structural shift from consumer and housing-led growth to growth powered by exports.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jared Kushner: "Real estate is like porn for rich people."

Former Daily News gossip hack Lloyd Grove has a lengthy interview with New York Observer owner and golden-boy-about town Jared Kushner out today, in which the 27-year-old Kushner yacks and yacks about his real estate holdings, his media holdings, and how the Observer's revenues are way up this year (although it's doubtful the paper has made him money yet). He's guarded, and talks a lot like a PR person. But one thing comes through quite clearly, just by his use of examples: this is a rich, rich young man. And maybe done dating Ivanka Trump? He won't say. Still, the time to snag this wealthy media baron is now!:
J.K.: Do you have any interest in real estate?

L.G.: Only in the pornographic sense that everybody else does.

J.K.: Real estate is like porn for rich people.

L.G.: So what possessed you to go buy a dinosaur? This is, like, so old-media. Isn't it a bit yesterday?

J.K.: Well, I would say two things. People are hysterical about the death of newspapers and I would say they're not dying, they're just kind of reinventing themselves. What the ultimate body count is in reinvention is still to be determined, but the difference between a weekly and a daily is that my product is a country home, whereas a daily is your primary residence.

L.G.: Now when people come to you, as I'm sure they do, and they just read something snarky about themselves in the Observer, and you have a business or social relationship with them, and they say "Jesus Christ, Jared, look at what your paper did to me"—what do you do in those situations? J.K.: Well, I think people for the most part are very respectful and they know that I'm a publisher who has strong belief in editorial independence. And I'm very fortunate to surround myself with great people, and I believe that you hire good chefs and you let them shop for the groceries and cook.

He's so rich!