Category Archives: Economy

California soldiers ordered to repay enlistment bonuses

messed up

From SF Gate: Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The Pentagon demanded the money back after audits revealed overpayments by the California Guard under pressure to fill ranks and hit enlistment goals. If soldiers refuse, they could face interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens, the Los Angeles Times said.

Faced with a shortage of troops at the height of the two wars, California Guard officials offered bonuses of $15,000 or more for soldiers to reenlist.

A federal investigation in 2010 found thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were improperly doled out to California Guard soldiers. About 9,700 current and retired soldiers received notices to repay some or all of their bonuses with more than $22 million recovered so far.

Soldiers said they feel betrayed at having to repay the money. “These bonuses were used to keep people in,” said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. “People like me just got screwed.”

Van Meter said he refinanced his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the military says was improperly given to him.

The California Guard said it has to follow the law and collect the money.

“At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard told the Times. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”

The Pentagon agency that oversees state Guard groups has said that bonus overpayments occurred in every state, but more so in California, which has 17,000 soldiers.

California Guard officials said they are helping soldiers and veterans file appeals with agencies that can erase the debts. But soldiers said it’s a long process, and there’s no guarantee they’ll win.

Retired Army major and Iraq veteran Robert D’Andrea said he was told to repay his $20,000 because auditors could not find a copy of the contract he says he signed. D’Andrea appealed and is running out of options. “Everything takes months of work, and there is no way to get your day in court,” he said. “Some benefit of the doubt has to be given to the soldier.”

tired soldier


Ex-California state senator gets prison for taking bribes

Yep, he’s a demorat.

Demorat Ron Calderon

Demorat Ron Calderon

From Fox News: Former California state Sen. Ron Calderon was sentenced Friday to 3½ years in prison in a corruption scandal in which he acknowledged taking bribes in exchange for his influence in Sacramento.

U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder imposed the sentence in Los Angeles after listening to Calderon emotionally ask to remain under house arrest or “at least get me home to my family sooner.”

Federal prosecutors had asked for a 5-year prison term in a blistering brief that mocked Calderon for making false and misleading claims about bribes he accepted and distorting his previous admissions in court.

“Defendant asks this court to endorse his view that an elected official who repeatedly and egregiously abuses the trust of the electorate warrants essentially the lowest possible sanction for a federal conviction,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Jenkins wrote. “Defendant’s requested sentence would permit (Calderon) to continue to trivialize his corrupt actions, as he does throughout his sentencing position, and continue to evade true accountability.”

Calderon was ordered to report to prison Jan. 3.

The sentencing brought an end to an ugly chapter in California politics that saw three state Democratic senators indicted in 2014. It also tarnishes what was a Calderon political dynasty in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Calderon, 59, pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud in June and admitted to soliciting more than $155,000 in payments or financial benefits in exchange for supporting or blocking legislation.

He took $12,000 worth of trips to Las Vegas from an undercover FBI agent who posed as the owner of a Los Angeles movie studio seeking his support for film tax credits, though the legislation never passed, according to his signed plea agreement. The agent hired Calderon’s daughter for a $3,000 a month no-show job and paid $5,000 toward his son’s college tuition.

Calderon also acknowledged helping a hospital owner maintain a massive health care fraud scheme in exchange for hiring his son for $10,000 over three summers for no more than 15 days of work a season filing papers.

Demorat Thomas Calderon

Demorat Thomas Calderon

The defendant’s brother, ex-Assemblyman Thomas Calderon, was also caught up in the FBI investigation. Thomas Calderon, 62, a political consultant, pleaded guilty to laundering some of the bribes and was recently sentenced to 10 months in prison. Half of that term was to be served at home.

The two Montebello Democrats had followed their older brother, Charles Calderon, to Sacramento, where he served in both chambers of the Legislature before they were elected. After the indictments came down against his brothers, Charles Calderon lost a race for a seat on the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench. His son, Ian Calderon, is a Democrat in the state Assembly.

The legal troubles for the two younger Calderon brothers in 2014 came at an embarrassing time for Senate Democrats. Fellow Sens. Leland Yee and Rod Wright were facing unrelated felony charges.

All three were suspended, though they continued to be paid under rules later reversed by voters to give state lawmakers the ability to suspend colleagues’ pay and voting power if accused of wrongdoing in office.

leland yee

Yee, of San Francisco, was sentenced to five years in federal prison in an organized crime case centered in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Wright was convicted of lying about living outside his Los Angeles district and sentenced to three months in jail.

Jaime Regalado, a political science professor at California State University, Los Angeles, said the convictions of the Calderons were symbolically important, but he didn’t think they would have a big impact on future corruption.

“The public would like to think the convictions and sentences of Tom and Ron would help clean up Sacramento and the body politic, as well as strike fear in the hearts of legislators who are willing to engage in illegal gambits with the public’s money,” Regalado said. “But the reality is we’ve seen this time and again. … There’s a lot of greed that continues to go around, so this will be a drop in the pan.


Harvard’s minimum wage protests were caused by its own professors

liberal logis

Via NY Post: The social-justice warriors of Harvard are on the march again, this time in solidarity with the university’s dining-hall workers. Students and faculty have spent the past few days protesting low wages and an increase in health-care premiums for the people serving their grilled cheese, french fries and occasional lobster dinners.

On Oct. 5, about 750 workers went on strike. It was Harvard’s first such revolt in 33 years, and strikes are becoming more common at colleges across the country. In Pennsylvania, thousands of faculty went on strike at 14 colleges and universities on Wednesday alone.

Harvard was fortunately prepared, having stocked up on frozen food for students in the days leading up to the walkout. But who knows when their TV dinners will run out. Two weeks later, things seem to have reached an impasse. Harvard has closed six of its 14 dining halls, staffing its remaining ones with temporary workers and giving students money to spend at local pizza joints.

In its defense, Harvard says, the dining-hall workers make an average of almost $22 per hour, more than the $15 living wage required by the People’s Republic of Cambridge. Moreover, the university says that health-care costs are going up all over the country and dining-hall workers are going to have to bear some of the brunt of that.

The Chronicle of Higher Education sums up Harvard’s problem pretty well. “How does the richest university in the world negotiate with some of its lowest-paid workers?” the publication asks. When your endowment is over $37 billion, why don’t you pay the people who serve food more than $30,000 per year?


The argument seems to be carrying weight. Earlier this week, Harvard divinity students wore yellow flowers in their hair and sang “Lean On Me” and “We Shall Overcome” as they protested outside the Science Center. They ate bread together, which, according to divinity student Nestor J. Pimienta “symbolized that we’re sharing in the struggle.”

It’s always fun to share in the struggle when you get to skip out on class. According to an account in the Crimson, “After chants of ‘No justice, no peace!’ subsided, [professor] Timothy P. McCarthy ascended the steps of University Hall to address the crowd, which had reached hundreds of people. McCarthy announced to cheers that he had ‘cut short’ his lecture in ‘American Protest Literature from Tom Paine to Tupac’ to walk out with his students.”

Harvard’s undergraduates clearly see the plight of its dining-hall workers as the latest story of oppression in American history. But they seem not to see that Harvard professors actually support the very policies that have put the university in this bind.

In 2014, 10 Harvard scholars sent a letter to Congress insisting that an increase in the minimum wage would not negatively affect employment rates. Indeed, former Harvard Law professor and current Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has testified before Congress in favor of a $22 minimum wage.


The assumption of these liberal scholars is that the rich who run corporations (or “nonprofit” institutions in this case) are simply hoarding money. If we want the poor to get more money, employers of these workers should just pay them more. And if they don’t, we should get the government to mandate that they do.

Who cares if you’re paying more than minimum wage? If you have more money, fork it over. Why shouldn’t dining-hall workers make as much as English professors? The laws of supply and demand simply don’t enter into the thinking of pointy-headed students and faculty.

The real sticking point in negotiations with the dining-hall workers is rising health insurance premiums. The cost of health insurance has gone up somewhere around 20% nationwide because of the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies are canceling plans left and right, and the pool of insured people are older and less healthy than forecasters projected — meaning that it’s going to get worse.

As a 2015 article in the National Interest pointed out, “the Harvard faculty is chock-a-block with ObamaCare’s biggest boosters. The new plan was approved by Harvard’s provost, the economist Alan M. Garber, who had signed on to a 2009 open letter assuring the president that a tax on high-end insurance plans “offers the most promising approach to reducing private-sector health-care costs while also giving a much needed raise to the tens of millions of Americans who receive insurance through their employers.”

The Harvard faculty screamed bloody murder last year when the administration tried to raise their health-insurance premiums. Obviously, their dining-hall workers are less able to absorb these increases. But the policies pushed in Harvard’s faculty lounges have left everyone — not just the students eating ramen noodles — much worse off.


Clinton lectured State Department employees on their ‘special duty’ to maintain cyber security in an internal video

This is RICH – both that Hillary had the audacity to proclaim this and that CBS News actually reported it.

Clinton: Do as I say, not as I do

Clinton: Do as I say, not as I do

From Daily Mail: It’s a lecture she delivered, but would have been better off attending. Hillary Clinton delivered a stern warning about the duty to protect against cyber threats, an awkward 2010 government video obtained by CBS News reveals.

The then-secretary of state cut a video warning her subordinates about the ‘special duty’ to stay on guard. ‘I think this is a responsibility we all share as Americans, but as State Department employees we have a special duty to guard ourselves and our sensitive information,’ Clinton said in the video released Friday.

In grainy video presumably sent internally throughout the world, Clinton warned: ‘Potential hackers use all kinds of strategies to exploit cyber vulnerabilities and to penetrate the department’s systems.’

‘They may try to gain information by posing as someone we trust, or by using social media sites to spread viruses and other malicious code,’ she continues.

‘The bureau of diplomatic security and IT staff work around the clock to defend us against cyber attacks, but the real key to cyber security rests with you. Complying with department computing policies and being alert to potential threats will help protect all of us.

Clinton then urges staff to learn more about cyber security awareness by logging online to an internal website and subscribing to their ‘cyber security awareness newsletter.’

‘Together we can do our part to improve the security of the State Department and of our nation,’ she adds.

Since then, the government, including the State Department and the White House, has been subjected to multiple hacking threats. But so too has Hillary Clinton and her campaign, which has been subjected to the release of 23,000 emails to date hacked from the gmail account of campaign chair John Podesta. 

Read the whole story here.


College offers young people money to have sex on camera

Haven’t kids had enough sex education by college to know the benefits of using a condom?

Dog eyeroll

Via NY Post: A school in England is making some people hot under the collar — by offering to pay young couples to have sex on camera.

Coventry University is searching for volunteers ages 18 to 25 who are willing to be filmed making whoopee in “natural settings,” including inside a car, and be paid the equivalent of $488 to do so, according to UK media.

Filmmakers for the government-funded project called “Chance2Change” said it will promote the message that using a condom “does not kill the mood,” the Daily Mail reported.

Margaret Morrissey, chairman of a group called Parents Outloud, said students who sign up to appear in the videos may be “jeopardizing” their future. “They are offending the intelligence of their students by thinking they need educational videos such as this,” Morrissey told The Telegraph.


“With the nature of the internet, these videos could stay in circulation for years. Any students taking part in them could jeopardize future employment prospects,” she said.

Project leader Dr. Katie Newby insisted the film will feature real couples in “loving, consensual relationships and be tastefully shot.”

More from Daily Mail:

Dr. Newby said: ‘The videos, which will be tastefully shot and feature genuine couples, are designed to be available to over-18s at the point at which they are requesting free STI self-testing kits from a website.

‘Other aspects of the intervention include allowing users to test out a range of different condoms to identify their preferred one, a condom ordering service, providing a free product for carrying condoms in, and other videos featuring young people talking about condom use.

‘We believe that someone who is seeking STI testing is likely to be particularly receptive to the messages around condom use, and we hope to convince them that condoms needn’t be awkward, embarrassing or an obstacle to enjoyable sex.’

Dr. Newby said that, despite the well-known risks of unprotected sex, the NHS still spends £620million per year treating sexually-transmitted illnesses. 


Head of Democratic Party Donna Brazile: no Obama economic recovery, people are in despair

Yesterday, I received a rare phone call from my brother. He just needed to commiserate with the only person he knows who isn’t liberal and who shares his political views about the upcoming presidential election.

He complained that his wife, their two adult sons, and his friends all support Hillary Clinton and think Obama is great.

I said, “Have you asked them why they like Obama?”

He answered, “They say the economy is great! Unemployment is low, interest rates are low, the economy recovered from the recession.” He also said that his wife thinks Donald Trump is “crazy”.

Not surprisingly, they get their news from the MSM and don’t pay attention to the Alternative Media. God help us from intentionally low-information voters, otherwise called useful idiots.

So this post is for my brother. Perhaps he can email this to his sons, wife, and friends. (Probably not. This is the same brother who was silent in 2008 when one of his friends, whom I don’t know, accused me of being “evil” and a “racist”. My brother had forwarded an email from me, without my consent, of a photo of Obama carrying Fareed Zakaria’s then-recently published book, The Post-American World. My brother then very helpfully forwarded his friend’s email to me, in which his friend called me an “evil racist”.)


Donna Brazile, a longtime Democrat apparatchik who, in July 2016, replaced Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as Chair of the Democratic Party Committee, sent an email to John Podesta, Chair of Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign committee, in which Brazile said:

“I think people are more in despair about how things are – yes new jobs but they are low wage jobs… HOUSING is a huge issue. Most people pay half of what they make to rent…”

Here’s a screenshot of Brazile’s email from WikiLeaks:


What Brazile wrote in her email is confirmed by a recent Harvard University Business School study, “Problems Unsolved & A Nation Divided: The State of U.S. Competitiveness 2016,” which found that the Obama economic recovery is a myth. As the 72-page report’s title suggests, not only has the economy not recovered from the 2008 recession, it has continued to deteriorate.

In the words of the report’s authors Michael E. Porter, et al.:

“America retains and enjoys many strengths. However, various economic indicators show that the U.S. economy has failed to deliver strong growth and shared prosperity for nearly two decades. These structural issues pre-date the Great Recession and are compounded by political paralysis. […]

While a slow recovery is underway, fundamentally weak U.S. economic performance continues and is leaving many Americans behind. The federal government has made no meaningful progress on the critical policy steps to restore U.S. competitiveness in the last decade or more. […]

U.S. competitiveness has been eroding since well
before the Great Recession. America’s economic
challenges are structural, not cyclical. The weak
recovery reflects the erosion of competitiveness, as
well as the inability to take the steps necessary to
address growing U.S. weaknesses.

Our failure to make progress reflects an unrealistic and ineffective national discourse on the reality of the challenges facing the U.S. economy and the steps needed to restore shared prosperity. Business has too often failed to play its part in recent decades, and a flawed U.S. political system has led to an absence of progress in government, especially in Washington.”

You can read the report here.

For those who prefer charts instead of words, the following charts from the Harvard study — on labor force participation, job creation, news business formation, productivity, household income, entitlements vs. investments — all show a continuing decline under the Obama presidency, except for the gap between entitlements and investment, which has widened.

us-economic-performance-chartsSource: ZeroHedge

Donald Trump is right in his concluding remarks at the third presidential debate last Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, on why the American people should elect him as president:

“When I started this campaign, I started it very strongly. It’s called ‘Make America Great Again’. We’re going to make America again.

We have a depleted military, it has to be helped, it has to be fixed. We have the greatest people on earth in our military. We don’t take care of our veterans. We take care of illegal immigrants — people that come into the country illegally — better than we take care of our vets. That can’t happen. Our policemen and women are disrespected. We need law and order, but we need justice too. Our inner cities are a disaster: you get shot walking to the store; they have no education, they have no jobs.

I will do more for African Americans and Latinos than she can ever do in ten lifetimes. All she’s done is talk — to the African Americans and to the Latinos. But they get the vote and then they come back, they say ‘we’ll see you in four years.’

We are going to make America strong again. We are going to make America great again, and it has to start now. We cannot take four more years of Barack Obama, and [pointing to Hillary] that’s what you get when you get her.

Donald Trump is not perfect or a saint; he is his own worst enemy. But if you’re sick of what’s happened to this country for the last 8 or more years, if you are no better, or even worse, since Obama became president in 2009, then voting for Hillary Clinton is the stupidest thing you can ever do.


Listen to what she says: Hillary Clinton has no new ideas. If you elect her, you’ll get not only four more years of Obama, America will be saddled with a predominately left-wing Supreme Court who will set this country’s course for generations to come.



Rising Obamacare premiums anger those paying full price

We tried to warn you.


From CNN Money: Shela Bryan, 63, has been comparing prices for individual health insurance plans since May, and she can’t believe what she sees. “They cost a thousand, $1,200 [a month], and they have a deductible of $6,000,” she said. “I don’t know how they think anyone can afford that.”

Bryan, who lives in Hull, Georgia, a hamlet of about 200 residents near Athens, was on her husband Tony’s insurance plan for decades. When Tony died in 2013, she continued his workplace coverage through COBRA, and she had to pay almost the full price of the insurance — about $800 a month. That was high, but it was “the Cadillac of insurance,” Bryan said, with low copays, prescription drug coverage and a $500 deductible. That option will run out in a few months.

Obamacare Screw U

So she is turning to the individual insurance marketplace in what is shaping up to be the most expensive year for the 400,000 or so consumers in Georgia who buy individual policies but don’t purchase them on the Obamacare exchanges.

About 10 million Americans buy individual insurance coverage either on or off the exchanges and get no federal subsidies to help bring down the cost, according to the Congressional Budget Office. About the same number get the financial assistance for the plans they purchase on the exchanges.

“For those receiving subsidies, the subsidy protects them against the increase. If they’re not eligible, they’ll be paying a lot more. And the more premiums go up, the higher the cliff,” said William Custer, a health policy and insurance expert at Georgia State University.

In Georgia, consumers who don’t get insurance through their employers or don’t qualify for tax credits to help pay for policies they purchase are facing double-digit premium increases. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, the only insurer offering plans throughout the state, received an increase of more than 21% from the state insurance commissioner. Humana was awarded a 67.5% hike.

Numbers like those are rattling other states too. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee was granted a 62% rate hike, while state officials approved a 46% increase for Cigna. Florida authorities gave plans there an average 19% bump. And last week, Minnesota officials announced that premiums for the seven insurers on the individual market are rising 50% to 67%.

The insurers are now adjusting for some miscalculations, said Graham Thompson, executive director of the Georgia Association of Health Plans. “The prices are up this year, but our hope is that things will settle down after this year,” he said.

While consumers have faced sticker shock, the insurers have faced what might be called “sicker shock,” which has sent their prices spiraling. They are adjusting premiums after finding that the pool of clients buying plans on the individual market were sicker and more costly than expected when the health law was implemented.

Judge Judy shakes head rolls eyes

Almost two-thirds of Americans get their coverage from plans offered through their workplaces. But those who don’t can buy either on or outside the health law’s marketplaces, also called exchanges. Those with marketplace coverage who earn up to 400% of the federal poverty level — $47,520 for an individual — are entitled to a subsidy, and federal officials say most will pay less than $75 a month for insurance.

Policies sold off the marketplaces must still meet health law standards and the same prices as plans offered on the exchange, according to Linda Blumberg, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. Federal and Georgia officials note that customers can change plans each year to find a better price, but that also can result in higher deductibles and may force a change in doctors to stay in network.

Bryan, a maintenance supervisor who makes just over the $47,520 limit for a subsidy, finds herself in that market now. She could end up paying as much as $14,000 in premiums for a pared-back policy the likes of which she had never imagined, she said, with no coverage for her asthma and high blood pressure medications. The cheapest policies amount to more than a quarter of her yearly income, or double her mortgage, she noted.  That total package would increase her premiums $4,400 over what she is paying for her COBRA plan and raise her deductibles by $5,800. And that was based on 2016 premium prices.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that as many as 2.5 million nationally may be eligible for a subsidy and not know it.

Bob Laszewski

Bob Laszewski

Bob Laszewski, a health policy strategist in Washington, D.C., said the Obama administration and health care advocates need to listen to the complaints of the those who do not receive assistance.

“These people are invisible,” Laszewski said. The ACA “is working very well for lower income people, but the Obamacare supporters missed the fact that if you’re raising a family of four on $100,000, you’re not rich. This is the … guy who remodeled your house, who drives a pickup truck and he’s wearing a Trump hat.”