This is Week 2, Day 1 of my new 13 Weeks Radical Reading Experiment. I keep a daily journal of the most interesting media that crosses my path each day. See or create something I should check out? Email me at DaveSwindlePJM@gmail.com
1. Lachlan Markay at the Free Beacon: Taxpayers Paid Nearly $175M for Penis Pumps Between 2006 and 2011 -Federal government paid more than double the retail price
“The fact that taxpayers have spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the past decade on penis pumps via Medicare is obscene and insulting – even more so when you consider that this is an arena of Medicare expenditures rife with fraud and where the government doesn’t even bother to assess medical necessity,” said Ben Domenech, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute.
“This is a perfect example of what happens when government becomes the be all and end all of human existence – a system where everyone has a right to a taxpayer-funded penis pump.”
Vacuum erection systems, which are used to treat impotence, are covered by Medicare Part B under its Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program.
Medicare payments for VES have swelled in recent years. The Department of Health and Human Services paid $20.6 million for 61,589 claims in 2006. It paid $38.6 million for 103,448 claims in 2011.
That increase came despite recommendations from federal watchdogs that HHS limit payments for certain DMEPOS claims, including those made for VES.
It begins with the federal government paying for them. Then before you know it Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will be calling it a tax when the federal government charges you for not buying them. Just kidding. Sort of.
2. From The Week: Everything you need to know about Japan’s population crisis
Why is Japan in trouble?
The Japanese now have one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, and at the same time, one of the highest longevity rates. As a result, the population is dropping rapidly, and becoming increasingly weighted toward older people. After peaking seven years ago, at 128 million, Japan’s population has been falling — and is on a path to decline by about a million people a year. By 2060, the government estimates, there will be just 87 million people in Japan; nearly half of them will be over 65. Without a dramatic change in either the birthrate or its restrictive immigration policies, Japan simply won’t have enough workers to support its retirees, and will enter a demographic death spiral. Yet the babies aren’t coming.
The British newspaper The Observer recently caused an international stir by reporting that Japanese youth have lost interest in sex. The sensationalist conclusion was mostly based on a single statistic: a survey that found that 45 percent of women and 25 percent of men ages 16 to 24 said they were not looking to have sex.
3. My friend David Forsmark’s newspaper review of Ann Coulter’s Treason from 2003, which I read today as part of my research into the various strains of conservative thought:
While defenses of McCarthy have been published before, what makes “Treason” so provocative is Coulter’s assertion that it is legitimate to question the patriotism of mainstream political figures. After all, she says, liberals do it all the time.
When Phil Donahue says, “The real patriots are the protesters,” he is by implication questioning the intelligence and patriotism of those who don’t protest. The Dixie Chicks win praise for a thoughtless attempt to appeal to a foreign crowd, while Toby Keith and Charlie Daniels are merely knee-jerk, angry jingoists.
It’s about time someone challenged the notion that the real way to be patriotic is to express one’s hatred of America loudly.
A chapter titled “How Truman Won the Cold War During the Reagan Administration” shows how liberals went from hysterically declaiming Reagan’s insistence that America could win as a “radical departure” from other presidents to saying, after the Berlin Wall, fell that, “Reagan was just following the policies of other presidents who should get just as much credit.”
This is not just a historical point. Coulter thinks it is relevant that the same people who still say there is “no evidence” that Alger Hiss and Henry Dexter White, key aides during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, were Soviet spies also scoff at every case Ashcroft brings against domestic terror networks and see “no evidence” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
“Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America,” Coulter writes. “They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America’s self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant. Fifty years of treason hasn’t slowed them down.”
4. Allahpundit at Hot Air: Newest way to reduce teen pregnancies: Watching MTV?
I don’t know why parents didn’t trust the network responsible for “Jersey Shore” and “Catfish” to treat a subject like teen pregnancy sensitively rather than as campy reality-celebrity freak-show fun.
Strictly speaking, what the study shows is that the teen birthrate fell more steeply in areas where more teens were watching MTV. The idea that teens are being scared straight by the show “16 and Pregnant” specifically is an assumption, but a logical one. The sense I get from the NYT piece is that this is going to become a proxy for approaches to sex ed — for lefties, evidence that frankly confronting a taboo subject leads to more responsible sexual behavior, and for righties, evidence that deglamorizing sex by emphasizing its potential hardships is important in teaching kids.
5. Andrew Kirell at Mediaite: Ronan Farrow Pulls No Punches with Estranged Father Woody Allen on Golden Globes Night
Missed the Woody Allen tribute – did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) January 13, 2014
6. Abby W. Schachter At Acculturated: Is Bitcoin the New Internet?
Bitcoin has been a true boon to entrepreneurs of all stripes because it makes getting funded by folks in different places a breeze, and let’s face it a whole new currency is just cool. There’s a new venture called Coinsetter which “is a high performance lever trading platform for bitcoin” owner Jaron Lukasiewicz explains. What he means is it’s a company to let people make Wall Street-type trades in Bitcoin. A young man in Chicago has decided to open the first bitcoin ATM in the Midwest. In Palo Alto, people can use their bitcoins at Coupa Café or pay for their java with dollars. On the more nefarious end of the spectrum, bitcoin was the currency of choice for a huge drug operation that was recently busted by the feds. But on the brighter side, bitcoin entrepreneurs in New York had a holiday party this year.
The folks over at Bloomberg were so excited about the possibilities of bitcoin that they charged reporter Matt Miller with the task of living what they called the 12 days of bitcoin in an effort to show how an electronic currency could replace traditional money. Miller explained what you can buy with it. He explained how the system works.And he even had his bitcoin stolen.
Miller had fun buying pizza and plane tickets along with reporting on the ups and downs of bitcoin’s value. It fluctuates all day, every minute, every second based on thousands of discreet transactions across the globe.
7. Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler: Whoa: Fast & Furious Was Part of a US-Drug Cartel Alliance?
Business Insider reported a bombshell this afternoon. It reports, by translating Spanish-language reporting from El Universal, that the US government has had a relationship with Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel since the Clinton administration. That relationship/alliance was used to damage Mexico’s other drug cartels, but at a great price: Sinaloa alone imports about 80% of the illegal drugs that make their way to Chicago. The alleged deal allowed the cartel to import drugs virtually without fear of capture or punishment by the US government.
8. This morning I took Maura for a run at the park and finished reading the higher education portion of Glenn Reynolds’ The New School. It’s an extraordinary book that I’ll finish soon and blog about more.
Here’s an excerpt from page 31 quoting Benjamin Ginsberg on the corruption of an academic establishment that inflates the administrative bureaucracy while shifting to part-time faculty:
9. Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler: Top Secret Benghazi Docs Prove that After Stevens et al Died, Obama and Clinton Lied
This is far more significant than the closure of a bridge. The Pentagon’s top brass knew, immediately, that the attack on the US facility in Benghazi, Libya on 9-11-2012 was a terrorist attack, and not a demonstration gotten out of hand. Fox’s James Rosen has obtained transcripts of top secret testimony on the attack.
10. Here’s an excerpt from page 48 of Eric Nelson’s The Hebrew Republic, my reading from yesterday while running at the park with Maura, inspiring a new habit, I think…
This book explains how a rediscovery of the Torah — and Maimonides’ interpretation of it — by Protestants during the Reformation and the Renaissance influenced the development of classical liberal political theory during the Enlightenment:
“To acknowledge God’s kingship is to be free; those who rebel against it necessarily enslave themselves to an idol.”