Social Security blows $300 million on 'IT boondoggle'
The Social Security Administration has spent nearly $300 million over the course of six years on a new computer system to process 11 million Americans’ disability claims. Now, a new report commissioned by the federal agency indicates that the system still doesn’t work at all. After repeated delays, it is unknown when it will be complete, who is responsible for delivering the finished product, or what the final bill will be. A group of House Republicans blasted the failure in a letter Wednesday, calling the project an “IT boondoggle.”
In spite of these major uncertainties, former Social Security assistant deputy commissioner Terrie Gruber, who has been appointed to review the project, took an optimistic perspective, saying, “We are absolutely committed to deliver this initiative and by implementing the recommendations we obtained independently, we think we have a very good prospect on doing just that.”
A Pew Research Center poll from March revealed that millennials have a record lack of confidence in the beleaguered Social Security agency; more than half do not believe they will receive any Social Security benefits, and only 6 percent expect to get benefits at the rate current retirees receive them.
9:04 am |
July 24 2014
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New from me at TAC: Fear and Loathing in Guantanamo Bay
This is my second piece for The American Conservative, and I’m pretty excited about it. Check it out:
The Guantanamo Bay detention center briefly reasserted its presence in the public consciousness this month with the news that a single Navy nurse refused to participate in the force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike. Quietly feted by civil liberties advocates, the story quickly slipped off the radar. The Pentagon confirmed that the nurse “has been temporarily assigned to alternate duties with no impact to medical support operations”—in other words, the torturous force feedings, instituted in 2006, will continue unabated.
Gitmo currently houses 149 inmates. Fewer than 20 detainees have been charged, and 78 are cleared for release—a status some have held for more than half a decade. About 45 prisoners are scheduled for indefinite detention, never to see a day in court.
The tepid response to the nurse’s moral stand is not surprising. Despite the fervor of outspoken antiwar protesters during the Bush years, the broader public has never cared much about the welfare of those imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, innocent or no. Support for closing the facility peaked at 51 percent in early 2009. That high corresponded with the first inauguration of President Barack Obama, who took office trumpeting his intentions to put an end to Bush-era abuses like Guantanamo, which he labeled a betrayal of American ideals.
A year after the inauguration, the Obama administration’s now-extensive history of Gitmo excuse-making was well underway. “Political opposition” caused the President to break his promise.Temper your expectations, an anonymous White House official suggested, “The president can’t just wave a magic wand and say that Gitmo will be closed.” But of course—of course!—it’s still going to happen.
Come 2011, we found the President admitting that the facility won’t be closed in the near future. “[W]ithout Congress’s cooperation, we can’t do it,”he said. “That doesn’t mean I stop making the case.” And that narrative—the “I reallywantto close Guantanamo, but Congress just won’t let me!” line—has persisted ever since, typically with a heavy dose of partisan undertones. As Obama moved an issue he once called vital to the restoration of the United States’ moral authority to the backburner, public opinion followed his cue. By 2010, only 39 percent supported closing the prison. Today, just 27 percent are on board.
What’s fascinating about this unwillingness to close Guantanamo Bay as observed in government and citizens alike is the way it encapsulates the charade of modern American politics: a GOP that abandons its support for limited government out of fear, and a Democratic Party whose civil libertarianism is built more on partisan rancor than ethics.
Read the whole thing here.
10:51 am |
July 23 2014
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“Again if Mr walking heart attack had simply put his hamburger shovels behind his back, he wouldn’t have had a heartbattackmfor over exerting himself. The NYPD did absolutely nothing wron. Tomthe guys slamming these NYPD officekrs, I and many here wouldn’t want any of you guys around us on a critical,incident. Hopefully you guys are desk jockeys.”
An anonymous but verified police officer reacting to the death of Eric Garner, a father of six who was choked to death by NYC police over allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.
Click here to see a litany of equally appalling (and illiterate) thoughts from other anonymous police officers on this tragic story.
Just more evidence that police brutality is systemic, not anecdotal.
9:55 am |
July 23 2014
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Obama: I don't watch the news because 'whatever they're reporting about, usually I know'
President Obama said at a fundraiser in Seattle on Tuesday that he doesn’t tune in for TV news, because there’s little such programs can inform him of that he’s not already aware of. “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know,” the president reportedly said.
As conservative critics have been quick to point out, this is a surprising statement, because Obama has racked up an extensive record in recent years of claiming ignorance of major developments until seeing them reported in the media. The list of topics on which he or his staff have claimed such ignorance include the Petraeus investigation, the DOJ seizure of APphone records, health insurance cancellations, ObamaCare website troubles, requests for additional security in Benghazi, IRS targeting of political groups, and the Fast and Furious scandal. Additionally, the NSA denied on Obama’s behalf his knowledge of the agency’s spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
9:04 am |
July 23 2014
| 88 notes
“…love changes our minds. It is the change in our minds that makes changing our minds possible. Love is not an alternative to making ‘intellectual decisions,’ it is the basis — the starting point — for any intellectual decision.”
— Love and justice are what give us ears to hear (via azspot)
1:22 pm |
July 22 2014
| 80 notes
“In response to his charitable campaign, Beck’s listeners evidently flooded him with threats made against his life and work… So much for the Christian mission of mercy and tenderness. For Beck’s enraged audience, any act of kindness, no matter how small — the immigrants would have eaten whether or not Beck served the food, and ‘millions of dollars’ were never on offer — was too great a risk.”
Immigration, charity, and conservatives’ unholy assault on Glenn Beck
When Glenn Beck announced he would deliver food and toys to immigrant children, the attacks were blistering — and profoundly unchristian. (via theweekmagazine)
I wrote about Beck’s decision to help the immigrant children regardless of their legal status, an even more admirable decision given the grief he must have known he’d get. I did not, however, read until today about the backlash his charitable activities did indeed produce.
It’s sad. I don’t know that it’s shocking—I want to be shocked, but I’m not sure I am. This inability to disconnect a political/legal opinion from very real human needs is troubling to me. It’s a major reason why I’ve long since ceased to allow myself to be grouped under the broad “conservative” label.
When it comes to social welfare broadly speaking, I think admitting that—as things currently stand—there is a real need for these programs is not a strike against the cause of private charity and the free market. Sure, welfare programs are abused (as any government program will be), but there are people who legitimately need outside help to meet their basic needs and those of their children.
To acknowledge these needs is not to say that government should be the entity meeting those needs or that private organizations couldn’t do it way more efficiently, effectively, and morally. It’s just to say that, regardless of political opinions, these needs are real, and it’s good to help people.
To the extent that any political movement cannot make this distinction, I suggest it will tend to be inhumane and unappealing both.
1:11 pm |
July 22 2014
| 121 notes
The Ten Levels of Libertarian Crazy
Pretty amusing, and all in good fun. I think I only land in two levels:
2. Students for Liberty Member/Donor/Supporter
The next level of libertarian crazy is people involved in organizations like SFL or Young Americans for Liberty. Big tent organizations that tend to be fond of looking fairly mainstream, wearing appropriate clothing to events, and talking about libertarian solutions to real problems rather than esoteric ones. These are go-getters, and the single best group for outreach to the Muggle world. They probably got into liberty because of Ron Paul, so be careful what you say about him – but they’re generally the friendliest, youngest and best-looking bunch of the crazy, so this is your best option in terms of dating pool.
5. Liberty Blogger or YouTuber
Numerous websites now host the words of libertarian bloggers (ahem). To top that off – there are now also tons of channels with dynamic, generally young, liberty-minded individuals making videos on philosophy, practicality or hilarious stunts in the name of liberty. Some are really informative, some are really creepy, but production of easily sharable information is certainly beneficial to the movement. Avoid being a crazy fan when you meet them, but by all means, share their content and talk to them about it. There’s nothing like hearing “I loved that piece you wrote” from a stranger. Unless it’s followed by Creepertarian lip-licking. Avoid that.
12:34 pm |
July 22 2014
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I mean, seriously, do you see these doughnuts? This is the Fractured Prune. It is heavenly. You pick your preferred glaze and topping, and they put it on a still-hot cake doughnut.
If you live anywhere near one of these locations, get thee to the doughnut shop now.
11:25 am |
July 21 2014
| 144 notes