A failed bombing and: What are we doing in Afghanistan? Plus: My health-care crisis!

By Jack Hoffman

In just days since the abortive attempt by the 23-year-old Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate an explosive device onboard Northwest Flight 253, information surfaced that indicated a quintessential, breakdown of our intelligence and security network. Evidence has shown it to be extraordinary and shocking but not surprising in both its character and scale – especially after the 9/11 debacle.

Should we be shocked?

So what has happened with the preliminary findings from the time of the bombing attempt and now? How Umar put this all together. The dildo detonator and explosive powder stitched in his underwear. A powder that should have been detected by the Amsterdam security police, what with the new body scanners supplied by the United States. And the frightening news Umar trained with another twenty jihadist ready to go.

Again the mainstream media has found some good fodder with which to entertain the listeners. Umar wasn’t even in the newspapers or talked about.

Our country was consumed with the news of a new book, Game Change, by Mark Halperin and John Heinemann – both reporters from Newsweek and both guys considered highly credible by both the left and the right. I’ve just started the book and will review it later. Already the characterization of all the politicians involved in election 2008 and what happened is being bandied around by the pundits from both sides of the aisle. “Insanity at best” from The Daily Beast. Politico has called it a “the freak show” – “Politicians gone crazy.”

Mainly the book is about the gang from Washington that couldn’t shoot straight. Reading some of the book’s “highlights” makes you wonder just how America could ever stop someone like Umar! The stories of vice presidential candidate and now TV starlette Sarah Palin — stories most of us already knew but were of no concern to the voters … . She saw herself as just what this country needed! I got news for them: Stupidity we didn’t need! We already have plenty of that! Tiger is in a sex rehab clinic, “Amercan Idol” is losing Simon.

Umar is bigger than an attempted bombing!

I want to spend more time on Afghanistan and why we need to be there! Are we doing it the right way this time? Meaning, do we have some understanding of the problems that exist in that part of the world? PBS’ Frontline, in a two-part documentary, tried to give us some background and in the end still left me spinning and saying to myself: Do we have a big problem over there?

Yeman has become a new camp for Al-queda. Somalia has been taken over by Al-queda supporters. America is supplying weapons to Pakistani intelligence, which eventually end up in the hands of the Taliban fighters.

America needs its own nation building and an honest media to deal with the truth – information not censored by sponsors.

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The heath care crisis – mine!

When I turned 65 years old, I signed up for Medicare Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 costs people nothing. Part 2 costs about $150, which is deducted from my monthly Social Security check. I didn’t take it all that seriously, since my wife Joan was dealing with that problem.

What I needed to augment the two parts was a Part 3 HMO to fill in for what wasn’t included in the first two parts! Part 3 cost me $87 per year. Three months into this plan I received an increase of $121 per year for the 2009 period from the HMO. Part 2 had a minimal increase. This year I received an increase to Part 3. I would now pay $172 per month.

Medicare costs are predicated on the CPI – Consumer Price Index. So this year that CPI was 0. We seniors received no Social Security increase and no increase in our Medicare costs. HMOs and insurance companies base their cost on their expenses for the year. For all we know, someone has to pay the billions of bucks for their lobbying!

All of the above costs do not include the co-pays for my prescriptions: $15 and $10 for office visits and $50 for visits to the hospital emergency room.

So now Medicare, for the 3 parts, is costing me almost $6,000 per year! My co-pays have exceeded $5,000. Meaning I will pay well in excess of $11,000 to $12,000 per year for my healthcare. Here is a beauty: the new co-pay cost for an ambulance trip is $150 per trip. The ambulance company gets $140 reimbursement and I pay them another $150 co-pay. I’m still adding it all up! My recent medical costs for all co-pays and insurance costs will exceed $25,000!

So you wonder. How can we pay for this, as these costs increase at a disproportionate amount of money greater than our income. If you have no insurance, your cost would be double what I paid —somewhere close to $50,000!!!

I tell the story only to remind you that Tonight host Jay Leno may be important and fun to some. But we need to understand and speak out and act on these increases in health costs, bank costs and more.

America is drowning in debt. Our problems are bi-partisan. Let’s skip the insults to our intelligence and start working together!

That’s a good starter.

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