Archive for May, 2014

Here’s what you need to know…
•  CrossFitters have amazingly strong backs and work their lower back every day in one way or another. Adopting this kind of strategy will make your back stronger and it will carry over to your Olympic lifts, deadlifts, and squats.

•  CrossFitters do a lot of high rep work, and this high-rep work on the big basic lifts builds a lot of muscle mass while also leading to decent strength gains.

•  Since many CrossFitters are new to serious weight training, they don’t have any mental blocks when it comes to hitting PRs and making fast progress. It’s an attitude we could all use.

I used to make fun of CrossFit. I thought it was a fad and they all used shitty form; that they couldn’t get strong or build muscle doing those workouts. Well, I was wrong. Working with a lot of CrossFit athletes made me change my mind. While I personally wouldn’t train using only WODs, I did learn a lot of things from coaching CrossFit athletes.

I work with a very diverse clientele: average Joes, athletes, bodybuilders, and CrossFitters, and I must say that next to the powerlifters I worked with, the CrossFitters were the strongest overall. Oddly enough, for a group that has a reputation for using bad form, they have probably the best form among the people I’ve trained. Serious CrossFitters are perfectionists and really work at their craft. Sure, they might have a slight technical breakdown during WODs, but most of the time their technique is very solid.

Here are the three things I learned from training these hardworking individuals:

1. The secret to fast strength gains on the Olympic lifts, deadlifts, and squats is training the lower back frequently.

One thing with CrossFit athletes (even non-competitors) that is both rewarding and frustrating is they make amazingly fast progress on Olympic lifts when properly coached. Heck, many that I coached took only a few months to hit weights that took me a few years to attain while training on the Olympic lifts full time. That made me feel good about my coaching, but bad about myself. Was I a genetic moron? Heck, even one of the girls I’ve trained on the Olympic lifts reached a 190-pound snatch faster than I did!

So it got me thinking. CrossFit athletes aren’t doing tons of fulltime Olympic lifting workouts, certainly not at the frequency that would justify the super fast improvements I was seeing. Normally they’d devote one or two sessions per week to focus on the Olympic lifts, so that wasn’t it. I can’t say they were doing tons of strength work, either. To be fair, the good ones were lifting heavy fairly often, but not at the volume and/or frequency that those focusing solely on strength were using. So getting super strong wasn’t the answer either. Then it hit me: CrossFit athletes – even most recreational CrossFitters – have super strong lower backs.

Think about it, the following are pretty much part of every single WOD. They’re doing hundreds, if not thousands, of reps per week involving the lower back to some extent, either:

• Deadlifting anything from super high reps (up to 100 reps in a workout) to super heavy weights
• Doing kettlebell swings with all sorts of weights and rep ranges
• Or performing high-rep Olympic lifting (not something I’d personally do or recommend)

Not only do they do all this work for the lower back, but they tend to loosen up their form a bit during WODs. This makes them round the lower back slightly. I’m not saying that you should start doing tons of rounded-back lifting, but the fact is that deadlifting with a rounded back puts more stress on your erector spinae and – if you don’t blow a disk – it will make your lower back stronger. Heck, even Klokov does a ton of rounded-back pulling. When it comes to the Olympic lifts, a strong lower back allows you to stay in a position to make the best use of your strength when the weight gets heavy.

One CrossFitter who’s now my good friend started out doing deadlifts. He didn’t have much experience and had the worst fishing-rod deadlift form ever. I made fun of him at the time because he told me he was going to bring his 405-pound deadlift up to 535 in four months. I even wrote him an email saying why he was being unrealistic and how he was disrespecting powerlifters who work their tail off for every 10 pounds they added. Well, he actually did it, but with the most horrible form possible. Fast forward a year and that guy now has one of the best lifting forms I’ve seen and it’s because he has a super strong lower back. He’s now snatching, cleaning, deadlifting, and squatting superb weights for his size.

This really made it click for me. I “theoretically” understood the value of a strong lower back, but never really did focus on it that much. I felt that I got all the lower back stimulation I needed from doing the Olympic lifts and squats. In retrospect I now know I always had a weak lower back and it probably held me back.

I now believe that the lower back responds better to a high volume of work. If you want to build it to a level that will give you the strength to shock people, you need to work it for a high number of reps at a very high frequency. The good news is that the lower back muscles seem to have the highest trainability of all the muscles. This means they get bigger and stronger very rapidly if you focus hard on training them. I’m now devoting a good amount of time on making my lower back stronger using various rep ranges, using from 3 to 10 reps on the Romanian deadlift and other pulls; 10-12 on loaded back extensions, the back extension machine, glute-ham raises, and reverse hypers; and up to 30 on KB swings.

Applying it: Honestly I feel that with the lower back the big secret is doing it. I end every session with a lower back exercise. Depending on how fresh I am or how strong I feel, I’ll pick the movement that will work the best on that day. If I feel tired, then doing heavy triples on the Romanian deadlift might not be a good idea. And don’t dismiss something as simple as a back extension machine. The lower back doesn’t need to be trained at a high intensity to improve; just do something for your lower back every day and it will get stronger.

2. The value of high reps.

I’m a low rep guy and that won’t change. If I had to associate myself with one belief system, it would be the Bulgarian weightlifting school of thought that emphasizes always using very low reps and heavy (max or near-max) weights. However, after working with a lot of CrossFit athletes, I’ve come to appreciate the value of higher-rep training.

Yes, doing 21-15-9 on deadlifts and pull-ups sucks while you’re doing it, but I must confess that it does work. It’s easy to say that most CrossFit athletes do strength work outside of their WODs and that’s why they’re posting huge numbers, but I know a lot who get strong by only doing the WODs. They deadlift, squat, front squat, and push press (the Olympic lifts are a given) a lot more than the average commercial member who specifically trains to get bigger and stronger by doing “bodybuilding work.”

I’m not saying that high reps work better than powerlifting/low reps heavy work to get super strong, but lifting decent weights for higher reps certainly will get you stronger. And I find that relatively high reps on the big basic lifts (deadlift, squat, front squat, push press, pull-ups, and dips) will build a lot of muscle mass while also leading to decent strength gains. I’ll use my wife as an example. She never clean and jerked more than 85 pounds. After a few months of doing only CrossFit WODs, she hit 140 pounds.

What I like about the CrossFit-style high reps is that they do not define it in “sets.” If you have 21 deadlifts to do with 355 pounds, you can get those 21 reps in 2, 3 or 4 “sets” as long as you try to do them as fast as possible. That gives you a high density of work with a fairly heavy load, and that will build a lot of muscle mass. I recently started doing some thing like this myself. After my heavy work is done, I use 60% of my maximum on the lift and shoot for 20 reps. I may take one or two short breaks but the movement isn’t over until I get all 20. I noticed an increase in my rate of muscle growth from that simple addition.

Another method you can use is density strength work. Use 70-80% of 1RM on the bar and try to get to 30 total reps in as little time as possible. It might take you 6-8 sets to get there, but that’s fine. Just try to rest as little as possible: 5 reps, rest 10 seconds, 5 reps, rest 10 seconds, etc.

Applying it: After you’ve done your heavy work for your main movement of the day, challenge yourself to do 20 reps with 60% of your maximum on that same lift. If you can get all 20 without resting, go with 65 or 70% next time! You can also use density work, getting 30 total reps at 70-80% of your max in as little time as possible.

3. No respect for the weight.
One thing I noticed with many CrossFit athletes and even among recreational CrossFit participants is that they don’t have the same respect for the weight as powerlifters, Olympic lifters, or bodybuilders do. And I’m not referring to throwing down the bar after each set or rep (even though such a thing has been know to happen in most CrossFit boxes). No, I’m talking about the fact that they don’t seem to realize how hard a certain weight should be.

I’ll go back to my friend who was deadlifting 405 pounds who set a goal to deadlift 535 in four months. He didn’t seem to realize that a 135-pound increase on a lift in four months was insane, but he did it! And I’m seeing this all over the place. Fairly low-level CrossFitters saying, “Man, I really need to get my clean up to 315 pounds,” when they are struggling with 205, and then achieving it in a few months. Back when I started Olympic lifting, three plates was a big weight and my progress got stuck because I was setting myself up negatively by believing that a certain weight was out of my range.

That’s the weird thing with CrossFit. In powerlifting we look at the big guns deadlifting and squatting 900-1000 pounds and think, “These guys are inhuman; I’ll never get there.” In CrossFit they look at the guys who qualify for the games that have cleans of 315-375 pounds and think, “Man, I need to get there, quick.”

It reminds me of when my bench press had been stuck at 275 for a few years. I couldn’t get past that point no matter what I tried. I was training at a college gym where bench-pressing 225 would get you labeled as a steroid user, so 315 seemed like a physical impossibility to me, a lift done only by mythical beasts that are hiding in a cave somewhere.

And then I moved to that cave. I started training at a little hardcore gym in the basement of a church. The manager was a former Canadian record holder in the clean & jerk and his son was a strongman competitor. All the powerlifters and strongmen in the city trained there. There were at least 10 guys bench pressing 405 and a few had gotten over 500 pounds raw. It wasn’t exactly Westside, but compared to my previous gym it was a slap in the face. Within a few weeks I was up to 315 and it wasn’t that long until I could hit 365 and then 405 came within less than a year. Seeing all these guys doing those big lifts removed my mental block. It’s the same with CrossFit. You see so many competitive CrossFitters hitting 345-380 pound cleans and 265-285 pound snatches that 300-315 and 225-235 becomes ordinary (even low) and thus seems “easy” to reach. The funny thing is that because of that perception, they really do become much easier to reach.

I also think that a lot of people get into CrossFit without a big lifting background. Most of them were people who played sports first and maybe did some lifting here and there, so they don’t have the same relationship with the weights that us ironheads have. They don’t have the same perception of what is heavy and what should be a normal progression. An experienced lifter will say something like, “Gaining 50 pounds on a lift in a year is really good progress once you get past the beginner stage.” Oh the other hand, a beginner CrossFitter will think, “Man I really gotta’ get to those Rx weights soon or I’ll look like a loser.” (Note: The Rx weight is the load prescribed in a WOD. If you have to do 50 deadlifts with 225 pounds the Rx weight is 225). A competitive CrossFitter will think, “Froning is snatching 300 and cleaning 380. I have to get to at least 245 and 335 in a few months.”

And really, in all those cases they normally get what they think they can get. The same thing happened with me and my high pulls. Tim Patterson challenged me to go from 275 to 400 in 3 weeks. At the time my goal was 315 in 3 months, so he kinda’ changed my plans. And I got it because he got my mind in the right place.

Another example occurred when I went to train at Dave Tate’s compound. At the time my lifetime best bench press was 420, but my best at the time was 405 and I had missed 425 three times in the past month. When training at the compound I’d just follow one of the guys, not knowing how much weight we were using (we were using an odd fat bar and I had no idea of its weight). When I was done I asked Dave how much was on the bar, he answered, “445 pounds.” Twenty-five pounds over my lifetime best!

Applying it: It’s much harder to teach you how to apply a mental strategy than a training strategy. I do have one good recommendation, though. If you want to get strong, the best thing you could possibly do is move to a gym where super strong guys train. I cannot overstate the effect that training among these guys will have on your progress.

Learn From Everyone
I believe that CrossFit athletes still have a ways to go to maximize their performance. However, I also believe there’s a lot we can learn from them and the three elements I presented merely scratch the surface. I always believed that everybody who trains hard has something to teach others and that we shouldn’t be painting ourselves in a corner by refusing to learn from other groups of people just because it’s fashionable to make fun of them.

I couldn’t agree with this guy any more. This is a 100% honest, non-biased assessment of the CrossFit. I really need to start reading more by this guy.

– Rob

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Facebook has changed their name to SkyNet and has become self-aware.

– Rob

Facebook’s facial recognition software is now as accurate as the human brain, but what now?

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Facebook’s facial recognition research project, DeepFace (yes really), is now very nearly as accurate as the human brain. DeepFace can look at two photos, and irrespective of lighting or angle, can say with 97.25% accuracy whether the photos contain the same face. Humans can perform the same task with 97.53% accuracy. DeepFace is currently just a research project, but in the future it will likely be used to help with facial recognition on the Facebook website. It would also be irresponsible if we didn’t mention the true power of facial recognition, which Facebook is surely investigating: Tracking your face across the entirety of the web, and in real life, as you move from shop to shop, producing some very lucrative behavioral tracking data indeed.

The DeepFace software, developed by the Facebook AI research group in Menlo Park, California, is underpinned by an advanced deep learning neural network. A neural network, as you may already know, is a piece of software that simulates a (very basic) approximation of how real neurons work. Deep learning is one of many methods of performing machine learning; basically, it looks at a huge body of data (for example, human faces) and tries to develop a high-level abstraction (of a human face) by looking for recurring patterns (cheeks, eyebrow, etc). In this case, DeepFace consists of a bunch of neurons nine layers deep, and then a learning process that sees the creation of 120 million connections (synapses) between those neurons, based on a corpus of four million photos of faces. (Read more about Facebook’s efforts in deep learning.)

Once the learning process is complete, every image that’s fed into the system passes through the synapses in a different way, producing a unique fingerprint at the bottom of the nine layers of neurons. For example, one neuron might simply ask “does the face have a heavy brow?” — if yes, one synapse is followed, if no, another route is taken. This is a very simplistic description of DeepFace and deep learning neural networks, but hopefully you get the idea.

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Sylvester Stallone, going through DeepFace’s forward-facing algorithm. Notice how the slight tilt/angle in (a) is corrected in (g). (d) is the “average” forward-looking face that is used for the transformation. Ignore (h), it’s unrelated.

Anyway, the complexities of machine learning aside, the proof is very much in the eating: DeepFace, when comparing two different photos of the same person’s face, can verify a match with 97.25% accuracy. Humans, performing the same verification test on the same set of photos, scored slightly higher at 97.53%. DeepFace isn’t impacted by varied lighting between the two photos, and photos from odd angles are automatically transformed (using a 3D model of an “average” forward-looking face) so that all comparisons are done with a standardized, forward-looking photo. The research paper indicates that performance — one of the most important factors when discussing the usefulness of a machine learning/computer vision algorithm — is excellent, “closing the vast majority of [the] performance gap.”

Facebook tries to impress upon us that verification (matching two images of the same face) isn’t the same as recognition (looking at a new photo and connecting it to the name of an existing user)… but that’s a lie. DeepFace could clearly be used to trawl through every photo on the internet, and link it back to your Facebook profile (assuming your profile contains photos of your face, anyway). Facebook.com already has a facial recognition algorithm in place that analyzes your uploaded photos and prompts you with tags if a match is made. I don’t know the accuracy of the current system, but in my experience it only really works with forward-facing photos, and can produce a lot of false matches. Assuming the DeepFace team can continue to improve accuracy (and there’s no reason they won’t), Facebook may find itself in the possession of some very powerful software indeed. [Research paper: “DeepFace: Closing the Gap to Human-Level Performance in Face Verification“]

What it chooses to do with that software, of course, remains a mystery. It will obviously eventually be used to shore up the existing facial recognition solution on Facebook.com, ensuring that every photo of you on the social network is connected to your account (even if they don’t show a visible tag). From there, it’s hard to imagine that Zuckerberg and co will keep DeepFace purely confined to Facebook.com — there’s too much money to be earned by scanning the rest of the public web for matches. Another possibility would be branching out into real-world face tracking — there are obvious applications in security and CCTV, but also in commercial settings, where tracking someone’s real-world shopping habits could be very lucrative. As we’ve discussed before, Facebook (like Google) becomes exponentially more powerful and valuable (both to you and its share holders) the more it knows about you.

Put the facial recognition software into the camera eyes of these robots and see what you get:

So today is Friday and I’m tired of the news. So here’s a video of two amazing cars.

True story. I spoke with an Army veteran who had a below-the-knee amputation recently, and he had this to say via text message about his experience with the Veterans Administration (VA).

“I’m 8 weeks past amputation and the VA won’t even listen to the prosthesis they referred me out too!”

“After talking to Hanger orthotic every veteran that needs a prosthetic is getting delayed some guys 4-6 months after amputation.”

We have a term for this in the military, and it’s called UNSAT (short for unsatisfactory).

Mr. President, there’s a reason the tree at the VA is not producing any fruit – it’s dying and incapable. During my service in the Special Operations community, I learned a tremendous amount about good and bad leadership, and I can tell you that if an organization is plagued by long-term problems, it’s not the people in the organization that are the problem, it’s their leadership.

Shinseki doesn’t have much to be proud of during his time at the helm of the Veterans Administration (VA) since being appointed by President Obama in 2009. His list of accomplishments include an internal investigation by the Inspector General (IG) that found his organization guilty of millions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse (off-site meetings and federal acquisition bribery), and more recently, we’re starting to get eyewitness accounts of massive veteran record purges.

“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period,” said Obama

The situation has been bad for years, and the Veterans Administration has become more like the movie “Hunger Games,” with Shinseki and his inner circle eating and drinking themselves fat in the “Capital” city, while millions of veterans go without proper help, medicated into submission, and purged of all things important.

I’m glad that this topic has finally caught fire in the mainstream media and DC – although the writers on this site have been covering the VA debacle since long before it became trendy in politics or the media.

The solution is a simple one, Mr. President: Shinseki and his top staff need to go. Until the Secretary and his leadership are held accountable, we’ll continue to see the problem get worse for veterans everywhere. Time to lead by example or have one made out of you by American veterans.

From SOFREP.com

From CBS MIAMI – When asked why he would risk his job and speak publicly, Detective Thomas Fiore considered the question carefully before answering.

“People are dying,” he finally said, “and there are so many things that are going on there that people need to know about.”

Fiore, a criminal investigator for the VA police department in South Florida, contacted CBS4 News hoping to shed light on what he considers a culture of cover-ups and bureaucratic neglect. Among his charges: Drug dealing on the hospital grounds is a daily occurrence.

“Anything from your standard prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and of course marijuana, cocaine, heroin, I’ve come across them all,” he explained.

Even inside the hospital, he says he was stopped from doing his job – investigating reports of missing drugs from the VA pharmacy. When the amount of a particular drug inside the pharmacy doesn’t match the amount that the pharmacy is supposed to have, a report, known as a “discrepancy report” is generated. Normally it was his job to investigate the reports to determine if they were the result of harmless mistakes or criminal activity. But all that changed, he said, about two years ago.

“I was instructed that I was to stop conducting investigations pertaining to controlled substance discrepancies,” he recalled.

He said he was personally told to stop investigating them by the hospital’s chief of staff, Dr. Vincent DeGennaro.

“I have no idea why,” he said. “He’s the chief of staff he doesn’t have to tell me why.”

DeGennaro declined our request for an interview. A spokesman for the VA wrote CBS4 News: “The Miami VA is required to monitor all controlled substances and resolve inventory discrepancies within 72 hours. Any unresolved discrepancies are reported to the Miami VA Healthcare System Director and Controlled Substance Coordinator, VA OIG, DEA and VA Police for independent investigation.”

Fiore said he decided to contact CBS4 News following our report last month on the death of Nicholas Cutter, a 27-year-old Iraq War veteran with PTSD who died from a cocaine overdose inside the Miami VA’s drug rehab center.

Fiore said it was well-known that Cutter was someone who not only abused cocaine but also smuggled it into the hospital. He said he reported it to his superiors in the weeks before Cutter’s death last year but no action was taken. Fiore said he was amazed the staff continued to give him passes to leave the building.

“He would have been number one on my list of people I would want to stay at the facility, not just for his safety but for the safety of all the other veterans that are in the medical center,” he said.

When Cutter’s body was found on June 1st, Fiore said the staff inside the rehab center failed to immediately call him. Cutter’s room should have been considered a crime scene. Instead, the staff bagged up the body and cleaned the room. He said he only learned about the death two days later.

“I was very shocked to be honest with you that I wasn’t called,” he said.

Fiore claims the way the hospital handled Cutter’s death was typical of the way they try to handle most problems. He said they prefer to keep things as quiet as possible rather than fix the problem.

Referring to drug dealing on the hospital grounds, Fiore said, “It’s been a problem for a while, for a very long while.” But administrators refuse to address it.

Fiore said the dealing usually takes place near the front entrance to the hospital, where patients and other gather to smoke. Patients will sometimes sell portions of the prescriptions they just filled. Other individuals will bring illegal drugs onto the grounds to sell. He said he has seen individuals in the drug treatment program time their smoke breaks so they can do downstairs and meet their dealers.

The VA police, who are all sworn federal law enforcement officers, can do little to stop it. The handful of VA police officers who patrol the hospital grounds are easy to spot since they are always in uniform and are well-known to patients.

“The patients know us, they see us every day,” Fiore said. “So I had brought up a plan to bring in somebody from a different facility where these patients don’t know them and basically go undercover into this [drug rehab] program or into this area at least and try to give us some good leads, so we can try to eliminate or reduce the amount of drugs that are coming in there.”

He said it wasn’t simply a matter of trying to make arrests. He said his goal was “to protect the patients.”

Fiore said he even found someone with undercover experience who was ready to do it. He said he presented his plans to his superiors, but never heard back from them.

“I’m still waiting,” he said. “And it’s been a couple of years now.”

A spokesman for the VA said he is not aware of any “significant findings concerning illegal drugs at the Miami VA Healthcare System.”

Fiore said another reason drug dealing became a problem was the lack of working surveillance cameras inside and around the hospital. The lack of security cameras was an issue the Inspector General raised in its report earlier this year into Cutter’s death. They said the cameras had not been working for at least six months prior to Cutter’s overdose.

In fact, Fiore said, the cameras have not worked for at least four years. In 2010 he was assigned the responsibility of conducting a “vulnerability assessment” of the VA facilities in South Florida. He noted the problem with the cameras back then. As a result of his report, he said the Miami VA was allocated money to improve security. He said he believes the amount was somewhere between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.

But he doesn’t know what happened to the money.

“I can tell you it wasn’t spent on cameras or any of the other recommendations that were made in that assessment,” he said, “because they still have yet to be corrected.”

Fiore said in addition to ignoring the drug problem at the hospital, he also believes the hospital fails to address allegations of patient abuse.

“I know that I’ve seen patient abuse in the nursing home,” he said. “I’ve seen patients with just full black and blues, I’ve seen patients with hand marks on their chest; the hand mark doesn’t match theirs. It’s obvious that it is somebody else’s hand mark.”

He said rather than deal with these issues as criminal matters, the hospital handles them administratively. “A lot of times to make the problem go away they just take that individual staff member, they pick them up and they relocate them to a whole different area” of the hospital, Fiore said.

Asked if he agreed with the idea of handling patient abuse cases administratively, Fiore said: “I think any time somebody gets hit, especially an older person who can’t defend themselves, there should be a law enforcement investigation.”

A spokesman for the VA wrote to CBS4 News saying that all cases of patient abuse are taken seriously and staff members are often moved to other parts of the hospital while the investigation is conducted.

A final area of concern for Fiore is theft.

“Theft is rampant,” he said.

He estimates there are millions of dollars in theft every year from the Miami VA, everything from computers to medical equipment.

“We’re talking government property, we’re talking about things the taxpayers are buying,” he said. “I can’t begin to explain to you how retaliation works within just the Miami VA. They don’t like people who air their dirty laundry.”

He said he hopes his comments will encourage more congressional oversight.

“As a veteran myself,” Fiore said, “I’ll be honest with you I’m just sickened that they would allow this type of stuff to happen to people that have fought for this country.”

This is one Veteran Hospital in one state. I know the VA hospital in Tallahassee isn’t exactly a state-of-the-art facility. From my recent posts about Veteran Affair hospitals, I remember a map about current wait times from across the nation. Many of the major cities in the US have major wait times from overwhelming bureaucracy. I’d be interested to see what the VA police from these facilities, or any facilities, had to say about what goes on during daily life.

Will anybody ever cut through the administrative bulshit and get to the root problems of the Department of Veteran Affairs?

– Rob

From Rush Limbaugh today

RUSH:  Did you see how mad Obama was at that… I guess it was a press conference.  He had a meeting with Shinseki, and Shinseki told him what was going on at the VA, and Obama was livid.  He was so mad.  Did you see that?  I would not have wanted to be Shinseki.  ‘Cause Obama didn’t know anything about this until today, and he still doesn’t believe it.  There still has to be an investigation to find out what really went on at the VA, and then if it did go on, they’re gonna trace it back to George W. Bush.  It’s pretty much what Obama said.  But he was mad, he was mad.  I mean, he was really, really mad.  It’s like he just became president yesterday and was just told about this.  

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Let’s go to the audio sound bites.  This is this morning in Washington at the White House.  Now, prior to this, Obama had a meeting with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki.  That meeting was around ten o’clock.  By the way, I should tell you, the Drive-Bys are really worried about this one.  I saw a tweet from F. Chuck Todd of NBC News.  They are really, really worried and F. Chuck’s tweet, I don’t have it right in front of me, but his tweet is written as though he is a member of the administration.  This could really be bad for us.  Because F. Chuck notes that local media is also on to this and on to it big time. 

This is not like Benghazi, which is faked and contrived by the Republicans.  This is not like the IRS scandal which is again something the Republicans have got nothing else to talk about so they’re trying to contrive and make the IRS thing to be much worse than it really is.  This is nothing like Fast and Furious.  No, no, no, the gunrunning operation that Eric Holder and Obama did that ended up with really powerful weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, done on purpose. 

Fast and Furious, of course, was designed to, in a surreptitious way, attack the Second Amendment by causing public outrage in this country over how easy it is for these guns to end up in the hands of drug lords.  Well, it is easy if you’re gonna make sure it happens.  But that scandal, according to F. Chuck and the rest of the Drive-Bys, no big deal.  That’s just the Republicans once again yammering, trying to make something out of nothing.  And Obamacare, there’s no real scandal there. That’s just the president trying to insure the uninsured, really trying to improve health care for everybody. Really, really, really trying to make health care affordable for all Americans. 

But this VA thing, they’re worried.  The Drive-Bys are worried.  They don’t think they’re gonna be able to manage this one.  And the VA scandal is not so much about lack of treatment.  It’s about lack of getting treatment.  Let me put it this way, the scandal is not that the treatment is poor, the medical care is poor; it’s that nobody can get it. The lines are so long, the system is so inefficient, that people can’t get in. Vets can’t get in to VA centers for treatment, and they come up with these fake lists that are waiting lists that are designed to create the illusion they’re speeding people through when they’re not.  I don’t think there are a whole lot of serious complaints about the level of actual health care that’s at these centers; it’s that nobody can get in, because it’s such a mismanaged bureaucracy. 

So, anyway, the Drive-Bys are worried. To illustrate their worry, the president’s meeting with Shinseki was at around ten o’clock, and no matter what news network you tuned to, the Drive-Bys and the White House correspondents were lined up in the White House pressroom for the entire time doing stand-up news reports about the coming press conference, the coming statement by President Obama after his meeting with Shinseki at 10:45. And for the most part, the president was on time — and, boy was he mad!

OBAMA:  When I hear allegations of misconduct, any misconduct — whether it’s allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books — I will not stand for it, not as commander-in-chief but also not as an American. None of us should.  So, if these allegations prove to be true, it’s dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it. Period.

RUSH:  See?  He just found out! This is the Limbaugh Theorem on display once again.  He’s as mad as he can be.  He just found out about this.  Shinseki just today told him how bad it is — and even at that, they don’t really know. They’ve gotta do an investigation first. And if the investigation confirms what Obama was told, he’s really gonna be mad.  But he didn’t know anything about it. 

It’s like he just became president yesterday, and yesterday they tell him all of this stuff that’s been going on to try to get him up to speed.  Then, as is his usual reaction, he said that the previous administrations all have played a role in this and that he has ordered the VA to “up its game.”  When he found out what was going on, he told the VA they better get shipshape now!

OBAMA:  When I came into office, I said we would systematically work to fix these problems, and we have been working really hard to address them.  I want specific recommendations on how VA can up their game.  Some of the problems with respect to how veterans are able to access the benefits that they’ve earned? That’s not a new issue! That’s an issue that I was working on when I was running for the United States Senate.  We are gonna fix whatever is wrong. And so long as I have the privilege of serving as commander-in-chief, I’m gonna keep on fighting to deliver the care and the benefits and the opportunities that your families deserve.

RUSH:  See? What has happened from 2008 forward doesn’t matter.  It’s only from today forward that matters.  Now that Obama’s on the case, now that he knows about it, he’s not gonna put up with it! He is not gonna tolerate this.  When he hears about these allegations of misconduct — covering up long wait times, cooking the books — he’s not gonna put up with it.  He’s had it, he’s not gonna put up with it.  When he came into office he said they were gonna work to fix these problems, and they have been.

But somehow they didn’t get fixed, and now he’s really mad.  So it’s classic Limbaugh Theorem.  He didn’t know about it.  He’s just as mad as you.  Now that he’s found out about it, he’s gonna fight these horrible, terrible forces that are undermining the VA.  He’s gonna get ’em and he’s gonna find out who they are! He’s gonna identify ’em and he’s gonna send ’em packing, he’s working for you.  He’s doing everything he can.  He’s just as mad as you are.  He had no idea things were this bad.

This is how he does it. 

This is how he convinces the low-information crowd. Nobody’s supposed to ask, “Well, this has been going on the whole time he’s been president.  Why didn’t you know about it?”  You’re not supposed to ask that.  What you are supposed to conclude is he cares. “Oh, does he care — and is he mad! Oh, oh! He is so mad.”  

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Here’s the tweet that Chuck Todd sent out that I mentioned to you earlier: “Have noticed a lot of local media doing ‘check out the VA problems here’ stories… As we said last week, THIS is a MAJOR [WHITE HOUSE] problem.” They’re really, really worry about this.  Now, when Obama was a senator… He just talked about how he’s been working on VA issues since he was a senator, and he’s so mad about this.  Well, he sponsored — are you ready? — a whopping two bills about veterans.  Both bills died in committee.

He didn’t do anything, but he pretends he did so much and cares so much, and that’s the trick, folks. That’s the magic with this Regime.  But the fact of the matter is, this is worse than ever.  It’s worse under Obama.  This kind of thing did not happen under George W. Bush.  I don’t care what Obama says. I don’t care what his supporting media says. There were no hidden waiting lists. There were no secret waiting lists that people moved in and out of.

There were no attempts to cover up the number of people being treated by the VA under George W. Bush.  These hidden waiting lists are due to Obama’s window dressing of a two-week waiting list mandate.  That’s all that’s happening here, but it didn’t happen under Bush.  

END TRANSCRIPT

Source.

Amid the legislative wrangling on expanded gambling, the real winners were lobbyists, who came out with millions of dollars in fees during the first quarter of 2014, according to newly released reports.

A minimum of four lobbying firms reported more than $1 million in earnings between Jan. 1 and March 31, which included the first four weeks of the 60-day legislative session. Seven more reported earnings from $500,000 and $$999,999.

Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida reports that Thursday was the deadline for lobbying firms to file compensation reports giving a broad idea of how much clients paid them to work the halls of the Florida Capitol.

The reports were posted on the state website throughout the day. It is hard to put exact bottom-line estimates on overall lobbying fees.

However, with a look at only firms reporting $100,000 or more in earnings during the quarter, it seems that fees will easily surpass $15 million — without including the large number of firms taking in less than $100,000.

As of late Thursday afternoon, Turner notes that four firms reported net earnings of more than $1 million — Ballard Partners, Ronald L. Book PA. Capital City Consulting and Southern Strategy Group. Those are the firms with client lists numbering in the dozens, many of them paying large amounts in lobbying fees.

One example is Resorts World Miami, LLC, a key player in the effort to bring a destination resort casino to South Florida. Ballard Partners received $83,000 from Resort World, according to reports. Similarly, the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which also seeks to open a resort casino, paid Capital City Consulting $79,000.

The Book firm had three clients that paid them more than $50,000, including $68,000 from auto dealer AutoNation, Inc. One of Southern Strategy’s major clients was the HMO Simply Healthcare Plans, Inc., which paid $54,000.

Quarterly reports are required from lobbying firms showing total compensation in broad ranges. Some firms report overall fees between $1 and $49,999, while the top-dollar firms report earnings of $1 million or more.

Firms report Income in specific ranges — $1 to $9,999, $10,000 to $19,999 and so on. They report accurate numbers only when individual clients give more than $50,000.

High-profile issues, such as expanded gambling – one that ultimately failed – attracted the big lobbying money during session, Turner writes. However, other issues, like insurance, also drew significant fees to lobbying firms.

FCCI Insurance Group paid the Advantage Consulting Team $60,000, in addition to another $55,000 to Floridian Partners LLC, according to reports. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. also paid The Moya Group $50,000.

Source.

How do I become a lobbyist??? I’m good at convincing people too…

– Rob