Avoiding ObamaCare: interview with Vik Khanna

Michael speaks via video conference with Vik Khanna, editor of Khanna on health and author of Your Personal Guide to Affordable Care Act: How to Avoid Obamacare.

With more than 30 years of experience in the health care industry, Khanna frames the health care industry as a commercial enterprise subject to the same profit incentives and greed like any other.

Healthy patients don’t make the hospital money, so it creates an incentive structure where hospitals encourage healthy patients to visit hospitals for tests and analysis to bring cash in the doors.

The industry has shifted to present “health” as a product.

In reality, Khanna asserts, health isn’t just the absence of illness or infirmity but should include a sense of wellbeing and happiness.  Khanna advocates the finding of things that make us feel better that aren’t bad for us.  He uses exercise.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), Khanna continues, fails because it addresses health as a product.  There’s a relationship with between health and all aspects of life and citizenry, such as national security.  Even President Kennedy spoke of the need for fitness and health in The Soft American essay.

People would be better off if they stopped revering the healthcare industry as having the exclusive license to tell us what’s good for our health.  Every clinical study, whether funded by the private sector or government, has underlying assumptions and an intrinsic incentive to prove the expected outcome.

Visit Vik’s book site, yourpersonalaffordablecareact.com, his health blog, as well as a blog he maintains on workplace wellness with Al Lewis, theysaidwhat.net.

Embracing Reality: an interview with Former Navy SEAL, David B Rutherford

In our and most recent installment of Michael’s show, Michael connects via the web with David B. Rutherford, a former Navy SEAL, motivational speaker, radio host, behavioral training specialist, and author.

David started Frologic eight years ago with a focus on children. As a society, we have undergone a process through which we no longer teach children to embrace their failures. Failure is a necessary part of life and as part of a learning process. As a result, children leave school ill-equipped to deal with reality outside of a controlled academic setting. This translates to a sense of entitlement and a collective social immaturity. This has a detrimental effect on their work ethic, ability to receive constructive criticism, ability to work in a team, and ability to recover after a failure.

Rutherford points to the counterculture movement of the 70s and how the counterculture movement created a shift in the manner in which we approached education that shied away from standardized output.

Rutherford maintains that almost every culture contains a warrior ethos, but encourages us to embrace though warrior poet ethos.  He calls for a balance that he represents with the triad of striving to make ourselves better physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Our inability to embrace failure renders us unable to push ourselves to our limits. Willpower must be pushed and tested. Some programs, like SEALFIT, test willpower through physical challenges.

Overall, we are not teaching kids to deal with reality as it is.  Rutherford offers to do a free event for children whenever he is hired by a firm to do a corporate event.  Fewer than 15% of the corporations take advantage of Rutherford’s offer.

Rutherford recalls a recent event where he was serving as emcee at an event in a major city for a national organization.  One of the organization’s board members reach out to his child’s school, and they began to set up the event.  However, at the last minute, the school’s superintendent quashed the event.

We bombard our children with films that portray a world in stark duality, with delineated boundaries between good and evil.  These films often portray incompetent adults and precocious children.  They skirt around major global issues, such as deforestation, species extinction, and other environmental concerns.  We allow for commercial entities to spend millions of dollars to create these encapsulated portrayals of major issues but neglect to incorporate these messages into education at large.

Turns out that a lot of factors we don’t often consider, ranging from nutrition and environment to activity, can have an impact not only on ourselves, but our children.

Rutherford wants students to begin the day with a physical fitness regimen, and advises the installment of a public service component to education.  He advocates for students  to engage in a year of service such as the Civilian Conservation Corps we engaged in during the 1930s.

Check out David at Froglogic to learn more.

Dr. Roger Jahnke on the New Patriotism of Wellbeing

 Michael and Dr. Roger Jahnke come to you from Washington, D.C.  Dr. Jahnke of Health ActionInstitute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi, and the Healer Within Foundation.


Dr Jahnke – Health Action

Dr. Jahnke focuses on the natural and inherent capacity of human beings to flourish and recover from personal challenges.  Dr. Jahnke references statistics from public documents and research that 70%-90% of diseases and of medical visits are preventable by actions and lifestyle changes individuals pursue at home for FREE.


Dr. Jahnke, a health care industry consultant and doctor of traditional Chinese Medicine, began his medical career along the traditional Western route.  He studied a pre-medical regimen at the University of Cincinnati and worked in practically every hospital in Cincinnati Ohio in the 1960s.  Dr. Jahnke was shocked to observe that most medical practitioners were focused on treating the diseases and ailments the patient suffered rather than focusing on supporting people in maximizing their well-being.  He was disheartened to find pretty much everything in what we call health care — perhaps better to say disease care — was focused on waiting until an ailment struck before taking intervening measures. He abandoned his traditional Western medical studies.

He engaged on a self-sustaining path by growing his own food and sourcing locally produced agricultural products.  When his wife got hired by the University of Hawaii as an instructor, Dr. Jahnke moved to Hawaii and after visiting a school that taught traditional Chinese medicine, he became enamored with the paradigm of  Chinese Medicine — a system based on maximizing what is right rather than attacking what is wrong.  He enrolled in the school and finished his medical studies there.


Dr. Jahnke laments that Americans approach Chinese medicine in the same manner that they approach Western medicine. Essentially, when Americans are sick, they seek out treatment. They rarely pursue personal behavior modification to prevent disease and enhance function. This approach results in trillions of dollars of unnecessary costs for medically treating diseases that are widely known to be preventable, according to Dr. Jahnke and the statistics of numerous health oriented agencies.  He maintains that many of the illnesses for which Americans seek treatment are actually fairly easy to prevent through personal behavior shifts and lifestyle change.

According to Dr Jahnke’s training in the Chinese medicine, which is a form of wellness medicine, “The most profound medicine is produced within the human body for FREE!” In the Chinese tradition this medicine is actually referenced as “elixir”.

Dr. Jahnke abandoned clinical medicine in order to teach individuals, groups, agencies and institutions  regarding best practices (choices) and how to incorporate these health enhancing methods to help naturally manage and neutralize the possible causes of disease. Two keys: 1. Wellness enhancement methods have no cost – AND – 2. When citizens do this in can reallocate trillions of dollars to solve other challenges of our nation.

He declares — “The essence of the American Ideal is love of family, community and country — when a citizen sustains their wellbeing they are a patriot in the grandest sense.”


Dr Jahnke enthusiastically points to the fact that the telomeres, associated with our DNA, provide the “essential resource” necessary to allow cells to express, replicate and perform their responsibilities. These important components of our DNA while they are tragically depreciated by oxidation and inflammation, they can also be rehabilitated by activating the Relaxation Response.  Damaging internal influences and external pollution influence function through food, beverages, breath, rest and – through a negative mindset – what is called chronic hyper sympathetic syndrome, the state when stressors excite the nervous system.  Mindset can impact the manner in which our bodies respond by the production of chemicals that can result in the aforementioned oxidation and inflammation of cells.  Dr. Jahnke explains that stress, exhaustion and dehydration can have a negative bearing on how we function and that rest/sleep and even meditation can help maximize our body functions.

Dr. Jahnke provides an example of going to the airport to catch a flight.  If a person chooses not to leave at an appropriate time, she experiences a stressful journey to the airport which can wear down her system.  Choosing to leave early for a flight allows the traveler to avoid the stressful, breakneck trip to the airport, preserves wellbeing and saves health care dollars.

Recovering the wellbeing of our telemeres is like the Fountain of Youth within!


Society has commercialized, monetized, and popularized the things that result in these preventable diseases. Americans are under rested, over caffeinated, and over glycemic (simple carbohydrates, especially sugar).  Dr. Jahnke points out the tremendous American market for things that we eat that are not foods, but rather are derived from foods, including sugar infused drinks and pre-prepared foods.  Dr. Jahnke encourages soft drink manufacturers to explore alternative methods for sweetening their beverages that don’t contain oxidizing elements.  Cookies, cake, doughnuts (often available at early meetings), Dr. Jahnke offers, are another super-high glycemic foods.  How do we get people to give up such foods in favor of higher levels of wellbeing and decreased chronic disease?  Dr. Jahnke himself, fairly aware of the negative results that such products have on our bodies, simply stays away from them.  He’s not so opposed to doughnut consumption, rather he is intent on supporting people, if they choose to consume foods that are widely know to raise risk for costly disease, to make a conscious choice to do something good for their bodies as well, like focus on their breathing and letting the complexity of life be less trying.

He explains that the research evidence base shows that there are positive medical benefits to deeper breathing. In addition exercise and practices like Tai Chi Qigong and Yoga also show very positive evidence of reducing disease risk and saving money for our society.


It is true that the behavioral trends of our family of origin and our society can condition us to develop  disease inducing reactions to stress without teaching us to manage our lives mindfully. However, it is actually not that complex to cultivate a sense of perspective which includes the value and relevance of sustainable wellbeing which can support our capacity to reach higher levels of functioning and reasonableness. It is not expensive and the outcomes are profound — sustained wellbeing, clear thinking, greater productivity.

Dr. Jahnke advocates that we explore a few deep breaths. You will notice, if you take a moment to do this that something shifts within. Deep breaths before performance in sports and academic competitions are known to contribute to capacity.  He advocates the practices of Tai Chi and Qigong and his organizations have trained over 1000 Practice Leaders and Teachers to bring these simple practices to communities and institutions internationally. Didn’t your grandmother advise that you take 3 deep breaths before you beat up your sibling? Just the practice of deepening the breath is a profound addition to anyones daily life that has no expense and takes no extra effort. It does require remembering to do so — that is that we have to be conscious to take the breath and derive the benefit. Intense exercise and athletic activity are great, but often we are in a meeting or behind on a deadline.

The good news is that it is actually so much easier than we probably imagine to sustain wellbeing, recover health and significantly reduce the cost disease treatment with a free health care system based on simple self-care.

The military, athletic enterprises, and the corporate world are beginning to look into some of these simple activities, like breathing, movement, diet, and other integrated practices, in order to enhance performance.

Dr Jahnke suggests, “Spread the word! Health and performance maximization — these are a national resource, an aspect of our lives that transcends politics and can turn us all into a new kind of patriot.”

Jesse Lawler: Hacking the Brain for Better Performance

Note:  Neither Ostrolenk nor Lawler is a medical doctor, so nothing within this segment should be taken as professional medical advice. Consult with your medical professional for health risks or contraindications if you are interested in exploring impact of any of the drugs or supplements mentioned in this podcast.  Be sure to consult your medical provider according to his/her judgment with respect to any disclosures regarding your current medication/supplement regime before considering taking any of the drugs or supplements mentioned in this post.

Michael sits down with Jesse Lawler to talk about boosting human cognition. Lawler founded the mobile app company “Evil Genius Technologies.” Jesse also hosts his own podcast which you can visit at Smart Drug Smarts where Lawler is coming up on his 50th podcast. Lawler wants to make clear that he is not a medical doctor and that his knowledge of the supplements and drugs that he exhibits comes from research, expert interviews, and personal experience.

Lawler interviews experts in fields of fitness, nutrition, and cognitive performance. Now that smaller can point to an existing body of work, he jokes that he has a good excuse to call up people in the brain science and personal health space.

A computer programmer by trade, Lawler is an autodidact with respect to enhance human performance. While Lawler has experimented withnootropics, he advocates for dietary and lifestyle improvements first. Once an individual has remove toxins from his diet and made significant lifestyle changes to boost performance, then this individual should begin to research nootropics.

Lawler was a strict vegan for a most seven years then read Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Dr. Richard Wrangham.  While the book didn’t convince Lawler immediately to switch his diet, it eventually changed his mind to adopting a diet more along the lines of the Paleo diet. Lawler admits that his exception is dark chocolate.  He did notice that he has been able to gain more muscle on the Paleo diet.

The transition for Lawler from Veganism to the Paleo diet was challenging because of the atrophy of meat-friendly microbes.  After a period of intestinal consternation, he was able to return to normal.

In criticizing the Paleo diet, Lawler reasons that the average age of early human ancestors, and even early homo sapiens, resulted in the impossibility of the manifestations of the negative long-term impacts of the Paleo since the average life span at that time was much lower than the average lifespan now.

Lawler references Spark: The Revolutionary New Science Of Exercise And The Brain by John Ratey as a good resource on the nexus between exercise and brain function.

While many individuals focus on exercise in improving cognitive function, they would be remiss to abandon the socialization component requisite to healthy living. Since so much of our own happiness and enjoyment of the world centers around interpersonal connection, Lawler reasons that human relationships are an important component of cognitive function.

Lawler has found that some neurotropic drugs and cognitive enhancers to be helpful. Since a lot of these drugs don’t have generally agreed-upon mechanisms of action in the brain, a lot of these are difficult to categorize. Piracetam, and drugs with a similar suffix are generally classified as neuro-protectants since they help brain cells recover from damage or some optimal cellular chemistry. A lot of the drugs that are used as cognitive enhancers now were initially introduced as these protectant types of drugs. Some studies have shown improvements in cognitive function such as working memory when taken by young test subjects. Lawler has confidence in the studies. While some claim to be able to subjectively feel the effects of these drugs, Lawler likens his experience with them to the manner in which many experience the effects of multivitamins. Lawler feels strongly that Aniracetam, which he occasionally takes, has a positive impact.

Lawler does not mix nootropics, he does regularly take an L-Theanine compound.  L-Theanine occurs naturally in Green Tea.  Adderall and Ritalin, drugs prescribed for attention deficit disorder, are often abused. Though Lawler has never taken either of these drugs, he is curious as to their effects.

There are also many non-drug interventions individuals can explore in order to boost their neuro-cognition. Many home-based neuro-feedback solutions are available to consumers.  Transcranial direct-current stimulation is a noninvasive form of neurostimulation that uses a low volt form of electrical stimulation that has apparently shown to have some positive effects. Lawler has recently acquired a device called foc.us, but hasn’t had a chance to fire it up.  Ostrolenk has recently begun experimenting with the alpha-stim but doesn’t yet have enough personal data to report on it.

One of Lawler’s next projects is going to involve exploration into binaural beats as a means of inducing a brain state that approximates deep meditation.  The technology he uses is called holosync.

Lawler recently posted a podcast on sensory deprivation tanks during which he speaks with Crash, the owner of Float Lab Technologies about the transcendental states that people can achieve in float tanks.  Lawler appears to be a big proponent of float tank use.

Be sure to visit Smart Drug Smarts and follow Jesse Lawler on twitter @Lawlerpalooza to learn more about Lawler and his work.

Note:  Neither Ostrolenk nor Lawler is a medical doctor, so nothing within this segment should be taken as professional medical advice. Consult with your medical professional for health risks or contraindications if you are interested in exploring impact of any of the drugs or supplements mentioned in this podcast.  Be sure to consult your medical provider according to his/her judgment with respect to any disclosures regarding your current medication/supplement regime before considering taking any of the drugs or supplements mentioned in this post.

Audit the Pentagon Coalition: interview with Rafael DeGennaro

Michael and Rafael DeGennaro, Director of the Audit the Pentagon Coalition, talk about the need to audit the Department of Defense.

DeGennaro has lead the Green Scissors Coalition to cut wasteful spending and subsidies, co-founded and served as President of Taxpayers for Common Sense, and was a leader in the Read the Bill movement.

Recently, DeGennaro has turned his attention to the Department of Defense.  Although Congress has the budget power, and has passed a law requiring audits for all federal agencies, the legislature seems to have ignored the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 for the past 24 years with respect to the Pentagon.  The Department of Defense is the only major federal agency that hasn’t complied with the law.

The Pentagon has had a five-year plan for the past 15 years to perform an audit.  To date, it has never followed through.

DeGennaro’s coalition advocates two principles:

1)  Immediate financial consequences for any agency unable to pass an audit or is un-auditable.

2)  We should hold each part of the Pentagon accountable on its own merits.  For example, if the USMC passes an audit, but the USAF does not, then the budget for the Marines should remain untouched while the Air Force should suffer a penalty.

The Audit the Pentagon Coalition includes groups like the Independent InstituteAmericans for Tax Reform  the R Street InstituteTaxpayer Protection Alliance  Ralph NaderCode Pink.

While the Coalition is fighting for enforcement of and compliance with an existing law, its director, DeGennaro, applauds the efforts of Representatives Barbara Lee (D), Michael C. Burgess (R), Jan Schakowsky (D), and Dan Benishek (R), who introduced HR 5126.  The Bill, the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2014, would impose a 0.5% budget penalty on any un-auditable agency while protecting certain employee pay and benefits and granting flexibility to agency heads to determine where to trim budgets.

Visit http://auditthepentagon.org/ to learn more and be sure to check out the group on twitter @auditpentagon.

ACLU’s Laura Murphy on Criminal Justice Reform, Libertarian Movement, and the Surveillance State

This week, Laura Murphy, Director of the Washington Legislative Office for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Photo Credit - ACLU

Photo Credit – ACLU

Ms. Murphy grew up in a politically active family that advocated citizen action.  After campaigning, working on Capitol Hill, lending her talents to several elected officials, working for several different ACLU offices, she was offered the position of Director of the Washington Legislative office in 1993 and was the first woman, African America, and has been the longest serving Director of the DC Legislative Office.

Almost 46,000 individuals are behind bars for non-violent drug offenses and can now apply for clemency.  While there is a strong libertarian movement questioning the war on drugs, many state legislatures grapple with the budgetary implications of an expanding prison population.  Furthermore, many religious movements are advocating redemption.  There are also those who express concern that that the application of justice with respect to the war on drugs comes down with disparate representation regarding minority groups.

Ms. Murhpy’s observed major changes in the Republican Party since 2008.  Whereas the the party once ostracized members who challenged party orthodoxy, it now seemingly welcomes more dissent under the big tent.  The Democrats, Ms. Murphy observers, have some serious hawkish elements.

Lately, the ACLU has been at the forefront of the battle against the unprecedented surveillance by government agencies like the NSA, the use of torture by the CIA, and overreach by law enforcement agencies.

Individuals concerned with government overreach and encroachment can sign up for action alerts from the ACLU and like organizations.

Derek Khanna on Real Free Market Policy

Michael and Derek Khanna, Yale Information Society Project Fellow, talk about Derek’s Piece in the American Conservative called The Party of Innovation.

The article encourages the Republicans to embrace what Khanna calls “real free market policies” to foster in a new revolution in tech in the American marketplace.  Khanna advocates free markets as a path toward economic growth.  He encourages big “disruptive” innovations, like Tesla stirring up the automative industry, and Uber challenging the taxi establishment.

Khanna tells the tale of Outbox, a start-up that offered a service digital scanning and email paper mail for consumers.  Eventually, as they grew, the Post Office stepped in and quashed the start-up.

23andMe was a company that analyzed DNA for $100 and told individuals what their genome indicated.  They got a letter from the FDA saying that they were diagnosing people and needed to cut it out.

Derek saw how mobile phones were tethered to carriers as a slap in the face of the free market.  Some legal barriers arose to prevent consumers from switching handsets between carriers.  Copyright, it seems, has been used to stifle innovation, so Khanna is fighting to make sure these kinds of rules aimed at protecting content creators aren’t used to stifle innovation.

John Cappel on Overseas Contingency Operations

This week, John Cappel joins Michael to discuss the Overseas Contingency Operations budget.  Cappel work on Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense (BFAD) at the Stimson Center.  John and his colleague, Russel Rumbaugh, just put out a report “A Step Backward, or More to Go? FY15 Overseas Contingency Operations Request.
The Stimson Center focusses on global security challenges, and Cappel and his colleagues in BFAD look into where the money is actually going.

Cappel explains how OCO, or Overseas Contingency Operations, contains budget requests that are like supplemental war budgets.  Historically, supplemental budgets often arose in response to some kind of unexpected event, like a natural disaster or some kind of military conflict.  In the past, these supplemental budgets gave way to budgets that took into account the actual conflicts and the supplemental budget requests went away.  The OCO, however, has been around for a long time now.

Supplemental budgets are designed to address things that you can’t plan for.  Cappel contends that because there are caps on the base discretionary budget that apply both to the DoD and non-defense programs.  OCO lives outside the caps imposed by the Budget Control Act to allow the DoD to circumvent the caps.

OCO, which has related to Afghanistan in the past, now is a $58.6 billion request which includes $11 billion for operations and security for the forces in Afghanistan.  There are, of course, support costs, but now there are other things in the OCO request like the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, which is indirectly tied to our operations in Afghanistan, doesn’t appear to belong in the OCO budget.

Many feel that the OCO budget has become a bit of a slush fund.  DoD, for its part, is beginning to shift some of the OCO-type requests into the general budget.

The OCO Budget also has requests for $5 Billion for the Counterterrisom Partnership Fund (CTPF) with $4 billion for DoD and $1 billion to the Department of State.  There’s also the European Reassurance Initiative with a price tag of $1 billion which mostly goes to DoD.  Cappel refers to both as “head scratchers.”

There’s a lot less Congressional oversight on these kinds of OCO requests than if they were part of the regular budget requests.  However, administration said in 2012 that it would cap total OCO funding over 10 years to $450 billion.  OCO will probably stick around until Congress takes decisive action.

To read more about John Cappel and his work at the the Stimson Center, visit the Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense section of the Stimson Center’s Website.

Coalition to Reduce Spending on U.S. Debt and Fiscal Responsibility

Jonathan Bydlak and Rebekah Johansen of Coalition to Reduce Spending join Michael to talk about their organization.  The Coalition attacks spending like Grover Norquist‘s Group, Americans for Tax Reform, attacks taxes.  The group offers candidates a pledge which promises not to increase spending without an offset elsewhere. Senator Ted Cruz, South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, Georgia’s Doug Collins and Paul Broun, and Ohio’s Steve Chabot have signed the pledge.

The group discusses spending trends, how wars impact spending, as well as mechanisms to keep spending in check.  They also talk about the Budget Control Act (BCA) caps and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) cuts.  Bydlak and Johansen applaud members who are beginning to turn to these as avenues to curtail spending and programs ripe for cutting.

The Coalition advocates for a holistic approach to spending rather than a partisan approach where the left refuses to examine entitlements while the right views the defense budget as sacrosanct.  However, it seems many new conservative house members are more open to the idea of putting Pentagon programs on the chopping block when these projects fail to deliver objectives or become white elephants.

Coalition to Reduce Spending advocates an approach that would keep the government spending within its means.  They realize that the government spends money.  They just encourage the government to take a flexible approach that allows it so spend money, but just asks that an increase in a budget for one program or project be met with an offset from another program or project.  Visit Coalition to Reduce Spending to learn more.