Thursday, June 27, 2013
Google protect crooks
I think there are some serious concerns about how Google operates. My post on the topic is here. In case they block access to this blog in response to my criticisms, make a note now of the address of my mirror site here.
So Much For “Patient Privacy”…….
The Obama Administration has been getting hammered recently for their lack of preparation in the lead-up to the “official” roll-out of The Great and Powerful Obamacare on January 1, 2014.
A mere 100 days before people are supposed to start signing up to be in the government exchanges, the administration finally decided it might be time to put up a hotline for people to get more information about what it’s all about, and what they need to do.
Wanting to be helpful (no, really - I just wanted to see how efficiently my tax dollars are being used; being a pest was merely a happy little added benefit), I decided to give the folks at the hotline a call (1-800-318-2596) and see just how much help they were going to be to the unsuspecting Low Information Voter (LIV) who decided they wanted to throw some extra money the government’s way (remember, the Supreme Court said that the government cannot force the citizenry to purchase ANYTHING).
Let me just start out by saying that if the young ladies I spoke with are any indication, Obamacare is one big implosion just waiting to happen.
There are currently 30-35 states (out of 50) who took the SCOTUS at their word, and chose not to “take advantage” of the government’s poison pill for setting up their own exchanges. So Obama’s team gets to set up exchanges in those 30-35 states (have fun with that, m’kay guys?).
Guess who has no idea who is going to be running the exchanges in those states? Or how much a basic policy is going to cost? Or who is going to be paying the difference between the amount a “low-income” person will have to pay and the cost of the policy? (I neglected to point out that any exchange run by the federal government will not be eligible for the subsidies promised by the President and Congress, as expressly written in the bill – didn’t want anyone’s head to explode)
The first young lady told me that “nobody” has to pay that difference – the insurance company would be paying it. When I tried to explain to her that the insurance company most definitely DOES NOT pay for a person’s policy, she tried her best to convince me that oh, yes, they do……
These people have no idea what a bare bones policy will cost – only that there will be a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum level of coverage. They don’t know what the deductibles are going to be, nor do they know what the co-pays will be. They have no idea how much of a percentage of a family’s income will be required to be shelled out for a policy premium – even though it is spelled out in black and white in the original legislation.
(She helpfully informed me that the insurance company had to pay “80/20″, but I had to inform her that the number she was quoting – per what I can only guess she was reading verbatim off of the screen in front of her – referred to the amount that had to be paid out by the company in health care costs vs. administrative costs, and had nothing to do with the cost of individual policies whatsoever).
I guess I flustered the first sweet young thing too much with my desire for explicit answers, because I was asked if I wanted to speak to an “escalation specialist” - I guess that’s the new customer-friendly term for a supervisor.
I said sure, and she asked when would be a good time for “The Escalator” to call me back.
I said I would just wait on the line – I didn’t trust them to “get back to me” otherwise.
Apparently that wasn’t something Obamabette was expecting to hear - she said “Wait a minute”, put me on hold…….and then I got disconnected.
So I called back.
I got a different Obamabette, who wasn’t any more help than the first one, but interestingly enough, she saw on her screen that I had already called in once before, and that The Escalators were scheduled to call me back – she said I should hear back from them within 2-5 business days (good thing I didn’t need a lung transplant).
She even started to call me by name – before correcting herself and calling me Ma’am.
There’s just one problem.
When Obamabette #1 asked me for my phone number, I told her I didn’t want to give it out. I never gave her my name, either. So there should have been no way of anyone knowing anything about that first phone call when I called back the second time.
When pressed, it turned out that Obamabette #2 knew not only my name (and phone number), she knew my husband’s name as well – she even tried to tell me that perhaps my husband had also called earlier, and maybe he was the one who gave them that information. Which he most definitely did not do, seeing as he WORKS FOR A LIVING, and therefore doesn’t deal with stuff like this (that’s my job).
When I asked her how they had gotten access to my personal information, she couldn’t give me a good explanation.
When I asked her why my information wasn’t kept private – per my explicit request – she couldn’t give me a good explanation either.
When I mentioned that a citizen might have grounds for a privacy lawsuit in light of this information, she sounded taken aback.
When I said that maybe all of the stuff that’s been reported in the media about Big Brother snooping on all of us has some merit, she got really quiet…….
Mind you, I don’t fault her for this – she’s just an entry-level employee; what bothers me is that if our government wants to make life difficult for people who are asking “inconvenient” questions, all some employee would have to do is to flag a call like mine for “further review”.
We can’t have any troublemakers in Obama’s land of Skittles and unicorns, now can we?
What happens if they look further into such an inquiry?
Will someone like me be denied coverage – even though they “promised” me that I wouldn’t be - for being obese? For having high blood pressure? For having high cholesterol? For having Celiac Disease? For having Myasthenia Gravis?
What about for voting Republican? For supporting the Tea Party? For sending contributions to a conservative candidate’s campaign?
Will they deny my youngest daughter coverage because I didn’t have any prenatal testing done – which would have revealed her Down syndrome – and gave birth to a child who is going to be a “burden” on their system (which, I might add, we pay into quite handsomely each year)?
When I was asked for my phone number in my first call, I SPECIFICALLY stated that I did not want to give it out; I also made quite sure never to give them my name.
And yet, they had all of that information in front of them, and passed it along in a file to a supervisor.
One wonders what other information was on that computer screen – and just how they plan on using it in the future.
But no worries - The Administration promises that all of your data will be perfectly safe, and that no one will have access to your personal information unless you want them to.
Americans' foreign affairs strike home
Ever since President Clinton "did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," whatever remains of standards seems to have fallen even lower among people who hold offices and positions once thought to require good behavior and strong moral character.
Last year, several Secret Service agents left the agency amid scandal after allegedly engaging the services of prostitutes while advancing a trip to Cartagena, Colombia, for President Obama.
A side note: One of the prostitutes, Dania Londono Suarez, wrote a tell-all book about the incident titled "Room Service." According to the Huffington Post's Latinovoices, she's also opening a nonprofit to "help hookers" and "has a modeling contract, plus a deal to bring her story to television." Of course, she does.
Just this week, CBS News reported that "the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within its ranks." The allegations were contained in an internal Office of Inspector General memo, leaked by a former State Department investigator, which, according to CBS News, "cited eight specific examples" of impropriety, including the 2011 investigation into an ambassador who "routinely ditched ... his protective security detail" in order to "solicit sexual favors from prostitutes."
The ambassador, of course, denies the allegations. So, not surprisingly, does the State Department, which, reports ABC News, "offered a point-by-point pushback" to the memo's claims.
"We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday. Not so, says the memo. It alleges State Department investigations into the charges were "influenced, manipulated, or simply called off."
As if that isn't enough, the memo claims the State Department may have covered up details about an underground drug ring operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that allegedly supplied security contractors with drugs.
According to CBS News, the memo also includes allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards" and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security details "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries."
The solicitation of prostitutes among security details, alleges the memo, was an "endemic" problem.
This is worse than outrageous. These incidents, if proved true, are a stain on the honor and reputation of the country these people are, or were, supposed to represent.
In 1958, William Lederer and Eugene Burdick published a novel called "The Ugly American," which graphically detailed why U.S. diplomacy failed in Southeast Asia and why communism didn't. Our arrogance and boorish behavior doomed us there.
Unfortunately, the book turned out to be prophetic. Is history repeating itself, not on a military or political level, but in the destruction of what remains of our moral underpinnings?
How can the United States project its core values when people who represent it behave like out-of-control college kids on spring break?
There was a time when bad behavior carried serious consequences; a time when those who exhibited bad behavior suffered socially for their lapses. They lost jobs; they lost marriages; they lost friends.
Today, they're rewarded with book contracts and reality TV shows. What happened to doing what's right, instead of doing who's easy?
People who grew up with parents who instilled a strong moral code, attended schools that reinforced it and lived in communities that affirmed it, now find that if they question bad behavior today they're considered behind the times, even prudish.
With the media portraying all sorts of behavior as acceptable; with politicians in high places getting away with low behavior and in some cases paying little or no penalty, where are the deterrents?
Disappointing family used to be the default position for avoiding extramarital entanglements in cases where religious or ethical values did not apply.
While each man should be held accountable for his own behavior, the rest of us should consider what we're promoting and tolerating as a nation and the permission it gives others to follow bad examples.
Irving Berlin wrote a silly song called "The Secret Service (Makes Me Nervous)." We should all be nervous. We should also ask ourselves what we intend to do about it.
Obama's disturbing, hypocritical silence on Chicago gun violence
That's what we're getting from the president of the United States in the wake of Chicago gun violence that left eight dead and 46 wounded over one weekend.
Chicago is the adopted hometown of one President Barack Hussein Obama. It is a city that has some of the most draconian gun restrictions in the nation.
The weekend that began Friday, June 14, and ended Sunday, June 16, found Chicagoans enduring three days of gun carnage. According to a story on the website abclocal.go.com, Chicago police were involved in at least three of the shootings.
That means there were no fewer than 51 incidents of civilian-on-civilian mayhem. In one weekend.
You would think, as vociferous as our president was about the need for gun control and the need to end gun violence after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that we'd hear from him about the gun violence that occurred in just one weekend back in his hometown.
But our president is no fool. He might be a smarmy, smooth-talking demagogue, but he's no fool.
He knows that saying anything about gun violence in Chicago will only highlight just how useless laws that seek to control or ban guns are.
He knows that he won't be able to make cheap, tawdry, demagogic appeals to emotion the way he did in the Newtown massacre, trotting out the parents of dead children to make the case for gun control.
He knows that probably few, if any, of the gun incidents in Chicago involved so-called assault weapons, which the Democrats howled about banning after the Newtown shootings.
And above all, the president knows this: there is no opportunity for him to be the demagogue when it comes to the Chicago shootings. There's no upside, at least not for Democrats.
Discerning Americans will note that Democrats, members of the president's party, have run Chicago for quite some time.
And those same Americans might point out that Chicago's mayor is one Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's former White House chief of staff.
You can bet that if Republicans controlled Chicago as tightly as Democrats do, and that the gun violence the city experienced in all of 2012 and just last weekend happened on the Republican watch, it would be HUGE news in the mainstream media.
And yes, there would be television and newspaper editors pointing the finger of blame for Chicago's gun violence in one direction and one direction only: Directly at Republicans.
So lets' force Democrats -- and their esteemed leader in the White House -- to take ownership of their failure to control or even stem gun violence in Chicago.
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Posted by JR at 12:44 AM