Beyond Tea-Party Somnambulism!

Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

Private Sector High-Tech; Better Than Our Government?

Since the introduction of www.Healthcare.gov, used for enrolling people into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most Americans have been underwhelmed and frustrated with its poor performance. This failure has fueled renewed attacks by the GOP and tea party members who have opposed the ACA it since it’s inception, even after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

Whether you agree with the underlying legislation or not, let’s get one thing straight: the failure of the technological aspects of the website are not peculiar to the government. Critics charge the federal bureaucracy is incapable of setting up such a highly advanced website. Let’s stop being naive or so ideological that we overlook the fact that even the biggest high-technology companies have had their share of technology snafus, often hiding the damaging effects on the public. This is true even though they were not under the pressures of strict deadlines and reduced budgets faced by the government.

In case you think the private sector is any better at avoiding these high-tech snafus:

1. In 2011, Sony suffered a major security breach of its PlayStation Network on April 19. The company didn’t even disclose it until April 26 and apologized on May 1. In the days leading up to the outage, its network was hacked. Worse, the personal information of some 77 million customers was exposed. A week later, according to Japan’s Nikkei news, another breach involved the theft of 12,700 credit card numbers and data from over 24,000 users. This was the second worst security breach since the TJ Maxx and Heartland attacks.

2. In 2007, the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods chains admitted that its network had been hacked, and personal information for more than 45 million customers had been stolen. Although first detected in December 2006, it later admitted a breach as early as July 2005, a year after a security audit revealed “serious deficiencies” in its network—with over 100 million credit cards compromised.

If you think these are the exceptions…think again. These events are far more common than we may ever know, involving millions of credit cards or other pieces of our so-called ‘secure personal information.’  You can Google “technology errors” and come up with multiple disasters for Apple, Intel, Iomega, Dell, Amazon and Sony, our technology giants.

Computer and network security is big money, from the hacker’s, as well as the security analysts’ perspectives.  My son just received his PhD in computer/network security and is being paid big bucks to help prevent these kinds of problems.

Let’s stop looking to pin the blame on the Obama administration.  These websites are not simple templates; they need lots of excellent programmers and code-writers to get it right.  Even then, as we’ve seen, the end result is not always predictable.  Pitting the private sector against the government sector will end in a futile attempt at finger-pointing.  Perhaps the technologies and abilities needed in the high-tech arena are just as much an art as they are a practice of engineering.  Let’s give the government kudos for its intentions and some time to get it right before trying to show that “all things government related are fallible.”

 

Andy, You Don’t Represent ME!

Andy, contrary to your rhetoric and misleading representations…you DO NOT represent the people of the 1st District and you do not represent me! You continue to mislead and misrepresent the facts about every issue that is important to the people. As an example, raising the debt ceiling has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with spending, except that it allows the Treasury to pay the ALREADY existing obligations of the United States. Included in that is the $4billion a year you have given to big oil companies…the same oil companies that continue to report BILLIONS of dollars in profit, EACH AND EVERY QUARTER!

Harris votes "NO" on bill to end the GOP shutdown of government.

Harris votes “NO” on bill to end the GOP shutdown of government.

This shutdown, contrary to your continuing rhetoric, occurred because you and your Tea Party cohorts, put ideology above the security of our country and the welfare of our people.

The thinking voters in our District see through your political double-talk and the nonsense you espouse. They will remember how you treated them, and the full faith and credit of the US. You are no better than a seditionist, putting ideology first, no matter what harm it causes. Here is your latest error in judgment:

Oct. 16, 2013 H.R. 2775: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 – Bill Passes (285 – 144) HARRIS VOTED: NAY

 In true fashion, Andy “Dr No” Harris voted NAY to ending the Federal government shutdown. He voted, along with 143 of his fellow Tea Party seditionists, who wished to see the continuance of the shutdown, along with the loss of $24 billion to the American economy.

Even though it was clear to the majority of Republicans and all Democrats, that the stalemate was hurting Americans, from children and seniors who were cut off from food programs, to the millions of new home buyers, trying to get their FHA/VA-backed mortgages through the gridlock, not to mention the 800,000 Federal workers, kept from their jobs, Harris stood his ground and refused to vote for the best interests of his District and the country.

This is perhaps, the best example yet, of Harris’ inability to separate ideology from what is best for the country and the American people. Whenever he approaches a question that involves his political philosophy, he will always choose that philosophy over the needs of the people and the best interests of the country.

"Get over it" - Andy's attitude toward anyone who disagrees with him and his Club for Growth puppet masters!

“Get over it” – Andy’s attitude toward anyone who disagrees with him and his Club for Growth puppet masters!

He has shown this over and over, from his refusal to support Sandy relief, to his votes against the Violence Against Women Act, the 2013 Farm Bill, the SNAP program, the ACA, care for our Seniors and the Disabled, and his support to shut down the government and to keep it shut down…the list just keeps growing, on and on. He has done nothing to create jobs or fix infrastructure in our District, and continues to be a hypocrite about the security of our country and the welfare of our people!

Thankfully, our President has finally stood up to Harris and his Tea Party’s terrorist threats (remember, the US doesn’t negotiate with terrorists), instead, listening to the majority of voters who elected him…TWICE!  The President has tried, in the past, to negotiate with the GOP in good faith, only to see threats of a default, a shutdown and the sequester turn into a real shutdown and the 11th-hour rescue, by moderate Republicans and all Democrats, of the full faith and credit of the United States.

And what did this $24 billion hit to the American economy (not to mention the loss of international prestige) gain Andy and his fellow seditionists?  NOTHING! ZILCH! NADA! ZERO!  Correct; every single unreasonable, extortionist demand, made by the Tea Party GOP, was denied!  Many reasonable GOP members and voters are now abandoning their hopelessly sinking ship, realizing that there must be an end to “ideology over people and country.”  In so many ways, and on so many levels, this act of sedition, over the past 2 weeks, has brought the GOP closer to irrelevancy than even the candidacy and losing run, of Mitt Romney.  As the old saying goes, “You made your bed…now lie in it!”

 

Give Obamacare A Chance!

When the naysayers throw out ridiculous assertions about “Obamacare“, they often overlook the facts. One of those “facts” is that when we compare the cost of medical technologies, we find that European countries have a cost that is anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 that in the US, for similar technologies.

According to investment analysts who follow the medical field closely, these reductions in cost are attributed to “socialized medicine.”

Recently, Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc.’s, Jeff Cohen, whose livelihood is based on following the costs and efficacy of medical technologies, stated,

“Pricing for medical technology in European markets and the rest of the world is often one-half to two-thirds the cost of the U.S., because medicine there tends to be socialized.”

What does that mean? As “Obamacare” continues to be adopted and implemented in the US, we should continue to see medical technologies’ costs come down, which, in turn, will expand the use of better treatments and reduce the costs of health insurance, resulting in lower premiums.

As it was with Medicare almost 50 years ago, the opponents of Obamacare” should be looking past the politics and instead, focus on the benefits and advantages, from both the treatment and financial aspects. Medicare has been successful in providing health care for our seniors and disabled…give “Obamacare” a chance, and in 50 years, we’ll be able to say the same!

 

Nothing Back for Our Tax Dollars?? Au Contraire!

I know it should be obvious, but so many people STILL don’t understand the benefits we derive from paying our fair share of taxes.  A senior sent a letter to the Daily Times, where he complained about the “tax and spend Democrats” and finally declaring, “we have not gotten much return from our spending.”  I beg to differ; and although we know all the programs that the government runs, we sometimes forget, ourselves.  Here is just a tiny sampling, in my response to this gentleman’s letter:

To the 70-year old Grapevine writer, who says, “we have not gotten much return from our spending”, I must ask: Do you receive Medicare, Social Security, or Medicaid benefits? Has our military kept us safe from foreign attack? How about the men and women at the FBI & CIA: have they stopped terrorists from blowing up another skyscraper? At your advanced age, I guess you don’t think about what it costs to send a child to college, and how important financial aid is these days. Have you thought, lately, about the water you drink and the air you breathe, and how both have gotten better over the past 40 years, thanks to the EPA? Or, how factory workers have fared since OSHA was created? Have you visited any of our national parks and enjoyed the beauty of America?

Hopefully, you are a healthy 70-year-old, but if you happen to take any prescription drugs, you should be grateful to the FDA for keeping an eye on their creation, testing and manufacturing. If you were a farmer, you should be thankful for the federal assistance programs for agriculture. At 70 years, you probably still drive, right? Are you thankful that the roads and bridges you drive on aren’t collapsing (yet) under the weight of your SUV? We are still No. 1 in auto-making, thanks to our government.

Ida May Fuller, the first recipient

Ida May Fuller, the first Social Security recipient (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 

It’s great that you don’t have to worry much about the world around you anymore…you’ve gotten to a place where you are content; however, you’ve also gotten to a place where you refuse to see the connection between government, taxes and the many services provided by both. WE demanded these services; we pay for these services and WE are the beneficiaries of these services. If you were to wake up tomorrow morning without them, I dare say, that you would be one of those in line, demanding to know, “Why haven’t I received my government services today?”

Sad Day for the Eastern Shore!

It is a sad day for the Eastern Shore, to have a liar and a sham, like Andy Harris, be re-elected.  I was so hoping that this, my first post after the election, could call for a coming together of the “right” and “left.”  But, upon hearing Harris’ comments after his win, I am more committed than ever to replace him as our Representative.

Andy “Bizarro” Harris

He lives in a ‘bizarro’ world, claiming to have “reached out” to Democrats, when we know that he has voted against any proposals put forth by House Democrats or the White House.  His approach has even earned him the nickname, “Dr No”, because that has become his standard vote and position! And, according to his post-election comments, he will continue to live by his moniker and obstruct any progress in the House.

I am not whining about Harris’ win; the former Democratic candidate, Wendy Rosen, certainly didn’t help, by resigning a week after the deadline to remove her name from the ballot.  As such, Dr. John LaFerla could only run as the Democratic write-in candidate. I am just astonished by the failure of the commonsense Eastern Shore voter to see through the disguise and insincerity of Harris’ campaign. He is definitely a “RINO” (Representative In Name Only)!

When Harris holds himself out as a “great communicator”, saying that he is bringing both parties to the table, it just doesn’t fit with his history and performance, whether in the State Senate or in Congress.  In fact, Harris has been a major roadblock to both, the Maryland delegation and the House, where there have been multiple efforts by the Democratic leadership and the White House, to repair the economic mess perpetrated by the previous administration.

Harris lies when he talks about helping farmers, since he has voted against the Farm Bill, introduced by his own Party! Without its passage, our farmers will be hurt financially. He has voted against education, medicare, social security, job creation, health care and protecting our air and water, or the Chesapeake Bay.  In fact, only 4 bills were introduced (and passed) by Harris in his 2 years as Congressman. They dealt with reducing the tariffs on foreign-made men’s and women’s shoes! While millions of Americans were still unemployed and suffering, Andy embraced a foot fetish!

“Dr. No” – Doing nothing for the Eastern Shore!

Aside from the sound bites and clichés he has come to rely on, Harris cannot point to any real action on his part, to help our district or its residents.  He has failed to spur job creation, being more interested in expanding ‘fracking’ even though it has been shown to be destructive and dangerous, than he is in cooperating on solving our “Fiscal Cliff.”

He is a pawn of his corporate campaign contributors, mostly from out-of-state, and the sooner 1st district voters open their eyes, the sooner we will get a Representative who truly represents our interests. Until then, “Dr. No” will continue to be the obstructionist and do-nothing elected official, that he has been since his days in the Maryland Senate!

Ayn Rand = Paul Ryan = “I Got Mine, Screw You!”

The TRUTH about Paul “Ayn Rand” Ryan. Don’t keep this secret…share it with everyone you know.  Unfortunately, there is something here for everyone to hate!

Ryan: “I can’t believe there are people who are really buying my crap!”

1. His economic plan would cost America 1 million jobs in the first year. Ryan’s proposed budget would cripple the economy. He’d slash spending deeply, which would not only slow job growth, but shock the economy and cost 1 million of us our jobs in 2013 alone and kill more than 4 million jobs by the end of 2014.

2. He’d kill Medicare. He’d replace Medicare with vouchers for retirees to purchase insurance, eliminating the guarantee of health care for seniors and putting them at the mercy of the private insurance industry. That could amount to a cost increase of more than $5,900 by 2050, leaving many seniors broke or without the health care they need. He’d also raise the age of eligibility to 67.

3. He’d pickpocket the middle class to line the pockets of the rich. His tax plan is Robin Hood in reverse. He wants to cut taxes by $4.6 trillion over the next decade, but only for corporations and the rich, like giving families earning more than $1 million a year a $300,000 tax cut. And to pay for them, he’d raise taxes on middle- and lower-income households and butcher social service programs that help middle- and working-class Americans.

4. He’s an anti-choice extremist. Ryan co-sponsored an extremist anti-choice bill, nicknamed the ‘Let Women Die Act,’ that would have allowed hospitals to deny women emergency abortion care even if their lives were at risk. And he co-sponsored another bill that would criminalize some forms of birth control, all abortions, and in vitro fertilization.

5. He’d dismantle Social Security. Ironically, Ryan used the Social Security Survivors benefit to help pay for college, but he wants to take that possibility away from future generations. He agrees with Rick Perry’s view that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and he supported George W. Bush’s disastrous proposal to privatize Social Security.

6. He’d eliminate Pell grants for more than 1 million low-income students. His budget plan cuts the Pell Grant program by $200 billion, which could mean a loss of educational funding for 1 million low-income students.

7. He’d give $40 billion in subsidies to Big Oil. His budget includes oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while cutting “billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil.”

8. He’s another Koch-head politician. Not surprisingly, the billionaire oil-baron Koch brothers are some of Ryan’s biggest political contributors. And their company, Koch industries, is Ryan’s biggest energy-related donor. The company’s PAC and affiliated individuals have given him $65,500 in donations.

9. He opposes gay rights. Ryan has an abysmal voting record on gay rights. He’s voted to ban adoption by gay couples, against same-sex marriage, and against repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He also voted against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2009.

10. He thinks an “I got mine, who cares if you’re okay” philosophy is admirable. For many years, Paul Ryan devoted himself to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness as a virtue. It has shaped his entire ethic about whom he serves in public office. He even went as far as making his interns read her work.

If there was ever any doubt that Mitt Romney’s got a disastrous plan for America—he made himself 100% clear when he picked right-wing extremist Paul Ryan as his running mate. Paul Ryan is bad for America, but we can’t beat him if Americans don’t know everything he stands for. 

The GOP Strategy…Keep The Truth Secret!

The following is a post that is circulating in the online LTE sections of small-town papers around the State.  It appears to be from a “local” writer, but I think it is clearly a piece of Bongino

Dan Bongino – An “outsider”, born in NYC and a resident of MD for a couple of years!

campaign literature.  I have responded to it online and added my response in the Comments section.

There is an old saying which states “liberal policies care about the poor in theory- it’s the real poor they have a problem with”. Having spent many years in poverty as a child, I am intimately familiar with the pain of hunger and the burning desire for a better tomorrow. I will not be lectured by elites about their intentionally cryptic notions of “fairness”. It is my personal relationship with a past filled with painful memories of waking up hungry and the realization that it wasn’t just a bad dream that motivates me to confront an ideology that has imprisoned generations in an endless state of poverty. This sentence, imposed by decades of bureaucratic mismanagement, is marketed to the disadvantaged among us as a “gift” from self-anointed political philanthropists.

I refuse to accept the misguided notion, blindly propagated by institutional elites, that the political party best representing the interests of struggling lower income communities is the liberal wing of the Democratic party. When I analyze the issues I encounter most on the campaign trail, the economy and healthcare, I am deeply troubled by the quality issues in our prize city of Baltimore.

The Baltimore economy has been struggling to attract new businesses for decades. An exodus of tens of thousands of its citizens has not helped, as those leaving have taken their intellectual capital with them. A litany of new taxes and a “bureaucracy first, people second” approach to governing has led to an environment where the remaining citizens are viewed simply as tools to support the bureaucracy rather than the inverse. A well written op-ed piece by Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters in the Wall Street Journal on this very subject uses this stunning statistic which sums up the utter failure of Baltimore’s reliance on liberal economic ideology, “in 1950, the city’s median income was 7% above the national average. Today it is 22% below it.”

To add to the economic absurdity, the Mayor of Baltimore has now raised the “temporary” bottle tax, as if the chimerical dreams of a flourishing economy and streams of tax revenue were simply being subdued by the tax rate and not the underlying economic principles. We as Republicans must walk proudly into these communities, as I regularly do, and profess our ideas for growth, which are blind to socioeconomic class. I refuse to accept that a proud city, with infrastructure, public transit, access to the northeast corridor, a world class port and proximity to another major metropolitan area (Washington D.C.), should be relegated to a second class economy. I will not stand idle, while the good citizens of this great city are subjected to another minute of this “ignore the results” ideology.

With thousands of struggling lower income citizens utilizing Medicaid as a primary means of seeking access to healthcare, and ever increasing enrollment into the program, one would think, absent the facts, that the program serves the poor well. With their numerous speeches about “fairness” and “equality” it is easy to see why so many are misled. However, when we look again at the actual results of their “generosity” with our money, the story changes dramatically. An oft quoted University of Virginia study has shed light on the results on this program. The statistic that should ring alarm bells reads, a Medicaid recipient is 97% more likely to die after surgery than a person with private insurance. Wait, it gets much worse, a Medicaid recipient is 13% more likely to die after surgery than a person with no insurance at all. In what dictionary does this suffice as a definition of “help”?

With this piece I ask, rather I implore those at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale; please vote for change in 2012. Please allow us a shot at repairing decades of damage to your economy, your education system and your access to quality healthcare. Vote for change and hold us accountable. The worst possible outcome would be more of the same and you have a subsequent election to change it back if dissatisfied. Please stop going on blind dates in the voting booth. I will not stop sounding the siren and will fight for every vote in every Maryland community. And for those who continue to tell me I am wasting my time I ask you, “what are you doing to fight for those who need us most?”

Dan Bongino is the Republican nominee for United States Senate in Maryland

 

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