Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's A River In Egypt

I am back (somewhat). I apologize for the absence, but sometimes you do what you have to do, I did, and I am not really sorry about it... so there's that.

This post I am going to go on and on a bit about denial. The thing that got me started thinking about this (beyond the very obvious shortcomings in my own life), was listening to a radio blurb Monday morning where they were doing a spot on the alleged football game between the hapless Redskins and the Broncos. What got my attention was when they quoted RG3, the erstwhile Redskins quarterback, saying that the team was better than their record.

Now as observed for individual players on individual plays he is correct. There were some brilliant plays by the Redskins in that game that actually made it entertaining for a while. That being said, RG3, and the whole organization, are living in a sad state of denial if they believe they are not as bad as their record. There were too many missed passes, missed defensive opportunities, badly called plays, missed this, missed that, and missed the other thing in that game. They truly are a second rate team with a first rate player budget, relying on an affluent fan base and big market advertising to sustain what really should be an unsustainable program. They haven't been good for probably more years than I've been a fan. To believe otherwise is to take a seat on that big green overstuffed chair called denial.

In any case, that got me thinking about the role reality denial plays in our world. We all deny our reality to some extent. It is a coping mechanism for the complex and often baffling world we encounter where we are told by our betters that what we think we know as reality isn't. The political landscape is littered with such platitudes such as "If you like your plan you can keep it", "More guns on the street mean more death and destruction", or "Global warming is settled science". Rationally you can look at each of these, and wonder how they can possibly be true in the face of cold hard facts. You shrug, shake your head, and move on, content with the knowledge that there are enough rational and thinking people in your society that will apply the same critical thinking skills and these seeming transparent falsehoods will be regulated to the lunatic fringe. Instead, we are surprised when these beliefs apparently become mainstream and we become the fringe. Take a place up there on that big green chair with RG3 and the coaching staff of the Redskins, because you sir or madam are in a state of denial.

Comfortable? Good. As they say in the AA meetings, admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. Toward that end, i'd like to start this out in AA fashion. Here you go:
Hi, my name is Mike, and i'm a gun hugging, science denying, poor people hating because I don't want them to have health insurance conservative.
I'm pretty sure i'm supposed to hear a rousing "Hi Mike" here. No? Ok. Next I guess I should say how long it's been since I last expressed my hateful conservative rhetoric:
It's been five days since I last blogged about my dear leader's incompetence.
So far so good. I understand there are 'steps' involved in this process, and found the innerwebs had a good list on Wikipedia - so here I go with a conservative's adaptation of that list:
1. I admit I am powerless in the face of the liberal media's ability to warp reality
Let's face it. They are really good at lying. They do it consistently, loudly, and with great conviction. There is nothing I can write here that is going to change that.
2. There is a greater power than myself that can restore me to sanity
Well duh! We are talking about 2 branches of the government + 1/2 of the remaining third + all the RINOs in the House of Representatives. The power doesn't get any higher than that.
3. I will turn over my will and life over to this higher power.
 Well that's not really necessary. Once Obamacare takes over, the death panels will literally have the power of life and death over me anyway. The mental health profession can't be too far behind them to take care of that whole 'will' thing.
4. Search my inner self for my moral weakness in the face of the Democratic way
See, now we have a problem. From everything I know, even though their rhetoric attempts to take the moral high ground, it's usually based on some fairly immoral foundations. I guess I will understand that more when I complete step 3 and lose my will.
5. Admit to Obama and my peers exactly what I have done as a conservative and why it was wrong
Humm. Well, I guess I can give that a try. I like being able to defend myself and my family against criminals, and that is wrong because the criminals deserve, well, something. I have attended tea party rallies to protest against Obamacare, and that was wrong because I was in that crowd that didn't spit on that congressman.  I did attend various town hall meetings and even stood outside one where my congresscritter's 'open town hall' was actually on property closed to the general public. That was probably wrong because congressman are people too and deserve the respect of the electorate, except if they are Republicans. I'm sure that given time, i'll think of some more...
6. I am entirely ready for Obama to remove my belief in a free society
Ok. that one is going to take a little more time and effort...
7. I humbly ask Obama and the democrats to remove my conservatism.
I picture that looking like this:

Though again, I guess with the miracle of modern psychotherapy, this won't be much of an issue after the proper application of #3.

8. Make a list of all the democrats I have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them
9. Make amends to them where ever possible, unless it will do them harm
Sadly, my list is pretty short. I guess I could join my congresscritter's re-election campaign, but I suspect that having another old white bigot on the staff might not do him much good.

The rest of the steps are more blah, blah, rinse, repeat. So I am going to skip them for now. Let's just say I have a very long road to go, and will probably always be a recovering conservative. I guess I should end this with the Serenity Prayer, but prayer is the last thing a recovering conservative should be doing... Awe what the hell:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Screw you Obama! Now, who wants a drink?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Short Hiatus

Short hiatus (a few days) while I stare at my navel and contemplate the universe. Either that or SQUIRRELS!!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

And that is that...

So, unless you have been under a rock for the past couple of days, you know that the Boner caved, then GOP in the Senate did what they do best - stabbing their base in the back - and the Bamster got basically everything he wanted, with the unconscionable assistance of the government sponsored press apparatus. Sadly, my 99.99% correct flow chart is now complete (though I guess we won't ever know about the Apple Pie Moonshine thing):

While most of the arguments for 'compromise' were so blatantly false they just aren't worth my time to refute, there was a constitutional issue that was put forward that caused me to learn something, so i'll share that here with you. I was listening to CSPAN Monday and I heard a Democrat congressman say something about the House risking default was potentially in violation of the 14th amendment, which states that the 'credit of the nation will not be questioned'. Now that 'will not be questioned' phrase got my attention as it seemed to me to be somewhat contrived. To my amazement, it is actually in there. Here's exactly what the 4th section of the 14th amendment says:
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Understanding the historical context of this amendment is kinda important. This amendment, along with 13th and 15th were all passed just after the civil war to settle matters that were left hanging as a result of the war - i.e. debts, voting, and slavery. While the other sections of this amendment have been adjudicated like crazy by the Supremes (yes - that is a Mark Levin term), this section has gotten very little scrutiny, mainly because there just isn't much to litigate about it in modern times. I would guess that after all this time, most monetary issues related to the Civil War are settled matters. In fact, the main case I could find dealing with this section was Perry v US, where the government didn't want to have to pay a gold bond holder actual gold or it's equivalent value, but the Supremes came to the conclusion that they did since 'the public debt... shall not be questioned'.

There are two aspects to this Section that were applied to the debt limit debate, both linked by similar if not identical faulty logic. The are:

  1. The President, compelled by the Section 4 of the 14th Amendment doesn't need to get Congressional Authority to raise the debt limit.
  2. Congress by not authorizing an advancement of the debt limit, puts the credit of the US in jeopardy, and thus is in violation of the 4th Section of the 14th amendment.
Both of these treat the debt and credits of the United States as if it is a static and inelastic entity. Of course nothing could be farther from the truth as we are talking about trillions in debt, and billions in revenue daily. To say that it's pretty complicated would be an understatement. Thankfully, the principles espoused in the amendment are not. It basically says, our debts will be paid first, nothing more, nothing less. So if Congress does not allow the executive to borrow more money to pay for obligations that they have told the executive that it could spend, the executive first has to pay the debts, then has discretion to allocate the remaining funds as it sees fit. To do otherwise, as one old lady from Alaska (among others) has said, would be an impeachable offense.

In fact, this is exactly what the executive did with the mythical shutdown. In the face of no directions from Congress, it attempted to scale back operations of the government to not exceed it's income. That it did so in such a spectacularly ineffective way is arguably an impeachable offense, but even if the Senate were composed of enough of GOP majority to do so, it would take great hubris to prosecute the executive for failing to do what is essentially the Congress's job. Now if the executive did such a poor job while vetoing law that would relieve it of such responsibility, then that would be a different matter. In either case impeachment would be improbable as, beyond Section 4 of the 14th amendment, there is little constitutional guidance as to what the executive has to do when faced with no directions from Congress. However, applying a constitutional yardstick, the giving grants to Cookie Monster probably shouldn't have precedence over such items as paying soldiers or air traffic controllers.

I understand this rather modest application of logic collapses the whole basis of why the GOP folded at the last minute. I guess the screams of the press from around the world, and the nervousness of the gullible shills on Wall Street got to them. I find it hard to believe that in a body made up of mostly lawyers they could not see this. That is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole sad drama, and it's implications will continue to reverberate over the coming months.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wisdom of the Ancients

Once you get inside, you realize that the commercial space business is as litigious as any other business, sometimes to their own detriment. Take this story about Orbital's suits against a Russian firm and the State of Virgina (H/T Instapundit) . Here's what I found interesting about this. The engine they are attempting to move to for their new launch vehicle? 20 year old technology. The mover and launchpad they are fighting VA over paying for? 20 year old technology. Hell, the supply vehicle for CRS? Twenty year old technology... While there is nothing wrong with basing your next achievements on the pillars of your past experience, you have to wonder about a future that doesn't have much actually created in this decade. In that respect, it's no wonder that SpaceX is kicking their butt, and without a major cultural shift in the company, will continue to do so.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Scary Stuff

No - this is not about the 'shutdown', though that is of course pretty scary. I thought i'd take a break from writing about that to cover a few things that got stuck in my queue after the semi-hiatus brought on by the stomach flu. As I looked over my collection, I realized I had a theme of scary stuff I had collected, and with Halloween just around the corner, why not go with it... so without further adieu, here's some

(see - it's scary because it's in Trebuchet font and RED)

First up is this:
Normally, somebody digging up an old brain is really not news. I mean, a guy's got to eat, am I right? But this report of scientist finding a really old brain in Turkey caught my eye. It turns out that the 4000 year old brain was preserved when the owner was burnt, and buried by an earthquake, and died. Talk about having a really bad day. What's cool is what the scientist can learn from such old brain matter.

In other old head related news there is this:
It turns out the the preserved head of Henry IV may not be real, according the DNA test. I had no idea that old heads were even a marketable items. I mean, if you are a collector, how do you show off your dead king head? I can also understand the problem of verifying the providence of such an item. With family lines being a mess and cross breeding and couplings, they couldn't even verify legitimacy when they were alive. In any case it's a preserved head, and that makes it scary.
no - this is not in Norway...
It seems that Norway has a problem with it's dead. They are apparently not decomposing fast enough to provide space for the newly dead. Isn't that always the way with old people? The problem it seems is that the dead were wrapped in plastic, so the decomposition process was halted. This means that in a country that is short of burial plots, when they went to bury aunt Sara in great grandpa's grave, he wasn't done with it yet. Their solution was to use tubes to 'inject' lime into the remains to help the tarrying bodies complete the natural process. I am thinking no one wants to claim the credit for that invention.

Moving on to the scary things in the land of the living (dead):
In another brilliant piece of jurist prudence, this guy just has to live with being declared dead. The truth is somewhat less entertaining. They guy left his wife and children, and after 8 years, she had him declared dead. This seems to me to be somewhat gaming the system. The wife got death benefits after the legal declaration of his death. Now the guy pops up and says he's alive and he wants is social security number back so he can get his retirement. I am guessing the best way for him to get it now is to say he is an illegal alien and get a green card. Hell is a demonstratively bad place and worthy of a grant asylum. He just have to prove that he came from there, which should be easy given the circumstances of how he left his wife, children, and and child support payments.

Turning to human organ related news:,0,1018467.story
It appears that citizenship and free government cheese is not all that the illegal aliens are after. Apparently, they want to jump in line for red, white, and blue organs too. It does kinda make sense. After all they didn't have to go through the normal process if immigration, so why should they be denied organs? Scary!!!

Finally this feel good story from mother Russia:

A grown up 'wild boy' is discovered in the vast forest of Siberia where he had been living for 16 years after being abandoned by his parents. The officials who found him took the necessary steps to integrate him back into society. Of course in Russia, all that means is that they issued him an ID. "Papers! You must have papers!!! How else will you get health care?"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

You had me at 'Good Morning'

So I woke up this morning listening to NPR carrying The Bamster's Weekly Radio address. I was struck by his smugness and apparently willingness to continue demagoguing in the face of apparently yet another GOP cave to his kingship. I copied down the full text and thought i'd take a deeper look at just what he said. So here that goes:

Good morning.
Ok, given that this came out at something like 5am, nobody really believes that he recorded this sometime this morning, if so it was like 1am, and he and Reggie Love were doing shots in the secret White House rumble room. His speech is not a bit slurred, so I am guessing that he did this sometime yesterday afternoon. So thanks Mr President, you have, in true form, started out with a lie.
Over the past few days, I’ve met with Republicans and Democrats from both houses of Congress in an effort to reopen your government and remove the dangers of default from our economy.
Well sure he met with Boner. But as I recall, Boner came out of that meeting talking about how pointless it was as The Bamster just went over how he was not going to negotiate. So, while the first sentence is technically correct, it is something of a lie by omission. To actually open the the government, it would have to be closed. So far, 83% of it remains active, with only NTSB, food inspectors, and park rangers getting sent home.
It’s a positive development that House Republicans have agreed on the need to avoid the economic consequences of not meeting our country’s commitments. 
So it's just the house republicans that aren't meeting our obligations? You make it sound like these obligations just grew on trees and somehow fell on our country unbidden. The truth is a bit more complicated. Basically you have been given a blank check, and now that Congress is balking, it's their fault they are not handing you another one to spend.
 Because once the debt ceiling is raised, and the shutdown is over, there’s a lot we can accomplish together.
HAHAHA! Once I get what I want, I can make them squirm and give me even more of their stuff!
We’ve created seven and a half million new jobs in the past three and a half years. Now let’s create more.
 Why tell the truth when a bald faced lie will do, as long as you continue to repeat it. This economy is in the toilet, and August unemployment hit 4 year low because people are giving up on looking for jobs.
 We’ve cut our deficits in half over the past four years.
Um, math question here. If that is true, then why do we need to increase the debt limit? the real truth is the debt under your administration dwarfs all the preceding administrations.  Here's a handy chart.
 Now let’s do it in a smarter, balanced way that lets us afford to invest in the things we need to grow.
So the way to grow the economy is to spend more money on government programs? Who knew? If all our income and money went to the government, we would be all fabulously wealthy and never have to work again. What a great idea!
 <blah, blah...> I met with some really innovative small business owners on Friday who’ve already lost contracts, lost customers, and put hiring on hold – because the pain of this Republican shutdown has trickled down to their bottom lines. It’s hurting the very citizens that our government exists to serve.
Well that kinda fits with the above. The little guys that are being hurt are contractors that can't get their money from the government. The government is set up to serve those guys? that doesn't seem right... I am thinking that old Republican had it all wrong - perhaps it was because he was a warmonger making a speech at a battlefield:
 that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Guess he didn't get the word about government serving the contractors. What a maroon!
That’s why a growing number of reasonable Republicans say it should end now.
HAHAHA! I've got a bunch of them scared by a fake poll by NBC/WSJ!
 And it wouldn’t be wise, as some suggest, to just kick the debt ceiling can down the road for a couple months, and flirt with a first-ever intentional default right in the middle of the holiday shopping season.
 Republicans want to steal Christmas! The bastards! I bet their going to kill Kenny too!
Because damage to America’s sterling credit rating wouldn’t just cause global markets to go haywire; it would become more expensive for everyone in America to borrow money. Students paying for college. Newlyweds buying a home. 
Let's set aside the fact the, um, elephant in the room is that America's credit rating is complete BS, given we are the largest debtor nation on earth, largely obfuscated by the fed's 'quantitative easing' (buying our debt up by printing money). In fact, what you are saying is if the debt limit isn't raised, then the house of cards will come falling down. So rather than face our problems, it's just best to pretend they are not there.
It would amount to a new tax – a Republican default tax – on every family and business in America.
Nothing partisan about this discussion. Again, this debt thing is somehow the Republican's fault for trying to force you to deal with it.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s not supposed to be this way. Manufacturing crises to extract massive concessions isn’t how our democracy works, and we have to stop it. Politics is a battle of ideas, but you advance those ideas through elections and legislation – not extortion.
Uh, small point here, but this whole thing is about legislation that deals with one of the primary responsibilities of congress - authorizing spending. What you really mean is you control the two thirds of the government, you won, so the House republicans should sit down, shut up, and do as their told. Unfortunately, while I haven't checked them all, i'm pretty sure they were elected too.
<blah, blah> I want you to remember: this is not normal. Our government is closed for the first time in 17 years. A political party is risking default for the first time since the 1700s. This is not normal. 
 As I pointed out earlier, only 17% of the government is closed. While it is unusual for someone that was a member of the 'Choom Gang' way back then, government shutdowns are pretty common in our system of government - 17 times seems to be the number that keeps popping up.  The risk of default is also a bit of a red herring. If the debt limit is raised, then the government will have to make do with the money it gets in... i.e. - austerity. Again, it is notable that this debt did not just drop on us from the sky.
Whether it’s the work of creating jobs, growing the economy, or getting our fiscal house in order for the long haul, we’ve got a lot of work to do – and constant brinksmanship doesn’t let us do it.
As I recall, it was The Bamster that has refused to negotiate and forced the 'brinkmanship'. But by all means, blame the whole thing on the Republicans.
<blah, blah> - the more frequently this brinksmanship is inflicted – the more we’ll see markets react, businesses put off plans to spend and hire, and unemployment claims tick up. 
Wait a minute! Didn't you just say that you had created a bunch of jobs? So which is it? Are the number of jobs going up and the economy is going gangbusters, or not? Ah - I see, the tanked economy and all the jobs lost over the past four years are because the republicans have shut down the government now? I had no idea the economy was so prescient.
 The hundreds of thousands of hardworking civil servants who go even longer without pay will worry that they won’t be able to cover their bills, and that their own creditworthiness will be ruined for no good reason at all. And I want to thank all the neighbors and local business owners who’ve shown acts of kindness to these Americans who serve their country. I ask that same spirit of citizenship from lenders who do business with these folks. Because they’re being punished enough through no fault of their own.
As I have stated elsewhere, while I feel for those workers that have been laid off on essentially paid vacations, they are last people I would worry about. To make this about government employees who are on paid vacations is really kinda slimy.
So let’s pass a budget, put people back to work, and end this Republican shutdown
Not my fault! Not my fault! Not my fault! The buck didn't even think about stopping here!
Because there is so much else we should be focusing our energies on right now. We’ve got to create more jobs, and kids to educate, and an immigration system to fix. We’ve got more troops to bring home, and a middle class to rebuild, and opportunity to restore.
Allow me to translate:

  1. Create more jobs: give my cronies and the unions more of your money.
  2. Educate kids: indoctrinate the kids to the principles of Marx, and the values of socialism. If you don't like it we'll lock you up.
  3. Fix immigration: Flood the system with illegals from Mexico, solidifying a democrat voter block for the next 50 years 
  4. Bring the troops home: give up, except for our support of our Muslim brotherhood friends in Egypt and Al Qaeda in Syria, because really - who cares about a bunch of dead Christians?
  5. rebuild middle class: Give more money to the freeloaders, moving them into the middle class, solidifying that voting block.
And as always, this country works better when we work together.Thank you, and have a great weekend.
As long as I get my way, nobody gets hurt. You got a problem with that? Does that whole 'great weekend' thing sound a little ominous to anyone else? No? Ok then, y'all have a great weekend, ya hear?

UPDATE: Welcome IMAO readers! Since you are reading this on Monday, you'll probably be thinking "What the heck? Have a great weekend?" No worries though, since this is Columbus Day, it still counts as the weekend! So, kick off your shoes (except for Ernie - jeez that guy has smelly feet), make your self comfortable, and stay a while. Heck, even bookmark me or subscribe to my RSS feed. You could do a drinking game with that by how many times I go back and edit some completely incoherent post after I publish it. Fun stuff, most of the time... and thanks for dropping by.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hostages and Whatnot

I took note of the Joy Reid (no relation to this guy apparently - but you know - what happens in Vegas...) comment (via Weasel Zippers) about how the Republicans have apparently gone ahead and shot the hostage

I remember back when Obamacare was being debated. We were told by everyone how we needed to keep it civil. Now that it is under a legitimate counter-attack, I guess all that is out the window. For proof I guess you only have to look at the compilation here about all the violent rhetoric the commander in chief is using (H/T Instapundit). 

Remember these that Sara Palin was using that had the left all in a twitter?

And now it's ok to talk about Republicans shooting hostages. What's next - it will be OK for a guy like this:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Amazing Stuff I Heard on CSPAN Yesterday

So I was stuck listening to CSPAN yesterday while I slaved away in my cave. Here's a few things that I found interesting.

First up, a representative from Oregon notes how many unique hits that the Oregon exchange got. Now anyone who has read this blog knows how much hits matter to me. Just check out my site meter... wait - I don't have one of those... nevermind. In any case, I got to wondering just how effective the Oregon exchange was, so I went over there and tried to price a plan based on the mythical Obama like family I used earlier with the DC exchange. After some fitzing around to get the exact correct zip / county combination, I came to this screen:

So many people may have visited, but I doubt, given this, many people enrolled. Those numbers are so far not available.

Then I listened to everyone's favorite legislator, Shelia Jackson Lee.

She noted that she was a lawyer. I was amazed. While I knew that most congresspersons were lawyers, I had no idea that she was. I decided to go look and see if she was a member of the Texas Bar. Here's what I found:

Heh: Occupation: Government Lawyer. That right there tells you everything that is wrong with our system of government. Looking at her bio, I am guessing that she has not appeared in front in a jury in a very long time.

Moving on, she made the astute observation that the process of budgeting is different than the process of opening the doors of the government. I see. So the obligation of congress to appropriate money should not mix with congress's obligation to appropriate money so government can continue to operate. Got it.

Then I listened in on Obama's press conference. First he noted that with the shutdown the federal government wasn't able to issue drilling permits. I did a little checking. It turns out that it take the federal government on average 307 days to issue an offshore drilling permit. Now with the shutdown, they have put the brakes on that breakneck pace. My question is, how could you tell?

Then he was asked a question about why wouldn't he sign the individual funding bills that the house had passed to the senate. He explained that it wouldn't be fair if he did that, because programs and agencies that didn't get 'attention' wouldn't get funding. So congress should just fund everything at once, or nothing at all? He went on to note that it wasn't fair to him either as he didn't get to pick and choose what laws he gets to obey. Really? Can we talk about waivers for Obamacare? Can we talk about delays? can we talk about selective enforcement of 'hate' crimes by the DOJ? Just a little hubris there...

Finally, the ever entertaining Allen Grayson got on the floor, and in an rather disgusting display, read liberal newspaper accounts calling congress 'Turds', and other worse names, then tried to force a vote on a clean CR because the 'dignity of the house' was lost (since newspapers were calling them names). He was slapped down, but not until he had the pleasure of, by proxy, calling all his colleagues every name in the book. What a class act.

Here is the video

(WARNING: Foul language, extreme smug liberal attitude - remove all sharp or heavy objects from area before watching - not responsible for damage to your web viewing device)

I am still recovering. I hope to get some time to write some more stuff a little later. Until then, have a great day!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Brief Pause

Flu like stuff going on - more free ice cream when I can eat it, not that I would really - not on the paleo diet plan you know...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Health Exchange Fun - Part 3

This is the third part of the series I started a while back. You can see them all by going to the Health Exchange Fun label summary.

As I noted in the previous post, I meant to come back and look at the site before October 1st. With the government shutdown and so many other fun things to write about (and having a life), I didn't get a chance to to do that. Since October 1st, I have gone back to the main site a few times and tried using the default exchange (which is what a Virginia resident is supposed to do) to look over my options. As has been noted elsewhere, this is as far as I got:

Since that was out, I returned to the main screen and used to link to go to the exchange for DC residents. To do anything on the site, you have to establish an account. This got me thinking. What if the House measure succeeds in getting all Federal Employees to go through the exchange to get their healthcare? I decided to fill out the forms to see how hard it would be for Obama to do this himself.

After putting in an appropriate username and password, I had to select some alternative security questions and answers:

Entered some details about myself:

My kids & spouse:

Then got to this summary screen - so far so good:

I then selected to browse for plans:

Note the cute little people in the top right corner. Two adults and two children. Also note that the adults both are generic 'men' pictures, even though I entered a female spouse. In their efforts to be gender neutral here, they made 'man' shapes! How sexist! I am drafting a letter to the ACLU!

Moving on, the next screen was something of a surprise:

I was asked to select what kind of plans I was looking for. In DC, apparently the exchanges include dental care! I did not realize that dental was part of Obamacare. Reading the fine print, it appears that some plans come with pediatric care. How can the do this in a program that is only funded to support regular health plans? There seems to be a legal conundrum. What if they also included witch doctor consults? Would the taxpayer have to supplement that also?

I next was asked to select a plan type.

Not really knowing Obama's financial situation, I decided to select the cheapest and the most expensive. That way he will have an idea of what his high/low outstanding cost are. On the next screen, I selected to see all plans, regardless of the deductible:

Love the $$$ fanned out. I feel like I am playing the lottery!

Uh-oh! I encountered the first (non-fatal) error when I hit next:

Apparently, my form has already been processed before - even though this is my first visit. How is that possible? Has Obamacare somehow violated the space time continuum? I'm not so sure I am comfortable straying outside the laws of physics to get health insurance. I pressed 'Ok' and proceeded carefully...

The lowest priced plan has a $12000 deductible, and a monthly payment of $721. That probably is a bit our of reach for most the vulnerables of DC. let's see what the most expensive, lowest deductible plan looks like:

So that one cost more than what most people pay for rent. How practical! I am so glad that Obama is standing up to the childish Republicans to preserve our right to this health insurance.

I selected the 'See if I Qualify' button and got this:

If you think that is a blank page, you are correct! This is as far as I could get. I returned to the main page and selected the 'Apply for help paying' option,

since I was thinking that even Obama would need a little help with the above quoted rates. I was presenting with the intriguing following menu:

So apparently, call center folks will be using this web site to 'help' people. Since every other Tom, Dick, and Harry are using it too, what could go wrong? I wondered what that would look like, so I selected that option. It asked for my name and ID. Since I didn't have one I hit the back button, which brought me back to the main menu. After navigating back to the above menu, I selected to bottom option and got this:

So apparently, even 'authorized representatives' are going to have a hard time getting into this.

I selected the top option and filled in my information. I was curious what a 'homeless' person would do, so I choose those options:

You gotta love where technology has taken us. Now even homeless people without addresses can have health insurance. Of course, if they are say, sitting in Jamaica and filling out this, there is really nothing to stop them. Thus, the next set of questions:

I played with this for a little while. Selecting all manner of combinations of having & not having a valid citizenship - each time I selected next, I got this screen

Then this when I hit next:

I am not quite sure what I am supposed to provide 'Administrator' with here, but that message strikes me as a little scary. Not making any progress here, I hit my browser 'back' button to return to the main menu (not the previous one - I have learned how to navigate this site!) and select to apply without getting financial help:

 I am once again asked to enter in my name and ethnicity. This time I decide to be an incarcerated illegal alien:

When I select 'next', I am told to call a different toll free number with my 'reference number'.

I did not really see such a number anywhere. If I were a illegal alien sitting in a prison somewhere, filling out this web page on my computer, I would be getting pretty mad right now, maybe even start a riot! Attica! Attica!

I tried filling it out as a regular person, using a pseudo real SSN:

and got this again:

An interesting note here. When I entered a totally BS SSN, I got an error. This makes me think that there might me a security flaw here where this would be a tool for screening valid SSNs. That's a little frightening also.

Since I was clearly going nowhere, I went back to the main menu and played a little with finding an 'trained expert' to help me out. This helpful map was displayed:

What's interesting about this, is trained experts don't actually have to be located in DC to help out the residents there. In fact, it appears that brokers are predominately outside the district. That seems a little odd. I do hope that they are paying Google for this map service and not violating Google's terms of service:

When I selected one of the experts, and clicked on what looked like a web link I got this:

Effectively, a 404 error.

In browsing the 'trained experts', I came across this one:

This was clearly a made up entry that somehow made it into the database, unless trained experts who speaks 'Amharic' (a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia) or Mandarin is needed for DC - which it could be. I looked up the web address mentioned in the e-mail reference and came up with this:

So Sara didn't purge her test entry from the database before the DC site went live. This seems a little, I don't know unprofessional and amateurish? 

I could go into a whole rant here about how the 'agile' development process is so much BS, but I will save that for another time. Suffice it to say we are getting exactly what we paid for with these health exchanges. God help us all...

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I will preface the following with admitting that I occasionally over react - I mean really - check out the name of the blog.  That being said, as I was waking up this morning, I heard a hint on the radio that Leader Boner was up to some kind of 'grand bargain'. As soon as I fired up my laptop and perused the innerwebs I found this article talking about him doing just that.

Now admittedly, there is not too much substance to this, beyond the wet dreams of the liberal press cheerleaders (I cannot believe I just mixed that metaphor - sorry!). The meat of it is that it would be just lovely for Boner to combine legislation to raise the debt limit, which must be done in just over a couple of weeks, with the fight over the spending bill that is the cause of all the hoopla.

(begin shiny object divergence)

I just had to look that word up when Google suggested the proper spelling as I was writing the above sentence. Hoopla is a real word. From this site, here are the rules for hoopla:
Normally, a nominal sum is charged for the chance to throw four hoops. As with most traditional fairground games, the standard rules mean that the game is much harder than it looks so that prizes are not won too often. In the case of Hoopla, the rules insist that the hoop comes to rest flat on the table around the Hoopla base - it's not good enough to just encircle the prize. For school fairs and in other situations where the intention is to give out many more prizes, we suggest relaxing the rules so that a prize is given any time the hoop encircles the prize even if it lands on top of the base
 Ah yes. I remember losing at that game as a kid. In fact, it was instructional in my path to maturity about how to spot a con and life itself really. What I learned from that experience was:

  1. read the fine print - i.e. the posted rules that say the ring has to circle the base
  2. If you count on random events or the charity of strangers, you will mostly loose 
  3. Even if you win at that game, the prizes will be crap. Nothing worth having in life is free or easy. 

(I just included this because it shows the game - I really can't understand a word she is saying. BTW: While she is a reasonably attractive young lady, what is it about Brits and bad teeth? National Health Care? Remember: Obamacare does not include dental care... which is proper, given the Origin of Dentistry)

(end shiny object divergence)

Let's see - where was I? Oh yes - another Grand Bargain. Let's review what happened at the last grand bargain. As you may recall, it occurred when Congress was attempting to pass a debt ceiling raising authorization back in 2011. Ryan and Boner walked away with a bill which said that if the two houses of congress could not agree on a budget, then 'automatic across the board cuts' would take effect - i.e. Sequester. It is the elephant in the room, lurking in the background of all the drama of the government shutdown.

(another shiny object divergence)

My thought when writing the above was, "Wait a minute, wasn't sequestration supposed to take care of removing the drama from budgeting?" 

The following is my best understanding of the situation which I admit may be completely wrong. The fact that this is hard to understand is indicative of a systemic problem - ya think?

As presented back in 2011, I thought that if congress and the president wanted to squabble over budget issues, then both would loose and 'automatic' appropriations would go into effect. That is still true. But since most congress critters are lawyers, and lawyers are a slippery bunch, it's not so black and white. While sequestration says where the money will go, the two houses and president still must agree on a bill each year allowing the money to be spent. If that seems to be a distinction without a difference, well, you are not thinking properly and need to get your mind right.

(end another shiny object divergence)

One could argue that Reid and Obama need to go back and read their Sun Tzu. While crafting the sequestration strategy, they failed to allow the conservatives a way to leave the field of battle. Thus, this 'shutdown' drama was inevitable as they are left to exercise the only control they have left. Conversely, it would be the height of foolishness for the conservatives to relinquish this control without getting some real and tangible concession.

It is probably no great revelation that Boner and Ryan got their clock cleaned by the last grand bargain.  I hope they are not foolish enough to attempt the same thing again. Unfortunately, there are enough 'moderate' legislators in the house and senate, that such a 'deal' - which essentially gives Reid and Obama whatever they want - is all but inevitable. I am thinking that it is time for those two to take a walk on the Midway for a refresher course in life lessons from carnies and the intriguing game of hoopla. That way, when they eventually get a negotiating table, the American people won't end up with a stuffed animal, suitable only as chew toy for the dog.

(nuff said)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Weep not for me

I have been listening to CSPAN while working - perhaps a little too much, but since it is one of the stations that I can listen to that comes in clearly, I listened. It was interesting and with the shutdown there are things going on that I wanted to hear. At the end of the day, I reached a clarity point that I thought would be be worthy of a post here. So here it goes..

This is something of they way of advice for the government employees and contractors who found themselves sent home yesterday. Believe me, I understand your angst. While I work in the DC area, I somehow missed getting bit by that bullet today, but I have friends and neighbors who did not. I very nearly lost my job earlier in the year, not through any fault of myself or even my employer, but due to some tough economic circumstances, so I understand what you are going through. I understand, I really do.

That being said, I have to say that a government employee or contractor complaining about being laid off, or their congressman or senator bemoaning their woe (which every congressman and senator in the Washington DC area predictably did), comes off to the rest of the country as just a little too self centered. I realize it's a bit difficult to get some prospective right now, but you have to admit that you've had a really good run. While the pain of the never ending recession has put good people across the country out of work, you have been going strong and your salaries have been increasing or at least keeping pretty steady.

Look around the country. How many capable people are sitting on the sidelines, hoping to get one of those part time jobs, just to have the dignity of working. Compare that with the relative security of employment you guys enjoy. Yes, you are at home and not working now. But this furlough will probably only last 2 to 4 weeks. There is a very good chance that a guilt-ridden congress will retroactively pay you as if you were working, thus effectively awarding you an unplanned paid vacation. Let's compare that with the economic despair that much of the country faces where the chances of any jobs coming back is very near 0.

For those that think I am unfairly dumping on the federal workers or somehow misinterpreting, let's just take a look at what some of the local congress critters are saying (my additions are in italics)

Jim Moran - D-VA (from above article):
Today's bipartisan proposal shields family pocketbooks (of federal workers) from partisan politics and reaffirms our commitment to our federal employees

Frank Wolf R-VA (from above article):
They should be properly compensated for the hard work they do to make our nation a safer and better place.(speaking of federal employees sent home to not work)
Jerry Connolly D-VA (facebook page):
Federal employees shouldn't be forced to pay the price for the Republican shutdown. I have joined Congressman Jim Moran in introducing legislation that will ensure federal employees impacted by a shutdown will receive retroactive pay. (even though they didn't actually do any work)
Steny Hoyer D- MD (his website):
Our hardworking federal workforce – middle-class Americans who support our war fighters, defend our borders, keep our air clean and food safe, care for our veterans, and fulfill many other critical services – should not have to face furloughs 
Eleanor Holmes Norton D-DC: (from her website):
Federal employees feed the entire American economy (??????????) and ensure the wellbeing of Americans across the nation, nowhere more so than in this D.C. federal headquarters region, home to the largest concentration of federal workers in the country. Throwing federal workers off the job is denying services to the American people.
 Elijah Cummings D-MD: (a few days ago here):
(Speaking about federal employees) “A lot of them, I would venture to guess, are living paycheck to paycheck,” Cummings said. “We, as a Congress, need to be more sensitive to their needs.”
Rob Whittman R-VA: (from his website):
Rep. Wittman believes that the federal government should stand by the commitment and dedication of federal employees and has helped introduce legislation that would ensure federal employees receive the full salary they have earned. The bill was introduced on September 30, 2013, to ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay for the duration of a federal government shutdown, regardless of individual furlough status.
 Donna Edwards D-MD: (from here):
“Instead of keeping 124,000 Maryland federal employees on the job, Republicans want to put insurance companies back in charge of Americans’ healthcare.

 I'd invite those that are federal employees and those that are not to carefully look over the above statements. Look at them from the perspective of the rest of the country that you serve. Does it perhaps appear that your representatives are casting you as just a little elitist? What other industry can afford to furlough employees when the money is thin, then bring them back and offer them retroactive pay? Does this prospective seem just a little skewed?

Let me end this by saying I understand and am sorry that you are going through a tough time. That you are facing a tough financial time in no way makes anyone feel better. I would ask that you consider, just for a moment how really well off you have had it, and will, in the near future have again. Then consider the plight of the rest of the country. With that in mind, i'd suggest that the best course of action for you might just be to urge your congress critters to fix the problem for the country, not just DC. Short of that, it might be best to seek the counsel of silence.

If you really feel bad about this perhaps a little civil disobedience is in order. Even though the OPM forbids it, go into your office, do your work (temporarily 'for free'), and dare your supervisors to fire you. I am betting there is not one of the above congress critters that wouldn't come to your aide.

I leave you with the full quote from Luke 23 (KJV) that inspired the title of this post, an attitude you might just want to give some attention to:
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck