New World – Not Ordered

Blue Bronc
Screwed.

Does everybody remember my little post regarding me having email accounts hacked? Well, let me say that was not all.  The other day the great state of Maryland let me know that they say I did not have insurance on my car; that such lack of insurance was $150 plus $7 per day while I was lapsed.  Oh, that is due to a bounced check says my insurance company.  Moi,  oh I did not know that was the problem, I did not know this was happening.

Today’s post brought a letter from the loan provider of my truck, rather rude and abrupt but as pleasant as a threat letter can be, that I had no insurance on my truck and that I need to provide proof or “they would provide the insurance,”  A call to my insurance provider, “. . .not in the office, your call is forwarded to. . .”  After that rather informative discussion, it turns out that I in fact did not have insurance.  Something about my credit card not active when charged.

It turns out all this occurred at the time my accounts were under attack and my accounts with accompanying credit cards and check cards were being changed. Those changed due to being under attack.  And, for hilarity, I will have new accounts in the coming week due to being under attack by bad people who have information from companies I do business with having the accounts breached.

I will be talking to several companies and government agencies this coming week.

This most difficult part of this is when I relied on companies to let me know in person something was wrong. I did not expect the companies to only send out “automatic letters” and let the onus of problems fall on me.  My previous experiences with these companies had been on personal reach out, but then those were in different states.

Lessons learned, change companies when those you hire to do your business do not give you a personal touch and support you when things go wrong. Especially in this new era where companies are hacked and your personal information is sold to high buyer.

Okay. So let us review:  change passwords; use 12 or more characters; use upper and lower case, numerals and special characters (password generators help); change companies if you are not supported; talk to all agencies you can to explain your plight; hire an attorney if necessary.

Now you will be asking yourself “What the bloody hell does this have to do with me?”  Your accounts can come under attack because you shopped at a retail store, such as Target or Home Depot.  We are in a new world.  Will our politicians do anything?  A rather more on topic question is “can they do anything?”

Simplistically, some say use cash.  Sorry, it is not always usable online.  Write checks, they cry.  Sorry, checks not accepted.  Use your credit card online.  Sure ‘nuf.  screwed on that one.

Politicians will not save you.  They pass laws for reasonable people.  Those who attack your checking accounts or credit cards do not care about laws.

– Blue Bronc is a Trail Mix Contributor

Hillary: Take The Money Or Don’t Run

She’s got to run or piss off every Democrat out there. Because whether by design or coincidence, party donors are refusing to commit to anyone else until Hillary Clinton reveals her decision. Time is running out for any other Democrat to muster the resources for a credible campaign. Few, including Joe Biden, can even afford a few nights in Iowa without substantial funding. Hiring qualified staff is almost out of the question. What a huge disservice this would be to her party if Hillary doesn’t run, unless she makes it clear immediately that she isn’t running.

More Nukes?

Help me understand. Why are we spending a trillion dollars on upgrading our nuclear arsenal? And why is the president who campaigned against this, and partly won the Nobel Peace prize for championing nuclear disarmament, now green-lighting this?

The New York Times provides this answer: “With Russia on the warpath, China pressing its own territorial claims and Pakistan expanding its arsenal, the overall chances for Mr. Obama’s legacy of disarmament look increasingly dim, analysts say. Congress has expressed less interest in atomic reductions than looking tough in Washington’s escalating confrontation with Moscow.”

And in an editorial NYT says,”There has been little debate among members of Congress and the public about the decision by Mr. Obama and Congress to pour billions of dollars into new nuclear weapons systems — even as other government programs have been cut significantly.”

Hey nation, this seems worth discussing.

Secret Service: No More Texting

Here’s one idea for how another intruder jumped the White House fence and made it inside the mansion before the Secret Service nabbed him — maybe the agents were too busy playing with their cell phones, as described in this letter to the head of the agency’s White House Security Detail sent a while ago from a friend and former DEA agent Michael Grimes:

“I am writing to you about what I see as a lapse in physical security surrounding the White House.

I am a retired federal agent and have planned and executed many raids/assaults in my 30 years of service. I am a part time resident of Washington and frequently walk to the White House.

Omar Gonzalez in Secret Service custody after jumping White House fence on Sept. 19
Omar Gonzalez in Secret Service custody after jumping White House fence on Sept. 19
At any given time, and within my view from any location around the White House, I see at least one, if not more, uniform officers with their heads down playing with an electronic device. I have seen as many as three officers, standing together, and every one of them had their heads down and not paying a bit of attention. I have walked to within just a few feet of these officers and not one will look up. This is not only disgraceful, it is downright dangerous.

I assure you that I would be quite capable of planning and executing an assault on the White House grounds by overpowering the guards when at least half are not paying attention by using their electronics. I am aware that someone would sound the alarm but this is not the point.

These people are not being paid to text with their friends or Google for some place to spend a day off.”

— Michael E. Grimes is a retired DEA agent, the owner of Criminal Investigation Techniques, which provides training, risk assessment and consulting services to law enforcement agencies, and the author of Informants – A Guide for Developing and Controlling Informants.

Boots On The Ground

Hey America, have you figured out that we are starting another war in the Middle East that will put untold numbers of our young men and women at risk? Because that is what is happening. Perhaps this is necessary but finally we need to invoke the Constitution and have a full debate in Congress, and come to a national consensus. Otherwise, this Administration is taking us into war without our consent because these air strikes in Syria are not going to achieve the stated objectives. Which our civilian and military leaders know quite well. Computer bombs look great on CNN but they do not win wars. We are on the slippery slope to sending troops and we must  understand that, and agree to it if we agree. We cannot let another President start a war without our consent.

I Love the VA

I don’t know what went wrong out there in Phoenix or wherever but after months of personal experience comparing health care for my Dad delivered by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs vs. private care providers I can say this much: if the VA represents socialized medicine then I’m all for it.

Why? For starters, the doctors and other personnel at the VA don’t have to worry about insurance companies and their bizarre penny pinching. And they don’t have to make a profit. The result is that they can spend all of their time and concern on the science of caring for patients. They’re not about getting rich. I’ve looked at the parking lots. They drive nice enough cars, finer than most of us drive, but you don’t see the Escalades and Mercedes and such found in the doctor lots at private hospitals.

VA doctors actually call to check on him. They write comprehensive notes after visits that are posted online. Anyone in the VA can be contacted by email via their secure messaging system. Medications can be refilled online in minutes, a process that can take days when dealing with private doctors, insurance companies and pharmacies.

At a VA clinic you can get a check-up, blood work, an x-ray, drugs and even lunch all in one place and within an afternoon. In the private sector that could take a week traveling all over town.

Also, VA providers have more experience in dealing with elderly people, and don’t tend to dismiss them as a lost cause not worth what Medicare pays.

Plus, Dad’s diabetes specialist at the VA, Theresa Kreuzkamp, checks in regularly by phone to monitor and update his medications, like nothing we’ve ever experienced in the private sector.

Sure, the VA office waiting times can be long due to overwhelming demand and insufficient funding, but not that much longer than in private care offices. And I’ve had fun visiting with our veterans in the waiting rooms, have met some very interesting people.

More specifically in our family’s case, admittedly just our own anecdotal experience, I found that the VA clinic in Orlando FL possibly saved my Dad’s life, while for-profit doctors failed him. He had been to two pulmonologists and many trips to a primary care doctor, all in the private sector, over the past few years, but not until his VA primary care doctor (Dr. George Toth) became suspicious of his cough was a chest x-ray ordered, followed by CT/Pet scans, a biopsy and MRI in rapid succession all paid for by the VA.

A malignant lung mass was discovered, but at an early enough stage that radiation might do the trick (which the VA is paying for).

Bottom line is that the VA primary care, Dr. Toth, and Orlando’s VA pulmonologist, Dr. Ed Geigel, were absolutely insistent and determined that treatment be sought, even if the stats show no better than 50 percent success, while private sector physicians looked at an 87-old-man and basically looked away.

All I know is that if we get through this with some success it’s only because VA doctors wouldn’t consider doing nothing as an option. And if we don’t I will still always appreciate how hard they tried.

I don’t understand why things went so wrong in the VA system elsewhere, or which is the norm, the solid and efficient care we’ve experienced or the apparent lapses in other places. But I’m guessing that if the news media scrutinized private health care as closely as they have the VA just as many problems might surface, if not more.

Obama Runs Away to War

Nash 2.5
With all the crisis-level problems at home (immigration, infrastructure, education, offshoring of manufacturing, global warming, AND the steady and systematic decline of the middle class) Obama has chosen to run away to the one place he can act “Presidential” without having to argue with the GOP.   He’s going to bomb ISIS.

The previous estimate of the cost of the Iraq war was four TRILLION dollars, when you add the cost of long-term care to wounded veterans (which the Republicans don’t, of course). We probably need to increase that to FIVE trillion, to account for the cost of Obama’s “limited” air war against ISIS.    As any Vietnam Veteran knows, “limited wars” actually last about ten years.  (And then we lose.)

It’s much easier (and more fun) for Obama to go to war, any war, than to deal with sticky “domestic” issues. But problems in the domestic arena are actually much more important to the daily life of most Americans than a bunch of ultra-radical clowns running around the boonies in Iraq and Syria, armed with weapons that we gave to the Iraqi Army.

But in six weeks we have an election, and Obama knows Americans love a good war.

We even love bad wars.

Bruce Springsteen, “War.  What is it Good for?”

– Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor

Will Durst Knows What They Did Last Summer

Will Durst (Comedy for people who read, or know someone who does) finds out what our top politicos did to recharge during their summer break from not doing anything in Washington:

Will Durst
Will Durst

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell learned how to say “No!” in 14 different languages.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio held a series of mock debates with himself on the subject of immigration and lost every single one.

President Barack Obama traded his foreign policy legacy for the chance to lower his handicap by a stroke.

Arizona Senator John McCain accepted the Curmudgeon Society of America’s “Man of the Year Award.” For the 12th consecutive time.

Secretary of State John Kerry wept like a little baby.

The 4 Conservative Justices of the Supreme Court battled the 4 Liberal Justices on the Supreme Court for the soul of Anthony Kennedy.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took remedial hugging lessons while surreptitiously measuring the White House drapes.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush looked into legally changing his name to something less incendiary. Like Manson or Hitler.

Speaker of the House John Boehner caught some bitchin rays. … Read More

— Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed political comic based in San Francisco. He is the author of Elect to Laugh! A Hilarious, Common Sense Guide to American Politics

Drug Ads Make Me Sick

Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising now annoys me more than ever. And it’s not just the icky erectile dysfunction ads that make us blush and leave the room when watching them with kids around. But during my recent adventures in health care through my parents I’ve learned that ads for inhalers and several other drugs are driving patients and their doctors to expensive brand names that are available far cheaper as generics. The ads don’t mention that, of course. Maybe the FDA should make them do that.

SICKENING

So I just figured out that the CEOs for the drug companies to whom my parents have paid nearly $3,000 in co-pays this year make a combined total of $12 million in salaries and benefits. Griping about stuff like that ought to be on the Tea Party agenda.