Archive for the ‘Disgusted in AZ’ Category

UsefulIdiot

Herr Drumpf has declared China and Russia to be our friends because (the FBI says) they hacked the DNC’s emails (and modified some of them) in order to sow discord in the party’s convention.  While I’m irritated that a handful of emails were ugly they’re not game changers or smoking guns and the DNC has reacted appropriately to smooth things over.  I’m much more concerned with the fact that Putin is purposely interfering with our Presidential election, which is unprecedented in our country’s history to my knowledge.  What’s worse, it appears to be working because our Media, which can’t resist a controversy, is blowing the email story out of proportion and because Herr Drumpf, who relies on Russian oligarchs for money (the same oligarchs that put and help keep Putin in power), is saying that he would essentially abandon our NATO partners to Russia’s encroachment.   Either Herr Drumpf is actively working for Russian interests or he’s their Useful Idiot.  And you know we’re headed for some serious trouble when the best we can hope for is that a Presidential candidate is a Useful Idiot for an expansionist Russian dictator.

 

h/t Ashby at BobCesca.com

I haven’t ranted in quite a while so I guess I’m overdue.  My spleen cup overfloweth and thus I must vent.  I signed up for health insurance through the online marketplace (yes, I mean Obamacare, but technically it’s called the ACA….but you can also call it Romneycare mainly because it tickles the shit out of me that it was a Republican idea to begin with and they have been calling it the “Eeek!  Soshulizm!” plan).  But I digress.

I signed up the first year it was available for myself and my son.  For a year I paid our Healthnet insurance premium every month.  I don’t qualify for a subsidy to help pay for it.   In addition to the monthly premiums I paid full price for everything.  This included my prescriptions that I HAVE to have and the medical care for when I totaled my car, which included an ambulance ride that cost more than the fucking ER bill and full price for the crutches that are gathering dust in a closet as we speak.  Welcome to the Middle Class in America where you have enough to live in Suburbia and not receive any help from anyone ever but you’re always one disaster away from homelessness.

I got married in late October 2014 and the plan was for me to go on my husband’s health insurance and that I continue to buy my son’s plan through the Marketplace.  My husband, though I love him dearly, has one massive flaw.  He is a procrastinator of the worst kind. Since I also do this (but nowhere near to the same degree) it can cause problems.  But I didn’t procrastinate this time.  I bugged the ever livin bejeebers out of my husband to get the form, fill it out and take it in to work.  Well, he didn’t get it done until late Nov or early Dec.  AFTER the 30 day window.  The 30 day window we knew nothing about.  To say that I wanted to strangle him would be an understatement.

By December 2014 I said to myself, “Self, why am I paying Healthnet money?”  Then I received a letter saying that the shitty plan I had was going away and that I would have to pay Healthnet even more money for a worse plan.  The only other equivalent plan through the marketplace was also with Healthnet and it would cost $100 more per month AND they raised the annual individual deductible from $3,500 to $10,000.  If I didn’t meet the deductible the year before with ALL my son’s and my out of pocket expenses, I estimated that I  would have to get terminal cancer to meet the new deductible.

So I said “Self, let’s not do this any more”.  I cancelled my health insurance and prayed that nothing would happen to me before my husband’s employer has open enrollment in the Fall of 2015 and I kept the Healthnet plan for my son.  I called Healthnet up in December to set this all up. They made it VERY difficult to keep my son on his own plan.  Apparently the concept of insuring a child without an adult on the plan is hard for their very tiny brains to process.  They also made me wait until open enrollment for the Marketplace which was in January.

The communication between Healthnet and the Marketplace sucked balls.  Neither side really knew where the other stood.  They Marketplace kept telling Healthnet that I was on the plan even though I repeatedly corrected this with both parties.  I had to use the 800 number to communicate with the Marketplace, which took many hours to accomplish, because it wouldn’t let me log in for over a month, so I couldn’t even review my plan’s set up or other choices online even if I wanted to.   While I was doing this open enrollment thing I started getting letters from Healthnet that they were terminating our coverage for non-payment.

I called them up, explained to them again that I was not paying because I had cancelled my plan and I had been paying for my son who I was currently trying to enroll in a new plan.  February came along and it seemed to get straightened out for my son but not for me.  I was still getting letters that my plan had been cancelled from lack of payment.  I gave up telling them that I had cancelled with them back in December.  Clearly they had a problem and I had only so much energy for outrage.  Nevertheless, my son was taken care of.  He had the new plan–even received his card in the mail.

Then on March 1st, unbeknownst to me, they cancelled my son’s health insurance for lack of payment.  Except I had paid for February and I had until March 31st to pay for March before they could legally cancel his plan.  I didn’t even know anything was going on until they sent me an invoice in late March demanding payment.  Why?  If you’ve already cancelled it, why ask for money?  Well, ultimately I’m glad that I got the notice and I immediately paid for March and April online.  So, as of that point I was totally caught up.

Well Healthnet took my money and never updated my son’s eligibility.    Apparently the Billing Department is in East Timbuktu and the troglodytes there only speak Swahili and the Eligibility Department is on the moon and the miscreants there only communicate via clicks and glottal stops.    I was given further proof of their complete inability to internally communicate on even the most basic level a couple of days ago.  I got another letter saying that my son’s coverage had been cancelled for lack of payment.

So I called them.  Here is how the conversation went:

Me: “Why have you cancelled my son’s plan?”

Lady: “Oh we cancelled it on March 1st.”

Me:  “Yes, I have a letter in my angry, clenched hands here that says exactly that.  Why was it cancelled then when I had the entire month of March to pay and I had already paid for the month before?”

Lady: “I don’t know. I do see the payment for February”

Me:  “Good.  Do you see that I made a payment which covers March and April?”

Lady: “Yes, in the amount of $—-.”

Me:  “So I’m paid up to date?”

Lady:  “Yes”

Me:  “So my four year old son is without healthcare coverage because ‘you don’t know’.  Do you have any idea how frightening that feeling is for a mother?  If something were to happen to him, you know and I know that the quality of the care that he receives is directly proportional to how much I and his healthcare plan, which he no longer has, can pay.”

Lady:  “M’am, I don’t know why they cancelled it. Please hold.”

Me:  [silently fuming]

Lady:  “I’ve sent an urgent notice to the Eligibility Department to re-instate him today.”

Me:  “Okay, thank you.  Can you have them call me once it’s done.”

Lady:  “They don’t call customers.  They will mail you a letter.”

(Guess the clicks and glottal stops don’t translate well over the phone)

Me:  “No, that would take too long and who knows what could happen in the meantime.  I want to know right away.  Can they email me?”

Lady:  “Maybe, I will ask them to email you. But it will either be a letter in the mail or email.”

Then this was followed by my thank you’s and her have a nice days–all that polite bullshit we say but don’t mean in any way shape or form.  Who knows what will happen now.  I’m betting I’ll get another termination letter before the end of the month, even though the bill for May has yet to arrive.    Fuckers.

America has a problem.

We need an intervention

 

Okay, I can’t stand it any more.  I HAVE to say something about Ferguson and the cop shootings that America is now FINALLY paying attention to.  The tipping point came for me yesterday when I finally watched the video of the Tamir Rice shooting and read an article on the audio evidence that proves Officer Darren Wilson was not telling the truth in his accounts of the Michael Brown shooting.

The U.S. is like a drug addict that refuses to acknowledge they have a problem.  All the signs are there.  The data is VERY clear.    Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about.

Some thoughts that are just pinging around in my brain that I have to get out.  Keep in mind, I’m not some uninformed liberal spouting off–I have a Masters in Criminal Justice and I’ve worked in the system.

  • The Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, in the Brown shooting did not WANT an indictment therefore there wasn’t one.  A typical prosecutor could indict a comatose 90-year old grandmother if he/she wanted to.
    • He dumped a ton of data on the jury without providing any guidance into what was exculpatory, degree of trustworthiness, interpreting (because the forensic stuff can be really tough to understand), etc.  To expect a lay person to be able to sort through, prioritize and understand all of that data is absurd and no real prosecutor would do that.
    • He engaged in victim blaming by telling them that Brown was on drugs when there was no evidence of that
    • He improperly instructed the jury on the law — this is HUGE and if this had been a trial, it would have been excellent grounds for an appeal
    • He should have recused himself.  His father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty by, you guessed it, a black man.
    • He failed to perform his duty as a Prosecutor–they are supposed to advocate for indictment. In fact the vast majority of grand juries in this country return with an indictment.

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them. 

  • The audio from the Brown shooting proves that Wilson did not tell the truth.
  • White people riot all the fucking time for the stupidest shit and no one blames it on their “culture of lawlessness”.  But let some black people riot and the media and the majority of white people will shake their heads and question why.  Why would they riot when there’s no history of racial discrimination in policing in the U.S. (ht to Bob Cesca)? Why would they riot when they only have themselves to blame?  All of the Fox News coverage has been in this vein, but the best examples are interviews with Rudy Giulani.
  • The Tamir Rice video is horrifying.  The video shows the police lied about many crucial issues.  If you only listen to the police version (as is too often the case), then it sounds like Tamir was a serious threat .  If you watch the video you will be stunned.
    • They said there were multiple people in the park.  The video shows the 12 year old boy was alone.
    • They said they told him to  put his hands up three times.  The video shows less than 2 seconds passed between the car pulling up, the officers got out of the vehicle and when the shots occurred.  So either the officer gave the fastest and clearest commands in the history of human language (award that man a Guinness World Record!) or he didn’t give them at all.
    • Tamir was already down on the ground when they shot him…he reacted immediately to their presence by making himself non-threatening.
    • After they shot him and the boy was clearly no longer a threat they watched him suffer and provided no first aid until a detective and FBI agent showed up.   Although they’re under no obligation to provide first aid IF they felt the situation is unsafe.  But the boy was no longer a threat.  Actually he wasn’t even a threat when they shot him, but why quibble, amiright?  Ironic that the failure to render aid, made sure their version will be the only one we hear (other than the pure luck of the surveillance video from across the street which can’t really tell us the whole story).
  •  The Rice shooting is very scary to me personally.  My stepson is 12 years old, loves guns, and is very familiar with them.   He is also brown–decidedly not white.   We’ve taught him to be safe with them.  He knows not to handle real guns without an adult being present.  BUT he doesn’t know that it’s probably not a good idea to handle fake one’s either.    I am going to make damn sure he never has a fake gun in any public place and when his family is not with him.
  • There was a shooting just reported in AZ of a black man by a white cop.  I’m still waiting for more details to come in.  Cop thought the guy had a gun in his pocket–it was a bottle of pills.

If you listen to what is being said in the media (not just on Fox but on CNN and local stations too), there is a lot of victim blaming and officer excuse making.  White America’s attitude is coming across like this.

‘Don’t black folk know they should never ever carry anything in their pockets AND should always keep their hands in the air AND always have a pleasant or at least non-demonic look on their face.  AND they can’t be too large or physically intimidating because a big black many is very scary, even to really big white men, even when they’re 25+ feet away**.  So if you’re a big black guy, hunch your shoulders.  And whatever you do, don’t be sullen or angry.’

In other words, don’t give the white cops an excuse to kill you and this message is loud and clear to the black community.  Most of their parents have already told them not to do such things.  Not that doing any of that will actually keep black men safe in this country.  When an entire race of people in our society have to raise their sons to live in fear and act more passive and non-threatening with the police than white people do, then something is terribly, terribly wrong.  The sooner white people acknowledge this, the sooner we can address the problem.  But I don’t think white people in general are capable of acknowledging our complicity in this problem because that would mean acknowledging that we’re wrong about something.  As we’ve seen time and time again, too many Americans think that if we’re not exceptional and right all the time, we’re nothing at all.

Notes:

*I totally understand why the police want bigger and better guns.  When I was a probation officer I always felt like I was outgunned.  I had a Speed 6 Ruger, a “brick” cell phone with a dead battery, no partner or back-up and my crappy little car (VW Fox).  I would go into the field armed with these items.  Here are just some examples of what I faced with those “weapons:

  • walking into crack houses where I was surrounded by dozens of male drug addicts and/or dealers
  • interviewing a probationers with serious anger control issues (child abuser/molester/wife beater) in their dark and dingy homes
  • explaining to VERY angry probationers and their family members why I had to talk to their boss at work about his/her probation and why they lost their job and would soon probably be homeless.  (I took no joy in this task.  I was legally obligated to verify employment with a supervisor a few times a year.  Talk about the system shooting itself in the foot.  The minute they lost their job their risk of recidivism would skyrocket)  

I guess if I couldn’t draw my weapon in time or if I lost it, I could have used the cell phone to brain them.

**Brown was 6 ft 5 in and 290 lbs and Wilson was 6 ft 4 in and 210 lbs.  Wilson isn’t small by any means.  He also had at least two deadly weapons–his pistol and his police car.  Who knows what he had in the trunk–one can safely assume a shotgun.  Plus he had a radio so he could call in reinforcements.  In regards to the distance, the audio article clearly proves Wilson was either lying about the distance or lying about Brown charging him or both.

UPDATE:  Regarding the e-mail incident between a U of Berkeley student and Sachi Landscaping–the guy is completely denying it was him but hasn’t provided one iota of proof that it wasn’t (details here).  And Mr. Zeiser contacted me via Twitter and said

Nice little passive aggressive compliment along with an insult.  But whatevs….I have not yet responded but my inclination is no. My thinking is that the kind of tripe he is pushing is already being blasted at the populace by really large media outlets like Fox, The Heritage Foundation, the American Spectator (for whom he has written in the past), the Daily Caller and dozens of other venues. Why should I let him use my little blog to broadcast his viewpoint when the entire Twitter conversation is all one really needs to know.  So I suggest you all read the entire Twitter conversation and make up your own mind.

___________________

So, earlier today I was watching my Twitter scroll with one eye while trying to program in C# with the other and a couple of things jumped out at me.  The first was a Storify* from @AngryBlackLady (one of my favorite writers, commentators and all around smart people online) about a conversation between her and a conservative supposed PhD  who insisted on debating her about Obamacare regardless of whether she wanted to or not.

From @ABL’s Twitter Feed

If you don’t want to read the long exchange (you really should just for the giggles, the image above is a summary of his worst statements) it boils down to her getting angry at him for pestering her for days and telling him to leave her alone.  So he resorts to using some misogynist and racist terms to refer to her and finally he refuses to acknowledge the ugliness behind what he said or apologize for it.  At the end, of course, he claims to be the victim of the whole thing. It will make you feel all fuzzy inside–not.

Not long after reading that I saw a Tweet by @LaloAlcaraz, a man of many talents (you might have seen his comics in your local newspaper if you live in the Southwestern U.S.).  He shared an email exchange between a University of Berkeley student and the owner of a local business.  The student is a member of CASA (Chicano Architecture Student Association) and asked very respectfully if her organization could get a tour of his business.  His response?

You can see Lalo’s photo of the full email exchange and the explanation here.    Not only is the business owner’s response ugly he also claims to be victimized by the request for the tour.

I don’t know about you but I’m seeing a rash of white males (just one example) running around crying about being victims to us “delicate flowers” and/or “savages” and/or “illegals”.  The irony is that anybody with a brain can see that white males, particularly older ones, still run this country and pretty much the entire fucking world.  This is serious “crazy making” behavior . It’s like women and minorities are in an abusive relationship with the rest of U.S. society.  They keep kicking us and then telling us that it’s our fault and we made them do it.  And then we when we legitimately confront them over it, they tell us that we’re the racist/bigots trying to stir up ill feelings that disappeared the moment the Black Marxist Muslim Usurper was elected in 2008.  And us wimmin folk, once we got the right to vote back in 1920 it’s been easy pickings since then, amiright my fellow delicate blossoms?   It’s all unicorns shitting one hundred dollar bills, rainbows and cotton candy, dontcha know!  Except, of course, for that painful black eye and those sore ribs we keep getting.

But there might be some hope.   Take for instance the revenge that has been enacted against ABL’s harasser.  If one were to Google his name (I highly recommend it, click this link and it will do it for you automatically) you will find a link to the Storify item I mentioned earlier about 4 or 5 results down.   The more people click on it, the more this will rise in Google search results whenever anyone searches for Mr. Zeiser.   And in so doing, it will air his statements about how much fun it is to “collect scalps”, how he called people of color and anyone who disagrees with him “savages”, and other various lovely things.  Note this isn’t harassment or libel or slander**.  He really did write these things and by doing this on Google we can ensure that even if he tries to deny it, the proof is easy to find.  As a side benefit whenever someone looks him up to find out more about him, one of the first things they will learn is that nature of his character is less than desirable.  Also do not Tweet about this conversation and mention ABL’s Twitter nom de plume. She’s over it and I don’t blame her–keep her out of the discussion unless she chooses to rejoin it on her own.

The other little bit of good news is that the Berkeley student has approached her College’s faculty in hopes that they will address the matter but many people have seen this exchange online now and I’m hoping it will descend squarely on this guy’s head so that he loses his license to practice.  However, the student has asked people online not to interact with the company directly so DO NOT contact the business owner or the company.  Nevertheless, if you live in Southern California (and I know a few people that do) keep this guy and his business in mind because if he or his company tries to get your business (or anyone you know) you can tell him to “piss off”.  If he wants to know why tell him it’s the “Free Market” coming back to bite him in the ass.

The ugliness of these kinds of exchanges is why I have to take a break from the Internet on occasion.  Then again, people like ABL and Lalo pull me back in because they are never afraid to point it out, call it what it is, and they don’t let it make them crazy.  I don’t have their coping mechanisms yet but I’m getting there.

___________________

*For those who don’t know, Storify is a way to document a series of Tweets over a long period of time.  It puts them in the proper time order which can be very hard to do on your own without such an app.

**I’m not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV.  However, libel/slander is propagating something you know is untrue.  And it don’t get any more real than that there Twitter exchange.

The link to the Spanish version of this post

Game of Thrones last episode, “First of His Name”, not only reached record levels of cable subscriber viewers surpassing even The Sopranos but it is also setting records for illegal downloads [ht for both links to WinterIsComing.net].  Well, I’m not crying any crocodile tears for cable providers because THIS  is how I feel about them:

I moved a couple of weeks ago. In my old house I had a bundled package through CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) for DSL internet (60Mbps download) and DirectTV for HBO (and a thousand other useless stations). We didn’t actually get 60, but we sure as hell paid for it. And their service dropped all the time. At the new house the max download speed that CenturyLink could offer was 5Mbps–this is in a newer neighborhood, built after fiber optic was being installed automatically. Forget about the kids using their Xbox while you watch a movie via Netflix…that ain’t gonna happen….hell I couldn’t work from home using that kind of download speed!

So we had to get rid of CenturyLink, which means we had to get rid of DirectTV–remember it’s a bundle–separate the things are impossibly expensive. Now DirectTv wants over $300 as a penalty for canceling with them which we wouldn’t have had to do if CenturyLink didn’t suck so much. DirectTV said ‘well you can keep us and use Cox for your Internet‘.    No, I can’t because it will cost me 3x’s as much per month if I go that route. I can’t afford over $300 a month–that truly is insane. To put it into perspective, that’s more than I pay for health insurance every month!!!

The ONLY other option for Internet connection at the new house (or anywhere else in central AZ for that matter) was Cox Communications–who has the absolute worst customer support I have ever had the misfortune to encounter in all my years of consumer spending (I used to have them when I lived in the Central Phoenix corridor). There was no other choice, so I signed up with Cox.

In order to get near the same speed I am now paying slightly more per month than before AND they forced us to get a phone line and sign a 2 year deal. I haven’t had a plug in phone in years and I still don’t. I refuse to put a phone in so telemarketers can bug me 24/7. Screw em. So now I’m paying for phone I don’t need AND a thousand channels I don’t watch so I can access the Internet and watch HBO.  In a year or so if I need to move again, what if the house to which I’m moving doesn’t have access to Cox Cable.  I was thinking about buying a house.  Do I have to restrict my house search to only ones that allow Cox Cable?  The whole thing is just absurd.

Why are these companies allowed to control every point of access we have to streaming content? They don’t allow monopolies in other industries but this one seems to be A-Okay with Congress. It boggles the mind.

The following news stories actually make me not only wonder if our species will survive for much longer but also if we deserve to survive our own stupidity and neglect.

  • The City of Detroit found 11,000 rape kits that were abandoned and never tested.  After testing less than 7% of them they identified 100 serial rapists and 10 convicted rapists.  So if that pattern holds and they test the rest of them, they can expect to discover several hundred more of these scumbag.  ht mistermix at Balloon Juice
  • The AZ legislature is pushing a bill that would allow people to carry guns into building even if it’s forbidden (if they don’t have lockers available you can ignore the ban).  They’ve also advanced the idea that some gun owners can carry even if there are lockers and ban.  And to make it truly impossible for local governments to forbid guns in their government buildings, they’ve approved and forwarded a bill that says any local government who enforces local ordinance over state law can be fined.  This is like the trifecta of stupid.  They’re begging for someone to go into government buildings and commit mass murder.  I certainly will be avoiding those buildings like the plague if this crap passes.  ht JM Ashby at Bob Cesca
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, back when he was a prosecutor, let a child slaver off easy so that he could take down a political rival.
  • Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, told a woman that having cancer was her own fault for not forgiving her abusive father.  Okaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy
  • A new law went into effect in Michigan that says businesses and individuals who purchase private insurance must take out a separate rider to cover abortion care.  Essentially, if a woman needs an abortion for ANY reason and if she doesn’t have  a separate rider for it, she will have to pay out of pocket for the cost of that care.  So if I lived there, had a miscarriage and needed a D&C to shorten the process  and suffering so I could get back on my feet sooner, I would have to pay completely out of pocket for it.  Likewise for women who have become pregnant as a result of incest and rape.  That’s insane.  The real kicker is that there is not a single private insurance provider in the marketplace that provides this insurance.  This could not only bankrupt women and their families, it in effect nullifies Roe v. Wade, and will force women to seek out cheaper and more dangerous care for such things.  I hope the women in Michigan enjoy being second class citizens because it looks like the state is on target to vote the same politicians who’ve created these laws back into office.
  • Billionaires in the 1% are getting their panties in a twist and crying lots of salty tears because the rest of us are tired of having the economy manipulated while they gamble with our money and take what little wealth Americans have managed to accumulate over the last few decades.  The 99% have had the temerity to exercise their Freedom of Speech and the Right to Vote in more progressive candidates.  However, so far as I know there have been no lynch mobs or guillotine lines nor any proposed by anyone of significance in any “likely to happen” fashion.  The 99% are simply using the peaceful system of governance and the wonderful mechanisms given to us by the Founding Fathers.  However, reading some of the recent comments by the 1% (here’s a few examples here and here) might make one think that we are in the midst of a communist peasant uprising (or fascist style takeover depending on which historical example they erroneously choose).  Truth is, if we were in such a state, their heads would already be on pikes.  In reality nothing is happening to them and that’s the stupid thing.  We should be curtailing their almost godlike power over our economy and our elected officials. Their message gets broadcast loud and clear.  We hear about their perspective 24/7 on Fox News, read their whining on major websites and news sources (in addition to reading about their phenomenally ignorant take on history), and suffer under the vagaries of the worldwide economy which they essentially control.  As Jon Stewart said the other day, they make money regardless of how the economy fares.  So why should they give a crap about us? They don’t and the majority of Americans haven’t yet grasped this fact and what it will mean for this country, and indeed the world, in the long run.  Until Americans decide to stand up and pull up our pants, they’ll be back there having their way with us and complaining that its hard, nay dangerous, to be a billionaire.