Holding Government Officials Accountable

On Thursday, I posted an article (rightwinggranny.com) showing the likelihood of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you gave money to a Tea Party group. Basically, one in ten Tea Party donors were audited compared to a rate of slightly more than one in a hundred for the general population. Obviously, there is a problem here. Congress has been trying to find out who ordered the audit of Tea Party donors and who is responsible for using the IRS as a political weapon. The investigation has been stonewalled by the White House and the Justice Department every step of the way. Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail posted a story about the latest episode in this saga.

The article reports:

David O’Neil, whose job atop the DOJ’s criminal division puts him in charge of public corruption prosecutions, told Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan that he also doesn’t know how many prosecutors are assigned to the case, or how many attorneys from his division are working on it.

Asked to identify the lead agent in the Lerner investigation, O’Neil would only answer, ‘I’m sure that we can provide that information to you.’

Maybe I’m just naive, but it would seem to me that the person in charge of the investigation might have some idea as to how many people are working on the investigation. Has he every bothered to count his emails? Does he actually get any emails?  Note that this story was reported in a British paper–I haven’t seen the report in the mainstream American press.

The article further reports:

I oversee the public integrity section,’ O’Neil said during a House Oversight subcommittee hearing, adding that ‘yes,’ he is involved in the case.

He claimed there are ‘numerous career federal prosecutors that are on that investigation.’

But when Jordan asked him how many are in that group, complaining that he has ‘been trying to get this answer now for 11 months,’ O’Neill conceded, ‘I can’t tell you that answer sitting here today.’

O’Neill also suggested that the Department of Justice is unlikely to appoint a special counsel.

‘No,’ he said. ‘A special counsel is not warranted.’

When the House found Lerner in contempt, it referred her to Attorney General Holder for prosecution, prompting an aide to a Texas Republican to call it ‘the slime probing the slime.’

The female staffer told MailOnline that ‘if Holder ever opens the Lerner file ore than once, I’ll strip naked on the National Mall and sing the president’s favorite Al Green song.’

I don’t think the staffer is in any danger of having to make good on that promise.
It is sad that partisan politics has become more important than the integrity of public officials.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hurting The People You Claimed You Wanted To Help

ObamaCare is in effect now. Some of the penalties for not having insurance are on hold until after the election, and the employer mandate is on hold until after the election, but ObamaCare is now the law of the land. There are a few court cases pending about the birth control mandate, but right now we are stuck with ObamaCare. So what does that mean?

For one thing, it means that confusion abounds. The U.K. Daily Mail reported on Friday that the staff in a hospital in Northern Virginia was turning away patients who couldn’t figure out whether or not they were covered by ObamaCare.

The article cites one example:

Patients in a close-in DC suburb who think they’ve signed up for new insurance plans are struggling to show their December enrollments are in force, and health care administrators aren’t taking their word for it.

In place of quick service and painless billing, these Virginians are now facing the threat of sticker-shock that comes with bills they can’t afford.

‘They had no idea if my insurance was active or not!’ a coughing Maria Galvez told MailOnline outside the Inova Healthplex facility in the town of Springfield.

She was leaving the building without getting a needed chest x-ray.

‘The people in there told me that since I didn’t have an insurance card, I would be billed for the whole cost of the x-ray,’ Galvez said, her young daughter in tow. ‘It’s not fair – you know, I signed up last week like I was supposed to.’

The x-ray’s cost, she was told, would likely be more than $500.

As she said, she did what she was supposed to, and now she can’t get the medical care she needs. The article points out that even if she had her medical insurance card, the Carefirst plan that Ms. Galvez signed up for has a $5,500 per-person deductible for 2014–that is the amount she would have to pay out-of-pocket before her coverage would apply to medical expenses.

The article concludes:

President Obama has attracted widespread criticism, and a ‘lie of the year’ award from one newspaper’s fact-checker, for promising that Americans who liked their health plans would be allowed to keep them.

Dr. John Venetos, a Chicago gastroenterologist, told the Associated Press on Thursday that he is seeing ‘tremendous uncertainty and anxiety’ among his patients who signed up for Obamacare plans but don’t have insurance cards.

‘They’re not sure if they have coverage,’ Venetos said. ‘It puts the heavy work on the physician.’

‘At some point, every practice is going to make a decision about how long can they continue to see these patients for free if they are not getting paid.’

We need to scrap ObamaCare and make a few changes to the previous healthcare system that would expand coverage for those who may not be able to afford it. We need to make insurance portable across state lines, we need to link insurance to the person–not the company he works for, we need tort reform. and we need tax subsidies to make sure low-income people can afford health insurance. What we don’t need is to mess up the insurance for the 90 percent of Americans who actually like their current healthcare plan.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Don’t Confuse Optics With Facts

Often, the best reporting on events in America comes from the British papers. Today’s U.K. Daily Mail is an example of that fact.

An article in the U.K. Daily Mail today reports that only three of the thirteen people standing behind President Obama during his speech yesterday had actually enrolled in ObamaCare. That’s interesting since they were standing there to show their support of ObamaCare.

The article explains who the people in the photo-op were:

They include the state of Delaware‘s first Obamacare insurance participant – and, so far, its only one – along with a Tennessee woman who enrolled less than a day before the press event, and a Washington, D.C. man that the Obama White House has used on two previous occasions to symbolize the administration’s policy positions.

The other ten included small business owners, twenty-somethings enrolled in their parents’ health insurance plans, a pharmacist, and both self-employed and part-time workers.

The article further reports:

The federal government’s most optimistic numbers, released unceremoniously over the weekend, suggest that fewer than 500,000 Americans have created online Obamacare accounts, the first step toward obtaining coverage in a healthcare exchange.

Published numbers of actual enrollees, including figures MailOnline obtained from employees who crunch those numbers for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, indicate a far lower total.

The Department of Health and Human Services has said it will only make the actual enrollment totals public once each month, beginning in mid-November.

I don’t mean to be cynical here, but I wonder if a glitch in the system will prevent the enrollment totals from being made public for a while.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The End Of Privacy As We Know It

For whatever reason, the British newspapers do a much better job of reporting news in America than American newspapers. Yesterday the U.K. Mail posted a story stating that the Department of Health and Human Services has hired more than 1,600 new employees since May 2010.

The article reports:

A total of 1,684 of those positions were filled. An analysis by MailOnline shows that at 2010 federal government salary rates, the new employees’ salaries alone cost the U.S. at least $138.8 million every year.

Had the agency filled all its available jobs, that cost would have been a minimum of $159 million.

The hiring began in May 2010 and continued through June 2013, making the later hires eligible for higher salaries as a result of annual cost-of-living increases.

The difference between what HHS spent on new Obamacare-related employees and what it was authorized to spend is explained by its failure to hire most of the 261 ‘consumer safety officers’ it was authorized to bring aboard. Only two such employees were hired.

But while OPM authorized HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Denise Carter — later renamed Denise Wells — to hire 50 criminal investigators, the agency increased that number to 86 on its own.

When I first heard the idea of refusing to fund ObamaCare, I thought it was a bit drastic. However, after seeing the detective force that is being formed to spy on Americans, I think Congress needs to stop ObamaCare any way it can. If ObamaCare is allowed to move forward, it will unleash a new dimension of spying on Americans.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Our Special Relationship With Great Britain Takes Another Hit

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail reported that the Obama Administration will not send an official representative to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

The article reports:

The Queen’s decision to attend Lady Thatcher‘s funeral has effectively elevated it to a state occasion unprecedented for a political figure in Britain since the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.

Other world leaders, including Canada’s Stephen Harper, Mario Monti of Italy and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, are attending the service in person.

The decision not to attend was made before the bombing in Boston yesterday. It had been assumed that although the President would not attend, he would send a representative. He has chosen not to do that. Some high ranking members of previous American administrations will be attending–two Reagan era secretaries of state: James Baker and George Shultz, former US vice president Dick Cheney and ex-secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

Margaret Thatcher was a pivotal figure of the Twentieth Century. It is simply bad form for the President not to send a representative. This is another misstep in our relationship with Great Britain.

It Was A Great Story Even If Some Of It Wasn’t True

Argo was one of my favorite movies this year. I loved seeing the story of how a fake movie had such an impact on world events. However, evidently there was some serious poetic license taken with the story.

Saturday’s U. K. Mail told the story of the seizing of the American Embassy and the taking of hostages from another perspective. Martin Williams wrote the article. He was a  First Secretary at the British Embassy in Iran when militants invaded the US Embassy in November 1979. In the movie, the British were portrayed as refusing the help the Americans who had evaded capture during the storming of the embassy. Mr. Williams tells another story.

The article relates the role Mr. Williams played that day in 1979:

We continued to get regular anonymous threats, for while the Iranians considered America to be enemy No 1, or the Great Satan, Britain was the Little Satan.

So it was not entirely surprising when a mob stormed the American Embassy on November 4. We didn’t know then how long it would last.

But we had no hesitation in helping when, at about 5pm the following day, I was told that several people had evaded capture and I should go and find them. I set off in my dusty orange Austin Maxi, which Sue and I had driven all the way from England in late 1977. It was pretty distinct and the only one in Iran; it also had a prominent GB sticker on the back.

Please follow the link above to read the entire story in the U. K. Mail. It is an amazing story of people helping people in a very difficult time.

Mr. Williams concludes:

So what prompted Ben Affleck and his people, including producer George Clooney, to portray the Brits in such a derogatory way, I don’t know. If the film had portrayed what we did, it might have added even more dramatic tension.

Let me say that, although I was disappointed by the inaccuracies,  I thought Argo was a great piece of entertainment. I can see why it won the Oscar for Best Film, but it is a semi-fictional account only.

Not that I’m surprised by its narrow viewpoint, which was geared to show the CIA as the hero.

It is not the first time that Hollywood has chosen to depict a successful world event as entirely a result of their intervention.

As a boy I can remember one of my schoolmasters commenting on the fact that most war films  gave the impression that the Americans had won the Second World War single-handed.

But this time it’s personal. I was there and I took part, as did others.  So I am concerned that Argo could become accepted as the definitive historical account.

The truth is very different, and I think it only right to get the correct information out to the public.

Now we know the truth.

Enhanced by Zemanta