Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas






I hope this got you in the Christmas mood.  

I know that I have been very neglectful of late.  Please understand that I am an old gal who takes forever to accomplish things these days and life got in the way of blogging.  I promise to be back in 2011 with an explanation.

I am leaving for my daughter's California home on Thursday and won't be returning until 
January 4.  I do hope you will return to my hodgepodge then.  I will try to catch up with your blogs after the holidays.  

Have a very merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

War and Peace

By tradition the holiday season is the time to think of peace.  Doves, the symbol of peace, are common on greeting cards. 

Man has yearned for peace since the beginning of time.  And yet, more ruinous wars are fought with each generation with more lives shattered with each successive combat.

In my lifetime I have seen too many wars and the devastation that ensued.  I was in high school when WWII broke out.  The draft was immediately put in place.  At my graduation ceremony there was a sobering moment when the young men in the graduation class who were already in one of the services were asked to stand.  Half of the boys stood up and we all knew that meant they would go directly to war.  Some went to their deaths; or to lives shattered by the horrible things they witnessed or had to do.  It was called combat fatigue then, but is now diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder.

WWII was followed by a few years of relative peace for Americans, but soon some of our young husbands were sent to the Korean War.  This was followed by the Viet Nam war in time for our sons to be drafted into that terrible conflict.

My son enlisted in the Navy to avoid the Army (or to void being cannon fodder, as they then said).  I was fortunate that he was a good musician and was accepted into special services and served his time during the Viet Nam War in the Navy band on aircraft carriers.

We all know the suffering that the two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan,  has heaped upon many of this generation.  The war in Afghanistan rages on unabated with six more families getting  the word yesterday that their young men were killed.  Instead of celebrating this Christmas, they will be in mourning.  They join too many families that have gone through this unspeakable pain.

While the wars have stolen our youth and depleted our treasure,  until 9/11, they have been even more catastrophic for our enemies.  It is always the innocent who pay the most terrible price in any war.  And for what? 

Unless a country is attacked, I believe that wars are started by a few corrupt powerful men for pure greed.  Oh yes, they give us the platitudes that it is for our safety and the war is  necessary. Nonsense!!  I am an old woman and have seen enough exploitation of the masses to know that this is the most venal of manipulation.  Brain washing on a large scale is the way to control we, the people.   Tragically,  it works.  

I am sure you have heard the old 'saw' that as long as there are two men and one woman there will be war.  Of course, that's trite but there is a kernel of truth in the statement.  While we are programmed to fight or flight, I cannot believe that this includes war.

During this season when we yearn for peace let us refuse to be manipulated into continuing the dreadful war in a country far removed that has ruined so many lives   Let us rise up en mass and demand an end to the Afghanistan war that continues to hemorrhage death and destruction. 

Peace is taught by all religions; let us demand of our leaders that they listen to the 'word' and follow its precepts. 




My wish for all is a peaceful world.  My special wish for you is a joyous holiday season.  May good health and happiness be yours in 2011 and may we see an end to war.
 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

An Abomination

 Obama's tax cut proposal has certainly stirred up a hornet's nest.  Two things that I think are important to read are Robert Reich's editorial titled An Abomination. The link is below.

Ronni Bennet who writes the blog Time Goes By  posted an excellent essay today on the hidden, and terrifying, aspect to the proposal that hasn't been covered by the media.  I urge you to read it and follow through with action.


http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/4190-why-the-tax-deal-is-an-abomination

Obama's Stealth Attack on Social Security

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Please read the post below and then come back to read this update.
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) tells me that time is of the essence on this proposal as Congressional members try to get out of Washington for the holidays. In an email, the NCPSSM said, 

Flooding members' offices is what is absolutely needed...House members have been far more vocal in their opposition to this deal than we’ve seen in the Senate but it’s vital that seniors and their families contact their representatives in both.


"Far too many in Washington don’t understand the fundamental threat of what’s being proposed and they need to hear from seniors.”

At their website, the NCPSSM has set up Payroll Tax Letter to legislators that is similar to what you can do at congress.org. Here are instructions:
  1. Follow this link
  2. Under “Elected Officials,” enter your Zip Code and press Go
  3. At the top of the next page, select “Issues”
  4. At the top of the page, select “Tax Holiday is no holiday at all”

Separate letters to the House and to the Senate will appear. Feel free to personalize them. Fill in the required information, press “send message” and you're done.

PLEASE DO THIS in addition to calling and emailing individual lawmakers. And please don't put it off for later. Time is short and the future of Social Security is at stake.

Also, feel free to copy any or all of this post and use it at your blogs. Attribution to TGB is not necessary.

category_bug_politics.gif Yesterday, Crabby Old Lady told you why President Obama's agreement with Congressional Republicans to extend unemployment benefits while retaining the Bush-era tax cuts is a bad idea. She intended to let me move on to some lighter material today, but further digging show that the deal is much worse than a giveaway to rich people.
Included in the proposal is a temporary “payroll tax holiday” - that is, a two percent cut in the FICA (Social Security) deduction for workers although not employers. The duration of this holiday is so far unspecified, but for one year, it would cost $120 billion which would be made up, says President Obama, from the general fund.
This is a DISASTER for Social Security – and no one in Washington is talking about it.
Don't take my word for it. Take the word of Bruce Bartlett, an economics expert, former domestic policy adviser to President Reagan and treasury official during the George H.W. Bush administration writing in November (please read this carefully; emphasis is mine):
”What are the odds that Republicans will ever allow this one-year tax holiday to expire?...My point is that if allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire is the biggest tax increase in history, one that Republicans claim would decimate a still-fragile economy, then surely expiration of a payroll tax holiday would also constitute a massive tax increase on the working people of America.

“And what are the odds that the economy won't still be fragile a year from now? Zero, I would say.

“...a payroll tax holiday is Pandora's Box and best left unopened. Republicans would prefer to destroy Social Security's finances or permanently fund it with general revenues than allow a once-suspended payroll tax to be reimposed.

“Arch Social Security hater Peter Ferrara once told me that funding it with general revenues was part of his plan to destroy it by converting Social Security into a welfare program, rather than an earned benefit. He was right.”
At Hullabaloo yesterday digby, who titled her post, One More Nail in the Social Security Coffin, correctly identifies the ultimate outcome of a payroll tax holiday (again, my emphasis):
“The 2012 election is looking like its going to be about taxes and deficits (as a proxy for fixing the economy, since everything else is off the table.) And from what I can see, the president is going to be competing with the Republicans on who will lower both of them the most. Social Security is in maximum danger in that environment.”
Nancy Altman at FireDogLake makes a point that has been bothering me for a long time – that so many in Congress, and the president too, do not grasp the crucially important nature of Social Security's self-funding by American workers (my emphasis agaiin):
“Today’s Democrats fail to understand the program, and so are not only blind to subtle assaults against it, but seem to conspire in those assaults. All I can say is that with the Republicans and the Democratic President, perhaps unwittingly, conspiring to destroy Social Security, the American people don’t stand a chance.”
masslib, who also writes at FireDogLake, is as suspicious as I am:
”...something doesn’t smell right here. We have a presidential deficit commission that just proposed cutting social security benefits and essentially means testing it into a welfare program, and now we have Republicans and the President agreeing to an employee Social Security payroll tax to be paid from the general fund. Well, what could possibly go wrong...”
Go wrong. Go wrong...
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) issued a press release yesterday saying, "There is no such thing as a 'temporary' tax cut." Further,
"This 2% payroll tax cut is the beginning of the end of Social Security as we know it...Proposals like this threaten the program’s independence, forcing Social Security to compete for limited federal dollars."
Not to put too fine a point on all the above: if the payroll tax holiday were to become permanent - and it will if it passes Congress with this current proposal - it will force massive cuts to Social Security.

It is a stealth attack on the program.
It will destroy the system.

Which is what the Republicans have been trying to do for decades.
Not one journalist at President Obama's press conference yesterday raised this issue. They are blind to it while they rattle on about whether the president is flip-flopping on campaign promises rather than dealing with the substance.

In fact, at this moment as I write, CNN is insulting my intelligence (for the zillionth time) by reporting that the payroll tax holiday would be a big help for Americans because it would put more money in their pockets. The reporter, apparently, is ignorant of the consequences to Social Security and old people. Bah!
Many sources have reported that the number of calls objecting to the entire proposal crashed the White House phone system yesterday. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said his office received more than 900 calls from his tiny state. Let's keep it up.

Certainly you should call if you prefer, but congress.org says lawmakers prefer to email and it is a better choice than the telephone to be sure to get through and to be able to clearly explain your position.
At congress.org, you can simultaneously send the same email to all three of your representatives and the president, but you must be registered. You can do that here. It is a quick, easy registration and you can immediately write your message.

Yesterday, President Obama defended his agreement with Congressional Republicans as “a good deal for Americans.” I vehemently disagree and it is particularly not so for old people.

If you agree, please email the president and all your representatives now to tell them this is a disaster and unacceptable. Be sure to mention the Social Security issue as well as the tax cuts for the rich that are getting all the attention.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Health Insurance Industry's Dirty Tricks

 If you have time during this busy holiday season,  please read this.  I am incensed that the Republicans are attacking the health insurance reforms that the Democrats managed to get enacted.  They should be attacking the insurance industry.

"Push Michael Moore Off a Cliff:" Health Insurance Whistleblower Wendell Potter Details How the Industry Attacked Michael Moore’s Film Sicko


When Academy Award-winning film director Michael Moore announced he would be making a documentary about the American healthcare system in 2004, it put the health insurance industry on high alert. One person who immediately went on the offensive was Wendell Potter, who at the time was the chief spokesperson for insurance giant CIGNA. Last year, Potter became the industry’s most prominent whistleblower. We speak with him about his role in attacking Michael Moore, his film Sicko, and the movement for a single-payer healthcare system. “We felt that this movie would have such an impact that it would really pave the way for legislation to be passed that could be very detrimental to the insurance industry. So it was very important for the insurers to attack this movie as fiercely as possible,” Potter said. “We developed a very, very sophisticated communications campaign to make sure that people saw him [Moore] as a Marxist, as a socialist, and that he was going to be destroying the American Dream.” Wendell Potter is now the Senior Fellow on Health Care for the Center for Media and Democracy. He has a new book out, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. This is part of an extensive interview with Wendell Potter. Click here for Part 1.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re speaking with a chief whistleblower, former chief spokesperson for the health insurance industry, the insurance industry’s greatest nightmare. He was the spokesperson for CIGNA for years and, before that, Humana. And then, through a series of incidents, his own encounters with people without healthcare dying for lack of insurance, he stepped out. He quit. And he’s written the book Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. Wendell Potter is our guest.
OK, this is Politico today, says, "Republican Andy Harris, a conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform, surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in." A congressional staffer who saw the exchange said Harris "stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care."
WENDELL POTTER: Isn’t that supremely ironic? And he had been campaigning against an incumbent, a Democrat, who was—and he was accusing him of being in favor of Obamacare. And he, this guy who was elected who you just spoke about, has pledged to repeal the legislation. Yeah, he is finally, I guess, for 28 days, possibly going to be in the same predicament that many Americans are in for months, if not years. And he was saying, essentially, "Where’s my goid you prepare for this?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, we were afraid, as the movie was being made, that Michael Moore would do ambush interviews, as he’s done in a lot of his movies in the past. So we lived in fear—I did, especially—that my CEO would be getting out of his limousine at some point, and there would be Michael Moore with a camera in his face. So, one of the things we had to do was to make sure that we media-trained our CEO and other executives so that they wouldn’t look like a deer caught in the headlights, if we could do that at all.
AMY GOODMAN: What did you tell your CEO? Wait, tell me his name again?
WENDELL POTTER: Ed Hanway.
AMY GOODMAN: What did you tell Ed?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, that—just be pleasant. Don’t run and hide. And just shake his hand and say, “Hi. I understand you’re the Hollywood moviemaker, and I’ve heard of you. I don’t have time to talk to you right now. So, if you’ll call Wendell Potter, I’m sure he can arrange for us to talk at some later time."
AMY GOODMAN: Then it wouldn’t have just been the people of New York calling you, but people all over the country calling Wendell Potter.
WENDELL POTTER: Exactly, exactly. But I was willing to take the bullet, because I was, you know, paid for that.
AMY GOODMAN: And what were you going to say?
WENDELL POTTER: I would say, "Not a chance. You’re not going to talk—get anywhere close to the CEO."
AMY GOODMAN: No, but what was your message on Sicko?
WENDELL POTTER: The message on Sicko was that this was Michael Moore’s vision for America, was to lead us into socialized medicine. We went back to those points again. We wanted to make sure that people were afraid of any other kind of system that would have more government regulation and in which people had universal care.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you work with other insurance companies in dealing with Michael Moore?
WENDELL POTTER: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We heard about Michael Moore starting this movie when he announced it, I think, in 2004. And as the movie was being made, we didn’t really know exactly how we would be portrayed in the movie. But when the movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, we, as the industry, the industry trade association, sent a staff member to the Riviera to go to the movie, to be among the first to see it, and then report back via conference call who was in the movie, how we were being portrayed. And we, from that moment on, developed a very, very sophisticated communications campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you say what it was in five seconds, because we’re just about out of time?
WENDELL POTTER: To—
AMY GOODMAN: The strategy.
WENDELL POTTER: To make sure that people were—saw him as a Marxist, as a socialist, and that he was going to be destroying the American Dream.
AMY GOODMAN: Wendell Potter, are you for socialized medicine now?
WENDELL POTTER: I think that we need to have a system in which everyone is covered. If you call that socialism, so be it.
AMY GOODMAN: Wendell Potter, former executive, former chief spokesperson for CIGNA and Humana. His book is called Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out....
I’d like to ask you, as we talk about the strategy, the sophisticated strategy that you developed for Sicko—you’re dealing with your competitors now. They are more your friends, of course, than this film—
WENDELL POTTER: Right, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN:—because it can go after you all. What, did you have meetings together?
WENDELL POTTER: Oh, we did.
AMY GOODMAN: In this conference call, sending this lucky staff member to the Riviera, and they call back. What did they say? Did they say the film was well received?
WENDELL POTTER: Oh, they did. They said, in fact, they—he reported that there was a 15-minute standing ovation at the end of the movie, so it was very, very well received. We were very scared. And we knew that we would have to develop a very sophisticated and expensive campaign to turn people away from the idea of universal care. We were afraid that this might really galvanize public opinion. We were told by our pollsters, in a meeting that was held just days after the premier of the movie, that for the first time ever since they had been polling, that people were—a majority of people were in favor of much greater government involvement in our healthcare system. So that—
AMY GOODMAN: Who were your pollsters?
WENDELL POTTER: McInturff, Public Opinion Strategies, Bill McInturff, who’s a well-known Republican strategist and who went on to be John McCain’s chief pollster. He’s been a pollster for the insurance industry for probably two decades. And he had been tracking public opinion for all these years. And this really scared the insurers, the executives. We were all concerned about that, because we felt that this movie would be—have such an impact that it would really pave the way for legislation to be passed that could be very detrimental to the insurance industry. So it was very important for the insurers to attack this movie as fiercely as possible.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, what was the grassroots strategy, if you had one, as the movie came out in the United States?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, one key component was to fund a front group, and that is something that I write about quite a bit in the book, about how special interests, and the insurance industry, in particular, will use premium dollars to funnel thousands and thousands, if not millions, of dollars to big PR firms to set up fake grassroots organizations—astroturf, as we call it—and front groups. And in this case, there was a front group that was set up called Health Care America, and the sole purpose for it to be set up was to attack Michael Moore and to attack the notion of a single-payer system in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: And who were the people who populated Health Care America?
WENDELL POTTER: There were just a couple of people. There was a woman. I think her name was—I can’t remember her name. Sarah Berk, I think, was her name. But the media contact for it was a guy named Bill Pierce, who I had known and worked with in the past. He used to be a PR guy for Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association. At that time, he was in the public relations firm APCO Worldwide. He was listed as a media contact, and if you called his number, you would have reached him at his desk at APCO Worldwide. It didn’t have any substance. It was just a—
AMY GOODMAN: What is APCO Worldwide?
WENDELL POTTER: It is a very, very big PR firm that was started several years ago by a big Washington law firm, Arnold & Porter. The A and P is Arnold & Porter, and they were defending—
AMY GOODMAN: APCO.
WENDELL POTTER: Yeah, and they were defending tobacco companies. So they felt that they needed to have help in the court of public opinion, as well as in the courtroom.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did Health Care America—who did they say they were?
WENDELL POTTER: They said they were representing consumers. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Did anyone expose this at the time?
WENDELL POTTER: No. No one did.
AMY GOODMAN: Did anyone have them on to counter what Michael Moore had to say on television, radio or quote them in the newspaper?
WENDELL POTTER: No. In fact—and I’ve done a search recently just to find out how they were covered, and they were never exposed.
AMY GOODMAN: But were they quoted?
WENDELL POTTER: Oh, absolutely. They were quoted extensively. They sent out press releases. And they were given status as a legitimate organization, even by the New York Times.
AMY GOODMAN: In what article?
WENDELL POTTER: There was an article that the New York Times wrote as a kind of a review of Sicko, not really a review but just a story about the movie actually premiering in the U.S. in June of 2007. And the New York Times story quoted the Health Care America spokesman as saying that this represented a move toward socialism. And there was not an—apparently not an attempt on the part of the reporter, or any reporter that I saw, to disclose the fact that this was funded largely by the insurance industry.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to another clip of Sicko, of Michael Moore’s film, that they also feared, that they sent one lucky staff member, employee from CIGNA, to the Riviera to watch the film festival where Michael Moore got a standing ovation for 15 minutes, and then have a corporate conference call to report back on what they saw. This is Sicko, a clip.
MICHAEL MOORE: This guy broke his ankle. How much will this cost him? He’ll have some huge bill when he’s done, right?
NHS HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATIVE WORKER: Here, no. Just everything is free.
MICHAEL MOORE: I’m asking about hospital charges, and you’re laughing.

MICHAEL MOORE: So this is where people come to pay their bill when they’re done staying in the hospital.
NHS CASHIER: No, this is the NHS hospital, so you don’t pay that bill.
MICHAEL MOORE: Why does it say "cashier" here if people don’t have to pay a bill?
NHS HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATIVE WORKER: …place, you have—it just means get the traffic expenses reimbursed.
MICHAEL MOORE: So in British hospitals, instead of money going into the cashier’s window, money comes out.
[from Democracy Now!, 6/18/07]
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, they look at me like I’m from Mars when I’m asking the Brits, you know, how much they paid for this, that or whatever.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Michael Moore. Let’s talk about how we arrived at the system we did in this country.
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, you know, my grandfather was a country doctor, actually. He was from Canada. He went to medical school in the late 1800s, which was a year then. You know, it’s pretty much what they knew back then. They could teach it in a year. And so, the little village where, you know, I was raised, because my mom was from there, too, because he was there, you know, he was paid with eggs and milk and chickens and things like that. He didn’t do it to make any big money. They didn’t make big money then. They were comfortable—the local doctor—but they weren’t the rich man in the community.
We got away from the concept of treating people because it was the right thing to do. The nuns ran the hospital that I was born in. The nuns weren’t doing this to turn profit and invest in Wall Street. You know, I mean, they did it because they thought that was their duty to serve God and to serve mankind by opening hospitals and delivering babies. We’re a long ways from that now. Somewhere we let profit and greed enter into this.
And in the film, I peg a certain date when the HMOs really got their start. And I got very lucky. I had a 23-year-old researcher in my office who worked on the film, who was actually someone I believe that was recommended by Jeremy Scahill, so there’s a Democracy Now! connection to this moment in the movie. But he found this Watergate tape—has nothing to do with Watergate, it’s one of the Nixon tapes—at the Archives, National Archives, where Nixon and Ehrlichman are discussing whether or not to support this HMO concept. And Ehrlichman says to Nixon, "You’re going to love this, because this is private enterprise. This isn’t like some freebie thing." Nixon goes, "Oh, I like that. Tell me about it." And then Ehrlichman says, "Well, this is how it’s going to work, these HMOs. They’re going to make more money by providing less care. The less care they give them, the patients, the more money the company makes." Nixon goes, "Ooh, not bad!" And it’s all there on tape.
AMY GOODMAN: Wendell, you were laughing as Michael’s describing the Ehrlichman tape, the Nixon-Ehrlichman-Haldeman. You know this tape.
WENDELL POTTER: I do know that tape, and it was, I think, a great find—
AMY GOODMAN: Did anyone ever tell you you look a little like John Haldeman?
WENDELL POTTER: Thank you, maybe. I don’t know. But it was important for that conversation—important was really—that conversation was very important because, at that time, Ted Kennedy was trying to get legislation enacted that would have been a Medicare-for-all system, in which we would have had a single-payer system in this country. So Nixon was desperate to find some private enterprise solution that could be used a counter to what Ted Kennedy was trying to do at that time. It’s very important.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Health Care America. This is really important, what you’ve just been describing, this astroturf organization that’s quoted by the New York Times and other publications and media as a consumer healthcare group, that isn’t, that’s sitting in APCO, made by Arnold & Porter, who represented the tobacco companies. And they’re there to kill any idea of public option or anything like that. What other organizations are there? And how successful did you think you were in dealing with Sicko? Did you think you contained the message?
WENDELL POTTER: There’s no doubt we felt we were successful in blunting the impact of the movie. We were concerned that the movie would be as successful as Fahrenheit 9/11 had been. And we knew that if it were, it really would change public opinion about our healthcare system in ways that would be harmful to the profits of health insurers. So, it was very important for this campaign to succeed. At one point during a strategy meeting, one of the people from APCO said that if our efforts, our initial efforts, were not successful, then we’d have to move to an element of the campaign to push Michael Moore off a cliff. And not meaning to do that literally, but to—
AMY GOODMAN: Are you sure?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, I’m not sure. To tell you the truth, when I started doing what I’m doing, I was concerned about my own health and well-being, maybe just from paranoia. But these companies play to win. And we’re talking about some big bucks at stake here—billions and billions and billions of dollars.
AMY GOODMAN: So what were they talking about when they said, "If this doesn’t work, we’re going to push him off the cliff"?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, it would be just an incredibly intense PR effort, if necessary, to spend more premium dollars to defame Michael Moore, to discredit him even more as a filmmaker.
AMY GOODMAN: So, were you doing research on him?
WENDELL POTTER: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: You were going—personally?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, I was a part of the effort. I didn’t—that was part of the reason for hiring APCO and to work with a trade association, is that relieved me the responsibility of doing that kind of work. You paid for it to be done by people who were experts in doing that kind of research.
AMY GOODMAN: But they were doing an investigation into him personally?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, absolutely. We knew as much about him probably as he knows about himself.
AMY GOODMAN: About his wife, about his kid, about—
WENDELL POTTER: Oh, yeah. You know, it’s important to know everything that you might be able to use in some kind of a campaign against someone, to discredit them professionally and often personally.
AMY GOODMAN: And did you use that?
WENDELL POTTER: You use it if necessary.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you use it?
WENDELL POTTER: It was not—we didn’t deem it necessary to push him off a cliff, because we were very mindful of the box office totals. We looked at that every weekend to see how well it was doing, and we could see that it was not getting or drawing the audiences like Fahrenheit 9/11 did. And we thought that the efforts of Health Care America and our allies were succeeding.
AMY GOODMAN: When the film came out and you did the research, did you feel that you actually had contained it at the beginning? I think of a CNN critique that Sanjay Gupta did, Sanjay Gupta did.
WENDELL POTTER: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you have anything to do with that?
WENDELL POTTER: I didn’t. Again, some of the reason you hire these big PR firms is you can do this with a little bit of a hands-off kind of operation. The big PR firms have very good connections with producers of network shows and cable shows and columnists and pundits. And so, you rely on them to be able to get your messaging out. And they’re very, very successful in influencing people about how they write or how they put a show together.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, he was furious. Michael Moore went on CNN, was outraged, and said that everything they said about him wasn’t true. And in the end, CNN had to apologize.
WENDELL POTTER: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: They were not correct, what they said about Michael Moore’s film, that he had gotten his facts wrong.
WENDELL POTTER: I think CNN and Sanjay Gupta undoubtedly were embarrassed that they had been, frankly, duped by the insurance industry, probably not even aware of the role that the insurance industry was playing in that.
AMY GOODMAN: Did the insurance industry put out to all the networks—you had your chosen producers at all the networks—fact sheets on Sicko?
WENDELL POTTER: Not directly. Again, that’s why you hire these third parties, these PR firms, to do it for you, so that your involvement cannot be traced.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Unbelievable

The following are excerpts from  the op-ed piece, The Axis of Depression by Paul Krugman in today's NYT.                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What do the government of China, the government of Germany and the Republican Party have in common? They’re all trying to bully the Federal Reserve into calling off its efforts to create jobs. And the motives of all three are highly suspect. 

The Fed is trying to reduce interest rates, as it always does when unemployment is high and inflation is low. 

The case for Fed action is overwhelming. the main concern  is that they are likely to prove too weak, too ineffective.

But why are Republicans joining in this attack? 

Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues seem stunned to find themselves in the cross hairs. They thought they were acting in the spirit of none other than Milton Friedman, who blamed the Fed for not acting more forcefully during the Great Depression — and who, in 1998, called on the Bank of Japan to “buy government bonds on the open market,” exactly what the Fed is now doing. 
 
Republicans, however, will have none of it, raising objections that range from the odd to the incoherent. 

The odd: on Monday, a somewhat strange group of Republican figures — who knew that William Kristol was an expert on monetary policy? — released an open letter to the Fed warning that its policies “risk currency debasement and inflation.” These concerns were echoed in a letter the top four Republicans in Congress sent Mr. Bernanke on Wednesday. Neither letter explained why we should fear inflation when the reality is that inflation keeps hitting record lows. 

And about dollar debasement: leaving aside the fact that a weaker dollar actually helps U.S. manufacturing, where were these people during the previous administration? The dollar slid steadily through most of the Bush years, a decline that dwarfs the recent down tick. Why weren’t there similar letters demanding that Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman at the time, tighten policy? 

Meanwhile, the incoherent: Two Republicans, Mike Pence in the House and Bob Corker in the Senate, have called on the Fed to abandon all efforts to achieve full employment and focus solely on price stability. Why? Because unemployment remains so high. No, I don’t understand the logic either. 

So what’s really motivating the G.O.P. attack on the Fed?   Stan Collender predicted it all. Back in August, he warned Mr. Bernanke that “with Republican policy makers seeing economic hardship as the path to election glory,” they would be “opposed to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve that would make the economy better.” In short, their real fear is not that Fed actions will be harmful, it is that they might succeed.
                     
 Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House.
                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~If you have manged to remain calm after reading the excerpts from Krugman's op-ed piece, I have a few more items to add to this ugly picture.
The Republicans have made no secret that their only goal for the next two years is exactly the same game plan they have been following for the last two years.  They will do everything in their power to destroy the Obama presidency, even though they are destroying the country to do so.  It is despicable, unpatriotic, and cowardly.
I cannot fathom why anyone would vote for these greedy power hungry jerks again.  The party of 'no' has sunk to new depths of disgusting meanness.   They took an oath of office when sworn in to do the best for our country.  Not the best for the Republican party.  
Some of the other recent 'cute' things they have accomplished since the foolish voters gave Obama a drubbing.  
  1. My  dishonorable Senator, John Kyle, has sabotaged the Nuclear Arms Proliferation Treaty to keep Obama from having a victory.  This comes at the expense of world safety. 
  2. My other hypocritical Senator, John McCain, has  disgraced himself by throwing a monkey wrench in the repeal of the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell ' policy.
  3. They have halted the funding of employment compensation for desperate people whose lives are being destroyed.   It isn't bad enough that the Republican party under George Bush brought the economic disaster on us.  Now they want to punish the victims of their incompetence. 
Shunning the President's invitation to the White House to   discuss ways to solve the nation's problems was an odious insult to our president.  They have managed to put off the date of meeting with him so that the President will not have time to  accomplish anything before they take over the House; thus robbing him of any good legislation.

That politics is a dirty game is a given, but the current Republican party crossed the line when they put their own greedy selfish desire ahead of the nation's needs.  There are so many real problems facing our country that will not wait for the 2012 election.   It appears that they are eager willing to take this country over the brink into the abyss rather than let Obama have a tiny victory.   When their goal of destroying Obama became more important than helping solve the critical problems facing us,  the party of 'NO' became the most unscrupulous political party in this nation's history.  

They have the unmitigated gall to blatantly say their most important goal is to stop Obama.  How outrageous !! To do so they will try to destroy the Health Care Reform act by not funding it until they have a Republican president so they can repeal it.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.


Let the poor eat cake, let the uninsured die, let the country be reviled again as it was under George Bush, let the country sink into a Great Depression so the Repubs can ride in on their white horse and rescue the country from all those Socialistic programs.  The only problem with that scenario is that they don't have a clue how to solve a single problem.   The hints as to how they plan to do so are all so ineffective that it's almost laughable.   I think we will need a good laugh before this is over.


You may be relieved to know this will be may last rant for a while.  I will not be spending much time on the computer for the next month or so.   I have a project that will take most of my time.  I will check in daily, but will not comment often because it does take me most of the day to do so.  


I will be going to California to spend Christmas at my daughter's house and other family members hope to join us there.  I am looking forward to getting away from politics for awhile.  My son, Mark, celebrated his 60th birthday last Sunday.  Now if you don't think that makes me feel old, guess again.  So I will make this trip while I am still able to navigate.


An update on my Visa fraud woes.  I got a letter yesterday from my credit card company telling me that the case has been closed.  Hooray!  Of course, they added the caveat that the merchant has 45 days to refile.  I don't think the merchant will do so under the circumstances.


In the event that I don't have time to post next week, I am taking this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Morning After



The cartoon was penned by Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Daily Star.  He is so funny and writes a political column using satire.  Tucson is fortunate to have such a talented cartoonist.

The hangover following the last election is fading now that the shock has abated.  The best we can hope for is gridlock.  If the radicals have their way they will set this county back 50 years.  Thank God for the power of the veto.

Like a condemned prisoner, I am resigned to my fate.  I am debating whether it's worth taking on another battle for saving the health care reform.  That seems to be top priority for the Republicans now; weaken it, don't fund it, and if they manage to get a Republican president,  repeal it.  I am so tired of the whole stupidity of the voters and the entire duplicity of the Republicans that I think I will just let others fight the good fight.

I need to update my followers on my experience with my Visa account being used fraudulently.  I now have a new credit card number, the credit on my statement of $425  is now a debit.  The last I heard about it was when I got a telephone call telling me they had sent a form to be filled out before they could proceed with the investigation.  The kicker was that I had filled out and mailed the form a week before.  The message was a recorded one with no option to respond.  The following day I called them to confirm that they had received the form.  They had.  I told the person investigating the claim that I thought they needed to reorganize their department because the right hand didn't have a clue as to what the left hand was doing.  I assume I will be notified when the case is closed.  Given the inefficiency in handling the whole thing, I am probably making a false assumption.  

Thanks to everyone who helped me post the cartoon above.  Special thanks to Rummuser for his assistance in doing so with a Mac.  Once you know how to do it,  it's easy.   Now if my old memory will retain the knowledge, I will be able to do so agai

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dear Mr. President

Oh how I miss Windows.  I had a great cartoon that I wanted to post but my Mac laptop does not function like Windows and, although I am able to bring the cartoon up, I cannot find a way to post it.   Copy and paste do not work and the options for posting an image do not include the file where the cartoon is stored.  Arrgh!


I will continue with a rant sans humor.


Dear Mr. President:


This loyal constituent is depressed and fearful.  I knew that there would be a train wreck and I tried to be sanguine about the shellacking you took.  The pendulum swings back and forth in politics and the Democrats' loss was predicted.

The depression kicked in when I heard your conciliatory speech inviting the Republican leadership to the White House and when you went so far as to offer to wine and dine them I wanted to weep.  The nasty thought came to me that you should put a few drops of hemlock in the Republicans' brandy.  (Just kidding)

I am so afraid that you just don't get it.   The Republican leadership proudly boast that their goal in the next two years is to destroy the good you have done and limit you to a one term president.  They have made it crystal clear that the bipartisanship you seek is never going to happen.  

The Republicans shamefully do not give a damn about we, the people.  If they are allowed to further destroy the country during the next two years they can blame you and you will not serve another term.  That is the only goal they have.  It has been their goal from the beginning of your term in office.

Their answers to the country's problems are laughable.  They have no real plausible solutions to the economy or job creation.  All they can do is stop you.

It's time to play their game and the name of the game is hardball.  Take a page from their play book and learn how dirty politics wins.  Every time they lie you must use your bully pulpit to refute their deceit.  Don't let a single smear go unchallenged.  

The Republicans have the money and big corporations on their side.  They have the despicable  Faux Fox Network as their corrupt mouthpieces.  The best TV media for political  truth is MSNBC and you should use your Public Relations people to promote it.   Yes, the commentators on MSNBC lean left, but they do not lie.   The commentators on that channel can prove what they say, contrary to the entertainers on Fox who cry, spread fear and hatred with unprovable smears.  

You have two arrows in your quiver.  Your eloquence and your ability to inspire hope.  And the bully pulpit to make use of that ability.  Use them often. 

Your desire to be seen an a moderate and polite leader is perceived as weakness.  It is time to be bold.  Or as Sarah Palin so earthly put it, "Man up."  The people want a strong leader who isn't afraid to demand that Congress fulfill it's duties and stop maligning and dithering.  We want a leader who sounds convinced of his actions and strongly explains them.  Bold captures the day.

You must instruct your people to use every avenue available to you to explain how the Health Care Reform will impact on the lives of the people you govern.  You must not wait to do so.  They have been fed a bunch of crap lies and have been convinced that it's a very bad thing;  You know this.  Are you going to let it go unchallenged?  This is a time for every Democrat to stand up tall and refute the lies with the truth.

The same principle goes for the other good legislation passed during your presidency.   The people do not know about it and the timidity of the Democrats is discouraging.  A 'one or two time explanation' just won't cut it.  It must be repeatedly drummed into the heads of the naive.  Learn how that works from the tactics of Karl Rove.

You know that the Republicans do not have a clue as to how to get jobs back and that is why they have switched the subject to 
'that terrible health care plan'.  If asked what they would do about the economy they avoid answering.  When pressed they say they will retain the tax cuts for the wealthiest corporations and individuals.  How well did that work under George Bush?  
It helped create the defecit that they claim to despise.  

You know all of this Mr. President.  By now you should have learned how the game is played.   It isn't a college debate; it's down and dirty gutter fighting.  You are going to have to remain above the fray, but use your intellect to subtly fight fire with fire.

I remain your loyal admirer and hope that you will not let too much time lapse before you change your methods.  Once a lie takes hold it's very hard to refute.  I want to call you Mr. President for four more years.

I remain Respectfully Yours,
Darlene

 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Visitor and Fun

I have spent the entire afternoon trying to format this post.  It keeps getting worse.   So I am publishing it with the messed up form that BlogSpot insists on the way my blog will  be posted.  Scream !!!

This is as large as I can make the slide show without cutting half of it off.   If you want to see the photos in a larger size here is the link.   I discovered that the link directs you to the pictures individually instead of the original album.  You can click on them to enlarge them, but you won't be able to see them as a slide show.   Maybe some day I will figure this blogging challenge out.  ;-(  .  I just tested the link and you have to click on the bottom half.  Then is should work.  How do you bloggers make a link with just a word?  Sigh.


http://picasaweb.google.com/data/feed/base/user/deejaycee6/albumid/5535027982221417617?alt=rss&kind=photo&authkey=Gv1sRgCLCQ_fWFw93o0gE&hl=en_UShttp://picasaweb.google.com/data/feed/base/user/deejaycee6/albumid/5535027982221417617?alt=rss&kind=photo&authkey=Gv1sRgCLCQ_fWFw93o0gE&hl=en_US

One reason I have not been a  good blogger of late is because I had an exciting visit from my cousin's middle daughter, Judy.   Please meet Judy in the photo below.

While she was here we went to the two Saguaro National Monuments (East and West) and the Sonora Desert Museum.  I have posted photos of both places in the past, but I think the ones I took this time are different.  If all goes well you can see some of them in the slide show I am including. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Scare plus a good video

In case you  missed it.  Jon Stewart and the President.  What a combination.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 3
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Here's your Halloween fright!  It's scarier than any ghoul, goblin, or witch.  It's even scarier than Sarah Palin.  Here is another good NYT op-ed piece from Paul Krugman.  Read it and weep.

Divided We Fail

Barring a huge upset, Republicans will take control of at least one house of Congress next week. How worried should we be by that prospect?
Not very, say some pundits. After all, the last time Republicans controlled Congress while a Democrat lived in the White House was the period from the beginning of 1995 to the end of 2000. And people remember that era as a good time, a time of rapid job creation and responsible budgets. Can we hope for a similar experience now?
No, we can’t. This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness.
Start with the politics.
In the late-1990s, Republicans and Democrats were able to work together on some issues. President Obama seems to believe that the same thing can happen again today. In a recent interview with National Journal, he sounded a conciliatory note, saying that Democrats need to have an “appropriate sense of humility,” and that he would “spend more time building consensus.” Good luck with that.
After all, that era of partial cooperation in the 1990s came only after Republicans had tried all-out confrontation, actually shutting down the federal government in an effort to force President Bill Clinton to give in to their demands for big cuts in Medicare.
Now, the government shutdown ended up hurting Republicans politically, and some observers seem to assume that memories of that experience will deter the G.O.P. from being too confrontational this time around. But the lesson current Republicans seem to have drawn from 1995 isn’t that they were too confrontational, it’s that they weren’t confrontational enough.
Another recent interview by National Journal, this one with Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has received a lot of attention thanks to a headline-grabbing quote: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
If you read the full interview, what Mr. McConnell was saying was that, in 1995, Republicans erred by focusing too much on their policy agenda and not enough on destroying the president: “We suffered from some degree of hubris and acted as if the president was irrelevant and we would roll over him. By the summer of 1995, he was already on the way to being re-elected, and we were hanging on for our lives.” So this time around, he implied, they’ll stay focused on bringing down Mr. Obama.
True, Mr. McConnell did say that he might be willing to work with Mr. Obama in certain circumstances — namely, if he’s willing to do a “Clintonian back flip,” taking positions that would find more support among Republicans than in his own party. Of course, this would actually hurt Mr. Obama’s chances of re-election — but that’s the point.
We might add that should any Republicans in Congress find themselves considering the possibility of acting in a statesmanlike, bipartisan manner, they’ll surely reconsider after looking over their shoulder at the Tea Party-types, who will jump on them if they show any signs of being reasonable. The role of the Tea Party is one reason smart observers expect another government shutdown, probably as early as next spring.
Beyond the politics, the crucial difference between the 1990s and now is the state of the economy.
When Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, the U.S. economy had strong fundamentals. Household debt was much lower than it is today. Business investment was surging, in large part thanks to the new opportunities created by information technology — opportunities that were much broader than the follies of the dot-com bubble.
In this favorable environment, economic management was mainly a matter of putting the brakes on the boom, so as to keep the economy from overheating and head off potential inflation. And this was a job the Federal Reserve could do on its own by raising interest rates, without any help from Congress.
Today’s situation is completely different. The economy, weighed down by the debt that households ran up during the Bush-era bubble, is in dire straits; deflation, not inflation, is the clear and present danger. And it’s not at all clear that the Fed has the tools to head off this danger. Right now we very much need active policies on the part of the federal government to get us out of our economic trap.
But we won’t get those policies if Republicans control the House. In fact, if they get their way, we’ll get the worst of both worlds: They’ll refuse to do anything to boost the economy now, claiming to be worried about the deficit, while simultaneously increasing long-run deficits with irresponsible tax cuts — cuts they have already announced won’t have to be offset with spending cuts.
So if the elections go as expected next week, here’s my advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Manipulation

During this insane election cycle I have been thinking about how easily people can be manipulated.  Hitler learned that fact over 70 years ago and it is still very effective.

It isn't just politics.  Religious leaders have been doing it since religion first became part of human equation.  Logic, common sense, or facts never enter into the thinking of the general populace.  It saddens me that in my 85 years on earth I see no improvement.  In many ways, we have regressed.  History should teach us why some things work and some things don't.  But history's lessons, too, are ignored. 

The common belief is that the House will be lost by the Democrats in the mid-term elections.  I am constantly bewildered by how the general public and be so easily mislead by lies and disinformation.  Is it a right-brain, left-brain thing?  

Some people just don't want to think for themselves.   If the Pope says the world is flat, they accept his statement without question.  If a fundamentalist preacher claims that anything that is fun is a sin, people believe him.  If a Jehovah's Witness claims that the Bible says that a blood transfusion is a sin they will refuse one, even though it might cause their death.  I simply don't understand why they accept the words of a book written by ignorant men thousands of years ago over modern scientific facts.  Do they want to be duped?  When words are taken out of context, or out of the time frame in which they were written, or without taking into account the lack of knowledge of the time period,  I cannot fathom  why individuals are so blindly accepting.

Being easily led to accept a fact when still children, the pattern is set.  That makes it so simple  for people like Rush Limbaugh,  Glenn Beck,  Bill O'Reilly,  Sarah Palin, and others to convince them that black is white, Obama is a Muslim, and so many outright lies and distortions that spew from their deceitful mouths.  Their followers never question.  Is it because they were taught to never question their elders or their religious leaders?  Or are they genetically disposed to believe in a right leaning way?  Are some people predisposed to think with their emotions instead of their brains?  I wish someone could clarify this for me.  Not only do they accept some patently idiotic statements, but many of the things they accept as dogma are clearly against their own best interest.

Along these lines Frank Rich wrote an Op-ed piece published in the NYT.   Following are some excerpts:

What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?

PRESIDENT Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of American taxpayers a tax cut.


The reasons for his failure to reap credit for any economic accomplishments are a catechism by now: the dark cloud cast by undiminished unemployment, the relentless disinformation campaign of his political opponents, and the White House’s surprising ineptitude at selling its own achievements. But the most relentless drag on a chief executive who promised change we can believe in is even more ominous. It’s the country’s fatalistic sense that the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.


No matter how much Obama talks about his “tough” new financial regulatory reforms or offers rote condemnations of Wall Street greed, few believe there’s been real change. That’s not just because so many have lost their jobs, their savings and their homes. It’s also because so many know that the loftiest perpetrators of this national devastation got get-out-of-jail-free cards, that too-big-to-fail banks have grown bigger and that the rich are still the only Americans getting richer.


Clearly, financial institutions have learned nothing in the few years since their contempt for fiscal and legal niceties led them to peddle these predatory mortgages (and the reckless financial “products” concocted from them) in the first place. And why should they have learned anything? They’ve often been rewarded, not punished, for bad behavior.
Asked in “Inside Job” why there’s been no systematic investigation of the 2008 crash, Roubini answers: “Because then you’d find the culprits.” With the aid of the “Manhattan Madam” (and current stunt New York gubernatorial candidate) Kristin Davis, the film also asks why federal prosecutors who were “perfectly happy to use Eliot Spitzer’s personal vices to force him to resign in 2008” have not used rampant sex-and-drug trade on Wall Street as a tool for flipping witnesses to pursue the culprits behind the financial crimes that devastated the nation. 

The Obama administration seems not to have a prosecutorial gene. It’s shy about calling a fraud a fraud when it occurs in high finance.  

 In our new banking scandal, as in those before it, attorneys general in the states, where many pension funds were decimated by Wall Street Ponzi schemes, are pursuing the crimes Washington has not. The largest bill of reparations paid out by Bank of America for Countrywide’s deceptive mortgage practices — $8.4 billion — was to settle a suit by 11 state attorneys general on the warpath. 

Since Obama has neither aggressively pursued the crash’s con men nor compellingly explained how they gamed the system, he sometimes looks as if he’s fronting for the industry even if he’s not.

Voters are not only failing to give the White House credit for its economic successes but finding it guilty of transgressions it didn’t commit. The opposition is more than happy to pump up that confusion. When Mitch McConnell appeared on ABC’s “This Week” last month, he typically railed against the “extreme” government of “the last year and a half,” citing its takeover of banks as his first example. That this was utter fiction — the takeover took place two years ago, before Obama was president, with McConnell voting for it — went unchallenged by his questioner, Christiane Amanpour, and probably by many viewers inured to this big lie.
 
The real tragedy here, though, is not whatever happens in midterm elections. It’s the long-term prognosis for America. The obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry has societal consequences graver than even the fundamental economic unfairness. When we reward financial engineers infinitely more than actual engineers, we “lure our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chase” for Wall Street riches, as the economist Robert H. Frank wrote in The Times last weekend. Worse, Frank added, the continued squeeze on the middle class leads to a wholesale decline in the quality of American life — from more bankruptcy filings and divorces to a collapse in public services, whether road repair or education, that taxpayers will no longer support. 

Even as the G.O.P. benefits from unlimited corporate campaign money, it’s pulling off the remarkable feat of persuading a large swath of anxious voters that it will lead a populist charge against the rulers of our economic pyramid — the banks, energy companies, insurance giants and other special interests underwriting its own candidates. Should those forces prevail, an America that still hasn’t remotely recovered from the worst hard times in 70 years will end up handing over even more me mpower to those who greased the skids. 

We can blauch of this turn of events on the deep pockets of oil billionaires like the Koch brothers and on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which freed corporations to try to buy any election they choose. But the Obama White House is hardly innocent. Its failure to hold the bust’s malefactors accountable has helped turn what should have been a clear-cut choice on Nov. 2 into a blurry contest between the party of big corporations and the party of business as usual. 
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you want to read the entire editorial click on the link.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Need a Laugh?

I think the end of my saga is near.  When I left you the supervisor turned me over to a representative who promised action no later than 4 business days.  Well, this is the fifth day and the charge is still on my credit card balance.  

This whole experience has been a learning curve for me.  I an a slow learner, but I get there.

I went above the supervisor today and got a manager.  He told me that the problem had never been handled correctly from the beginning and should have been turned over to the fraud department as soon as it became obvious that the name on the statement was for another person.   It is now in the hands of the fraud department, I am to get a new credit card with a new number in 2 days,  the charge is no longer on my account and any other charges that may have been levied on my account will be removed.   Unless you see another whine letter from me (I do not furnish cheese) you can assume the saga is over.   
The moral of this story; don't waste time with the small fry.   Go straight to the top from the get go.

I have out of town company coming tomorrow so will not even open my laptop after I close it now.   I am sure you need a rest from my rants, anyhow.
See you next week.  Keep smiling.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Rest Of the Story

 If you have been keeping up with my saga on stress I will now bring you up to date.  You may recall that I had been charged for a bill that belonged to another customer of Dish Network.   Unraveling this error turned out to be more time consuming and frustrating than I imaged it would.  After I faxed my response letter back I heard nothing more so I called them again.  This time I got an investigator who assured me that my case would stay open and get priority attention.  I don't know if he was incompetent, lazy, or just didn't give a fig, but nothing had been done.

More Stress:

After waiting for days I called customer care (?) again and got a representative that treated me like the village idiot.  I went through my long tale of woe and told her that I had been assured that the case would be reopened and put on priority by the last person I talked to.  Nothing had been done.  She told me I had to send another letter to reopen the case explaining why I did not think this was my obligation.   Tearing my hair out clump by clump I explained very patiently that they already had a letter with all that information that had been faxed to them days ago.    You could almost hear her sigh as she told me that this was the way it worked.  I had to send another letter and to expect it to take 10 to 14 days to get there.  I argued that this was completely unnecessary as it was just duplicating what they already had.  She insisted and, giving up in defeat because I was too tired to argue further I said, "All right I'll send another stupid lettter."   I asked her if I could fax it and she gave me a new fax number.  

Busy Work:

I wrote the whole scenario over once more and sent it to my friend over the Internet so he could fax it on his machine.  I wasn't thinking very clearly and after I sent it I realized that it had not been signed because it was all done in the computer.  I Emailed my friend and told him I would print a copy,  sign it, scan the signed copy and send it to him the next day.

Additional Stress:

The next morning I booted up my computer, got to the desk top, clicked on an icon and everything disappeared.  I had a major computer crash.  I booted up in 4 different options and was only able to get as far as "please wait".   This was in 'system restore' because nothing else got my desktop back.  I would be waiting until hell freezes over because that's as far as I can get.  My guru tells me my hard drive has crashed.  Do I opt for a new computer or a new hard drive?  Decisions, decisions.

Customer Care person #4.

I finally did what I should have done in the beginning.  I called and told the new girl that I wanted her to pull up my account and then connect me to a supervisor.  She wanted to know why.  By this time I had my story memorized and didn't even need to have Cliff notes written in my palm.  (I would apologize to Sarah Palin, but she doesn't deserve it.)  After I explained that I had talked to three investigators about this and gotten three different stories I wanted someone who knew what they were doing (Am I a mama grizzly?).

The Senior supervisor came on and I repeated my litany and told her that if the first investigator had bothered to look at the papers he would have noticed that the name, address, and zip code on the papers provided by Dish to prove their assertion that the charge was valid were all for a different customer.  I should not have had to go through the stress I endured if he had done his job.  

Is it fraud?

I had, at long last, reached someone who listened to me and she said it sounded like fraud to her.  She asked me to please hold (again ) while she contacted someone in the fraud department.   Eventually I was put in touch with another investigator who assured me that he could, and would, handle my case in 2 business days.  At the end of the conversation he assured me I would not have to pay late charges if the amount was not paid by my due date.   Then he worried me again by saying it would be handled in FOUR business days.  What happened to TWO?  This was Thursday.  The charge is still on my Visa statement.  Guilty until proven innocent, I guess. 

Wise Decision:

After this is resolved, if it ever is, I am going to get a new credit card number and never allow automatic charges to my account again.  During this unpleasant experience I thought, "What if I had met the grim reaper before I insisted that someone in authority look at the error?   My kids would not have known it was not my obligation and would have paid it without question.  Dish would have gotten away with their scam error.

I am probably boring you with my long saga, but if, in telling it, I can prevent someone else from making the mistakes I made it will be worth it.