The Obamacare website fiasco

We are blessed to have some of the brightest and talented computer programmers living here in the United States. Sometimes, I simply marvel at how they can create programs to do just about anything. The next time you log onto Amazon.com, think about all the effort and time that was put into that website by a bunch of brilliant programmers so that you can do your Christmas shopping in the comforts of your home. The same holds true for many other services such as auto, home and health insurance. I love the fact that you can compare rates and shop on a fairly secure site. So why in the world is it so hard to create a Federal exchange website for health insurance? There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for what is going on and this fiasco just goes to show you how incompetent the government is in handling issues that the private sector can do so much more efficiently and with far less the cost.

Of course, the White House is trying to shift the blame to the contractors who built this site but I am not buying their line of crap. As with any new software, you should do many rounds of testing before the thing goes live to make sure all the bugs and glitches are worked out. Any programmer can tell you that this can take some time before all the wrinkles are taken care of. You would figure that a website this important would be built and tested by some of the best programmers in the world but apparently the testing was done by some government official who obviously was not up to the task. Why this testing was not done by somebody in the private industry who actually knows what they are doing is completely stupid!! The federal government had 3 years and 634 million dollars to develop a top-notch site and so far, they have failed miserably!!

So who is being held accountable for this mess? Imagine if this happened in the private sector? Suppose a new website similar to Amazon.com was about to launch just before Christmas, let’s say on Cyber Monday. The site is going to offer special internet deals on electronics such as smart phones, cameras and flat screen televisions. People are all excited about this new site and it is one of the hottest things trending on the internet. The big day arrives and the site runs into major problems with its server. Imagine the scene at company headquarters? I can guarantee you that there would be a ton of pink slips handed out that day starting at the top. The same fate should happen to those officials in the government who are responsible for this mess. I don’t know what role the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius has in this but she deserves a ton of heat. Don’t these people monitor the progress of the website development? These people need to be held accountable for this nightmare. I find it very hard to believe that President Obama did not know what was going on. Somebody had to know about these problems and reported back to the president.  Why the decision was made to go ahead and make the website live is very puzzling and stupid. Of course, the law was rushed through so I guess the website has to be pushed through quickly as well.

One of the things that would really concern me about buying insurance online in this federal exchange or any state exchange is the security of your personal information. If the site has so many glitches and problems, does anybody have any confidence that their personal information will be kept secure? I am betting that many hackers are drooling at the prospect of getting into people’s personal information and stealing personal identities. I would be very concerned about buying something on a website that has so many problems and bugs. The security cannot be very strong on these sites and will amount to a hackers goldmine.

If the Obama administration had any common sense, they would delay this new law by at least a year. It is extremely foolish to rush through and try to implement a law so important as this one. The website problems are just the beginning of numerous problems and issues with the new health law. There is a huge cliff at the end of the railroad tracks and the Obamacare express train is headed in that direction.

Ways to improve Major League Baseball

Attention all you sports fans out there, if you became commissioner of major league baseball, what changes would you make to the league? I consider myself to be a very lukewarm fan of the league. I am not a huge diehard fan or fanatic by any means. Just your average fan who enjoys watching a game from time to time on television or in person. I think MLB is a great league. No major sports league sport has the tradition that baseball has. The post season games always produce a lot of drama as well. Watching my Minnesota Twins win a couple of World Series ranks among some of my fondest memories ever. I still think the league could do more to improve the game and bring in new fans. The following are just a few ideas of mine that could help the league.

1. A more balanced schedule.  Teams within their own division play each other 16-19 times. In my opinion, that is way too many games against the same old teams. As a fan, I am sick of seeing my team, the Twins play constantly against the same  teams, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City and Cleveland. It would be nice to see teams from the East more often such as the Red Sox and the Yankees as well as teams from the National league. I am one of those fans who likes interleague play.  I am sure that MLB baseball has the schedule set up the way they do for travel reasons but seeing a greater variety in the schedule would be appealing to many fans.

2. A designated hitter in both the National and American league.  I am of the opinion that both leagues should follow the same rules. Why have a DH in one league and not the other? It makes no sense!! It is very painful to see most National league pitchers come to the plate and attempt to hit. It is pretty much an automatic out for their team. Suppose your starter is pitching a great game but trails 1-0 in the middle innings. Do you take him out of the game when his turn is up to bat because you need some base runners and hits? I hate to see a guy who is pitching a good game get yanked for that reason. The DH rule eliminates this problem. In addition, wouldn’t you rather see some good DH hitter bat who can hit home runs as opposed to some pitcher who is lucky to make any contact at all?

3. Expanded instant replay.  Currently, there is instant replay allowed for questionable home run balls and will be expanded next year to include foul balls and questionable catches by outfielders. What about expanding it to calls on the base paths especially those at home plate? I have seen countless missed calls that have doomed teams in games including crucial playoff games. It would seem only logical with the high technology that is available to have expanded instant replay. Managers could be given a certain number of challenges in a game. Umpires are simply human and do make mistakes. I hate to see a team get robbed over a bad call made by an umpire.

4. Shorten the season.  Unbelievably, this year’s season is guaranteed to end before November 1st if there are no rain outs or maybe snow outs!! In the old days, the season usually ended around October 15th. Today is October 18th and the World Series has not even started. That is totally ridiculous!! One of these years, the World Series is going to be delayed due to a major snowstorm. It will happen believe me!! I would like to see the season go from mid April to until October. The schedule should be dropped to about 144 games as well. My team, the Minnesota Twins opened the season at home on April 1st this year. The temp at game time was a balmy 32 degrees. If you must open the season at that time, make sure the schedule is loaded with away games for those northern teams. The fans will greatly appreciate it.

5. Speed up the games.  If there was only one change that I would make, it would be this one. There is absolutely no reason that a 1-0 game should take 3 hours to play!! The league should be creative to find ways of speeding up some of these games. Maybe have a pitch clock similar to a 24 second clock in basketball or less time between innings. I love those managers who need to make 5 pitching changes every inning. These guys ought to be banned from the game!! Another annoyance is the player who constantly steps out of the batters box to adjust his uniform or the catcher/manager/coach who needs to visit his pitcher every inning. There are a lot of little things that MLB can do to speed up the game and prevent fans from having to endure those 4 hour 9 inning games.

I think the overall product of Major League baseball is very good and it is nice to be able to buy a ticket to a game without having to take out a second mortgage. I just wonder how the new generation of sports fans will attach to MLB.  The NFL has overtaken them in terms of popularity with the NBA nipping at their heels. Is baseball too long and slow of a game for the next generation of fans? Only time will tell. It is very important for baseball to realize their new fan bases and make the proper changes. I still think the game is in very good shape for years to come.

 

No winners in the government shutdown deal

In the aftermath of the 16 day government shutdown, there has been a great deal of talk and analysis over how this will affect both parties in the short and long term. Judging by what I have been hearing on television and reading in the media, the Republican party lost this battle and President Obama and the Democrats came out the winners. Some people even are making foolish claims that the Republican party is finished and will it’s demise is all but certain, starting with the midterms in 2014. But did anyone really come out on top during this shutdown?

In theory,  you have to admit the Republicans were the losers. After all, they did not get their demands met and polls seem to indicate that they were mostly to blame for the shutdown even though some in the GOP fought very hard to defund the very unpopular Obamacare law. There was a lot of division among the Republicans during this battle and in the end, that proved to be the fatal to their cause. The Democrats once again got their way and life is really grand if you are a Democrat right? Well not so fast!!

This deal actually, as they commonly say in politics, “only kicks the can down the road.” The deal only funds the government until mid February. The only positive thing that it may have accomplished is a stop to a potential economic crisis in this country. It did nothing to solve any budget issues that will come back to hurt this country in the future. I did not see any deal that will help this country escape from a huge debt that we are currently under nor did it address any issues facing our economy and how to get it rolling again. The deal only ensured that they will have another fiscal battle going on in another 3 months. It is a never ending game in Washington. Maybe this will give more time for constructive talks between both sides but do not hold your breath on that!!

The problem in Washington is not really hard to figure out. There are deep ideology difference between many members of Congress and the president. It is a huge battle between Conservatives and Liberals. Coming to an budget agreement between those groups might be about next to impossible. The same partisanship exists for many other issues such as the debt ceiling and immigration reform. I personally feel that the only way for these issues to become resolved is for the average voter like you and I to get involved and put pressure on these politicians with emails and phone calls. Politicians who refuse to negotiate and talk with those of differing viewpoints greatly lose my respect. Any major budget agreement should have bi-partisan support.

I am sure that some Republicans will be hurt politically by the shutdown. There is not question about that. If your a Democrat and feeling pretty good about what just happened, I have something that may make you a little nervous. It is called Obamacare. If I were a Democrat, I would be extremely nervous about it. It is your bill and your party owns it. Already, it has shown many problems and this bill could prove to be a disaster for many Democrats. Your party could face huge losses in the 2014 midterms and further if this piece of legislation strikes out, which by the way, I think it will.

I wish I could say that all sides won in this government shutdown deal but that is far from the case. No side really gained anything but just a few lousy political points to beat their chests on. Both sides were hurt in the polls as well. Neither side won in this stalemate and the biggest losers were the American people especially those who were greatly affect by the shutdown. Stay tuned for further battles and more bickering in Washington. It will never end.

 

Adrian Peterson’s tragic loss

The death of any young child is a very tragic event. My heart sinks when I turn on the news and hear about some accident which takes the life of someone who is very young and has their whole life ahead of them. Even more so sickening and tragic is when the young child is beaten and abused, then dies. This is what happened last week to the 2 year old son of Adrian Peterson, one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

It seems that these tragedies are becoming more common in our society these days. Some hot head, either the parent or in this case, the boyfriend of the mother of Peterson’s son loses it and beats the poor innocent, helpless child. These type of crimes are about as low as you can possibly get. The accused man in this case appears to be a pretty strong man who obviously has a great advantage of the helpless boy.  He also had a very shady past which kind of helps explain this why he may have done this terrible act.

Child abuse is a terrible problem in our society today. For every beating and death that is reported in the news, there are probably many incidents of abuse that do not get reported. Kids who get physically abuse when they are young are more likely to become abusive to their own children when they are adults. Not only that but they are more likely to become involved in crime and violence. And I am not talking about just the physically abuse. There is verbal abuse as well. Swearing and screaming at a kid will just ensure that he or she grows up with serious mental or emotional problems later on in life.

I do not have any children but if I did, I would try as hard as possible to make sure they got all the love and support that they need. I am sure anyone with young children have those days when you want to snap and physically or verbally abuse them. We all have those stress days especially in this day and age. But just like those times when you tell your kid to go to their room for a time out, you also need a timeout if you are ready to snap. Walk away for a amount before doing something that you will regret for the rest of your life.

I speak for all NFL fans who are praying for AP. Peterson is one of my favorite athletes in all of pro sports. How he bounced back from his knee injury was very inspiring to me. He is not only one of the most physically gifted players in the league but also one of the mentally toughest. Nothing holds down this guy and his toughness along with his great faith in God will help him in this tragedy.

Maybe a tragedy like this provide the wake up call needed to look at this problem of child abuse in our country. It is a problem which really does not get talked about as much as it should in my opinion. Beating a young child to death is the ultimate crime. My thoughts and prayers go out to AP along with his family. There is a little guy up in heaven who will be cheering on every touchdown that AP scores this season.

 

 

Those Republican arsonists

In case you have not heard, there is a warning going out to every person in the United States to be on the lookout for a certain group of people, hell-bent on burning this country down. Police in nearly every city, large or small are on high alert for these individuals. The descriptions of these people vary. Most of them are graying males ranging in the age from 40-80. A few women are also part of this group. Unlike most arsonists who are typically young males, these people look like a typical business person who goes to work everyday with a nice suit on and comes home at night to their families. However, these suspects currently work in Washington as members of the House and Senate. They are called Republicans. I have been warned many times by members of the media and liberals that these people are actually arsonists disguised as politicians.

The current government shutdown has produced a lot of name calling, especially towards Republicans as liberal Democrats are known to do. There is a growing frustration around the country over this shutdown and some people are greatly affected by it. I am sure it has produced some undue hardship for certain people and that is very unfortunate. There is certainly a lot of finger-pointing going on among people in Congress and the President over who is at fault for this shutdown.

In the view of the American people, it seems as though the Republicans hold the edge in the blame game which I guess is understandable since the chances of them defunding Obamacare are about as likely as me winning the presidency in 2016. However,people need to realize that they also scrapped that idea when it became apparent it was not a good idea. First,they came up with the idea that Obamacare would be delayed by a year and that idea was shot down and not even negotiated by the president or Harry Reid, the leader of the Senate. The second proposal was to force everyone to be under Obamacare, even big business and Congress, no exemptions. A fairly fair proposal if you ask me. Of course that proposal was denied as well and not even considered for negotiation. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

I hear the anti-Republican crowd talk about how Obamacare is now the law of the land so it should not be messed with. So why did Obama give exemptions to certain businesses and Congress? Why was the law tinkered with to cater to a select group of people and not everyone else? The Republicans have a great case here. There should be no exemptions and they have every right to withhold funding.

Those who claim that the last election was a referendum on Obamacare are mistaken. Remember the midterms of 2010 when the Republicans kicked some serious butt after the law was passed in early 2010. What happened there? Also, the people of this country also voted to maintain the Republican majority in the House during last year’s election. The law is very unpopular among many Americans and is a very partisan one to say the least!!

The upcoming debt ceiling talks will only add more fuel to this shutdown. Raising the ceiling makes very little sense. When is this madness going to stop? Last year, the federal government took in more revenue since about 5 years ago. And we still need to increase the debt ceiling? Why?

Fortunately, it appears there is some talks going on to end this stalemate. Yes, you could make a case that the Republicans are somewhat at fault here. But how can you let people who are not willing to negotiate off the hook? How can you not blame them? Those who strictly blame Republican for this government shutdown are totally wrong, pure and simple. The real arsonists are those politicians who are stubborn enough to even make an effort to negotiate. Real leaders solve disputes and compromise. I see very little of that in Washington. Pretty soon, the entire country will burn down if this nonsense continues.

The great Washington blame game

It is fair to say that most people in this country love good action packed dramas or reality shows. We love watching people argue and fight over something in their quest for a certain goal. Reality shows are filled with characters who will do just about anything to win the grand prize. The recent partial government shutdown totally reminds me of one of those shows. Grown men and women (and I use that term loosely!!), arguing and bickering, name calling and accusing each other of ruining this country. If you love political fighting, then the current situation with the shutdown is just the story for you.

At the center of this great dispute is the debate about funding or not funding the Affordable Care Act, otherwise know as Obamacare. The battle is between the House of Representatives which is controlled by Republicans and the Senate which is controlled by Democrats. Despite the many efforts and bill revisions by the Republicans, the Senate Democrats refuse accept any new provision for funding the ACA bill.

As you might remember, President Obama made a significant announcement recently when he declared a delay for the business insurance mandates to go along with the exemptions that people in Congress have. However, the individual mandates are not delayed. Republicans in the House are trying to push through a funding bill based on the idea that all mandates, both individual and business should be delayed by a year. Personally, I think this is a very good idea, however, many Democrats in the Senate and the President are totally against this plan. My question is why? If big business and members of Congress do not have to abide by this bill, why not the average Joe or Jill in this country? Just maybe those Democrats in the Senate are afraid of losing their nice, cushy, subsidized health care for good. Perhaps they are aware of some of the drawbacks to this new health bill and want nothing of it. Just wondering!!!

There is a lot of blame to go around for this shutdown but I simply cannot let a side such as the President and members of the Senate off the hook for saying that they will refuse to negotiate. Their stubbornness and partisan is doing absolutely nothing to solve this major issue. Where were these guys last weekend, just days before the shutdown was going to happen? Rumor has it the President was out playing golf and the Senate leader was nowhere to be found. Really? Is that how we solve our problems in Washington? A good leader would have  brought both sides to the table, locked the door and not left until an agreement was reached. But as we all know, that did not happen. Now many people in this country will pay the price for the lack of leadership and partisanship of our elected officials. They are just playing a game of politics and power.

In my opinion, most of the blame for this shutdown should go to the President. It is his bill and he is refusing to compromise. Whenever a company runs into problems and trouble, the CEO gets the blame and it is no different with the federal government. The blame starts at the top. There is absolutely no reason that some sort of delay for the individual mandate can be agreed upon to iron out some of the kinks. In the meantime, it is time to start funding the government again. The longer this goes on, nobody will win, Republicans or Democrats. Both sides will get their share of the blame, probably more so with the Republicans, the biased media will make sure that happens. However, the biggest losers will be the American people. Stay tuned for the next episode of “The great Federal government shutdown.”