#KYsen: Allison Grimes, national security sooper-genius

July 30, 2014
Perfect against tunneling jihadis!

Perfect against tunneling jihadis!

Federal senators deal with issues of national and international importance, including matters of war and peace, and overall national security. You would think, then, that someone wishing to ascend to the Senate would at least know the basics about a game-changing weapon wielded by one of our key allies, who happens to be in a shooting war.

That is, until you meet Kentucky Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes:

As foreign policy inches its way into a debate that has largely focused on the economy, Grimes was asked about congressional efforts to aid Israel’s missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome.

“Obviously, Israel is one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and she has the right to defend herself,” Grimes said. “But the loss of life, especially the innocent civilians in Gaza, is a tragedy. The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in.

Iron Dome — as normal, intelligent folks such as you, Dear Readers, can probably tell without needing the above highlighting — is a missile-defense system. It is designed to shoot down things flying through the air: incoming tactical rockets with only minutes or seconds to spare, and it does an amazingly good job at it. One thing it does not do is stop things tunneling under the ground, jihadis or even gophers.

Someone should explain these tricky technical details to Ms. Grimes.

Grimes is hoping to defeat Mitch McConnell and capture his seat for the Democrats, and it’s a tight race. While McConnell hasn’t been one of my favorite senators, he also doesn’t give me the gas that he gives many of my fellow Righties. Regardless of one’s opinion of him, though, I think we can agree that it’s important that his seat be kept in Republican hands, for the Republic.

Even against a defense wiz like Allison Lundergan Grimes.

via Jim Geraghty

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Rewarding failure: GSA awards big contract to designer of #Obamacare web site

July 8, 2014
Obama foreign policy advisers

GSA contracts oversight team

Because they did such a great job with the federal Obamacare web site, why shouldn’t they be given the chance to compete for billions more of our tax dollars?

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, Jul 08, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — CGI Federal Inc. (CGI) GIB -1.59% CA:GIB.A -1.49% announced today that the General Services Administration (GSA) has chosen the company as a prime contractor under a new contract vehicle known as One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS). The multi-award contract has an unlimited ceiling, allowing CGI to compete for billions of dollars in complex professional services task orders across all agencies in the U.S. federal government.

GSA oversees the business of the federal government, among other things supplying federal purchasers with cost-effective, high-quality products and services from commercial vendors. CGI is one of 74 awardees under OASIS, an “indefinite delivery indefinite quantity” (IDIQ) contract that will allow awardees to compete on a range of program management, management consulting, logistics, engineering, scientific and financial management services. Awardees will also be able to offer technology solutions as an ancillary service. For the first time, agencies will be able to purchase high-value professional services along with supporting IT solutions through a single contract, saving customers time and money.

The Obamacare site rollout was such a fiasco that the Federal government refused to renew its contract with CGI when it expired last February. And this isn’t the only time they’ve been told to go away: the government of the Canadian province of Ontario fired CGI for missed deadlines and a failure to deliver a functional product, an online medical registry.

So, naturally the GSA decides that CGI warrants even more chances to deliver “quality IT solutions.” This being the same GSA that’s managed our dollars so well in the past.

What could go wrong?

via Iowahawk

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS: IT professionals skeptical of Lerner email loss story

June 27, 2014
"The new liberal tokerance"

“House special investigators in action”

And I say “skeptical” because, I’m sure, the real language the head of the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers used was not repeatable in polite company. IAITAM is an organization that issues certifications and sets standards for IT management, including the proper disposal of retired hard drives. This is what their president, Dr. Barbara Rembiesa, had to say:

“The notion that these emails just magically vanished makes no sense whatsoever.  That is not how IT asset management at major businesses and government institutions works in this country.  When the hard drive in question was destroyed, the IRS should have called in an accredited IT Asset Destruction (ITAD) professional or firm to complete that process, which requires extensive documentation, official signoffs, approvals, and signatures of completion.  If this was done, there would be records.  If this was not done, this is the smoking gun that proves the drive or drives were destroyed improperly – or not at all.”

Emphasis added. I think this not only calls for another round of grilling for IRS Comissioner Koskinen, but subpoenas for any and all people working in the IT office that serviced Lerner’s computer.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS had an external email archiving service from 2005 to 2011

June 22, 2014
"Obama foreign policy advisers"

“IRS records retention staff”

Well, la-dee-da. Isn’t this interesting?

The agency said that emails stored on dead drives were lost forever because its email backup tapes were recycled every six months, and employees were responsible for keeping their own long-term archives.

The IRS had a contract with email backup service vendor Sonasoft starting in 2005, according to FedSpending.org, which lists the contract as being for “automatic data processing services.” Sonasoft’s motto is “email archiving done right,” and the company lists the IRS as a customer.

And, as recently as 2009, Sonasoft was advertising its work for the IRS. That’s awfully close to the time frame of Lois Lerner’s (and others’) missing emails. But, in an update to the linked article, Peter Suderman points out that Sonasoft’s contracts with the government were small, in the very low five figures. Thus, they may well have not been paid to back up the specific accounts in question. (SEE UPDATE)

But… This leaves wide open the question of what other archiving services, if any, IRS may have hired during the time in question. (And not just IRS, but the departments where the recipients of her emails worked.) This would be a very good question to ask IRS Commissioner Koskinen under oath, though I wouldn’t rely on his answer. After all, no one believes him. Rather, this is a question that should be posed by the lead investigator for a Select Investigating Committee who’s already done his due diligence and knows the answer.

Just because I like to see lying bureaucrats squirm.

RELATED: Per Sharyl Attkisson, it’s not just the IRS possibly destroying records they’re legally obligated to retain. A federal judge has held the EPA in contempt and ordered it to pay legal fees for destroying records requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

UPDATE: Oh, this is special! Via Rick Moran, The Daily Caller reports that Sonasoft’s contract with the IRS was terminated weeks after Lerner’s computer crash:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cancelled its longtime relationship with an email-storage contractor just weeks after ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and shortly before other IRS officials’ computers allegedly crashed.

The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”

Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.

But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.

Read the whole thing. I’m sure the timing was just a coincidence, aren’t you?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS email epidemic claims six more victims: truth, common sense hardest hit

June 17, 2014
x

IRS IT expert

Boy, those mysterious computer crashes afflicting the IRS are something, eh? First it was just the computer of Lois Lerner, a central figure in the scandal involving IRS harassment of conservative groups. Potentially crucial emails gone, trashed, wiped out so thoroughly that even the resources of the IRS couldn’t recover them. (Try that excuse at your next audit.) Oops! No backups, either!  “Gee, Mr. Investigating Congressman and lawyers representing the people we harassed, we’re sorry. But, don’t worry! There’s not a smidgen of corruption here. Trust us.”

And now, we learn, it wasn’t just Lerner’s computer that crashed, but the PCs of six more figures close to the heart of the scandal. What a coincidence:

The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.

The revelation about Lerner’s e-mails rekindled the targeting scandal and today’s news has further inflamed Republicans. Camp and Boustany are now demanding a special prosecutor to investigate “every angle” of the events that led to Lois Lerner’s revelation in May 2013 that the agency had used inappropriate criteria to review the applications for tax exemption.

(…)

If Lerner is the central figure in the scandal — Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said Monday evening he believes she was the senior-most official involved — Flax may be an important auxiliary figure. E-mails produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the group Judicial Watch show Flax giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuting nonprofit groups — at the suggestion of Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse — for engaging in political activity after declaring on their application for nonprofit status that they had no plans to do so.

What kind of computers are these clowns using? 386s running Windows 3??

Nah, you can bet they’re using fairly recent hardware and software, which mean those emails exist. Not only are they required to maintain copies by statute, but, as a former IRS IT tech put it to PJMedia’s Brian Preston:

He says that the IRS uses Microsoft Outlook/Exchange systems, which are backed up using Symantec NetBackup.

He also says that “the IRS is the cash cow of the federal government. When they ask for funding for anything it was granted without discussion.”

In the case of the prime contract and record retention, “The IRS IT projects were fully funded and never lacked for resources. To state ‘Backup tapes were reused after some short period’ is a complete joke. The IRS had thousands and thousands of tapes and ‘Virtual Tape Libraries’ (VTL or non-tape backups based on hard drive storage technologies). There was never a reason to reuse tapes.”

(…)

The former IRS IT worker adds that in his time on the prime contract, “I have worked for many federal agencies and the IRS had some of the best people.”

“This reason is why I scoff at the story being put out. Those folks would not have had such a short retention period for email unless they had it in writing from the highest levels. It would have made the local IT water cooler gossip if the IRS had screwed up and lost tons of email by accident.”

It is absolutely un-credible that these emails happened to all get irretrievably destroyed in some grand cosmic accident. The question is, then, what is in them that makes it worth telling such baldfaced lies to the nation and risking civil or criminal liability?

A House select investigating committee may be the only way we ever get the answer.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Some excellent questions for the #IRS about Lois Lerner’s missing emails

June 15, 2014
x

IRS data recovery techie in action

My blog-buddy ST has already covered the mysterious disappearance of former IRS employee Lois Lerner’s emails. I’m sure the Justice Department, per Congressman Camp’s suggestion, will get right to investigating how this could happen, in apparent violation  of standard IRS protocols. Attorney General Eric Holder, that unquestioned paragon of judicial integrity, will no doubt produce a report that lays bare the unvarnished truth.

And while we’re waiting for a certain hot spot to freeze over, independent investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has some suggested questions for the IRS about Ms. Lerner’s computers and those vanishing emails:

  • Please provide a timeline of the crash and documentation covering when it was first discovered and by whom; when, how and by whom it was learned that materials were lost; the official documentation reporting the crash and federal data loss; documentation reflecting all attempts to recover the materials; and the remediation records documenting the fix. This material should include the names of all officials and technicians involved, as well as all internal communications about the matter.
  • Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS’ disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred.
  • Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why.
  • Please provide a list summarizing what other data was irretrievably lost in the computer crash. If the loss involved any personal data, was the loss disclosed to those impacted? If not, why?
  • Please provide documentation reflecting any security analyses done to assess the impact of the crash and lost materials. If such analyses were not performed, why not?
  • Please provide documentation showing the steps taken to recover the material, and the names of all technicians who attempted the recovery.
  • Please explain why redundancies required for federal systems were either not used or were not effective in restoring the lost materials, and provide documentation showing how this shortfall has been remediated.
  • Please provide any documents reflecting an investigation into how the crash resulted in the irretrievable loss of federal data and what factors were found to be responsible for the existence of this situation.
  • I would also ask for those who discovered and reported the crash to testify under oath, as well as any officials who reported the materials as having been irretrievably lost.

Also read Attkisson’s earlier report on the missing emails.

Since AG Holder will no doubt be busy with his own line of inquiry (1), I offer my own suggestion: these would be excellent questions to include as part of the investigations by a House Select Committee formed to examine the entire IRS scandal. We already have one for Benghazi; why not another? I’d say it’s more than warranted.

How about it, Mr. Speaker?

PS: Lest anyone harbor any smidgen of doubt that the IRS is lying on this matter, consider this observation from Tax Politix (h/t Rick Moran):

Again, the IRS claims it only “has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame…it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.” The ability for an inbox to lose certain emails during the time frame — but not others — is incredible.

To answer an old question, we at least now know how stupid they think we are.

Footnote:
(1) Stonewalling takes time, you know.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obamacare: The Never-Ending Gift that Repeatedly Teaches Us that Big Government Doesn’t Work

May 1, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’m shocked –shocked!!– that the government contractor that promised to fix the the barely functional Obamacare web site is, wait for it, behind schedule and over budget.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Sigh. Another day, another grim Obamacare update.

Actually, we have two updates on the never-ending disaster of government-run healthcare.

Our first story comes from the Washington Times, which reports that the company hired to fix the failed Obamacare website is way behind schedule and way over budget.

Fixing the Obamacare website to get it ready to handle a second round of enrollments will cost the federal government $121 million… The deal, which Accenture announced on its website Tuesday, costs more than the $93.7 million it took to build HealthCare.gov in the first place. It’s also $30 million more than the government projected for fixes just a few months ago… “There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Obamacare website expenses,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican.

I’m mystified, by the way, why taxpayers always have…

View original 467 more words


Good News: parts of healthcare.gov designed by Putin allies

February 4, 2014
Alexander Lukashenko

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko

Security holes? What are those? And did you hear about Chris Christie closing a bridge in New Jersey??

U.S. intelligence agencies last week urged the Obama administration to check its new healthcare network for malicious software after learning that developers linked to the Belarus government helped produce the website, raising fresh concerns that private data posted by millions of Americans will be compromised.

The intelligence agencies notified the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency in charge of the Healthcare.gov network, about their concerns last week. Specifically, officials warned that programmers in Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, were suspected of inserting malicious code that could be used for cyber attacks, according to U.S. officials familiar with the concerns.

The software links the millions of Americans who signed up for Obamacare to the federal government and more than 300 medical institutions and healthcare providers.

“The U.S. Affordable Care Act software was written in part in Belarus by software developers under state control, and that makes the software a potential target for cyber attacks,” one official said.

Belarus has been described as Europe’s last Stalinist country, and apparently they work very hard to prove themselves worthy allies of Moscow. According to Gertz’s article, in addition portions of healthcare.gov’s software being designed by an entity controlled by the Belarussian government, last year that same government successfully hijacked massive amounts of US Internet traffic for nearly a month:

According to the New Hampshire-based security firm Renesys, which discovered the data diversion, throughout February 2013, Internet traffic from the United States was sent to Belarus. The purpose likely was to allow hackers or government agencies to sift for data for financial, economic, or government intelligence.

The data also may have been modified for other purposes before being returned to the original U.S. and other foreign destinations.

The bulk diversion technique is called border gateway protocol hijacking. It involves using a series of network addresses to mask the data diversion through numerous Internet hubs around the world.

Renesys traced the data diversion from Washington to New York and Moscow and finally to Minsk, the Belarusian capital. It was returned to the United States via connections in Moscow, Frankfurt, and New York.

Combine the two and you have a very, very big potential problem. Administration officials of course claimed the site was secure and pooh-pooed the idea that nation-states would want to steal personal information, but that’s disingenuous at best.

First, foreign intelligence agencies would very much like to get their hands on conveniently collected personal information, since it would make the creation of solid cover identities for agents much easier. Second, as the article mentions, both the use of a foreign contractor and the internet hijacking make it very easy to implant altered data and even  malicious code to do… lots of stuff. Remember Stuxnet?

The elephant in the room that the administration isn’t talking about is the real danger in this: the PPACA created a wealth of interconnected networks with the Federal Data Services Hub at the center of the spider’s web. This hub is connected to agencies such as the IRS and Homeland Security. Even if Lukashenko isn’t interested in chatting with Putin about Joe Six-Pack’s cholesterol, you can darn well bet they’re both very interested in any security holes that allow their spies access to these other networks and to others connected to them.

And with the ability to divert traffic and implant clandestine code… Critics are right: the whole site needs to be shut down and vetted from top to bottom. Even if Obamacare is eventually repealed and the system dismantled, it’s a huge risk while it’s still operational.

As Instapundit likes to say, we’re in the best of hands.

Moscow’s.

PS: By the way, the now-fired healthcare.gov site builder, CGI Federal, assured the US government that only US contractors were used. Where was the HHS oversight of this?

PPS: Read the whole thing.

RELATED: Between this and Edward Snowden’s invaluable service to Russian intelligence, do we have any secrets from our enemies at all? Also, on a lighter note, Belarus’ Lukashenko is totally not a paranoid nut. Earlier articles about healthcare.gov security vulnerabilities.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: insurance companies have no idea who you are

January 9, 2014

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Just a glitch, ya know. A glitch that, so far, has left 13,000 people without the coverage they paid for:

Insurance companies are still trying to sort out cases of so-called health insurance orphans, customers for whom the government has a record that they enrolled, but the insurer does not.

Government officials say the problem is real but under control, with orphan records being among the roughly 13,000 problem cases they are trying to resolve with insurers. But insurance companies are worried the process will grow more cumbersome as they deal with the flood of new customers who signed up in December as enrollment deadlines neared.

More than 1 million people have signed up through the federal insurance market that serves 36 states. Officials contend the error rate for new signups is close to zero.

Insurers, however, are less enthusiastic about the pace of the fixes. The companies also are seeing cases in which the government has assigned the same identification number to more than one person, as well as so-called “ghost” files in which the insurer has an enrollment record but the government does not.

But orphaned files — when the insurer has no record of enrollment — are particularly concerning because the companies have no automated way to identify the presumed policyholder. They say they have to manually compare the lists of enrollees the government sends them with their own records because the government never built an automated system that would do the work much faster.

“It’s an ongoing concern,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for the industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans. “Health plans can’t process enrollments they haven’t received from the exchange.”

So, you can’t keep the health plan you liked, and now you can’t get the service you were forced to pay for because the government can’t process the records properly.

As Instapundit likes to say, “We’re in the best of hands.”

via Townhall

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: Governor Brown panicking over High-Speed Rail? Updated.

January 8, 2014
Boondoggle

Boondoggle

From The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters. It looks like Governor Brown, faced with recent legal defeats for his “Train to Nowhere,” may be starting to panic:

Jerry Brown may be getting desperate about keeping the state’s increasingly unpopular – not to mention financially and legally challenged – bullet train project alive.

Faced with a judge’s insistence that the project follow the law about having its financial ducks lined up, Gov. Brown is now poised to shift money from the state’s “cap-and-trade” fees on greenhouse-gas emissions into the bullet train.

Brown, it’s been reported in The Bee and elsewhere, will propose in his 2014-15 budget that a portion of the fees being extracted from California business be committed to the bullet train.

Problem is, the money my fellow Californians allocated (1) to fight global warming climate change the evil demon threatening Gaea is “hardwired” by statute; the court may not accept that as a funding source sufficient to let construction go forward. Even if it does, the legislature, whose dominant leftist faction gets a lot of donation money from environmentalist groups, may not agree to reallocate the funds. But, if they do, and if the judge accepts this as a legal source of funds for Jerry’s Choo-Choo, it may still set up the mother of all Blue-on-Blue battles in Sacramento as environmentalist groups and their voters will likely raise an unholy stink over any money being diverted from their religious crusade.

And, when that happens, I’m doubling my popcorn order. smiley popcorn

Footnote:
(1) Passed in a fit of  “It’s for the environment! It must be good!!” Look, I live in a beautiful state and consider myself a conservationist (But not an environmentalist. I don’t join cults.), but passing a crippling new tax to fight a problem that does not exist was stupid and self-destructive for the state. Unfortunately, that’s what you get when an electorate votes with less consideration of the issues than they give to buying a head of lettuce.

UPDATE: There is no way I’m taking Moe Lane’s bet. That’s a sucker’s bet if I ever saw one.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Hospital not paying doctors and staff, blames #Obamacare contractor

January 2, 2014

"Seen over Fordow?"

“Obamacare reveals its true face”

Oh, this is just grand. On top of all the other problems we’ve suffered through so far with Obamacare, now a hospital treating Medicare patients hasn’t been reimbursed by the government and thus hasn’t been able to pay its staff for weeks. Over Christmas. The blame? Apparently it lies with the same contractor hired by the Obama administration to build the back-end payments system for healthcare.gov:

Dozens of employees at a hospital in northeast Houston have had to make it through the holidays without getting paid for weeks. The CEO of Saint Anthony’s Hospital on Little York is blaming a new Medicare payment contractor for his payroll problems.

Nearly 150 employees, ranging from doctors to nurses and administrators, haven’t been paid in nearly a month, and the CEO says it’s not his fault.

(…)

The hospital is strapped for cash not because its not making money, but because Leday says a new Medicare payment facilitator named Novitas Solutions is taking too way long to pay out Medicare claims to the hospital.

Leday says he’s owed nearly $3 million in payments from Medicare and can’t make payroll.

According to the ABC-13 article, the Texas AMA says that other community hospitals in the state are facing similar payment problems with Novitas. So, what happens to Medicare patients when unpaid doctors stop providing services because they haven’t been paid, or the pharmacists stop filling prescriptions? Aren’t these the very people this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law was supposed to help? Or should we just make physicians serfs of the state, as one Democrat proposed?

Via Jeryl Bier, who adds this about Novitas’ link to healthcare.gov:

Novitas’s direct connection to Healthcare.gov stems from an emergency, no-bid contract for “financial management services” awarded in August and first reported by THE WEEKLY STANDARD in September.  The services required included accounting, tracking of accounts receivable and accounts payable, documenting funds collected by CMS, and data validation, among other things.  CMS justified the no-bid award because the “prospect of a delay in implementing the Marketplace by the operational date of January 1, 2014, even for a few days, would result in severe consequences, financial and other” and that the services required were “beyond what was initially anticipated and beyond CMS’ currently available resources.”

In light of Novitas’ performance in Houston, I can’t wait to see what this government contractor no-bid crony can do for the whole nation.

PS: There’s a video report at the ABC link.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


New malware hijacks your computer, encrypts files

December 20, 2013
"Just a glitch"

“Shouldn’t have opened that email”

This one’s insidious and perfectly timed for the holidays: a malware bomb disguised as an innocent-looking package tracking email:

It’s called cryptolocker ransomware.

Kevin Swindon is with the FBI in Boston.

“I would think about this particular type of malware as what would happen if your computer was destroyed,” Swindon said.

In the past 90 days, thousands of people worldwide have opened a seemingly innocuous link to track a holiday package. Suddenly, all the files on their computer are encrypted.

Joan Goodchild is the editor of “CSO,” Chief Security Officer magazine based in Framingham.

“This is a criminal operation. They are holding your folders and files ransom. We call this ransomware because that is exactly what it is. You need to pay in order to have access to them once again.”

And that’s what the Swansea police department did, paying $750 to unlock their computers. One wonders what happened to the poor schlimazl who first opened that email.

This is also a timely reminder to be careful about what emails you open. I’m sure almost anyone reading this has received “phishing” messages, fakes that look like they’re from real companies, but really want you to log into their fake web site so they can steal your ID and password. Some of them are so badly done, they’re funny, others are pretty slick pieces of work. This is more vicious, hijacking your system and extorting ransom to get it back.

Take my advice: if you receive email from a company where you have an account (such as Amazon, eBay, PayPal, &c…) that looks at all suspicious, don’t open it; instead, forward it to their security address. They’ll let you know if it’s real or not, and they’re very interested in tracking down fraudsters.

To borrow a line from Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare Chronicles: So, you think you now have coverage, eh?

December 3, 2013
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Let’s consider an all-too common occurrence in our Brave New World of affordable healthcare for all: You’re one of the many millions of individual insurance buyers who’s had his policy cancelled in the last few weeks, because of the Affordable Care Act and how the Democrats wrote the rules. You’re annoyed, but you sigh and realize you have to go to the Obamacare exchanges — you need the coverage, and it’s the “law of the land.” So, in spite of crashing web sites, higher premiums, bigger co-pays, outrageous deductibles, benefits you don’t need, and smaller provider networks, you finally find a policy you can live with. You grit your teeth, submit your application, and received a confirmation that, as of January 1st, 2014, you will still have health insurance.

Congratulations! You are an Obamacare success story!

Eh… Not so  fast, Doc:

Bob Shlora of Alpharetta, Ga., was supposed to be a belated Obamacare success story. After weeks of trying, the 61-year-old told ABC News he fully enrolled in a new health insurance plan through the federal marketplace over the weekend, and received a Humana policy ID number to prove it.

But two days later, his insurer has no record of the transaction, Shlora said, even though his account on the government website indicates that he has a plan.

“I feel like this: My application was taken … by a bureaucrat, it was put on a conveyor belt and it’s still going around, and it’s never going to leave the building,” he said. “I’ve lost hope. If it happens, great.”

Obama administration officials acknowledged today that some of the roughly 126,000 Americans (1) who completed the torturous online enrollment process in October and November might not be officially signed up with their selected issuer, even if the website has told them they are.

Oops! Must be one of those darned glitches. Curse that Republican obstructionism!

Mr. Shlora’s problem may have to do with what’s called an “834,” something used to convey all the necessary data to set up your account with the insurance company. These are transmitted every evening from by the government to the insurers. Trouble is, many of them are garbage:

Insurers report that, in some cases, 834s are coming in wrong. That’s a much more serious problem than the online traffic bottlenecks that have dominated coverage of the health-care law’s rollout.

If people can’t get into the Web site, then they simply have to come back later. But if they believe they’ve signed up for a plan but their 834 is a garbled mess — or, even worse, clear but wrong — it could mean chaos when they actually go to use their health insurance. For that reason, inside the health-care industry, the 834 problems are the glitch that is causing the most concern.

To back up a moment: 834 transmissions aren’t new. They have been around for decades as the standard form that employers use to tell their insurance companies which workers are on their health insurance plan each month.

An 834 transmission contains enrollment data like an individual’s social security number, their dependents and the plan that they picked. That data is, obviously, critical: If it comes in wrong, an applicant may not get the right plan, or family members may not be covered, or identity may not be verifiable.

In other words, like Mr. Shlora, you could wind up thinking you have coverage when you really don’t. That quote is from a Washington Post article dated October 23rd; Shlora signed up for his plan a full month later, yet was still left uncovered. Apparently those problems haven’t been fixed, in spite of Obama’s “tech surge.”

For the first few weeks after the Obamacare rollout, the insurance industry could handle these problems by fixing the 834s manually, since the web site’s traffic problems meant that only a few applications were getting through, anyway. But, with the front end getting closer to actually working (Most of the time. Kind of.) and with the deadline to apply and pay in order to be covered on January 1st fast approaching, a lot more people are going to be buying plans. Or so the government hopes. And all those people have to have their data sent by that same electronic system.

But ask yourself this: if these 834 problems still aren’t fixed, how many more people are going to buy coverage and then go to the doctor in 2014, only to be told the insurance company has no record of them? When you’re sick and need to see a doctor, the last thing you want to hear is “Wait a few days. A healthcare.gov specialist will get back to you.” The government claims 80% of the 834 problems have been fixed. So, 20% of the potentially hundreds of thousands of people signing up won’t have the coverage they thought they had — or any at all?

If the administration thinks they’re getting bad press now, just wait until that storm hits.

I’ll end with a good question from Mr. Shlora:

“The White House announced that they have met their goal,” he said of the much-touted improvements to the website. “They are taking applications but they aren’t going anywhere. What kind of goal is that?”

Under Obama, Bob, it’s good enough for government work.

RELATED: Speaking of the Obamacare site back-end and 834s, the administration refuses to share data on the error rate for transmissions to insurance companies. Anyone still think they have this problem fixed? Bueller? But, don’t worry: Obama is going to make a speech to reassure everyone that Obamacare is OK and everyone should remain calm.

Footnote:
(1) That’s 126,000 over two months, when the goal is seven million by the end of March. So, with 40% of the enrollment period past, the administration has hit 1.8% of its goal. And some people wonder why Democrats are panicking.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


It’s not just #Obamacare that’s a flaming wreck

December 2, 2013
x

Obama Green Tech adviser at work

Remember all the public money “invested” in supposedly Green electric vehicles of the future? Seems like a fair portion of it has gone up in smoke. National Review has a brief summary of electric vehicles that have caught fire. Here’s one:

2. A parked Chevy Volt combusts.
In 2011, Bloomberg reported that a Chevy Volt in Wisconsin had ignited. Ironically, the car was parked outside a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing center where it had undergone tests three weeks earlier. The blaze was big enough to burn other nearby vehicles, according to reports.

If electric vehicles do ever catch on –as opposed to catch fire– it will be when there is a genuine economic demand for them, not a government mandate.


CNN performs on-air test of HealthCare.gov website that’s been declared ‘fixed’

December 2, 2013

“Fixed” is a relative term. It’s like an auto mechanic telling you your car can now make it a whole half-mile before breaking down. Just don’t give it too much gas…


White House expresses total confidence in #Obamacare web site

November 30, 2013
"Obamacare"

“The Obamacare Express”

Remember that December 1st deadline to have healthcare.gov actually working? Hey, they even had a tech surge and everything! So, they’re going to be ready and millions will flock to the site, right? Right??

Eh… Well?

White House officials, fearful that the federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users.

At the same time, administration officials said Tuesday that they had decided not to inaugurate a big health care marketing campaign planned for December out of concern that it might drive too many people to the still-fragile HealthCare.gov.

With a self-imposed deadline for repairs to the website approaching on Saturday, the administration is trying to strike a delicate balance. It is encouraging people to go or return to the website but does not want to create too much demand. It boasts that the website is vastly improved, but does not want to raise expectations that it will work for everyone.

In other words, it’s nowhere near ready and, let’s face it, they’re going to find even more bugs as they dig deeper into the system, while some of the fixes are sure to create problems of their own. As of a week ago, the payment system was nonexistent (You don’t get covered until you pay), while the system to pay insurers the subsidy money is months away from being ready.

But, yeah, everything will be copacetic tomorrow.

Via Walter Russell Mead, who has this to say on the potential political consequences:

Remember that many Democrats have cited December 1st (tomorrow!) as the deadline for the website. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but if healthcare.gov isn’t working reasonably well by then, many are contemplating distancing themselves publicly from the law. The White House’s attempts to direct people away from the site on and even after that date can’t be doing much to convince Democrats that the site will be ready. The website may be, as the administration claims, getting better all the time. But if Democrats frustrated with a missed December deadline defect from the administration in the coming weeks, continued, gradual improvement might be too little, too late.

I’m beginning to think Charles Krauthammer may be right: Democrats will be the ones who will put an end to Obamacare, just to try to save themselves.

PS: Back from Thanksgiving with the family. I hope you all had a great day. :)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: Cover Oregon reduced to telling people to use a fax to apply

November 25, 2013
"An Obamacare navigator ready for action"

“An Obamacare navigator ready for action”

Forward!

KOIN 6 News confirmed Cover Oregon has added dozens of extra fax lines to handle the paper applications being sent in by fax.

On Wednesday, King said they had received about 24,000 paper applications. That number now is closer to 30,000. But many people complained of busy signals when trying to send in their application by fax.

Michael Cox, the Cover Oregon spokesperson, said their office has one fax number but it’s an electronic interface that can handle more than one call at once. When a fax comes in it takes two seconds per page to be transferred into the server.

When the paper applications began, Cover Oregon was only able to take 500 applications per day. It was upped to 1000, and this week increased to 1500 per day.

Cox said he’s absolutely confident Cover Oregon has the capacity to deal with the applications.

Because nothing says “health care of the future” like using technology invented in the 19th century.

(Don’t forget, all those faxed-in applications still have to be entered into the nonfunctional exchange.)

via Hot Air


Perspective: Building the #Obamacare web site vs winning WWII

November 9, 2013
D-day history

And yet Obama can’t build a working web site.

Via Twitchy, FOX’s Bret Baier read an email from a viewer on his show and then posted it to his web site. Obama and his fans liked to compare him to FDR. I wonder how they’ll like it now:

“Putting things in perspective: March 21st 2010 to October 1 2013 is 3 years, 6 months, 10 days.  December 7, 1941 to May 8, 1945 is 3 years, 5 months, 1 day.  What this means is that in the time we were attacked at Pearl Harbor to the day Germany surrendered is not enough time for this progressive federal government to build a working webpage.  Mobilization of millions, building tens of thousands of tanks,  planes, jeeps, subs, cruisers, destroyers, torpedoes, millions upon millions of guns, bombs, ammo, etc. Turning the tide in North Africa,  Invading Italy, D-Day,  Battle of the Bulge, Race to Berlin – all while we were also fighting the Japanese in the Pacific!!  And in that amount of time – this administration can’t build a working webpage.”

Boom.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare opening day: worse than we thought

November 6, 2013
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

No wonder they could only sign up six people nationwide:

The contractor documents are an up-close look at the asteroid field of issues with the Obamacare launch.

According to the war room notes: On day one, October 1, the system mistakenly rejected 90% of Medicaid applicants. The next day, estimates counted 40,000 people in the HealthCare.gov waiting room, while just 100 people had enrolled. By day three, it was clear that insurers were not getting the data for people who had signed up for their plans.

Systemwide issues were compounded by more isolated problems. On day six, Utah asked to shut down its exchange because the main insurance provider in the state had not been able to set up its template in the system. A few days later, on October 9, contractor notes say that the entire system has skipped some questions or information for 30% of all applicants.

But they’ll have things fixed for the post-Thanksgiving rush to meet the December 15th deadline for having coverage by New Year’s Day. You betcha.

I’d call this a clown-car operation, but then I would have to find a clown to apologize to.

via Bryan Preston, who notes that, even after all the problems, some people are still true believers.

(Where “true believers” means “suckers.”)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: more healthcare.gov security holes

November 5, 2013
"Just a glitch"

“Just a glitch”

This thing is so wide-open, even I could hack it:

While a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services told CBS that steps had been taken to fix that particular problem, in this instance repairing a faulty software code, experts told reporter Jan Crawford that multiple security issues remain, including with usernames and passwords.

As a test, CBS gave one technology expert the real healthcare.gov username of a CBS employee, and within seconds, he identified the specific security question she used to reset her password.

Sean Henry, the former assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, said the security issues need to be taken seriously.

“If somebody’s got the ability to look at a source code and able to reverse-engineer that and identify what somebody’s personal questions are, that should be of concern,” Henry said.

No, really?

So, let’s add data and identity theft to the sure to come Obamacare disasters, along with doctor shortages, insurance cancellations, sticker shock, benefits shock, a non-functional web site, more takers than payers, lost jobs, and a part-time nation.

Thanks, Democrats!

PS: CBS video report at the Washington Free Beacon site.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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