Friday, March 31, 2017
There's always been a school of thought which has insisted that the obvious solution to all of government's problems would be to "run the government like a business," or better yet, "put a business man in the White House."
Well, be careful what you wish for! Dolt 45 has been on the job for just a couple of scandal-plagued months, and one thing should be abundantly clear even to the most rabid Trump fan -- our Hair Furor has no idea what he's doing. He's finding out in a hurry that government and business are two different things. And maybe it's dawning on him why America has never before elected a businessman with no governmental experience as president.
His administration is full of corporate executives, tycoons and ideologues who've similarly never held elective office nor had governing experience, least of all in Washington D.C. And just down the West Wing hall he has his daughter-wife Ivanka, his Special Assistant. None of them know what they're doing! And none of them will dare stand up to King Don.
The Know-It-Alls are running the store now, and they're going to run it straight into the ground.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Although the Trump-Ryan attempt to kill Obamacare failed (big sigh of relief!), America remains exceptional in healthcare -- we're still the only major nation in the world without a universal single-payer health insurance system.
Trump's latest executive order seeks to reduce enforcement of climate/enviornmental regulations for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry. He's gung-ho to trade the certainty of increased CO2 and global warming for the unlikely possibility of a small, short-term increase in dirty energy jobs.
After signing his order, Mr. Fantasy blew it out his ass speaking of "clean coal, really clean coal." I mean, coal so clean that when you mine it, all it leaves is a light dusting of powdered sugar, and when you burn it, it emits nothing but little clouds of Chanel No. 5. It's unbelievable! (Yes, it is.)
Climate change is a big problem, but it has many solutions. Trump has chosen none of them. And that makes us exceptionally stupid.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
"Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree." -- Abraham Lincoln
Ryan's reputation as the philosopher prince, the GOP's big thinker, is horseshit. He's a zombie-eyed granny killer, an ideologue and political extremist dedicated to serving the corporate class and the super-rich.
And his decision to advance those greedy goals by playing opportunistic kiss-ass with the horrific Donald Trump reveals his true character, or rather, his complete lack thereof.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The GOP's Health Deform Act is in serious jeopardy thanks to opposition from the so-called Freedom Caucus. These are hard-rock Tea Bag Republican congressmen who refuse to toe the party line. There are 20-some of them and they're the stupidest, most unreasonable reps in the U.S. House.
And strangely, for the moment, I'm with 'em! Go, assholes!
Of course, our motivations are quite different. I'm opposed to the Ryan plan because it's cruel and punitive and will harm millions of Americans. The Freedom Caucus doorknobs are opposed to it because it's not cruel, punitive and harmful enough!
But if their opposition is enough to gum up the works, I'm all for it. Stay strong, you lunatics!
|My temporary new BFF's Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows,|
Freedom Caucus nitwits
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017
With their horrendous health care proposal taking fire from all sides, Republicans are spinning like mad, working hard to rationalize the screw job in terms of "choice" and "freedom." Trying to wrap this turd in shiny ribbons of faux patriotism is so GOP, and so despicable.
What follows are excerpts from a 3/19/17 New York Times article by Anu Partanen, a Finnish author who's now a U.S. citizen. His points are excellent. Please read it and think about it.
Full article link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/opinion/the-fake-freedom-of-american-health-care.html?_r=0
The new Republican health plan would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 24 million. Republican leaders seem unfazed by this, because in their minds deciding not to have health care because it's too expensive is an exercise of individual free will.
The idea is that buying health care is like buying anything else. Paul Ryan says, "Freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need." Mike Pence says the GOP plan will "bring freedom and individual responsibility back to American health care."
In practice, though, this Republican notion is an awfully peculiar kind of freedom. It requires most Americans to spend not just money, but also time and energy agonizing over the bewildering logistics of coverage and treatment -- as employers, insurers, doctors and pharmaceutical companies, not consumers, decide which plans are available, what those plans cover, which doctors patients can see and how much it will cost.
And I haven't even mentioned the millions of Americans who don't earn enough to pay for insurance. If you can't afford it, not buying it is hardly a choice.
It is Americans who are getting a raw deal. Americans pay much more than those in other countries but do not get significantly better results.
The trouble with a free-market approach is that health care is an immensely complicated and expensive industry in which the individual rarely has much actual market power. It is not like buying a consumer product, where choosing not to buy will not endanger one's life. It's also not like buying some service tailored to individual demands, because for the most part we can't predict our future health care needs.
The point of universal coverage is to pool risk, for the maximum benefit of the individual when he or she needs care. And the point of having the government manage this complicated process is not to take freedom away from the individual. The point is the opposite: to give people more freedom. Public health care management is just vastly more efficient than forcing everyone to go it alone.
I wish Americans could experience the freedom of knowing that our health care system will always be there for us regardless of our employment status. I want the freedom to know that the system will automatically take me and my family in, without my having to battle for care in my moment of weakness and need. That is real freedom.
So is the freedom of knowing that none of it will bankrupt us.
Republicans: If you really want to free Americans and unburden American employers, why not try some form of government-managed health care, like almost every other capitalist democracy?
No health care system is perfect. But in a nation that purports to champion freedom, the outdated disaster that is the U.S. health care system is taking that freedom away.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Whenever I commune with nature, I always use extra hair gel.
The County Seat is back in business!
This is where Dad made me kill my first hobo. Buried him in the trees back there.
Look! I have new boots!
The rest of the Scout troop packed up and left camp while I was asleep.
This will run in the fall L.L. Bean catalogue
I wish I could could cut off a dead elephant's tail again. Good times!
I guess I'm a little late to the whole Seattle-grunge thing.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
As I languish in recovery and rehab mode, today I am grateful for March Madness. Nothing like an overdose of basketball to keep me occupied.
I'm also grateful that spring training is underway and another baseball season is just around the corner. I look forward to watching many innings, and napping through many more. And this morning, I watched Field of Dreams for the umpteenth time. It's always a guaranteed tear-jerker (at least for me).
Among the many moving scenes is the speech by the Terrence Mann character, played by James Earl Jones, near the end of the film. Here's the speech, with a bit of extra dialogue courtesy of Buster:
People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game -- it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again.
So yes, Ray, Donald Trump is a carbuncle on our nation's ass -- ugly, painful, even dangerous -- but he's just a temporary affliction which will fade and soon be forgotten. Baseball will not fade, Ray. Baseball will endure. It will most definitely endure.
So, play ball! And fuck Donald Trump.
Dolt 45 and his Auschwitz Administration have released their "Make America Great Again" Budget for 2018. It proposes $4 trillion in spending. It's big on defense and walls and deportation goon squads, but the rest of our government takes a haircut.
Many cuts are extreme: EPA funding cut by 31%, State Dept. cut by 28%. And there are 19 agencies for which the budget proposes a 100% cut -- a complete elimination of federal funding. Among these is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which contributes significantly to PBS television and NPR radio.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said they just couldn't ask "a single mom or a coal miner" to pay for such programming (Why the hell not?) but of course they have no problem with moms and miners paying out the ass for defense.
$4 trillion proposed budget spending
$639 billion proposed defense spending
$445 million in current funding for the CPB
138 million U.S. taxpayers, approx.
CPB funding accounts for one-hundredth of one percent (0.01%) of the federal budget. Defense spending accounts for 16%. On a per capita basis, each taxpayer's share of the current level of CPB funding is $3.22 per year. Defense costs each taxpayer $4630 a year.
For three bucks a year, we can all afford to keep Sesame Street around. Maybe build fewer F-35's.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
"In a world at war, many sparrows must fall."
That's the ominous opening line of the 1943 film The Fallen Sparrow. It euphemistically refers to the consequences of all-out war -- the inevitable death of many innocent people. Collateral damage is another way of putting it.
Paul Ryan came to Washington D.C. like Mack the Ideological Knife, committed to cutting government budgets and programs -- especially the big, popular ones. It's his one true love. He wants nothing more than to slash the shit out of Social Security and Medicare, but for now he'll settle for hacking away at the ACA and Medicaid.
It gives him immense pleasure. When he spoke the other day about "defederalizing an entitlement, block-granting it back to the states, and capping its growth," I swear you could almost hear him popping wood. He was damn near orgasmic at the prospect.
Ryan sees it as war, and himself as the Holy Warrior, the Crusader. And since it's a war, he can't be distracted by side effects. Twenty-four million Americans lose health insurance coverage? Too bad. Many sparrows must fall. "What matters is we're lowering costs."
If Ryan gets his way, will I be a fallen sparrow?
Animal Farm and Thinning the Social Security Herd. Thank you, faithful readers!
It's true, "Animal Farm" is here now::: "All Animals Are Equal / But Some Are More Equal Than Others." When it was time to send the horse Boxer to the hospital, you do know where he was really sent ?... When the van arrives to take Boxer to the hospital Benjamin reads its side and learns that Boxer is actually being taken to a knacker, or glue-boiler. Welcome to Trump Careless America!
It's more than meets the eye::: The secret G.O.P. plan to “save” Social Security:: “According to the C.B.O. report, the bill would make health insurance so unaffordable for many older Americans that they would simply leave the market and join the ranks of the uninsured.” It’s so simple you might miss it. No insurance for “Older Americans.” “Older Americans” simply die much sooner than they would if they had health coverage. Hence, millions fewer Americans getting Social Security benefits. This is to say the least a stroke of genius from P. Ryan.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Today the CBO released its assessment of Paul Ryan's American Health Care Act, the GOP's Obamacare replacement plan. The CBO says the Ryan plan means 24 million Americans would lose health care coverage over the next ten years. It also says the Ryan plan would reduce the federal deficit by more than $300 billion over the same time frame.
Previously, the CBO said that the ACA/Obamacare had likewise been reducing the deficit and would continue to reduce it by more than $300 billion by 2025.
It's instructive to look at how each approach trims the deficit by roughly the same amount.
- The ACA/Obamacare reduces the deficit by slowing the rate of growth in health care spending, and by increased revenue (taxes) to fund the law. It does it through improved fraud control, and by building a bigger, better, smarter health care delivery system. (The ACA illustrates a case when bigger is indeed better. Our uninsured rate is at an all-time low. The everybody-into-the-pool mandate is the essence of the group policy advantage, and is actuarily wise. It works.)
- The ACHA/Ryan Plan reduces the deficit by drastically cutting premium support to individuals, by allowing individuals to stupidly go without coverage, and by kicking a shitload of poor people off of Medicaid. It's the polar opposite of the group policy mentality.
Both approaches cut some costs. But only one method will leave 24 million people in the lurch. Of the two, which do you prefer?
The ACHA/Ryan Plan is immoral. Please speak out to your members of Congress.
Trump's reaction to the CBO report? Pay no attention to the CBO. The CBO is wrong. The CBO is fake news.
Bullshit! We have a fake POTUS and an evil Congressional majority.
Evidently, the majority of the public doesn't care about that "promise." In fact, the public rejects it.
We are such an Idiot Nation that far too many people don't understand that the ACA and Obamacare are one and the same. For years in poll after poll, they've said they love the ACA but they hate Obamacare. And now we're beginning to hear from moron Trump voters who are suddenly scared to death at the prospect of losing their health coverage. (This is what the GOP promised you!)
By the numbers, 58% of Americans want to keep the ACA and improve on it. Only 39% want to see it repealed. The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Nursing Association and the AARP are all strongly opposed to the Ryan plan.
But Paulie don't care. He's a zealot. His plan is heartless and reckless, he knows it, and he loves it. It's the "Pay More and Get Less" Plan. It's the "Health Care Is a Privilege (And If You Can't Afford It, Fuck You)" Plan. It's the "American Wealth Care" Act.
Ryan's devotion to this cruel crusade tells us all we need to know about him (as if we didn't know it already). He's a well-rehearsed liar and a soulless bastard. Kill his bill!
Thursday, March 9, 2017
To hell with Paul Ryan's hideous plan!
Ryan says, "This is what conservative health reform looks like." Looks like Death Panels to me!
Obamacare works. We must keep it and move with all deliberate speed toward a universal Medicare-For-All health care system.
Fight this crap! Do what you can.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
It took them seven years to come up with this?
With a straight face, they call it the "American Health Care Act." It's the Paul Ryan/House Republicans plan, and it's more like the "American Sickness Act," or the "American Insurance Company Benevolence Act."
It permits insurance companies to charge higher premiums to older customers than was allowed by the ACA.
It provides much less premium assistance to low-income families, and that assistance is not based on income. (Absurd! Don't we pay our bills with our income?) The ACA's income-based subsidies turn into age-based flat-fee tax credits. WTF? Low-income people really get the shaft. One example in today's news reports: Considering premium costs net of premium assistance on the same policy, a 64 year-old with $15,000 annual income would pay $8500 more per year under the GOP plan than under Obamacare.
It increases the income level at which families may receive some premium assistance, from $97,000 to $150,000 annual income.
It reduces taxes on the health care industry and high income individuals.
Most amazing of all, the Freedom Caucus/Tea Bag moron wing of the House opposes this Ryan plan because it's not draconian enough! It continues with some level of premium support, albeit much less than Obamacare. They insist support should be zero!
Just another illustration of the Great Divide in our society. Should our society provide some assistance to some folks for some things? Or is everything just a purely financial proposition?
The regressive Ryan/House plan views health care as the latter. It's an attempt to unravel a part of our so-called social safety net. Most prior attempts to do that with established programs have failed. I sincerely hope this one fails too.
If it doesn't, I'll see ya in the emergency room!
Monday, March 6, 2017
(Many readers already know, but now all of you do.)
In early February, I went to see my family doctor with hip and back pain, which had been nagging me for about 6 months. X-rays, CT scans and MRI's showed bone loss in the hip and other areas. I was diagnosed with cancer in the bones of my right hip and spine, and also in one lung. It probably started in the lung and spread from there. I smoked cigarettes for 28 years but quit 16 years ago.
On February 27th, I had tumor removal/hip replacement surgery and am recovering at home. In a couple weeks, I'll begin chemotherapy treatments, of a type and duration still to be determined by my pathology results. There will also be some radiation at some point.
I'm 62 years old, just shy of qualifying for Medicare. I'm self-employed and still working; my wife is not. Our health insurance is a policy obtained on the ACA/Obamacare federal exchange. We qualify for an income-based premium subsidy. We are happy to have Obamacare. It's a definite improvement, and who knows where we'd be without it. So far, our insurance has paid for almost all of my medication and diagnostic testing. But the costs for surgery and treatments will be subject to co-pays and deductibles, etc. Our out-of-pocket costs are unknown, but they'll be substantial. Obamacare is not a free ride, and I am not a mooch.
And yet, as the cherry on top of my shit sunday, Trump and the Congressional Republicans are in a headlong rush to repeal Obamacare and replace it with . . . not much. Basically, roll back the clock and pretend Obamacare never happened. At stake is affordable health coverage for perhaps as many as 30 million people, including your humble correspondent. Timing is everything! I'm covered for this calendar year, but next year, who knows?
Among the many changes designed to kill the ACA, the GOP will eliminate the mandate that everyone carry insurance, and will eliminate the penalty for failure to do so. With the goal of covering as many people as possible, this is actuarily unsound -- it's totally bass-ackwards. The GOP plan will also remove certain taxes on the health industry and high income individuals which help pay for the ACA's expanded coverage. That cooks the goose right there.
The big problem with American health care is our exceptionally high cost for everything, including insurance premiums. But the GOP will get rid of the income-based direct premium subsidy, the mechanism which actually makes obtaining health insurance affordable. Their new idea is year-end tax credits -- not based on income, worth far less than the current subsidy, and available to me only after I've paid the full retail premium for a year. That's a perversion of affordability.
There will be a re-emphasis on tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts. I've had an HSA before and it's OK for small planned procedures, if you're able to save money and if you're able to wait. But if you're in a low income/high medical bills trick bag, how can you save money? If your need is an emergency, how do you instantly save for that? So what good is it?
Whatever the future holds for me, I'll now go through the rest of my life with "Pre-Existing Conditions" tattooed on my forehead. But not to worry, those compassionate Republicans promise they'll always give me "access" to coverage. I'll just have to pick it up in a "high-risk pool," which is the insurance industry equivalent of a leper colony. Access comes only with unaffordably-high premiums, enormous deductibles, and restrictive policy maximums. That sort of "access" is bullshit.
The premium subsidies are the key to affordability under the Affordable Care Act. There is no real affordability without them. If they go away -- which is what the Republicans want -- the ACA goes away. And where does that leave me? Where does it leave millions of others like me? It seems that Congressional Republicans "replacement" is to advise me to sell my home, liquidate all my assets, and then quickly die with a minimum of fuss.
To have waited so long for any improvement in health care access and affordability, to have finally accomplished some of it with the ACA, to have finally achieved a degree of parity with all those people covered by large employer group plans, to see it all taken away so soon by a spiteful, capricious Republican party is a bitter disappointment. It's unfair and cruel. It is wrong.
I'll copy and paste the text portion of this post and email it to my members of Congress. If you agree with me, please do the same. Especially if you consider yourself to be a Republican or an Independent, and you're finally seeing the light on this important issue, please write your members of Congress and share this story. It'll be a character-builder for ya!
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Babboon Face desperately wants to brag about a military "win" on his watch. I believe he'll manipulate a set of circumstances so he can do just that. Maybe it's time to invade Grenada again and this time nuke it off the face of the earth.
Enough is enough. No more faux-patriotism "give him a chance" crap. No more excusing his vast craziness with the Dow Jones Index, as if that's the only thing that counts. Intentions are clear, and lines have been drawn. Pick a side and get involved!
The man is repulsive in every possible way. His administration is dangerous and evil. His closest advisers are neo-Nazi racists, Islamophobes and misogynists. His political party is dedicated to greed and has been purely disgusting for the past 50 years.
And if you can't see that, if you refuse to acknowledge the awful truth, you are part of the problem.
I'm personally convinced that we must take action to bring down this administration ASAP and restore sanity to American government. So I'm asking you to do something, now. Do anything you can, but please do more than you're doing today. Speak out, show up, march, protest, make phone calls, send letters and emails. Use every tool you have.
We are in existential crisis. Don't sit by and watch these daily horrors unfold like a bad TV show. If you care, I beg you to step up your game and do more. It may seem ineffective and frustrating, but every little bit can help. Stay at it!
Almost everything you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it. Gandhi
My ability to show up and write letters is somewhat constrained, at least for now, so I'm asking you to pick up my slack and help the cause. Do something. Do more.
Friday, March 3, 2017
Trumplandia is a hateful, ugly place right now and it won't get better any time soon unless we do something to stop it.
Trump's executive order gives broad authority to ICE and CBP agents, and they're only too happy to indiscriminately exercise it. They've longed for the chance to wear their black uniforms and conduct terrifying SWAT-style raids, and Trump has given it to them.