A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Repeal? Replace? Re-whatever!

So they kept us on the edge of our seats for weeks.  Yes, the replacement for the ACA would happen before Congress adjourned for April recess.  And yes, everyone would forever after have access to health care…only they wouldn’t.

Then the lobbying and jockeying for votes happened.   One side wanted amendments to the replacement which would be more beneficial to senior citizens and those with chronic conditions.   The other side wanted to go even further away from any government involvement with people’s health insurance and healthcare.

And this conflict was just between Republicans and…wait for it…Republicans!

The Democrats in Congress were not even consulted about the now defunct American Health Care Act.  No one in the ruling party even attempted to reach out to the Democrats for their input.  Granted, Democrats put up a united front against the replacement of the ACA, but still a phone call would have been nice.   Or even a tweet…

And in the end, the final vote was delayed for a day to give the recalcitrant members of the Republican Party more time to negotiate the changes to Ryancare or Trumpcare or Whatever-you-care-to-call-it Care.   And it came to pass that the vote was rescheduled to the next day, a Friday of all days.  By afternoon Republican leaders in the House realized that they still did not have the votes to pass their precious healthcare law.   And lo, they shrugged and pulled the plug on the vote.

For those who have found the ACA to be a god send this was a good Friday.   For others who rue the day the ACA passed it was, “Good grief!”

The President, who has vowed for years in his writings and his insufferable campaign rallies, that every American will have health insurance, no one will get left behind and die on the streets ill and/or bankrupt.   It appears that all this time the President has been wanting America to have a…wait for it….single payer system! Too bad he hitched his political fortunes to the GOP elephant who shrieks and bellows it’s mighty trunk at the thought of Americans being entitled (oh, there’s that “E” word again) to affordable healthcare.

In the end the President must have concluded that even HE did not like the plan Paul Ryan and his colleagues offered as a replacement for the ACA.  So what the hell!   Pull the vote, tell everyone they tried their best, but in the end they could not do it.   Then announce we won’t even try to replace the law we hated for seven years.   We will just move on to something else.

Only everyone did not try their best.  Again, a reach across the aisle might have helped, but…oh, right we already went through that.  

Gee it seemed so easy to repeal the ACA when Obama was President.   They did it sixty plus times, but could never get the President to sign off on it. It’s that damn replacement part that got them in trouble.   It’s not like they didn’t offer half-hearted proposals over the years and it’s not like they had any time to formulate a workable replacement to the ACA.

Oh wait; they had SEVEN YEARS to formulate a workable replacement!  So now they are surprised that they built a replacement over the span of mere weeks and not enough people can agree to pass it?  

The last minute abandoning of the AHCA was disappointing.  The Republicans cheated the American people out of their long-promised climax to their efforts to give the country their version of affordable healthcare. 

Now, now fellow liberals, hear me out!

It was disappointing because if the vote had happened then we would know who our adversaries and who are friends are in this fight.   Yes, we’ve got statements from many prominent Republicans saying how they WOULD have voted, but since they never got a chance to vote, we will never know for sure who to trust and who to dismiss.  It ain’t official until it’s in the Congressional Record.

Now those legislators can honestly go back to the people in their districts and say, “See I didn’t take your healthcare away from you,” or “See, I never got a chance to replace your healthcare with something better.”  It’s a win-win for everyone except the American voter.

And since the Republican emphasis has always been on total destruction of affordable healthcare and who cares if we have anything to replace it, the real conversation about improving the law has never taken place.  No one ever said the ACA was perfect.  It does have flaws which need to be discussed, debated and then negotiated for the common good.

Unfortunately that is not bound to happen in the hyper-partisan, toxic environment inside the Beltway for some time to come.  What could happen through all this is perhaps a wakening among the people (Congress, you do remember the people, right?)  that the ACA is not perfect,  the AHCA is certainly far from perfect, and that America should adopt a…wait for it…single payer system!

Oh dear!   The elephant is not happy!

(Thank you for reading. So Trumpers, feeling let down yet?)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A World Class Leader Meets (air quote) Our (air quote) President

See the world class leader Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, meet “our” President.

See her offer to shake his hand for a public relations drenched photo op.

See “our” President ignore Angel Merkel like she is not even sitting next to him.

Ooh!   See them stand behind matching podiums to make important pronouncements about relations between Germany and the United States.

See them answer questions about important matters of state between her country, the biggest economic power in Europe today, and us.

See Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, behave with poise, grace and a mature demeanor.

See “our” President prattle on about he and Merkel have both been victims of wire tapping by his predecessor, how reporters should ask Fox News about this development, and how Great Britain’s intelligence agency knew about it, and how the media is continuing with their “fake news”, and prattle on and on “Mr.” President…

See Angel Merkel listening stoically to “our” President go on about how everything and everyone is so unfair to him.

See her watch this performance and wonder how we, as a great country, came to this point.

See her wonder, “Really, we lost to this country 72 years ago?” (Okay, so her country was led by a crazed, psychopathic paper hanger, but still.)

She watches, she listens and appears to be every bit like a great, world class leader who would like nothing more than to leap from behind her podium and with claws and fangs bared, rip the face off the front of “our” President’s head.

See her not do this, because she has class.

We’re still trying to figure out what “our” President has, but it certainly can’t be considered class!

Oy Vey!

(Thank you for reading.  Original ending - goading the Prime Minister of Germany to “go for it” - deleted on the advice of counsel and representatives of the Secret Service.)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My Annual Trip to the Emergency Room

I started a dubious tradition a few years ago of having at least one trip to the emergency room within a calendar and/or health insurance benefit year. One year it was my bout with pneumonia. Last year I was having abdominal pains which couldn’t decide which abdominal quadrant in which it wanted to settle.  Fortunately all the tests came back negative for appendicitis that time.

Yes, I still have my appendix and, now that I think about, my tonsils are still present at the top of my throat.

This year, my trip involved a bit more drama.  I was sitting at my work desk listening to some health insurance representative prattle on why the claim I had asked to be processed last month had made zero progress towards resolution, when I began to feel light-headed.  (Personal note to Warrior Queen: and by light-headed I mean more light-headed than usual.)  I got up, hoping a short walk would alleviate my symptoms.   

No such luck.  

I went to my supervisor’s cube and explained the situation.  She immediately had me sit down while she summoned one of the nurses on site.   The nurse was over within minutes, took my blood pressure and listened to my heart.  Her prognosis was surprising on the first count — my blood pressure was low — but not surprising on the second count — my heart beat was irregular.  My cardiologist has been telling me that for years, but since I’ve had no major issues since my surgery in 2008, then we accept my irregular heart as an “it is what it is” condition.

The nurse recommended that I go to an emergency room.

I feared that my office management would summon an ambulance.  My trepidation is several fold.  The ambulance company is usually out-of-network and therefore I would be subject to a balance above what my insurance carrier believes is a generous usual and customary rate for an emergency transport.  This is a trap we hear about all the time at my job.

Also the ambulance would take me to the nearest hospital, considered to be third-tier caliber, but not out of my network.  The result could be a higher coinsurance rate for myself.   If I had my druthers, then I would want the ambulance to take me to the next hospital just a few miles beyond their convenient choice.

Also, I didn’t feel that my light-headed condition warranted the use of an emergency life or death

I called Warrior Queen, who agreed to pick me up at work. Her agreement wasn’t 100% willingly: she had taken the previous day off for International Woman’s Day, where women all over the world stayed home from their job if they could afford to do so and refrain from buying anything to strike a blow against patriarchal cultures everywhere.  Thus she was a full day behind on her work and she needed no distractions — such as taxiing an ill spouse to an emergency room — to get caught up.

I also called my doctor’s office for an appointment and fortunately snagged a time for the mid-afternoon.  I know I was told to go straight to the emergency room, but I felt I should at least have a recommendation from my PCP before I showed up at the local hospital. 

Again, my reason was economics.  I have dealt with a few cases in the past year where insurance carriers refused to pay for emergency room services without some sort of physician’s office visit within proximity of the emergency services on record.  Apparently some carriers believe that a physician’s blessing is needed before you can Pass Go and continue to the hospital.  Otherwise the emergency services at a facility costing several thousands of dollars would be denied.

Ah, the health insurance industry!   How the hell do they sleep at night?

First order of business was to grab a fast burger lunch.  Warrior Queen had not had much breakfast and she surmised that my present physical condition was due to the lack of proteins in my breakfast (leftover pasta in a meat sauce which obviously did not have as much meat in it as I thought).  Then, on to my doctor appointment.   There we recounted my symptoms, verified that my blood pressure had improved, and indeed got a second recommendation to proceed to the emergency room.

Yes, I could Pass Go, but not collect $200.   Bummer!

At the emergency room, I was seen by no less than a treating physician, a supervising physician, at least three different nurses and/or health aides, and at least one x-ray technician.   I verified that I was not experiencing chest pains or any other symptoms of a cardiac event.  My blood sugar was measured and showed that, while I am still flirting with becoming diabetic, my glucose this time was lower than my previous blood work for my cardiologist appointment in February.  

All of the medical minds in the emergency room settled on dehydration as my final diagnosis.   Apparently I drank more diuretics (coffee, diet cola) than water that day to counter act the negative reaction I experienced that morning. 

Imagine that!  I have a drinking problem!

I was in and out of the hospital within a few hours once an IV treatment had restored the liquid level in my body. Now I am dreading the delivery of the bill. I figure this will certainly meet my deductible for the year, and honest, Blue Cross, I was trying to not have any medical issues this year so you wouldn’t have to pay anything.  Alas, not to be.

And all this transpired while the health care reform debate raged in Washington.  I was able to view some news coverage of that circus while I waited for my finger to be pricked, my lab work to be processed, and my chest x-ray to be reviewed.  The latest Ryan/Trumpcare proposal would probably allow health insurance carriers to eliminate such benefits as emergencies just so they can offer policies with lower premiums.  Yes, I have coverage for emergencies this year, but what about the coming years when our comprehensive coverage now could be diluted so that everyone can afford the premiums?   Health insurance payments for emergencies could cap out at $50 after meeting a deductible which one study suggests could be as high as $25,000 (!), if they are covered at all?

The mere thought of health insurance things to come is enough to drive me to drink…and I don’t mean water!
(Thank you for reading.  PS - Warrior Queen also survived my health ordeal.)

Sunday, March 05, 2017

This Week’s Deflection

Say what you will about the new President (and Lord knows this blog has and will continue to say what we will for a long time), he does have a gift for deflection.  It is that talent of speaking directly to his audience and suddenly pointing in another direction and shouting, “Oh my God! Look over there.” So we dutifully look over there, define/describe/discuss whatever the hell he pointed out, and take our minds off the really important stuff.

Only he is able to do it without actually raising his hands to point.  His fingers are too busy banging out a Twitter message to go the old fashioned route of actually moving a muscle above his forearm.  It’s all the same to him: finger pointing or Twitter message accomplishes his sleight of hand goal of taking our attention away from his real agenda.

In the weeks since the President took power, we have been told to consider fictional slaughters (Bowling Green Massacre), the horrible immigrant problems in other countries (Sweden), and the poor television ratings his signature show has had to endure since it was taken over by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Or how the media dishonestly under reported the size of the crowds at his inauguration?  Or how he would have won the popular vote had it not been for the millions of illegal votes by people being registered in more than one place, or not being in the country legally, or being dead?

Or the classic, “The press is our enemy.”  As one pundit observed, not even Nixon went there!

And the important stuff from which we are distracted?   Wow, where do we begin?

The rant starts here: the dismantling of regulations across a number of agencies which threaten our drinking supply, the oxygen we breathe, and other “quality of life” issues;  the ongoing threats to traditional American values like freedom of the press, the right to free assembly, the right to vote; the movement against the long-cherished virtues of promising better lives to all who considered escaping persecution in their native countries; or the threat to our democracy from a long time super power foe.   And the list could go on, but these few examples should get the point across.

This weekend, the American people are enduring a series of tweets accusing President Obama of wiretapping the phones in the current President’s palatial Manhattan penthouse just before the election.  True to his twitter style, El Presidente is belittling his predecessor as “sick” and “bad” in his latest accusations.  Actually, this is an improvement over the previous narrative of Obama not being born in this country.  The President has finally gotten over the whole Obama-is-not-a-legitimate-leader argument.  

Even if the accusation is true – much like the previous popular vote argument the President has not offered any evidence that the wiretapping was ordered by Obama — so what?   Who could blame Obama for wanting to gather more information about the man who on a campaign stump reached out and implored Russia to release any of the missing Hillary Clinton e-mails they found?  At the time of this incident, a few pundits believed the act smacked of “treason”, but that didn’t matter to his supporters.

In any event, officials from the Obama administration were quick to point out that the President (whoever it may be) does not have the authority to order a wiretap on any American citizen.  This little slice of political reality probably still won’t matter.  His supporters will passionately defend his honor no matter what.

As he might say in a tweet: Sad.

Speaking of this campaign incident, I wish to point out that many of us noticed the President’s deflection tactics during his many campaign appearances.  He consistently raised a pointed finger at Hillary Clinton and called her a liar with nearly every breathe of his self-righteous, spoiled billionaire body.  All the while the media fact checkers compiled an impressive — no, yuuuge — tally of falsehoods   uttered by the soon to be elected Presidential nominee himself! Some have called this projection of the President’s language, but it accomplishes the same goal as deflection of the message.

Again I repeat: Sad.

This weekend’s accusations without evidence come on the heels of his speech to Congress which many people believed marked the turning point for the President.  Now — we thought — he has grown up and is ready to assume the mantle of leader of the free world as a mature adult.   That era of good feeling lasted exactly one day when reports surfaced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath to a Senate committee about meeting with the Soviet Ambassador.

A few tweets later about this new controversy from the President and all the speculation that he had made a pivot away from his immature style of communication crashed and burned.

As much as I hate to admit it, the new President is a genius at this sort of communication manipulation.  A sick, bad genius at that.

(Thank you for reading.  Now deflect that!   I dare you, Mr. President!)