Friday, February 26, 2010

Kill Bill

As promised, I watched as much of the President's Summit as I was able. It really doesn't take a long time to sum up the Summit. The Republican plan will only insure 3,000 of the 30 million uninsured and will do nothing to reduce the escalating cost of medical care.

Heaven forbid that they would reign in the out-of-control insurance industry. Regulate them under the Fair Trade laws? Perish the thought. The insurance industry is exempt from that law, by the way. Why?

Oh, but the R's have a grand idea. Let people buy their insurance across state lines. Whoopee! As Paul Krugman states in his op-ed piece in the New York Times, that will just make it harder for those with serious medical problems to get insurance. To fully understand the folly of this measure please click on the link below:

With proper regulation of the insurance industry the R's plan to buy coverage across state lines has some merit, but will not reduce premiums by much since the big insurance companies now control most of the policies. (Too big to fail - does that ring a bell? Does Anthem Blue Cross ring a bell?) The key word is 'regulation' and the R's are adamantly opposed to that.

The other pet project of the R.s is tort reform. As one Democrat Senator pointed out, the cost of medical malpractice suits is 1/5 of 1%. So how much do you think it will save? The Senator from Texas proudly proclaimed that tort reform had reduced insurance rates by 4% in his state (this figure is from my sometimes faulty memory so don't hold me to it). No matter what figure he used, the Kaiser Foundation did a study that showed it had not reduced rates at all after three years of being in place. This comes down to 'who do you believe' and 'where is the proof'.

Since the Republicans are not adverse to outright lying with a straight face, I have to take much of their statistics at face value. For example, Lamar Alexander said in his opening statement that the bill would increase premiums for policyholders. The reality is that the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) said it will reduce premiums. How can Lamar make such a bald face statement in the face of those stubborn things, facts? Well, what the CBO actually said is that premiums would rise for a small segment of policy holders because they would buy better coverage, but for the same coverage the premiums would be less.

Another lie repeated by the R side was that the bill included $500 million taken out of Medicare. The amount is not only wrong, but the money saved will be in the form of reform of the Medicare Advantage Plan ( This has been a bonanza for the insurance companies) and cutting out waste and fraud. No elder will see his coverage change, except that it will lower cost of premiums and co-pays and provide better preventative measures such as free cancer screening.

But, all that aside, the Republican plan is a sham anyhow, because their real goal is to KILL the BILL. The mantra repeated by one Republican after another was "Start over." or "take it one step at a time". Of course, we all know what this means. It means 'stall it while we demagogue it some more so the public will believe our lies about a government take over, etc. and oppose it. They have been doing a masterful job of that so far. I will have to give them that.

If I hear one more Republican make the claim (as did Mr.'tanner than thou') that we have the best health care system in the world I will barf. It's true for him, but not for the 30,000 uninsured in our country.

I wrote what the bill WILL do on the previous post so I will not go over that again. As one of my responders noted, it will eventually close the do-nut hole. If you don't know what is in it, please refer back to that post to understand the President's position and the bill as it stands now.

Random facts brought out in the debate: Now it costs every citizen $1,000 for everyone who uses the Emergency Room without insurance . (Another reason to have everyone insured.) Mr. Tanner than thou, Boehner claimed the bill would pay for abortions. Nancy Pelosi set him straight on that. It DOESN'T. Boehner is either a consummate liar or an idiot; or both.

A personal observation on the participants. My two senators, the two Johns, gave a shameful performance. John McCain looked so angry that I wondered if he had a dagger hidden in his suit. Obama reminded him that the campaign was over. That's the only time McCain smiled and it was an embarrassed one. (He's such a sore loser.) John Kyle is a lawyer and very smooth at making his proclamations sound like they are the truth. But he is a liar repeating Lamar Alexander's lie of rising premiums. Thad Cochran was logical and made good points for the R side, but every one of his suggestions were already in the bill. Mitch McConnell whined that the Democrats got more time than the Republicans. (Poor baby) The President pointed out that it was because he was the President and he is the one who took more time. It was, after all, his summit.

After the seven hour summit was over Mitch McConnell and David 'I'm tanner than thou' Boehner proudly proclaimed that they would not support the bill. Is anyone surprised by that?

It is obvious that the bill will not receive one 'aye' vote from the Republican side of the aisle no matter what is in it. I wish the Democrats would put the Public Option back in the bill and pass it as quick as possible under the rule of Reconciliation. Let the Republicans rant that they were excluded and that 'Reconciliation' was a back room deal. (Their claim that it is unconstitutional, et. al, is ridiculous. Reconciliation has been used 21 times by Democrats and Republicans; including the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of the population.). Then let them explain why not one person on their side of the aisle voted for it.

My final comment on the long day is that our president did a fantastic job of keeping those who wanted to use this format for political posturing from going off on a rant of their talking points. He masterfully brought them back to the subject. He knew his facts and didn't need a teleprompter or cliff notes to reel them off. He was, as usual, articulate and knowledgeable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Last Gasp for Health Care Reform

I feel great compassion for all of you who are enduring one snow storm after another. I thought I would show you that we desert dwellers are getting some, too. I took this photo late yesterday afternoon. If I hadn't been so lazy I could have gotten an early morning shot when the snow was all the way down to the foothills. By the time I ventured out the snow on the lower elevations had melted.

That's my house in the middle behind the street sign.

It's crunch time on health care reform and this is where we are now. As the current bill stands the following are the important features.
  • No company can ever deny you health insurance or drop your coverage for a pre-existing condition or if you get really sick.
  • If you get cancer or other serious illness, there is no cap on the amount of needed care that your insurance will cover.

  • No threat of losing your life savings to pay for care. Insurance companies can’t stop paying your claims and leave you with a lot of medical bills.Recommended preventive care will be covered without deductibles – checkups, colonoscopies, mammograms – no matter if you buy your own policy or get coverage through your job. Preventing illness before it becomes serious is the best way to save money!

  • Programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, with incentives for them to practice in rural areas, so you get quality care no matter where you live.

It's a far cry from what it should be, but it's better than the current chaotic mess that we have.


Today several groups have organized a real march and a virtual march on Washington telling our representatives to enact real health care reform NOW. You can join the virtual march by clicking on the link. The goal is a million signatures by the end of the day.


Tomorrow is the televised face off between the Republicans and the president. It starts at 10 am Eastern Standard time. Please put it on your calendar. It will be an historic event. You can see it on C-Span starting at 10 am Eastern Standard Time.

Robert Reich has written an excellent article on why the Democrats should pass health care reform with the 51 vote majority they have. The Republicans have made it very clear that they will do everything in their power to scuttle this legislation. Here is the link:

Excerpts from an Op-ed piece by Roger Cohen of the New York Times:

When it comes to health, we’re all in this together. Pooling the risk among everybody is the most efficient way to forge a healthier society. That’s what other developed societies do. And they don’t have 30 million plus uninsured.

Now, as I understand it, the Tea Party movement is angry about waste, bail-outs for the rich and spiraling debt. They detest big government. But if waste and debt are really what’s bothering them, how about the waste in the more than 1,800 daily health-care related personal bankruptcies, the 25 to 30 percent of some corporate insurers’ costs going on administration (versus 6 percent for Medicare), the sky-rocketing health premiums that are undermining U.S. corporations (and so taking jobs), the endless paperwork of private reimbursement procedures, and the needless deaths?

Americans don’t want a European nanny state — fine! But, as a lawyer friend, Manuel Wally, put it to me, “When it comes to health it makes sense to involve government, which is accountable to the people, rather than corporations, which are accountable to shareholders.”

All the fear-mongering talk of “nationalizing” 17 percent of the economy is nonsense. Government, through Medicare and Medicaid, is already administering almost half of American health care and doing so with less waste than the private sector. Per capita Medicare costs for common benefits grew 4.9 percent between 1998 and 2008, against 7.1 percent for private insurers. Why not offer Medicare as a choice — a choice — to everyone? Aren’t Republicans about choice?

The public option, not dead, would amount to recognition of shared interest in each other’s health and of the need to use America’s energies and resources better. It would involve 300 million people linking arms.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Door Knobs and Broomsticks

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the bath. To fully understand this embarrassing event I must start at the beginning.

My followers know that Thanksgiving has always been my danger holiday. The last one was no exception. No broken hips or split head this time, but a crisis nonetheless.

Last Thanksgiving I had been invited to a posh home in the Foothills for dinner and wanted to look my best. The bathroom that I use is at the end of my house and is always chilly. I, therefore, have a heater in the room. Before showering, I turned the heater on to warm the room and came in to watch TV while the room reached a comfortable temperature. Imagine my surprise when I went to take my shower to find the room locked. Living alone means I never, never, never lock an inside door. But this sucker was locked. Tight !

I tried poking things in the little slot to no avail. In desperation I called a friend who came with his tool kit to help me reach my goal. He didn't have any better luck than I did and decided the only way to get me in the room was to saw the doorknob off. My nerves matched the grating noises of the hacksaw as he mightily sawed away. Finally, 'Mission accomplished'. The door was open. I thanked him and he left me to my ablution.

Fast forward to Thursday. I had been waiting to replace the door knob until Tuesday Morning had another sale on lever handles. Happy Day! The long awaited day arrived; lever door handles at half price. When I reached the store my disappointment was huge. Half price on designer knobs was way beyond my budget. My good friend who took me to look at them realized how unhappy I was so she took me to Lowe's where I purchased 9 new lever handle knobs. Okay, I get it. I should have done that in the first place and I would have been enjoying my new door hardware for over two months. I am a slow learner.

Twenty five years ago I changed all the door knobs in my house by myself. With the confidence of that experience, I got out my trusty screwdrivers and prepared to take the remains of the old handle off. No problem, thinks I. A piece of cake. Only it wasn't. The existing knobs were not so simple and I didn't know the trick of getting them apart. I unscrewed the two visible screws but didn't know there was another one lurking under the face plate. For two days I kept unscrewing the two screws wondering why they didn't fall out.

My cleaning lady decided she could remove the pesky knob. She took a hammer and, although she gave up, she did manage to remove the face plate and the hidden screw was exposed. Aha! Now I have no problem. As soon as she left I rushed in to finish to job. Hoo boy! That screw was easy to remove and when it fell out everything except the center piece fell off with it. Oops! The bolt was in locked position and I was locked in.

I wiggled, I jiggled, I poked and prodded the blasted thing and it didn't move. Since I was in a room only good for two things, and eating wasn't one of them, I knew I had to get help. So I pressed my trusty medical alert button. The voice from the alert box asked if I was alright. I told her I was fine, but I needed help extricating myself from the bathroom. This is undoubtedly one of the strangest emergencies she ever had to deal with. I asked her to call a neighbor to come over. When the neighbor arrived the 'voice' was still there waiting to see if the problem was resolved.

I asked my neighbor to go get one of the few men in our complex to bring his tools to extricate me. My neighbor is a nice generous lady, but she is the kind of person who knows best. So she and the voice called the fire department. And that is the start of my embarrassing experience.

One of the firemen managed to move the part enough to release the bolt and the door flew open leaving me facing three young firemen. They didn't know when they came that they were not coming for a critical call, but to just do a carpenter job. One of them asked me if that's all I needed. (I'm sure he must have been disappointed to have nothing to do but just stand around.) With a red face I assured him that I was fine. I thanked them and saw them to the door where I saw the great big red fire truck parked outside.

I have created lots of excitement in the neighborhood since I moved here. But it's getting downright tiresome. I have had the firemen and/or the paramedics here 6 times in 10 years. I have broken my ribs in the middle of the night, had a gall stone attack that mimicked a heart attack, broken my hip, fallen in the street on my scooter, fallen by my front door and now the most pitiful one of all; locking myself in the bathroom. I am getting quite a reputation with my neighbors, but I shudder to think what they call me at the firehouse. They certainly know how to find my house now. One more "Help. I've fallen and I can't get up or out" will do it. Do you think I might be on their s---t list?

My neighbor pointed out the fact that I could have just gotten out of the shower and could have been without clothing in there. Now that would definitely have been the most embarrassing experience of my life. I can just see the firemen rolling on the floor with laughter when they saw this old wrinkled lumpy body facing them. This is the vision of nightmares.

My ego is now like a deflated balloon. I was so sure I was still capable of doing the job myself. Sigh!!

My handyman just left.
And I now have 9 of these on my doors.

Alert: This morning's Huffington Post has a good article on the televised program on the 25th between Obama and the Republicans on Health Care Reform. The article includes the topics that will be covered (as released by the White House) as well as commentary on what might happen. I found it worthwhile and hope you will too.

The program will be televised starting at 10 am Eastern Standard Time on C-Span and, perhaps, other channels. I would guess the CNN and, perhaps, MSNBC will air it.
Click on the link to read the article.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Elders Beware

The other day Paul Krugman had an op-ed piece titled Republicans and Medicare in which he proved that the Republicans are the biggest hypocrites on the face of the earth.  Their latest ploy to scare people away from supporting health care reform is seizing on the fact that the bill includes cuts in Medicare.  What the bill really does is cut the waste and fraud now in Medicare.  Newt Gingrich leads the pack (no surprise there) claiming that the Democrat health care reform bill would cut $500 billion out of Medicare.  Are you trembling in your boots?  Newt would like you to think that your benefits are to be cut.  

But wait; if Republican Representative Paul Ryan has his way they will be.   Tea Baggers take note.  Especially you idiots who carried signs reading "Don't Touch My Medicare"  Read on.

Paul Krugman states:


What’s truly mind-boggling is this: Even as Republicans denounce modest proposals to rein in Medicare’s rising costs, they are, themselves, seeking to dismantle the whole program. And the process of dismantling would begin with spending cuts of about $650 billion over the next decade. Math is hard, but I do believe that’s more than the roughly $400 billion (not $500 billion) in Medicare savings projected for the Democratic health bills.
What I’m talking about here is the “Roadmap for America’s Future, the budget plan recently released by Representative Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee. Other leading Republicans have been bobbing and weaving on the official status of this proposal, but it’s pretty clear that Mr. Ryan’s vision does, in fact, represent what the G.O.P. would try to do if it returns to power. 

The broad picture that emerges from the “roadmap” is of an economic agenda that hasn’t changed one iota in response to the economic failures of the Bush years. In particular, Mr. Ryan offers a plan for Social Security privatization that is basically identical to the Bush proposals of five years ago.

But what’s really worth noting, given the way the G.O.P. has campaigned against health care reform, is what Mr. Ryan proposes doing with and to Medicare.

In the Ryan proposal, nobody currently under the age of 55 would be covered by Medicare as it now exists. Instead, people would receive vouchers and be told to buy their own insurance. And even this new, privatized version of Medicare would erode over time because the value of these vouchers would almost surely lag ever further behind the actual cost of health insurance. By the time Americans now in their 20s or 30s reached the age of eligibility, there wouldn’t be much of a Medicare program left.

But what about those who already are covered by Medicare, or will enter the program over the next decade? You’re safe, says the roadmap; you’ll still be eligible for traditional Medicare. Except, that is, for the fact that the plan “strengthens the current program with changes such as income-relating drug benefit premiums to ensure long-term sustainability.”

If this sounds like deliberately confusing gobbledygook, that’s because it is. Fortunately, the Congressional Budget Office, which has done an evaluation of the road map, offers a translation: “Some higher-income enrollees would pay higher premiums, and some program payments would be reduced.” In short, there would be Medicare cuts.

And it’s possible to back out the size of those cuts from the budget office analysis, which compares the Ryan proposal with a “baseline” representing current policy. As I’ve already said, the total over the next decade comes to about $650 billion — substantially bigger than the Medicare savings in the Democratic bills.
The bottom line, then, is that the crusade against health reform has relied, crucially, on utter hypocrisy: Republicans who hate Medicare, tried to slash Medicare in the past, and still aim to dismantle the program over time, have been scoring political points by denouncing proposals for modest cost savings — savings that are substantially smaller than the spending cuts buried in their own proposals.

And if Democrats don’t get their act together and push the almost-completed reform across the goal line, this breathtaking act of staggering hypocrisy will succeed. 

I think that Obama is cleverly trying to best the Repubs. at their own game.  His proposal to have a televised summit on the 25th of this month between the Republicans and Democrats would educate the people on several things.  First,  the lies told by the party of NO would be exposed.  Next, a thorough examination of their milk toast proposals would show they have no idea at all on how to reform health care.  And last, it would be an opportunity to tell American what is actually in the bill that would be beneficial.

I'm sure that the Republican leadership is very aware of this.  Don't hold your breath if they don't show up.  They have nothing of substance to propose to solve the health care mess.  Now their mantra is 'start over.'  Yeah right!  It took 50 years of starting over to finally get close to getting the job done.  'Start over' is a euphemism for 'kill it.'  

I have been so discouraged that I have not posted on this subject for some time. but it's nearing 'do or die' and I would hate to have the whole bill die.   I don't want the Republicans to celebrate on the grave of one of the most important bills to come before the House since the Civil Rights Act.

To read more on the Republicans proposals, please click on the link to read the NYT editorial in this morning's paper.

Burma Shave

I really need to laugh today.  Maybe you could use a smile.  Here are some memories that take me back to a simpler time.  
For some of us, this brings back great memories.  For you younger ones, you don't know what you missed!

For those who never saw any of the Burma Shave signs, here is a quick lesson in our history of the 1930's and '40's. Before there were interstates, when everyone drove the old 2 lane roads, Burma Shave signs would be posted all over the countryside in farmers' fields. 
They were small red signs with white letters. Five signs,  about 100 feet apart, each containing 1 line of a 4 line couplet......and the obligatory 5th sign advertising Burma Shave, a popular shaving cream.
Here are more of the actual signs:



Burma Shave

Burma Shave

Burma Shave


Burma Shave


Burma Shave
Burma Shave

Burma Shave
Burma Shave
Burma Shave

Burma Shave
Burma Shave

Burma Shave
Burma Shave
Burma Shave


Burma Shave

Do these bring back any old memories?
If not, you're merely a child.
If they do - then you're old as dirt...

Monday, February 8, 2010

The End of the U. S. and Tagged

Before I get to my special award I want to post the link to the op-ed piece in this morning's NYT.  It's by Paul Krugman, the award winning economist.   I think it is frightening in it's implications and every American should pay attention.  If you haven't read it yet, here is the link. 

You never know what surprising things lurk in your in-box.  This award was in my E-mail today and it was a complete shock.  It came from a blogger who was new to me and that doubled the surprise.  

I have since looked at his blog and I think you will find it worth checking out.  Barry of the blog Frost Bottom Farm (aka:  Frost Bottom Days) writes from Cape Cod, Masachusetts and his profile shows that he is interested in animals, farming and the great outdoors.  Check out the link to his blog.

I have copied and pasted the rules from Barry's blog.

1. I must thank the person who gave me the award and list their blog and link it 

2. I must list 10 honest things about myself

3. I must put a copy of Honest Scrap logo on my blog

4. I must select at least 7 or 8 other worthy blogers and list their links

5. I must notify the blogers of the award and hopefully they will follow the above three requirements also.

So here goes:

Thank you, Barry for the Honest Scrap Award. 

10 Honest Things about me.

1.  I am ancient.  But then, you already knew that.

 2.  I love the music from my youth.  The Big Band Era provided  my age group with some incredible renditions not possible today.

 3.  I loathe hypocrisy.

 4.  I wanted to be a dress designer when I was young.

 5.  I was a spoiled only child until my Mom remarried.

 6.  My short term memory is deteriorating.

 7.  I just spent too much money on an Apple laptop.

 8.  My only fear is one of becoming dependent on others.

 9.  I don't fear death.

10.  I am rarely lonely.

And now for the hard part.  There are so many worthy blogs that I will be unable to name them all.   Here are my nominations for the Honest Scrap award.
1.  Rain of Rainy Day Thoughts.  Rain writes great essays on politics,  interesting stories about the Oregon farm that she and her husband own where they raise sheep and cattle accompanied by beautiful photographs that she takes

2.  Ugich Konitari of Gappa .  Her blog is from India and her long posts on the culture and life in that country are fascinating.  Her mastery of the English language is much better than mine.

3.  Anne of 20th Century Woman writes from Puget Sound where she lives on an Island.  She and her husband also have a home in Alaska and you can learn much about her life there by reading her well written posts.

4.  Paula of Bird's On a Wire has just celebrated her first Blogiversary.  Her writing is excellent and her subject matter is eclectic.  She is very interested in politics.

5.  Hattie of Hattie's Web   has the intriguing sub-title on her web of "I've forgotten more than you'll ever know."  After reading her web, you will probably agree with her.

6.  Mary Ellen of Xtreme English is well read and feisty.  She calls it like it is.   We share the fact that we both have cochlear implants.

I do hope that when you read this you will not omit the letter S from the last word in this award.  In my case it would probably be more accurate, but I will leave it as Scrap. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fairbanks Ice Festival and a Ha Ha

From the ridiculous to the sublime.  The photo of the 'Supremes' says it all.

Click to enlarge

Sculptures are always amazing, but when the artist uses a medium that won't last I am awed by the care they give to an impermanent work of art. 

No medium seems too far fetched for the sculptor.  Pictures of sculptures made of sand, vegetables, pumpkins, bales of hay and others appear in our e-mails with regularity.  When I get photos of these I wonder how the artists must feel when their sculpture disintegrates or melts away.  So much effort is put into the 
details and I think it would break my heart to see it vanish before my eyes.

Many of you have probably seen ice sculptures at banquets or weddings, but they are usually something simple like a Swan. Thank goodness for the camera that enables these works of art to be shared and preserved for future viewing.     

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama Speaks Up (Edited)

I just finished watching the President as he spoke at a Town Hall meeting in New Hampshire.  I think he is finally getting the message that the Republicans are not remotely interested in bi-partisanship and are out to defeat every proposal he makes; even when it was originally their idea.  If people would just pay attention to their hypocrisy the next election would be a cake-walk for the Democrats.

The Republicans complain that they have good ideas for health care reform and that they are ignored.  I have not studied their proposals in depth, but it seems obvious that the only two reforms that they have offered are patently unworkable.  

The first one they love is Tort Reform.  (Lawyers give more money to the Democrats than the Republicans).  It's not a new idea and has been tried in several states over a period of years.  I wrote about that in a previous blog so I will just state that it has been proven to be a failure in bringing down the cost of health care.  Their argument should be with the Insurance companies for the outrageous premiums charged to the doctors.

The second reform the Repubs.  are gung-ho about is being able to buy insurance coverage across State lines.  I will admit that I have not read an analysis on how this would work, but it seems to me that there would be a big problem with the 'States Rights' that they are so fond of.  For example,  a couple buy health insurance from a provider in Airzona because the premiums are cheaper and they live in a state where the cost of hospitalization is higher than that of Arizona.  Then one member of the household has a catastrophic illness that exceeds the amount allowed by the Arizona insurance company.  The couple are unable to pay the difference and the State of their residence would have to pay the hospital's loss out of their Medicaid funds.   How would this work?  The state that would reap the tax revenue from the Insurance company would be the one of the issuing company, yet the State that has to pay for the remaining expense would be the one the illness occurred in.   I have to admit that I am just floundering here, but I do see problems in this system. 

I doubt that this reform would reduce the overall cost of health care in the long run.  And without reducing the cost of health care, nothing will work.  The reasoning behind this idea is that it would foster competition.   I find that a trifle hard to believe considering the history of the health insurance industry.  They have reams of strategists figuring out how to squeeze more money from the system and a little competition won't change that.  It would take real competition from a low cost government system that anyone can join to make them lower their premiums.
(Did you say Public Option?) 
Will some Republican explain to me how either one of their proposals will solve the problem of insuring everyone or bringing down the obscene cost of our health care?  Some idiots actually have made the claim that the Republican plan would cost nothing and insure everyone.  How well did that work with their  Prescription Drug plan?  I quit believing in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus a long time ago,  but apparently some of our Republican Congressmen haven't given up dreaming the impossible.

Two other things that gall me about the Republican claim.  They still maintain that we have the best health care system in the world.  If you are a member of Congress, that is true.  (Of course, they have a government run system.)  However, for 95% of Americans our system stinks.

And that brings me to the second irritant.  The claim that the current legislation is Socialist.  It patently is NOT.  The government will not be hiring the doctors or running the hospitals as it would if the pending bill was a Socialist plot.

So until you can come up with a workable system for health care reform will you Republicans please just shut up and get out of the way.