Monday, February 27, 2017

"Damn the Taxes"--Save Our Hospital

Save the hospital!  Signs decorate lawns, roadsides, and storefronts all over Monroe County.  Strange, I haven’t seen a single “Don’t Save the Hospital” sign.  I don’t necessarily think that’s any indication of how the vote will go on March 21st, but I do think there are a tremendous amount of people who feel “damn the taxes” we need a hospital in our town! 

Last October, George had a prostate biopsy at the Dublin VA on a Friday.  He was advised to drink lots of water and he did.  On Sunday, he stopped urinating.  By Sunday night, he was in excruciating pain.  He told me to take him to the hospital.  Since George is not fond of medical facilities, I knew I had to move, and move fast.  I offered to call an ambulance and he said, “I can’t wait.”  I had not driven after dark in two years, but I did what I had to do, and that was 80-90 mph on the Interstate from High Falls to Forsyth.  As George was writhing in the seat next to me, I prayed a Sheriff’s deputy would stop me so I could hand George off to them.  We made it to Monroe County Hospital Emergency Room just before I had a nervous breakdown and before George passed out.  In minutes, he was greatly relieved by the speedy and professional care he received.

I tell you this story to point out that George could not have withstood the pain he was in if we had to drive to Griffin, Macon, or McDonough to receive care.  True, this was not a life or death situation, but to the one suffering, it can certainly feel that way.  Everybody you speak with has a similar story of the life-saving measures taken by the Monroe County Hospital.

Frankly, I find it appalling that we have reached this point in the history of our city and state.  I am appalled that nothing was done sooner.  In September 2014, I wrote, Unfortunately, Governor Deal turned the deal down by refusing to expand Medicaid. In doing so, he deprived healthcare to 600,000 of the working poor in Georgia and axed the 70,000 jobs that would have been created. Smaller and rural hospitals will be forced to close their doors or become nothing more than a “first aid” station without Medicaid expansion. Even our own Monroe County Hospital would have benefited from this deal.

In April 2016, I wrote “I am reminded of the statement made in 2014 by Georgia’s Republican Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens about Obama Care. He said, “We will do everything in our power to be obstructionist!”  Following that, Governor Deal refused to accept the $39 billion in Medicaid expansion funds.  Republican Governors in other red states also refused to expand Medicaid, except for a few like Kentucky, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  Those states, along with the blue states accepting the expansion are enjoying growth in health care today. 

Just remember this folks.  It is the Republicans in Atlanta that got us in this mess with our hospital in Monroe County.  Our share of that $39 billion Medicaid expansion would have been more than sufficient to cover indigent losses at Monroe County Hospital. I didn’t hear the Republicans on the Commission appealing to Governor Deal.  I haven’t heard a peep out of Senator John Kennedy, and Representatives Susan Holmes or Robert Dickey about introducing legislation to over turn the Governor’s misguided mistake to save our hospital. Now, our Republican led County Commissioners have to own this mess and fix it for their constituents.  Shutting it down is not an acceptable answer.

Many people who live at, or near the Bibb county line have the attitude, “Who cares about the people who find it hard to go to Macon; we live close to Macon so shut it down and save us a few dollars on our tax bill.  To that I say, skip a day on the golf course or a night at Natalia’s and that will pay for that small tax increase that will not only save lives but save the integrity of our town. (I sound like a liberal, don’t I?)

The real truth, if the hospital closes, we can never be issued another Certificate of Need due to a trauma center being within 50 miles of Forsyth.  There will never be another Monroe County Hospital.  In his Guest Column last week, Commissioner Ambrose stated, “If the Hospital closes, then the open market would rule.” That means a privately owned, for-profit Urgent Care Center is a possibility but never expect a hospital with full services and a 24-hour emergency room again. 

Furthermore, if you have so much faith in Trump and Congress replacing Obama Care with something so much better, put your vote where your mouth is. Vote Yes to save the hospital until the Republicans in Washington you so trust, have a chance to work their magic.  I’m sure if Trump has the idea of offering Georgia $39 billion dollars, Governor Deal will take it!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Trump's Smoke and Mirrors

Trump is the 45th President of the United States. I’m as tired of writing his name as you are seeing it.  Therefore, I will call him “45.”

45 is the master of “smoke and mirrors.”  If you aren’t quite clear on what that means, it is the obscuring or embellishing of the truth of a situation with misleading or irrelevant information.  That just about covers everything out of his mouth.

For example, in his press conference with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 45 chose to talk more about the “Wall” and his ban than our relations with Canada. (Smoke and Mirrors)

In the historical (and hysterical) press conference last week, 45 insisted that his National Security Advisor was a great man but was fired because he didn’t tell the truth to Vice-President Pence.  45 did not say if Flynn lied to him, though.  Somehow he knew the phone calls took place with the Russians because he said if Flynn had not called them, he would have.  Also, I can’t imagine 45 would get his panties in a wad over a lie.  The real truth is, Flynn got caught and 45 hates losers.  (Smoke and Mirrors)

“The leaks are real, but the news is fake.”  “The dishonest media is not my enemy; they are your enemy.”  If 45 is talking about his war with the media, he doesn’t have to answer questions about policy.  If he’s talking about the media, he doesn’t have to answer questions on his cozy relationship with Putin.  If he’s ranting and raving about the unfair media, he doesn’t have to talk about the obvious problems in his White House.  When asked a legitimate question, like “How will you stop the anti- Semitic attacks in our country,” 45 attacks and demeans the well-mannered correspondent, telling him to shut-up, and says he was an example of the unfair media.  (Smoke and Mirrors)

Talk about “smoke and mirrors,” the Boeing Show in North Charleston, SC, last week was laughable.  45 stood in front of Boeing’s new model of their Dreamliner 787-10, and talked about how he was bringing jobs back to America.  All of Boeing’s manufacturing facilities have always been in America.  He bragged about how many jobs have been created and taking all the credit.  Seriously, Boeing did not just decide on January 20 that they would make the Dreamliner in South Carolina.  It takes them years to design and manufacture an airplane.  Those planes would have been manufactured in America if Obama were still President or Howdy Dowdy.  You would never know that by listening to 45.  (Smoke and Mirrors)

The real kicker about the Boeing speech is 45 spent much time discussing the evils of foreign trade.  The truth is, the Boeing planes are assembled in this country, but nearly all the components come from many countries all over the world.  Furthermore, Boeing may end up losing jobs for America, considering Mexico flies Boeing planes exclusively and 45 promises to add a tariff to imported goods.  Then there’s the $16.6 billion deal Boeing has with Iran.  This deal was made possible by the lifting of sanctions on Iran in a deal negotiated by President Obama.  45 says he will not accept the deal.  In the end, Boeing may lose jobs for Americans rather than add them.  (Smoke and Mirrors)

I love AARP!  Membership fee of $16/year is the best investment you can make if you’re over 50 years old.  As the Republicans in Congress, led by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, push forward to dismantle Social Security and Medicare, as we know it, AARP has set the stage for one heck of a fight on behalf of seniors.  Their 30-second advertisement saturating television is brilliant!  It shows 45 at the podium during a campaign rally.  He emphatically says, “I am going to protect and save your Medicare and Social Security.”  AARP is making sure he cannot deny having made that promise. What I don’t understand is why he has not told Paul Ryan that he is wasting his time, that he will veto any bill changing Medicare and Social Security like he promised.

With the help of AARP, those young, legislative whippersnappers will learn that hell hath no fury like a scorned Granny, in a wheel chair, with a HurryCane.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Miller's Eyes and Trump's Hands

We met the new face of the Trump administration on all the Sunday talk shows last week.  He’s the last man standing after the chaos created by the Executive Order on the Muslim ban.  Who better to defend it than the man who wrote it?  As the smoke died away and the curtains were pulled back, you see the man behind Trump’s unsubstantiated theories from Muslim killers, Mexican rapists, and four million illegal voters.  Meet Trump’s new “real-ity” star and Senior White House Adviser, Stephen Miller.

 Speaking about the travel ban, on Face The Nation, as he stared at us with dead eyes and an emotionless face, he told us in straight forward language, “The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” 

We owe the creation of Stephen Miller to former Senator, now Attorney General Jefferson Beuregard Sessions.  Miller served on the staff of Senator Sessions for seven years and was known for his anti-immigration, anti-Mexican trade, pro-wall ideology.  He and Steven Bannon are soul mates.  He was a regular contributor to Steve Bannon’s Breitbart daily news show espousing his anti-immigrant views.  Now, after appearance on the Sunday shows, he and Donald Trump are soul mates.  In a tweet, Trump expressed how well Miller represented him.  A star is born.  Look out Bannon, look out Preibus, look out Kellyanne, and Mike Flynn. Somebody’s head is going to roll. There’s a new kid in town and he’s a “true believer.”

During the campaign, Miller became the teleprompter speechwriter for Trump.  Now the two are so interconnected that we can’t tell Trump’s words from Miller’s words.  However, we know that Miller and Trump share the same proclivity of bold claims without one shred of evidence.   On ABC’s George Stephanopolous, when asked about Trump’s allegation to U. S. Senators that illegal voters were bused into New Hampshire and that’s why he lost, Miller repeated that claim and when pressed repeatedly, he said, “It’s a wide known fact that happens.”  I guess it’s one of those things that exist without evidence.  I find it strange that when it comes to climate change, the right exclaims there are no facts to support that claim.  However, when it comes to buses full of thousands of people going to New Hampshire for the sole purpose of illegal voting, we should just take Miller and Trump’s word for it.  I see, said the blind man.

As disturbing as I find Miller’s words and beliefs, what I can’t get out of my head is his EYES!  You can’t rehearse that look.  It’s the look of an emotional disconnect or depression.  If you can identify a psychopath from a certain look, Miller has it. 

I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots more of Trump’s new star. I just implore you to keep a cross in your pocket and avert your eyes.

Last week, Donald Trump continued on his quest of winning over any group or groups who may be openly hostile to his planned authoritarian form of government.  First, he met with the military leaders and said all the things they wanted to hear.  At the pep rally, he promised,  “We’re going to rebuild the military and we will defeat those that don’t love our country.”  He had them eating out of his hand.  Another group conquered. 

 Next came the National Sheriff’s Association.  He was very complimentary to them, as they were to him.  When a sheriff complained about a State Senator in his state giving him a hard time about seizures and forfeitures, Trump wanted to know his name so he could destroy his career.  The Sheriffs laughed, Trump did not.  When Trump signaled his support of the seizures and forfeitures, he was scratching their back.  Another group down.

One of the Sheriffs at the meeting Trump was so keen on impressing was our very own, Sheriff J. C. Bittick.  I couldn’t help but notice the Sheriff’s close proximity to Trump in the meeting.  I knew he could tell me the answer to the burning question, “Are his hands as small as everyone says?”  I can’t repeat what he told me in confidence, but I’m sure if you asked him, he’d share his observation with you.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Playing Whack-A-Mole with Trump

Last August in this column, I played a game called “Whack-A-Mole” and received several inquiries as to what in the world was a “whack-a-mole (WAM)?”  WAM became known as an arcade game in which the player would whack a mole with a rubber mallet when he popped up randomly from holes, increasing in speed.  It has now become a term that describes a situation in which we can’t wrap our brains around one problem before another pops up. 

If you miss a week with Republican President Donald Trump and his Administration, you miss a lot.  Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to play Whack-A-Mole again!

Trump’s rein of chaos continued when he started the week by confusing and alarming the world by announcing a Muslim ban.  Even his staffers were confused.  His press secretary, Sean Spicer argued ad nauseam that it was not a ban.  I think, if it walks like a Muslim, talks like a Muslim, then, it’s a BAN (if they can’t come into our country).   Whack-A-Mole!

Last week, Trump’s National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn, stormed into the White House Press Briefing room and said; “We have put Iran on notice!”  If your child’s Principle sent home a note that read, “We have put Little Johnny on notice,” wouldn’t you want to know why?  No explanation still has not been forthcoming from General Flynn.  I think it’s just something he always longed to do.  Whack-A-Mole.

Sean Spicer shed some light on the “Iran on notice” situation.  At the press briefing the next day, he accused Iran of attacking a U. S. Navy vessel.  In his loudest outside voice, he called it an “act of war.”  When corrected by a journalist, in his lowest inside voice, he said, “Yes, it was a Saudi naval vessel.”   Big difference, Mr. Spicer.  Whack-A-Mole.

Not to be outdone, in defending the Muslim travel ban that is not really a Muslim ban, Kellyanne Conway referred to the Bowling Green (KY) Massacre and spoke of the Iraqis who masterminded it.  “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”  You bet your sweet bippy it didn’t get covered because it never happened!  Talk about alternative facts!  Whack-A-Mole.

Meanwhile, some world leaders got their long awaited law-of-the-jungle calls from Trump.  This is where Trump flexes his muscles and shows his dominance.  Did he, or did he not, tell the President of Mexico that he “may need to send troops down there? Either way, it monopolized the news all week. He picked a fight with our closest ally of all-time, the Prime Minister of Australia.  Trump told us it was because President Obama had promised to take in thousands of illegal aliens from Australia.  Turns out it was only 1200 refugees who had been waiting in an encampment on an island for three years to be moved.  Whack-A-Mole.

We know very little about Trump’s call with Putin of Russia because the recorder was cut off.  However, the one thing we do know, soon thereafter Trump issued an Executive Order that eased a sanction that would allow some American businesses to do business with the Kremlin’s Security Service, the FSB, formerly the KGB.  What kind of business?  We don’t know.  Whack-A-Mole.

The Muslim ban, that’s really not a ban, and the easing of sanctions for the Russian FSB, sound suspiciously like the ideology of Steve Bannon, Trump’s co-president.
Bannon does not echo what Trump says; it’s quite the opposite.  In this case, Bannon is the mole!  He has to go before we lose every ounce of respect in the world and any semblance of our democracy is left.  Whack him!

The only authority figure Republican President Trump respects, besides Putin, is himself. It never occurred to him that when his decree, i.e. Executive Order, banning travel to and from seven countries, may be considered unconstitutional.  When a Federal Judge halted the ban, which really wasn’t a ban, Trump disparaged him by calling him a “so called” Judge.  Add that to the ever-growing list of things you never thought you’d hear from a President’s mouth.  Forget the rubber mallet; take this sledgehammer.  Whack-A-mole.