Monday, June 26, 2017

The Health Care Bill from Hell

If someone says I write “fake news,” I know they actually don't read my columns. I spend an inordinate amount of time researching the material I quote in my column. Over-all, I'm just expressing my opinion, but my opinions are based on facts. That's why I felt it necessary to read the Republican Senators' health care Bill that finally made it out of the closet last week. I could not read it. I tried and was nearly reduced to tears. After reading so many, “strike the period at the end of paragraph 4 in section 6, place a comma, then insert the language from section 96 of U.S. Tax Code blah, blah, blah,” I became dizzy. Turns out I'm not alone. No Senators have read it, not even Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House. He said, “I didn't read it in it's entirety, but I don't have a problem with it.” As they say on Facebook, OMG!

First, the Bill was not written by a Senator or anyone that you elected. Not a single Senator has admitted to crafting the bill. It was written by staffers, mostly young, born of privilege, and never had to pay for health care in their life. How do I know this? I know this from my 45 years of experience in working in political campaigns. The sons and daughters of the largest contributors get the staffer jobs!

When I first looked at this bill, I was taken aback when I read the title, “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.” Fancy title, sounds good, huh? Better care than what? Better care than Otto Warmbier received in North Korea? Reconciling what? When one thinks of “reconciliation,” we think of two people, or two groups becoming friends again. Ain't gonna happen if antics like what went on with the writing of this bill continue. Of course in this context they meant reconciliation of the House bill that Trump called “mean.” Actually, I don't know what it means. Why didn't they call it what it is—Health Care Bill from Hell!

The one thing made most clear in the bill is about abortion. You can tell what is most important to Republicans, or what they want to hang their hat on with their base, by the number of times it was repeated in this bill. Yes, we get it! Not a penny, not a dime, will be spent to perform abortions! And it never has, at least since the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976. And while we're on the subject, Planned Parenthood NEVER paid for abortions with Federal funds. Abortion and Planned Parenthood is the Republican bogieman.

The other thing made perfectly clear is that each state will receive a certain amount of money, just a piddly amount at that, to manage Medicaid. Then the piddly amount will be cut each year until the year 2023, it will no longer exist. That is just six years away, folks! Six years! Your Mother is now in a nursing home subsidized by Medicaid. She is 85 years old. In six years, she'll be 91. Are you prepared to pay for her care in a nursing home when Medicaid funds are cut off? Are you prepared to take care of her in your home? If the answer is “no” to these two questions, you need to take to the streets and stop this travesty. If you are aging, you may need nursing home care in the future. Unless you are very wealthy, you need to take that option off the table and put Dr. Kavorkian's number on speed-dial.

Here's another example of Medicaid being cut off or severely cut. You or a family member has a child born with a serious birth defect or gets cancer. You are not a wealthy family and Mom has to quit work to care for the child. The child will die without the specialized treatment. The child will die, the child will die!

The examples I cited above are the unintended consequences of cutting Medicaid funding. I would like to think nobody wants to throw Mama in the street or cause sick children to die. We all know the real reason the Republicans are so bent on cutting Medicaid. We've all heard it thousands of times in one form or another, and in not so subtle terms--- “I don't want my tax dollars paying for all those Black women having babies.” Substitute any minority for the term “Black.” If you say you've never heard something to that effect, I would say you have been hiding in a hole your entire life. Next, you will tell me you've never heard that all people who get food stamps drive Cadillacs, or buy steak and lobster.

I know my words are harsh, but it's the “harsh truth.” Another harsh truth is that if Trump's mouth is moving, he's telling a lie. During his campaign at rallies day after day, he said, “I will never cut Medicare or Medicaid.” Gullible me believed him. I already knew that cutting these programs were Paul Ryan's dream. When Trump was elected, that promise is the one thing that made his election tolerable for me. You may say that Medicare is not being cut. Yes it is! Those folks like George and I who have Medicare Advantage through his retirement, as an insurance supplement (that we pay for) will see our premiums increased and coverage sliced. So don't perpetuate the lie that Medicare is not being touched.

Why are the Republicans willing to do such great harm to so many American people? So they can give millionaires and billionaires a trillion (with a T) dollar tax cut. We must stop this insanity and insist on Medicare for ALL!

There was one thing I found amusing in the bill from hell. “The tanning tax is repealed and no taxes for services performed after September 30, 2017.” This gives an all new meaning to the term, “kissing up to your boss.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Old Age Sucks!

I awoke one morning and suddenly I had a new identification. I was a “Senior.” Some call it the “Golden Years” but that term must have been coined by a young person. When your health starts deteriorating, there is little golden about it. Let's just call it what it is—OLD! Long after I reached the age I could eat from the senior menu, I refused. That was for “old” people and I wasn't old. I threw away all mail advertisements from AARP, thinking “I ain't old.” I don't even know exactly when I went from being young, to being “young at heart,” a polite way of saying she's “too old to cut the mustard anymore.” All I know is, I love eating from senior menu now.

WHEN YOUNGER people ask if I work and I reply, “I'm retired,” invariably their response is, “I can't wait to be retired!” I felt that way for many years, but I never considered what goes along with not having to be there when the bell rings. When all the stress of a job and running here and there at break neck speed is gone, your body says, “Now I, too, can relax.” That's when your body falls apart. All the aches, pains, and bothersome other ailments you have ignored for years suddenly take over your life. You realize that all the things you imagined you would be able to do if you were only retired is not your decision now, it is your body's.

BEING OLD has some definite advantages. You can think more of the past and the happy memories you have stored in your brain, because you don't have to spend time planning for the future. You are living in that future you always planned for. You can speak your mind unfiltered without fear of reprisal because that's what's expected from old people. You have more time to find things that are constantly getting lost. Your social calendar consists mainly of doctor's appointments and funerals. The funerals become more frequent the older you get. When you're old, it takes more strength and resilience than at any other time in your life.

THE BIGGEST disadvantage of being old is you are always a target for scammers and those that are willing (and ready) to take advantage of your kind nature. George and I recently had such an incident, and it not only changed the way I look at myself, but the way my children look at me. That's the most painful part. “Mama, I can't believe you, of all people, fell for that!” George and I have helped a long list of family and friends get through a tough time and to get back on their feet. Helping people gave us happiness and we never had a bad experience. Until now. I kinda looked at it as our legacy. Now that has been sullied by one instance of failing to do my due diligence.

THAT'S WHAT sucks about being old. If you make a mistake when you're young, your age is used as a defense. If you're old and make a mistake, people immediately wonder if you're losing it. I assure everyone, including my children and any grifter that sees me as a target, I have learned my lesson. I will no longer be helping people—perhaps only animals.

ONCE AGAIN, a lot happened in the news last week. Mike Pence created a Go Fund Me Account, but he calls it a personal PAC. He will use the money raised to pay for his legal counsel he hired to defend himself in this “Russia” thing. Trump is keeping his promise to create jobs, as evidenced by all the lawyers who have been hired by his administration.
TRUMP GAVE Cuba to Russia. He rolled back the deal President Obama made with Cuba and then spoke very inflammatory language to the Cuban government. In doing so, he drove them straight into Putin's arms. This was Marco Rubio's payback to continue to be Trump's ally in the Senate. The only people who are happy about this roll-back are Little Marco's supporters in Little Havana in Miami. Rubio's re-election is certainly not important to me, and compared to having Russia troops located 90 miles from our coast, it's not a good trade-off.

IT WAS revealed this week as I stated in a recent column, Trump was not vindicated. Instead, he is being investigated for Obstruction of Justice. To Trump I say, “Fire Robert Mueller! I double-dog dare you.”

MEANWHILE, thirteen Republican men are meeting behind closed doors preparing our new Health Care bill. When they are finished, we are told it will be voted on by using Mitch McConnel's nuclear option which would only require 60 Republican votes to pass, without the American people seeing it first. Remember when the bobble heads stood with Trump in the Rose Garden celebrating the passing of the great healthcare bill? Trump now says that was a bad bill and was “mean.” Expect no less from this bill. Sight unseen.

NOT ONLY are the Republicans shutting the American people out of having any say into crafting this all-important health care bill, the Democrats who were also elected to represent us, have not seen it either. It's supposed to be a part of the checks and balances but everything is out of balance. That's why, last week after a mentally ill gun nut opened fire on House Republicans, I wasn't the slightest bit phased by all the talk of ending the divisiveness, reaching across the aisle, toning down the vitriolic language, and all that other kumbaya crapola.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Trump is a Power Predator!

I start this week with a housekeeping item. Just so we're clear, I write an “opinion” column for this newspaper. It says so each week at the bottom of the column. And just in case you don't read small print, I named my column “Unfair and Unbalanced” just to assure there would be no misunderstanding of the nature of my column. Now that we have that out of the way.......

MEN, JUST skip over this next “opinion”. Unless you have ever worn a dress, you may not understand what I'm saying. Or, you may want to read it and then discuss it with your wife, mother, grown daughter, or sister.

LADIES, WHILE driving back from vacation last week, I listened to former FBI Director James Comey's testimony on XM-Radio. From the audio, I detected an awkwardness and shame in his voice. I got the distinct feeling I had heard stories like that before. It wasn't until I arrived home and was able to see Comey's face as he testified to various encounters with Trump, I started to understand. James Comey was the victim of a predator. Not the sexual predator we, as women, have either experienced or from stories heard from our girlfriends or female co-workers. A power predator. But make no mistake about it, the exact tactics were employed and nearly all women will recognize these tactics as something they experienced or that was confided to them by a friend.

IN A WORKPLACE setting where it's easy for a predator to thrive, the predator tells you what a great job you're doing repeatedly. Then they get you alone. The predator then requests you to do something, veiled in such language that the predator has deniability but you, as a woman, know exactly what was meant by that language. You are stunned! You stumble out trying to keep your composure. You ask yourself, “What just happened?” You know this is a “he said, she said” conversation but why would anyone believe you over the boss? In Comey's situation, he was dealing with the President of the United States, the biggest boss of bosses. Comey knew when he heard the words “I hope you will let this thing go with General Flynn,” exactly what this power predator was asking him to do. Trump did not say, “let it go.” He said, “I hope.” As a life-long predator, Trump knew exactly what to say to maintain deniability.

THE MOST solid evidence I have that Comey was a victim of a predator was when he testified he told Attorney General Sessions to “never leave me alone with that man.” I recall two occasions over my working career when a co-worker made that same statement to me about her boss. I knew exactly the implication of what she was saying. In Comey's case, he knew the exact implication of what Trump was telling him.

JUST AS when a woman makes an allegation of sexual harassment, Comey was subjected to the same questions regarding his encounter with this power predator, “Why didn't you confront him?” “Why didn't you go to your boss?” It's easy to say what you'd do in this situation, but you don't know what you'd do unless you're confronted with it. This is all part of demonizing the victim and standard procedure by protectors of the predator.

LADIES, DOES this all sound familiar to you? If so, explain it to the men in your life.

SO WHO are you to believe? The man who has spent his life exhibiting the highest integrity, or the man who bragged you can be a predator if you are a star, created a fraudulent University to bilk innocent people, and one who seems to lie easier than tell the truth?
THE MOST recent lie Trump and his cronies have told is that he has been vindicated. No, he has not! This entire storm is far from being over. The way in which Comey handled his encounter with Trump assured us of having a Special Prosecutor who is immune to Trump's power predator behavior. There is so much more we need to know. We have lost sight of what this is really all about--the interference of our democratic elections by Russia. We at least need to find out why Trump and Putin have such a bromance going on.

A SPECIAL Prosecutor does not have boundaries of what he can investigate. You may get answers to questions you never thought about. He is not limited to collusion or the “Flynn thing.” An investigation can take a Special Prosecutor anywhere. Just ask Bill Clinton. He didn't even know Monica Lowinski when his investigation began. In fact, most people do not remember what the initial investigation was about.

WHAT'S UP with the gnats? I thought we lived above an invisible line that gnats wouldn't cross. On Friday at the Farmer's Market on the square, I thought I would have to cut a hole in the seat of my pants to keep them out of my face!

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Week Without Trump

When I submitted my column last week to the Editor, I lamented how jaded I was writing about Trump's inexplicable behavior week after week. He suggested I write another story about my chickens when I was growing up. I have pondered on that, after all, there is no shortage of Trump scandals this week and that story needs to be told. I finally decided to get Trump off my brain and leave for my vacation in a better mood. However, instead of writing about chickens, I'm going to write about my hogs and pigs.

I'VE WRITTEN before about being the caboose of my eight siblings. It was like being an only child in some ways. We lived in a remote rural area in Southeast Georgia in the pine forests and I had to create my own recreation and entertainment. Most weeks, the only person I saw was the mailman. He always gave me a piece of Dentyne gum. I wasn't ungrateful, but I sure wish he liked Juicy Fruit gum. Dentyne burned my mouth and didn't hold it's flavor.

HOGS AND PIGS are much more entertaining than chickens. Chickens are only good for playing hide and seek. Free range chickens can make nests anywhere. The only way to find the nest is to lie in wait and listen for the “cackle” indicating they have just laid an egg and they are trying to locate the flock. You have to be fast to head in the general direction of the “cackle” and then search. Some times you find the nest or some times it takes days of listening and looking. In any event, you have little personal interaction with the chickens.

AH, BUT HOGS...they appreciate being scratched with a stick or given snacks. We had a huge china berry tree in our back yard. The hogs would show up like clockwork each day to take their afternoon siesta in the cool, loose dirt in the shade of the tree. And that's where you would find me; right there, playing with them. Sometimes I would lay my head on the soft stomach of a sow and take a nap with them. As for hogs being entertaining, the funniest sight is when you rub hot cayenne pepper in their snout. They place their snout in the dirt and plow up the yard as fast as a tractor. But the absolute funniest sight is when you rub cayenne pepper in their butt area. They sit up on their rear, front two legs drawn up and in, and use their hind legs to scoot across the ground at warp speed. If you ever try this, I suggest you wear Depends.

MY ATTACHMENT to pigs could possibly be explained by this event. When I was five years old, my Daddy made a trade of his expert mechanical work for a FIVE footed pregnant sow. Yes, that's right—a hog with five feet. One day, my Daddy slipped in the house and whispered for me to come with him and said, “Don't tell your Mama.” When we arrived at the hog lot, the sow was writhing in pain. My Daddy said, “The pigs are stuck in her and my hand is too big to pull them out. If we don't hurry, she will die.” He then explained what I had to do. On that day, I delivered five pigs from a five-footed hog. At that moment, I felt the emotion “proud.” My daddy cautioned me again, “Don't tell Mama.” You see, my Mama was protective of me about such adult things. Arriving home, it took only about two minutes before I blurted out my proud accomplishment.

I TENDED to my special pigs every day, and even though they had a special place in my heart, I knew we would eat them one day. That's the way it was. That was survival and I didn't question it. And those were good porkchops!

ONE DAY the hogs wandered off. I tracked them down the sandy dirt road until their tracks left the road where they obviously went into the woods. I went back home and got a corncob from the crib and used my handle-less axe head to chop off corn. I dropped the corn along the road, reasoning that the hogs would eat the corn trail home. Pretty clever, huh? Sure enough, they returned home and I assumed they ate the corn. The next day, the county motor grader scrapped the road. A few weeks later, my Daddy came home from work and said, “I just can't figure out why corn is growing down the side of the road.” He was very perplexed and kept wondering out loud about it. I thought it was in my best interest to keep quiet about the corn trail because Daddy was very strict about wasting the feed for the animals.

WE LEFT that sandhill when I was ten years old and moved to civilization. It was like moving to a new world. I never looked back, but I know those years had a profound effect on who I am today. I do not like solitude and I love being with, and interacting with people. I apologize to the pigs about the cayenne pepper. Please, no emails from animal rights activists.

AS I WRITE this, we are with our family on top of a mountain, in a cabin, in the Great Smokies in Western Carolina. The three teenagers were mortified to learn there is no television, no internet/WiFi, and no cell phone signal. Within an hour of arrival, their parents went to the closest Walmart and bought a flat screen smart TV, a DVR player, and lots of movies. As for George and I, we were happy as “pigs in slop” when we realized we could listen to XM Radio in our car.