The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

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There was a moment during the previous Trumpcare vote, when John McCain made his dramatic entrance and gave the melodramatic thumbs down, when Democrats spontaneously burst into applause. And minority leader Chuck Schumer angrily waved for them to stop, which was almost like someone hit the “mute” button. Schumer must have known that Trumpcare was not yet dead and gloating was premature. Sure enough, Trumpcare is back. And it is actually closer to passing now than it was back then. Lisa Murkowski, who with Susan Collins so resolutely stood against it then, is wavering now. It is impossible to read McCain’s intentions. His maverickness has always been an illusion. Will he waver until the last moment and deal Trumpcare another deathblow so he can bask in the glow of public praise? Or will he do his usually hyper-partisan right-wing thing and do what he has always done: vote right along party lines? Who can tell.

There’s a moment in Hillary Clinton’s book “What Happened” where she mentions that at the inauguration McCain came up to her and hugged her, and had the same horrified expression on his face that she had. I’m sure this happened, but I’ve always been fascinated by how politicians can do and say such awful things to one another – and then talk about each other’s integrity. McCain’s behavior towards Clinton has been vile for many years. From Benghazi and emails through the entire campaign. And yet, Hillary considers him a friend. I know this sort of thing has been the gold standard for bipartisanship (fight during the day, share dinner and drinks at night), but when so much it at stake, how do politicians separate their personal feelings? How do they compartmentalize watching people do horrible things and go grab a smoke after? How does one continue to respect a man like John McCain?

Speaking of vile and no respect: Bernie. Yesterday socalannie posted a tweet from Sasha Stone, founder of the entertainment website awardsdaily.com.

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That’s a perspective on Sanders and his Revolution I hadn’t appreciated until Stone articulated it. And suddenly, so much of it makes sense. Bernie is the alien from “Aliens,” a parasite with acid for blood that latches on to a host because it can’t survive on its own, and then eats its way out through the chest cavity. It lays eggs (Bernie’s loyal minions like Nina Turner and Susan Sarandon), who do their own damage by killing their own hosts. And the cycle continues. Of course Sanders’ revolution is against Democrats. He and his believers have dedicated more time to attacking Democrats than Republicans and Trump. And they are doing it by infiltrating the party and are now eating their way out. Sadly the Democratic party is allowing it. Last week Sanders managed to bully a lot of leading Democrats, like Kirsten Gillibrand, Corey Booker and Kamala Harris into supporting his single payer plan, a plan each and everyone one of them knows has zero chance of passing. And a plan that they announced just as the newest version of Trumpcare, conceived by Lindsey Graham, began to dig its way out of the grave. Sanders convinced Democrats to take their eyes off the undead with the usual promises of magical unicorns. Even Bernie Bro Matty Yglesias tweeted that October 1 – the day after reconciliation of ACA repeal ends – would have been a better day to introduce single payer. Now it’s impossible to tell if ACA will survive. And no, contrary to what Bernie Bros maintain, death of ACA will not lead to single payer.

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On the plus side, NY Times’ Glenn Thrush announced he quit Twitter. Sayonara baby.

What’s your minds Widdershins? This is an open thread.

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Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope you had a good International Women’s Day. I saw quite a few women wearing red at my client site last week in honor of “A Day without a Woman.” It was inspirational. I think there are several more actions planned from the organizers of the Women’s March, so stay tuned!

Now to the title of my post. This comes from some research I’ve been doing on the human brain, and the way it works to keep us alive and protect us from threats. This won’t be a super-science-y piece – more of a meditation on the state our country is in, and how it’s possible for sub-human cretins like Drumpf, Bannon and their minions to win even one vote, much less 60-odd million.

As I’m sure many of you know better than I, there are older, more primitive parts of our brains that only exist to make sure we quickly and instinctively respond to threats. From an evolutionary perspective, these parts of the brains are extremely important. They initiate the “fight or flight” response, which actually also includes a “freeze” as well, giving us microseconds to decide either to go to war, or to retreat.

After millions of years of evolution, we actually developed the capability to process these responses and evaluate them. Ah, the frontal lobe! Human beings develop this part of the brain in young adulthood. At least, some human beings do.

…It organizes responses to complex problems, plans steps to an objective, searches memory for relevant experience, adapts strategies to accommodate new data, guides behavior with verbal skills and houses working memory. Its orbitofrontal circuit manages emotional impulses in socially appropriate ways for productive behaviors including empathy, altruism, interpretation of facial expressions. Stroke in this area typically releases foul language and fatuous behavior patterns [bolding mine].

My argument today is that Drumpf and his supporters have either not developed their frontal lobes, or they have developed them, but are unable to use them. Their amygdalae are in charge, causing them to respond unthinkingly to perceived threats without the calming influence of the orbitofrontal circuit. This inability to counter the constant screaming of “Danger, Will Robinson!” makes them extremely susceptible to manipulation by other like-minded people, who deeply understand the constant state of anxiety in which these primitive brains exist.

In other words…they are stupid. And because they’re stupid, they’re evil.

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-Trump Chuckie

On March 4th, The Thing in the White House sent out a bunch of angry tweets blasting the previous President for wiretapping Isengard Trump Tower. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Then 30 mins later: “How long has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” When asked to clarify this insanity, The Thing’s minions really could do nothing but heee and hawww. The Thing read it somewhere, they said. NY Times! Louise Mensch! BBC! Naturally once reporters dug deeper, they found that NO, none of those reports talked Trump Obamaabout wiretapping. Mensch broke the story on her right-wing blog HeatStreet on November 7th about the FISA warrant, but all she said was that a FISC court granted permission to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.” In question was a mysterious communication between two Russian banks and a server in Trump Tower. (David Corn of Mother Jones broke the story of the two banks and Trump Tower, but all media dismissed it as a bizarre conspiracy theory a couple of weeks earlier.) In the follow-up reports to Mensch’s story, BBC and the failing NY Times confirmed a FISA warrant, but nobody mentioned wiretaps… except Breitbart and then The Thing in its Tweets. Ahhhhh, the plot thickens. Where did Breitbart get the information about wiretaps at Trump Tower and did The Thing just leak top secret information in a series of Tweets? Sure seems that way. Will anybody hold him accountable? LOL.

There are fleeing moments when it feels like Lady Lindsey Graham and Hero John McCain might hold The Thing accountable for the numerous impeachable offenses it has committed. Earlier today Graham tweeted: “An attack on one political party should be considered an attack on all. We must push back on Russian election interference at home & abroad.” That sounds great! However it should also be noted that Graham had lunch with The Thing earlier in the day.

“Great lunch meeting with ‪@POTUS today. President Trump is strongly committed to rebuilding our military which is music to my ears. (1/3)

President Trump is in deal-making mode and I hope Congress is like-minded. (2/3)”

“How good was the meeting with ‪@POTUS?

I gave him my NEW cell phone number.”

Somebody responded: “1-800-DOOR-MAT?” And then “You, sir, are a profile in courage.”

And that, folks, is Lindsey Graham summarized in a handful of tweets. We have to get used to the notion that no, Graham and McCain won’t hold The Thing accountable for anything until they’ve gotten what they want from him: tax cuts for the rich, bigger military, gutting ACA, etc. etc. etc. Then maybe, possibly, once that’s all done, they’ll throw The Thing overboard.

Speaking of handing out cell numbers, can anybody afford a new cell phone after Republicans pass Trumpcare? Jason Chaffetz, the man who investigated Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails to death, and who doesn’t think there is any reason to look into Trump’s connections to Russia, went on CNN to start selling Trumpcare to America.

Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so, maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions for themselves.

This is, of course, patently absurd. An iPhone unsubsidized by a phone company might cover one month’s premium for a single person. How many iPhones does Chaffetz think people buy? Of course, Chaffetz himself doesn’t have to buy his own phone. He gets one from work. His cell bill gets covered too. “How much does an iPhone cost” is the new “How much is a gallon of milk?” and Chaffetz doesn’t know  the cost of either.

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Overall Trumpcare is going to gut poor people into oblivion. It gives tax breaks to the rich, provides insurance companies with tax deductions on CEO salaries, will raise costs of premium, reinstate caps, gut preexisting conditions. Millions of people will lose their insurance. Many of them were Trump voters. Sadly many of them were not. But they will suffer also.

Why do Republicans hate poor people? It’s a question that has been asked often and there are many answers. As it came up again in the current Trumpcare discussion, I was reminded of a scene in E.M. Forster’s great novel “Howards End.” In the 1910 novel ForsterForster explored 3 groups of people from 3 different classes: the extremely wealthy and conservative Wilcoxes, upper middle class but liberal Schlegels, and poor but aspiring for something bigger Basts. The Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, try to help poor Leonard Bast, but their well-meaning interventions in his life, as well as not-well meaning interventions from the Wilcoxes, prove disastrous. He loses his job as a clerk in an insurance company after following bad advice from patriarch Henry Wilcox. When the impetuous Helen (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the magnificent film, with Emma Thompson as Margaret) tries to make her case for helping the poor to the condescending 1%-er Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins in the film), the following exchange takes place. Written in 1910, “Howards End”is still relevant in 2017.

From Chapter 22

He [Henry Wilcox] raised his finger. “Now, a word of advice.”

“I require no more advice.” [said Helen]

“A word of advice. Don’t take up that sentimental attitude over the poor. See that she doesn’t, Margaret. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is. As civilisation moves forward, the shoe is bound to pinch in places, and it’s absurd to pretend that any one is responsible personally. Neither you, nor I, nor my informant, nor the man who informed him, nor the directors of the Porphyrion, are to blame for this clerk’s loss of salary. It’s just the shoe pinching–no one can help it; and it might easily have been worse.”

Helen quivered with indignation.

“By all means subscribe to charities–subscribe to them largely– but don’t get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes, and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question–except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always have been and always will be. Point me out a time when men have been equal–”

“I didn’t say–”

“Point me out a time when desire for equality has made them happier. No, no. You can’t. There always have been rich and poor. I’m no fatalist. Heaven forbid! But our civilisation is moulded by great impersonal forces” (his voice grew complacent; it always did when he eliminated the personal), “and there always will be rich and poor. You can’t deny it” (and now it was a respectful voice)–“and you can’t deny that, in spite of all, the tendency of civilisation has on the whole been upward.”

“Owing to God, I suppose,” flashed Helen.

He stared at her.

“You grab the dollars. God does the rest.”

It was no good instructing the girl if she was going to talk about God in that neurotic modern way. Fraternal to the last, he left her for the quieter company of Mrs. Munt.

[…]

“Don’t ever discuss political economy with Henry,” advised her sister. “It’ll only end in a cry.”

“But he must be one of those men who have reconciled science with religion,” said Helen slowly. “I don’t like those men. They are scientific themselves, and talk of the survival of the fittest, and cut down the salaries of their clerks, and stunt the independence of all who may menace their comfort, but yet they believe that somehow good–it is always that sloppy ‘somehow’ will be the outcome, and that in some mystical way the Mr. Basts of the future will benefit because the Mr. Brits of today are in pain.”

Howards End

Also, in brief: Richard Steele, the British spy who wrote the infamous “pee pee” dossier, has resurfaced. While American Senators want to hear him testify about what he knows.

WikiLeaks is dumping top secret CIA documents.

And contrary to earlier denials that he’s never met the Russian Ambassador (a man nobody has ever met), a newly unearthed article in the Wall Street Journal from last April says that Trump met with the Russian Ambassador and greeted him warmly.

What’s on your mind Widdershins? This is an open thread.

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Good (?) Monday Widdershins

Due to mb being very, very busy with real life and stuff I’m putting this post up to move things along and to provide us with some further topics of discussion.

Trump says give more $$s to defense

 

His orangeness has decided to give D.o.D. a 10% increase in its budget because, you know, there’s never enough money to hand out to Lockheed Martin, Boeing Aerospace, Raytheon, General Dynamics and the like.

President Trump will propose a federal budget that dramatically increases defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, according to an administration official.

The proposal represents a massive increase in federal spending related to national security, while other priorities, especially foreign aid, will see significant reductions.

Yeah because foreign aid is such a large part of the federal budget.

How much of the federal budget goes to foreign aid?

What’s your best guess? 10 percent? 20 percent? 1 percent?

If you’re like most Americans, you probably guessed wrong.

In December, the Kaiser Family Foundation polled 1,505 people. Only 1 in 20 knew the right answer: less than 1 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid. The average respondent estimated that 26 percent went toward assisting other countries.

What’s more, our ignorance colors the way we think about foreign spending. Fifty-six percent of the poll respondents thought the U.S. spends too much on foreign aid. Once they were told that the U.S. spends less than 1 percent of the federal budget on foreign aid, only 28 percent still thought the nation was overspending.

Going back to the WaPo piece:

“We are going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump said. “We can do so much more with the money we spend.”

The White House did not specify how Trump’s budget would address mandatory spending or taxes, promising that those details would come later. The vast majority of federal spending comes from programs Trump can’t touch with his budget. Social Security costs were approximately $910 billion last year, and Medicare costs outpaced defense spending with a total cost of $588 billion in 2016. Medicaid, interest payments on existing debt, and miscellaneous costs made up an additional $1.2 trillion combined.

Ah the old familiar “do more with less” axiom.  Generally it meant that shit just piled up and got backlogged as agencies tried to prioritize the elements of their mission.

More bomb threats against Jewish community centers and schools

More fallout from the alt-right/neo nazis?

Jewish facilities around the nation were rocked by yet another wave of bomb threats Monday, forcing evacuations in at least 12 states.

At least 20 Jewish community centers and day schools in Alabama, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and Delaware received threatening phone calls, The Huffington Post has confirmed.

This is the fifth wave of threats JCCs have received since the start of the new year.

I just don’t understand it.  What is the point in threatening children?  You want to discuss terrorism Donnie, try the home-grown version.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said that sometimes Jewish community centers and day schools are either “co-located” or near each other. “It is deeply troubling to see that these anti-Semites are expanding their scope to target a broader section of the Jewish community,” Greenblatt said. “These JCCs often house preschools and elder care programs and they often house after-school activities for teenagers.”

There have now been more than 160 bomb threats made to over 60 Jewish community centers since January.

There’s much more at the HuffPo link including a graphic of the number of threats against JCCs.

Big surprise from the Justice Dept (not)

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (the turd) is already hard at work doing what he does best:  turning back civil rights to the “golden era” say around 1850 or so.

The Department of Justice is reversing the federal government’s position in an important voting rights case, involving a Texas voter ID law. The switch was not unexpected following the election of Donald Trump and confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Both Trump and Sessions claim voter fraud is a major problem and have backed voter ID laws.

DOJ says it will file a motion later Monday asking a federal court to dismiss the department’s earlier claim that the ID law was enacted with the intention of discriminating against minority voters. That claim was made by the Obama administration as part of a broader legal challenge to the law, which is among the strictest in the nation.

I wish I had Adobe Photoshop or something similar so I could put Col. Cornpone’s face on a garden gnome since that’s about what he reminds me of.

In a written statement, Gerry Hebert of the Campaign Legal Center, which represents some of the plaintiffs, said, “I am appalled and disgusted that DOJ would abandon their claims, that they have advocated for the last six years, that TX’s photo ID law was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose.”

A federal appeals court last year agreed that the law had a discriminatory impact, but asked the lower court to reconsider its findings that the law was passed with a discriminatory intent.

A few other news items in my RSS feed:

Trump urges insurers to work together to ‘save Americans from Obamacare’

Yeah because 20 million people now having health care…SAD!

Link to Dubya’s comments on the press in a democracy

Alrighty folks.   This was literally thrown together in about twenty to thirty minutes so ignore any typos, bad grammar or anything else that reflects a general sloppiness on the part of the writer. 

Of course it’s an open thread.

 

head-in-hand-regret

Can I blame it on being drunk?

Good Weekend to you Widdershins!

Well the talking yam has yet to take office but the congress critters have already started their session and naturally the first thing the Repubtards did, right out of the gate, was to start their “let’s kill obamacare” stuff.  Paul “grannystarver” Ryan says things are too urgent and just can’t wait.  Now thatone-mistake may be because he’s afraid of what folks and other congress critters might see.  And indeed they would be correct in wanting to at least find a replace before they decide to repeal.  Still, it’s going to be those angry folks who pulled the lever for Trump who will regret their vote the most.

Across rural America, the Rust Belt, Coal Country and other hotbeds of Trumpism, voters have repeatedly expressed frustration that the lazy and less deserving are getting a bigger chunk of government cheese.

I would say that getting some cheese is better than getting no cheese. What’s the old saying:  Act in haste-repent in leisure?  They’ll have plenty of time now for the new version:  Act in haste-die without healthcare.  So these folks are going to experience regret.

one-day-look-backverb (used with object), regretted, regretting.

1. to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.):

He no sooner spoke than he regretted it.

2. to think of with a sense of loss:  to regret one’s vanished youth.

noun
3. a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.
4. a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.
Coincidentally, there are just tons and tons of songs about regret(s).  They may be regrets of the romantic variety or not.  Still, they are songs of regret and all of those folks who never thought Trump or the Repubtards meant it about killing off Obamacare will have lots of time on their hands to experience their regrets.  So, I’ve put together a few regretful (wink) songs below and hope you’ll add some of your own.
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(1) Chasing Pavements ~ Adele
(2) Cut Here ~ The Cure
(3) I can never go home anymore ~ The Shangri-Las
(4) I Told You So ~ Carrie Underwood
(5) Regret ~ LeToya Luckett
(6) I’m Sorry ~ Blake Shelton

* * * * *

Now for those of us who actually knew better than to believe a thing the yam or Sanders or anyone else if-id-knownsaid, we have our own special song.  We have no regrets about how we voted in November.

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Okay, those are my picks and I hope you will add some below.

 

GooooOOOOOOoooood Monday, all! Life has kept me from posting during this extremely fraught few weeks. It’s amazing to think back on all the things that have happened, but to summarize, the Orange Creamsicle has melted down.

I like to remind people that before the infamous Access Hollywood tape was leaked, revealing Drumpf as an self-described sexual predator, Hillary’s first debate performance had already started to cause the Donald’s precarious cool to dissolve into hot Tasmanian rage, and his poll numbers to tank. A dizzying and devastating tumble of bad news, including leaked tax returns, terrible 3 am tweets, 2 more awful debates, 11 women (so far) coming forward and stating that he did, in fact, molest them as he described in that tape, and unpatriotic whining about the election being “rigged,” applied so much heat he could no longer stand. “What a world, what a world, and what a nasty woman!” he cried from a puddle of man-tan, as he feebly swore to sue everyone and everything that had been mean to him. Yes, just like he sued the New York Times for “illegally” obtaining his tax return from 1995! Oh, wait….

So now that the inevitable Drumpf implosion has happened, leaving Our Girl up 6 points in the national average (and an unprecedented 12 points in one new poll), I think it’s safe to start imagining the possibilities of the Titanium Pantsuit attaining the office of the President of the United States, in a historic win as the first woman president ever.

A preview from 2008….

Read the rest of this entry »

***WARNING: This post is about mammograms, and contains many references to female breasts.
If you are not comfortable with either or both of these, please do not read further. ***

Good afternoon, Widdershins. Today, I’m going to take a break from political coverage, and share a recent experience I had while take care of my scary lady parts.

In January, I had my first mammogram. As a woman of 47 (soon to be 48) whose mother tragically died of breast cancer at the age of 54, I have been gently and lovingly pressured by my friends to start doing this yearly, “just in case.” So, I finally sucked it up and went through with it. I felt the smug satisfaction of the virtuous as I had my breasts smashed flat and x-rayed from every conceivable angle. Said satisfaction even managed to overcome the indignity and pain I suffered, but not the twinge of worry when the tech told me that because I had never had one before, it was likely I’d get called back for a follow-up visit. “Don’t freak out,” she told me. “It will most likely be precautionary.”

Sure enough, I received a letter a week or so later, telling me that I had something that maybe, possibly could be a concern. “A copy of this letter has been sent to your gynecologist,” the letter went on, “who will call you and explain what the concern is, and what further examinations you’ll need.” Easier said than done – it took almost a month for the hospital to send my doctor the information she needed, and then another week or so before we spoke and she explained what it was. “I’m 99% sure it’s nothing,” she said, “but you should go back. Just in case.”

Well, after a couple of failed attempts, I finally got an appointment that worked with my schedule. Even though my foot is broken, I have some mobility and can drive short distances, so last Friday, off I limped to get my two follow-ups – an ultrasound and a more focused set of x-rays. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Au contraire. I arrived at the hospital about a half hour early, as requested. I checked in and was kept waiting until about twenty minutes past my appointment time. I was then brought into the room by the technician, who began haranguing me about “waiting so long” to schedule my follow-up. I told her that I couldn’t have come earlier, but she interrupted me and started arguing with me. I said, “Wait a minute. Are you seriously stepping up to me because you think I could have come here earlier, based on nothing?!” This stopped her verbal attacks, but she took her nastiness out on my left breast, contorting and smashing it in more ways than I thought possible. It was quite painful and took almost 45 minutes. I staggered back to the waiting room to await the ultrasound. “Well,” I thought, “I’ve had ultrasounds before and they didn’t hurt. This is probably going to be fine.”

Wrong again! The ultrasound technician pressed hard and repeatedly on my left breast in just the areas that had been flattened and manipulated by the mammograms. This took about 15 minutes. She then called in the doctor, who did the same for about 20 minutes. After the doctor reviewed the pictures, she then came back and told me she felt reasonably confident that what she was seeing was scar tissue from my breast reduction, especially since it hadn’t grown for six months. But, since she didn’t have a baseline from which to work, she wanted me to have more x-rays. So, back I went to the kind and gentle mammogram tech, who continued gleefully and unapologetically torturing my poor beleaguered boob for another 15 minutes.  Finally the doctor was satisfied, and I gingerly strapped on my bra and, in great discomfort, went back home to work.

Read the rest of this entry »


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