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Real Scares For Halloween

happy halloween

Who could pass up the opportunity to post a column on things to be truly scared of Halloween? Not me for sure!

stop climate change denial
Earth’s survival
We are crapping badly in the only nest we have and refuse to clean it up! Also known as climate change. Reality is hard for those who believe that some magic man in the sky is going to save us from our own filthy habits. We only have so much water, so much oxygen, so much diversity of life and so much of a shield from our own sun. We are in the process of destroying all those yet many among us think nothing is wrong. Humans have some choices – they can start cleaning up their mess, find a new planet to move to really quickly or evolve as no species has before them.

Income and wealth inequality.
So what if all the earth’s wealth ends up in a few hands? Something like 80 individuals own over half of the earth’s wealth. But humans have an innate sense of fair play and at some point there will be a cataclysmic change to bring things back into line. Or we could do it through processes we have set up already, peacefully.

reagan on guns
Gun violence
Did you ever think that your neighbor may be the guy with a cache of guns and an axe to grind? Or maybe even closer to home maybe it is your spouse. But mechanisms for helping to defuse the stresses that could cause someone to go over the edge and use their guns have been pretty much destroyed in our society. Mental health screenings, gun registrations, counseling and other societal interventions have been defunded and destroyed leaving individuals on their own to act out on their problems. Add the NRA in its capacity as dealer of weapons and it is a toxic soup.

fox socialist threat
Destroying Social Safety Nets
Republicans are set to vote to destroy Obamacare once more next week or so. Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance are all in their sights. Since they currently own two houses of congress all they need is to add the presidency and the long held wish of destroying these programs can be achieved. Sure it may end of killing lots of people but that is the price of regressing to a fantasy world that never existed. Republicans have greatly damaged the safety net over the past 3 decades. One more chance and they may be able to finally do it in.

protect voting rights
Rigged elections
But wait you say, Republicans could lose congress next year. They could, but not without doing everything they could to rig the elections in their favor. Throwing voters off the rolls who are valid voters across the country, setting up electronic voting machines across the country that can be easily hacked and gerrymandering districts such that Democrats can never win a majority in the US House nor many state houses. Perverting the system like this has led to some strange election results such as in Kansas and Kentucky last year.

Cheaper to fix while they are still up

Cheaper to fix while they are still up

Failing infrastructure
Ever drive over a bridge and wonder if it could collapse underneath you? If you don’t you may want to start thinking about it. Our predecessors built some great cities with sewer and water and electric and transportation systems. They also built in the necessary funding to keep it maintained at that time. But they did think that we would be smart enough to also follow their lead and maintain and replace as needed as a society. However our personal greed and prejudices have let that great work descend into a pit of problems that actually poses daily danger to Americans. Or maybe you have worried about our way overtaxed air traffic system might just fail someday when you are on a trip?

go vote
At the base of all the scary stuff in our country is the apathy of our citizens. By not showing up to vote they allow the wealthy to buy politicians, they allow officials to be elected that will hand the running of our local state and national governments over to those who work only to better the lives of those who fund their campaigns. Apathy gives us politicians like Joni Ernst who owes much of her campaign funds to the Koch Brothers and their subsidiaries. We get politicians like Chuck Grassley who is owned by finance and insurance companies. He did all he could to kill Obamacare and now is stalling all judicial appointments. We get politicians like Terry Branstad who has singlehandedly given away our tax dollars to Orascom and paid off political donors with huge contracts to run our Medicaid program.

Apathy, it’s the worst.

There are lots of monsters in our current political system and society. We can ignore them and they will eat us. or we can put up a fight.

Boehner, SCOTUS and the ACA

Oops - make that 56 and 0

Oops – make that 56 and 0

My apologies if this is similar to yesterday’s post. The potential destruction of the ACA by an unelected body is an issue of monumental consequence.

There is about a month before the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will be hearing arguments concerning whether or not a drafting error in the Affordable Care Act would render the very fabric of the law moot. Did Congress really mean to make the ACA only offer subsidies to states that had their own exchanges (note: Iowa does not)? Or was there simply an error in drafting the law that was not by congress? Even as major of an opponent of the ACA and one of the senators most involved in writing the law as our own Chuck Grassley said such a challenge is “ridiculous.”

So what happens if SCOTUS rules in favor of the challengers? Simply stated, millions of Americans (including around 40,000 Iowans) would lose their subsidy and thus health care would most likely be unaffordable. Therefore, the affordable part of ACA changes and most likely millions will need to drop their health care. Not sure what that would do to the requirement that all Americans carry health insurance. If the subsidy is not available, then is the requirement therefore no longer in effect except in states that have their own exchanges? That is one of the possibilities.

An almost certain effect will earlier deaths for those who will lose their insurance. Joan McCarter at dailykos took a brief look at what how many might be given an early death sentence should the SCOTUS decide to rule in favor of the challenge in this case. In her article she quotes the American Public Health Association estimates that as many as 10,000 will die early.

Not that this is any big deal to the right. In a editorial for the Washington Post, American Enterprise Institute(AEI) “scholar” Michael Strain claimed that more Americans dying is OK in service to achieving certain ends. That is the old “ends justify the means” argument that is a never ending controversy. Allowing people to suffer and die to achieve some undefinable goal of freedom seems like a strange concept.

With John Roberts having been the swing vote on the SCOTUS’ previous decisions on the ACA we may expect that he would once more be in that position once again. With the criticism he took last time over his decision to let at least part of the ACA to go into effect one might think Roberts would feel some need to make amends to the Republican base on the ACA with this decision. With this as a background it is not hard to feel very concerned when the SCOTUS hears this case in March and rules on it in June.

This is where John Boehner comes in. Boehner has led his chamber in some 56 assaults on the ACA without ever having any hope of success. He has continued his crusade while in place of doing any work on what he apparently believes are much lesser issues such as jobs, infrastructure, outrageous student loans, immigration and many other pressing issues. Should the SCOTUS rule that suddenly a major portion of the ACA is no longer valid, then it should fall into Boehner’s lap to lead his colleagues to deal with the problem.

As anyone who has followed Republicans (actually Tea Baggers) in congress recently knows that party is really split 3 ways. One of the issues they are split on is health care. Therefore Republicans have never articulated any plan to replace the ACA despite their constant attempts to get rid of it. Their focus is on killing the ACA only. The SCOTUS may fulfill Boehner’s fondest dream without him having to even getting his hands dirty. Since they have been preaching “repeal and replace” for years and with the SCOTUS doing the repeal portion for them, what will Republicans do to replace?

Since Joni Ernst used that trite phrase over and over in her campaign, I called her office for some enlightenment a couple of weeks ago. There is nothing being worked on.

It is looking more and more that if a portion is repealed then the emphasis will be on killing the rest of it as quickly as possible, not replacing anything. I expect that the replacement pieces they will offer will be the two old standbys that they have floated for decades:

1) limit awards in torts which they claim will lower liability insurance costs and thus lower charges to patients. This has been shown over and over again to be false. Here is one such study.

2) Allow people in one state to buy health insurance across state lines. What this will do is allow states with few regulations to sell essentially worthless policies for low prices. While there are some guarantees of payment in the ACA, those would no doubt be attacked through the court system also.

If the SCOTUS rules for the challenge in King vs. Burwell it could surely be a really bad day not just for poor Americans who will probably lose their health insurance, it will be a bad day for all Americans who will still be depending on a ridiculous insurance system to ameliorate medical costs.

Single payer, single payer single payer. I can’t say it enough.

Joni Ernst Co-Sponsors Repeal of The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced her co-sponsorship of S.339 to repeal the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” also known as ObamaCare. The Iowa Senator is among 47 original cosponsors to the bill, introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), which authorizes full repeal 180 days after enactment in order to allow a six-month window to replace ObamaCare with patient centered, affordable, quality solutions.

“Too many Iowa families and businesses have been hurt by the painful effects of ObamaCare – from rising costs, to losing access to doctors, to hampering businesses’ abilities to hire new employees. We must start over by repealing and replacing this disastrous law in order to craft and implement real solutions for affordable, patient centered alternatives,” said Senator Ernst.

Questions For Candidates In 2014

We have Questions

We have Questions

As we pass Independence Day and inch closer to the heavy political season (it never stops anymore) we need to get ready for the real job of a democracy. The past two years in particular have resulted in gridlock caused by Republican politicians at all levels. This is not what government is about. If those Republican politicians want our vote, they need to answer some questions. Here are some I would love to hear asked and answered honestly, especially by the four Republican candidates for the US House.

1) Do you agree with John Boehner’s action to sue the President?
– Will you join in the lawsuit if elected?
– What are the specific issues (be specific, not “he acts like a king”) for which Mr. Obama should be sued?
– Will you push for impeachment? On what specific grounds?

2) Do you support the SCOTUS ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius?
– If so, what other issues do you believe should be brought to the SCOTUS on religious grounds?
– Should discrimination against gays based on religious beliefs be allowed for closely held public businesses?

3) What specific legislation will you push to address the inequality in pay and conditions for women?
– Please cite Republican legislative action to address this issue in the past?

4) What specific action or legislation will you propose to address income inequality in this country. Please be ready to explain exactly how your proposal will directly affect the working class poor.

5) On immigration, particularly from Latin American countries. Some in your party have described such immigrants as “drug mules with cantaloupe calves.” Do you agree with this assessment?
– What is your proposal to practically deal with undocumented immigrants? What are the ramifications of your proposal?

6) The cost of college has skyrocketed while government support has fallen to all time lows. Thus the cost of college is out of reach for more and more Americans. Soon America will not have the human resources to maintain its lead in many economic categories. Does the cost of post-secondary education feel about right to you?
– Do you have a proposal to alleviate the crushing burden of debt for students? Please be specific on details and ramifications.

7) If elected will you support the House continuing to bring up legislation to end the ACA?
– If so, what would you propose to replace the ACA? Please be specific on coverage and on how the costs will be covered, especially for the poor.

8) Finally, many Republicans are coming to believe climate change is happening. What is your belief in this area?
– Please give specific documented sources for your supporting arguments.

That is a good start. I would really much rather know what an representative believes before I vote. Don’t you?

Health Care: More Games By The Insurance Companies

Thank You, Mr. President

Thank You, Mr. President

The following is an email I sent to one person at Coventry who had been helpful in my getting coverage after finding that the so-called Silver Plan I had did not cover what I had been lead to believe it would:

First let me thank you once more for the help you gave me last month in getting coverage with Coventry.

Once I got covered I began to go to a provider that was told they were set up with Coventry for the ACA. I went for two visits. I was surprised, no shocked, to find a bill in the mail that I owed $150. After another two hours with various customer service people (being passed around like a skunk at a picnic), I was told that my provider was not “in network.” My provider had assured me that they were prior to my ever first going up there. They (the provider) was also quite surprised they were not “in network.”

I also had a lot of medical insurance jargon thrown at me. I had to stop people several time to explain I was not familiar with the insurance terms as I am an insurance outsider. How many of your customers would be familiar with the insiders terms and acronyms?

The outcome was that it was my fault because I had trusted the provider (who was misinformed) and I had not looked it up on a list of providers. This is the first time I had ever heard of a list of providers and the website it was on. They sure made me feel like an idiot not knowing information I never had a clue existed.

If there was real competition in this field I would be looking very hard right now. As it is I have no recourse. I have but 6 months to go to Medicare. Hopefully I can survive until then. I live in fear that if I do have an illness or injury I will fail some proscribed method that Coventry has set forth. Not having all the rules readily at hand all the time, I will no doubt assume that something logical would be the answer and it may not.

I have called my congressman’s office. I am fairly sure that this is not what they expected insurance companies to be doing with the ACA.


My provider was also shocked since they were told they were “in network.” The “in network” designation was supposed to mean that patients that were covered by Coventry could go to them for the stated “in network” costs. After a week of calls they found out that they were “in network” but not for my “plan.” There was a list of providers subsequently sent me that showed me that the “in network” providers for my plan mostly practice in Cedar Rapids, just 50 short miles away.

When I talked with the secretary at my provider’s office she told me that the Coventry person she talked with said the phones have been ringing off the wall with angry customers and bewildered providers. This sure seems like a bait and switch to me, but it would be hard to prove. From what I heard on the Stephanie Miller show from Jackie Sheckner, an expert who has been involved with the ACA from the beginning, every insurance company is doing this.

Once more insurance companies are thumbing their noses at us. While I back the ACA, there are some major problems with it. These problems will not be addressed let alone solved if Republicans are in charge of either house of Congress. We need Democrats to fix the ACA so it works. Better yet we need Democrats to do the right thing and make single payer health care the law of the land

Sunday Hodgepodge

Should this be The Permanent Democratic Platform?

from January 11,1944 but still fresh and still not fulfilled. When the next war ends…..

Seeing The Light
republican no longer supports them
note to Matt Schultz: It is just as true here as in Wisconsin!

In Memory Of Maggie Thatcher

The anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s death is about two weeks away. Last year I marked her death with about 50 playings of this song.

Here it is one more time for old time’s sake:

Fifth Anniversary Coming
Believe it or not it is nearly five years since the Varnum v. Brien decision. On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that gay people had as much right to marry who they love just as much as heterosexuals did under the equal protection clause of the Iowa constitution. Since then some of the justices lost their jobs by being voted out.

Those judges were then awarded (deservedly so, I believe) the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award. Iowa was the beginning for what has become yet another round of civil rights. Many other states have followed suit to the point where nearly half of the US states accepts same sex marriage. The Attorney General of Kentucky said the other day that there was no sense in him spending state money to defend the Kentucky anti-gay marriage amendment because it would lose in court.

Look What Scott Brown Ran Into Last Week

a big hat tip to EarlG at democraticunderground!

Note To My Democratic Friends:
RUN ON THE ACA. It is the largest advance in social legislation since Medicare and the civil rights legislation. It is not done, but it has

at long last started!

Thank You, Mr. Loebsack

Loebsack header
Loebsack Amendment: Don’t Mess with Medicare

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today offered an amendment to protect Iowa’s and our nation’s seniors. The amendment says don’t cut Medicare, don’t eliminate its guaranteed benefits and don’t turn it into a voucher program. Loebsack’s amendment, which was offered as the final amendment by the Democrats to strengthen the underlying bill, would help preserve and strengthen Medicare.

“I regularly meet with seniors across Iowa, and far too often I hear that many of them are struggling to make ends meet, just as I’m sure that many of my colleagues hear from their seniors as well. They tell me how much they rely on Medicare in order to stay healthy and just to afford their daily necessities. Our seniors did not get us into the fiscal mess we are in today and it is unfair to punish them for Washington’s irresponsible behavior.

“I grew up in a family that struggled to make ends meet. I often talk about how I grew up in poverty and my mom was a single parent who struggled with mental illness. And literally in the fourth grade we landed at the doorstep of my maternal grandmother. My grandmother often relied on Social

Security survivor benefits to care for me and my siblings, and without the promise of health care through Medicare she would not have been able to afford to put food on the table.

“No senior, and I think all of us in this body can agree , no senior should have to choose between paying the bills or paying for their Medicare.

Mr. Speaker, Replacing Medicare with a voucher system would end the guarantee of health care and financial security for our seniors.”

Video of Loebsack speaking on his amendment can be seen here.

Medicare continues to be high on the hit list for Republicans to downsize or eliminate. They will also try to eliminate many other programs which are part of our society and are part of the pact between the government of the people and the people who agree to be governed. Republicans will not tell you this up front. They will couch their speeches in flowering language of freedom and liberty.

As President Franklin Roosevelt stated in his “Second Bill Of Rights” in 1944, “Necessitous men are not free men.” Taking away Social Security, Medicare and the ACA would once more make a large portion of our citizenry necessitous and no longer free.

Thank you once again, Congressman Loebsack.

Thank You, Obamacare!

Thank You, Mr. President

Thank You, Mr. President

Since I had written a post telling of my fun with the insurance company I was trying to sign up with through the ACA, I thought I would follow up with a short update.
I now have a card and have actually been to a health care provider a couple of times. Like many I have some blood pressure problems. Nothing too dire, but needs attention. Since I will soon be eligible for Medicare, other tests and treatments can be delayed for a bit.

While the ACA has been a tremendous positive for America, based on my recent experience it is still a bit early to trust insurance companies to fully comply with the ACA. I have an option that others don’t have which is to wait for Medicare.

The ACA is definitely a step in the right direction. I remember full well the nights I would lay in bed trying to decide if that pain or this sensation was worth a trip to the doctor. Since my “insurance” at the time had a high deductible plus the old “pre-existing condition” clause, I could pretty much figure that every visit would be on my nickel. Since doctors post no fee schedules, I may as well as just given them my checkbook. It is not as if I could make a guess as to what the fees and other services might cost.

For five years or more I had to endure what may have been warning signs of a heart attack, sprained ankles, a shoulder that was so painful that I would cry and many various ailments just hoping and hoping it was nothing really serious. I am out of that hell now. Now thanks to President Obama, I do not have to lie in bed wondering if I am dying – wondering if I take a chance at bankruptcy to get treatment. I know I am far from alone with what I went through.

Of course I blame the Republican congress and Charles Grassley for the hell I went through unnecessarily. I saw the hearings and I read the stories.

Republicans and in particular Grassley were resolute in stopping bringing our health care system into the modern age. Not just during Obama’s presidency but since the presidency of FDR. For that reason alone I would never vote for any Republican.

What is really sad is that the power behind the Republican party is still fighting hard to return us to those dark days. And they are fighting hard to end Medicare and Medicaid. Why would I ever want someone who hates America’s citizens so much that they would bring back this form of personalized terror to our country.

I truly thank President Obama and Congressmen Loebsack and Braley and Senator Harkin for standing up for us. You can not imagine how much relief I feel every day knowing that if I have a medical problem I do not have to sit in fear and try to decide between dying or going bankrupt. It wasn’t funny folks, it was reality in my life and many, many others for a long time.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Congressman Loebsack. Thank You, Congressman Braley. Thank you, Senator Harkin. Believe me, it almost makes me cry to be covered for medical finally.

BUT – now we need to improve the ACA. Really, we need single payer. And we need the citizens to call for it. Loudly

Obama Meets Obama Impersonator

This is pretty awesome.