Sep 23 2017

Crap. I have to write another piece?

 

For weeks now I’ve been deferring my obligations and chores in the firm conviction that the coming Rapture and End of Times would make such mundane activities unnecessary (I don’t even want to talk about laundry).

You may not understand the impending doom to be visited on humanity when Planet Nibiru (or Wormwood or X) crashes into either the Earth or the Sun (I’m not quite clear). David Meade, noted author of Planet X – The 2017 Arrival, as well as The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving EMP Attacks, Solar Flares and Grid Failures, You Can Write a Best-Selling Info Book!, Fraud Prevention, and Own a Piece of Paradise In the Florida Keys does. I recommend against ordering any of these books since you’ll barely have time to read them and the few moments you have left are probably better spent at your local with a paper bag over your head (not that it will help).

How do we know about Planet Nibiru? Meade has seen it using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and… I believe him with all the surety I know that Joseph Smith “hefted” the plates of Nephi sealed by the hand of Moroni and born record to by words of soberness.

What do we know about Planet Nibiru? Well, it’s 3 and a third the size of Jupiter (roughly), rotates clockwise, orbited by 7 moons and an undetermined number of asteroids. It has an outer magnetic field of 16.3 AU (an Astronomical Unit is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun which is pretty big as far as local distances go, for instance light takes 8 minutes to cover and that’s as fast as it gets).

As far as we know it is not inhabited by Ming the Merciless-

Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would’ve hidden from it in terror.

Though…

Every thousand years, I test each life system in the Universe. I visit it with mysteries, earthquakes, unpredicted eclipses, strange craters in the wilderness… If these are taken as natural, I judge that system ignorant and harmless – I spare it. But if the Hand of Ming is recognized in these events, I judge that system dangerous to us. I call upon the great god Dyzan, and for his greater glory, and for our mutual pleasure, I destroy it utterly.

You’re saying… it’s my fault the Earth is being destroyed?

Precisely.

You see, the effects of Nibiru are already being felt. That Climate Change due to Human injection of Carbon into the environment? Garbage. Nibiru’s magnetic field is heating up the Earth’s core! Hurricanes and Earthquakes! Super Volcanos! To quote Meade-

Planet X’s arrival will create an event that occurs on the surface of the Sun that releases a tremendous amount of energy in the form of a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection, which is an explosive burst of very hot, electrified gas that has a mass that exceeds that of Mount Everest. The event will bring down the electrical grid, and the shelves of the grocery stores will be cleaned out inside of a day. Banks and ATMs don’t work without electric current. Gas pumps won’t be functioning. Food transportation will stop. Rioting and looting will be unrestrained. Communications satellites will be down. The 911 function on your phone isn’t going to work. For as long as it lasts, until new transformers can be built or imported, society will be in chaos. This will be the calling card of Planet X upon its near approach to our Earth and Sun.

Well, 2 points. Sagarmāthā/Chomolungma is 29,000 feet high (5.5 miles), Olympus Mons (on Mars and generally considered the tallest mountain in the Solar System) 72,000 feet (13.6 miles). Your average Solar Flare kind of starts at 621,370 miles (give or take a magnitude) and goes up from there, but we get the metaphor. You mean big. The second point is, in this global catastrophe where exactly will you be importing your generators from?

ek, that sounds pretty bad. What should I do?

I advise you to buy and speed read The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving EMP Attacks, Solar Flares and Grid Failures or go to your pub and pound down as many pints as you are able as fast as you can (muscle relaxant you know) and put a paper bag over your head. Neither one will do any good.

Running away and hiding has always been an essential survival trait and should you choose a lingering death Meade has this advice-

Arizona is a good place, it “has withstood many a pole shift” (magnetic pole shifting being a consequence of the interference from Nibiru and the Coronal Mass Ejection (get your minds out of the gutter folks). Colorado is very safe because the CIA has relocated their domestic division (which they don’t have- shhh…) there. The Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri should also do well because they have plenty of water and farmland.

Which will be of benefit when we are swallowed by a Gas Giant 953.5 times our size.

Bad places to be? California for the obvious reasons, the Hoover Dam watershed because it won’t survive, and Florida and the Keys (See! It’s already happening!).

Now I’ll spare you the astrological and numerological signs (no yellow bricks involved), but it’s supposed to happen today and yet here I am, slaving over a hot keyboard when I could be doing funnel shots (you pour a beer through a funnel and a tube as fast as you are able to drink it, alternatively you open a can at both ends) on the beach. Anyway it doesn’t all happen in one go so you have plenty of time for debauchery. After the power goes out you have until October 5th before Nibiru eclipses the Sun and the nuclear war doesn’t start prior to the end of October, beginning of November at the latest. Then it’s Rapture Time or 7 years of bondage to the anti-Christ, whichever comes first.

Who knows about Niribu? Well, you do… now, as well as NASA, the CIA, and just about every deep state acronym you can think of or make up out of the whole cloth (and it’s not as easy as you think, all the good ones are taken). This is why the Hubble was built and the Vatican has a large pair of Binoculars on the roof.

Besides, there was a Fatima like vision posted by some anonymous person on the Intertubz (a well known series of trucks that is always true)-

I was taken to the heavens above the earth and I could see the earth in a distance not so far but clearly. Suddenly I heard a very loud sound and vibration with a very heavy zoom sound coming my way, hundreds of times louder than that of a Boeing 747 jet. I then saw a very huge rock almost the size of the moon zooming past me at a very high speed with a large tail of fire besides and behind it.

I looked where it was headed. I knew it was headed for planet earth and thought well, I hope it lands in the ocean, not many people will die. However, it seemed targeted to the ocean and the United States. I was like, Lord no!

[Meanwhile], people were having their usual life, and for some reason I saw people going to get movies at Blockbuster and they did not seem to care about what was coming. …. I was then taken back to the Blockbuster place and people saw the object and heard the band and vibrations but seemed not to care about it, and some said, ‘I will die watching a movie.’

Man, I want some of that kush. Still, as Quartz (from whom I cribbed most of this) concludes-

Global coverup of massive red dwarf approaching our sun? Sure. A seven-year apocalypse overseen by a dapper CEO-like Satan? Of course. Blockbuster Video? I don’t know about all that.

Remember, DocuDharma and The Stars Hollow Gazette, trafficking in only the most scurrilous rumors since 2007 and 2010 respectively.

Oh, the title of the Quartz story (“To understand the end of the world, it helps to run Microsoft Windows 7 or 8”)? Meade used a program that’s called WorldWide Telescope which runs best under Windows 7 (SP1 Build 7601) or 8 (ugh).

Sep 23 2017

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

 

What to Cook This Weekend

 

I was fishing out at the eastern end of Long Island the other day, getting in a session before Jose pushed his way north to crash and blow. When I was finished, I drove to Spicy’s BBQ in Riverhead for chicken because I like how they fry the birds there, how the skin is fantastically salty and crisp, how it reacts under lashings of the sweet-spicy barbecue sauce they serve on the side, yellow as a city cab, mustard-pungent and sticky. You’d think the skin would go soggy, but it doesn’t, really, not if you eat fast.

And fried chicken has been on my mind ever since. I’d like to make some this weekend, with cream gravy and mashed potatoes, or with sourdough waffles with a cup of Cheddar cut into the batter and a small pot of honey and red pepper flakes on the side, into which I’ve melted a few pats of butter. I’d like to eat it with braised greens, or pickleback slaw, with macaroni and cheese. That would be a really nice dinner to cook.

Sam Sifton, New York Times

 

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Here is a basic yet delicious recipe for buttermilk fried chicken, with a crisp crust and luscious interior.

Classic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are very forgiving, and with a good masher, hot potatoes and enough butter and salt, cooks can accommodate religionists of the fluffy style and partisans of the creamy and dense.

Sourdough Pancake or Waffle Batter

If you have a sourdough starter, you will need to feed it to keep it alive. Many recipes call for doing so after discarding a cup or so of the starter you have, so as to maintain its equilibrium and prevent it from growing too large.

Braised Greens

Chicken stock, white wine and red pepper flakes add flavor to this side dish that can be made with whatever hearty green is in season.

Pickleback Slaw

Those artisanal pickles from the farmers’ market sure are expensive, so don’t throw out the juice in which they’re pickled.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

This creamy version has one powerful advantage for the cook: it is made with dry pasta, so there’s no need for precooking. The pasta cooks in the oven, absorbing the liquid from the dairy products.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 23 2017

Alone In The Kitchen With An Old Frenchman

Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French lessons. As Gilad Edelman wrote in a Slate article, this man will teach you how to cook

Cuisine De Ma Cherie

In honor of their love, Jacques prepares a meal of his wife Gloria’s favorites. First he creates a tasty Herbed Omelet with Shrimp. He then goes on to combine cilantro with Gloria’s favorite ingredient, rice, to make Cilantro Rice which pairs perfectly with a Calamari Stew with Saffron and Cucumber, Onion and Mint Salad. The whole meal is followed with a Pépin spin on a classic dessert, Rice Pudding with Dried Cherries and Blueberry Sauce.

Calamari Stew with Saffron and Cilantro Rice

“The calamari stew and the saffron rice go well together, but each could also be served on its own. Saffron (the dried pistils of crocuses) is very expensive but worth it. Make certain that you buy real saffron, the best of which comes from Spain or Iran.

“Fresh or frozen calamari can be used in this dish. I often use frozen cilantro in the rice: When I get a bunch of fresh cilantro, I usually use the leaves and freeze the stems. Then, when I need cilantro, I chop the frozen stems, which break easily into small pieces.” —Jacques Pépin

Cucumber, Onion, and Mint Salad

“For this wonderfully refreshing summer salad, diced cucumber and onion are cured with salt for about 30 minutes, which draws moisture from the cucumber and makes it crunchy. I like to use mild white Vidalia or Maui onions, which give a good crunch but not a strong, sharp taste. I season the salad with sour cream and Tabasco, but it can also be dressed with oil and vinegar.” —Jacques Pépin

Sep 23 2017

The Breakfast Club (Blind Faith)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Richard Nixon gives his ‘Checkers’ speech; Rome’s Augustus Caesar born; Lewis and Clark finish trek to America’s West; Psychologist Sigmund Freud dies; Musicians Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed.

Bruce Springsteen

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 22 2017

Autumnal Equinox 2017

Trees snapping and cracking in the autumn indicate dry weather.

If, in the fall of the leaves in October, many of them wither on the boughs and hang there, it betokens a frosty winter and much snow.

Spring rain damps;
Autumn rain soaks.

Of autumn’s wine, now drink your fill; the frost’s on the pumpkin, and snow’s on the hill.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1993

Another Summer is about to fade into history at 4:02 PM ET when the when the earth is perfectly angled sideways to the sun, so day and night are roughly the same length all over the world. It’s autumn when the sunrises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.

We leave behind beach days, cook outs, long days and warm Summer nights. It’s time to think about raking leaves, Halloween and Thanksgiving, getting out the warm blankets and putting on a sweater when we head outdoors. It’s time to harvest the last of the summer vegetable and rescue the tomatoes that are not yet ripe. While other flowers fade mums and asters burst into bloom as pumpkins and winter squash are adding their colors to the garden. Our cuisine changes from salads and grilling to simmering stews, hearty soups, and roasts with steaming vegetables. The baseball season is coming to it’s conclusion to make way for football games and tailgating with family and friends.

This year’s Harvest Moon will rise on October 2 at 2:40 PM ET. As per the Old Farmer’s Almanac, The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal Equinox. While it most often is in September, this year is October’s turn. For several nights the moon rises soon after sunset, it provides an abundance of light so farmers can spend more time harvesting their crops. Thus the name, Harvest Moon. In Wiccan and Pagan lore, this is known as the second harvest.

Again we have had a really warm Summer and the temperatures here in the Northeastern tri-state region where Stars Hollow is located will still be in the 80’s with cooler days not expected until sometime next week. The coastal areas are still under flood watch and there are warning to boaters about rough seas due to Hurricane Jose whose remnants still linger off our shores. Our thoughts go out to our neighbors in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands that have been devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria and to our neighbors in Mexico who have been hit with massive earthquake. If want to donate and aren’t sure about which charity to give, Vox.com has a great article and suggestions on the best charities to make your donations.

The seasons change and the world continues on it coarse through time and space. Take some time to notice our home, Earth.

Sep 22 2017

Socialized Medicine!

Or Bust.

Ding Dong? I would be remiss not to recognize John McCain’s public stand against Graham-Cassidy (Johnson-Heller, let’s not forget those assholes) makes it immeasurably difficult to achieve 50 Senate votes (and a tie-breaking decider from Mike Pence) given Rand Paul’s (give it up for the Freedom Caucus) earlier principled stand, Susan Collin’s almost assured ‘No’, and the Republican’s slim 52-48 majority, but until the uni-whale-scorpio-Pega-squid-icorn girl busts her brothers I won’t quite believe it.

From the top of another hill, a figure appears, a shaft of light shining off his auburn hair. It was Carl, the Red-headed Paladin from the land of Internius. He–
Carl, now you’re just getting ridiculous.
I don’t see why I can’t be in this story. Besides, it’s totally better this way.
I don’t care, read it the way it’s written.
Fine. Suddenly they all found out a way to settle their differences, and it wasn’t long before a peace accord was drafted and signed.
Cut it out, Carl! Read what it really says.
That’s what it says. Look, see for yourself.
Hmm, both contracting parties, undertake to maintain peaceful and friendly relations between them, in the mutual ib- Oh! Come on Carl! Whatever happened to Candavere, what about Jeremiad?
Well, I suppose I could just skip to the epilogue, sir. Hmm. Having signed the peace accord, the happy wanderers returned to their village as heroes. The rain stopped, and Candavere kept her date with Jeremiad. As they danced, she was as happy as a young girl could be. Especially as she was now back to normal. Well, almost. But even as the heroes recalled their tales of glory, the evil Malifishmirtz slipped away, bent on laying the groundwork for a sequel. But for now, all was right with the world, and everyone in the village agreed that it was the best Midsummer Woad-Gathering Harvest Bonfire’s Eve ever. Certainly the first one to have ten thousand monsters. The End. How was that, sir?
Okay, I guess.

On to happier topics.

It seems the Wild, White-Haired Socialist Menace never referred to in polite company (or by Beltway Bootlicking Punditry at least) as Bernie Sanders may be a cannier warrior than certain circles give him credit for. Let us not forget no less august a figure than Lindsey (better bring him a stack of fainting couches) Graham declared- “It’s either this (Graham-Cassidy-Johnson-Heller) or we’re going to Obamacare and Berniecare. Now, Berniecare is full-blown single-payer socialism. It is his dream and that’s where Democrats are going.”

Horrors!

Let’s take a teensy peek at what a better, more Socialist future might look like.

The benefits of Bernie Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’ plan
By Marcia Angell, Boston Globe
September 21, 2017

Medicare, the current program for Americans over age 65, is a single-payer system, which means it is financed and overseen by the government, even though most providers are private. It is by far the most popular and efficient part of our health care system. In fact, many 64-year-olds can hardly wait to be 65 so they are eligible for it. Unlike private insurers, it doesn’t pick and choose which patients it will cover and for what medical conditions. All seniors are covered for the same package of benefits.

But Medicare isn’t perfect. Benefits aren’t comprehensive (for example, there is no dental coverage), copayments are rising, and there is profiteering by providers. Sanders’ plan would introduce reforms that would help with those problems. It would expand benefits greatly, and out-of-pocket costs would be eliminated except for a small copay for prescription drugs.

Even people who think this all sounds wonderful are concerned about the costs. Won’t taxes increase? How can we possibly afford single-payer health care? But in fact, this concern stems from a misunderstanding. Yes, income taxes and government expenditures would increase, but those increases would be offset by the enormous savings in premiums and out-of-pockets costs. This trade-off is not sufficiently understood, because the Congressional Budget Office estimates only costs to the federal government, not to patients. The fact is that if out-of-pocket costs are included, we would probably break even in the first year and in later years we would come out ahead, because inflation would be curbed.

Obamacare has many virtues. It expanded access to about 20 million people, and it ended some of the worst abuses of the private insurance companies, such as denying coverage because of preexisting conditions. But it did little to rein in cost inflation, because it left our health system in the hands of private insurance companies, profit-oriented providers, and the pharmaceutical companies, all of which could pretty much name their price. As expenses rose for employers who provide health insurance, their answer was to cap their contributions. And as expenses rose for insurance companies, their answer was to shrink benefits and increase deductibles and copayments. Americans found that having insurance was not the same thing as getting adequate health care. Moreover, about 30 million Americans remain uninsured.

The fundamental problem, the problem that underlies all the others, is that the United States has a market-based system. We’re the only advanced country that does. The systems in the other countries vary in details — some have single-payers like Medicare, others have tightly regulated private insurers — but they all have in common universal coverage in predominately nonprofit systems. In all of them, government sets benefits and prices in one way or another, including prices of prescription drugs, and administrative costs are much lower. And it works. Their health systems spend on average less than half as much per person as we do (that gap is growing), and their health outcomes are generally much better.

In contrast, we have chosen to entrust our health care mainly to the commercial market. But while markets are good for many things, they are terrible for health care. Markets seek to expand, and each element in a market (think cars) tries to grow its share of the total by attracting more paying customers. But we want the health care system to shrink, not to keep growing. Health markets also can’t distribute care rationally. The people who most need care are usually the least able to pay for it. So providing it according to the ability to pay instead of medical need inevitably introduces inefficiencies and inequities. Moreover, health businesses usually don’t compete on price, but by marketing to affluent customers.

Sanders’ Medicare for All Act envisages a four-year transition, which would begin by dropping Medicare eligibility from age 65 to 55, and enrolling all children 18 and under. Then, over the next two years, eligibility would be dropped one decade at a time, and in year four it would be extended to everyone. There would be no out-of-pocket costs, and the benefit package would be expanded. The system could be financed by an ear-marked 4 percent income tax. A family of four with an annual income of $50,000 would pay $844 a year, which is about $4,400 less than the average premium working families paid last year to private health insurance companies. I believe we would also need to move to a nonprofit provider system.

Health care is a social good, not a commodity, just as primary education, fire and police protection, and clean water are. A market-based system is not only wasteful, it’s immoral.

Unpragmatic? Even business is starting to recognize that Health Insurance Companies are useless leeches.

Even Business Leaders Are Realizing Health Insurance Companies Serve No Purpose
By Wendell Potter, Truthout
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

As the former head of corporate communications for the global health insurance company Cigna, I saw surveys on a regular basis that consistently showed a sizable percentage of Americans held private health insurance companies in very low regard and would be happy not to have to deal with them. Those surveys also showed growing support for single-payer health care. In 2007, when I was still an industry executive, a proprietary poll conducted for the industry showed that only 19 percent of Americans viewed insurers favorably. That same poll showed that 77 percent believed Congress “should do something about the unreasonable cost of health insurance and other health care services.” More people favored a Canadian-style health care system than any other potential solution.

What is different and significant this time, though, is that US business leaders are among those questioning our multi-payer system and embracing a system with just one payer, the government. That shift could prove to be the game changer that moves single-payer health care from what many pundits and politicians have considered a pipe dream to a very real possibility.

None other than Berkshire Hathaway chair and CEO Warren Buffett has joined the single-payer movement, as has Berkshire Hathaway’s Republican vice chair, Charlie Munger. Buffett told PBS NewsHour in June that a single-payer system “probably is the best system” because it could do a better job of controlling ever-rising health care costs. A month earlier, he told Berkshire Hathaway shareholders that medical costs are “the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.”

In a Yahoo Finance interview, Munger cited the “massive amounts of excess cost” in the current US health care system — which he described as a “Rube Goldberg system that arose by accident” — as his reason for supporting single-payer health care.

The accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently provided fresh evidence of the tapeworm in action. PwC’s Health Research Institute, which annually projects the growth of medical costs in the employer insurance market for the coming year, predicts medical costs will grow 6.5 percent in 2018, more than the rate of growth in 2017 and far more than the expected increase in the Consumer Price Index. By way of comparison, the CPI increased 1.7 percent over the past 12 months.

“With medical cost trend hovering between 6 and 7 percent for several years, health spending continues to outpace the economy,” PwC’s researchers wrote.

They went on to note that although the rate of growth in medical costs showed a temporary decline in recent years as insurers and employers shifted more of the cost of care to individuals and families, “further cost shifting to consumers is getting more difficult. Even the ‘new normal’ is not sustainable.”

US business executives have come to question the “value proposition” of private health insurers. In other words, they’re asking what, if any, value do private insurers bring to the US health care system and economy. Many are concluding not only that insurers provide no essential value, but also that they actually add costs to the system and make US businesses less competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.

Even some of the big consulting and accounting firms that do business with insurers are speculating that they may soon be “disintermediated” in the same way that travel agents were.

Some of the country’s largest employers already have found ways to bypass insurers and are finding they’re saving money while providing their workers with access to high quality care. Big enough to self-insure, companies ranging from Boeing to Walmart are increasingly working directly with health care providers in ways similar to the US Medicare program, which itself is a government-run, single-payer kind of system.

Boeing became one of the earliest direct purchasers of health care services when in 2014 it began contracting directly with hospital systems in the Seattle area for its many employees there. It has proven so successful that it has expanded its direct-contracting approach to other markets where it has large concentrations of employees, including St. Louis, Charleston, South Carolina and Southern California.

The point here is that very large employers have already concluded that they can get along just fine without private insurers. Small and mid-sized employers like MCS, however, don’t have the large concentrations of workers for direct-contracting to work. And direct contracting clearly isn’t an option for individuals and families who don’t have access to an employer-sponsored plan.

Business executives at companies of all sizes are also coming around to understand another important truth about private health insurance companies in the United States: They actually strive to make health care cost more.

Klepper wrote that this way of doing business has been “spectacularly successful” for the health insurance industry. As he noted, between May 2009 and May 2017, the stock prices of the five largest investor-owned health insurers — Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and United — increased between 387 percent and 748 percent, much more than the Dow Jones average.

The CEOs of those companies have become spectacularly wealthy as shareholder value has skyrocketed. They undoubtedly have to be concerned to hear that a growing number of business leaders are saying it’s time to give serious thought to single-payer health care in the United States.

Not long before I left my job in the insurance industry in 2008, a coworker asked our CEO during a company leadership meeting what kept him up at night. He responded with a single word that most of us, I suspect, had to look up. That word was, you guessed it, “disintermediation.”

He said he worried that someday a majority of Americans — and more specifically, a majority of business leaders — might begin to question the value proposition of insurance companies and reach the conclusion that they are little more than unnecessary middlemen.

That “someday” may be close at hand.

Friends, I’m afraid our course of action is clear. Rather than surrender to the creeping forces of Godless Communism we must sacrifice our lives and those of our loved ones to painful lingering deaths and give all our possessions to greedy Health Insurance Executives.

Wolverines!

Sep 22 2017

The Bizzaro Zombie

I’m going to have to ask you to put on your Googly Eyes for this one.

So Tiger Beat on the Potomac posits that from a Republican point of view it is Obamacare that is the Zombie that eats your brains and you can not kill, even with fire.

(T)he fact that the bill remains alive — with Senate leaders and the White House scrambling to secure 50 votes for a vote next week — speaks to how desperate Republicans are to scrap Obamacare and notch a legislative victory.

“The substance really doesn’t matter,” said Kathy Hempstead, who oversees coverage programs for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, likening it to frenzied efforts to kill a zombie in the movies. But she added: “We’re not talking about killing a zombie. We’re talking about how we finance health care for 100 million people.”

Republicans might fear the political consequences of not taking action — including potential primary challenges in 2018 — more than the fallout from passing a bill that could lead to problems for their constituents further down the road.

Most are acutely aware that Obamacare repeal remains a galvanizing issue for the GOP base. More than half of Republicans surveyed in the latest POLITICO-Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll said scrapping Obamacare should be a top priority for Congress — a higher percentage than for any other issue surveyed.

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, crystallized the conflict in unusually candid comments on Wednesday.

“You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” Grassley told reporters. “But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

Now TBotP is not exactly a bastion of Left political thought, but even they think Graham-Cassidy is the one craving brains-

“The bill’s broad language opens the door to theoretically unlimited premium upcharges based on any factor other than gender, race, religion, or national origin,” reads an analysis by policy experts at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “This includes surcharges upon renewal of an existing policy — so if you’re healthy at enrollment but get sick mid-year, you may get a premium hike for your trouble.”

The Senate’s repeal package would also make big cuts to Medicaid by scrapping Obamacare’s expansion of the program and overhauling the funding formula so that it’s no longer an open-ended entitlement program.

States would receive block grants instead, which Republicans argue would allow them to deliver coverage in cheaper, innovative ways, unshackled from burdensome federal rules. But roughly two-thirds of states would end up with less funding to deliver coverage — a total of $160 billion in cuts over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Flexibility doesn’t matter if you don’t have the resources to carry out an innovative program,” said Daniel Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross, which does business in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Thirty-one states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare would see average funding reductions of 11 percent, while those that didn’t implement the program would see revenues rise by an average of 12 percent, according to Kaiser.

“We’re being punished for having done Medicaid expansion,” said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar. “That’s what it comes down to, essentially.”

The Graham-Cassidy bill also targets Planned Parenthood. Specifically, it would eliminate federal funding for states to cover Medicaid family planning at Planned Parenthood clinics for one year — a provision likely to antagonize Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who helped kill the last Senate repeal bill, and other moderates.

Murkowski’s support will be crucial if the Graham-Cassidy bill is going to have any chance of passage.

The biggest unknown is how many Americans would lose coverage if the bill is enacted. That’s because the Congressional Budget Office has said it doesn’t have time before the Sept. 30 deadline to assess how many people would be covered under the law.

Health care experts say it’s inevitable that more people would be uninsured given the measure’s funding cuts.

“States could do virtually anything,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Anticipating what states will do with this money is a bit of a crapshoot.”

In the face of those and other questions, some conservatives are unhappy with the rush to pass the measure in the next week.

“I don’t think it’s anywhere near the promise of repeal we were given,” said Chris Jacobs, a conservative health policy analyst, arguing that Republicans could simply overrule the Senate parliamentarian’s deadline and keep working on repeal. “I reject the premise that this has to be done by Sept. 30.”

Jacobs, for one, is critical of the control that Washington would still retain over states under the measure since they would still have to seek waivers for their plans: “This is a corruption of the idea of federalism.”

Ok, you can take off your nausea inducing glasses now and listen to some comedians who even though they are comedians understand more about Health Insurance than Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, or Paul Ryan.

Actually I don’t want you to leave thinking mere ignorance or stupidity excuse Republican actions in this case. They are actively evil and those who don’t support this vindictive and cruel measure out of sheer cupidity and greed for the Trillions it would deliver their .01% Plutocrat Paymasters are simply Craven Cowards afraid to anger a Bigoted Base who believe (wrongly) that the bulk of the benefits go to Black and Brown people and other undesirables.

Sep 22 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Cruelty, Incompetence and Lies

Graham-Cassidy, the health bill the Senate may vote on next week, is stunningly cruel. It’s also incompetently drafted: The bill’s sponsors clearly had no idea what they were doing when they put it together. Furthermore, their efforts to sell the bill involve obvious, blatant lies.

Nonetheless, the bill could pass. And that says a lot about today’s Republican Party, none of it good.

The Affordable Care Act, which has reduced the percentage of Americans without health insurance to a record low, created a three-legged stool: regulations that prevent insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, a requirement that individuals have adequate insurance (and thus pay into the system while healthy) and subsidies to make that insurance affordable. For the lowest-income families, insurance is provided directly by Medicaid.

Graham-Cassidy saws off all three legs of that stool. Like other Republican plans, it eliminates the individual mandate. It replaces direct aid to individuals with block grants to states, under a formula that sharply reduces funding relative to current law, and especially penalizes states that have done a good job of reducing the number of uninsured. And it effectively eliminates protection for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Eugene Robinson: This Republican health-care bill is the most monstrous yet

Motivated by the cynical aims of fulfilling a bumper-sticker campaign promise and lavishing tax cuts on the wealthy, Republicans are threatening to pass a health-care bill they know will make millions of Americans sicker and poorer. Do they think we don’t see what they’re doing?

Does Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) think we didn’t hear what he said Wednesday? “You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” he told reporters. “But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

There you have it: Who cares what this legislation would do? Vote for it anyway.

The GOP’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have undergone a process of devolution, with each new bill worse than the last. The measure that the Senate plans to vote on next week essentially takes away most of the protections, benefits and funding of the ACA, but leaves in place most of the taxes.

That’s supposed to be good politics? Seriously?

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Sep 22 2017

The Breakfast Club (Understanding)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Nathan Hale hanged in the American Revolution; Iraq invades Iran; President Gerald Ford faces a second assassination attempt in weeks; ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ hits Broadway; Songwriter Irving Berlin dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair

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Sep 21 2017

Netroots Nation

There’s a reason I don’t go to Netroots Nation any more and it’s not because I’m ashamed of anything I’ve done or said in a little over 12 years of public writing (as a matter of fact I’m mostly pretty proud of all of it except the stuff that was uninspired which while not bad because I never publish anything that’s a total piece of crap there’s no denying that some stuff is better than others).

Nope. It’s because for several years they’ve chosen as a policy (and I don’t necessarily disagree with it) to hold their events in Red States because they think that’s where they’ll have the most political impact.

Fair enough, but it means that you end up in places like Georgia and Texas during the hottest and most humid parts of summer and the climate entirely sucks the joy out of seeing people tremble and blanch when they realize I’m not a 7′ 1″ airline pilot and am instead ek hornbeck.

Sports as Politics

I too have suffered the embarassment of hamstring pulls while filling out lineup cards.

I never watch Reality TV

Umm… who is she again?

Orange Lanyards. That takes me back.

Sigh. They didn’t interview me and I would have recognized them and given a good one too. I’m already famous on 2 French channels and CBC.

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