Coffee heat rising

The Republican Horror Show

Have you been following this? Forgodsake. The word “outrage” so understates the case as to be outrageous in itself.

A narcissistic sleaze, whose contributions to American society have been to short-change the architects who design his buildings and to propose a First Lady who sees nothing wrong with plagiarizing the real First Lady’s words, DARES to say that he has “sacrificed” — by hiring a bunch of employees to staff his capitalist empire — more than a man who GAVE HIS LIFE FOR OUR COUNTRY! More, indeed, than the parents whose son died in the service of the United States of America!

A man whose response to a father’s despair is a racist slur against his wife? Somebody really thinks this creep should be President?

How in the name of God can anyone who has even one functioning synapse inside their head fail to see what a dangerous, dishonest, bombastic, one-born-every-day shyster this guy is? Who in their right mind would vote for the man?

Say what you will about the right wing…but at least Barry Goldwater was a decent man. I knew Goldwater, in passing (he autographed my first straight-A report card from the UofA!), and I know what he said about the proto-Tea Party right wing a-borning toward the end of his life. It wasn’t printable.

Even Ronald Reagan retained a few shreds of common decency while he still had most of his marbles. Richard Nixon…not so much.

Maybe Nixon was the one who threw common decency out with the bathwater.

How the hell did the fundamentalist clerics succeed in persuading their followers that a vile line of demagoguery represents the Word of Christ? What Barry said on that topic actually was printable, at least when he spoke in public:

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

Barry was right. But “a terrible damn problem” ain’t the term for it. It’s fuckin’ Armageddon.

Good-bye to all that…

Here’s another volley in the endless blitz of retrograde comments from Republican congressional representatives, reported by The Wall Street Journal:

“When it comes to some health-care summit that’s nothing more than a photo op designed to pave the way for Obamacare 2.0, the answer is no,” Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Still, they plan to attend and highlight public opposition to the bills and to spotlight their own ideas. “If the president is sincere about moving forward in a bipartisan fashion, he must take the reconciliation process—which will be used [to] jam through legislation that a majority of Americans do not want—off the table,” House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said Friday.

“Obamacare.” How that term rings of partisan nastiness and intransigence! What on earth is the matter with the Republican party—one I once belonged to and was proud to serve? When did the Grand Old Party come to represent downright backwardness? I’m afraid that’s the word that comes to my mind (well—one of the words) as I watch members of my former party dig their heels in the sand and do every cussed thing they can think of to derail any positive action of any kind that might make life better for Americans…for no other apparent reason than stubborn hatred.

Not for one moment do I believe the GOP is even faintly interested in “the reconciliation process.” Actions speak ever so much louder than words. The actions we have seen have revealed extreme right-wing dogma and loyalty not to America but to well-heeled corporate supporters and their accomplished, amoral lobbyists.

The issue has little to do with universal health care coverage. As Megan McArdle writes for The Atlantic, we don’t even know for sure whether access to health insurance really does save lives—whether it has any long-term effect on mortality at all. No one has seriously asked that question during the fruitless “debate” (one might call it “impasse”) that we have watched over the past year or so. No. The issue is that the American political system is grinding to a halt, hung up by a kudzu-like bloom of stubbornness, dogmatic hostility, flowering greed, and grotesque thinking that the Founding Fathers could never have anticipated would take hold in America.

Politicians used to be self-serving now and again, but at least most could manage to get past their short-sightedness to function in their country’s interest. As we have seen, that is no longer true, particularly of the GOP. When Congress ceases to function—which is exactly what is happening—then America ceases to function as a free republic.

What a sorry spectacle!

Kill-the-Beaster Logic

Children are crammed like sardines into Arizona’s public school classrooms. State and county parks are closing down. The Department of Public Safety is looking at laying off hundreds of police officers. Firefighters and paramedics are being laid off across the state. The university system is imploding. The Department of Transportation, which maintains roads and administers driver’s licenses, plans to lay off half its employees, close all highway rest areas, and shut almost all its Motor Vehicle Division offices.

So…what do our intrepid legislators do?

Of course: cut taxes!

Yes. Today when I was dragged out (again!) to GDU, I was made to fill out a new Arizona tax withholding form, even though I’d filled out my third copy of said form and turned it in just yesterday.

Said I: “I just filled that out yesterday!” (This was after having filled out and hand-delivered an eight-page surprise form, an activity entailing a 44-mile round trip and the waste of three hours of my time.)

Said the HR rep: “Oh, but this is a new form. They’ve changed it. Even though you signed a tax withholding form yesterday, we’d better do it again, just in case they decide your signature’s not valid unless it’s on a 2010 form.”

Uh huh.  So I look at the form.

The change is a 1.6 percent cut in tax withholding.

Yes. They’ve cut state taxes almost 2 percent at a time when the state is suffering from a historic $1.5 billion deficit.

The average Arizona citizen will see no huge windfall from this tax cut. It works like this: You pay x percent in federal taxes. Your state tax is—or was—21.9% of that x percent. So, say your federal tax rate is 20%. You earn $100. You pay the feds $20 in taxes. You pay the state a grandiose $4.38.

No more, though: my rate dropped from 21.9% to 20.3%. Hallelujah, brothers and sisters: I save 32 cents per hundred on my state taxes.

What a windfall. On the $29,160 I’ll be earning next year, my state taxes will come to all of $1,183.89 — less than that, really, after I deduct COBRA, Medicare, long-term care insurance, mortgage interest, and everything else my tax lawyer can dream up. That represents a saving of $93.31 on a year’s tax bill, just under 29 cents a day.

Somehow I think I could have afforded 32 cents/hundred to help keep a school functioning, a road safe, a police officer in uniform, a fireman on the job, maybe even a picnic ground open. What are citizens for, anyway?

Stupidity piled on stupidity!

School Days for the Typical Arizona Legislator
School days for the typical Arizona legislator

Image: Dunce cap. Public Domain. Wikipedia Commons.

Earth to GOP: Define health-care “rationing”…rationally, please

I see the Republicans’ latest maneuver to obstruct Obama’s health care plan is to flamboozle us senior citizens into thinking a public option for health care will mean “rationing.” It would be awfully nice if the GOP would explain, please, how it is that we don’t have health care rationing right now.

If you’ve had any ailment more dire than a runny nose, about your only option for obtaining health insurance is through a full-time job with a company large enough to afford a plan for its employees, or through marriage to someone who has access to such a plan. This lets out self-employment; it lets out buying an individual policy on the open market; it lets out working for most small businesses. Sometimes you don’t even know a “diagnosis” exists until an insurer informs you it will not cover you.

Refusing to cover people for this, that, or the other ailment—or setting up an obstacle course that causes people to avoid seeking medical care for fear of putting a metaphorical black blot on their records—amounts to health care rationing. If you can’t get insurance, you can’t get health care, because no one but the very wealthy can afford to pay out of pocket for a trip to the doctor.

A while ago, the State of Arizona offered only one health plan, which most of my doctors would not accept. Because I did not care to go to just any quack some company bureaucrat ordered me to see, I decided to buy an individual policy.

A year or so prior to that, I had visited my doctor for a routine physical. Delivering the usual clean bill of health, he asked if anything that we hadn’t covered was bothering me. I reminded him of the supposed neuroma on my right foot and remarked that I was tired of the choice of footwear the chronic pain left me: hiking boots or Dansko clodhoppers. He sent me to an orthopedic colleague, who had the foot X-rayed, did an examination, and said there was no evidence of a neuroma, nothing that he could see was wrong, and I should just learn to live with the foot discomfort.

So, a year or two later when I went to apply for this insurance policy, Blue Cross informed me that it would not cover me for any broken bones or for any back problems of any kind.

Say what?

Asked why, their bureaucrat said it was because I had “osteopenia.” I said I’d never heard of any such thing, no one had ever made any such diagnosis, and I didn’t even know what it was. He said there it was in my records.

Looking into this, I discovered it had been stuck there by the orthopedist, who thought the X-ray of my foot showed a slight thinning of the bones. Osteopenia is considered to be a precursor to osteoporosis, although that opinion is dubious.

At this point I trotted to my gynecologist, since at the time I was premenopausal. He ordered a complete body scan. When this returned, he said I did not have osteopenia, and in fact, my bones were stronger than those of most women my age.

By then, open enrollment had passed, I’d missed the chance to get private insurance, and I was forced to buy a health plan through GDU that I did not want and that did not cover the doctors of my choice.

So what we have here is insurance companies telling you…

you will not be covered (therefore can not have medical care) for certain issues, whether or not those issues are related to the “diagnosis” the company dislikes;
this limitation is based on a decision made by someone outside the doctor-patient relationship; and
you may only go to certain doctors, none of whom are doctors of your choice.

If that’s not rationing, I’d like to know what it is.

If you’re older than about 50 and lose your job or decide to start your own enterprise, you’ve got a snowball’s chance of obtaining healthcare coverage. Whatever policy you can land will except every ailment even remotely related to any symptoms that have appeared in your doctor’s records, and the cost of whatever policy you can obtain will be prohibitive. Because of the costs, you likely will be herded into an HMO, where you will have no choice of doctors, where the doc who does see you will have about 10 minutes to make a snap decision about any problem that arises, and where some bureaucrat will say what treatment options you have and don’t have and what medications you may and may not buy.

The Republicans are trying to convince us that we don’t already have health care rationing, when obviously we do. Then they’re trying to whip up hysteria by telling us that the precious full choice we supposedly have now is going to go away. Evidently they think enough of us are morons that spreading stupidity will block any progress toward meaningful health care coverage for all Americans—and given the number of people who bought into that idiot Palin’s “death panel” fantasy, they may be right.

How did the Republican Party become the party of jerks, fools, and scoundrels?

I used to be a Goldwater Girl, believe it or not. Barry Goldwater signed my first straight-A report card at the University of Arizona. I’d just received it in the mail, and as I reached the top of the stairs coming up from the Student Union’s basement mailroom, there was The Man himself, strolling through the building with only one or two sidekicks in tow. In an instant’s whim I barged up to him and asked if he’d put his autograph on it. Amazingly enough, he did.

If Barry Goldwater were alive today, he would be so revolted by the state of the party he would change his registration. Indeed, near the end of his life, he was heard to use the a****** word about the faction that was then just beginning to assume power in the party, whom he regarded as “a bunch of kooks.”

How right he was.

😀 In our hearts, we knew he was right. 😀

Of interest, along these lines
And this update