It's time for truth, not "truthiness."

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Never, ever, EVER forget...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Beep is in medical trouble...SINGLE PAYER NOW, DAMMIT!

This is something I got emailed to me by my friend Beep, who sometimes posts here. She's hit the "doughnut hole" on her Lupus meds and she can't afford them. She might have to get involved in a study and take the chance of *not* getting the meds she needs if she's put in the control group (placebo group).

Californians need to pressure their Senators and Assembly people to pass SB840, although there is a very strong chance that Herr Gropenfuhrer will veto the bill if it gets to his desk. That's why we need to also make sure Phil Angelides gets elected this November too. There IS a difference between him and Ah-nuld "Pretend to care" Schwarzenegger. This is one of them.

Anyway, here's Beep's message.

Dear friends,

If an anvil falls on my head tomorrow, I want to go to the great
beyond knowing that before I kicked the bucket I told someone that I
think Medicare Part D is the drug plan from hell.

I'm on the plan because people who have both Medicare and Medicaid
were switched to it this year involuntarily, and I am one of those

And in one way I benefit from Medicare Part D, at least for the
moment. Medicaid slapped me with an over $400 per month monthly
deductible this year on a technicality (doesn't sound like much I
know, except when you know that it's about half my monthly income,
if I try to increase that income, I run into even more bad
technicalities that make me worse off). Medicare Part D at least is
allowing me to get my medicines without paying that deductible every
single month, as Medicaid would have made me do.

Although my "free" coverage on Medicare Part D could die next year
with another automatic Social Security cost of living increase, and
medication copays could end up being more than my total income, so
not going to go around singing psalms to the gods of Medicare Part D
just yet. Still, I'm very grateful for the coverage of the moment.
take 11 medications, some of which are very expensive.

I have asked my represetatives why people like me, on the SSDI
disability program for people who worked and paid into Social
Security, are not protected from harmful Medicaid-related effects of
these automatic cost-of living increases, while people on SSI, the
disability program for people who did NOT pay into the Social
system, are protected from these effects by a special law. I have
received no good answer, nor found anyone interested in sponsoring
legislation to change this. But that is another story.

Today I learned that my lupus treatment isn't going so great and my
doctor wants me on a biological agent called rituxan. His reasons
this change of treatment in my case are good ones and I agree with

Yes, I'm a little scared of the side effects:

But I'm hopeful that this medicine will help me and may end up being
lot better than the stuff I am taking right now:

However, it seems I have no way to get this medication. It is very
expensive. I won't go into the ethics of drug prices in the US...but
I know there are patient assistance programs offered by drug
now for many drugs. I'm not sure if there is one for rituxan. But
that may not matter, as it seems many drug companies have pulled the
access to their patient assistance programs for Medicare Part D
patients. The drug companies were told it may be ILLEGAL to offer
this assistance to Medicare Part D patients!

It seems this has something to do with the "doughnut hole", the part
of Medicare Part D that someone who must be on crack put into the
plan, the gist of which gives participants a huge gap in coverage.
Once they hit a fairly low "maximum", they have to pay all of their
own drug costs till they hit a ceiling beyond which the plan will
in again. I will have to deal with this evil "doughnut from the
nether region kitchens" myself if I get too much more involuntary
income from Social Security cost of living increases. For me, and
people like me, it is life-threatening, since there is no way at all
can pay for my meds on my income. I try to make light of this
situation, but it's not really very funny. Anyway, it seems there
a potential legal problem if a drug company helped patients who were
in the process of paying for their costly doughnut. I'm guessing
I could be wrong) it was just simpler for some drug companies to
exclude Part D folks from their assistance programs rather than risk
any legal hassle.

I think this is crazy. I think the plan is crazy. I think punishing
seniors with a penalty if they didn't sign up right away for the plan
is crazy. I think the doughnut hole is crazy. I think the huge jump
from "special help" to "huge copays" if you end up with one extra
dollar of income is crazy. I think Social Security forcing cost of
living increases on me that are allowed to potentially kill me by
taking my coverage eligibility away is crazy. I think my being
totally unable to get a medication my doctor says I need is crazy.

So my doctor is advising me to take the only option I have: to enroll
in a research study. The disadvantages are that I will have to go to
Los Angeles in my old car all the time, and when that car is worn to
the ground I have no way to replace it. Also gas ain't cheap. It's
also exhausting for me to drive there, as it is far away. And, I
might be one of the patients who gets the placebo instead of the

The advantages are that I at least have a shot at getting the
("do you feel lucky, punk?"), and also in helping people of the
by participating in the research. Also, they may give all
participants some of the medicine at the end of the trial.

So if they decide I qualify, I'll be doing this next year, because
just not doing well on my current treatment and I have to try what is
available for me to try.

But I want someone to know this is all crazy, and I also believe
stress like this is bad for anyone, let alone sick people.

Please feel free to share my story with anyone if you think it might
do some good anywhere.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

SNAFU: Grandpa's being called up...

I tried to write something intelligent here earlier but kind of petered out.

However, I can give a gist of what I was trying to write about. Apparently older and older people are being re-activated by the armed forces to go to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Up to and including a 70-year-old dentist who just finished a hitch in Afghanistan. Ominous parallels time: during the last waning days of World War II, the Nazis pressed both the very old and the very young into service. The Russians entering Berlin were shocked to see Berlin defended by old men and apple-cheeked Hitlerjugend.

While it is highly unlikely that minors will be joining the elderly on the front lines in the Sandbox, the thought of older and older people on the front lines really makes me feel ashamed to be an American. This is not the way you honor your elders.

Of course, once they get back home, they'll find that the VA is woefully underfunded and severely challenged by the returning wounded and walking wounded.

Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Soy una perdidor...

George W. Bush, picture taken during today's press conference.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Responding to a Democrat who talks more like a Repugnican...

Paul Kujawski, who self-identifies as a member of the California Democratic Party Central Committee, threw some red meat to the largely conservative readership of the Los Angeles Daily News this Sunday in the opinion section. I couldn't let him bloviate without addressing his points, so off went my letter-to-the-editor. I have my doubts the GOP-loving Daily News will print it, so I'm reprinting it right here.

How can the Democratic Party woo back the 9-11 Republicans? It won't be easy. The key is for the Democratic Party to adopt the following, or something like it, into our party platform:

There is a war between civilization and the political-religious movement usually called Islamism or Islamo-fascism (not Islam). We didn't seek this conflict, but we cannot avoid it.

While not the only issue facing America, this war is the single most important issue of our generation.

We must unequivocally win this war, however long it takes.
-- Paul Kujawski

My response:

I have no complaint with adding the plank to the Democratic Party
platform Mr. Kujausky suggests. Yes, we are in a war against radical
Islamic fundamentalism. It is indeed the single most important issue
of our generation.

However, Kujawsky continues by citing the lies that got us into what
John Kerry rightfully called "the wrong war in the wrong place at the
wrong time." There was no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein had
restarted his WMD program. And there has never been any proof of
Hussein meeting with Al'Qaeda. There had been contact between Iraqi
Kurds and Al'Qaeda, but the Iraqi Kurds have been agitating for their
own state and had been nothing but trouble for Hussein. Al'Qaeda had
Hussein on their hit list, as well as any other leader of any other
secular state in the area formerly dominated by the Ottoman Empire
before World War I. Saddam and his murderous sons were corked up like
a Genie in a bottle, unable to threaten anyone with their expansionist
ambitions, between two no-fly zones and a blockade.

The war against Al'Qaeda and their Afghani Taliban hosts was fought in
a half-hearted, perfunctory manner. If we ourselves had gone in and
wrenched Osama Bin'Laden and his lieutenants from their ratholes in
Tora Bora instead of "outsourcing" the job to Afghani warlords we
wouldn't be talking about Al'Qaeda in anything but historical terms.
We would still be fighting radical Islamic fundamentalism, because it
is an idea rather than an enemy country. There would be others in the
region to take up the fight, and we would have to prepare ourselves to
do so. But Al'Qaeda would have been history.

Instead, we invaded Iraq. We removed the cork on the Genie's bottle.
We now have to deal not only with marginalized Sunnis who still hold
sympathies to Saddam's Baathist party, but with foreign Al'Qaeda
inspired fighters attracted to Iraq by the chance to kick sand in the
"Great Satan's" face. We also have to deal with growing ties between
Iraqi Shia radical Islamic fundamentalists and the Islamic Republic of
Iran. It is not far-fetched to say that the final outcome of
"Operation Iraqi Freedom" will be Iraq, or at least a large portion of
it, as a client state of Iran.

The Iraq War has made us less safe, rather than more safe. It
destabilized a country that had been forced into stabilization by the
terms of its defeat in the Gulf War. It has provided elements of
Al'Qaeda training camps and target practice. We made a big deal about
destroying Al'Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. We just pushed them
into Pakistan and created an opening which allowed them to be
established in Iraq.

This war between the West and radical Islamic fundamentalism didn't
start with 9/11. Arguably it started with the partition of the former
Ottoman Empire by the Victorious Powers after World War I. A case can
be made that it started when the First Crusade was called by Pope
Urban II in 1095. It will be with us for the forseeable future.
However, the Iraq War was a distraction, a handwave to misdirect the
Western World from our failure in Afghanistan. And it has backfired.
Big time.

The Iraq War has hamstrung us from fighting the real war on terror.
Our inability to deal with a resurgent Iran and its proxy organization
Hezb-i-Allah is proof that this war has come back to bite us. If
anything, the Iraq War has strengthened Iran's hand. It has also given
Osama Bin'Laden more, not less prestige. Osama is now the man who
stood up to the Crusaders, a modern day Salah-ad-din. By failing to
kill him like the cur he is in Tora Bora we have allowed him to
inspire a whole generation of would-be martyrs. Both the London Tube
Train Bombings of 7/7/05 and the thwarted liquid bomb plot were
executed by British citizens of primarily Pakistani descent.

Iraq remains the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. You
can spin it all you want but those of us who are "reality-based" know
the score.

Michelle Klein-Hass

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ah-nuld: Read his lips, there is no plan...

He has no plan, other than more of the same Borrow and Binge Bush-shit.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Two words for Joe: Buh-bye!

Nobody likes a sore loser, Joe.

I am damn glad that the Democratic Party seems to be uniting around Ned Lamont. My biggest fear for Connecticut was that the DLC Dems would rally around Lieberman if he lost by a hair and decided to run as an indie. However, they seem to have backed away from Lieberman too. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a major DLC-ite, has come out in support of Lamont, as has Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Jeff Greenfield of CNN has astutely pointed out that there were more reasons to not support Lieberman than just his support for the Iraq War and the growing power of the Executive branch over the Legislative and Judiciary branches of government. He rightly pointed out that Lieberman's strong Orthodox Jewish faith made him very susceptible to going along with Religious Right stances on issues like the Terri Schiavo case. Never mind the truth about the Religious Right: their support for Jews and Israel and yadda yadda is only because the Book of Revelation says that there will be 144,000 Jewish converts to Christianity, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes, evangelizing the heathen during the End Times. Of course after that mass conversion it's back to "turn or burn" for the remaining Jews. But that's a detail the Religious Right tends to keep from their "beloved Jewish friends."

Greenfield has also mentioned that Lieberman has been soft on Civil Rights, and a critic of Affirmative Action. He also supports school vouchers, something that could have major Church/State repercussions and which in all the places tried seems to attract a certain type of huckster to the places that have tried them, the kind who doesn't care about students but cares a lot about the voucher money. In Milwaukee, WI, where there was a voucher program for students at the worst-performaing public schools, there have been fake voucher schools busted which are staffed by unqualified "teachers" and which have "curricula" which consist of playing board games and watching movies.

There are other reasons Greenfield didn't cover. Lieberman is a major crusader for censorship of media. He is one of the bluest of bluenoses. He has publically railed against the evils of movies, TV and videogames, and would like to see official censorship of media for violence and sexual content.

In short, Lieberman really does belong in the Republican Party. And now he has his chance to be a GOP tool. By running as an independent, Lieberman will peel off the more conservative Dems and make it that much harder for the legitimate Democratic nominee to win against Republican Alan Schlesinger, unless Lieberman also peels off support from Schlesinger as well. Basically the Republicans have two horses in the race, three if you count Diana Urban who is also running as an independent Republican candidate. The Dems have but one horse in the race: Ned Lamont. Hopefully Lamont will win. If not, then the Lieberman who returns to the Senate will be a radicalized Lieberman without any desire to vote Democratic, and further into the GOP column in all but name. Lieberman needs to be beaten like a big bass drum. Bye bye Joe, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Blogosphere: We need Kos like we need a hole in the head.

Ever since the primary, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, aka Kos, has been talking down the chances of one Phil Angelides for Governor. He was pro Westly during the primary and now he seems to be happy to talk down Angelides' chances at every turn.

We don't need your pessimism, Kos.

This is my official resignation from Daily Kos, a move which I have been pondering for months. I post as "MamasGun" on Daily Kos.

For the past couple of months, I have been cut off from my Trusted User status on Daily Kos, just in time for a big wave of troll diaries and pie fighting over the Lamont/Lieberman primary. I thought this was an accident of the new website interface, which is a ponderous monstrosity that uses tons and tons of AJAX. When Google does AJAX, they do it with grace and in a way that doesn't weigh down FireFox. However, when Kos does AJAX, it becomes a crashy thing that crashes FireFox quite often.

However, I am not so sure now that it was an accident that left me without my "Mojo." Since I have yet to get my "Mojo" back after two months of losing it, never mind that I have had many double-digit rated posts in the past two months, I am beginning to suspect that I had my Trusted User status taken away from me by Kos himself because I had the guts to call him on first his support for Westly in the primary and then his consistent anti-Angelides tone since the primary.

What does he want to do? Does he want Arnold for four more lousy years? What is his freakin' problem?

If Kos put as much energy into cheerleading for Angelides as he does for cheerleading for Ned Lamont, Angelides would have all the "big mo" he could use. Instead, he brays, Eeyore-stylee, that Angelides doesn't have a chance against the steamroller that is Herr Ah-nuld der Gropenfuhrer.

Thing is, last time I checked, Kos is a Californian, not a Connecticut-person. What are residents of Connecticut called? Connecticut Yankees? See, I'm Californian, second generation Californian even, I don't know. Anyway, Kos is from California. The Angelides/Schwarzenegger race is in his own freaking back yard.

I don't want Ah-nuld's signature on my Masters of Social Work when I get my Masters in hopefully 3 years. I am freaking tired of his face and his attitude. I want that bastard OUT OF OFFICE. I would really like to see him drummed out of the state and sent back to Austria where he belongs with his goose-stepping Nazi-nostalgic buddies like former UN Secretary/Austrian Chancellor Kurt Waldheim.

If Angelides loses, and Ah-nuld gets 4 more years to play Fuhrer here, the best goddamn role the hack's ever gotten, then there will be more than enough blame to go around. I am not saying that Kos will be even an important person to blame for the failure: the way the campaign is going Angelides will have more than enough people on his staff to blame. But as the old '60s saying goes, you are either part of the SOLUTION or part of the PROBLEM. And Kos is part of the PROBLEM right now.

(Crossposted at MsGeek.Org and Calitics)