Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) gives a briefing on New York’s COVID-19 response every day. Today he highlighted a letter from a Kansas farmer, as reported by Jen Hayden of the Daily Kos. The farmer’s name is Dennis; Cuomo redacted his last name. He shared the contents of the handwritten letter with his listeners: Dear Mr. Cuomo, I seriously doubt that you will ever read this letter as I know you are busy beyond belief with the disaster that has befallen our country. We currently (as of March 26) are a nation in crisis. Of that there is no doubt. Your approach has been spot on correct. I commend you for that & for especially for telling the truth, something that has been sorely lacking as of late. I am a retired farmer hunkered down in N.E. Kansas with my wife who has but one lung and occasional problems with her remaining lung. She also has diabetes. We are in our 70s and frankly I am very afraid for her. Enclosed find a solitary N95 mask leftover from our farming days. It has never been used. If you could, would you please give this mask to a nurse or doctor in your city. I have kept four masks for my immediate family. Please keep on doing what you do so well, which is lead. "A farmer in northeast Kansas," @NYGovCuomo says, reading letter his office received. "His wife has one lung and diabetes. He has five masks. He sends one mask to New York for a doctor or a nurse, keeps four masks. You want to talk about a snapshot of humanity…" pic.twitter.com/5f0Bez9avJ — CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) April 24, 2020 I received this letter from a farmer in northeast Kansas. His wife is ill and he is aging. He sent me 1 of 5 N95 masks he has from farming to pass on to a doctor or nurse in New York. This is humanity at its best. I share his letter as inspiration. pic.twitter.com/Fa4h5LH9rL — Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 24, 2020 Dennis has five unused N95 masks from his days as a farmer. He is terrified for his wife Sharon. Yet he still sends one of his masks to Cuomo for some medical professional to use in staying safe from the virus. Cuomo said: You want to talk about a snapshot of humanity? You have five masks. What do you do? You keep all five? Do you hide the five masks? Do you keep them for yourselves or others? No, you send one mask one mask to New York to help a nurse or a doctor. How beautiful is that? I mean how selfless is that? How giving is that? The responses to these two tweets, from CBS Evening News and Governor Cuomo, are as beautiful and righteously outraged as you would expect. I didn’t go through every response on both accounts, but I only saw one (presumed) MAGAt try to shit the place up, and he gained no traction. This is the America I know, with people like Dennis and Cuomo emblematic of what is right about our society. Trump and his insane “solutions” to the crisis are not who we are. Our best to both of them, and to Dennis’s family.
When I was a middle school teacher, I had to take several months off for spinal surgery. The doctors literally “cut my throat” in order to go in and work on my cervical vertebrae. When I returned to school, the kids asked me about the Frankenstein scar on my neck. My answer: the doctors cut my head off, put it in a pan, worked on my spine, sewed my head back on, and sent me home. The ten or fifteen seconds of stunned bemusement before someone yelped, “No, they didn’t!” were priceless. (And yes, I am a Bad Person for lying to my students. I did fess up after they called me on it, so there’s that. Also, the scar healed beautifully. Too bad, really. I loved telling people that story.) Kids are credulous and gullible, but not stupid. Most — not all, but most — Americans are the same. It didn’t take long for people to react in horror to Trump’s bizarre exhortation to inject themselves with disinfectant. (If you’re an inveterate Trump defender who believes that bad old liberal media is lying again about The Wonder That is Donald, check the link above. There’s video and everything. Of course, you won’t believe it, but I can’t help you with that.) Here’s what Doctor Trump advised the American people. The setup is a set of comments by someone with actual, functioning intelligence, DHS’s Bill Bryan, spoke about the virus not doing well in warm, humid temperatures. Bryan said, “The virus dies quickest in sunlight,” which triggered a series of speculations in what passes for Trump’s mind. So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just a very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked because of the testing. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that, too. Why yes, Doctor Sooper Genius, I’ll shove a halogen flashlight up my ass right away. That’s do the trick. But wait, the Doctor is still in da house: I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that. Because, you see, it gets on the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that. So that you’re going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds — it sounds interesting to me. Absolutely, Doctor Giggles. This is an awesome idea. I’m making a cocktail of Lysol, Clorox and Scrubbing Bubbles for myself. Maybe I’ll have it for high tea. What do your fellow megaminds think? Actually, they’re not on board. Dr. Vin Gupta warns: This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous. It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves. … Any amount of bleach or isopropyl alcohol or any kind of common household cleaner is […]
When opportunity knocks, you had better answer the damn door. Starting by the end of this week, Teri and I are going to find ourselves doing something that neither one of us has done literally for years. We’re going to be on a daily mail watch. No, not for something from unemployment, she’s all set there. And no, nothing from the Munchkin man, we have direct deposit for our bonus kaboodle. What we’re going to be waiting for is an envelope from her healthcare provider. Teri is on furlough, and when she was placed on furlough, her boss advised her that her healthcare coverage was still going to be available to her. But since she would no longer be having weekly deductions for her premiums through her paycheck, she would receive a monthly bill that it would be her responsibility to pay if coverage were to continue. And therein lies the rub. The vast majority of Americans have their healthcare through their employers, and it’s contributory healthcare, meaning that the employer picks up some of the tab, and the employee has payroll deductions for their share. And this is why we’ll be having a daily watch party at our mailbox. It all depends on the company. If Teri’s employer is a straight shooter, then they’ll continue to fund their part of her coverage, leaving her only the normal weekly portion, or about $130 a month. But if the company notified the insurance company that while their plan will remain active, the company will no longer be paying their share during the furlough period, then the monthly bill that Teri receives will likely be 3-5 times what she pays on a monthly basis to continue receiving healthcare. And if Teri stops coverage now, due to the expense, will she be able to resume coverage when she returns to work, or will she have to wait until the next open enrollment period in November, with coverage to resume next January? There is nothing unusual about our little two adult, two pootie family, nor is there anything strange or unusual about Teri’s employer. And while it certainly helps that the federal government is going to pitch in for the next four months to ensure that employees lose nothing from their regular paycheck due to the corona-virus crisis, that won’t do anything to help those families from facing a financial or healthcare crisis if they can’t afford the health insurance premiums if their company opts out of paying their share during these business shutdowns. There has already been repeated calls for Trump and the administration to reopen the ACA enrollment period for people who have been affected by a loss of insurance coverage due to the pandemic, with some calling for the open enrollment period to be available for anybody who wants to get coverage during the crisis. Personally, I think that this is a bad idea, in essence all it does is to trade one form of private driven healthcare for another. And there just happens to be a better way. There is going to have to be another round of massive economic stimulus for the ordinary consumer, and it’s going to have to be soon. Both sides already accept that, and both sides are already lobbing around ten digit numbers for the cost of the package, as well […]
Teri is now officially on furlough, it began Tuesday, the day before our 17th anniversary. She was notified by her manager that while the company is continuing to offer insurance coverage for employees, since she is no longer receiving a paycheck from the company, she will receive a bill before the month from the insurance company for her premium. The burning question now is whether the bill she receives from the insurance company will be for the amount that she pays out of her paycheck every week, or the total premium amount for her coverage. This can be a critical difference. In my last job, I was blessed with a “Cadillac” health plan, for which I paid $50 a paycheck to cover Teri and myself. The raw total for my knee replacement 9 years ago assayed out to $109,000. My total out-of-pocket expense? $371 and change. When I took a voluntary buyout from the company almost 5 years ago, one of the side bennies they offered us was to bridge our health insurance for 4 months via COBRA. My monthly insurance premium to extend the coverage? $847 a month. This is what Bernie Sanders has been hammering away at for the past 5 years now, and even if Joe Biden is the nominee, he is going to fave increasing pressure to move harder left on the issue of Medicare-for-all. Because if there is one thing that this corona-virus pandemic has done, it is to take what was once a theoretical issue and turn it into a practical, everyday issue affecting everyone. What was the biggest resistance to Medicare-for-all? People were adverse to the thought of losing the insurance they already had. That insurance was like a security blanket, it might have holes in it, but it was warm and comforting just to have it, and like any child, people were loathe to give it up. Whenever you actually have anything, the possibility of losing it is entirely theoretical. But now, thanks to the pandemic, millions have suddenly become unemployed. If they were flat out fired, or if the company shut down for good, they are without health insurance. And if they are on furlough like Teri, it’s an open question as to whether the monthly premiums will be something that they can afford. Viola! The theoretical has just become reality. And at a time when a full course of corona-virus treatment, including a ventilator, tops out at somewhere in the neighborhood of $74,000. Millions of people are now uninsured, with a daunting prospect of trying to get insurance that they can afford. The Democrats should be hammering daily in the media about Trump’s refusal to reopen the Obamacare exchanges for a special period. But as the crisis drags on, even people who are lucky enough to still be employed, and covered by insurance, the specter is always over their shoulder that if this drags on too long, they too could find themselves on the street, without coverage. And since they’re just sitting around the table with paper and a calculator anyway, they might finally realize that a Medicare payroll tax of $135 a month, the going premium for Medicare, is less than they’re paying in payroll deductions for their current plan, along with co-pays and deductibles.. And nobody can take it away from them. Suddenly, Bernie’s radical socialist […]
In the 1980s, the Reagan administration reduced top marginal tax rates by a significant percentage. The theory was that some of the benefits would “trickle down” from senior executives to lower-paid individuals, thereby providing perhaps all employees with an indirect benefit. On the surface, the concept made sense-although Reagan’s economists failed to factor in one major problem: GREED. In 1978, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer)- worker compensation ratio was about 30 to 1. By 2018, according to the AFL-CIO Labor Federation, it had ballooned to 287-1. Over the years, those that disparaged Reagan’s program came to refer to it as “Voodoo Economics”. Recently, Bernie Sanders released some details concerning his proposal to provide Medicare for All. As I will show you, the various components of his plan take the concept of Voodoo Economics to a whole new level. Many of Bernie’s numbers are presented as Trillions of dollars of expenditures and revenues over a ten-year period. First of all, virtually nobody really thinks in terms of Trillions. I would hazard a guess that most of us don’t even know how many zeros are in a Trillion. There are 12. (I looked it up.) There are approximately 330 Million people in the U.S. According to the latest data from Forbes Magazine, only 46 Americans have a net worth of greater than $10 Billion. (Nine zeros.) Beyond the issue of forcing readers of his plan to think in unfathomable numbers, Bernie makes his calculations based on ten-year projections. I submit that, today, especially given what’s happening out there in the real world, ten-DAY projections are probably suspect. It would make much more sense to me if his campaign were to develop numbers based on costs and revenues per person. Below are my comments on the “information” contained on Bernie’s website. The stuff in italics consist of the actual wording. “According to a February 15, 2020 study by epidemiologists at Yale University, the Medicare for All bill that Bernie wrote would save over $450 billion in health care costs and prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths – each and every year. What our current system costs over the next decade: Over the next ten years, national health expenditures are projected to total approximately $52 trillion if we keep our current dysfunctional system. How much we will save: According to the Yale study and others, Medicare for All will save approximately $5 trillion over that same time period. $52 trillion – $5 trillion = $47 trillion total “ In 2017, U.S. medical costs per capita were $10,209. Let’s assume they are currently about $11,000. Based on a population of 330 Million, the total outlay is about $3.6 Trillion. So, over ten years, $52 Trillion might be a reasonable number. However, Bernie goes on to say that his Medicare for All will save $5 Trillion over ten years. Simple math equates that to a 10% savings. Hardly worth the effort. Also, he makes no reference to the Federal budget annual deficit. All other components of the overall budget aside, what effect would healthcare spending at this level have in the future? One factor that must be considered is that, if private insurance is effectively eliminated and all costs are billed to Medicare, the administrative job losses in the insurance industry, medical offices and hospitals would potentially be catastrophic. Somehow, any Medicare for All program […]
This is my favorite time of the year. After spending three years basically sitting around, using their thumbs to conduct self colonoscopies, members of both chambers of congress, the House and the Senate, remove the aforementioned thumbs, wipe them off, and desperately try to get something, anything done, so that they have at least one positive accomplishment to show the voters when they scurry back home net year to beg for another round of suckling at the public teat. It’s official. Both the US House and the US Senate are working separately on drug pricing bills, with Trump keeping an eagle eye on the process from the White House. Yeah, right. I think we all pretty well know by now that the only thing that His Lowness keeps an eagle eye on is the driveway of the White House, waiting for the Grubhub truck to pull up. But this is important. It’s important not only because of the actual subject of the bill, and its importance to millions of Americans, but even more so, it is critically important because of the process that is being used to craft this particular piece of legislation. And as with all things in Washington DC, the devil is in the details. Normally, legislation originates in the House. They write the bill, whine about it, tack all kinds of unnecessary shit onto it, whine about it some more, and then vote to pass it. If it passes, it moves on to the Senate, where, if things are working properly (ha, ha), the Majority leader calls it to the floor for debate and a vote. If it passes, it goes to the President’s desk for his signature. If the Senate tinkers with it and passes it, it goes back to the House for another vote on the amended bill. It’s all a very dignified, slow motion waltz, with all of the attendant pomp and circumstance. But this time is different, because this time, each chamber is working on a separate bill on the same issue. Even the rocket rangers in congress realize that it’s stupid and self defeating to sit there and pass two different bills on the same subject back and forth to each other to vote on, so there’s a completely separate process for handling this kind of congressional kerfuffle. And that process is called reconciliation. Here’s how it works. Each chamber will craft, debate, and pass its own version of the bill. Once both bills are passed in their respective chambers, the majority and minority leaders in both chambers will appoint a team of crack negotiators, usually the ones with the cleanest thumbs, who will then sit down in a conference room, and hammer out a final bill made up of a dogs breakfast of the two original bills. Once the unified bill is completed, it goes to each chamber for debate and an up or down, vote, with no changes allowed by either chamber. Here’s why the process is so critical. Normally, when the House passes a bill, McConnell just wipes his ass with it and sends it to a committee to die, it never comes up for a vote. And f he does call it up for a “show” vote, that requires a “cloture” vote to end debate and have a final vote, which requires 60 votes. This is where a party can filibuster a vote, […]
Look we all get it, everybody hates Donald Trump. Hell, when Trump leaves the house in the morning, even Melania says “Have a nice day dah-link. And don’t forget to cross against the lights!” But Donald Trump doesn’t just survive by diversion, Donald Trump himself is the ultimate diversion, and we can neither forget that, or fall for it. As hard as he tried, Donald Trump wasn’t even on the ballot in 2018, and we more than doubled the national vote margin of victory. And most successful candidates treated His Lowness like the kid in class with cooties, they avoided the hell out of him. They talked about “kitchen table” issues, healthcare topping the list. With the Trump DOJ arguing in court to dismantle the ACA permanently, healthcare will top the list again in 2020, likely with guns right alongside it. Every Democrat running for President has at least a fairly detailed healthcare policy that they’re touting. basically, they fall into three buckets. There’s Medicare for all with no private insurance option, Medicare for all with a private insurance option, and strengthening the Affordable Care Act along with a public Medicare buy in, which basically means near or total universal coverage. every plan has its own strengths and weaknesses, but when you look at the bottom line, they all end up in the same place, universal healthcare as a right, and not a privilege. But there is one thing that people who already have healthcare tend to lose sight of. And that is just how important healthcare is to people who don’t have it. That is both perfectly normal, as well as perfectly understandable. After all, how do you describe to a person what an orange tastes like if they’ve never eaten an orange. It’s one of those things that has to be experienced. Let me tell you a little story. Most of you may already know that I suffer from degenerative glaucoma, and that I’m legally blind. The fact that you’re reading this is because my good friend Ursula Faw proofreads this stuff before it’s published, otherwise you’d be trying to decipher the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those of you who know me also know I’m not looking for an invitation to a pity party. I already know what my wife and kids look like, and I’ve already seen my Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, and Cubs win world championships. Seeing any more of Donald Trump I can live without. For the last four years, my wife and I have lived solely on her retail sales paycheck, along with a puny monthly payment from my defaulted on UAL pension program. Teri gets health insurance through her work, at a cost of $41 a week, but to cover me would mean paying twice as much for my coverage as she pays, which is not feasible. So, I am uninsured, and have been for four years. Late last November, I embarked on the Ring Quest of trying to get disability due to my legally blind status. After a rather lengthy but orderly process, I was approved for disability, and in late September, for the first time in five long years, in one day we will go from the working poor to the middle class again. I was also notified that due to my disability, I also qualified for early entry into the Medicare program. But! And all of you should know by now that when […]
“Who’s on first. What’s on second.” “I don’t know!” “Third base.” abbot and Costello It’s little wonder that President Trump is sarcastically referred to as The Pampers President, since these days being a Republican seems to entail acting like a two year old. Meaning, they spend all day screaming for something, and when Mama finally gives it to them, they throw it in the corner, and scream for something else instead. The GOP spent 8 years running monolithically on repealing the scourge of the American healthcare system, the Affordable Care Act, with its dreaded “death panels.” But now, fueled by a DOJ decision not to defend the law in court in a lawsuit, the GOP is approaching an even money that they finally get their wish. And instead of celebrating, the GOP is freaking out like a teen whose parents return hoe early to a toga party in the living room. Back in March, jealous of the Democratic success on running on healthcare in 2018, and fearful of what it could portend in 2020, Trump once again raised the Ghost of Stupid Past, proudly proclaiming that the GOP would once again be re-branded as “the party of healthcare,” by passing a massive reform bill that would be , “bigger, better, and cheaper.” It too Senate Majority Leader Yertl McTurtle all of about 30 seconds to piss in that punch bowl by proclaiming that the Senate had no intention of even considering any significant healthcare legislation ahead of the 2020 election. That was back in March, when the lawsuit was still widely seen as a long shot Hail Mary pass. But now, with the suit apparently steaming towards a showdown in the Supreme Court, with the reel specter that “Brewski” Brett Kavanaugh may finally pay dividends, the GOP is in a panic. Up until now, on more “socially” related issues, Chief Justice John Roberts has reluctantly sided with the liberals on the court, providing a speed brake on Kavanaugh. But on this issue, which could be repaired legislatively, it is possible that Roberts may finally decide to let Trump pay the piper for his craven stupidity. Now senior Senate Republicans are reacting like a drunk from Topeka who suddenly wakes up in cheap motel room in Sao Paolo. GOP Senator Lamar Alexander, who is copping a life raft off of the Trump death cruise next November is even talking about the possibility of reforming healthcare costs, and even Mitch McConnell is trading in his rendition of “Na-na-na-na,Hey,hey! Goodbye!” for a rousing chorus of “Kumbaya.” “I think the important thing for the public to know is there’s nobody in the Senate not in favor of covering pre-existing conditions. We would act quickly on a bipartisan basis to restore” those protections if struck down by the courts Every husband who has ever had a wife bitch him out about his gambling knows that this is exactly what she sounds like when he comes home and proudly displays the ten grand he just made at the track. The first thing he’s gonna have to spring for is a neck brace for her sudden case of whiplash. Such it is now for McConnell. Forget Trump, this is a nightmare scenario for the GOP, and a shining testament to their own stupidity. They ran for 8 years on repealing Obamacare without attempting to craft a […]
It’s no new insight that recent legislation in Idaho and Georgia is slashing women’s reproductive rights and sending them back to the days of back street butchers for abortions. This is abominable in 2019. It’s positively medieval. And so is this: South Carolina State Rep. Nancy Mace made a speech a few weeks ago, in which she identified herself as a rape victim. The purpose of her speech was to support exceptions for rape and incest, in conjunction with the proposed 6-week fetal heartbeat bill. Then a Republican colleague sent her a card, which is the image you see at the top of this post. Charlotte Observer: State Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Berkeley, gave the speech two weeks ago, successfully persuading the House to allow exceptions for rape and incest in a proposed 6-week “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban. On Tuesday, she returned to her desk to find a card left there by Magnuson. “It is a twisted logic that would kill the unborn child for the misdeed of the parent,” read the card, produced by Personhood SC, a group fighting for an outright abortion ban with no exceptions in South Carolina. Mace took the message personally, since it came two weeks after her speech, and House Democrats were outraged. She blasted the card on Facebook for its use of “misdeed” to describe rape and “parent” to describe “rapist.” In response, Magnuson on Wednesday distributed to House members a letter from a member of Personhood SC stating: “The problem of some is not the ‘poor wording’ of this sentence, but that these people just simply want abortion in cases of rape and incest.” “Calling rape a misdeed is ignorant, disgraceful and degrading toward women,” the second-term lawmaker ]Mace] said in an interview with The State Friday. “I didn’t get sent to Columbia to put up with bullshit like that.” Mace had kept the rape story secret for 25 years. It took a lot of courage for her to come forward. But that’s not how her Republican colleague perceived it. In his mind, any woman is just a breeding machine and should bear any man’s child, no matter how the conception occurred — or so I must conclude. There is no way a rapist can be construed as a “parent” doing a “misdeed.” And to expect a woman to bear a rapist’s child is so over the top that I’m amazed this conversation is even taking place in 2019. Republicans want to control women’s reproductive rights, totally, because that will allow them to control women economically. It’s as simple as that.
The print above is “Two Birds” by the marvelous surreal artist M.C. Escher. (You may remember his famous hand sketching another hand with a pencil, and all those terrific staircases?) In any event, as you notice, it’s the same image repeating itself. Now, take a look at the other image. Why is she touching a wall with what appear to be large dots? — Colleen Scanlon (@ColleenScanlon) April 27, 2019 Good question. Possible answers: She’s telling the dots not to bully each other, but to “Be Best?” These are magic mushrooms, and if she touches the right one, it will turn into her hubby’s dick, dance away, and throw itself down the sinkhole on the White House lawn? If you take too many opioids, your arms will fall off and you’ll be left with one arm growing out of your stomach to do everything with? If you answered, number three — you’re close. Yes, April 27 is National Drug Take Back Day, and this is the photo op that accompanies it, Melania doing God alone (or maybe Stanley Kubrick?) knows WTF. Because we sure as hell do not. National Drug Take Back Day is touted by the White House as a pro-active measure in curbing opioid addiction. The concept is that most people who abuse opioids are getting them, with or without permission, from a friend or relative. Now, some people may get off on the wrong foot by swiping Mom’s left over pain killer from knee surgery, granted. Kids will be kids. And, it’s not a bad idea, ever, to do a regular inventory of drugs in the household and clean house by throwing them away. Hear, hear. I have no problem with that. My point is that it is naive in the extreme to think that the opioid crisis in this country originates from the family medicine chest, or can be stopped there. It is either deliberate obfuscation on this part of this administration to say such a thing, or, alternatively, they don’t have a clue and feel that they have to say something and this is the best that they can come up with. Be that as it may, here are a few facts to look at, to get the origins of the opioid crisis in some kind of a realistic context. Stat News, Boston Globe Media: The widespread abuse of the potent opioid fentanyl appears to be largely the result of illicit manufacturing of the synthetic drug as opposed to the misuse of legally prescribed versions of the painkiller, according to two US government studies released Thursday. That represents a dramatic change in the way opioids have traditionally been abused, and means public health officials will likely have to adjust their response to the two-decade-long crisis. The number of drugs containing fentanyl seized by law enforcement jumped 426 percent from 2013 to 2014, and then almost tripled from 2014 to 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The number of synthetic opioid deaths nationally went up 79 percent from 2013 to 2014. But the number of prescriptions for fentanyl from 2010 through 2014 has remained flat. In Ohio, which has been particularly hard hit by fentanyl overdoses, prescriptions for fentanyl actually declined by 7 percent from 2013 to 2014. So, street drugs, not wrongly written prescriptions, are powering the opioid crisis. More specifically, the […]