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VA or Private Care: Denied Care Is Always Bad Care and GOP to Blame for Both

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 26, 2014

These past few weeks, the biggest news (prior to a young douchebag with a history of mental problems being able to buy a gun and kill a half dozen classmates because no girl would date the creepy bastard) was that Administrators of the Arizona Veterans Administration had been cooking the books, intentionally deceiving the VA HQ, in order to win performance bonuses. Last March, Senate Republicans blocked a $24 Billion increase in funding for the VA that would have included the construction of twenty-seven new medical facilities to accommodate the over two million additional wounded vets suddenly thrust into an already stressed out VA hospital system thanks to Bush’s perpetual wars. On the other end of the spectrum, we have seen no less than FIFTY-ONE votes by the GOP-led House to “repeal ObamaCare” and Red state governors refusing federal funds to expand medicaid that would have provided health care to the poor. What do these things have in common? Republicans. The only problem with the VA is that people are prevented from seeing a doctor in a timely manner because Republicans refused to expand the program. Ditto for Medicaid AND the ObamaCare Exchanges. Note to GOP: ALL “health care”, be it in the private sector or government run, is bad WHEN YOU ARE DENIED ACCESS TO IT!

One of the reasons Mugsy’s Rap Sheet exists is… as our tagline points out… “Recording history for those who seek to rewrite it”, and indeed, that seems to be the new stock & trade of the GOP. Because I remember well how towards the end of the Bush Administration, news broke of deplorable conditions at Walter Reed. Media Matters reminded everyone last week of the “Walter Reed Scandal” that Salon broke in early 2007. Crumbling plaster, mold in patient rooms, roaches, you name it. And the response on the Right? “Scandal? What scandal?” BTW: Walter Reed is NOT a VA hospital. Your average vet can’t just call up and make an appointment there. It’s reserved for the “crem de’ la crem”: Top Brass and government officials. The reason given by the Bush Administration for the poor conditions at Walter Reed? It was scheduled for closure, and things just deteriorated rather than keep up the maintenance prior to that time (even though it was still serving patients.) The same hospital that first-term President Bush praised in a visit there in 2003, the jewel of the Military Hospital System, fell into disrepair just four short years later under a Republican president that sought to privatize the VA.

Oh yes, my friends. Just one month before the invasion of Iraq, with U.S. Troops in Afghanistan, President Bush proposed partially privatizing the VA, suggesting we “halt new enrollments” and charge existing non-active duty vets a “$250 a year enrollment fee“, plus co-pays… probably because he knew just how busy the VA was about to get and he didn’t want to pay for it. The backlash was swift and the GOP was… for lack of a better word… “shamed” into increasing funding for the VA… seeing as how it was their wars and all that were suddenly creating all those new Wounded Warriors.

The soaring cost of health care, putting it out of the reach of millions of Americans, is nothing new. What IS new is the fact that in BOTH systems (Public AND Private), Republican obstruction is to blame for that loss of access. Refusing to expand VA funding to accommodate the growing number of veterans means wait times for vets were bound to grow. And the refusal to expand Medicaid likewise means a denial of care for millions more. Meanwhile, Republican pundits are running around pointing at this VA cockup as an example of why they’ve been fighting so hard to repeal ObamaCare. Which is a bit like blaming electric-car fires for why we need to defund Amtrak.

Veterans that manage to get in to see their doctors and receive treatment actually have a very favorable opinion of the VA. In fact, VA hospitals are routinely rated among the best in patient satisfaction. Likewise, doctors and nurses like working for VA hospitals more than regular hospitals. As “OpEdNews” put it in 2007:

Many VA employees work there for idealistic reasons. One technician told me she got “fed up with the paperwork” in private sector medicine and switched to the VA to devote herself to caring for patients full-time.

Happy doctors. Happy patients. And GOP Bouncers at the door turning patients away because they don’t want to fully-fund an incredibly successful system that makes a mockery of everything they’ve been telling us about “government healthcare”. Same thing with ObamaCare. Millions now have insurance that couldn’t afford it before. The soaring rise in insurance rates has suddenly begun to slow for the first time in 30 years. And remember all that trouble with the “ObamaCare website” last October? The site kept crashing because too many people were forced to use it because their Republican governors had refused to create a State Exchange that would have lightened the burden on the Federal Exchange (what ever happened to the “states can do it better” position of the GOP?) No “Death Panels”, and just about every (if not every) “ObamaCare horror story” the GOP has tried to dig up has fallen apart. The only strategy left open to them: deny access by denying funding, and then point to the inevitable failures as PROOF they were right about them all along.

So on this Memorial Day when we are thinking about those who lost their life in service to our country, let us not forget those… both vets AND private citizens… who have died or are going to die as a result of a GOP working overtime to obstruct access to heath care.

Links of interest:

 



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Filed in Healthcare, Partisanship, Party of Life, Politics, rewriting history, Scandals May 26th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 7 comments | Add/View

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Mom Near Death, my letter to the White House

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 31, 2014

I‘ve spoken to you several times over the past 10 months regarding my mother’s ongoing medical catastrophe. Last week, she had to be rushed to the hospital after developing pneumonia. After just five days, the hospital discharged her back to the nursing home. 22 hours later, she went into cardiac arrest and is now in extremely serious condition, having seizures every few seconds and not even able to close/blink her eyes.
 
Early this morning, I took the time to write the following letter to the White House (actually, I had to trim it nearly in half to accommodate their 2470 character limit):

Dear President Obama.

In 2004, Texas Governor Rick Perry (and current GOP gov candidate Greg Abbott) lobbied HARD for a “Medical Liability Tort Reform Law” that was the GOP cure to soaring health care costs by capping legal judgements at just $250,000 for a lifetime of care (from which you must also pay legal fees) be you 1 or 100 at the time you were harmed. And greedy Texas voters fell for it, lured by the promise of cheap insurance. The result? Hospitals, doctors and insurance companies saved millions, Texas fell to 50th in the percentage of people covered, and health care & insurance costs continued to soar.

Last May, an over-zealous Oncologist convinced my mother that she needed Chemo. I told her doctor, “No, absolutely not! Chemo is for people *riddled* with cancer. She doesn’t have cancer in her FEET!”, but the doctor convinced my mother she was indeed riddled with cancer (she wasn’t) and talked her into having the chemo against my wishes.

By her third & final treatment (6 weeks later), I had to rush my mother to the hospital, dehydrated from severe diarrhea, a 102′ fever with Walking Pneumonia.

The hospital gave my mother “something to cough up the phlegm” and after 3 days of non-stop coughing, suffered a collapsed lung. Six days after that, she told her nurse that she hadn’t had a bowel movement in “FIVE DAYS” (how do they *not* know?), requesting a laxative and a Commode Chair.

The nurses got my mother up out of bed for only the 3rd time in two weeks to use the toilet. Constipated with a collapsed lung and chest tubes hanging out her side, she suffered a cardiac arrest and ended up in a near-vegetative state. (To make matters worse, they left her lying motionless in a hospital bed for two months and we did not know she had developed a severe bed sore until she arrived at the nursing home and they inspected her.)

When I asked her doctors to explain what had happened to account for her state, they assured me that she was “revived in under two minutes”. It was only after hiring a Patient Advocate to review her records that I found out she had actually been technically dead for roughly TWENTY minutes and was on the verge of being pronounced clinically dead when they revived her.

My mother took extremely good care of herself, walking 3-miles twice a week, using the gym and went dancing on the weekends… all at the age of 75. The horrible irony of all this is that the ONLY reason she ended up in this condition is because she was trying to take care of herself.

I’ve since spoken to 15 lawfirms, all of whom agree I have an excellent case, but not one is willing to pursue it because “it would cost more to prosecute that you could win due to Texas’ Medical Tort Reform cap”. One lawfirm did say they were willing to sue over *the bedsore* because it was a “should never happen” event, but I refused because suing over a bedsore would be like suing over a splinter following a plane crash (plus, anything she won would quickly be eaten up by her hospitalization after being dropped by Medicaid.) The sad fact is, if she had *died* that morning, I could have sued for “wrongful death”, but because they managed to revive her, they insured they wouldn’t be sued.

So the people who harmed my mother go unpunished, with no incentive to correct their behavior and continue to treat patients unaware they are taking their very lives in their hands. The insurance companies get fabulously rich, and the only people who are punished are victims like my mother who had to become a burden on the State via Medicare/Medicaid as she languishes in a hospital bed.

Last night my mother suffered a second cardiac arrest that seriously worsened her already serious condition. I’m not sure how much longer she has to live.

I have contacted (as noted above) 15 lawfirms, 4 TV stations, 2 members of Congress and Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Of them, only Rep. Rodney Ellis has replied.

Not only do Republican “solutions” to health care reform not work, but they are actively doing great harm. This message needs to get out there. I’ve tried for the past ten months to spread my mother’s story in hopes of finding her help, to no avail. Now it seems it is too late and my mother is beyond help. All I can hope for now is that her story serves a warning to others.

Thank you.

(PS: The one bright-spot in this entire tragedy was that the ACA limited my mother’s liability before she qualified for Medicaid, preventing her from going bankrupt as we dealt with her situation.)

This is going to be a bad week.
 



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Filed in Crime, Greed, Healthcare, Right-Wing Insanity March 31st, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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Mugsy’s Annual Predictions for 2014: No more predictions for Syria (kinda)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 30, 2013

I never put any stock in “13″ being an “unlucky number”, but after the year I just had, one can’t help but wonder.

My predictions for 2013 were a bit rushed. I cranked them out at the last minute as I spent my days preoccupied trying to save the life of my beloved cat “Lefty”. One year later, my days are now preoccupied trying to save the life of my mother. And in both instances, gross medical negligence is to blame. The frustration I feel is profound as I watch helplessly as another loved-one fights for life following the harm done to them by incompetent doctors, with no legal recourse because of the state I live in (Texas). So please bear that in mind if my predictions for 2014 seem a bit bleak.

We begin by looking back at how well the “Professionals” did at making predictions for 2013. I may not get 100% of my predictions right… or even 75%…, but compared to some of the so-called “experts”, I should be sitting on a mountain top somewhere, an oracle allowing but a brave few to ask “Just one question”.

First off, can I just say that if you publish your “Predictions” AFTER December 31st, you’re not “predicting”, you’re reporting the news.

With that said, here is what some famous “psychics” predicted we’d see in 2013:

Sylvia Browne

Maybe it’s a bit unfair, but I love picking on self-proclaimed “psychics” because their accuracy is always dismal. But they make so many predictions, that when one or two pan out, the media responds as if that person has “second sight” and deserving of being taken very seriously.

Famed “psychic” Sylvia Browne passed away in November. It almost seems crewel to “fact check” Miss Browne posthumously, but when you’re as big a name in the “predicting” biz as she was, maybe keeping her on the list is a sign of respect for her particular brand of hucksterism. In 2012, Ms. Browne predicted President Obama would NOT be reelected; in a 2006 appearance on “The Montel Williams Show”, she told the mother of one of the three girls that had been held captive by that nut in Ohio for over a decade only to escape earlier this year, that her daughter was dead and would be waiting for her on the other side (the mother died the next year), and on that same show, Browne told a widow whose husbands’ body “was never found” that he was “in water”, presumably lost at sea. It turns out the woman was the widow of a 9/11 fireman.

As I noted, Ms. Browne passed away in November. Apparently, she never saw it coming because she booked no less than 14 public appearances from December of 2013 to April of 2014. If you want to read her final list of predictions for 2013, you must purchase an ANNUAL membership to her “inner circle” for a minimum buy in of $49.95 or an EIGHTEEN MONTH membership for $79.95 (which, if you do the math, is slightly more expensive than just buying 1-year memberships.) Seeing as how Ms. Browne is no longer with us, anyone who purchases a 12 or 18 month membership at this point to find out what she has to say next deserves to have their money taken from them. They’re still taking Reservations if you wish to meet her.

Psychic-to-the-Stars: “Nikki”

It’s funny how many people bestow upon themselves the title “Psychic to the Stars”. I suppose if two “stars” just happen to meet the same psychic backstage at a taping of “A Sucker’s Born Every Minute”, they can call themselves a “Psychic to the Stars”. But type the phrase into Google, and top of the list is “Nikki”… whom apparently shall remain last-nameless. Among Nikki’s predictions for 2013:

“Nikki’s” list of predictions for 2013 reads like a script for the next Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie. Of the 115 World Events she predicts, EIGHTY (by my count) fall into the “death & destruction” category.

Of course, when you make well over 100 predictions, random chance almost ensures a few hits (“even a blind squirrel finds a nut now & then”):

  1. More cyber attacks. – There were four notable instances of computer crime this year: Britain’s NatWest Bank was the victim of a distributed denial of service (“DDoS”) attack that inconvenienced thousands of customers for a few days, the Bank of China was hacked by (reportedly) some frustrated “BitCoin” users, North Korea is believed to be behind a cyber attack on South Korean TV stations and two banks, and, of course, more significantly, the recent hack of some 40 million “Target” store customer’s credit cards here in the U.S.. Personally, I suspect that if asked for more detail, Ms. Nikki was expecting an attack more along the lines of a “terrorist” nature, not kids hacking credit cards.
  2. A major automobile company will go bankrupt. – You know what, I’m feeling generous and will give “Detroit Declares Bankruptcy” to Ms. Nikki. The auto-companies themselves might have declared “record PROFITS” this past year (their best since 2007), but the city synonymous with the auto-industry did in fact (thanks to a Republican appointed viceroy who dismantled the local government, disenfranchised nearly a million people and is now liquidating the city’s treasures) “declare bankruptcy”. Probably not what she was predicting, but there you are.
  3. Great floods in the US and in Europe – Yes, massive floods did indeed hit Colorado and Central Europe this year.

3-for-115 (she actually made many more predictions than that if you count “celebrity” predictions), for an accuracy rate of 2.6%… and that was after being a bit generous. It’s up to you to decide whether “Ms. Nikki” is psychic or just guessing.

The Psychic Twins

A sister duo dubbed “The Psychic Twins” are laying claim to a number of accurate predictions in 2013, including the “Lone Wolf” shootings in DC’s “Navy Yard” a knife attack by a mentally disturbed student at a Houston Community College (that I just happened to attend some 20 years ago) that ran around stabbing other students with a craft-knife, and an armed gunmen at North Carolina’s A&T University that was subdued before a single shot was fired.

They also predicted strict new gun laws passed in Connecticut just days after the Sandy Hook massacre. They MUST be psychic!

“The Psychic Twins” appear to only make their predictions on video, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to spend hours verifying their accuracy, though I have little doubt it would be another case of “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks”. This short second-hand list of their predictions for 2013 as documented by a fan is predictably (pun intended) hit & miss. Hits with further “Lone Wolf” attacks following Sandy Hook, misses on Economics (but also predicted “cyber attacks”) and vaguely all-too-general predictions of weather/natural disasters.

Last year I singled out another “celebrity psychic, Blair Robertson” for his poor performance in predicting what 2012 held in store for everyone. Mr. Robertson did a little better this year, (arguably) over his one correct prediction for 2012, correctly predicting this year that “a boxer would die in the ring” but falling short everywhere else. Robertson improved his score this year by a half-point for “predicting” Rhianna and Chris Brown would “tie the knot”. The couple played the Media like a fiddle, with photos of “a ring” and even rumors of a “secret wedding”, but no, the most famous dysfunctional couple in Hip-Hop did not in fact get married in 2013 (correct me if I’m wrong.)

Political Prognosticators

It’s a bit more difficult this year to find Republicans opining about 2013 after they all had just finished predicting a Mitt Romney landslide, “easily” winning the election as Americans were “fed up” with President Obama, “Obamacare”, “taxes” and “Benghazi”. That bubble they built up had some might thick glass.

So naturally, when Republicans carried out their threats of being even more obstructionist in 2013, the Right crowed… crowed I tell ya… how “Mitt Romney was right!” when he “predicted” a government Shutdown in 2013. It’s a bit like predicting your “homies” are going to “trash this place” if they don’t get their way, and then being lauded for your insight when they carry out your threats.

Mitt Romney also “predicted” (according to them) Detroit going bankrupt when he in fact only argued for it as being preferable to a bailout. As noted above, the only reason Detroit declared bankruptcy is because a Viceroy appointed by the state’s Republican governor made it so.

In 2010, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn predicted that because of “Obamacare”: “There will be no insurance industry left in three years”. I have little doubt that Senator Coburn wishes millions of people had lost their insurance and the industry imploded, but darned the luck, they still exists and are expected to reap record profits next year.

Bloomberg Right-Wing News Columnist and “AEI Fellow” Ramesh Ponnuru made a number of negative predictions about President Obama and his policies. He actually didn’t do too bad until you consider how many Republican “predictions” were actually self-fulfilling prophecies. Ponnuru “predicted” the Healthcare Exchanges “would not open for business on October 1st” when Secretary Sebelius “admits the federal government won’t be ready by then.” The government was ready, the private contractors that built the glitchy website were not. They did indeed open on October 1st, but weren’t ready and had to be closed soon after for about a week. As a result, Ponnuru predicted support for Obamacare would continue to decline. If you do a Google News search for “poll support for Obamacare”, you’ll see lots of links to sites all claiming this to be true… ALL of them… each and every one… a Right Wing blog or media outlet (from the NRO to Glenn Beck). Interesting, because all the major networks are reporting how the number of people signing up for insurance through the Exchange “surged to over 1.1 Million” in December in a trend that is expected to continue.

Ponnuru also predicted the courts would continue to rebuke the Obama Administration on the rights of Catholic owned businesses to deny their employees contraception if they view it morally objectionable. The most notable of these cases, the “Hobby Lobby” case, is still waiting in the Supreme Court (see my own prediction on that below.) He also predicted The Supreme Court would find a way to weasel out of ruling on Same Sex Marriage. They didn’t, with repercussions that have led to legalization into deep Red Utah.

He predicted “a new monetary regime” between the U.S. and the U.K. that insulates both nations from the problems of Europe. No idea what he means by “a new monetary regime” even after reading his piece on the subject. Whatever it is, it never happened and Europe’s economy is starting to show signs of recovery.

More wishful thinking? “Paul Ryan,” feeling he can’t work within the GOP, “will resign” in order to “focus on running for president”? No date cited and hardly makes sense as a 2013 prediction, but maybe Ponnuru is looking to late 2014?

How I Did.

Now is the time I look back at my own predictions last year to see how I did. All year long, I thought about the predictions I made for 2013, and as I do every year, I am certain I did “incredibly poorly” that year only to look back at years end and find I didn’t do quite as bad as I thought.

  1. Correct: My first prediction regarding the “fiscal cliff”, and whether the GOP was irrational enough to go over it, had to be split into three scenarios: a) the GOP agrees to President Obama’s demand that taxes go up on people making over $250K per year, but only because they intend to hold the Debt Ceiling hostage again, b) a deal is reached only after Democrats concede to raise the starting point at which taxes go up to $500K, or c) the Bush Tax Cuts expire because no deal can be reached allowing Democrats to pass the “Obama tax cut”. It all depended upon how the GOP reacted. Knowing Scenario “c)” would be the worst possible outcome for them, the GOP agreed to a hybrid of “scenario A” and “scenario B” (pre-planning to hold the Debt Ceiling hostage while agreeing to a deal where the tax increase begins at $450K instead of $250K.)
  2. A Push: #2 was conditional on the GOP being suicidal enough to go over the cliff and refuse to raise the Debt Ceiling, forcing President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment. They didn’t, so he didn’t have to. No way to know if he would have (though he said he wouldn’t.) I’m certain when faced with certain global economic catastrophe, he would have. And I think the GOP knew it too, the consequences of which would have been to render them irrelevant the next time a Debt Ceiling fight rolled around. So they had no choice but to cave.
  3. Wrong: Harry Reid would make good on his threat to “reform the filibuster” at the start of the session. While a “Psychic to the Stars” might take credit for the eventual decision of Reid to “go nuclear” last November, I’m no hypocrite. I was hamstrung when I made my prediction late on December 31st by the fact it might be proved false in less than 24 hours. Considering the record-setting obstructionist year we had just had, and Reid’s own admission that he was “wrong” for not reforming the filibuster the way Democrats pleaded with him to do at the start of the 2011 session. it was almost unimaginable that he would make the same mistake twice. And while he dragged his feet and messaged Senate rules to extend his time to make a decision till the end of the month, Reid did eventually cave to Republican threats, agreeing only to minor, essentially irrelevant changes… something he quickly came to regret as the GOP shutdown the government months later. The reform he finally agreed to last November likewise was only a narrow rules change affecting only the President’s judicial & Cabinet appointments.
  4. Correct: Despite promises of “Election Reform” following the mass disenfranchisement of Poor & Middle Class voters seen during Early Voting and on Election Day 2012, not a damn thing was done about it. On to 2014!
  5. Correct: The Unemployment rate, which I predicted would be “very close to 6.9% by the end of the year (give or take 3/10ths of a point).” After November, the BLS reported the Unemployment Rate had fallen to 7.0%, a 5-year low and more than a full point below where it was the year before.
  6. Wrong: Sadly, concern over spending did not spark public pressure to exit Afghanistan by years end.
  7. Wrong (and happy about it): While they did remain fairly stable, my prediction that gas prices would still be close to $3.50/gal a year later turned out to be too high, with the national average presently at just under $3.30/gal. I can’t in good faith count that as “correct”. Maybe a difference of ten cents a gallon, but not twenty. And I didn’t foresee things like “nuclear talks with Iran” to bring down oil prices to a three year low.
  8. Correct: – No U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran. Funny to think how long this nonsense has been going on. And the fact no provocative moves have been made by Iran in all that time only goes to show how reality rarely lives up to the most wild militarist fantasies of Neoconservatives. Much to their chagrin, not only did Iran not do anything threatening, they even reluctantly have opened discussions of disarmament. Astounding.
  9. Wrong: Ah, Syria! It’s depressing to think that Civil War is now in it’s THIRD year. I was stung after my first prediction of the fall of Assad in 2011. A bit more cautious last year, I predicted Assad to fall into irrelevancy as the rest of the world just stopped recognizing him as the legitimate leader of Syria. They didn’t; he didn’t; so for 2014 , I won’t.
  10. Wrong (another “and happy about it”): I predicted the DOW would be around 14,500 points by years end, predicting an impressive rise of more than 1500 points in just one year. Instead, we saw an astonishing rise of nearly 3,500 points in just one year to a new record of just under 16,500 points. If President Obama is a  “Socialist”, he’s a piss-poor one.
  11. Correct: As America’s economy recovers, so does Europe’s and the rest of the worlds.
  12. Correct (sadly): My exact words were: “Immigration reform? Don’t bet your Aunt Fanny on it.” Republicans said they wanted it. President Obama said he wanted it. So it was inevitable that nothing would get done.
  13. Wrong (sadly): Just days after Sandy Hook and the massacre of twenty 6/7-yearolds and six teachers, I couldn’t imagine even Republicans turning this into a partisan fight, caving to their gun-nut base and doing absolutely nothing to keep weapons of war out of the hands of children, the mentally unstable and known criminals. Lesson learned: Never under-estimate the depths of GOP cowardice or the ignorance of their base.

Final score: 6 out of 12 (#2 was inconclusive) for 50-percent. Not too shabby for a list I was certain all year long would be one big goose egg. Take that you “Psychics to the Stars” with your “2.6%” accuracy rating!

So now my Predictions for 2014:

  1. Failing to extend Unemployment benefits at the end of 2013 will mean great hardship that extends beyond Party Lines. Just as Republicans mistakenly believed that voters would side with them for “taking a principled stand” on the Government Shutdown even after it started to affect them personally, they undoubtedly believe the same is true here. As far as the GOP is concerned, only poor Minimum Wage slackers are home waiting for their Unemployment Checks to roll in while they sit on their lazy duffs. But their refusal to continue the extension of those benefits past the end of 2013 will come back to bite them in the butt, not realizing just how many “Poor & Middle-Class” workers make up their Redneck base. As a result, expect the GOP to agree to a “compromise extension” of Unemployment benefits. There will be an insistence that it be “paid for”, but then there will be a huge fight on just what to cut. There will be an extension, just not the “90+ week” maximum some are seeing now. Probably something closer to “52 weeks”, double the standard length, with some “creative accounting” paying for it.
  2.  

  3. Where will the DOW be by the end of 2014? I sure as heck didn’t foresee the meteoric rise of 3,500 points in 2013. Another rise like that would have us knocking on the amazing “20,000 point” mark, and that’s going to make a lot of investors nervous about “over exuberant” investors buying stocks just to set a record. I expect the DOW to close just over the “19,200″ mark come years end… which is an incredible thought. Bill Clinton took the DOW from around 3700 points to over 11,700 points seven years later… an increase of OVER 300 percent. The DOW bottomed out barely a month after President Obama took office at just over 6600 points. A close of “19,200″ would be another rise of nearly 300% in just SIX years. George Bush cut the taxes of the Rich & Powerful, but cut their portfolio’s in half as the economy crashed. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why Wall Street hates Democrats, and loves Republicans (yes, that’s snark.)
  4.  

  5. Marriage Equality – No surprise that more states will officially declare Same-Sex Marriage as legal, but with it suddenly legal in nearly half the states in the Union and no solid legal argument for why any group of people should be discriminated against, expect a positive ruling from the Supreme Court… probably 5/4 but possibly even 6/3… telling states where SSM is outlawed that they must recognize marriages performed in another state. As people flood to neighboring states to get married, laws banning SSM will become moot and fall like dominoes.
  6.  

  7. The Mid-term elections – AKA: “The Battle for the Senate”. Not surprisingly, with the House and the Senate so narrowly split, both sides will be pulling out all the stops seeking control of Congress. The big question? What will be the mood of the public come Election Time? Will problems with the health care law sour voters on the Obama Administration? Will unemployment continue to fall making them optimistic? And what role will record low approval ratings for Congress have on turnout? In the end, it’s pretty much a wash. The people that hate “Obamacare” will continue to whine about “Obamacare”. The people that like the law will continue to do so. I ran into a lot of Conservatives this past year that believe “Obamacare” is an insurance program that you must (MUST) buy into, and they can implode the entire system if they simply refuse to sign up. Little do most of them realize, “Obamacare” does not even apply to them because they already get insurance through their employer. They couldn’t “sign up” even if they wanted to. So the entire system doesn’t implode, and for most people, nothing changes for them. It will be hard to be “outraged” over health care reform come November. Good economic news will continue, so there will be little economic motive to head to the polls. And despite near single digit approval ratings for Congress, don’t expect control of either House to change hands, though, thanks to Gerrymandering, I think Democrats have a better chance of picking up seats in the Senate than the House.
  8.  

  9. Which of course takes us to the start of the 2016 campaign (hard to believe it’s already a topic.) Though she will try to wait until January 2015, Hillary WILL announce her intention to run for President, as will Chris Christie, whom even this far off, already look to be the front-runners. But anything can happen between now & then.
  10.  

  11. Paul Ryan & Patty Murray coming to a two-year budget deal here at the end of 2013 insures no “Fiscal Cliff, Debt Ceiling, Shutdown” economic brinksmanship before the election. No GOP manufactured crisis means we can expect a reasonably smooth, growing economy in 2014. Expect GDP growth in the 4.0+ range next year.
  12.  

  13. What will become of NSA Leaker Edward Snowden? I expect a move to South America sometime next year. The last shoe has yet to drop in that story because Snowden took FAR more material than he could possibly have read when he absconded from the NSA with all that Top Secret information. But time is not on his side as much of the information he took grows out of date. As he continues to pour through the files he stole, I expect few additional revelations, perhaps saving his biggest bombshell in time for the election.
  14.  

  15. Will Congress raise the Minimum Wage? If this weren’t an election year, I’d say yes, but since it is, the state of the economy will play a large part in whether it gets raised or not. A number of states won’t wait and raise it on their own, but nationally, if the economy continues to improve, forget it. With no Budget Battles for the GOP to hold hostage, they must dig their heels in somewhere, and The Minimum Wage is it.
  16.  

  17. The Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia is going to be a mess. Technical and scheduling issues as civil unrest disrupts the games. As I type this, we’ve already seen acts of terrorism very close to Sochi, and Putin won’t have a clue how to handle Gay Rights protests in a country where just holding a sign can land you in jail. International condemnation of Russia’s anti-gay laws will overshadow many events.
  18.  

  19. And while we’re on the subject of Sochi, in a separate prediction, I believe the reason President Obama chose former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to lead a delegation of openly gay athletes is because she herself intends to come out as gay upon her arrival in Sochi, almost daring the Russian government to arrest her.
  20.  

  21. So what will the Unemployment Rate look like by the end of 2014? If current trends continue, I don’t think an unemployment rate of 6.1% (give or take 3/10th of a point) is out of the realm of possibility. If it weren’t an election year, I’d might go lower than that, but it’s in the GOP’s interest to encourage a worsening economy going into the Mid-term elections. With no budget battles to destabilize the economy in an election year, it’ll be difficult. I’m interested in seeing how they pull it off.
  22.  

  23. What about Iran? I think a nuclear disarmament deal WILL be struck that allows Iran to continue to develop nuclear energy using Uranium bred outside the country (probably Russia.) IAEA inspectors will be allowed into the country to check for nuclear weapons development. In exchange, the U.S. will once again allow Iranian oil to be traded on the U.S. Market, causing a decline in the price of oil (maybe $80/barrel give or take $5?), lowering gas prices in the U.S., serving as a substantial boost to the American economy. 2014 will be a very good year for the U.S. economy.
  24.  

  25. Ted Cruz announces his intention to run for President. Outside of the (dwindling) Tea Party, support for his candidacy will not exceed that of Michele Bachmann in 2012, and his campaign will fizzle out early in 2015.
  26.  

  27. Hobby Lobby’s “my religious beliefs supersede yours because I’m your boss” Supreme Court case will return a verdict in favor of the Christian-owned craft store. Any other sane Supreme Court would realize that if a “Christian” owned company can decide what health care you can get, so could an Amish, Muslim or even Satanic boss dictate your health care choices. But an “Amish, Muslim or Satanic” corporation didn’t file this case. A “Christian” one did. And therefore, this Conservative Court will tie the Constitution into knots to accommodate them. Republicans will tout it as “a victory for Americans over the scourge of Obamacare.”
  28.  

  29. Following up on last year, no “Election Reform” bill will be taken up in an election year. Republican governors will step up their efforts to disenfranchise tens of thousands of Democratically leaning voter blocks… most of whom will be minorities.
  30.  

  31. As an homage to my “psychic” friends out there, a really big hurricane will hit someplace somewhere.
  32.  

  33. And another “Lone-wolf” gun nut will go on a shooting spree, killing over a dozen people. And what will come of it in terms of gun control? Nothing.
  34.  

  35. And finally, Syria. In 2011, I predicted Assad would be overthrown just like all the other “Arab Spring” nations did to their leaders. But Assad was willing to be far more brutal and had the army on his side. In 2012, I predicted him to become irrelevant as the rest of the world simply stopped recognizing his authority, but that didn’t happen either. So now, in year three, all I’m willing to wager is that the Syrian conflict will still be raging a year from now. That’s a prediction I’d be happy to get wrong.

Eighteen predictions. I can live with that. How do you think I did? Post your own predictions for 2014 in the Comments.
 


 


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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Jobs, Middle East, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Religion, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, voting, War December 30th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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It Must Be Exhausting to Be A Republican

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, November 4, 2013

I could never do it. I mean, being a Republican nowadays means living in a CONSTANT state of utter OUTRAGE! It must be exhausting to be a Republican. And if you’re a Teabagger? OMG, forget it! I’d be too tired to pull the trigger on the gun in my mouth. Yesterday’s Sunday shows were a primer in cluelessness. I watch all three of the network Sunday shows (plus “Up” on MSNBC) back to back each week, and I don’t think they went more than 15 minutes in those four hours without some Republican expressing “OUTRAGE”… not just over something minor, but sometimes over things President Bush did as well (if not worse). I swear that these people can’t hear themselves speak or else they wouldn’t say things so demonstrably stupid (and frequently disproven by their own words on tape.) A few examples:

Starting with our first show, “Up” on MSNBC, they spoke of the fact that Republicans are OUTRAGED that President Obama dare try to fill THREE vacancies in the D.C. first circuit court, accusing the president of “court packing”… a term dating back to when FDR attempted to add six more justices to the Supreme Court, thus ensuring that more decisions would fall in his favor. But President Obama isn’t seeking to ADD judges to the court, just fill the existing vacancies. Those three vacancies on the Court didn’t open up overnight. If President Obama filled ONE vacancy, would that be “Court packing”? Of course not. But because Republicans REFUSED to fill those vacancies as they opened up, trying to fill them now is “court packing”. Once again, Republicans CREATED a problem by refusing to cooperate, and then when the inevitable happens, they accuse The President of mucking it up. Oh, and they’re OUTRAGED!

Outrage #1: Republicans create a problem by refusing to confirm nominees, and then when the president tries to fill those vacancies, it’s “an OUTRAGE!”

So now we switch over to Fox “news” Sunday where they live in a perpetual state of outrage. And for the second week in a row, Republicans are outraged that President Obama “clearly did not tell the truth when he said if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.” Unfortunately for then-Senator Obama, he didn’t insert the caveat: “as long as your insurance meets certain minimum requirements.” Clearly, he failed to account for the fact that lots of Republicans LIKE sub-standard policies that would hang them out to dry if they got hit by a bus, so long as it’s cheap (how many times have I written in these pages that Republicans lack any ability to consider the consequences of their actions). THE WHOLE POINT of the health care “mandate” if that everyone is covered by insurance rather than become a drain on society if they don’t have coverage. So yes, if your sucky policy doesn’t include “hospitalization”, then “NO, you CAN’T keep your policy.” Deal with it.

Outrage #2: President Obama failed to anticipate that some people (Republicans) would be “OUTRAGED” that they might be forced by their insurance company to give up their junk policy for one that actually provides real coverage, just because their crap policy was cheap. And offering them the opportunity to buy BETTER coverage wouldn’t make them happy. Then again, what does?

Oh, but Fox had an entire hour to fill with non-stop outrage, so for the second week in a row, they repeated the (intentionally?) deceptive claim that “Florida Blue”… Florida’s “Blue Shield” provider… “is canceling the policies of 300,000 customers because of ObamaCare.” Problem is, the CEO of “Florida Blue” already appeared on “Meet the Press” last week to deny the claim, stating that no ones policy had been “canceled”, but in fact their policies were being “transformed” into policies that meet the new basic minimum standards of The Affordable Care Act. Naturally, this will make the policies more expensive, but Obama’s promise was not violated: “If you like your policy, and your doctors, you can keep your policy and your doctors.” You might have to pay more to stay with that policy, but then, with more options opened up by the Exchanges, your insurance company might lower rates in order to compete (or as one Fox pundit put it yesterday: a sinister plan to “put the insurance companies out of business.” Hashtag #FreeMarketHypocrits). If you don’t want to pay more, and “cost” is more important to you than keeping your doctor, then YOU can choose to cancel your policy, but that is YOUR decision.

Of course, if you’re a selfish bastard of the “bootstraps” persuasion, it should come as no surprise that the folks at Fox are outraged that some people have to pay for things they won’t need, like men paying for “maternity care” or women paying for “prostate-cancer screenings”. Someone please explain to these people that THAT’S HOW INSURANCE WORKS. You may pay for things you don’t need, but others pay for things you may need that they don’t.

Outrage #3: “ObamaCare” is “canceling” junk insurance policies that don’t meet basic minimal standards. Only, they’re not. They’re not “canceling” anything. They are only bringing those policies into compliance. And yes, they may cost more, BUT YOU’RE GETTING MORE IN RETURN, and for less money than it would have before The ACA. Outrageous!

Of course, it wouldn’t be Fox if they didn’t bring up their favorite outrage of the year: Ben-gha-zi!!!. If you haven’t heard, on September 11th, terrorists attacked a place where Americans were known to reside. The Administration was caught off guard, and a number of Americans starting with the numeral “4″ were killed. In 2012, that number was “4″. Period. In 2001, that “4″ was followed by three zeros. So which one do you think Fox viewers believe is more deserving of 14 straight months of “outrage” and calls for the president’s resignation? If you guessed “2012″, go to the head of the class.

Of course, if it’s Sunday, you’re going to see either John McCain or Lindsey Graham on your TV (Joe Lieberman was the third Stooge before he retired.) And since the topic was Benghazi, naturally Fox brought on Graham to opine on the latest calls for “an investigation into just what happened.” These are the same people that said calls to investigate 9/11/2001 were “unpatriotic”. So Graham is “outraged” that Obama is refusing to allow members of his own Administration to testify before a GOP kangaroo court because there’s an investigation already underway. Graham indignantly tells host Chris Wallace, “Can you imagine if President Bush had said, you can’t talk to these people because there’s an ongoing investigation?” BUSH DID SAY THAT! On numerous occasions! He said that during the “9/11 Commission” and he said it during the “Valery Plame” investigation. How many members of his Administration refused to testify in the Plame Affair? Heck, Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Meyers both flat-out defied a court order to testify. And “Scooter” Libby was convicted of perjury. So PLEASE Lady Graham, don’t start getting all indignant because the Obama White House is refusing to perform in the Center Ring of your circus.

Outrage #4: Terrorists attacked and killed a number of Americans on September 11th. The White House seemed to ignore all the warnings leading up to the attack and then “allowed” it to happen anyway. There’s even rumors that they watched it unfold on TV! The Administration rejected calls for a public investigation, and when that failed, they simply refused to cooperate, citing “an ongoing investigation”. Which 9/11 am I referring to?

The botched roll out of the Healthcare.gov website is on the short list of Republican “outrages” this week. Why? At the same time they are cheering the “obvious failure of ObamaCare” (because they equate a website with an entire healthcare reform law), they are also “outraged” that people can’t “enroll in ObamaCare”. None-the-less, it’s grounds for yet another “hearing” in which Republicans get to question the Administration over just how it could have botched something they assured us for months would be a slam-dunk work just fine. Which one do you think was more deserving of an intense Congressional investigation? The invasion of another country on false pretenses that costs Billions of dollars, left 4,000 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead sparking a civil war that continues to this day, or the utter failure of a government contractor (that’s NOT named “Halliburton”) to deliver as promised? That’s a rhetorical question, of course.

Over on “Meet the Press”, OUTRAGE over the “ObamaCare” website (notice how the “Liberal Media” never uses the true name, “Affordable Care Act”?) continued, with The Gregory bringing on twice-failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney to critique the implementation of his own health care program that he repeatedly touted as “a model for the nation”. An “outraged” Romney jumped on the “Obama Lied” bandwagon and said that the president HAD to know he was lying when he said everyone could keep their plan because when he (Romney) passed “RomneyCare” in Massachusetts, that’s exactly what happened. Some people had to give up their plan (and the world didn’t come to an end). So clearly, RomneyCare was a disastrous failure, right folks at Fox? (Hope you’re not waiting on me to answer that one.)

Outrage #5: They want ObamaCare to fail. They shutdown the government demanding that it not be allowed to go into effect. They actively sabotaged the program so it would fail, so when the website failed and the consequences are that millions of people might have to wait a couple of extra months to save hundreds of dollars on their health insurance, it’s an “OUTRAGE!”

So what’s the lesson in all this? It’s that, if you’re a Democrat, no matter what you do, it’s grounds for OUTRAGE! And in EVERY case that I’ve described, the source of the “OUTRAGE” is a direct result of Republican action/inaction to ensure it came out that way. Meanwhile, ACTUAL things deserving of genuine OUTRAGE that in some cases cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars, were not only NOT sources of outrage, but they actually held those who WERE outraged in contempt.

I could never be a Republican. Too exhausting living in a state of perpetual OUTRAGE, lurching from one manufactured crisis to the next.
 

Postscript: While I thank so many of you for dropping by to read about my Mother’s ongoing crisis (we hit some record numbers for non-referral traffic last week), few of you actually spread the word to help get her story into the Media. Apathy is indeed a stubborn enemy. - Mugsy



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Filed in fake scandals, Healthcare, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity November 4th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Strike Nine. No lawyer will take Mom’s case because of Texas tort law. Help.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, October 28, 2013

Over the past few months, I’ve kept you apprised of the situation regarding my mother, first ending up in a Houston hospital after receiving chemo over my objections, reporting on how Obamacare has already helped her, and my update this past week on how the Shutdown created still more problems for her. Well, as the saying goes, “it gets worse”. My mother was unquestionably catastrophically harmed by a series of medical mistakes from incompetent doctors, and getting her the care she needs will be incredibly expensive (no, this is NOT a plea for money). Mom’s sole source of income is Social Security and a tiny pension (remember those?) of about $80/month. I’m as poor as a church-mouse myself, so who’s left to pay for the extraordinary care she really needs? Well, apparently, no one. My attempts to find a lawyer fell flat. NINE lawfirms have now all refused to take her case deeming it “too complicated with too little payoff”, all citing Texas’ draconian 2003 “Tort Reform” law pushed through by Governor Rick Perry, the GOP, and their overlords from the insurance industry.

A brief recap of what happened to Mom: Last April, my nearly 76 year old mother was told that she needed full-body chemo to treat a lump in her cheek. I told her doctor, “No! Absolutely not!”, but the doctor convinced my health-obsessed mother that if she didn’t have the chemo she’d die. As expected, the chemo made her seriously ill after developing a chest cold, and rather than stop the chemo, her Oncologist simply prescribed antibiotics and pressed on. Mom ended up in the hospital where additional mistakes resulted in a collapsed lung. A week later when she told her nurse she was constipated and hadn’t had a bowel movement in five days (how do the nurses not know?), they got her out of bed for only the third time in two weeks to use a commode-chair despite a collapsed lung and chest tubes hanging out her side. She immediately went into respiratory distress & cardiac arrest that resulted in severe brain damage, leaving her in her in a vegetative state. The doctors then attempted to cover up their mistake by repeatedly lying to us about how she was revived in “under two minutes” and couldn’t account for her condition. We later learned from reviewing her medical records that she actually flatlined for nearly twenty minutes before she was revived.

So that happened.

My mother is now in serious need of diagnostic tests and intensive therapy if she is to ever regain even a modicum of recovery. With every passing day, we see the light flicker out of Mom’s eyes. Once slightly responsive, looking at faces with her eyes and turning her head slowly with interest, those actions are becoming more & more rare after only four months. Time is definitely not on our side. But tests and therapy are expensive and my mother is on Medicare and Social Security (without which, she would be destitute). I’ve contacted NINE Medical Malpractice attorneys here in Texas (including a few ambulance chasers that advertise on TV), but no one will take her case, ALL citing our ridiculous “Tort Reform” law here in Texas.

In 2002, Governor Rick Perry (America only had to endure President Bush for eight years, but in Texas, we had Bush and his Lt. Gov Perry going back to 1996 followed by “Governor Oops” taking over in 2000 where he has remained, long past Bush leaving office, until he retires at the end of next year… 18 years total) pushed for “Medical Malpractice Tort Reform” that he (with the aid of massive funding from the Insurance lobby) claimed would “control soaring health care costs”. It didn’t. All it did do was limit judgements to a mere $250,000… including lawyer-fees… to cover a lifetime of care (whether the victim be 1 or 100.) Unless your case is incredibly simple or you can join in a class-action lawsuit, there’s just too little payoff for a lawfirm to pursue a complex case like my mother’s. Translation: The bastards that ruined my mother’s life will never be held accountable, and are still out there treating unwitting patients.

I’ve contacted one local TV station (I may try others now) and several national TV shows seeking help. None have responded to my emails. Over the weekend, I contacted my local Democratic State Senator and Democratic US Representative (everyone else is a Republican and a likely waste of time, but I’m probably going to try contacting them as well now), but I don’t know what any of them can do short of reversing a ten year old state law in a matter of weeks.

I know some people turn to Facebook, starting Action pages seeking help on an individual level. But I just don’t see something like that going viral based on my one lonely voice. So I come to you dear reader, looking for advice/support/assistance on how to get out the word on how The System has failed my mother and is desperate for your help. This wasn’t a “crack” that Mom slipped through, this is a gaping chasm crowbarred open beneath her feet by Rick Perry, The GOP, and clueless voters that voted this nonsense into law without considering the consequences, all on the false-promise of saving a few bucks on their insurance.

(Please share this story on your Facebook page or Tweet it to your friends. The more people that hear about her story, the better the chances are of finding help. Thanks. – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, General, Healthcare, Money, Politics, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity October 28th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 8 comments | Add/View

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Republicans Sabotaged Obamacare Rollout, then point to problems as proof the ACA is a failure.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, October 21, 2013

Everywhere I turned yesterday on the Sunday talk shows, some Right Winger was pointing to the botched rollout of the Federal “Health Care Exchange” website as evidence “Obamacare” was a failure. As both a former website developer AND small-business owner, I take great umbrage to the idea that if the website is a “failure” that the company is also a failure (unless the company in questions builds websites.) Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: A WEBSITE IS NOT “OBAMACARE”. Just because the signup website buckled under the strain of immense interest, does not mean “The Affordable Care Act” isn’t working. And the Federal Exchange website wouldn’t have been so wildly overloaded had it not been for 26 states with either Republican governors or Republican controlled legislatures refusing to create a state Exchange, thus forcing half the country to use the Federal website. That’s like shooting a guy in the foot and then ridiculing his inability to dance. In states like Virginia (correction) Kentucky and California where they created a state Exchange like they were supposed to, the system worked perfectly, signing up literally thousands of applicants. You can’t sabotage the Exchange and then call it a failure when it fails.

As I said, I’m a computer guy. I got my first computer long before IBM ever dreamed up the PC and Microsoft was selling software for the Apple ][ in ziplock bags via magazine ads. So you might say I know a thing or two about computers.

We’ve all heard about “computer attacks” from “hackers” shutting down entire computer systems (the most recent and well known is a group called “Anonymous”). One of the “easiest” ways to shutdown a website is via a “Denial of Service” attack. This is achieved by accessing a particular website hundreds (even thousands) of times per second until the host computer crashes, unable to handle so many hits at once. Have you ever poured water down a funnel too fast only to have it overflow and make a mess? That’s what happened to the Exchange website last week.

Now, let it be known that the Federal Exchange was NOT the victim of a DoS attack (that is easy to figure out just by checking the logs), but the identical thing happened legitimately when millions of people all hit the Federal site in the span of just a few days. And why were so many people all trying to access the website at once? Because of all those red states that left its residents with nowhere else to go.

It is incredibly stupid to say, “I hate Obamacare so much I’m going to give up any power I have to control how it is implemented in my state!” And you have to extra dumb… I mean Tea Party dumb… to tell the government that you’re turning down free money from the government both to create a state Exchange at no cost to the state, AND turn down millions in Federal Medicaid funding, all because you stubbornly oppose something you clearly don’t even understand.

After the rollout debacle, I spent about a week debating Right-Wingers on Facebook actually advising people to “not sign up for Obamacare and it’ll collapse under its own weight.” I pointed out 1) “Obamacare” is not “an insurance program” that you sign up for, and 2) I question the logic of telling people that having “NO” insurance is better than even (what they believe to be) “overpriced” insurance. And naturally, after much debate, it was clear NONE of these critics had actually gone on the Exchange to compare prices and find cheaper insurance (of course, the bungled rollout made that impossible… but the fact remains, they hadn’t even tried and therefore had no proof that insurance purchased via the Exchange would be more expensive.) And after several days of correcting nonsense, my sparring partners were STILL talking about “Obamacare” as if it were an “insurance program” that they were going to be forced “by law” to sign up for. Another was telling me how she got better deals by negotiating with her doctor to pay “over time in cash”. Try doing that when your hospital stays runs into the hundreds of thousands. And of course, the old Romney chestnut that “no one in this country lacks health care as long as we have ER’s” (the most costly care there is, which drives up everyone’s rates covering the uninsured, while providing no “maintenance” care like “chemo”, “check-ups” or “dialysis”.) It was as futile as sweeping back the rolling tide. Conservatism is a bottomless pit of stupid from which wisdom neither enters nor escapes.

And yes, sites like “Facebook” and “YouTube” handle “millions of visitors per day. But they didn’t on DAY ONE. They started out small and added capacity as their popularity grew over months and years. Opening “Healthcare.gov” was like launching “Facebook” or “YouTube” at their current level of popularity without knowing you were doing so. And as someone who has built large websites, arguments that “they should have known what to expect” make me very uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are, you never are once those hits start rolling in.

I was one of the Beta testers for “Windows 7″ before it was released. We tested it for nearly a year through four or five rewrites seeking out bugs before it was finally declared “bug-free”. And yet Microsoft still had to release a “Service Pack” to patch numerous security holes less than a year after its launch. Trust me, it doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are, after millions of people get their hands on your work, someone’s going to break it. There’s an old saying in the computer biz:

It doesn’t matter how foolproof you make something, someone always comes along and builds a better fool.”

So in the coming weeks (not months), the government contractors that were wildly overpaid to build Healthcare.gov will be fixing their own work. I don’t know if the Canadian company that built the site will be paid even more to fix it, but one thing is for sure, it wouldn’t have needed fixing if we had 50 state Exchanges instead of just 24.
 

(Postscript: I predicted three weeks ago that the true goal of the Republican Shutdown was to set up President Obama for impeachment, and Gohmert’s like Rep. Louie Gohmert seemed to confirm what I had been saying all along, but in the end, there were just enough sane Moderate Republicans left to side with a united Democratic caucus to avoid default for another 90 days. But keep in mind that on the very last day, 144 Republicans voted against raising the Debt Ceiling and allowing the nation to default, which would have sparked world-wide economic disaster, thwarting what I believe were the Teanut’s intentions all along… impeaching Obama in an election year the way they did Clinton in ’98. But it’s not over yet. There’s still February.)

UPDATE: New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone (D) blasted the Republicans chairing a hearing on problems with the website rollout, accusing them of fear-mongering by suggesting the site was collecting sensitive medical history information from applicants:
 

 



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Filed in Economy, fake scandals, General, Healthcare, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity October 21st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 5 comments | Add/View

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The Shutdown Gets Personal: Getting Mom to a Doctor

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, October 7, 2013

I‘ve spoken to you several times recently regarding my mother’s sudden & ongoing medical crisis following a string of medical mistakes (and incompetence) that turned my otherwise healthy mother into a (for lack of a better word) “vegetable” last June. I blame her HMO for creating this mess, and we had to fight them just to get her into a rehabilitation hospital, then fight them again when they threatened to cut her off if we didn’t bury their mistake by putting Mom in a nursing home. I’ve been wanting for months to take her to a specialist, but the HMO refused to cover any doctor that did not work for them. When I finally found a specialist willing to see her, I had to fight again to get her out of that #@!*% HMO and back onto good old-fashioned Medicare (which just about EVERY doctor accepts.) I’m pleased to report that as of October 1st, Mom is back on Medicare and scheduled to see a specialist Wednesday… just as the Teanuts have Shutdown the government and are now threatening to Default on the Debt Ceiling. Which means the Social Security checks paying for Mom’s rehab could stop, and Medicare won’t have the money to pay her doctor. Suddenly, this artificial Tea Party invented “crisis” has become very personal.

Conservative icon “George Will” finally faced up to the fact he wasn’t fooling anyone pretending to be a “Moderate” Republican over there on ABC for the past 20 years, and joined the cast of The Biggest Loser, er, Fox “news”, expressing opinions that put him squarely to the Right of Ted Cruz. On Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, when asked about the possibility of Default on the Federal Budget, Will declared “there will be no default” by pointing out the meaningless fact that, “We collect 10 times as much in tax revenue as is needed to service the Debt” (ergo, we have enough money to avoid Default.) This is classic George Will bull$hit (and an opinion held only by the most FAR right Tea Baggers). Yes, that’s absolutely true that we “collect 10 times as much in tax revenue than we pay in interest on the Debt”… which wouldn’t be a problem if didn’t have all these other expenses like… oh… like PAYING THE MILITARY or for the War in Afghanistan (which, as Bill Maher rightly pointed out Friday, if we ended now, would save us nearly $100 Billion dollars.), or paying outrageous prescription drug prices as a part of the “Medicare Part-D” program THEY created under GW Bush where they themselves made it illegal for the Federal Government to negotiate lower drug prices. We just saw massive forest fires in the West… the result of historic drought due to their denial of Climate Change… and massive flooding in the East as all the moisture sucked dry from the West was dumped in the East for the same reason (disasters which create OTHER disasters in their wake.) These states have already declared themselves “Disaster Areas” entitled to Disaster Relief funding. Where do they get the money for that?

Republicans… consisting of an awful lot of “Cafeteria Christians”… want a “Cafeteria Budget” where they can pick & choose what government functions they fund on a case-by-case basis upon discovering there are a lot of things people actually need government to do. That’s no way to run a $3-Trillion dollar government. The National Institute of Health is shutdown, then when someone points out that there are sick children that won’t be receiving their cancer treatments, suddenly they’re asking for a special exemption for those poor kids they clearly were never even aware of before they took us on this joy-ride (how many times have I written about the fact Republicans NEVER think about the consequences before they act? [see: Iraq]). They shutdown the National Parks and then attack a furloughed park ranger for telling a busload of World War II veterans that the park is closed. The Shutdown lays off nearly 15,000 FEMA employees, but when a Tropical Storm develops off the waters of a half dozen red states, suddenly FEMA is allowed to call over 11,000 of them (nearly 80 percent) back to work… as they suddenly realize, “Hey! The Federal Government really is necessary!”

Of course, if the anarchists in the GOP get their way, they won’t allow an increase in the Debt Ceiling, meaning we won’t have the money to carve out any of these special exemptions. No cancer treatments for sick children, no bringing back FEMA employees in an emergency, Mom doesn’t get her Social Security check, and Medicare lacks the funds to pay for her doctor’s appointment. Seal Team 6, which just pulled off another spectacular capture of an alQaeda terrorist guilty of killing Americans back in the 90′s, who eluded a Bush Administration distracted by their obsession with Iraq, but found and killed by the Obama Administration 15 years after committing his crimes. Do we carve out a special exemption for them too? Where are they going to get the money to pay for all these exemptions? They’ll NEVER raise taxes. That just leaves “cuts”.

As Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reminded everyone on “Meet the Press” yesterday, we are STILL operating under “The Sequester” from earlier this year, deep across-the-board indiscriminate budget cuts. We have been financing the government using “budget tricks” up to now, but as of October 17th, those “tricks” will have been exhausted. No more rabbits left to pull out of anyone’s hat. Yet these haters of all things government” keep finding programs they want keep while the only thing they can think of to cut is the one thing the CBO says will actually SAVE us Billions each year. (“ObamaCare” if you haven’t figured it out.)

Prior to the Shutdown, the GOP was heavily hyping a CBO report (pdf) on a Republican House Bill (H.R. 2668) that found that “delaying the implementation of The Affordable Care Act by one year” would “save us $35 Billion dollars.” Google “CBO ObamaCare saves billions”, and the first two pages are nothing but Right Wing links to the same report. So I checked out the report myself. It concluded a “savings” of “$35 Billion OVER TEN YEARS” simply by delaying those start-up costs (and reductions in funding to programs like CHIP… the Children’s Health Insurance Program). I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a savings of $3.5 Billion a year0.3% of the Federal Budget… on the backs of sick children is going to be enough to offset our expenses if they fail to raise the Debt Ceiling 10 days from now. (A brief scan of the CBO report appears to not take into consideration any SAVINGS resulting from the new health care law over those 10 years. Only the expenses incurred in the first year of roll out.)

So, what do you cut to come up with the money for all those government services you suddenly feel aren’t so bad? Remember, George Will already pointed out that 1/10th of the Federal Budget is spoken for (servicing our debt.) Republicans are GREAT at complaining about “wasteful spending”, but when it comes to actually naming those “wasteful” programs…

In the infamous words of Gov. Rick Perry, it’s “Energy, Commerce, and… er, uh, I forget. Oops.”
 



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Filed in Economy, Healthcare, Partisanship, Right-Wing Insanity October 7th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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What the Debt Ceiling Fight is REALLY About: Impeachment

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013

By the time you read this, you’ll already know whether or not the GOP has once again Shutdown the Federal Government for the first time since they last did it 17 years ago. But let me make a last minute prediction that in the wee hours of the morning, both sides will agree to a one-month extension, at which point we’ll be right back here to start all over again. But first, a refresher: Almost from the moment Bill Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd President of the United States in 1993, the Republican Party was already hell-bent on destroying him. And the reason for their endless “Scandal-du-Jour” hysteria couldn’t have been more clear: they were plotting his defeat in 1996. But their plan backfired following, not one but TWO incredibly unpopular government shutdowns in 1995 & 1996 that the public clearly knew was purely partisan gamesmanship. They demonized the president for four straight years and STILL he won reelection, meaning they were now “stuck” with him for another four years. Any of this sounding familiar? Once again, extreme partisans within the GOP are threatening… not only the shutdown of the Federal government, but a possible default on the National Debt by refusing to raise the debt ceiling to pay for the things THEY THEMSELVES already agreed to spend money on, the results of which would be catastrophic. So why are they doing it? “Why”, I pondered previously, “would anyone invite CERTAIN economic disaster to prevent something they only speculate would be an economic disaster?” (and as I’ve heard others point out, you would think the GOP would be EAGER to see “ObamaCare” implemented only to crash & burn). No, what they REALLY want is something much more sinister/cynical: they want President Obama to invoke the “14th Amendment” to unilaterally raise the Debt Ceiling on his own so they may use it as grounds for impeachment.

Why? Because that’s what Republicans apparently do now when a Democrat is in charge. They are childish sore losers that can’t bear the idea of a Democratic president advancing Democratic solutions only to see them succeed and last another 80 years the way Social Security has (It’s a damn shame they didn’t call it “FDR-Care” only to hear Republicans defend it today.)

The relevant portion of the “14th Amendment” regarding the Debt reads as follows:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

But the infamous “14th Amendment”, passed in 1868, isn’t just “Section 4″. No, Republicans want to make The 14th a 2014 campaign issue because it’s just chock full of headaches for the GOP:

Section 1 is where anyone born “in the United States” is automatically a citizen regardless of the parents’ citizenship… a clause that is the source of unlimited pain for the Nationalists in the GOP, which I’m certain they’d love to see stricken. Unfortunately, the next line of that SAME clause mentions not “depriving life” of any “person without first receiving due process”… a clause commonly used by the Pro-Birth Life crowd to argue the unconstitutionality of Abortion.

Section 2 is regarding the appointment of Representatives based on the number of adult males in each state. Irrelevant here.

Section 3 is regarding “insurrection” in support of the Confederacy. Also irrelevant.

Section 4 noted above is regarding ensuring that the Federal Government will always pay its debts (translation: the repatriated South can’t stop the Government from repaying debts incurred by the North during the war, and by that same token, the Federal Government is not obligated to repay debts incurred by the Confederacy because they weren’t part of the U.S..)

Section 5 gives Congress the power to enforce the prior four Articles.

Clearly #5 is the stickler. Since this is a Constitutional Amendment, it’s not a “law” and therefore can not be ignored nor repealed. But it also doesn’t give the power of “enforcement” to the president. So what happens if Congress fails to comply with the “Enforcement Clause”? That’s one for the courts… The Supreme Court to be exact. And with a 5/4 Conservative advantage, I’d be willing to bet that young “Tea Party” Conservatives full of piss & vinegar like Ted Cruz are more than happy to push this to the Supreme Court…

…for “what” exactly, who knows? It certainly wouldn’t get past a Democratically controlled Senate to remove President Obama from office. No, for that, they need to retake the Senate as well. And, gee, let me think… What mid-term election issue can we think of that would attract Conservative morons to the polls in 2014? Maybe if we delayed the implementation of “ObamaCare” for one year? And it’ll be a lot easier to clinch that vote if they institute a bunch of voter ID laws and reduced voting hours to keep a whole bunch of the “wrong” people from voting… say the poor and minorities… the very people who would benefit the most from “ObamaCare”?

Are you starting to see how this all fits together?

My prediction? If I’m right, the GOP will have agreed to a one-month extension of the Budget just to move the “Shutdown” vote until AFTER the Debt Ceiling vote, which they will then refuse to pass come mid-October when the Federal Government runs out of money. Then at the stroke of midnight on that day in mid-October when the government runs out of money, President Obama will invoke the 14th Amendment and extend the Debt Ceiling on his own, prompting a feux “Constitutional Crisis” set up by “outraged” Republicans. Impeachment proceedings will begin in the GOP-controlled House in early 2014 and extend thru the year till Election Day. Efforts to disenfranchise typically Democratic voters will go into over-drive in “Red” states next year as efforts to recapture the Senate become the GOP’s top priority.

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Filed in Economy, fake scandals, General, Healthcare, Money, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity, Unconstitutional October 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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A Market Plunge/Rally, Trayvon, DOMA, Voting Rights and Paula Deen. The Heat is On.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 1, 2013

So much has happened these past couple of weeks, I could have spent hours discussing each one: We saw a series of triple-digit plunges in the DOW in just a few days caused by what? GOOD news on the economy. (WTF?) The “Zimmerman Trial” finally got underway… with a Knock-Knock Joke. The Supreme Court declared Same-Sex Marriage legal in states where it is already legal, but left the door open for state-bans where it isn’t… essentially GUARANTEEING an inevitable return to the Supreme Court when a married couple from one state moves to a state where their marriage is not recognized. And while the Supreme Court was extending marriage rights to gay couples, it was taking Voting Rights away from millions of minorities, essentially declaring that racism in the South was dead the same week people excused famed Southern TV Chef Paula Deen for using “The N-Word” because… “she’s from The South and that’s just how they are.” (I wish I could say I was surprised Justice Thomas would vote against the Voting Rights Act, but he’s always been an OREO… and yes, that is meant to be as offensive as it sounds.) And to cap it all off, the nation closed out the first week of Summer with a record-breaking heatwave, with my hometown of Houston hitting a stifling 107′ at 5:00 in the freaking evening (most years the temperature here peaks around 101′ the first week of August.)

Let’s take them one at a time:

First, the Stock Market: I used to write about The DJIA (“DOW Jones Industrial Average”) frequently  during  the  Bush  Presidency. Plunges of 250 points or more became commonplace, culminating with a total collapse of Wall Street and the financial industry Bush’s final year in office. There were no extraordinary one-day gains to balance out the declines, and just about every plunge could be tied to a stupid decision made by The GOP and/or The Bush Administration (the skyrocketing price of oil as a result of invading Iraq; deregulating the financial ratings industry that led to Trillions in bad investments being labeled: “AAA”; and cutting deregulated mortgage interest rates to zero resulting in a wildly over-valued market bubble balanced on the point of a pin).

But during the Obama Administration, I’ve written very little regarding the Stock Market. Primarily, because fluctuations in the DOW of less than 200 points have very little to do with the health of the general economy, and because every series of declines over the past four years have been brief, followed soon after by upswings that more than made up for the losses.

The DOW, at its lowest point following the Bush Presidency and the Financial Collapse, barely a month after Obama took office, bottomed out at 6,443.27 on March 6, 2009. Last month, the DOW closed at a record high of just over 15,400… that’s an increase of almost 240 percent in just four years. If President Obama is a “Socialist”, he’s a piss-poor one.

So what caused last week’s momentary 800-point drop in the DJIA over 3 days a few weeks ago? Believe it or not, “good” news from the Federal Reserve that the economy is recovering so well that it may be able to halt “quantitative easing” (IE: “Stimulus”)… pumping $85 Billion dollars a month into the economy. On that news, the price of Gold and Treasury Bonds plunged because Gold & Bonds are where you put your money when the economy is bad. Fears that the Fed would stop pumping money into the economy brought about fears that they might also raise interest rates to keep the economy from growing too fast. But quickly, cooler heads prevailed as news of a healthy economy might actually be a good thing, and the DOW is already back up near the 15K mark.

Oh, and the S&P 500 saw its best six months since the heights of the Clinton Bull Rally in 1998.

Next is the “Zimmerman” trial over the murder of Travon Martin. As you already know, Zimmerman’s lawyer opened with a Knock-Knock joke, but that’s probably not the most damaging thing he did to his clients’ case last week. He is NOT using the “Stand Your Ground” law as the basis of his client’s defense, and with good reason. As Zimmerman’s lawyer himself pointed out, “Travon Martin was not unarmed that night”, pointing out that Martin “didn’t have a gun or a knife that night”; his weapon was “the concrete sidewalk”. So basically, he just admitted Trayvon was “standing his ground using the sidewalk as his only weapon”. Had he of used a gun, he might have shot & killed his stalker… who was armed with a gun himself and confronted Martin with it in the middle of the night… at which point Martin would have been arrested and thrown in jail for murdering Zimmerman. Trial not included.

The moment Zimmerman… who is not a police officer… left his mother’s basement with a gun to play “rent-a-cop” in the middle of the night the moment he saw a black kid walk past his window, he himself was responsible for anything that happened. And we know WHY he left his home to pursue Martin: Because “they always get away”, he is heard saying on the 911 tape after the operator asked him if he was following Martin and told him “We don’t need you to do that.” But a young black guy… for whom there was NO reason to suspect had done anything other than walk through the neighborhood at night… was “about to get away”. After doing what? There were no alarms going off. No one shouting, “I’ve just been robbed!” I find it hard to believe even Zimmerman could mistake a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles for handfuls of stolen property. So why exactly was Zimmerman following him? Why did he think it necessary to “call the police” and detain Martin himself until they arrived?

Think about it? Why was Zimmerman following Martin?

Zimmerman… armed with a gun and was stalking Martin in the dead of night, then confronted Martin. Probably even pulled his gun on him and ordered him to stop. At some point, they came in close enough contact to grab one another and fight. Unarmed, Martin used the only weapon within reach: the concrete… as Zimmerman’s own lawyer pointed out. Now in a struggle he himself provoked without regard for the consequences (what if Martin HAD been an armed robber? Was it wise for Zimmerman to put himself in harms way?), he pulled out his gun and killed the man he himslf provoked a confrontation with.

The fact that anyone in this insane country even thinks Zimmerman has a leg to stand on here, justifying the need for a trial, highlights just how screwed up our gun-crazy culture has become in this country.

Next, we saw the Supreme Court rule of Marriage Equality. While the High Court’s narrow 5/4 ruling is seen as a victory for the Gay Rights movement, the ruling basically threw the decision back to the states.

Now here is where it gets clear as mud: The Supreme Court basically ruled that a state law establishing Marriage Equality is just as valid as a state law BANNING Marriage Equality. So basically, the highest court in the land that rules on the National efficacy of a law, has declared that something can be both legal AND illegal at the same time depending upon where you live. Why do I get the feeling this isn’t over?

The Supreme Court also decided to strike down key parts of the 1965 “Voting Rights Act”, calling it “outdated” because “times have changed”. No word on their updated ruling on The Second Amendment.

And finally, a record heatwave was parked over most of the Southern United States last week, tying & breaking records across the U.S.. But don’t worry, Global Warming is still a hoax and we’ll be seeing snow in July any minute now.

Any minute now.

I said, “any minute now.”

Hello? Snow? Where are you? Hey, I’d settle for a cool breeze right about now.

(Oh, and an update on Mom. If you read last weeks post, things are not going well and my mother had had a bit of a setback, unconscious in the ICU, I’ve been visiting her hospital bed every day now and hoping for things to improve. As such, I haven’t been as on top of the news as much as I might otherwise have been, and posting may become a bit erratic in the common weeks. Hopefully, Mom’s recovery will be swift and full. – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, Economy, Global Warming, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Politics, Racism, Rants, Unconstitutional July 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 7 comments | Add/View

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You’re DAMN Right I Like ObamaCare. Will critcs change tune as more experience benefits for themselves?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I know. I know. I’m not supposed to call it “ObamaCare”. It’s “The Affordable Care Act”, passed in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court one year ago this month. But to me, “ObamaCare” isn’t a pejorative. I have no problem linking President Obama to the first major health care reform bill in 50 years. And I hope 50 years from now, we see Right-Wing morons standing in front of the Capitol holding up signs saying, “Hands off my ObamaCare!”. And while there’s still six more months until it’s fully implemented, millions of Americans are already seeing the benefits… of which my mother is now one. As mentioned yesterday, my own mother is in the hospital, currently the ICU but being prepared to move to a “regular” room sometime today after 11 days of Intensive Care. Mom is 76, on a fixed income and on Medicare, so she’s among the first to enjoy the benefits of the new law: most notably she won’t go bankrupt trying to pay off an astronomical hospital bill thanks to a CAP on how much this nightmare will cost her. And whataya know? No “Death Panel” showed up to deny her treatment or refuse to pay for a needed procedure (the GOP saves that for women seeking an abortion). No government bureaucrat showed up to say she had to leave the ICU after only a week because it was costing too much. Every other insane nightmare scenario peddled by Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck… sorry you lunatic bastards, but you’re full of $#it and you know it. And right now, I’m pretty damned happy about “ObamaCare”.

About nine weeks ago (the same week as the Boston bombings), my mother was told that she needed chemotherapy to treat a lump in her cheek. (I was opposed to it, but that’s another story.) “Three treatments over six weeks” (one immediate, then two more every three weeks.) After each round, she responded poorly, first losing all her hair almost immediately, then mild pneumonia and a lung infection after the second round (at which point they should have stopped the damn chemo wiping out her immune system, not just put her on antibiotics), and finally, severe diarrhea and a fever of 102′. I rushed her to the Emergency Room where they stabilized her and placed her in the ICU, where she has been ever since.

Having spent more than my share of time in hospital emergency rooms, I can tell you that those visits don’t come cheap. They are (WITHOUT QUESTION) the most expensive form of health care there is… which is of course why Republicans think it’s a perfectly acceptable means of providing health care to the poor (see how that works?) Depending on the severity of your injuries, an ER visit can easily account for half your entire hospital bill (running into the thousands). Add to that a two-week stay in the ICU and we’re talking about some serious money.

The “care” Mom received before this mess… her chemo and doctors visits… were already costing her hundreds of dollars. Naturally, we became concerned about the cost of all this health care quite quickly, so a friend of my mother’s looked it up in her 2013 Medicare Benefits book (which every recipient receives in the mail each year.) This one includes a section on the “Benefits of the New Health Care Reform Legislation”. According to the new law (pdf), depending upon income, no individual will have to pay more than $5,950/year out of pocket ($11,900 for families) for their treatment… and that’s a COMBINED sum for ALL medical expenses in an entire year. That’s it. Period. End of story. That means Mom’s chemo, doctor co-pays, the trip to the 24hour Emergency Clinic two nights before that ended with me driving her back to her apartment at 2am only to have to rush her to the ER 36 hours later, are all included in that cap. And since she is nowhere near the highest income earners, her cap is likely to be closer to just $3,000. Before “ObamaCare”, her ER visit alone would have come close to that.

Now there are still a number of problems I have with “The Affordable Care Act”. It still leaves too much power in the hands of the insurance companies, doing little to control the cost of “premiums” that the insurance companies can charge you, or stop profiteering by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the people selling those “Rascal Scooters” that you see fat people riding around in at Wal*Mart everyday, that makes health care far more expensive than it needs to be. There are also a number of “loopholes” for employers to exploit to deny employees coverage (like cutting worker hours). And while wildly cheaper than before, even $3,000 is still a hefty “out-of-pocket” expense for someone living on a fixed income, but right now if you ask me, “Do you like ObamaCare?” You’re DAMN Right I Like ObamaCare. And I’m willing to bet that as more & more people begin to experience the benefits for themselves the way I have this past month, the rest of the public will come to appreciate it as well.
 



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Filed in Economy, General, Healthcare, Money, myth busting June 25th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 4 comments | Add/View

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M.R.S. Update: Mom’s in the hospital

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, June 24, 2013

I know I promised everyone a resumption of duties today on “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet”, but it’s going to have to wait one more day. Last week, My mom took ill. Complications from the chemo (that I didn’t want her to have, but her doctor and the rest of my family all talked me into.) Seven weeks later, she’s passing out from dehydration due to severe diarrhea and a lung infection. I had to rush her to the Emergency room last week when she hit a fever of 102′. So I’ve been running back and forth between home and the hospital every other day for the past ten days with not much time to focus on anything else.

There is a political point to be made here though: With all the problems she’s having (and at least two more weeks in the hospital), ObamaCare mercifully CAPS how much her insurance company will be able to charge her for this disaster so my mother (who is on a fixed income) will no go bankrupt as a result of her healthcare crisis.

Am I happy about “ObamaCare” right now? You’re damned right I am.
 



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Filed in General, Healthcare June 24th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Outrage for… More Outrage.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 11, 2013

Thanks for the warning.There was no shortage of things to talk about this week, with the a record-setting blizzard hitting the North-East, GOP feux-outrage over the use of “drones” as part of a secret National Defense policy where the government asserted it can kill anyone overseas deemed a threat to National Security… even United States citizens. And, of course, Tuesday night will be the President’s State of the Union Address, where he is expected to lay out his priorities for his second term. But something even more traumatic… for me personally… came up last Friday that I feel I just have to talk about first. “Lefty’s Autopsy”. You might remember me mentioning two weeks ago how my beloved cat “Lefty” passed away after being diagnosed with cancer but then being told I had to wait ten days for the next available appointment for a bone marrow biposy before they could perform life-saving surgery on him. But by then, he was too weak and died on the operating room table. 2-1/2 traumatic months and $3,400 dollars later, all I have to show for my ordeal is a tiny urn on my kitchen table. I told the doctor upon his death that I wanted… nay needed… them to perform an autopsy because I HAD to know what happened to him. I finally got those results back Friday, and what I learned turned my sadness into outrage.

First, the topics I’m glossing over this week:

But back to Lefty’s autopsy. It all began last October. Not having much cash to spare and three cats to feed, I purchased “Purina Cat Chow” for the first time… knowing Lefty was unlikely to like it… because I had a $2 coupon that was about to expire. And sure enough, he didn’t, eating only small amounts. At the same time, I was growing increasingly concerned about his two sisters who are grossly overweight. Hearing them eat all night long as I tried to sleep, I started collecting their food before going to bed at night and putting it back out the next morning. After a couple of days of this, Lefty began throwing up in the middle of the night. The first night I didn’t think anything of it, the second night I became concerned, and after the third night in a row of him vomiting, I threw away the “Cat Chow” and called my vet to make an appointment, which wouldn’t be for another two days. Despite throwing away the “Cat Chow” and leaving other food out for him all night, he continued to barf for the next two days. I finally got him to the vet who diagnosed him as having “pancreatitis”, prescribed some bland wet cat food and gave him an injection of antibiotics that would last him ten days. I brought Lefty home the next morning (following a barf-free night) and hand-fed Lefty for the next ten days when he suddenly started throwing up again.

Not willing to trust the first vet again, I called a specialist that agreed to see him the next morning. Another night with poor Lefty throwing up (I was now flushing his throat out with water after vomiting to prevent acid erosion damage… something I should have been doing all along), I rushed him to the specialist the next morning. By now, he was already in very bad shape after having not eaten very much in nearly two weeks (only “Cat Milk” and the bland wet food I was now baby-feeding him). He went from a healthy 16-lbs to just 11-lbs in two weeks. By that time you could see/feel his spine along his back. They gave him IV fluids and aggressive care that included non-anabolic steroids for the next 36 hours before they released him. When I picked him up the next day, I was told Lefty did NOT have “pancreatitis” and the first vet had come to that conclusion based on a test for dogs. The specialist noticed that his spleen felt enlarged and scheduled him for a Sonogram the following Monday. I picked him up Friday evening and Lefty was once again stable with no vomiting.

On Monday, I brought him back for his Sonogram. It showed his spleen was indeed enlarged, so they performed a “needle biopsy” to check for cancer. The biopsy found the presence of “mast cells” indicating he had cancer… which seemed unimaginable as developing in barely two weeks, but I was told the cancer had probably always been there, dormant, coincidentally revealing itself only just now. The only treatment was to remove his spleen at a cost of “around $1,500″, being told it wouldn’t save his life, only alleviate his discomfort till he succumbed to the cancer in about a year. I couldn’t afford such an expensive surgery for something that wasn’t a cure, buying him just one more year of life.

I brought Lefty home, saddened by the thought that my pet… who was perfectly healthy just four weeks ago, was now predicted to be dead of cancer in just two months. I jumped online and started Googling “needle biopsies and cancer” to discover “needle biopsies” have a whopping 25% error rate, lending support to my suspicion he could not possibly have developed cancer so quickly.

The following weekend, Lefty started vomiting again. The Specialist was incredibly expensive (two visits totaled $2,300), and not trusting their diagnosis of cancer, I took him to a third vet. I expressed my concern and they reviewed his chart only to “agree” with the previous vet that cancer seemed all but certain and he needed surgery to remove his spleen… which, as I already mentioned, was a lot of money for something that wasn’t a cure. They prescribed some anti-nausea medication and a pill for gastrointestinal upset. I also continued the steroids the Specialist had prescribed even after the prescription ended because it was the only thing keeping his strength up (ironically, I take the exact same pill every day, so I gave him some of mine until the vet renewed his prescription.) Lefty did quite well and went another ten days without throwing up. By now I was crushing all his pills together in a pill grinder and filling empty medicine-capsules because forcing three pills twice a day down his throat was pure torture (for us both). Lefty had become quite adept at faking swallowing his pills only to spit them out the moment my back was turned. So forcing three pills became “twelve” as I redeposited the same pills over & over until he finally swallowed them. By now, Lefty was actually eating on his own again, which was good because trying to force specially prescribed bland wet food down his throat was a lesson in futility.

When Lefty started vomiting again about ten days later, a family friend (also a vet) told us of a veterinary surgeon that could remove his spleen for only $700. She referred us to a local veterinary oncologist (pet cancer doctor) that I (incorrectly) presumed was the same doctor that would do the surgery. She wasn’t. All she did was examine Lefty, look at his chart, agreed with the first vet’s diagnosis of cancer based upon the needle-biopsy and charged us $450.

I went home and started calling every local vet to see if I could find someone that could remove a spleen for less than $700. Instead, I was quoted everything from $3,500 to $4,800. Another family friend suggested “Texas A&M Veterinary School”, having once taken his own cat there years ago and only being charged the cost of anesthesia. So I called, but they wanted $2,300 and could not see him for at least a week, which was way too long. Suddenly, $700 didn’t sound so bad. I had to stop Lefty from vomiting, even if it only bought him one year, as least it would be a good one with no suffering. I called and scheduled Lefty for surgery in 36 hours.

A day & a half later, I brought Lefty in for surgery and the vet expressed concern over his apparent anemia, saying he would have to run some tests first. I left him there only to receive a call a few hours later saying his blood count was now so low (having fallen from a marginal 19 to just 10 in barely a week) that it suggested the cancer had spread to his bones meaning his cancerous spleen might be the only thing keeping him alive (producing red blood cells) and removing it could kill him. The only way to know was a bone-marrow biopsy. Here I was thinking I’d finally be bringing home a pet no longer in discomfort, and now he would have to wait still longer for yet another test. I once again called every local vet only to be told that “only two places left do animal bone marrow biopsies: one is in California and Texas A&M.” So I called TAMU to schedule an appointment and was told the soonest appointment I could get with a veterinary oncologist is in ten days! “Nothing sooner?”, I begged? “No, that’s the first appointment we have available.” How on Earth was I going to keep this poor animal healthy for another ten days?

I worked like a dog to keep him healthy, giving him his pills, keeping him hydrated by squirting water in his mouth because by now he had stopped drinking on his own, and making sure he had food at the ready any time he straying into the kitchen looking to eat (he still had an apatite, which was a very good sign, but he was only eating a few bites, which was bad.) I went back to squirting wet cat food in his mouth. The fact he fought me so vigorously was amazing considering how emaciated he had become. I nursed him day & night to keep him reasonably healthy till his scheduled biopsy (eventually the vomiting became more frequent, reaching twice a day towards the end.)

On Day-8, I called TAMU to confirm the appointment I had made the week before because I didn’t want to make the 90 mile journey only to be told there was a problem. The nurse on the phone asked me for the reason I was bringing him in. “Bone-marrow biopsy. The surgeon won’t remove his spleen until he has one to see if his cancer has spread.”

“When did you make the appointment?” (“Uh oh!” I thought.)

“Eight days ago”, I told her.

“Is there a reason you are waiting so long?” I explained that that was the earliest appointment I could get.

“You always could have brought him into the Emergency Room”, she replied, and my heart just sank. Here I was desperately trying to keep this poor animal alive and free of discomfort (never any sign of pain) for the past eight days and now I was being told there was never any need to wait??? I told her that I therefore would be rushing Lefty up there the next morning a day early. I was told to call once I was on my way so they could prepare for him, which I did.

My father and I made the 90 mile drive the next morning and after an hour wait, a nurse finally came out to talk to us and take Lefty in back for some tests. I never saw Lefty again. Another hour later we were told that Lefty needed surgery immediately to remove his spleen whether the cancer had spread to his bones or not, with a “20% chance” of not surviving the surgery. My $700 surgeon back home said he was booked, meaning TAMU would have to perform the surgery for $2,300. Out of options, we agreed and left Lefty there for the night where he was put on an IV due to dehydration to prep him for surgery (I gave Lefty as much water as he’d allow, but clearly it was not enough.)

The next day I received a call “before 11am” as promised to let me know how the surgery went. At 10:30, the doctor called, started using words in the past tense that I knew meant the worst had happened, and told me Lefty was in cardiac arrest, was being given CPR, and even if they revived him, he would probably be on a respirator at a cost of $10,000, asking me what they should do. Knowing Lefty’s quality of life was now over, I tearfully gave them permission to stop their resuscitation efforts and greenlighted an autopsy for an additional $50 because I HAD to know what killed him. With two more cats at home, I couldn’t risk this happening to them. I was told (not at that time) that it would take two weeks for the results.

Two weeks was last Thursday and no call. Friday I called and they agreed to email me the results. I was stunned (but not surprised) by the findings.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I was right and Lefty didn’t have cancer. Reading the report with my jaw agape, the words “Cause of death: unknown” stood out like a dagger in my heart. Plowing through lots of medical jargon (which I’ve gotten quite good at interpreting following years of battling my own health issues years ago), buried towards the end, almost in passing, I read that an ulcer was found in his stomach. The poor animal suffered for two weeks and died of a completely curable stomach ulcer (which would explain why he responded so well to the antibiotics the first vet put him on despite the misdiagnosis of pancreatitis.) Lots of internal damage from the chronic vomiting, and the presence of precancerous “mast cells” in his spleen and liver were reported. His bone marrow was fine, and the words “cancer” or “carcinoma” appear nowhere in the two-page report, but the word “presumed” appears several times.

I never trusted the diagnosis of “cancer” based on a single test with a “25% error rate”. It just made no sense. My own determination of what happened? Lefty was allergic to something in the “Cat Chow” resulting in vomiting. By day three, it created an ulcer that kept him vomiting even after I threw the food out. Repeated vomiting damaged his spleen (just behind the stomach) resulting in it being flooded with precancerous “mast cells” (naturally present in the system) which were detected by the needle biopsy. No one ever did a “tissue biopsy” to confirm the diagnosis. They all just looked at the first test result, nodded their heads in agreement and charged me hundreds of bucks. Once they had made up their mind it was cancer, Lefty’s fate was sealed. All that misery they put my poor pet through, and all I have to show for it is a bank account that is now several thousand dollars lighter and this:
 

An urn & some saved fur in a baggie

The Moral of this story: No one cares about your health (or the health of those you love) more than you do. If something doesn’t sound right, you’re probably right.
 



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Filed in Environment, General, Global Warming, Healthcare, Politics, Rants, Seems Obvious to Me, War February 11th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 7 comments | Add/View