Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Medicare"Advantage" and the Insurance Companies

Once again I feel the need to repost to remind you that you do not need to listen to the insurance companies or their shill AARP when it comes to "Medicare Advantage Plans." Please listen to me. There is no "advantage" when it comes to "Advantage Plans."

Dear Insurance Companies,
There is no place for you in our well-functioning Medicare program. Medicare is the public option we want to give the rest of the populace, since you have so horribly abused them with your sky high monthly premiums and your policy of questioning every doctor visit, test, referral to a specialist, or procedure. And who makes these decisions to question every possible charge? Low-level phone-bank bean-counters make these decisions to get between the consumers and their doctors at your direction. How is this better than Medicare? Medicare has never questioned a single decision my doctors and I have made together to manage my healthcare needs. When I had private insurance every decision made by my doctors and me was at first denied, and then had to be negotiated by functionaries with no medical credentials or expertise at the big impersonal insurance company and my doctors office, driving up costs by requiring the hiring of new staff to deal with all the denials of coverage or medicine or referral or procedure or hospitalization. My doctors hate you bastards. So do I. We want you out of the only public option we have. And we are confused about how the hell you insinuated yourself into Medicare in the first place. You are now, once again, driving up costs for all of us. And we are, so far, just the low-income elderly and the disabled. You are everything that is wrong with our economy. Your greed knows no bounds. Your disregard for our well-being is nothing short of criminal negligence. You must be expelled from Medicare before you take it over completely and there isn't even a public option for the neediest and most at-risk disabled among us. You represent a cancer in the system. We need to cut you out before you turn this country into a poor third-world nation with no health care coverage for anyone but the wealthiest few.

I have had a long and detailed conversation with my medicare information personnel and I have been assured that there is no "advantage" in your "Medicare Advantage programs." We do not need you at all. But your dishonest advertising makes most of our citizens believe that they do need one of the "Medicare Advantage" programs being so aggressively pushed on us from every source. You have the money to push this program. The government run medicare program does not advertise. That would raise costs to all of us. The government run medicare program does not solicit over the phone or in mailings. That would raise costs to all of us. Why do you have the money to push your "Medicare Advantage" plans? Because you, in the private sector, have raised rates every few months just because you can. Because you have denied coverage for "pre-existing conditions." Because you have doubled premiums in a single month once a diagnosis has been made that will require surgery and ongoing treatment. You are bloodsuckers at best. Get out of Medicare. You offer no "Advantage" and cost all of us a great deal more than our modest public option does.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Arizona and Immigration (what's old is new)

I don’t understand the hysteria surrounding the immigrant “problem.” I think our message to the world has always been, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free…….” I haven’t looked it up, but that’s what I remember from a high school history class my junior year. I’m now sixty seven, so it was a long time ago, but it stays in my mind.

My mother’s family is descended from the Choctaw tribe of indigenous people of the North American area now known as Mississippi. We come from people with an ancient culture, language, government and territory. We welcomed you immigrants with warmth. You came and liked what you saw. You decided to stay. And then those of us you couldn’t slaughter or kill with your exotic diseases, you eventually force-marched to Oklahoma, to live in an environment that was, compared to our native lands, barren, poor, uninhabitable, crowded, and ruled by the "Bureau of Indian Affairs" which was staffed with white immigrants from Europe, hostile to our language, customs, religion, food gathering and hunting practices. It was the mission of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to convince us, by force, that our beliefs, language, and customs were wrong and to indoctrinate us, to rid us of our “savage” ways. We all know how that worked out for my mother’s people. Eventually we intermarried with whites who stole even our Reservation lands. But the most damaging thing for my mother’s family was that all of this made them ashamed of who the were, where they came from, how they talked and looked. And so we began to pass for white. Hell, we became white. It is only through a DNA test that anyone would know that I am descended from a proud and beautiful people with a rich culture and language of it’s own, with lands both vast and fertile. We were rich. Now we barely exist. We are ghosts living among you.

So now, those of you one or two generations descended from those first European invaders, want to stop “illegal” immigration, to send back the eleven to sixteen million immigrants from South of the border. I think what bothers you most about these brown native American people from Mexico to Argentina is that they remind you of the Native Americans you tried to exterminate. Not you personally, of course, but your ancestors. These people "talk funny," they don’t speak your language, they have their own customs, food, and worst of all they are brown and they will color your precious white bloodlines. Well, get used to it. There is no stopping it. You can’t find them all and send them all packing. They are here to stay. They are the new America. Soon we will all be a little browner. I won’t live to see it, but I can’t wait for it to happen. Welcome my brothers and sisters. I’m glad to see you here at last. Interesting how history has a way of righting past wrongs.

This was first published 4/25/10

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hacked

While I was recovering from having a broken tooth (with an exposed nerve and a long and healthy root) pulled with not much more than fancy pliers (hold that image) some cocksucker was hacking my email. I spent all day yesterday staring at my computer trying to figure out why I couldn't get into my email.  Google had shut me down due to "suspicious activity" on my account. I had no idea what that meant and Phillip was busy so I could only stare at my computer and wonder as I held my throbbing jaw in my hand. I'm apparently the only person with a computer and a twitter account who doesn't have a smart phone and can't receive a text message.

When Phillip checked in we discovered I'd been attacked in a Brute Force Hack by some fucker with an IP in Saudi Arabia. They took all my email. Emptied me out. Took everything. Thank god I don't bank on line. But I do shop on line. What amazes me is that all the security in the world won't stop a Brute Force Hack.

To those of you who were on the receiving end of the email that went out with my name as the sender, I'm terribly sorry.  I was lying in bed suffering from a very difficult tooth extraction and a series of migraines. I still am. Every key stroke hurts.  The light of the screen hurts. I hadn't even looked at my computer in three days.

I'm one of those people who's allergic to narcotics, so along with the pain meds I have to take Compazine to keep from puking up the pain pill. One 7.5mg Lortab doesn't cut the pain; it just takes the edge off.  And no, I don't have a dry socket. I have a horribly battered mouth. Have you ever broken a tooth off below the gum line across the nerve and then had to have it pulled? It's a perfectly healthy, very long root, but it can't be saved. So, out it comes, the old fashioned way. With Novocain, and plenty of it, but nothing much more than very fancy pliers and the dentists muscle. God my mouth hurts. I won't be talking much for awhile. Don't forget me twitter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dear Rick Santorum, Does Your Wife Know You're Calling Me?

You call late at night. I won't pick up the phone when caller ID says "Out of Area." Are you calling from Costa Rica? Are you hiking the Appalachian Trail? Are you calling with one of those throw away phones? What gives Rick? I appreciated the Happy Valentines message. That was sweet. I tried to call you in Costa Rica, but I still must not have a good phone number there because no one answered and your voice isn't on the answering message. Rick, why so secretive?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mitt, the Better We Get to Know You, the Less We Like You

The GOP primaries are so boring to me I've about given up writing about them. It figures that as a Democrat I wouldn't like them all that much, but in years past, I've found GOP electoral politics fairly fun. Not this year. This year, despite what should be something like a carnival, with all the fun of a freak-show, I've just about had enough. The most interesting thing about Mitt Romney to me is that this man once thought it was just fine to take his family on a vacation with their Irish Setter strapped in a pet carrier to the roof of the car for twelve hours. I think twelve hours in a pet carrier for an Irish Setter is animal abuse.

It was telling to me that even Mitt knew that once he was forced to release even one year of his tax returns we'd like him even less, and he was right. I suppose there are those of us who wouldn't have cared all that much that he'd have been in a minus 15% tax bracket, but those off-shored accounts raised eyebrows with even some fussy GOPers. Go figure. Maybe they didn't mind the accounts in the Cayman Islands so much, but  Swiss Accounts? Now that's just downright snooty.

And if you are a real Christian, Mitt, why can't talk about your Christianity (if it really is Christianity) in a way that doesn't give us all the creeps. You're stiffer than that Quaker crook Nixon. Because when asked on a survey about the "once you've gotten to know the candidate" do you like him more now that you've gotten to know him better?" the answer is a resounding "NO, LESS!'

And the bad news for the GOP overall is that turnout is down in the primaries. Go ahead CPAC. Spend Your Billions on Negative Ads.

Now I think I'll take a nap.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why Mormons Love Multi-Level Marketing: The Celestial Kingdom

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/The_Plan_of_Salvation.jpg
It's a complicated place, this Mormon version of heaven, but what most non-Mormon's don't know about it is that men get to have more than one wife in the Celestial Kingdom. This is a pretty good deal for men who were cheated out of plural marriages by the pesky laws of the US Government not all that long ago.

Mitts Grandfather took the family to Mexico to escape those laws which is why you'll never hear Mitt tell heartwarming stories about his grandfather. It's as if Mitt has no ancestors at all. But he has his money to keep him warm (at least his money that isn't staying warm in the Cayman Islands where it's sheltered from taxes. as if taxes were much of a problem for Mitt, at 15% or less).  But he can still look forward to that big polygamous family in the sky, once he dies.

One of the strange things about that Multi-Level Celestial Kingdom Mormons believe in is it seems to breed a fondness for all kinds of multi-level marketing schemes. Some of them turn out to be semi-legit and some of them turn out to be as bogus as chain letters, but if you're a Mormon and a fellow Mormon is selling you some load of crap, you're likely to buy. Why? Because he has a Temple recommend, that's why.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mitt's a Mormon and Mormonism Is a Great Business Plan: Food for Thought

Mormonism is a successful religion precisely because it's a business that requires total belief in a paternalistic dogma. Big Daddies are at the top. Mommies are in the kitchen popping out babies and children fall in line to do their share based on their gender. Chores are gender specific and so are rewards at home and in the Church. As it is on earth so it is in Heaven. Heaven is as hierarchical as the Church. There are in the Mormon version of heaven actual levels. And yes they do wear magic underwear and believe in Baptism for the dead. I'm fairly sure my atheist and rabidly anti-Mormon mother was, once dead, delivered unto the Lord to some inferior level of Heaven in one of the Temple back rooms by my friend's well-meaning doddering once polygamous mother in one of those mass baptisms for the dead by the good women of the Relief Society. It's confusing I know. I don't exactly know how to make it simpler. You die. They snatch your soul. That's about it. My feeling is, once I'm dead, I'm dead. I don't believe in any of that shit so I don't care what they do. But, oddly, my mother did. If you're Catholic and you die, your family probably cares a whole bunch. If souls represent gold, is this a Ponzi Scheme?

Another way to grow the tithing population of the congregation is to convert the heathens. Up until the 1970s Mormons didn't admit black folks to the Priesthood, so the darker skinned natives of the world's peoples were off limits. They loved them on the college football teams but not in the Church. That was becoming a bit of an embarrassment once the Civil Rights movement was on the front page of even the Deseret News and playing on KSL's nightly news. Even in Salt Lake you couldn't avoid seeing it, no matter how hard you tried. So finally the Big Daddy at the tippy top of the Church's hierarchy had a "Revelation" from God that the dark folk were no longer unworthy of Priesthood and should be gone after by missionaries all the lands of the earth where the dark folk live. I kid you not. It's a strange, strange, "Religion." Tithing is not optional. Neither is joblessness. Even kids tithe 10% of their allowance. Mormonism is a money maker. Money's colorblind. That was the real "revelation."

Every boy who comes of age in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't first serve his Country in the Military - not without a fight from his family and his Bishop. Oh no, he serves his Religion on a Mission first, then he goes to college. And a wealthy family like the Romneys sees this service to Church a final and fitting method of Service with a capital S (even if this service is done in France in a fancy-pants setting). It's odd to me how the men who are the biggest blood-thirsty fans of war and torture are the ones who never went to war and have sons who haven't enlisted.

I love my Mormon neighbors. They are kind neighborly people who, if I asked for the name of a good handyman would hook me up or offer to help me.  They are plugged in, in the know, and well organized. If we had an earthquake, they'd be the ones with the plan. the shelter, the supplies...  They'd probably even try to rescue me. They're that kind of people when you've lived next door to them forever even if you are a heathen and a recluse.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy Fiftieth Anniversary Tom

I know I'm late in writing this, but I've had to think about it. It's still incomplete.

We began our relationship fucking like bunnies. Glad I wasn't the fertile kind. We spent our fiftieth anniversary talking quietly about politics and family. I remember once in our on again/ off again relationship suggesting that if we were still together ten years later, we get married. Thank god we never did that. We probably wouldn't be half so happy to see each other now.

I've been wondering how many times I left you. Was it fifty? I got so good at it when we lived up Emigration Canyon I could bag all my possessions in minutes and leave while you were reading the paper or playing the guitar. I imagined the only sign you had I was leaving was the screech of my tires as I peeled out of the driveway.  I hadn't been diagnosed bipolar then, but I certainly was. I did try to talk to you about the things missing from our relationship that made me so desperately unhappy, but you didn't really hear me. Or if you did, you didn't seem to care.

The best thing you did for me was give me the confidence to inhabit my body, to enjoy my sexuality.

The worst thing you did was not being receptive to reading what I wrote. You once read a letter I wrote to you and your only comment was, "nice handwriting." What a condescending fuck you were. It's only now, now that you're so far away and the words are printed for everyone else to read, you read me. And yet, I was your audience...  Of course you're talented.  Of course I loved hearing you play. You are the best.  But why couldn't you read me?  The lack of reciprocation was ...  still is ...  painful.

But of course I love you.  You are more my family than any member of my "real" family every was.  I will always love you.  I will always want to see you when you're near.  Happy Anniversary Tom.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Just Another Winter Day

No Black Friday Tasing or Pepper Spray was used in the making of my peaceful winter Sunday. It is merely the 25th of December to me.

I'm not a Christian so it makes no more sense for me to celebrate Christmas than it would for me to celebrate Hanukkah, not being Jewish. Do I wish everyone I meet on the street Happy Hanukkah? Do you? Does every greeter at Wall-Mart? The only significance to this particular day to me is an outworn convention I can't shake kinda like a tick. I get a call from an old friend and we trade holiday well wishes. I guess it's harmless. The best thing about the 25th of December is the lengthening of the days.

But I can't leave the subject of the birth of Jesus Christ without wondering what he'd think of the way Christians celebrate his birthday. What's up with the Pagan "Christmas Tree" and the Black Friday shopping stampedes that result in trampling of children, of guns and tasers and pepper spray being pulled and used by shoppers bent on being the first to get at that X, Y, Or X bargain worth sleeping out over night for, worth nearly dying for, worth nearly killing for? It all seems awfully far from the spirit of Christianity.

The best stories of the season have been the ones of people helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, sheltering others from the cold and sharing what little we have in times of scarcity. The Occupy movement has embodied this impulse to share. The riot police with their billy clubs and rubber bullets, their pepper spray and the relish with which they use it have represented the power of the one percent. It kind of looks like Christ in humble clothing on one side and the power of a hostile state with all its money and might on the other. "Dirty hippies" on one side and the Police and Wall Street and Mayor Bloomberg on the other. Who could imagine from this tiny band of dirty hippies a national movement would grow?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Walk Like a Model

I used to do these exercises when I was a kid to get in shape for ski season, so I never understood how hard they were for the teenaged girls I tried to teach to walk like a model. They were second nature for me. Stand against a wall with your back pressed from upper spine to tailbone into the wall.  Then slowly walk your feet out from the wall, keeping your spine pressed to the wall so that there is no space from shoulders to tailbone, as you make yourself the shape of a kitchen chair without the kitchen chair beneath you.  Then hold it until you feel the burn. Keep your spine pressed into the wall all the way down and your stomach flat. Keep your shoulders back and down. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it....

The easy version of this is to lie on the floor with your legs bent, roll your pelvis forward, press your spine into the floor from just below shoulder blades to tailbone, tighten your stomach muscles, then slowly lower your legs to a straight position while keeping your spine pressed into the floor and your stomach muscles tight. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it until you think you can't another second. Sounds so easy doesn't it.  Then repeat several times. And do it several times a day for days on end until it's second nature and you can do it standing against the wall and you can do it walking. Then that's the way you always walk.  Keep your neck long, shoulders back and down, back straight, pelvis rolled forward, stomach flat, lead with the hips...

If you do yoga it probably is easy. If you ski it probably is. If you model it probably is. It's why at fifteen modeling was so easy for me and was into my fifties.  But a couple of bad sports injuries and one backyard fall in my mid-fifties plus taking care of my mother put me out of my profession permanently and now my back is killing me.

I have Lumbar Stenosis. Now the exercises I have to do at physical therapy are some of the same exercises I used to give to teenagers who wanted to learn to walk like a model. And every muscle in my lower back, inner thighs, and stomach is screaming in pain. It never occurred to me that the poor little girls were in agony trying to roll their pelvises forward enough to get their spines flat against the floor to hold that posture long enough to strengthen their gut muscles enough to hold that posture in an upright position.  I have the advantage in that my body has the sense memory of this posture.  I know how to roll my pelvis forward, straighten my spine, hold my gut in, and walk like a model. I never realized before how hard it is. God it hurts.