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Caesar in September

August 31, 2017

I can’t think of any month in recent U.S. history with such breadth and depth of bad news.  But, even with astronomically low odds that a hurricane will eat a major city next month, September could yield a political storm that could make Harvey look like a summer shower.

Trump has said the right things, even seemed to comprehend some of them as he read them off.  But in his quixotic quest to be emperor, he put his taint even on that effort.  At one stop in Texas, he described the mammoth swath and cost of Harvey with spooky puffery, as if it was one of his Best Productions Ever.

Of course, he promised the storm survivors all the help they’ll need and SOON!  His pledge had the same tinny tone as his “health care for everyone at prices you won’t believe”.  And it contradicts his pre-Harvey proposal to cut $600 million from the FEMA budget.

Throw into the mix his ambitious plans to tackle tax reform, maybe another attack on Obamacare, and countless other unknown knowns, and September could eclipse August, even without an eclipse.

Look for a change of tone when Congress reconvenes.  For me, September 1st has long felt more like the first day of the new year than January 1st.  School starts.  Weather cools.  And there are footballs and parking lot BBQ smells in the air everywhere.  This year, too, politicians are going back to D.C. a mere 14 months before the mid-term elections.  I expect the cracks in Trump’s base to multiply and widen.

Hoo boy!  Buckle up, get some rest and drink plenty of fluids.



aardvarks and orgasms

August 17, 2017

Watching the maelstrom in Charlottesville, I was struck by a pundit’s comment about the difference between the two sides.  “It’s like apples and oranges,” he observed.  I saw it as way beyond that, thus the title for this post.

Regrettably, the distinction was blurred by the Antifas.  Their equipment and tactics were so similar to the Whiteys that sometimes I couldn’t distinguish between them.  Neither could they.  Some lad getting rousted yelled “I’m on your side!”

I hope the peaceful protestors will distance themselves from the Antifas, although I understand the frustration of the far left.  I, too, once ran with a pack of young men eager to bust the skulls of the Unenlightened: the Marine Corps.  But we were disciplined and got veterans’ benefits.

Heather Heyer’s death marks a significant turning point in Trump’s presidency.  His pathetic flailing to justify What Cannot Be Absolved just keeps spiraling downward.  Today he trotted out a thoroughly debunked tale about General Pershing killing Muslims.  And he released the Hound.  Steve Bannon assured a weary nation that we should be maniacally worried about trade with China.

And then there’s Chris Cantwell.  A major player at Charlottesville, he was prominently featured in a VICE report strutting his stuff.  Smug, vile and scholarly in revisionist Dixie history, he was Aryan arrogance incarnate.  It was like he was preening himself for a post in The Don’s cabinet, maybe Attorney General.  Even with mace in his eyes, he knew where the cameras were.

Then he went home and discovered that the Charlottesville police may wish to speak to him.  So the Mighty Whitey goes on Facebook crying that he’s terrified, and all he did was try to do things right.  Yeah, Chris.  Far right.

Likely the baseline Chris Cantwell is between these two excesses.  However, he told VICE that he’s looking for a leader who’s like Trump “but a lot more racist”.  This guy is pushing Anthony Scaramucci out of the loon gallery.

I simply must go eat a burger that Jude is making to celebrate our 12th anniversary on the farm.  But I wanted to share that I believe I have a solution to this Confederate statues problem: put them in a museum at Mar-a-Lago.  I’m certain that the Mad Yam would welcome them.  Rednecks could visit until the non-existent climate change covers the boys in grey with seawater.

Maybe then they could let go of the war that ended 150+ years ago.


it’s all about that health . . . about that health . . .

August 14, 2017

So, regarding Linda’s inquiry about Canadian health care: Jude and I pay $117 a month each for both of our Provincial health care.  Some provinces don’t charge anything.   Prime Minister Trudeau says he wants to eliminate Provincial fees nation-wide.  Our federal taxes are supposed to pay for the single payer system. Prescriptions, eye care, PT, massage, dental, and some others services are not covered.  My primary care physician (whom I was allowed to choose) is on our island.  It usually takes no more than a few days to get an appointment. My doctor is first rate.  I was lucky, as most doctors are not taking new patients.

If I need a procedure or service not available on Quadra, our ferry fee is covered if I get the proper paperwork.  Waiting times can be lengthy.  In December of 2014 I had a hip replacement.  The average wait time for that in our region is a year.  I only had to wait six, as explained here and here.  Some 31 months later, the hip is working better than many of my original parts.

Any bureaucracy can be improved, but I’m quite pleased with my interaction with the program.  I certainly would take it over the spotty, expensive coverage we had in the states.  We are free from the fear of financial ruin from a catastrophic illness or injury.  And at age 71, that is an immense relief.

So that’s the take of a satisfied consumer.  Let’s hear from a former provider, my lovely wife Jude:

As you wisely supposed, Linda, the issue of access to care is a big problem for both US and Canadian systems for different reasons.  The Canadian system is meant to pay for essential services such as routine doctor visits, specialists, and hospital care.  Some care, such as nursing homes are subsidized if you qualify.  There are multiple “gate keepers” in the Canadian system even for care that is covered.  For example, if you need help at home for bathing, you need a nurse case manager to assess and approve your need and authorize the number of hours you can use.  Then a Home Support Supervisor will come to assess your home to be sure it is safe for the worker.  It can take weeks for this process and the actual care to begin.

The equipment such as MRIs, CTs and the like are not as plentiful as they are in the US so not as accessible and therefore, the wait.  Canada does have a shortage of physicians – again slowing down access to care.  Emergency rooms are some people’s main source of medical care (like the US).  The ERs are so busy and understaffed that the norm (at least in the hospital where I worked) was to do basic tests and get people out as quickly as possible.  People would return in a few hours because they felt sicker.  Usually the third visit would get the patient a closer look and admission to the hospital.  Fortunately, walk-in clinics are becoming more available.

Waiting in line (in queue) is a value here.  Jumping the queue is a big no – no.  You really need your doctor to advocate for you if you are in need of a test or procedure due to the severity of your condition.  If they don’t, you wait.   Specialists are generally in bigger cities and travel is required.  Expenses are tax deductible, but not the total cost.

Unfortunately, Allen’s belief that our health care coverage prevents financial ruin is not accurate.  There are seemingly arbitrary limits or conditions that are not covered that can only be available if you pay out of pocket.  You can not carry your coverage from province to province and there is usually a waiting period before you can receive coverage, so you need to buy private insurance if you want coverage while you wait.  They do have help for poor people similar to Medicare in the US and coverage for people with disabilities with the same type of bureaucratic paperwork and frustrations as the US.

While neither system is ideal, what is happening now in the US with the uncertainty of healthcare is worse than either could ever be.  The affordable care act forms a good base and there are models in the US that work well.  This idea that people will be able to put aside enough money to care for their needs and wade through all the confusing options will work as well as trickle down economics has.  Trickle down health care – the rich get care and the rest get what is left (if they can pay)?



Linda Lee, you have been heard

August 4, 2017

At the end of my last post, Linda Lee (yes, of the Colorado Lees) asked about our puppy and health care system.  I will gleefully respond after a desultory paragraph on Trump.

I will miss Scarmucci.  He was looking more and more like a character from Guys and Dolls.  I was amused that Aging Orange thanked a group of 12 to 18-year-old boys for voting for him, but appalled by the rest of his Jamboree speech — and a tad unsettled by the Scouts’ reactions.  They had been reminded to be courteous (Point 5 of their Law) and they were being obedient (Point 7), but many were booing the mention of Obama and Hilary.  That ain’t right.  Does Trump think he has to blow up every American institution?

The last three days we have been sweltering in the massive heat wave baking western Oregon and Washington.  I hasten to add that that’s Canadian sweltering.  As Portland and Eugene hit triple digits F., and Olympia and Seattle broke into the mid-90’s, our farm topped out at 30 C. (86 F.) the last two days.

Today at 4 p.m., it’s 25 (76), but at the expense of others.  The extreme weather is pushing the smoke from the forest fires in the B.C. interior toward the ocean.  So, even though we are hundreds of miles from the hundreds of fires, our sky is quite hazy and the sun looks like this:

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The ground looks like this:

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The puppies.  In May of last year, Jude and I had to put down our beloved Slinkee.  She was Queen of the Farm, one of a kind.  We wanted to mourn her properly, so we weren’t in any hurry to consider another pet.  Then she walked into our lives:

Katoo June, 2016 011

The dog of a friend had just produced a beguiling litter.  Mom is border collie and lab, with a wolf in the woodpile.  Dad is black lab and Rottweiler.  We brought Katoo home for a brief visit, then could barely wait until she was weaned.  At first she was a pain in the neck.  Literally.  For several weeks we had to sleep with our arms over our faces due to her middle-of-the-night romps.

We all got through it, of course.  Now she’s a sweetheart, though her wolfiness gives her a wild streak we may never contain.  She recently gave me the wolf look when I tried to take a dead mouse from her.

Then he walked into our lives:

Tooka after Feb. 9th 001

Tooka is Katoo’s half-brother.  Papa was a rolling stone, but we’re guessing German shepherd.  At just over six months old, he already outweighs Katoo by ten pounds or so.  He, too, has the wolfy wild streak.  Right now, for example.  We can’t get him to come inside, and we can’t catch him.  It’s those difficult adolescent months.

But between those bursts of testosterone, he shows tremendous sweetheart potential.  Katoo has been a very patient big sister.  They play together (though roughly) well.

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And they rest together well.

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Jude and I hope they stay friends for a very long time.


Linda, this post got a bit out of control, but I promise you the very next one will be about health care.  I want to do it right.  I’m going to describe it as a consumer, and Jude, who recently retired as a nurse, will describe it as a provider.


finally! a rich Caucasian male in the White House

July 21, 2017

For those of you worried about the lack of former Goldman Sachs employees in The Don’s administration, breathe again.  With the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as his communications director, Trump drains even more of the swamp into the White House.

Scaramucci had just become a honcho at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a federal agency.  He’s a Harvard graduate.  I’m certain of this because he mentioned it several times during his roll-out today.  On January 12th, he was named: (deep breath) Presidential Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs.  But by the end of the month, with his appointment still pending, it fell through.

Two fun facts about him: (1) he did fundraising for Obama in 2008; and (2) he wrote the book Goodbye, Gordon Gekko: How to Find Your Fortune Without Losing Your Soul.

Sean Spicer will stay on through August, doing Trump-knows-what.  Please feel free to enjoy that time referring to the Scaramucci-Spicer team as “Scary Spice”.  Sara Huckabee Sanders replaces Sean.  She’s been seen — mostly just heard — recently filling in for him.  Although she relays Trump’s whale shit as diligently as Spicey did, at least she coats it with a thick molasses-and-magnolias Southern drawl.  Look for Trump to tweet that he’s saving taxpayers money by paying her 30% less than Spicer, making America ever greater.

Scaramucci has the confidence, look and gloss of a  . . .  well, Wall Street lawyer.  His main qualification for the job, apparently, is a Jonestown-level loyalty to the Mad Yam.  When asked about Trump’s assertion of the phantom 3 million illegal voters, he said “if the President says it, it’s most likely true”.  Preserve that wiggle room, Anthony.

Even though we’ve seen the Cheeto get winded just from walking, Scaramucci assured us that Trump is a superb athlete.  He has seen Aging Orange throw a football through a tire, although he didn’t specify the distance.  He’s seen him sink foul shots while wearing a top coat.  How the basketball ever got into the top coat, we’ll never know.  (Thanks, Groucho.)  Such fawning fare reminds me of the accounts of the North Korean Kims bowling a perfect game and scoring 11 holes-in-one in a single round of golf .

So, good luck, Scary.  All you have to do is make the world sympathetic to a man whose ego is so crushing that he maniacally pursues a steaming pile of a health care bill  just to get “a win”.  Problem is, there’s not enough turd polish in the world.

the silver lining in this shit storm

May 29, 2017

All we really know about Trump so far is that he can read at a sixth-grade level and tweet at a third-grade level.  His deal-making is so bad the GOP had to play like it done a good thing  by passing a terrible health bill that will soon meet the Senate’s Death Panel.

His high water mark, apparently, is getting Gorsuch into SCOTUS.  But Gorsuch replaced Antonin Scalia, and will probably be more moderate.  Aging Orange has accomplished one impressive feat, though: when he said he fired Comey for being mean to Hilary, he made satire irrelevant.  Briefly.

No matter.  Slip into something comfortable, secure plenty of fluids, and do a Popeye’s run, because the Ringling Brothers did not, in fact, close down.  The circus has moved into the Oval Office.

It’s almost an embarrassment of riches to see Donnie try to tread water in a sea of leaks.  I hope I’m stopping short of schadenfreude here.  But –Jeez Christ!– this guy is only looking out for a handful of family.  And I’m not sure that even includes Eric and Tiffany.

Plus, he’s creepiest when he tries to act normal.  His True Self showed at the NATO summit when he pushed past Dusko Markovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, then straightened his coat a la James Bond tugging on his cufflinks.  Oh, The Donald, were that you were as authentic as 007.

So now that Trump is inundated with Evil leaks — as opposed to Wikileaks — pop some gluten-free corn and enjoy the show.  Soon in the Main Ring: James Comey being meaner to the Cheeto than he was to Hilary.

I laud the leakers.  Some of them are taking a substantial risk.  But they are watering an impressive new crop of reporters and commentators, helping to close the gender gap.

Anyhoo, the aforementioned silver lining: although Trump’s freshest antics have muscled it aside much like Prime Minister Markovic, health care is not going to away.  I mean really not going away.  Virtually all the opinion articles I read about it, left and right, agree that the U.S. needs a comprehensive national health policy.  Obamacare, with all its faults, laid the groundwork for that.

There’s no going back.  Not even the Mad Yam can stop it.




keep on bikin’

April 20, 2017

Joyous 4-20 Day!  Revel in it as you seek the Ecstatic!  I tried to post yesterday, but the gods of WordPress frowned uponeth me.  I was going to remind you that this particular April 19th was the 74th anniversary of Bicycle Day, the first intentional LSD trip.

Let’s review.

As the daily absurdities of tRUMP’s surreality pile up — blaming Canada for trade irregularities today, e.g. — please take a moment to remember what is transient and what is permanent.

Demon Canada?  Whitey, please!