Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Big, Bigger, Monopoly

I am a victim of the Affordable Care Act.  I do not blame the President.  I am glad that so many people have coverage that never did before.  I am a victim of not being part of group coverage.  I do not have an employer, so the choices for me are minimal.  It doesn't matter if I say that I can pay for premium coverage.  I can't get it.  I have to have an employer.  That sucks completely.  I now have the worst medical coverage that I've ever had.  I need to have a referral to see a doctor that before I could see, regardless if they took insurance.  It was on me.  I had to be responsible.  Now, it's not my choice, it's the insurance company.  Not my choice.  

With all the grousing and criticism by Republicans and others all these years about "Obamacare," what would they do?  Ben Carson mentioned getting rid of Medicare and Medicaid while campaigning this week.  That's not going to happen. No one has come up with any suggestion.  Not one.  They just hate the ACA. We can't have universal healthcare.  The insurance companies make too much money.  What would happen to them if we all had Medicare?  Anyone out there know?  From where I sit, we are screwed.  We will never be able to all have quality coverage.  Our system is too big and too corrupt.  

Don't get me started on the pharmaceutical companies.  If I blame President Obama for anything, it's when he made an advance deal with the drug companies a year ahead of any ACA legislation.  I don't understand the grotesque need to make bazillions off the backs of sick people.  Maybe the pharma companies should stop spending so much money on commercial time on television.  Over the past twenty years, the amount of drug ads has increased to an obscene level.  They are promoting drug use for anything that ails you or didn't even exist.  I don't get it.  Take the time to listen to all the list of possible side effects.  Why would anyone take any medication.  The pharmaceutical companies are making us a legally drug dependent country.  Why should they even promote their products?  You actually have to have a disease, an ailment, a problem.  You have to go to a doctor to get any of these prescription drugs so why do I have to hear about erectile dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder issues, restless leg syndrome, and now there's the inappropriate laughing illness?  

Our country is just a basket of hypocrisy.  Nancy Reagan famously championed "just say no" to drugs and now, every time you turn on the TV, they are pushing drugs.  Granted they may not be marijuana, cocaine or speed, but that doesn't mean they aren't potentially as harmful.  AND now, Walgreens is buying Rite Aid.  WOW! Won't that be too big to fail?  Won't that be a monopoly?  That's what we do in America.  We allow so many companies to grow and grow and grow.  The only ones that are happy are the top echelon executives and the shareholders.  It's unnerving.  Look around, people.  We are down to the last few independent pharmacies.  By the time anyone wakes up and realizes another monster has been created, they will all be gone.   

Next time you are watching television, count how many commercials run and what percentage are drug commercials.  It will astound you. I am spewing all over the place, I know, but these issues are huge, complicated, and can't be resolved for all.  Everyone has a position and point of view.  The drug companies are not there to help people, like I thought when I was growing up.  They are there to make money off the very people that need their medicine.  Just look at Martin Shkreli...bought a drug company and raised the cost of each individual pill 5000%.  He did get push back from all corners, so he lowered it some, but he still raised this medication an unconscionable amount. That's where we are people.  I don't have answers, but major frustration.

I long for the days when we were embarrassed and uncomfortable to hear about tampons and sanitary napkins. 

Sidebars:  Wednesday night in NYC.  Torrential rains.  Good night to stay in and watch TV, but what will it be?  There's the often entertaining and informing GOP debate.  Don't forget Game 2 of the World Series between Kansas City Royals and the NY Mets. Mets lost a heartbreaker last night.  Ugh!  Then, there's just regularly scheduled  programs.  What to do?  If you watch the debate, I hope you will post or tweet comments  -- Saw the movie Bridge of Spies and give it two thumbs up.  The quality movies are rolling out fast.  It's so unfortunate that they even release movies the first 9 months of the year.  We have to get through so much mediocrity to get to the "real" movies.  Although there is something to be said that the powers-that-be don't think you can remember to nominate a great movie released in March....How good could it really be then?  Something to think about. -- I'm sure there's more, but my brain is rainy day mush.  Enjoy what ever you choose to do.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015


I don't understand why I find myself the unlikely champion of things Kardashian, but this latest chapter that the family is facing is deeply painful.  For the many that have never seen one episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, it isn't always what you expect it is.  There are true and real moments.  None more real than watching the demons rise and take over the beloved NBA star, Lamar Odom.  Yes, before he was married to Khloe Kardashian, he was an All-American high school basketball star from NYC.  He was a star and essential player to one of the Lakers championship teams. 

Through all this success, tragedy wreaked havoc throughout his life.  His mother died when he was a young boy, his father was a drug addict and fought his own demons, he was in a car accident that killed a 15 year old boy, two of his best buddies died within a week of each other from drug-related reasons, and that's all off the top of my head.  He has two children from his first wife.  He married Khloe Kardashian and they were really in love. I know, how can you know what's real, but they were so cute together.  His boyish charm and her twinkling eyes were infectious.  They were the best of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.  When Lamar got traded to Dallas, we all felt their pain of moving and the struggles.  We felt their pain of trying to have a baby.  We felt the deep pain when Lamar's Dad tried to get back into his life only to tear him down again and kick him to the curb. We watched Lamar's demons kill their marriage.  She fought for him.  He fought but he was fighting the wrong battle.  The drugs and the self-hate kept winning.  

So laugh or mock me for caring about this, but this part of the Kardashian reality was and is real.  They didn't sugar coat it.  They bravely shared the real struggle of addiction and that love couldn't buoy Lamar.  Khloe and Lamar have been separated for a long time, neither could let go. She tried to move on and maybe that was the BS part for TV viewers, and their divorce may or may not be finalized.  That is a bit vague.  In any case when Khloe heard that Lamar was found unconscious, taken to the hospital, and on life support, she dropped everything and flew to be by his side.  She hasn't left since.  She may be the one to make any medical decisions.  Lamar Odom is a 35 year old man loved by everyone who ever got the chance to know him, fighting to stay alive, and his dark side may win out.  

You may ask, why am I wasting my thoughts on this? Well first of all, I love Lamar from afar.  Loved him as a player, loved him on TV, admired his honesty, and today I read that Scott Van Pelt from ESPN went nasty and ugly on the Kardashians and their place in Lamar's life.  Whatever ugly Van Pelt feels about the Kardashians, I will go out on a limb that he never watched the show or talked to Lamar about his love, Khloe.  It's not the time to be disparaging when they may be losing a family member and loved one.  There's enough pain here, don't add to it.

I want a fairy tale ending here, but don't think it will happen.  I want Lamar to wake up, see the light, fight his demons successfully, and ride off into the sunset with Khloe.  All I can do is keep good thoughts for him.  He deserves so much more happy times.  

#PrayersforLamar always....

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Felt It Then

In 2014 as the Winter Olympics were approaching, Vladimir Putin made homosexuality criminal in any form.  Even thinking about it could get you in trouble.  Anything deemed "gay," was all of a sudden bad.  For a millisecond, our government pondered if the USA should boycott the Olympics or still go?  Of course, you know that we went, but I honestly thought that was a misstep.  A missed opportunity.  Now, I know that the athletes have worked their whole lives to get to the Olympics, but somethings have to be more important.  Human rights would be on the top of the list, but it wasn't.  I presume NBC honchos got to the President and said we had to go.  The International Olympic committee I'm sure pressed hard to keep everything intact, but at what cost?  Seems to me, that one decision, our becoming complicit with Russia on anti gay rights, emboldened Putin.  From my core, I am sure President Putin felt he got one over on the USA.  He got what he wanted.  We rolled over for the sake of peer pressure?  Capitalisim pressure?  Not really sure why.

Our turning a cheek to Putin was a big mistake.  Right after the 2014 Olympics, Putin started his drumbeat and march to take back Crimea and the Ukraine.  Our government seemingly did nothing.  We took "the high road."  Putin is a bully. President Obama is not.  We know that clearly.  Obama is very measured in his words and statements.  Quiet, controlled, and thoughtful. Putin just keeps pushing and pushing.  Longing from his core for the old days of the KGB and the Cold War.  Wanting to be relevant again.  

Putin has insinuated himself into so many conflicts on the other side of where the US sits, that he is definitely not our ally.  Why do we keep trying to pretend that he is.  His encounters and meetings with President Obama couldn't be chillier, even Netanyahu's meetings share more warmth and that's not saying much.  So the two Presidents this week had what many thought was a very positive and productive meeting.  The White House seemed to believe that there were understandings made clear between the two nations.  That lasted maybe the plane ride back to Moscow.  We then come to find that Russia is not trying to take out ISIS in Syria, as we thought, but bolstering the Assad regime.  WTF???!!!  They bombed locations in Syria that not only took out possible rebel fighters and slapped our President in the face.  

Remember when we turned the other cheek?  I think that was a big error.  I really thought it then, but with every step Putin continues to make, we are getting smacked around.  I am sorry to any and all Olympic athletes that get caught in the middle of political fighting, but that, too, has got to be the risk taken.  We have to look at the greater good and for any future International/Global events dig a little deeper, think a little harder.  A Frankenstein was created and we are still paying for that everyday.  

Okay, people, this is my opinion and only my opinion.  If I got things wrong, you can let me know because I am not an international affairs expert, just an armchair quarterback.  I have felt this since the first anti-gay law went into effect in Russia and more for every other Putin aggression since 2014.  

Sidebars:  I have been trying to figure out why Brian Williams, trusted newsman, who was caught in lies as the NBC Nightly News anchor, was given a second chance, but Dr. Nancy Snyderman, medical expert for NBC News and the Today Show, got completely obliterated.  Doesn't seem right.  They both made terrible mistakes: one gets a chance to regain the public's trust and the other went into the witness protection program.  Hmmmmmm. -- Watched Law and Order: SVU last night and hated it.  I got so mad and almost turned it off, but couldn't believe that the writers and producers would let it end the way it was going.  May go down in my annals as the most abhorrent episode in all these years.  The Blacklist starts its new season tonight.  I'm very uncertain if they can keep it going.  Homeland begins again Sunday on Showtime. -- The New York Yankees are really making us sweat it out.  One more win, that's all to get in the playoffs.  The SF Giants are out, so sad, but we did have an unexpectedly good run.  The New York Mets will play the LA Dodgers in the first round of playoffs.  Hoping that the Mets get the home field advantage. -- We are once again being threatened by a hurricane.  Will it hit or won't it?  No one knows.  They just keep creating anxiety.  Preparedness is good, fear is bad. --  On that, I bid adieu until next time.  

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