Dear Senator Johanns

Here I go again. The hearing yesterday with Kathleen Sebelius was bad enough, but then I get this message from my senator, Mike Johanns:

Senator Mike Johanns - He gets some hosannas for responding to letters in a timely and complete way.

Senator Mike Johanns – He gets some hosannas for responding to letters in a timely and complete way.

Senator Johanns e-Update
October 30, 2013

Like many Nebraskans, I am fed up with the failures and misinformation associated with Obamacare and its exchanges. The American people deserve better from their government, and someone must be held accountable.

Today, I cosponsored several pieces of legislation to address some of the problems surrounding Obamacare and to hold Health and Human Services (HHS) accountable to the public by providing much needed transparency.

The first piece of legislation removes the Obamacare mandates that require insurance companies to discontinue or dramatically change many existing health care plans. Reports recently surfaced that the health care plans of millions of Americans will be cancelled in the coming months because of Obamacare. This comes on the heels of admissions from supporters of the law that they knew their repeated promises that Americans could keep their current plans under Obamacare were false. Forcing millions of Americans to give up the current health care plans they actually like is unfair to hard-working families who were promised otherwise by the President and supporters of Obamacare. This bill ensures this broken promise is actually kept.

The second piece of legislation holds the Administration accountable for providing better information about the rollout of the Obamacare exchanges by requiring HHS to submit weekly reports on the website to the American people. HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius today testified before a House committee, and when asked by my colleague Rep. Lee Terry whether she would authorize the release of certain information to the public, she responded, “No sir,” claiming the information was not reliable enough. I’m concerned, in truth, it has more to do with concealing the depth of failure.

For more information on allowing individuals to keep their health care plans, click HERE. For more information on forcing HHS to be more transparent, click HERE.


Not that I'm finger pointing or anything, Senator...!

Not that I’m finger pointing or anything, Senator…!

Dear me! After all the efforts Republicans made to stop, destroy, discredit, defund, and debunk “Obamacare” (Affordable Care Act), I won’t stand for such nonsense from my Senator. So I wrote him back:

Dear Senator Johanns:

Please excuse me for being snarky, but what the heck were that 16 day Republican-precipitated governmental shutdown (24 billion dollar hit to GDP, was it? Threat of an adjustment down in our credit rating? Who knows how much HUMAN suffering for lack of pay or certainty?) and those 44 votes to wipe out ACA in the House all about but to make sure the ACA would fail…and NOW you and your fellow Republicans are all concerned because it didn’t start up without a flaw?

I’m sorry, but those big Republican crocodile tears and faux outrage that the policy your party worked so hard to destroy all of a sudden has you so concerned and worried.*

This is the sort of bull that lead me to change my voter registration from Republican to uncommitted after McConnell’s infamous remark about working to make sure the President would be a one term president.

I’m not really thrilled with either party at this point, but the Democrats seem slightly more sincere about this issue than you do.



* NOTE TO BLOG READERS: Who knows where I was headed with that sentence? It’ll stop the reader in his tracks to try to figure it out, perhaps. Or not. I think this is one way I could have ended it:
…don’t work on me.

The link below is to a story about a woman whose insurance policy was cancelled as a result of the changes brought about by the ACA. It has a surprise ending, for those totally hooked on the Fox News version of the “truth”:

Remember: salvation

about a hearing, with some naughty words tossed in

God bless ’em, but the very same people who did everything they could to sabotage, delay, defund Obamacare, up to and including shutting down the US Government for 16 days, are now badgering the witness, Kathleen Sebelius. Predictably, the Democrats are sympathetic and the Republicans are antagonistic. What a waste!

Even as I type, some fat asshole’s badgering her, yelling at her, not letting her answer the question: “Yes or no?! BLAHBLAHBLAH!” for a question that can’t be answered in grunts and growls the Neanderthal Congressman can understand. Or truly wants to know an answer to.

I went through a 15 month period without health insurance because I couldn’t afford the crap policy I, as a person with a pre-existing condition, was able to buy through Nebraska Blue Cross Blue Shield. I say “crap” because the one thing I needed health care insurance for – the pre-existing condition, Wegener’s granulomatosis – wasn’t covered! Yet the crap policy cost me over $1000 a month. Ironically, I had to tell them what the disease was so they could overcharge me: it is so uncommon, it isn’t on their list of pre-existing conditions.

chart that stole christmas copy

I had the crap policy from August till December, and the only thing I got out of it was poorer. The graph shows you why.

I spent a lot of last fall in bed sick, but didn’t see a doctor because I was afraid he’d put me in the hospital, I was that sick. I was afraid I was in a Wegener’s granulomatosis flare because of some of the symptoms. Untreated, the disease kills; treated, it’s survivable, but at a huge cost if you don’t have insurance!

I didn’t feel I could risk depleting my retirement account to cover the costs if I had, indeed, a flare going. All I had to do, I rationalized through the fevers, was last till I was old enough to sign up for Medicare. My 65th birthday came along before I died, so my risky business worked out.

"Leaf me alone!"

“Leaf me alone!”

I now am on Medicare, but pissy about using it: I’d hate to be an blanking “taker”! You know, one of those 47% Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and their minions have such a hissy attack about last year, and the current crop of Republicans continue to fume about while they wipe out 24 billion dollars off the 3rd quarter GDP with a stupid, pointless, unproductive US Government shutdown in their war against health care for people who can’t afford health care in today’s money sick America.

I didn’t vote for Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, or any Republicans in 2012. They want people like me dead, whether they consciously recognize it or not. Christians my ass, which they may kiss.

snow’s on the way…

Today is what I think of as a gift of time. Weather coming in will bring all outside activity to a halt, and the best strategy is read a book while wrapped in a robe or comforter while scrunched up in a comfortable chair. I feel a purr coming on!

I could write on, but there’s a pile of books and magazines beckoning me by the most comfortable chair in my home. Yeah, and a cosy comforter to snuggle in while I read. And a small cat staring at me, thinking “You and what army are going to move me from my chair!?”

S’long for the rest of the day! I’ll run a security scan on my computer, and let it turn itself off. It’ll be like a vacation!

Here’s an old video of Andy walking by his favorite chair, the one I’m about to take over:

Brother can you spare a…Canadian dollar?

I can’t remember many times when a Canadian dollar exchanged for more than a US dollar. It was a matter of US national pride that “a Canadian dollar is, well, not as good as ours”.

It is something you like to look at – the Canadians know how to put out a pretty bill! – but you never accept one in exchange for goods or services because “their” dollar historically was somewhere between 80+ cents and 90+ cents, but never 100 US cents. Besides, our banks won’t mess with them. Get one in change, you roll up your penny loss, your quarter screwing, whatever: “Don’t get mad, get even” is an expression started by an American who got a Canadian coin in change.

“To get that Canadian coin in change”: Ugh! It brings out the worst behaviors in all people who come in contact with it. Canadian coins are suspiciously similar in size and heft, though visually they look very different from US coins. That’s why people hide them under and in US coins handed to clerks, friends owed money, or banks, hoping they’ll slip past unnoticed.

They rarely do:

“I’m sorry. We can’t accept Canadian money.”

Of course, I kept my head on straight, and the problem soon disappeared.

Of course, I kept my head on straight, and the problem soon disappeared.

“Well, you gave me the &#^%$%# thing the last time I was here!!!”

“Sorry, sir. It is against store policy to accept Canadian money.”

“I’ll never again buy another $&^%*#&$ thing in this rip-off joint.”

“Sir! Sir! Please lower your voice and watch your tongue! There are children here!”

“Maybe they’ll take this *$&#^% Canadian quarter, then!” [Mad customer tosses Canadian coin into the store with one last burst of profanity before the police answer the 911 call from the store…]

"She ain't my queen!"

“She ain’t my queen!”

Long before the Royal Canadian Mint quit making Canadian pennies, most of their production migrated south to the States anyway. I’m sure most Canadians don’t know a Canadian penny when they see one, so many of them ended up in US pockets, dresser drawers, “lost” on parking lots, and stuffed in kid’s piggy banks to become a valuable life lesson about hurt, deception, and perfidy.


My personal worst case was a $10 roll of quarters (25 cent pieces) I got at my bank one time. Not only had someone slipped a US nickel (5 cent piece) into the roll, they also packed a Canadian quarter into the same roll! So, instead of $10 worth of quarters, I got $9.55 in US coinage, and one Canadian quarter. I just suffered the loss: “How do we know you didn’t put the nickel and the Canadian quarter in that roll?”

In the past five years, the Canadian dollar’s seen some good times compared with its American cousin. I’m just surprised the US dollar is as high as it is, considering the all-out efforts of the US Congress to turn this country into a banana republic with currency at least as convertible as Confederate States of America dollars. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s a cheap shot and that these matters are more complex than good governance = strong dollars.

All said, though, I still hate it when someone slips me a Canadian penny or a quarter bearing QEII’s profile. Grrr! Of course, if someone wants to slip me one of those new polymer CAN$100s, I’ll overlook their bad manners.

Now that I think about it, those plucky Canadians introduced dinosaur quarters that glow in the dark, too! Heck, I’d accept one of those in change any day!

Andy was a baby once…

I sometimes forget just how small Andy and Dougy were when I first adopted them. This photo is of Andy at 2-1/2 months old.

andy's spot

Gad, he was a sweety! It looks like he was a wiggleworm, too, because the photo is in focus, if the kitten isn’t quite.

a proposition; some issues

Yesterday, my day at the military museum, a board member asked if I’d be interested in taking on responsibility for the museum, a part-time job. There hasn’t been anyone in charge since the person who held the job moved in August from the museum to another city job.

Though the idea sounds fun, I have no particular qualifications for the job other than being a veteran and having an interest in the museum. I also know my health issues make the job’s physical aspects difficult to impossible to do. I declined.

Sallows Military Museum

I enjoy my Thursdays at the museum, though. I catch up on my reading, for example. Or talk with other veterans, some of whom flew bombers in WWII among other things too fantastic to pin on seemingly ordinary human beings. It reminds me of the burdens of war. I recalibrate and temper my patriotism to the realities, the cost of freedom at the museum. It’s a decent return for three hours of my time!

I have some nagging issues with some things I find there, however. If I ran the place, these items wouldn’t have prominent display. If displayed, they’d have detailed explanations of their history, including current uses that make them provocative symbols that promote an extreme right-wing element of one political party.

I’m not speaking of Nazi and Japanese flags behind uniforms of those two nations or other symbols of those failed, vile political movements the Allied Forces defeated in WWII.

I am speaking of these:

confederate flag sallows 10-18-20413

And this:

gadsden at sallow 10-18-2013

Here’s a better view of the Gadsden flag:

Gadsden flag

Gadsden flag

Freedom of speech is a guaranteed right, but wanton promotion of a nihilistic agenda – bring the Federal government to its knees, then kill it – is sedition bordering on treason when it results in actual temporary shutdown of the Federal government.

These two flags represent that movement to many people who love the United States of America and worry that extremists will spoil 237 years of progress toward those ideals set down in the founding documents. The museum memorializes and celebrates those people who fought to promote those freedoms, who loved the country and that government they fought to save. “E pluribus unum” not “My way or else, and you better be white.”


NOTE: The Gadsden flag used to be displayed hanging loosely from its staff. There was an American flag next to it. At some point, the American flag was moved into the main room, and the Gadsden flag was wrapped around the pillar, as shown in the photo. It is next to a display case featuring two US Army uniforms donated by someone I know (a retired US Army Colonel) who supports the Tea Party. That’s what makes me think of it as inappropriate without presentation of the flag’s historic use prior to its 2009 adoption by the Tea Party for its purposes.

On the other side of the Civil War cannon (barely seen in the photo) is another display featuring a replica Revolutionary War army uniform with a historic US flag behind it. It appears to be a 15-star flag. In this context, the Gadsden flag on display makes more sense.

You’ll note the rattlesnake on the display flag varies from the historic depiction, with its 18th Century quirkiness.

The Confederate flag bumper stickers represent a complex and troubling symbol of a rebellion that cost more than 620,000 lives (more than all other US war losses combined) and still colors American life 150 years later: It is a symbol of treason against the United States of America to many people, of simple rebellion against any authority to others, a racist symbol, a symbol of the Southern way of life that ended with the Civil War – “The War of Yankee Aggression”, as a Southern member of the current US Congress recently characterized it…!


Some links to history:

Gadsden flag history
history of Confederate flags
American flag
Civil War

Wanda Landowska and her cat.

Last winter, I posted this video:

Ugh! The music was totally wrong for the mood and intent of the video: A tribute to the late Polish keyboardist Wanda Landowska, a giant among musicians in the 20th Century, a fellow member of the cat companion cohort. In fact, it was Andy, peacefully asleep by my keyboard that January day, that reminded me of Wanda Landowska and her cat. I was charmed by that photo of the two, each on the harpsichord! I have the Landowska recordings. I almost expect there to be a faint purring in the background while she plays!

Today, Andy once again chose me as his morning companion, falling asleep at my arm while I played on my computer. It reminded me of the music on the tribute video. I’d failed to find a suitable harpsichord recording that wasn’t attached to all sorts of legal complications when I looked last winter, so attached the country piece that was inappropriate if kind of nice.

Wanda Landowska and her cat. This is the photo that charmed me!

Wanda Landowska and her cat. This is the photo that charmed me!

Reminded of that earlier issue with the music, I checked the royalty-free music site I’ve used since March-April of this year. The music I wanted had to be a harpsichord recording (I think of Landowska on that instrument, which she popularized after the instrument suffered a couple of centuries of limited use); I preferred it to be Baroque music (or “Classical” at the latest); and I preferred a piece composed by JS Bach if possible. Two out of three preferences came together in this re-edited version of the tribute video:

I am pleased!

We can work it out!

Much of my disgust with the Washington bunch of late is the whine-whine-whine negativity that could easily be tolerated if the whiners even had one thought about how to improve those things they whine about. 

Put me in the crowd that wants to replace the whole Congress with new people. Well, maybe we can keep a few old ones to guide new Congressmen in the ways of politics: COMPROMISE OR DIE! Oops! There I go again! I all ready established to my satisfaction that decapitation, hanging, impaling, tar-and-feathering, and shooting, among other tempting means are out of line in 2013.

That isn’t to say I’ve given up, though. It’s reasonably predictable that my favorite 3rd District Congressman who rarely answers e-mails and letters will run again in 2014. You know, “run every time, run for another office, or die in office”, the only way new Congressmen and Senators change in red states in the nation’s middle. 

It’s also unlikely I can vote for this fellow, this Adrian Smith guy. Or that anyone else will run or be acceptable if he/she does…!

SO, I propose a write in candidate, one I know is above special interests, bribery, small talk, sucking up to gain favors, or running with the herd. He is:

This is a baby picture of Andy so he looks young and fresh to the electorate!

This is a baby picture of Andy so he looks young and fresh to the electorate!

He isn’t affiliated with any party, but, for sake of a successful campaign, I will encourage him to run as a Republican, the party of most successful Nebraska politicians. I’ll even register as a Republican so I can vote for Andy for Congress in the primary! He’s a winner!

Andy has a message for you!

I have no shame: I recycled this image I earlier characterized as a "FAIL"....

I have no shame: I recycled this image I earlier characterized as a “FAIL”….

Andy’s “mood” in the photo is his reaction to the flash going off when I photographed him. Me? My mood is a genuinely grumpy mood today.

Why? Those fools in Washington continue to drive toward a Pyrrhic victory, each claiming a “win” over the other. Neither will win anything at this point worth the loss America suffers now in goodwill, civil order, world approbation, economic growth, the ongoing “governance” by manufactured crisis.

The party of balanced budget costs the country $160,000,000 a day with this shutdown. This is Day Fifteen: They are reckless hypocrites

Gadsden flag

Gadsden flag

wrapped in the Gadsden flag, the flag usually thought of as the flag of the Confederate States of America, and the Stars & Stripes in several versions. They stage photo ops using WWII veterans. They tear down barriers they caused to be put up when they shut down the US Government. For what? Perhaps you remember this:

>honk! honk!<

>honk! honk!<


Regardless of the impending consequences, I know the two sides will blame each other for the disasters associated with this BS, that the American public will not have been served, that the rhetoric will continue, that Congress will continue to “govern” by manufactured crisis letting real national problems grow for lack of attention. They’ll even throw in a default to further destabilize the economy of the US and the world if they can! Bastards one and all.

Clearly, I see the Republicans as the main villains in this manufactured crisis, though it is mostly the Ted Cruz shutdown. The Republicans call it the fault of the Democrats or President Obama. WHO CARES WHAT YOU SAY!? You all are wrong, you all failed, you each bear responsibility. STOP IT! The damage is done. Or, perhaps, just started.

Yes. I am in a grumpy mood today. Vote them ALL out of office. Let history sort out who is a hero or a traitor to the American nation.

Halloween safety for pets

DrNworb put out another excellent video on YouTube, this time on black cats and the difficulties they endure because of human ignorance.

I have two black cats, which you realize if you follow this blog. Andy and Dougy are best buddies and brothers to each other, but a good part of my joy, too. For that reason, I keep them inside. Their safety and longevity are more important than giving them “freedom” by turning them outside to exposure to parasites and disease, street accidents and stray dogs, wild animals and bad people. Protecting your pets from people who might harm them because they are black cats – or cats, period – can’t be emphasized too strongly during this season.

Halloween holds other hazards for pets, and it is even more vital to protect your pets, not just black cats, by making sure they don’t get into holiday candies or decorations that cats, especially, like to mouth and bat around. My cats like candy wrappings, something I have had to take these out of little mouths before one or the other cat swallowed. Things that make crinkly sounds are particularly attractive to cats. For their safety, keep attractive and dangerous items out of their reach.

If you typically have little visitors to your home on Halloween, you should help your pet deal with the stress of lots of strangers invading their space by putting them in a room where they have food, toys, whatever they need for comfort till the visits end. In my situation, Dougy is very curious about the outside. If he’s allowed to greet people at the door (and both cats like to greet people at the door), he invariably starts outside if the door is open very long. Either way – stress or curiosity – pet safety needs to be dealt with beforehand.