Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

The 2012 Labor Day Weekend is here.  This year it ends both the astrological summer (June, July, and August) and the summer tourist season.  This weekend also officially begins 2012 election season, even though it seems like that season has been underway for four years.

The Republicans officially have a nominee for President, Mitt Romney, and a running mate for him, Congressman Paul Ryan.  Shortly after the weekend, the Democrats will have their official nominees, too, as both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will make it official.  No surprises here; they're the only ones running.

And then, let the fun begin!

We can expect our state and local candidates for offices swing into high gear this weekend, too.  A lot of hands need to be shaken and many doorbells need to be rung.  Unfortunately, we'll probably be inundated with those campaign, poll, and robo calls, too. At least there are just a couple of months left until the elections.

The best part of this weekend, however, is the family and friends' fun times:  BBQs, fun get-togethers, and some moments to honor what's left of our working men and women.  Summer camps will be closed as will most of the places in Old Orchard Beach.  All in all, it'll be a fun-filled holiday weekend and it's starting out rather warm.

I hope you have a super weekend as I plan to do. 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Republican convention keeps eye on Isaac

The last week in August and thus the last week of our summer tourist season is underway.  Our summer season draws to a close next Monday, Labor Day.  That, of course, doesn't mean no more tourists; it just means a different focus, like the autumn bouquet, invites a slightly different tourist.

The Republican National Convention begins today, although the beginning has been shortened to make way for Hurricane Isaac.  The latest trajectory for Isaac has it avoiding Tampa, the site of the convention, although the area will probably get some strong winds and rains.

A slight turn has placed New Orleans directly in the sights of the Eye of the Storm.  It could hit exactly seven years from the destruction of Katrina.  Let's hope it makes another direction change to find a place with the potential for a lot less destruction.

I wrote my thoughts over the weekend about the RNC's change of our delegation to the convention so I'll leave that alone.  In fact, right now I'm not excited about anything as this week begins.  About all I have on my agenda is a regularly scheduled event so far, but I wouldn't be surprised if events develop that get my attention out of Tampa.

Until then, enjoy your week's beginning.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Republicans are in a tough time

We've had one mighty fine spell of weather here in Southern Maine, and it seems it will continue at least through the weekend, the last one in August.  The weather gods have sure made up for some lousy weather earlier this summer.  Unfortunately, the end of summer is now in sight.

The Republicans will hold their national convention in Tampa next week, but the weather gods have decided they might have some fun of their own.  There's a chance a hurricane, or perhaps just a massive tropical storm will cross through or near Tampa.  And I'm really mentioning here a weather event, not an event that could erupt from the Maine delegation to the convention.

Although no final decision had been made as I wrote these thoughts, it appears that the Republican National Committee (RNC) has recommended that the Maine delegation be split between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul delegates.  The Maine convention last May elected 20 Paul delegates to represent the state.  Four others, such as the governor, party chairman, and national committeeman and national committeewoman, are automatically included in the delegation.

As I wrote in my last post (link to it is on the right), a couple of "traditional" Republicans challenged the legality of the vote.  The RNC has decided the solution should be to split the elected portion of the delegation equally and even has named the recommended delegates of the "party regulars."

In my way of thinking, a compromise is something that brings sides together with agreement.  The Paul delegates have not, and as of Thursday at least, say they will not accept the solution.  Another point that disturbs me is this:  Why, if proof was given that the delegates were not legitimately elected, were they all not thrown out and a new election demanded? 

As I said last time, absent of clear proof of irregularities, the delegation as elected  should be seated.  As I've said before, I would never have supported Ron Paul as our nominee and he won't be nominated now.  But, because the Paul supporters were simply better organized and prepared for the convention is not a reason to throw half of them out now.  We'll have a clearer picture probably before this weekend is over.

The Republican Party, both in Maine and by events elsewhere in the country, is not looking too good as a result of their own actions this summer.  It could lead to a disastrous November.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Seat the delegation

My political thoughts have begun a couple of weeks earlier than I wanted, but, as I said the other day, events have caused election thoughts into my head.  I still believe the season shouldn't start until its traditional one, Labor Day. 

The Republican National Convention is coming right up and by the time you read this, the decision on the seating of the Maine delegation probably will have been made.  I'm sure anyone interested in these sorts of things already knows the delegation has been challenged.

The vast majority of the delegation consists of delegates supporting the candidacy of Ron Paul for President.  Paul had already dropped out of his run when Maine held its state convention last May.  His supporters, however, continued to believe, and believe to this day, he could sneak in for the nomination in Tampa.  It would be the longest of long shots.

This year's story actually began two years ago during the last Maine convention.  The Paul delegates then were snubbed by the so-called Republican traditionalists as some of the Paul people's suggestions for party reform and platform were ignored.

Not being a "Paulite," I don't know how much planning took place in the last two years, but as local caucuses began last winter, it became apparent the Paulites had become well organized.  I read stories of disruptions in other caucuses, but the one held in our town, which I did attend, did exhibit good planning and organization by the supporters of Ron Paul. 

I know one of the goals of the Paulites was to get delegates elected to the state convention.  Because fewer than the available seats from Scarborough were nominated so the delegation was elected as a whole.  I have no way of knowing how many, if any, of the delegates were Paul people. 

I did not attend the state convention and my only knowledge of events there comes from media reports and other forums and blogs.  If what I read was accurate, and it appears it was, the Paul People took over the convention.  They had the organization, enough delegates, and poor traditional party leadership to easily get their supporters elected as nearly all of the Maine delegation.

A challenge has been filed by a couple of Maine delegates questioning  the legitimacy of the Maine delegation's election.  The Republican National Committee, which is in charge of the Convention in Tampa, will decide this week on whether or not the delegation will be seated.

As I said, I am not a Paul supporter and I did not attend the state convention.  The delegates there, however, did select our representatives to the National Convention.  These men and women, Maine men and women, have paid out a lot of money that many of them didn't have but had to borrow, to be able to attend the Convention and support their candidate.  The RNC should seat them.

The challenge has come from two non-Paul delegates but the others were selected by the Maine convention goers as well.  The pair claims the election was flawed, that the delegate credentials were flawed.  I can't speak to those allegations, but the whole thing now smells a lot like sour grapes.  The Maine Republican Party isn't looking too good over this debacle.

Again...if it hasn't already happened, the delegation should be seated.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Entitlements and "Fair share"

I really wanted to wait until after Labor Day to write any political thoughts, but events don’t seem to want to cooperate with me.  After the letter from CMS, the one mentioned in the last post, explained to me that my Medicare claims were now being evaluated by a ‘local committee,’  I’m just plain getting too worked up not to give my thoughts about things I really know nothing about, except I do know those things play a major part in my life. 

Let me call your attention to the About Me over there on the right.  It points out that my thoughts are usually unsubstantiated although most of them probably could be supported in I weren’t three quarters of a century old and willing to do some simple Google searches.

The Federal Government now includes Social Security benefits and Medicare in the list of entitlements.  Entitlements, according to politicians looking for a scapegoat for their own fumbling and bumbling of the economy, are major reasons why this country is going broke.  After all, entitlements provide money to the population by the government.

I don’t accept SS and Medicare benefits as being “entitlements” to those of us who are now over the age of eligibility.  Neither Social Security payments nor Medicare healthcare coverage is simply given to me by the government.  You and I have paid for them.  We have had taken from us, by law, a certain portion of our paychecks every year since we first held employment to provide for these last years.  Our employers have also contributed to our future through the years.

Many of us have also paid into other retirement type accounts knowing that SS probably wouldn’t cover it all.  Those accounts, however, aren’t the subject of these thoughts.

When Social Security was first established, as I understand it, workers were contributing to a fund.  As people retired, they began drawing earned income from that fund depending on several factors, such as longevity and amount of contribution.  When it was explained to American back then, and I was simply too young to have any clue or interest in this Social Security thing then, the contributions by just about every working person would pay for the distributions to retirees.  Americans at the time were told, enough was taken from each paycheck to last for a very long time, probably forever.

But the government greed took over.  That fund was so secure, the Feds began taking from it to pay for other things.  It was the government that changed the rules, not you and I.  Let me toss in here this important ingredient:  This change took place long before the election of President Obama so I’m not blaming the SS financial trouble on him.  The raiding of funds was truly something he inherited.  However, his policies have not helped but have added to the problem.

Now Social Security is in danger of running out of money, not because we haven’t continued to contribute but rather because of government’s raiding.  However, it is we who must now sacrifice even more to pay for it.  One way to force us into that situation was accomplished when the government began calling SS an “entitlement.”  Now it can literally do whatever it pleases with our money.

But, it is not an entitlement even though mandated by law.  We retirees have already paid for it.  For those of you who will say we’re receiving more than we paid in, if the government had handled those funds properly and not only kept them dedicated but had invested them in low risk stocks and bonds, there would still be no problem.  No, the government chose instead to take it from us and blame us.

I won’t even go into the fact that that SS payments are made to a whole bunch of people, you know who they are, that have not even paid into Social Security.  For them and for many others who are collecting for other than retirement reasons, perhaps Social Security is indeed an entitlement created by the government.

The Medicare problem is slightly different, but it’s still not an entitlement even though when I turned 65 I had no options but to join it.  I still have to pay a monthly premium for this insurance which covers some of my medical expenses, but I also have to pay a premium for a supplement plan to help with some of the expenses Medicare doesn’t pay.  And now that I’m 75, those payments will be even less as I now have a “local committee” to determine if my care is necessary or not.  I’ll bet a lot more will be the latter.  After all, didn’t our President once say that we seniors probably should just consider taking a pill?

I’ve also already received a letter from my supplemental insurance company recommending their prescription choices might be better than the ones prescribed by my physician.  Of course their recommendations are less expensive.

No matter how the government tries to spin it, neither Social Security nor Medicare is an entitlement.  I have paid for both.  I’ll concede my insurance payments may not cover all that has been paid out for healthcare, but no insurance policy does. 

Finally for this time around, I have a question for the Democratic candidates and the Dems.  Just how much is “fair share?”  The so-called rich (the top 5% of all taxpayers) already pay about 95% of all taxes while all the rest pay about 5%.  I even found one source that said 49% of our population pays no taxes at all.  By the way, all my references to taxes here are for the income tax only.  So again, I ask, just how much is “fair share?”  If everyone did indeed pay their share, everyone could see lower taxes, except, of course, those who currently pay nothing.

The only possible way for everyone to pay fair share is for everyone to have to pay the same percentage of their income for taxes.    I’d bet there’d be one mighty uproar if the concept of “fair share” were truly adopted.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

An ominous letter has arrived

 A letter arrived in my mailbox last week that really brought some reality into my life.  It was from CMS, the Medicare company that pays the insurance claims.  CMS also sends copies of what it has paid to healthcare providers as well as how much they have forward to the supplemental insurance company. 

A purpose of our receiving these notices was to let us know if a claim was approved or not and to let us know just how wonderful Medicare is for us seniors.  CMS is hoping, I guess, that if we see any discrepancies, we would report it to them.  I've read on other blogs or forums that such reports more often than not go without any CMS action.  I do not know if those posts are accurate or not.

Those CMS notices also had explanations of why a claim was denied, why a payment didn't exactly meet the bill, etc.  The billing and payment never coincided as Medicare has decided how much it will pay for various procedures.  Healthcare providers who accept Medicare must agree to the payment.  The notice also contains an explanation of how much of the bill has been forwarded to your supplemental company, if you have one.  If not, you could be billed for that balance.

I have been warning for the last two years that the new "Affordable Health Care" law would be disastrous to seniors.  We have had several warnings, perhaps the most ominous from then Speaker of the House Pelosi who said the new law had to be passed so Congress could read it to see what was in it.

Now we're beginning to know for sure.  First we heard that multi-billions (I heard on Sunday morning that the number was 700-billion) of dollars have been cut from Medicare by the President who warns us that the Republicans would kill Medicare as we know it.  Then some of the changes began to come to the surface.

A friend of mine, for example, who is diabetic, had a Medicare approved pump that constantly measured his glucose level and made appropriate adjustments.  A few months ago, Medicare no longer paid for his diabetic supplies so he had to switch to the needle route, but the insurance does not cover all his supplies, like the needles.

I have an inserted device called an ICD, a combination Pacemaker and defibrillator for my heart.  Another friend was scheduled to get one last January but his doctor told him to move it up to December because after Jan. 1st, the lifesaving device along with the Pacemaker would no longer be covered by Medicare.

I have a younger friend who has parents trying to get into a care facility.  She was told that Medicare no longer covers some of the services.  Many of us have had our prescriptions changed because of Medicare.

These are just a very few of the hundreds of examples of how Medicare is changing.

One other such change affects me directly now.  Sarah Palin warned us this was coming but her statements were poo-poo'd by the government so, of course, many of the multitudes thought she was crazy.

There is a provision that once a senior hits 75 years of age, and I'm there now, claims will be approved or not approved by a "committee."  Most cancer treatments, for example, after one reaches that age will be denied.  That local committee will examine all other claims, too, to determine if they're medically necessary.  At that age, most won't be.

"Aw, come on," you're thinking.  "That's just more of those phony scare tactics by people who oppose the health care law."  Sorry.  They are true.  That CMA notice I received earlier for the first time contained, in the exlamation section, a statement that my claims were examined by a local committee to determine if they were acceptable or not.

My health has now been taken away from me and my physician and placed into the hands of some "local committee."

Am I scared?  Damned right I am!

Listening to the news shows Sunday morning, I heard how the choosing of Wisconsin's Paul Ryan would destroy Medicare.  Ryan will be the Vice Presidential candidate with Republican Mitt Romney.  The plan Ryan proposes keeps Medicare for those of us already on it and those approaching it.  His changes to save Medicare are only for people under the age of 55.

Check out the cost of your Medicare insurance, especially beginning in 2014.

All I can say is, especially if you are a senior, pay very close attention to the debate over the next several weeks and get all the real information you can get.  Right now, I know I'm not ready to "just take a pill."


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Less than a month to go!

The official, well at least the unofficial official beginning of the election season begins in just three weeks and a couple of days.  If the last several weeks have been any indication, this fall season is going to be explosive. 

Labor Day, this year Sept. 3rd, is the traditional start.  I remember well when the candidates attended Labor Day festivities to begin their run for state and local elected offices.  Even Congressional offices were very light between the primary elections to select candidates and Labor Day.  Shucks, even those primaries used to be held in September.

The Presidential campaigns usually started right after the respective party conventions when the nominees were determined.  The Conventions were usually held late in the summer, although there may have been some in the mid summer.  It was fun listening or watching the conventions as the nominees usually weren't determined until then.  Not much drama this year to draw much interest.

I've been saying here that until those conventions take place later this month, technically there are no nominees, but there probably aren't too many folks around that couldn't make a pretty accurate guess who the party nominees will be.

Since this is dedicated to the "season," a political comment, actually there'll be another one later, might be in order.  Every time I hear one of the potential candidates, the one who apparently has nothing to run on, tell us what the other one will do to destroy America, I can't help but thinking, "Look in the mirror.  He had a good teacher."  I hear him say, "We tried it his way, it didn't work."  My thought is, "What have you done in the last four years that did work?"

In our state, watching the "He did"/"No, I didn't" debate going on between two of the Senate candidates is fun to read.  The candidate already crowned by the main stream media may be going through a little distressful time right now.  It's going to be interesting to watch this one play out.  The other Senate candidates in the race have been noticeably quiet, and for that I thank them.

The Congressional District races, at least here in District One, have been relatively quiet.  I have been reading about some activity in District Two. 

Of course, there are many state/local/county races to be decided as well.  For the most part they seemed to have agreed with my "It doesn't start until Labor Day" statement.

My telephone has been rather quiet in recent weeks.  If it weren't for Rachel and her group of credit card callers and the plethora of political calls, I don't think I'd have any calls.  That's O.K.  At least those political calls can be fun.  If the call is a computer generated one, I simply hang up.  If there's a person on the other end, I ask, "For whom or what cause are you calling.  I'll know who to put on my 'Don't support' list."  Hard to believe, I've been hung up on a couple of times.

Sept. 3rd is less than a month away.  Then the fun will really begin for the candidates.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Films' "Good old Days"

Sometimes one can find interesting, if not necessarily good, programs on TV.  Now that doesn't mean they're necessarily bad, either.  Old movies, very old movies, are in that category.  I found such a movie that brought me in my past fantasy land.

Unfortunately, I remember not the channel so I can't give credit to it, but the movie was Tarzan of the Apes.  What caught my attention was its date:  1932.  That was a very long time ago.  Johnny Weissmuller was Tarzan and, if I remember correctly, Maureen O'Hara was Jane.  The two characters met for the first time in the movie and, of course, after an hour and a half or so the came to the expected end.  Another Tarzan movie followed and I think it was when the pair got married.  I didn't watch the second movie.

I hadn't quite arrived in 1932, but my brother had.  I was in my parents' planning stage, but they were trying to figure out how to have a little girl.  It took them two or three years before they started trying in earnest.  By the time I got to see that Tarzan picture, it was already an old one.

Certainly by today's standards, the Tarzan movie was pretty bad, but it was still good in that it was fun to watch. 

I suspect the cable network picked this time to show the movie because Michael Phelps was swimming in the Olympics.  Before he became Tarzan, Weissmuller was a world class swimming champion.  I think he may even have won Olympic Gold, perhaps five of them. 

Phelps did come to mind during the movie.  There was a scene with Tarzan in the river water out-swimming crocodiles.  Phelps never, even during his world record breaking swims in this year's Olympics, swam as fast as Weissmuller.  There is just a small possibility the movie swim was speeded up a wee bit.

And you should have seen those jungle animals running.  Wow! 

As I watched the movie, I got to thinking about the "good old days" of film.  We didn't have television when I was a youngster, but beginning in the late 1940s when I had reached that age of being allowed to go to the movies without my parents, my friends and I used to spend every Saturday afternoon at the theater.  Remember the old Civic Theater.  How about the Strand or the Empire?  Then there was the Cinema in Woodfords Corner.  Another was on the second floor above the A&P in Deering Center.  It went through several names before it was demolished.

At our age, westerns and World War II movies were our favorites.  I still remember those old "heroes" and their sidekicks; and, yes, I could name most of them.  Like that Tarzan movie they were great at the time and for our age.  "Corny" might be a much better description of them today.

Ah, "they" don't make movies like those anymore.  They were fun and, for the most part, clean.  Good guys wore white hats, bad guys wore black.  And the moral was ever constant:  Good won over evil.  Sex scenes and nudity, but not romance, were all but non-existent.  Remember when two people lay side by side, still fully clothed, and the camera slowly moved up toward the sky?  I think we knew what was taking place, but it wasn't necessary to get up close and personal.

And the screenwriters had vocabularies.  Many words, common in films and society today, were never spoken in those old films.

Oh, the memories that a 1932 Tarzan movie brought back.  Movies like that aren't made anymore, but in some respects, what they said was more powerful than some made today.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

August brings a return to discomfort

I don't think I'm a happy camper.  Oh, nothing bad has happened; it's just that the weather is taking a turn for increasing humidity.  I have joints, just like many of you, that have begun complaining about this stuff heading into Maine.

It'll bring some unstable weather along with it, too.  In fact, the weather guy I watch most of the time said that Saturday would be the driest day of those into next week.  If it turns out to be true, my lawn could take a little hit.  I don't do well in heat and humidity so that lawn might not get its weekly trim.  We'll have to see.

We've seen a lot on the TV Weather recently on the dew point.  One of the meteorologists gave us a little lesson on why it is more important than the humidity in determining comfort levels.  I don't think I understood the lesson.  Dew points still are meaningless to me and I'm sure it's the humidity that gets into my joints causing all the attention rather than those dew points.  I grew up with humidity and simply know that when it's high, I'm uncomfortable.

I'm uncomfortable.

I'm also not happy with the telephone.  It seems to ring constantly and more often than not, there's nothing be silence on the other end.  I always pick up because I don't like listening to the ringing.  Sometimes I simply press talk then end within a moment and really don't know who was on the other end.  When my Caller I.D. lets me know I have a friendly incoming, I do answer that.

I have learned, though, that Rachel has so much fun she's letting friends help her get me a lower credit card interest rate.  Same company, though.  I haven't paid any interest since the 1980s, though, so it's moot.

The television stations must absolutely love this time of year.  It seems like every other commercial, and there are a lot of them, is about politics.  I have learned that one potential Presidential candidate loves America.  I learned that from another potential candidate who hasn't shown me he does, yet.

One of the Maine candidates for U.S. Senate might be learning that Truth is very hard to effectively attack.

Those are my non-political statements for this time around.

I hope you find a way to keep cool for the next several days.  Remember to keep yourself hydrated...water might be the best for that...and check on your elderly relatives and friends.  When I mentioned to do that last time, it worked for me as my Fearless Friend did check on me.