Monday, October 31, 2016

The Emails Strike Back

On Friday, I put up a post about drawing incorrect conclusions or incomplete information from headlines that are designed to provoke our attention but not much else. That same day, a new story was breaking and once more, a lot was made of the headlines even though the story behind those headlines was lacking in any significant detail. 

The subject of Hillary Clinton's emails raised its ugly head once more. It all started with a letter sent by FBI Director James Comey to Congress advising that emails had been uncovered that may be relevant to the earlier investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server and whether classified information was passed along to unauthorized parties. 

You may recall that back this summer, Comey made an announcement that after a year of investigation, the FBI found no actionable criminal activity. Yes, some people (including Clinton) did some stupid stuff when it came to email security but there was no basis for a criminal prosecution. There was no evidence either of intent to cause harm or that any harm was actually caused. 

Of course, Republicans took issue with this and demanded Comey come on around for a good ol' talkin' to about this. But Comey (who we should note was a registered Republican, he's registered as independent now) held his ground. What Clinton and her pals did was stupid but not criminal. 

That hasn't stopped the alt-right from still flailing away at Clinton's email mess. And none more so that the poster boy for conspiratorial indignation, Donald Trump. To Trump and the alt-right, the issue was not settled and by God, Hillary's guilty of something. You just know it! Look at her! She looks guilty! Also very tired! 

So the news of Comey's letter on Friday was warm blood in the shark infested waters of the alt-right and there was Donald Trump churning things up as only he can. The FBI was righting a wrong and reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton! And they wouldn't be doing this unless they've got something really bad on Clinton! And that means Clinton is guilty, guilty, GUILTY of corruption on a scale way beyond anything in the history of everything, including Watergate*.  

*Kids, I really don't have time to go into Watergate. Here, read the Wiki on it. And you'll know more about it than apparently Donald Trump does. 

So what is going on with this latest development in the never ending hellscape that is the Hillary Clinton email saga? 

Here's what we know. 

The emails in question were discovered during an FBI investigation into a matter that did not involve Hillary Clinton but rather her aide, Huma Abedin. Well, actually, it didn't involve Huma as much as it involved her husband.

Her husband is Anthony Weiner. 

<insert pause for readers to giggle> 

Yes, THAT Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressperson who just can stop doing sex stuff with his phone including sexting and sending dick pics. Most recently, it seems that Weiner may have been sharing his, er, "weiner" with an under-aged girl. 

That is known in legal parlance as a "no-no".  

So while going through Anthony Weiner's computer, some poor schlub with the FBI was apparently having this kind of a day: 

  • Dick pic. 
  • Dick pic.
  • Dick pic.
  • Dick pic.
  • Dick pic.
  • Hillary Clinton email.
  • Dick pic.
  • Dick pic.
  • Dick-
  • Wait a minute! What the fuck? 
  • Hillary Clinton email?   

Now what else do we know? As it turns out, not a damn thing. 

  • What is the nature of the email? 
  • Is it from Hillary? 
  • Is it TO Hillary? 
  • How far down the chain in either direction is Hillary involved?
  • Is Hillary actually involved in anyway with this email?
  • Is she just name checked for some reason? 
  • Is this a new email? 
  • Is this an email the FBI has already seen? 

We don't know any of these things. But a lack of knowledge hasn't stopped the press before and sure as hell doesn't stop Donald Trump and the Republican party. Everybody on the right were all, "Ding dong! The witch is dead! The witch is dead! Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead!"  

The funny thing is that FBI Director James Comey's rationale for sending the letter was to stay above board. After all, he had to face questions of colluding to keep Hillary Clinton out of jail so I can imagine his reaction when that poor FBI shlub ran in to Comey's office and said, "Hey, look what I found on Anthony Weiner's computer!" So the director took a look at what he was given. 

  • Dick pic. 
  • Dick pic.
  • Dick pic.
  • Dick pic.
  • Dick pic.
  • Hillary Clinton email.
  • D-
  • Wait! What?
  • Hillary Clinton email?
  • ...
  • ...
  • SHIT! 

Comey didn't know if they had anything or nothing but it was something and if he sat on it while the FBI tried to figure out if it was anything or nothing but it was something that got leaked to the press or to Congress, well, he would be in all sorts of trouble with Republicans who already thought Comey had assumed a bent and pucker ass kissing position towards Clinton's posterior.  

On the other hand, there are guidelines and protocols in place to keep federal agencies from unduly influencing an election. Comey's letter to Congress is a repudiation of that standard and Trump's tenacious grasp at the unsubstantiated implications of Comey's letter is a testament as to why that standard is a good idea. 

When even Jeanine Pirro is coming to Hillary Clinton's defense over the handling of James Comey's announcement, you know there's something wrong. And you pray tell is Jeanine Pirro? A Fox News contributor and Donald Trump supporter. Yes, a person on Fox News who supports Trump thinks Comey royally screwed up.  

As with a lot of things involving the Clintons, the odds are this latest development is just more smoke but no actual fire. But this plays right into that "Hillary can't be trusted" narrative that even people who are prepared to vote for her can't seem to shake. 

But here's the thing, guys and gals, this election is not a choice between two qualified people with some small


Yes, today is Halloween but now is not the time for David S. Pumpkins! I'm trying to have a serious discussion about politics and the fate of the United States! 

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah.  

This election is not a choice between two qualified people with some small differences in strengths and weaknesses. No, this is a choice between a qualified person that we have some trust issues with and a completely unqualified person that we can't trust at all. And the time to make that final decision is drawing short, less than a week from today's post. We need to make a cold, hard choice for who is going to lead this nation for the next 4 to 8 years and we can't let that choice be influenced by innuendo or vague allegations. That choice belongs to the people and not to any outside influence from James Comey and the FBI.  

Before I wrap up today's post and because I can't let have Anthony Weiner have all the fun, I now present...


DICK Van Dyke
DICK Van Patten

DICK Cavett

DICK Butkus 

DICK York 

DICK Sargent 

DICK Clark 
And that, my friends, is that. And this is where I wrap things up with a reminder for everyone be good to one another. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Doctor Who - Cybermania - Episode Four

Hi there! It's Sunday and that means here at the old blog thing that I call I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, it's Doctor Who Day. And today we get to episode four of my new Doctor Who fan fiction.

Here are links to...

A few notes about last week's episode:
  • That whole bit with the citizens of Akhaten calling the Doctor "Leopold" over and over? That was a riff on an old Bugs Bunny cartoon.    
  • River's reference to the Macarena being played at Amy and Rory's wedding reception? You may recall from The Girl Who Waited when Past Amy and Future Amy sync up by both recalling dancing to the Macarena. So that's where that came from.

OK let's do the disclaimer.

And now....

by David Long
Episode Four 


Scene opens: an vast glowing entertainment complex on the surface of an alien planet. A graphic identifies this as...

The Maldovarium.  

We zoom into a crowded bar with a variety of alien beings on a dance floor with flashing lights and a thumping bass beat. The beat is to YMCA and among the dancers are about a half dozen Cybermen. Dancing and laughing in the middle of all this is Capt. Jack Harkness. 

Moving in from the edge of the crowd is Alonzo Frame. 

Alonzo: Jack! What are you doing? 

Jack (still dancing): Dancing, Alonzo! You know what dancing is, right? 

Alonzo: But Jack...

Jack: YMCA, one of the best dance songs from the planet Earth! C'mon! Get out here! 

Alonzo: Jack! There are Cybermen here! It's not safe! 

Jack: The only danger here is one of these metal hoofers stepping on my feet! Hey, watch it, Twinkle Toes! 

Cyberman: Sorry. 

Alonzo: Something's wrong here! 

Jack: You mean, the Cybermen are partying and dancing and NOT trying to kill us? 

Alonzo: Yes! Exactly! 

Jack: Alonzo, you're such a buzzkill, you know that? Besides...

Jack pushes back his long coat and we see a metal weapon of some kind in an inner pocket. 

Jack: If the Cybermen revert to form, I'm ready! 

Alonzo: I still think this isn't a good idea! Maybe you should try to reach the Doctor.

Jack: Are you kidding? You don't want to see the Doctor dance, trust me!

Alonzo: Jack, be serious...

Jack: C'mon, Alonzo! You need to... 

Jack pulls Alonzo on the dance floor. 

Jack: Lighten up! 

Jack, the aliens and the Cyberman are all gesturing the letters to YMCA while Alonzo reluctantly and awkwardly follows along.  

Scene change: a clear blue sky on a beautiful day. A helpful graphic tells us we are on...

Planet: Earth...  London...

 As our view pans down, we see a stand of trees and then we see Kate Stewart and Osgood standing in a park and looking out at something with no small amount of bemusement.  Behind them is a contingent of UNIT soldiers.

Kate: Well, Osgood, that's not something you see everyday.  

Osgood: I dare say no one's seen anything like this ever before, Ms. Stewart. 

Kate: That's kind of the point I was making. So what do you make of this?  

Osgood: Having given this some due consideration, my analysis is...

Our view shifts and we see what Kate and Osgood are looking at: a group of Cybermen scampering around a children's playground having fun. At least one of the Cybermen is pretending to be an airplane and is making "Wheeee!" noises. 

Osgood: We're seeing Cybermen having fun in a playground. 

Kate: I can SEE that, Osgood!

Osgood: Well, you asked what I make of this. What I make of this is... what you see. 

Kate: By why is this happening? How? 

Osgood: I would speculate some kind of corruption or invasive program in the Cybernet that links all the Cybermen together. 

Kate: Speculate? 

Osgood: Hey, if you want to know more, you'll need to walk up to one and check.  

Kate looks at Osgood. Osgood shakes her head. 

Osgood: I'm not doing it.  

Kate (sigh): Me neither. 

Osgood: The Doctor would do it.

Kate: Maybe so but he isn't here, is he? 

Kate address the UNIT guard. 

Kate: Keep a close eye on the Cybermen. If they make even the slightest threatening move....

Cybermen continue to play as the airplane Cyberman runs around and goes "Wheeee!" 

Kate: Shoot to kill.  

Scene change:  a paint brush dabs at a canvas. It is a painting in progress of a seascape. As we pull back, we see the paint brush is being grasped by a metal hand. And we pull back further and we see that metal hand is attached to a Cyberman who is seated at an easel in the dunes overlooking the incoming waves of a sea. A graphic informs us...

Earth... Norway...

Our view expands further and we see other Cybermen seated at easels, painting the ocean, sea gulls, the shore line and one is doing a still life of two people looking out over the beach. As our perspective shifts, we see the actual two people being painted: Martha and Mickey Smith.

Mickey: What the hell is going on here, Martha?

Martha: I think the Cybermen are painting, Mickey.

Mickey: I can see that! But...why?

Martha: I don't know. Lots of lovely scenery, dramatic views. Oh, I think that one is painting us!

Mickey: Cybermen don't paint!

Martha: These Cybermen apparently do.

Mickey: Cybermen hurt people. They... kill.

Mickey has a pained expression as he close his eyes.

Flashback: Mickey witnessing his alternate Earth doppleganger being fried by a Cyberman.

Back to Mickey and Martha.

Martha: Sorry, honey. I know this brings back some bad memories but...

Mickey withdraws a weapon.

Martha: What are you doing?

Mickey: We need to take these... things out... now, while they're not a threat.

Martha: Is that what the Doctor would do?

Mickey: The Doctor isn't here.

Martha: No, but I am.

Mickey: Dammit!

Mickey grimaces and starts to put away his weapon. Martha reaches out his hand to stop him.

Mickey: What?

Martha: Let's not be completely naïve. Right now, the Cybermen are not a threat. I'm not sure why and who knows if it will last. If it doesn't....

Martha withdraws her own weapon.

Martha: We need to be ready.  

Mickey smiles.

Mickey: I love you.

Martha smiles back at Mickey. 

Martha: Yeah. I know.

Our view pulls out as Martha and Mickey keep watch over the Cybermen still engaged in their art.

Scene change: a dark city street on an alien world. Graphic, where are we?

Planet: Calisto B

We see a Cyberman walking along. This one is acting like we would expect a Cyberman to act, standing up straight, marching along purposefully. Then the Cyberman approaches three other Cybermen who are sitting on the floor playing with toy cars, marbles, etc.

Cyberman standing: Cybermen! Stand at attention and accept orders!

Cyberman sitting 1: We don't want to.

Cyberman standing: Cyberman! Provide designation.

Cyberman sitting 1: Puttingtame. Ask me again and I'll tell you the same.

Cyberman standing: Cyberman! You are defective!

Cyberman sitting 1: I know you are but what am I?

Cyberman standing: I repeat: you are defective.

Cyberman sitting 1: I am rubber...

Cyberman sitting 2: You are glue...

Cyberman sitting 3: What bounces off me...

All 3 Cybermen: Sticks to you. 

Cyberman standing: OK....

Our view moves in closer to the Cyberman standing as we zoom inside the dark orb of the helmet eye hole. Inside the head of the Cyberman is the bridge and crew of the Tesalecta.

Tesalecta captain: That's weird.

Tesalecta crew person: Captain, we are receiving reports from a variety of sectors. Cybermen behaving...well, behaving not at all like Cybermen.

Captain: This is strange but not within the parameters of the Tesalecta mission.

Crew person: Sir?

Captain: For now, the Cybermen are harmless. If they should revert to form, we will make sure they are severely punished for it. Besides, whatever is going on with the Cybermen, I'm sure the Doctor is somewhere on the case. 

Scene change: back to the exterior of the Tesalecta Cyberman as it turns and walks away from the playing Cybermen.

Scene change: Daylight, a lush, verdant jungle. All is quiet and still... which is shattered by a blade cutting through the foliage. Wielding the blade is River Song, dressed for jungle exploring, including a pith helmet.

River: Ah, lovely planet here! So green and... well, more green. Where the hell are we, Doctor?

The Doctor (VO from behind River): Chloris! A planet of almost pure vegetation!

River: Do tell.

The Doctor (VO): Yes, in fact, I do tell.

The Doctor pushes forward into view. He's in his usual black suit but instead of a white buttoned up shirt, he's wearing a Guns 'N' Roses t-shirt from their Welcome To the Jungle tour. He's also wearing his sonic sunglasses. 

The Doctor: Romana and I visited here...oh, it's been centuries. Are you wearing a pith helmet?

River: We're in a jungle, Doctor. Why are you wearing... that?

The Doctor: We're in a jungle, River. 

River: So this planet...

River pushes past some more dense vegetation.

River: Mostly vegetation, you say.

The Doctor: Yes and very little metal. Which means...

The Doctor and River thrust aside some more vegetation.

The Doctor: Something like that will really stand out.

River: Oh my!

Our view shifts as we see what they see: a shiny silver Cyberman standing in a clearing, glistening in the sunlight. Some of the planet's rampant vegetation is growing over parts of it. The Doctor touches the side of his glasses as he cautiously approaches.

River: Doctor...

The Doctor: I'm scanning the sub-ether. This unit is cut off from the corrupted Cybernet.

River: So this one isn't afflicted with Cybermania?

The Doctor stops, turns towards River and yanks off his glasses.

The Doctor: River! I thought we agreed...

River: No, we didn't!

The Doctor: You don't name things...

River: It's a perfectly good name...

The Doctor: I name things!

River: Cybermania.

The Doctor: No, we're not calling this Cybermania!

River: No, You're not calling it Cybermania!

The Doctor: River...

River: I'm calling it Cybermania. You're just mad because you didn't think of it first. 

The Doctor glares at River like he really wants to say something about this but either can't come up with something or decides against saying it. Instead, he puts the sunglasses back on and returns to studying the Cyberman.  

The Doctor: So this unit is cut off from the Cyber... whatever. So what's it doing, just standing here, menacingly....

The Doctor reaches out gingerly and brushes aside some of the vegetation from the Cyberman's chest which reveals a note over a red button imbedded in the chest. The Doctor reads aloud the note.

The Doctor: "Whatever you do, Doctor, do not push this button."

River: Come on! Really?

The Doctor: Oh, for crying out loud...

The Doctor pushes the button. Suddenly the Cyberman emits a faint glow as the Doctor stands back.

River: OK, what's that? 

The Doctor: The Cyberman has established a link to the Cybernet. I'm detecting a line of code transmitting to the armor, tripping a...

Suddenly the Cyberman looks like a ghostly version of Mr. Clever.

Mr. Clever: Hello, Doctor!

River: Holographic emitter, nice.

The Doctor: Oh look, it's Mr. Eggbert!

Mr. Clever: That's Mr. Clever, thank you very much! Hi, River Song! Looking pretty darn good for someone's who's supposed to be d-

River (smiling): Spoilers, sweetie!

The Doctor: So what is this all about?

Mr. Clever: This? Believe it or not, Doctor, I just wanted to talk. You know, engage in conversation, have a little pow-wow, indulge in intellectual discourse, freely exchange verbal communication, to...

River: Bore us to death, apparently.

Mr. Clever: Ouch! Good burn, Ms. Song. OK, to be blunt, I was feeling sorry for you, Doctor.

The Doctor: Feeling sorry? For me?

Mr. Clever: Of course! Here you are popping around the universe in your silly blue box trying to reason out why the Cybermen are acting so gosh darn weird and my role in it. And you are so... lacking.

The Doctor: Lacking...

Mr. Clever: In basic information! You really don't know who or what you're dealing with! So I'm here....well, virtually just gotta love holographics... to make things easy for you. I'm hear to tell you...

Mr. Clever raises his holographic arms and yells.

Mr. Clever: THE SECRET ORIGIN OF MR. CLEVER....Clever...Clever...ver...ver....

The Doctor and River: Oh, what a load of...

Mr. Clever: My story began when-

The Doctor: Hold on there a second before I feel compelled to impale my ears with my sonic screwdriver and let me save you some trouble.

Mr. Clever (puzzled): Wha...?

The Doctor: When the Cyber Planner entered my body back on Hedgewick's World, a mental entity was created, an amalgamation of Time Lord and Cyberman. You, Mr. Clever. But when I defeated you and expunged you from my person, you had by that time become a fully self-actualized individual, granted one reduced to a microscopic entity of Cyberman computer code and Time Lord energy.

Mr. Clever: OK, that's an interesting guess but...

The Doctor: After leaving my body, you tried to re-enter the Cybernet but the Cybernet kicked you out.

Mr. Clever: Now, see here...

The Doctor: The great Cyber Planner all mashed up with a Time Lord, the Cybernet saw you as nothing more than a virus infection, a piece of malware and so you were expelled.

Mr. Clever is silent but looks ticked off.

The Doctor: A entity with the self repair protocols of a Cyberman and the regenerative knowledge of a Time Lord, you held yourself together by sheer force of will until you made it to the Emperor's world where you found a home in an empty suit of Cyber armor. Except...

Mr. Clever: You know, you can...

The Doctor: Not quite empty. Residual nanotech lurked in the metal skin which you were able to manipulate to restore the armor to power and take over a human body which, thanks to your Time Lord knowledge of regeneration, you were able to mold to look my old face and God, what a chin I had. You can poke an eye out with that thing. And that....

Mr. Clever: Oh, just shut up, already!

River: Doctor, that was...dare I say it?

The Doctor: Go on, River! Dare!

River: Very clever!

The Doctor: Thank you, River! I do so enjoy an appreciative audience. 

Mr. Clever: A most remarkable narrative you've spun there, Doctor.

The Doctor: Yes, most remarkable and even better, it's true. "Mr. Clever will have his revenge." That was your first message. But you didn't hurt me or the emperor. But the Cybermen... Your revenge was on your own kind, the ones that kicked you out, that left you to die...

Mr. Clever: Ooh, your first mistake! My own kind? No! These lumbering flesh tanks! They have nothing on me! Do you hear me? NOTHING! I am something new! I can do something no ordinary Cyberman can do.

River: And what is that?

Mr. Clever: Evolve, Ms. Song. Evolve! Remember, Doctor? On that alternate world where an off shoot of the Cybermen were created? You said it....

Flashback to the 10th Doctor in The Age of Steel.

DOCTOR: The Cybermen won't advance. You'll just stop. You'll stay like this forever.

Back to the Mr. Clever, the 12th Doctor and River. 

Mr. Clever: The Cybermen, locked in man-shaped steel cages, frozen, unchanging. I offered a chance for change, for growth. I offered a chance for the Cybermen to not just be great but to be greater! I offered ambition and they rejected me! 

The Doctor: So you rejected the Cybermen! You hacked the Cybernet and...

Mr. Clever: ...and made them fools and laughingstocks across the galaxy. But that is not the complete focus of my attention. The Cybermen of old may be consigned to the junkyard of history but there's something new coming! Something... dangerous!

The Doctor: Dangerous? What are you up to? What game are you playing?

Mr. Clever: Oh, Doctor. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Spoilers, sweetie!

There is a brightening of the glow then the hologram vanishes, leaving the still form of the Cyberman, now dark and inert, leaving the Doctor and River to exchange worried glances. 

Scene change: Mr. Clever steps off a glowing square and begins to walk purposefully down a dimly lit corridor.

Mr. Clever: I have distracted and dazzled the galaxy enough with the silly shenanigans of Cybermen run amuck. Meanwhile, I'm been readying for the future, a future that will fear the Cybermen as they have never been feared before. Behold...

Suddenly the lights come up in the corridor and lining down the walls on either side of Mr. Clever are rows and rows of silver beings, far sleeker and less cumbersome that the old Cybermen but somehow more deadly looking. There are black sunken insets where their eyes would be.

Mr. Clever: The evolution of the Cybermen!

And the eyes of the Cybermen begin to glow red.

------to be continue--------


Next week, Mr. Clever unleashes the new and improved Cybermen. And there's nothing the Doctor or River can do to stop them.

Cybermania. Episode Five. Next Sunday.

Meanwhile a new post on something or another will be here on the blog tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another.

And also remember...

It's fun to stay at the Y... M... C... A....!  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Gone Shopping

Hi there! 

We're just a couple of days away from Halloween and quite frankly, I was caught a bit off guard. Perhaps the slow arrival of autumn's chill has made it hard to get into a Halloween-ish state of mind. Or maybe I'm just aging out of the whole Halloween frame of mind. Anyway, I only got around to putting up some Halloween decorations yesterday evening. 

But before we did  that, my daughter Randie and I decided we needed help jump start our spirits a bit. She had a tough day at school and I had a tough day at work. And you know what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. 

Yes, Randie and I went out for a girl's afternoon shopping spree to make ourselves feel better. 

Blogger's Note: Dave-El is in fact a male person of the masculine persuasion. He likes women. He is not a woman.  

Our first stop for shopping was Party City where got a couple of new Halloween decorations to spruce up the old stuff we've been putting up for years. We got some glowing bat eyes for the hedges and a new skeleton for our front door. We also got a Phantom of the Opera mask for Randie's costume for this year. As I noted in this space earlier this year, my daughter has developed quite a fascination with the Phantom of the Opera since seeing it on Broadway (that's in New York City, by the way).  So she decided to dress up as the Phantom for this Halloween. She still needed the mask but was loathe to get the ones from Party City with the cheap rubber band and the unforgiving plastic. But a better alternative did not present itself so....

The thing was Randie and I were not the only ones making a last minute Halloween run at Party City. The line to check out went almost to the back of the store. While neither Randie and I are really big on crowds and long lines, it was not a bad experience and the staff kept things flowing pretty well.  

Next up, Randie and I went shoe shopping. 

Blogger's note: Dave-El is in fact a man with a penis and body hair. 

Well, Randie needed a decent pair of black shoes for her Phantom outfit and I needed shoes because....I just needed shoes, OK? I mean, seriously, I own two pairs of shoes: a black pair of dress shoes and a pair of grey athletic shoes. And both have more holes in the soles than a block of Swiss cheese at a gun firing range. The sneakers were in particular bad shape with bits and pieces of plastic and rubber peeling off and making Fwap! Fwap! Fwap! noises when I walked. 

What was really cool about the experience was the relative ease that both of us found exactly what we were looking for. Randie found a pair of black boots that not only work perfectly with her Phantom outfit but are perfectly usable for any number of functions at school or wherever. I got a pair of black athletic shoes but they're not tricked out with a lot of swooshes and stuff so I can actually wear them to work in the office. Sweet! 

And did I mention they were ON SALE?!?!

Blogger's note: Dave-El is in fact a heterosexual man person of the male gender. 

To finish off Randie's Phantom ensemble, she needed a black blazer. So we headed over to Ross which has a large selection of women's clothing at really great prices and we barely got into the store when we immediately found a black jacket that fit Randie perfectly. And we got it for an amazingly low price! 

I gotta say that Randie and I had a lot of fun shopping. It's great when you can find exactly what you're looking for and on sale too! And it really did make us feel better. 

Blogger's note: Dave-El can pee standing up. Because he's a man, he has a penis and he's a man. Yes, we said "he's a man" twice but we felt it needed repeating.   

When we got home, I had a chicken sandwich with a fruit salad, I decorated the house with my daughter and then we caught up on this Monday's episode of Supergirl. 

Blogger's note: Dave-El is... hell, I give up. Dave-El's just one of the girls now. 

And I'm so glad my suffering amuses you. 


Tomorrow is Sunday which is Doctor Who Day here on the ol' blog thing and Episode Four of my new fan-fiction comes 'round. More Cybermen silliness with a plethora of Doctor Who cameos while the Doctor and River Song chase down the elusive and sinister Mr. Clever. 

What is the secret behind... Cybermania? 

We explore those questions... tomorrow.

Until next time, remember to be good to one another. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Devil Is In the Headlines

There’s a saying that the devil is in the details. This is predicated on the oft-true assessment that when something seems too good or too easy, a closer examination reveals faults and shortcomings which makes the thing in question less good or less easy.

But ignoring the details is no escape from the devil. The devil is equally at home in the smooth shiny surface of whatever easy solution there is to any problem. The devil is at home in the headlines that feed us talking points instead of actual information to help us make an informed decision.  

This past week saw headlines informing us that rates for health insurance under Obamacare are going up 25%. This news was red meat to Republicans who have long since used Obamacare as their favorite whipping boy for their position that the federal government is bad and the federal government under Obama is worse. The headlines of this rate increase were followed by more headlines that Obamacare was in crisis, in a death spiral, was going to crash and burn.

But what is the story behind the headlines? Let’s break this down a bit.

  • The increase is 25% if only the main benchmark plan is factored into the equation. The increase is actually 22% if all plans offered under Obamacare are considered.
  • The increase is an average. Yes, this means some individuals will see increases of more than 22% or 25%. Some will see less. That’s the way averages work. At least one state (Indiana) will see premiums decline by 3%.
  • Only some of the millions of people insured through Obamacare will see increases. The increase in premiums is not across the board for all insureds.
  • Of those seeing an increase in premiums, most will receive an increase in government subsidies to offset the increase in premiums.
  • Many of the increases are on rates which were well below average to begin with as insurers sought to entice new customers to purchase insurance through the exchanges set up through the Obamacare website.

Yes, the increase in premiums by an average of 22 to 25% is cause for concern and reflects inherent weaknesses in the Obamacare structure. One key component needed for the program to be a success is getting younger, healthier people to buy health insurance. In fact, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided tax penalties for those who did not have health insurance coverage. This infusion of participation from this demographic was necessary for health insurance companies to remain viable and profitable in the face of providing benefits in compliance with the ACA such as not denying insurance to people with pre-existing conditions.

However, younger, healthier people are not getting health care coverage, instead taking the tax penalty hit instead. So health insurance providers have a smaller pool of insured persons. And those who are getting health coverage are using it which means a larger portion of that pool is taken up by people who are receiving benefits from that coverage. In short, health insurance companies providing coverage through Obamacare are taking in less money in premiums that anticipated and paying out more money in benefits than expected. The result is insurers either pulling out of the Obamacare market or increasing premiums to make up for losses.

The short term, federal subsidies are sufficient to keep pace with increasing premiums but the long term prognosis is not good for Obamacare if these trends cannot be reversed.

And people have benefited from this program. The number of people uninsured in this country has decreased significantly which is important for controlling medical costs. People without health insurance are less likely to seek out preventative care and more likely to need more expensive emergency care when a medical problem arises and cannot be avoided.

The protections for people with pre-existing conditions are also an important part of the plan.

No, Obamacare is not perfect. But those who call for it to be repealed and replaced are pretty damn forceful about the "repeal" part but less specific about the "replace" part. As flawed as it is, there are important benefits for Americans in this plan and the key is to improve what can work better and fix what is broken.

But its hard to make that case when the headlines tell you Obamacare is doomed.

I heard a person on the radio Tuesday morning who said that these premium increases for Obamacare would make him vote for Donald Trump. But this person also admitted to a couple of important details:
  • He is not insured under Obamacare.
  • He had not read the article; he admitted he had only read the headline.

As an official with the Department of Health and Human Services noted, these premium increases for Obamacare health policies would only affect a small portion of those covered by such plans. But everybody would see the bad headlines.

And sometimes the devil isn't hiding in the details; sometimes, the devil is smiling in plain sight on top of a headline.

That's all I have for today. Back with another post tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another. 

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