The Dems in 2020. ABT!

We are here in post-impeachment America after President Dipshit was acquitted by our corrupt U.S. Senate. The Democrat primary is under way in New Hampshire. This comes after an Iowa caucus that appears to have been run by officials who must have found liquor made from corn that would have otherwise been exported by Iowan farmers to China or some other country that our president prevented by tariffs.

There is no Democrat front-runner for the presidential nomination. That’s no surprise. At the top in no particular order is Pete Buttegieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. At the lower end of the scale is Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard and I’m sure I’m leaving out someone.

President Grover Cleveland would out perform Donald Trump any day. The former 22nd and 24th president, Cleveland has been dead for more than a century.

The first day of early voting in Texas is February 18. I have no idea who I will vote for this time. One may assume I will vote for a Democrat, if you know me you might guess this, unless a Trump somehow ends up on the ballot. And if that happens at this late of date, one might figure the Revolución is here. We must for the sake of our nation vote for anyone but Trump or ABT, if you will.

My favorite candidate is Pete Buttegieg. He is young, a veteran and not a bomb-thrower. He is also gay. I’m not, although not that there is anything wrong with that. That brings pluses and minuses for him politically. If he wins the nomination, you can bet Trump will make some sort of stupid comment or give him a homophobic nickname. “Gay Peter?” Hey, that would be offensive enough. Perhaps Trump’s folks will see this and give him that handle, thus making the offensiveness of the president all that more toxic. I feel like Mayor Pete is an (not the) adult in the room.

I think behind Mayor Pete I would think Sen. Elizabeth Warren is my preferable candidate. She charts to the port side although not listing way to port like Bernie Sanders.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Bernie. I like the fire in his reasoning. He is an unapologetic democrat-socialist. But he needs to explain what that is to primary voters and will likely need to do so in the General Election.

The other candidates, all I can say is I’d take any of them over Trump. The problem is, there isn’t a lot of time left before the March 3 primary in Texas. So it has become crunch time.

In an election year as important as this one — Trump is a flesh-eating bacteria on our nation — I won’t blow off my vote as I have in the past. There is so much that I despise about the person who rules in the White House. I think he is the most authoritarian president since Nixon, though Trump is much, much worse. If he had a sense of decorum or shame, he would have resigned before being impeached, as did Nixon.

Grover Cleveland, the first Democrat elected to president after the Civil War and who won two different terms in office, was a barfly who cut his consumption of beer to a gallon when he ran for district attorney in Buffalo. He wasn’t the best person to hold the office of president but even since his death more than a century ago, Cleveland would still make a better president than idiot boy-child now in office.

I wonder if my relatives and friends who think Trump is the best thing since sliced bread will feel that way in later years, if they are afforded the chance to do so? I feel perfectly fine with my position.

The real national emergency

–ectomy: n. indicating surgical excision of a part appendectomy; from New Latin ectomiafrom Greek ek– out + –tomy —from Dictionary.com.

Last night a friend mentioned on Facebook how such folly is the declaration of a national emergency by Prez 45 the building of a southern U.S. border wall.

I added in my five pennies that the only national emergency we have these days is in the White House.

“We the People are in dire need of a Trumpectomy.” And with that, right here, right now, I break my own rules in this site to not mention the president’s name. Oh well.

Should you have read from the beginning to just now that I am speaking of the excision of our president.

Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard, you are needed in the Oval Office.

So we harken back to that trio of wacky dudes, The Three Stooges. There are some folks so pretentious enough to see the Stooges as the lowest possible common denominator in comedy or otherwise.

I suppose many who are so opposed to the Stooges abhor the faux violence. I wonder whether those anti-Stooges are likewise put off by mime violence? When I say “mime violence” I mean some cutesy skit where a mime fakes the beating of some invisible villain. It doesn’t matter, I suppose.

But the President. Sigh. Sigh. Get me Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard. Stat!!!

Thoughts on a newsy day

Today has been chocked full o’ news. I say that more as an observer of journalism rather than plying that craft, at least for now. I haven’t written for a newspaper or other media outlet in almost 10 years. These days I still work for Uncle Sugar and plan to retire either this fall or the next.

I have been working on a book, a biography of a former director of a government agency. It is, as I still reckon, an approved bio. I would like to wrap it up this year, find an agent and a book contract. Or, preferably, go straight to a publisher.

This blog has kind of fallen from the wayside. I really need to write more, not just to reinstall some discipline, but as well, to make the $8 I spend a month for a web host count.

Back to the day’s news. I woke up to see President 45’s old buddy Roger Stone being released on bond for a host of charges. This afternoon, I watched our Orange President agree to a bipartisan agreement from Congress that will reopen the government for more than 800,000 employees who have been either locked out of their job or forced to work for no pay, for now, two paychecks. The agreement will last three weeks during which time the president may cause another lockout or furlough, or do something so stupid as declare a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border.

A rescue team from the Mexican Navy flies on an Australian Navy cargo plane on the way to Indonesia after devastating tsunamis that struck in 2005.
 U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Bernardo Fuller

Emergency? What emergency? Well, the Prez had to have a little face-saving since his caving like the Mammoth, and put in his place by a woman, no less. Nancy Pelosi is that woman.

I don’t know why El presidente has invested so much in a wall, gate, barrier. First, it’s a f***ing stupid idea. Prez had his rallying dolts eating up his campaign promise to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. A wall from sea to shining sea. Or at least from the Gulf of California to the Gulf of Mexico. Although lately, he said it wouldn’t be built where there were natural barriers, like the hundreds of feet of canyon wall in Big Bend National Park.

I am sure the Border Patrol would like a wall built and more agents hired. Their union went big for this dipshit president. I guess our brothers and sisters in the union can agree to disagree. But these guys need to wake up and smell the café.

Speaking of café, I suppose I should take my five-minute Spanish lesson with Duolingo. I wonder how many five-minute Spanish lessons I should have until I am fluent in español?


Active soldiers to join the congested border area

The Pentagon is reportedly sending some 5,000 active duty soldiers to the U.S. border with Mexico. This deployment to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California is being pushed by President 45 because of several thousand Central Americans who plan to legally seek asylum in the U.S.

Just what the troops will do once they get to the border states is still unclear. A few thousand federalized National Guard troops were deployed earlier this year. Some 2,100 guard members are still operating along the border.

The role of active duty troops on the border, especially in such large numbers, have both national and border state implications.

What the soldiers might and might not do depends on what are the president’s intention and what nutty ideas comes to mind once he awakens each morning.

Texas Highway Patrol boat Scott Burns minus the highway and the mounted machine guns. DPS photo

A 19th century law known as the Posse Comitatus Act generally limits what U.S. troops can do in a civil role. The law states: “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.” — Title 18 U.S.C.Part IChapter 67 › § 1385

This law has been amended several times, the most glaring being the addition of the Air Force in 1956. Some key exceptions to the law:

–National Guard forces operating under the state authority of Title 32 (i.e., under state rather than federal service) are exempt from the Act.

–Pursuant to the presidential power to quell domestic violence,federal troops are expressly exempt from the prohibitions of the law.

–Aerial photographic and visual search and surveillance by military personnel were found not to violate the Posse Comitatus Act.

–Congress created a “drug exception” to the Posse Comitatus Act.
Under recent legislation, the Congress authorized the Secretary
of Defense to make available any military equipment and personnel necessary for operation of said equipment for law
enforcement purposes. Thus, the Army can provide equipment,
training, and expert military advice to civilian law enforcement
agencies as part of the total effort in the “war on drugs.”
–Use of a member of the Judge Advocate Corps as a special assis-
tant prosecutor, while retaining his dual role in participating in
the investigation, presentation to the grand jury, and prosecu-
tion, did not violate Posse Comitatus Act.
–The Coast Guard is exempt from Posse Comitatus Act during
peacetime.

–Although brought under the Act through Defense Department regulation, described above, the Navy may assist the Coast Guard in pursuit, search, and seizure of vessels suspected of involvement in drug trafficking.

That U.S. military forces are generally limited to what they can do –would the military or other law enforcement use unprovoked force? — are among the national concerns.
As for my state, Texas, the more than 1,000 active duty military troops that may end up at the Mexican border from near Brownsville to El Paso might seemingly end up tripping over the other authorities sent there.
The Texas Department of Public safety has slightly more than 1,000 state troopers and other personnel including Texas Rangers.
Some news reports have quoted local residents along the lower Rio Grande saying that after being stopped by the DPS for questionable reasons, those same folks might get stopped again a mile down the road by another trooper.
The many Border Patrol officers legally intrude on the land of local residents and have otherwise created a major headache for those who live in such areas as the Rio Grande Valley. And one may jokingly conclude that law enforcement might be called upon to direct military federal and state personnel deployed to the border.
Also, if the borders on tierra del firma are crowded, it might be just as congested on the Rio Grande itself.  The DPS has 13 so-called “shallow water and shallow water jet” craft deployed that are loaded to the gills with M240 light machine guns and assorted semi-automatic rifles, handguns and even two .50-cal sniper rifles. The Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens have their own patrol craft in its Maritime Tactical Marine Group.
As this border arms race isn’t sufficient, airborne assets add to what may seem to be a cramped existence on the border. Texas DPS, game wardens and Border Patrol have their own planes and helicopters. That is not to mention those aircraft from the U.S. Coast Guard and Texas Air National Guard.
It will be interesting to see what kind of useless crap this administration dreams up for the border.  The only way one can see **45s actions is that of political overkill. Hopefully, the “kill” part will be absent from the duty of U.S. military and law enforcement.
**This blog refuses to use the president’s name as a means of separation from him and the office he holds.

 

Vets: The VA doesn’t feel your pain.

I am being involuntarily removed from my methadone prescription for chronic pain. I was taking 5 mg three times a day. The doctor says she is “weaning” me off of methadone. She didn’t say why.

Some months ago I went to the so-called “Pain Evaluation Clinic” at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Medical Center in Houston. I saw a psychologist for about an hour and spent about the same with a physician assistant who proceeded to make clear that I would be taken off methadone. I have taken the drug for more than 11 years. I had a couple of medical tests on the horizon that concerned me so I was spared from the weaning for the time being.

I never really received an explanation why I was being taken off methadone. The PA told me that my prescription for 15 mg was equivalent to 60 mg morphine equivalence. In extensive reading this afternoon, I found nothing to indicate whether this equivalence is accurate due to the medication itself.

The PA, I suppose, tried to scare me out of my methadone prescription. She gave me the impression that I could all of a sudden overdose while taking just a normal dose. I found nothing to support such claims.

It is true that methadone overdose deaths represent about 1-of-4 total fatal ODs. I found this on one government medical site:

“Methadone is a very strong painkiller. It is also used to treat heroin addiction. Methadone overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this medicine. This can be by accident or on purpose.

 “Methadone overdose can also occur if a person takes methadone with certain painkillers. These painkillers include oxycontin, hydrocodone (Vicodin), or morphine.”

Look Ma, no spontaneous overdose from normal dosage for years.

Don’t bother going to the VA for severe pain. They want you to hurt. I guess service to the country wasn’t enough.

Here is some additional illumination about methadone overdose from CRC Health Group, a West Coast addiction and behavioral treatment group based in California:

“Between 1999 and 2004, deaths attributed to methadone increased by 390%, an effect primarily related to increased utilization in pain clinics , as well as diversion.

 “Methadone accumulation can lead to sedation, respiratory depression, respiratory arrest and even death. Lethal respiratory depressive effects can occur in doses as low as 30 mg in non-tolerant persons

  “Initial efforts to characterize risk factors derive largely from Australia, where deaths related to methadone tablets prescribed for chronic pain increased markedly between 1984 and 1994. Diversion of methadone tablets accounted for about half the deaths, whereas deaths from prescribed methadone declined over this period. “

As CRC quite succinctly pointed out:

  “You must take methadone responsibly and with respect for its power, but the careful and considered use of methadone has proven quite safe, even for long-term consumption. Methadone has been proven not to harm the lungs, heart, brain, liver, kidneys, or any other organ.n 4,000 deaths. However, many of these deaths did not involve methadone treatment for opiate addiction — instead, they involved individuals who were using methadone without medical supervision for pain treatment, or who were otherwise abusing methadone.

 “Methadone use saves far more lives than it endangers. According to the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates (NAMA), opiate addicts who are not on methadone are more than three times more likely to die than are individuals who are using methadone as part of a supervised addiction recovery program.

 “Methadone, much like any strong opiate analgesic, has a respiratory depressive effect. If you take too much methadone, you can stop breathing and die.”

Simple enough!

A registered nurse friend of mine said recently:

 “You’re right that it’s the fentanyl and oxy and it’s the serious main-liners fucking it up for all of us. This entire thing is blown up by big pharma – I’m sure we could follow the $ and figure it all out, but the guy in pain is paying the real cost of trying to make it without his pain meds. It’s a mess,” she said. “It’s horrible and I can’t believe the medical system is letting them interfere with medical practice like this. It’s illegal and malpractice not to treat a patient with the correct medication when it’s available. Period.”

My weaning is in a rapid fashion. It makes me wonder if VA practitioners receive a bonus for cutting off opioids for some old vets with severe pain.

I started with being prescribed 10.5 mg three times per day. This month I received a prescription for 5 mg twice a day. Next  month it will be 5 mg once a day and 2.5 mg once a day.

I was never given a firm reason why I should quit taking methadone. I don’t have to though. It seems most VA top leaders want to look good for their boss in the White House. I doubt he could tell an opioid from a hemorrhoid.

Even worse than how I will fare without methadone from a withdrawal standpoint — almost 12 years is a long time on an opioid — is the pain.

I have not been offered a firm solution to the often severe chronic pain from spinal stenosis in my cervical spine, this despite having two surgeries. I also suffer from excruciating lower back pain that doctors at the VA have never seemed to agree on the reason. It limits my walking and the problem has never been substantially addressed, with the exception of a diagnosis of arachnoiditis. The condition is a pain disorder caused by the inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes that surround and protect the nerves of the spinal cord.  The diagnosis seems dubious after seeing a number of different doctors.

Most disturbing are the VA pain strategies involving high doses of over-the-counter analgesics such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. For real? Do they seriously believe such OTC drugs will help after taking methadone for almost 12 years?

Other VA “pain control” suggestions include physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and group therapy. I just know sitting with a group singing “Kumbaya” will kill the pain.

I don’t know what will happen in the future. Most certainly, I am scared. I was put on methadone by a VA pain doctor in Dallas who suggested methadone after he told me there was nothing he could do to help. I have tried all the VA has had to offer since 2006 and those strategies that do not work for me have only grown 12 years later.

I can certainly understand why many VA patients may go elsewhere for help with pain. I don’t plan to seek black market opioids. Beyond that, I will do what I need to do to survive severe pain on a daily basis.