A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Monday, June 27, 2005

"I want to kill any Republican I know." --Mrs. Claus

She is quite serious and means it literally. I live with her and I know when she is serious and when she isn't. I had hoped to take a break from writing until Wednesday. By then I had hoped to put up a post about my trip to my Buddhist monastery and the teachings that I heard there. I doubt I will have the heart to do that now:

WASHINGTON (AP) - When the federal government's new prescription drug benefit kicks in next year, it will not cover a category of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures.

That means those disabled and elderly people on Medicare who take Xanax, Valium, Ativan and other types of the drug benzodiazepine will have to look elsewhere for coverage or switch to a different, less addictive medication.

Finding other alternatives may not be easy for the 1.7 million low-income, elderly people who take the drug and will be automatically enrolled in the new prescription drug plan. They will depend on the states to continue paying for their benzodiazepines - "benzos" for short - on Jan. 1, but with no guarantee....

If states agree, they will continue to get federal matching funds when they pay for benzos.

But concerns remain among medical professionals and advocates for the elderly about what would happen if some states opt to save money by excluding benzos from their Medicaid program for the poor.

"Stopping the therapy abruptly can lead to seizures and dangerous, life-threatening problems," said Thomas Clark, policy director for the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists...

Basically, Congress excluded from the new benefit all drugs that states were entitled to omit from their Medicaid program. All states provide some level of coverage for benzos, even though they don't have to. Last year, they spent $57 million on that category of drugs for the dual-eligible population...

Over the past few years, my state, which has virtually a Republican one-party government, has systematically done everything it can to eliminate Medicaid coverage for the poor on any excuse whatsoever.

It is still doing this. And I have little doubt that it will follow the Federal Government's lead in this matter, and slowly but surely eliminate the disability drug coverage on as many as possible of the 20 prescription medications Mrs. Claus currently uses to keep the chronic pain of her incurable illnesses at bay and to sustain at least 2-4 hours a day of a normal life.

Mrs. Claus believes that the Republican war against the poor will systematically deprive her of every chance she has for a life where her intolerable pain and is at least mitigated, if not eliminated.

I can make no rational argument to the contrary that I, myself, would believe for a moment. Can you?

It's a shame. Mrs. Claus' mother has voted Republican for many years. Despite this, Mrs. Claus still meant what she said. And because of this the two of them may well be estranged to the grave and beyond.

I regard no one as my sworn enemy.

But despite my feelings about having no enemies, I have one simple question for any Republican who happens to read this post:

Can you see any reason why Mrs. Claus shouldn't regard you as her sworn enemy?

And for any of my readers I would have a further question:

If you were cut off, by the politics of our time, from every possibility of medicating a pain so constant and intolerable that it will deprive you of any desire to continue to live, what would you do when you got down to the last prescriptions you will ever have?


Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are not going to like this,

I say this with no animosity because I don’t know you or your situation except as you have expressed and I have zero desire to harm you or yours.

So I shall give you only my perspective:


“ALL BLAME IS A WASTE OF TIME. . No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change YOU. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about that is making YOU unhappy.”



Your choices are two:

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice.


Attitude is a very, very small thing, but it makes a BIG difference.


Everything can be taken from a person but ...the LAST of the human freedoms –is the power to choose one's attitude in ANY given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

That was the conviction of Victor Frankl, an Austrian jewish psychoanalyist who was a guest of German concentration camps. He survived.



Choose well or at least think about it further than reading the NYTimes or Washington Post opinion pages on how awful the Republicans are stiffing America.


Life asks large questions. Tune in sometime.


Now tell us about your retreat.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

Nothing sets aside the laws of cause and effect. No motivational cheerleading will make them go away.

Mrs. Claus' physical pain is real, her total disability is real, her limited disability income is real, her drug needs are real, the cost of those drugs (about $2000 a month retail or 4 times her monthly disability income) is real.

Physical pain has one great virtue--you can't lie to yourself about it. Almost everything else you can lie to yourself about, you can tell yourself that things are not as bad as you think, and you can close your eyes to what the relations between public policy and social results truly are.

Phyical pain leaves you in no doubt that things are as bad as you think.

The systematic curtailment of Medicaid benefits in this state, under continuous Republican management, is real and a matter of public record.

I strongly suspect that in your state there is nothing close to Republican one-party rule, as is the case here. Nothing but a Republican party agenda happens in this state, and has not happened for decades.

As voting citizens of Ohio, we get to see Republican government up close and personal, and don't have to rely on national newspaper opinion about it.

I don't have to read about it in the NYT or WaPo--which, by the way, I only read in occasional fragments off of Google Top News.

I can read about it in the Columbus Dispatch, the Toledo Blade, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Dayton Daily News, the Cincinnati Inquirer, and the Akron Beacon-Journal. These sources provide a great deal of objective factual detail about it.

And I can see its effects in the Department of Job and Family Services correspondence this household receives.

As to large questions, I call no one my enemy because I know how to prepare for death, and I have great confidence in those preparations. There is no larger question than that. Mrs. Claus has less experience and so less confidence in these things.

That, in essence, was what my retreat was about, though when I have a little more time, I will probably post more details.

We have had a zany start to our week with a close lightning strike, a power outage, and life threatening interruption of our air conditioning. It's now fixed, by the way.

And you may rest assured that I have nothing but the highest regard for your comments, even if I disagree with them.

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