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Parallel Universe Descends on White House

It finally happened. We should have known this day would come.

President Donald J. Trump finally lost track of his lies when he made a surprise appearance in the White House press room and strode to the podium where he turned his back on the reporters and addressed the wall.

He said, “All my lies have been lies.” Then he left the room, backing out and slamming into the door before turning and heading back to the Oval Office.

Everyone in the room was dumbfounded. How were they to interpret what he just told them.

Heretofore, all he ever uttered was a lie. Now he was telling them that his lies were lies. Logically, that statement also is a lie.

But, that would mean that all his lies have been the truth. Constant fact-checking, however, had shown them to be untruths. He said Canada burned down the White House in 1812, but it didn’t; the British did. His assertion was a flat-out lie.

Arguing among themselves, some of the reporters suggested that maybe for the first time ever, Trump had told the truth. The rest of the reporters broke out into unrestrained guffaws at the ridiculous idea.

Yet, they could not offer a counter-argument.

Just then, Sarah Huckabee Sanders entered the room for her daily press briefing.

Asked about the President’s statement that “All of my lies have been lies,” Sanders denied that he said Sanders2it. Then she added with characteristic snideness, “What he said was all of his truths had been truths. You biased bastards are just trying to twist his words again.”

When the reporters almost as one offered to play back his statement for her, she said not to bother, she would still deny it.

“Does that mean you won’t deny it?” shouted one of the reporters.

“Watch FOX news, they’ll straighten it all out for you,” she said, slamming her folder and walking out of the room.

Lock Them Up! Lock Them Up!

There is no need to amend or eliminate the Second Amendment to protect us from the mass shootings, or even the single shootings, that proliferate around the country year after year after years. The amendment is perfect as is; it’s the people who cite only part of it who are imperfect. In fact, as written and interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court until several years ago, the nation’s maniacal gun problem should never have existed.

The Second Amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the  security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The first half would not have been included if the drafters of the Constitution intended the second half to stand alone, as the gun nuts wish.

The militias still exist as the state National Guards that have armories where weapons are kept. Guard members are allowed to use those weapons for training, practice and for use when the guard is mobilized. Since the Second Amendment exists only for the sake of maintaining militias, all guns (personal and state-owned) could be required to be kept in the armories and checked out only under conditions and circumstances established by the guard. It could even allow them to be checked out for hunting purposes.

Strictly enforced, guns eventually would no longer be available to those who would shoot a child. It may be too late to fix global warming, but there’s still time to make the NRA society’s friend instead of its enemy.

Lock them up!

The Drug Problem Bigger than Opioids

The problem of over-prescribed opiods has received a lot of attention of late—justifiably so—but there is a much bigger drug-prescribing problem that affects just about all of us. The federal government subsidizes much of it, and your doctor, pharmacist and health-insurance company are complicit.

In 2016, the American public spent $374 billion on prescription drugs. That figure is projected to nearly double in the next four years to $610 billion, more than half a trillion dollars.

Why? As demonstrated to us by now-jailbird Martin Skreli, the man without a moral cell in his body, the pharmaceutical industry will charge whatever the market will bear, and that appears to be an awful lot.

This problem, however, is closer to home.  You can’t dictate what others in the prescription chain should or will do, but you can reduce your own costs—along with risks of side effects that all drugs have, even aspirin—at least for drugs for treating non-life-threatening conditions. That includes just about all of those opioids.

It’s called pill-splitting, and the beauty of it is that if a quarter of a pill, or half of one, doesn’t do the job for you, you can always return to taking the entire pill as prescribed. But, at least you will find out what dosage is right for your condition.

You may ask that if a quarter of a pill works for your condition, why don’t drug makers make one in that dosage instead of four times as much.

We may attempt to answer.

All drugs sold in the United States must meet the approval of the Food and Drug Administration. It’s one of those regulatory agencies that libertarians and other conservatives love to hate, almost always without realizing the good it produces.

To get FDA approval, a drug maker must put its pills through excruciating clinical trials at great expense, quite often the expense shared by the National Institutes of Health.  Understandably, the pharmaceutical company will want to try a dosage big enough to demonstrate early that it is efficacious and that is big enough to justify its production and by-the-way bigger profit margin.

That’s why you rarely will see a pill marketed in a dosage level under five or 10 milligrams. Yet, if you give it a try, again especially with opioids, you may find that 2.5 milligrams or even 1.25 milligrams will do the trick. Do the math. Splitting your pills in half means you save half the cost, by quarters means you save three quarters of the cost.

Why shouldn’t that be a no-brainer? Because no one in the chain of your drug’s distribution tells you so. Obviously, the pharma company isn’t going to tell you because it will lose profits. But, how about your prescribing physician? Is it the fear of getting sued if he or she strays from the well-trodden path and gives you a sane suggestion? Probably not, it’s just habit, perhaps even laziness.

Your pharmacist could tell you, but that would mean interfering with the physician’s prescription, and that could mean lost business. The insurance company, for whom the doctor and the pharmacist often work, could tell you, and that would make all of the sense in the world, because the insurer usually pays more for the pills than you do.

That last part of the prescription chain, we don’t understand. Insurance companies usually have committees of physicians they employ to advise on their formulary, so perhaps it is that old fear of being sued that takes place. We can understand that it also may fear being sued by a patient whose pill-splitting went wrong, but that threat shouldn’t include advising a patient of the option—again, for non-life-threatening drugs only.

But, you can take the situation into your own hands, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, and split those pills until you find the least amount of dosage that works for you. Especially if you are taking opioids.

We do add one caveat here. Particularly with habit-forming drugs such as opioids and other pain-killers, you may have been taking them long enough that you have built up a dependence on those dosages, and splitting the pill will not work for you. But, it doesn’t hurt to try it, as long as the condition is not life-threatening.

There is an added reason why you may wish to consider pill-splitting. As we write this the U.S. government is investigating dozens of makers of generic drugs—most generics makers are in India—for likely price-fixing collusion. You may have noticed that some of your generics drugs have gone way up in price recently. Apparently, the government knows why and is taking action.

General John Kelly Major Disappointment

You could have knocked us over with a four-star feather. It turns out there is no white knight in the White House riding herd on the moron in chief after all. It appears he is of the same stripes and may even be the person after whom the idiot in chief patterns himself.

We started out thinking that Chief of Staff John Kelly foolishly offered to give advice to the fool in chief, not realizing how he was likely to muck it up. It all began with the mucker in chief’s condolence phone call to the family of a soldier killed in Niger (don’t ask why the hell we have soldiers in Niger).

According to Kelly, a retired four-star general, the dumpster with a mouth without an empathic bone in his body wanted to make a condolence call to the pregnant widow of one of the four slain soldiers. Kelly said he advised against making the call, saying “Sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families.” Write a letter instead, he said. But Trump insisted and asked for advice for what to say.

That’s when the train began leaving the rails. Kelley responded that when he lost his own son in Afghanistan (don’t ask why the hell we’re still in Afghanistan), a higher-ranking general told him that Roger Kelly “was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what the possibilities were because we we’re at war.”

Calls from the White House are not made out of the blue. First, the White House operators must track down the person to be called, and they seem to have an ethereal way of doing so, and they advise the person the president would be calling.

As I turned out, one of those operators reached the widow as she rode in a car with her congresswoman on the way to the airport to receive her husband’s body. The widow politely engaged her speakerphone so the occupants of the car could share the call.

In the call, the condolence in chief said, drawing on Kelly’s words, said, “you know that this could happen when you signed up for it.”

The congresswoman, a Democrat given to wearing clownish cowboy hats, disclosed that the tweeter in chief had disrespected the widow, and the widow confirmed that she also believed he had been disrespectful.

It was at this point the world found out that Kelly was not the adult in the room, reining in the mouth that roars. Kelly is an aider and abettor, and may even be presenting the pattern that the aper in chief is following.

In the fallout that followed the flub of the flubber in chief, he lashed out at critics, lashed out at the congresswoman, lying in the process, revealing that he may just be the pattern for the groper in chief, not the calm, reasoned fellow behind the scenes that we all prayed that he was.

And that, just when there was some hope he could help marshal at least eight of the cabinet members to write a letter to Congress declaring the twitter in chief unfit to serve as president, the first step on the path to the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Congress to save not just the country, but it would appear the world.

We’re doomed. There is no restraining presence in the White House.