However, despite the High School Musical aspects and the parade of mediocre “mash ups” that pepper the episodes, their feature song is normally very good and often emotional. This past week was no different and their rendition of “Imagine” by John Lennon with a deaf school chorus (despite the obvious theatrics of that gimmick) actually moved me to tears.
For me, it was not the cheap theatrics of the moment but rather hearing this beautiful, yet simple declaration of a peaceful worldview again.
Rachel Maddow did a segment on her show the other evening about a site merchandising Psalm 109 against President Obama.
I realized the site in question was CafePress.com since I also have a site there. While the segment was running I did a quick search of CafePress to find the products. Sure enough, there they were in all their glory.
I quickly sent an email to CafePress through the Customer Service link explaining that the items violated the CafePress TOS because they promoted hate and violence.
I am quite disturbed that CafePress is allowing and promoting merchandise calling for the assassination of the President of the United States. While I'm all for free speech (even tasteless Obama/Hitler crap) this crosses a line into possibly criminal behavior.
The shop in question is: http://www.cafepress.com/(removed)
You will notice it quotes a Bible verse. The next lines of that prayer are this: Let his children be childless and his wife be a widow.
There is little other interpretation than this "prayer" design is calling for the death of the President and in Biblical context that death is a violent one ended by assassination.
I got back the following email from CafePress:
Thank you for contacting CafePress.com!
As you may know, CafePress.com provides an automated service to a rich and vibrant community of international users. Unfortunately, because our service is automated, sometimes content that is not consistent with our Offensive Material & Prohibited Content policy is posted on CafePress.com. We appreciate that you have brought this content to our attention and it has been removed from our site. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Your ticket code is (removed). Please use this code in any further communication.
Content Usage Associate
(650) 655-3104 (O)
(650) 240-0260 (F)
So, a small victory in having such offensive things removed and stopping these people from making money on advocating for the assassination of our President.
If you are on CafePress and run across similar items (I’m sure they’ll be back exploiting the automated service with a new email or shop ID) please click the Customer Service link and include the URL of the shop and item and explain that this violates the CafePress TOS. They seem very responsive and quick to remove such obnoxious items from their service.
We all know that “unnatural sex” is a cornerstone of the bigots argument against allowing LGBT citizens to have their full civil rights. In fact, it’s usually the argument religious leaders put forward when whipping their parishioners into a frenzy and calling for violence and murder. (I’m thinking here of a certain pastor in Phoenix, AZ.)
So, imagine their chagrin when high school students are allowed to read a scientific article that reports natural homosexual behavior and tendencies in over 450 species. You got it, they went ape-shit and started calling for blood. Of course, a terrified school district that puts “getting along” with the ignorant ahead of education immediately sprung into action:
A Southwestern High School English teacher has been suspended after reports he had students in his classes to read an article about homsexuality (sic) in the animal kingdom.
Dan Delong of Carlinville acknowledged his suspension but declined to comment further until he spoke with his union representative.
Delong is said to have allowed students to read the article “The Gay Animal Kingdom” from the June 7, 2006, edition of Seed magazine. Seed magazine is a science and culture publication.
The article by Jonah Lehrer talks about the research of Joan Roughgarden, a biology professor at Stanford University who said she has documented homosexual societies among the more than 450 animal species.
School district secretary Pat Milner said a special School Board meeting has been set for 6 p.m. Monday at the district office in Piasa to discuss personnel/employee discipline.
Superintendent Larry Elsea was unavailable for comment Wednesday and Thursday, as was Macus Albrecht, the union representative for the Illinois Education Association that represents the district’s Southwestern Education Association members. (source)
Mr.. Delong teaches an English class, so you may be wondering why he allowed students to read that article in a scientific journal. The reason is that he was teaching a unit on critical reading and students were reading non-fiction work to assess their point of view and the validity of the writer’s thesis. In short, Mr. Delong was actually asking students: “Do you believe this research?”
Of course, the religious right and their puppets in the school administration don’t see it this way. Never mind the article was about animals and not people – any thought of homosexuality causes their heads to explode.
On Facebook, there is a Facebook group started by his students that already has over 1,000 members.
If you’re disgusted by yet another school board putting religious dogma, fiction and ignorance ahead of educating our children about the real world, please send a COURTEOUS note to Larry Elesa, Superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A couple days ago I was chatting with a friend and the subject of Fox News’ effect on the national psyche came up. He related how his family had seemed to go completely crazy on a steady diet of FOX paranoia, racism, and run of the mill crazy. He talked about a brother who is convinced there is a coming “war” and is preparing for it. He talked about his mother who is convinced that the President of the United States is going to slip into her house and kill her in her sleep.
It’s so sad you almost have to laugh. Were it just his unfortunate family I might say “Oh well, too bad, but maybe they’re just nuts.” But it’s not just his family. It’s many, many people who are fed this noxious stew of hate, paranoia, racism, pseudo-religious mania, and homophobia daily and often as the price of working or doing business in the public square.
Recently, a couple we’d had to our home in the past began spouting similar craziness. “Obamacare is just the Nazi Final Solution updated!” “Something’s gotta happen because of this guy and we’re going to be ready!” (Note: both are gun lovers.)
It was enough for me to say I didn’t care to have them in our home again. I don’t like having guests to dinner when I have to worry they might pull a gun should someone suggest a need for health care reform or, God forbid, Glen Beck is not a saint and brilliant mind.
As we chatted, I had one of those “Aha!” moments. I recalled having to take our car in to be serviced at the local CarMax several months ago. In the waiting area the television was tuned to FOX news and their talking heads were spinning the news to the right with a fury. People came into the room to wait and were subjected to that propaganda the whole time they were there. There was no remote to change the channel. Likewise, workers sitting at the counter were barraged by this propaganda during their shifts. They had no choice. Their employer was telling them they had to watch an ultra-right wing network to work there.
Then I recalled FOX News playing on large screens at the bank I used back in South Carolina. If you were in the lobby you had to listen to their right wing extremist messages. If you worked in the bank, you had no choice but to absorb this propaganda at the expense of all other news sources for a minimum 8 hours a day.
Not too long ago I was in one of the newer “upscale” McDonald’s. Normally, I do the drive-thru but for some reason had gone inside. There in the restaurant was a large screen TV broadcasting FOX news to the diners and employees. I couldn’t imagine having to sit in the restaurant and be subjected to watching this network and ruining my meal. So, I took my food to go.
It seems that many businesses and franchises have decided that they will use their place of business to beat customers and employees with this propaganda arm of the Republican Party and other even more extremist politics such as the “Tea Party” groups, anti-gay religious zealots and overt racists.
But, it goes a long way in understanding why people are going insane around us. When people are subjected to this radicalized agenda during their entire workday with no voice of reason to counter the false claims and sensationalized paranoia, they absorb the messages as truth and reality. They slowly become radicalized.
So, I have decided that from now on when I go into a business where FOX news is required viewing, I will ask that the channel be changed to MSNBC while I am conducting my business, eating my meal, or waiting for a service. I will ask for a manager and state my belief that as a customer I should not be forced to view a network I feel strongly is at the root of our current inability to function as a nation and whose subtle messages are creating a corps of paranoid and delusional anti-government, anti-gay, anti-liberal extremists who are armed and dangerous.
If the business refuses to change the channel I will then take my business elsewhere. I will not be a party to the indoctrination of customers and employees to a dangerous agenda that is inexorably pushing at risk people toward violence and mayhem.
I urge you to do the same thing. If enough people speak up these right wing managers and owners will have no choice but to stop this political indoctrination or see their profits suffer.
Sure, there are lots of FOX boycotts out there. Most are aimed at advertisers of the network. While I support those, I also know that they are limited and don’t get to the root of the indoctrination problem. I also believe that FOX has a Constitutional right to broadcast its filth and poison, but I also have a Constitutional right not be forced to watch it as a requirement to eat a meal, make a deposit in my bank, or get my car fixed.
The employees at these companies cannot insist they not be forced to swallow this extreme ideological agenda because, face it, an owner or manager who supports FOX news will see nothing wrong with firing an employee they consider “against them.” So, it is up to us, the consumer, to help employees stand up for their right to be free from radical politics, homophobia, racism, and religious extremism in their workplace.
I hope you’ll join me in my “boycott” of forced FOX News viewing. If you’d like to stand up for your rights to be FREE OF FOX, please sign the pledge to quietly take action in your own community.
Barbra Walters took it as time to ambush the affable Mrs. Deen and accuse her of almost singlehandedly causing the epidemic of childhood obesity: "This is a cookbook for kids. Obesity is the No. 1 problem for kids today. Everything you have here is enormously fattening," scolded Walters as she sat by the famous chef. "You tell kids to have cheesecake for breakfast. You tell them to have chocolate cake and meatloaf for lunch. And french fries. Doesn't it bother you that you're adding to this?"
Paula Deen like any rational parent reminded Walters that all things should be done in moderation. But Walters was not to be stopped in her tirade saying: "You book is hardly about moderation! Not when you're feeding them this!"
Of course, Barbra Walters is just doing what too many people do. They blame someone else for their problems. Or in this case, everyone's problems. Walters would have us think that it is not our responsibility to choose what and how much we eat or to make good choices for your kids. It's easy for people like Walters to say "It's not your fault or your parents' fault you're fat. It's that mean Georgia lady who cooks good food."
But let's drop down to Barbra Walters playing field and hit low and hit hard. Paula Deen is a self made woman having been divorced with two small boys and beginning a business making and delivering sandwiches out of her home. She parlayed that into one of Savannah's most successful restaurants and finally into being a TV Food Superstar. Paula Deen raised two gorgeous young men who now have full careers in the food industry as TV hosts and authors after having worked with her in her restaurant.
What about Barbra Walters? Barbra was born to well-to-do parents and attended ritzy private schools in New York. She finally graduated from Sarah Lawrence. She then went to work as an entertainment industry publicist and parlayed that into a job at NBC, launching her stellar career in entertainment journalism. She has one adopted daughter about whom she detailed her years of drug abuse and treatment following her wild teenage years in her book. Her daughter often attended all-night parties at the infamous Studio 54 when she was only 15 years old. Eventually, Walters had to send her daughter away to boarding school and residential rehabilitation.
So, I'm not sure Barbra Walters in necessarily the right person in that group of ladies to be berating Paula Deen for causing the epidemic of childhood obesity while stuffing her own mouth with a big slice of Red Velvet Cake. As my friend Kimberly might quip: "Just sayin', y'all."
I follow a number of "green twitterers" and read the links they suggest. What I have found is that the "Green Movement" is made up of upper middle class and wealthy yuppies. If you are lower income or lived on a fixed income being "green" is almost an impossibility because of the costs involved.
For example, a recent post I read about "Green Holidays" listed a number of ways to be more environmentally responsible during the holiday season. Most of the ones listed that would be affordable for lower income people were considered "good" (they were rated from Good to Best). For those who couldn't do all the "Best" options the final suggestion was buying "Carbon Offsets" to assuage one's guilt.
Now, I've never been a fan of this Carbon Offset junk. I figure it's like the old draft dodge of the 19th century where you pay someone to go to war for you if you're drafted. Anyway, how can low income people who may barely be able to afford a decent family holiday also pay for mysterious "carbon offsets" to some company? It's just not doable.
Of course, the "green movement" also includes the healthy eating and "local food" groups as well. They would like us all to stop consuming anything produced by the major agribusinesses and manufacturers. While, I agree and would love to do that. After all, I was raised in a family that had a huge garden during the Summer and got probably 50% of its own produce from it. My grandfather also owned hogs that he slaughtered in late Fall to provide meats for the Winter and Spring.
But, today that's not possible. I don't have room in my small backyard for hogs and I'm not fond of doing the slaughtering myself, unlike my grandfather. I also don't have room for a garden that would produce enough to feed us. I'd love to buy local produce in the store and we do when we can afford it. Still, the cost is at least 50% higher most of the time and it's a strain on the budget. Just last night I needed to get a dozen eggs. Michael always opts for the local organic/cage free eggs. I wanted to get them as well, but I am more conscious of the cost of things like that when we're strained for money. As I stared at the egg case I saw the regular eggs were about $1.50 a dozen or $1.90 for 18. Looking at the organic/cage free the cost as $3.79 a dozen!
Now, I know the green folks will yell about the agribusiness subsidies vs. the local farmer having to charge what it costs without those. I understand that. But, when you're watching pennies those arguments don't hold much water. I'm the rare lower income person who even considers the local organic/cage free eggs. Most would take a look at the prices and laugh.
To make lower income people part of the green movement, the folks at the top have got to get past this yuppie mentality that virtue is its own reward. They need to get active fixing those parts of the system that will make being green affordable for people who have to make tough choices to keep house and home together.
Finally, they need to stop the double standard of "carbon offsets." All that signals is that they have the option of being irresponsible because they can pay a little "fine" to clear their conscience.
If you want the "Green Movement" to succeed you have got to figure out how to make it possible for everyone to participate without going broke in the short term.
I have been watching the health care reform debates closely. My position has been obvious as a person who fell victim to private insurance and the patchwork of private/public programs available. My own husband cannot get basic post-cancer care and screening because his employer does not offer health insurance as a small business and he can't purchase private insurance as a cancer survivor. The "high risk pools" available are as much as $2000 a month which is as much as our monthly gross income combined.
Still, I watch the crass nuts screaming in the street and our media treating them as though they have a legitimate point of view. Perhaps this comparison is a bit harsh but it feels right: It's like our media calling up Charles Manson to get some good advice on family management! Our media stopped reporting and informing long ago and now entertains us with the most outrageous visuals and statements, pretending that the most disgusting and crazy claims are treated with the same gravitas as legitimate policy dispute.
I have watched progressive congresspeople and senators cave to corporate sponsors to give up our public health to insure profits and gold plated serving sets on private jets. I have listened as the ACLU, the ACLU of all groups, has weighed in to enshrine corporations with the same civil rights that we enjoy as individuals! What is next? Allowing corporations to commit murder with no criminal penalty? Well, that's already happening. The ACLU has taken the stand that money is a form of political speech. The more money you have the louder your voice should be and the more service you should get from your government. In essence, the ACLU position has become: If you are poor or of ordinary means your voice should be silenced by the bribery and mayhem in our government. The ACLU! What has happened in our world?
I have watched right wing extremists in the streets with automatic weapons, trying desperately to see how close they can get to the President and take a shot. I have watched as these same terrorists have been exposed as Christian extremists who also call for the murder of LGBT Americans in the streets.
I have seen gays in Iraq singled out and murdered horribly by the Sharia Death Squads while our own military and government stands idly by. I have thought of how our own military when they liberated the death camps of Nazi Germany were quick to release Jews, Gypsies, Socialists, and others but kept gays locked up - just as the horrible Nazis did!
I have watched our President instruct his Justice Department to defend the Defense of Marriage Act saying that equal protection doesn't apply if you're LGBT. Then I have watched Gay, Inc. buy the argument. I have watched him waffle on Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
When a few brave senators introduce a bill to repeal DOMA - exactly what the President and the "Progressives" wanted - I have watched Barney Frank play the "mid-term election card" and caution that it's "not the right time."
In short, it has all become far too much. I have realized that I am often depressed and anxious over the state of affairs in our nation. I read my newsfeed from various places and see the same inane babbling about all this. It's like the weather, everyone is talking about it but nobody ever does anything about it. Our own President seems immobilized by the headlong rush into open violence on our streets fueled by entertainers and racists.
I always wondered why my mother would cook when she was upset. No matter what was happening she would start baking. Couldn't sleep because of worries about money or the mills closing? She'd be up in the middle of the night making a pound cake from scratch. Depressed about the illness or death of a family member? Bake a coconut cake.
I've discovered why she did that. Baking can be a very Zen activity. A little over a month ago I launched a new blog Sugar Pies that focused on baking and in particular traditional and heirloom recipes. It was fun going through my mother's recipes and looking over ones I'd not made in years. Then I started baking. When I couldn't sleep or the news got to be too depressing, I whip up some Lemon Cookies. When I'd worry about Michael needing a colonoscopy and complaining lately about some pain but with no way to get one, I'd switch to Maple Cookies.
When baking, all of those troubles would fall away as I busied myself with measuring the ingredients. I would turn on the oven light and watch as cookies rose and browned, the smell of maple or lemon permeating the house. Then I would turn, not to this blog where I would be forced to confront all of the ugliness in our nation or brought about by our wars, but instead to Sugar Pies where I would share the recipe along with a photo of the treat I'd just made.
In short time, I was making some lovely new friends through cooking sites who enjoyed my recipes and my reminiscences on food history, my stories about my Mama, and simple back to basics ingredients and flavors. We didn't discuss politics. We didn't argue about "tactics" and we didn't care about political alliances. In all but one case, I have no idea where these people fall on the political spectrum and it's wonderful! We share something much deeper, a love of baking and a connection to how food impacts our lives at the most basic levels.
So, I've been quiet here on SE2SW while I've enjoyed this time. I'm sleeping better and am happier. I have discovered what my mother did - bringing joy to yourself and others is very healing and when faced with overwhelming problems a bit of sugar and butter made into a glorious treat can always remind you of what is really important.
In essence, if you have Medicare you can get a "Medicare Advantage" plan that is supposed to be more cost effective and better for those in lower income brackets. Sounds like a great plan and after a lot of red tape over transplant drugs I was told they were covered and I wouldn't have to worry about the "doughnut hole" with this plan. Since all my doctors were part of Health Net Amber I joined.
I'd been pretty happy with it for several months. Michael kept asking how they made money. After all, they're a profit making business. I really couldn't answer. All I knew was that I didn't have to pay co-pays for my doctors and my meds were affordable. Who cares about the rest?
Then, slowly but surely it happened. With each visit to the doctor the "covered amount" dropped. After a few months the "covered amounts" were beginning to be less than 25% of the cost of the visit. The bills for the "balance" have begun to arrive.
Today I got an explanation of benefits from Health Net for a visit to my Hepatologist for a transplant checkup. The charge for the visit was $181, which is an outrageous amount since it didn't even involved a physical checkup, just going over lab tests and chatting for less than 15 minutes. Oh, and writing a new prescription for my blood pressure medication. Anyway, the "covered" amount from Health Net was $87. So, I will get billed for the difference as I was for the last visit which, amazingly, was paid at a higher rate.
The same has been true of my GP. I've had two visits with him since changing plans and each time the "covered amount" has dropped. I'm concerned at this point that I will need to cancel my annual physical next month out of fear that Health Net will not cover it at all. At least with regular Medicare I would know that it would cover 80% regardless.
So, now I know how they make money. They sucker you in with promises that they pay "at least what Medicare does" then once they have you all signed up they do nicely for a few months. That makes sure that you cannot have second thoughts and are tied into them for at least a year. Then, slowly they drop your "covered services" until they are paying FAR LESS than Medicare does for normal services - leaving you with the bill.
After getting the EOB today, I'm waiting for that bill for almost $100 to show up from my hepatologist. It'll be a bill I can't pay. At least with Medicare my part would only have been about $36. Welcome to the world of GOP and Blue Dog Democrat handouts to their masters in the insurance industry. Hope the CEO of Health Net will be able to make that campaign contribution to Baucus, McCain, Kyl, and Gabby Giffords.
Isn't it time we took out the for-profit middleman in all this? Come on people, we need to dismantle private insurance in this country completely.
His red-faced snarl and gesturing were caught on camera. Attendees noted that those around him tried to get him to calm down. Obama gave him "the look" and Nancy Pelosi looked stunned. It was a moment of shocking discord in our rather staid halls of government.
Erudite political observers were quick to point out that it was nothing really. "Happens in Parliament all the time. Sure it was unusual, but let's move on." Of course, had Wilson said that in Parliament there is a pretty good chance that, being a personal attack on character, he would have been "named" by the Speaker and held up for reprimand or censure.
But really, what's a little yelling? When it comes to Representatives from South Carolina yelling is the least of your worries. Take the case of Rep. Preston Brooks. Brooks took great offense at Senator Charles Sumner's (MA) comments about South Carolina senator Andrew Butler and his support of Kansas as a slave state. So, Brooks slipped into the Senate chamber and walked up behind Sumner carrying a light cane with a silver handle. He struck Sumner in the back of the head and as Sumner lurched around the chamber he continued to beat him with the stick. After Sumner had collapsed to the floor and Brooks landed a few more blows he quietly walked out of the chamber and returned to his office.
Preston Brooks did not even receive a censure for his actions. In South Carolina he became a hero with people sending him canes and notes of congratulations on his violent action. In fact, Preston Brooks is still a hero to many older South Carolinians.
When I was in grade school and junior high studying history, we were told this story and Brooks was always portrayed as a heroic figure defending the honor of a fellow Carolinian. My teachers seemed to tacitly approve that Sumner's characterization of slavery as "Butler's Mistress" was sufficient cause for him to be ambushed and beaten on the floor of the Senate. It was only in high school that I learned that "Mistress" was a rhetorical flourish and Butler was not being accused of adultery. Were my early teachers ignorant or were they indoctrinating their students into believing that a man who should be a national pariah was justified in his violent act?
But, Joe Wilson yelling "You lie!" at the President during a speech before Congress is just par for the course when it comes to those holding onto the Old South mentality. Joe Wilson said in his half-hearted "apology" that his emotions got the better of him. But what were those emotions?
First of all, South Carolina has seen a rapid increase in immigration in recent years. Before I moved to Arizona my hometown that previous had consisted of two races since colonial times had exploded with a vibrant Latino community. Stores began carrying items labeled in Spanish. Mexican restaurants flourished (real Mexican restaurants - not Taco Bell). No longer were students taught Spanish in school with a Southern drawl but by native speakers. Medical personnel had to learn basic Spanish to care for many of their patients. It was a radical shift in an almost 300 year old culture based on a black-white dichotomy.
Many older South Carolinians have had a hard time with this. They've never like African-Americans and aren't shy about expressing that dislike, but these new immigrants seemed worse to them because they didn't even speak English and weren't "American."
Joe Wilson is the embodiment of those people. When Strom Thrumond's daughter came forward in 2003, Wilson led the attack against her. He accused her of lying then he said she should shut up and not bring up Thurmond's extra-marital affairs. This is despite the fact that Thurmond, that poster child of the Old South and segregation had supported his African-American family for decades. It was the plantation system writ modern! Joe Wilson could not fathom his hero of anti-miscegenation laws and segregation would love an African-American woman and father a daughter by her whom he provided for. Joe lashed out.
Flash forward to 2009 and we have an African American President at the podium giving a speech to cheers and applause. He begins to talk about immigrants and Joe Wilson cannot stomach it any more. Joe Wilson is invested in hating immigrants, he's invested in hating African-Americans and opposing anything an African-American President will do. It was too much.
It may have sounded like "You lie!" when he yelled it but what we really heard was the Old South still crying out in its death rattle.
Mr. President, you can accept his apology, but take a lesson from Charles Sumner: Don't turn your back on a South Carolina boy.
I tried to tell myself that Obama was different and my vote just wasn't a "lesser of two evils" vote. When my LGBT friends tied into the Gay, Inc. told me that Obama would be our best friend, I looked at his statements about marriage equality and had a chilling memory of Bill Clinton and DOMA. But, I voted for him. I figured even if he didn't help us out that at least he could reform health care and get my husband (in name not in document) insurance so he could finally get the colonoscopy he needs as follow up care for his cancer two years ago.
So, I voted for Obama. I convinced friends to vote for Obama, some of whom are registered Republicans, I argued with family about how desperately we needed reform and how McCain could be a horror for this country with his ties to big business and his unstable personality.
I believed Obama when he said we'd be out of Iraq by 2009 and we'd close Guantanamo. I got behind him when he said we'd wind down the war in Afghanistan. I even believed him when he said he'd repeal DADT and DOMA and let us pursue our state by state strategy for marriage.
In the days after the election I was swept up in the emotion. The end of a dark period - perhaps one of the darkest in our history - and the beginning of a new era of Progressive ideals where the people would be put before corporations and profits. I was also thrilled to be living in the historic moment of our first African-American President. For the first time in my life, I shed tears of joy over an election. I was so filled with hope.
Then during the ramp up for the inauguration trouble began to brew. Obama signaled he couldn't stand up to voices of intolerance and hatred when he invited a rabidly anti-gay minister to give his invocation. When the LGBT community grumbled we were slapped down by Obama and his political operatives. Those of us who were concerned before the election were shouted down by Gay, Inc. who assured us that Obama is a "chess player in a city of checker players" and we didn't understand his beautiful plan.
So, we waited. Nothing happened. No DADT repeal. He wouldn't even issue an executive order suspending the discharges. No, the Grand Master felt that he shouldn't get involved and let Congress deal with it... when they got around to it. "What about DOMA?" we asked. He answered by directing his Justice Department to defend DOMA in court under the pretext they "had to by tradition." Unfortunately, that defense included comparing our relationships to incest. "Oh, don't worry," we were told "it's part of his grand strategy whereby they say something so outrageous that the court will find the defense even ridiculous." The chess analogy rolled on.
When we kept asking we were told that this year his plate was too full to deal with something as silly as Civil Rights. We should wait till next year. But, next year there are mid-term elections so that probably won't work. Let's just hold off on all that contentious queer stuff till 2011. Oh, but maybe not because he's got an election to get ready for in 2012 and bringing up queer stuff might help the republicans. Oh, well one day we'll get around to it. Not sure when or if it'll be in our lifetime but maybe by the time we have Star Trek transporters in every home, we'll be able to all get married and the Federal Government will give its assent.
Meanwhile, my husband (without the paperwork) is without insurance despite working full time. Same old song you've heard a thousand times now. Make too much for Medicaid but can't get private insurance because he had cancer. Can't afford the "high risk pool" at a couple thousand a month in premiums so he does without. We looked to Obama to at least come through on that promise. Hell, 77% of the public agrees something has to be done.
So, he told us that we had to give up this idea of a single payer system where everyone could get coverage and no one would be killed for profit as happens now with private insurers. Instead we'd have to settle for the "Public Option" which would be like Medicare that everyone could buy into and would compete with private insurers. It would have much cheaper premiums so that working people could afford it. "OK," we said, "if we have to compromise so at least people can get to a doctor and not go bankrupt or get kicked out of their home or apartment, we'll compromise. We're decent people."
Then after being told to compromise we are told that the "Public Option" is a no go. The best we can hope for is a system where everyone is required to buy private insurance at the going rates and the only concession from insurers will be that they can't deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. In other words, we get an insurance industry gift basket that does nothing for the working poor or the middle class struggling to make ends meet.
On Wednesday night I stood with a couple hundred people on a street corner in Tucson to advocate for choice B, the "Public Option." Within hours, David Axelrod was telling us that notion was dead in the water. Today, the conventional wisdom is that the White House is seeing this as a chance to prove the President's mettle by staring down all these nasty liberals who elected him.
For whom is he grandstanding? Does he think that if he pisses off his liberal base that Pastor Steven Anderson is going to wake up the next morning all warm and fuzzy over Obama? Does he think the vast number of independents who agree that we need a Public Option (at the least) are going to shrug their shoulders and say "This guy has backbone!"?
We do know that Obama is preparing a major speech on Health Care Reform (sorry - Health Insurance Reform) for a Joint Session of Congress. We can only hope that the Grand Master has been using a feint to pull his GOP opponents off guard and will announce that he's going it alone and he's going for the Full Monty of Universal Coverage.
But, to be honest, I think what we'll hear is more of this bi-partisanship crap and our chance to at the very least begin real reform go up in smoke. Just like closing Guantanamo went up in smoke, ending the war in Iraq, winding down the war in Afghanistan, repealing DOMA, repealing DADT, and getting tough on the Banks.
After all, the side bets on this match have been laid and the Grand Master has bet with big pharma and the hospital cartels. That's a good sign this chess game has been thrown at the outset.
But, here's the part I don't think the Grand Master and his political lackeys figured. Liberals are getting pissed. What do we have to lose if he loses in 2012? LGBT people are not going to see a repeal of DADT or DOMA in this Presidency - if Gay, Inc. still holds onto that they are all fools. We are watching as Afghanistan is being ramped up more - just this week a call went out for 10,000 more troops for this quagmire. Guantanamo is still open for business. Domestic spying is still going on with the same people in charge. His first Supreme Court appointment, while historic and thrilling, is far from the Liberal voice that would help tip the court back into balance, and the banks are still doing the same thing they were doing and we're all paying the price.
Am I better off than I was a year ago? Nope. I'm in the same boat and I don't see this President or "Rahmbo" or "A-Rod" or any of the other cute names in D.C. the left blogosphere coins, doing a damn thing to change it. So, if this speech turns out like I think it will, Obama can kiss my support goodbye. I might not vote for a Republican in 2012, but I sure as hell won't be voting for him.
According to a story in the New York Times the Pearl District area of Portland loves their dogs so much people take them everywhere, even to the grocery store! Unfortunately, the non-dog lovers hate that.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture that oversees food regulation (and by extension grocery stores) is cracking down on "non-service animals" being allowed in supermarkets.
In response to the complaints, Oregon is about to begin an unusual campaign, distributing posters and pamphlets to about 4,500 retail stores that sell food. The message is this: Animals, except those trained to help the disabled, are not allowed.As the article at the Times points out its a gray area though. Stores are limited in how much they can question people about their disability and there are no laws requiring service animals to be licensed or identified with a special collars or vests.
The federal Food Code, based on language from the Americans with Disabilities Act, describes service animals as aiding people with physical disabilities and performing certain tasks the disabled person cannot, like those provided by Seeing Eye dogs. The code says, too, that a service animal is not considered a pet.
Yet, the paradox I see in all this is that "dogs" are considered "dirty" and not allowed in a grocery store while "service dogs" are considered somehow magically "not dirty" and are OK. I understand that some people don't socialize their pets well and they shouldn't be taken into a store. However, the same argument could be made for certain people's children. After all, who hasn't been shopping and noticed little Johnny tearing down the aisles, pulling things off the shelf, helping himself to all the free samples in a display, running carts into people's legs and otherwise being a nuisance? Yet, no one would ever deign to say that mothers should not be allowed to bring their children to the store because they are dirty, loud and obnoxious.
I've seen dogs who are much better behaved and generally better groomed than a lot of children. Many companion dogs are equally as well tempered as any service dog. Why then, is the service dog allowed the privilege of accompanying their owner while the equally well groomed and well-behaved companion animal made to be tied to the cart railing out front?
If the issue is one of cleanliness then logic dictates the service dog shouldn't be there either and the store should provide a human guide for the person instead. But why let logic get in the way of making multiple rule sets based not on health code concerns but on what is PC.
BTW: The Pearl District sounds like a marvelous place to live. Unfortunately, areas like that don't often welcome fluffy people like me and I'm always afraid we'll be sacrificed to the Gods of Yoga and Organic Soy Milk by the uber fitness nutrition nazis!
"However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."
The disease [early onset dimentia] is degenerative, and he will become steadily less able to care for himself. At some point, as his medical needs multiply, he will probably need to be institutionalized.I can relate to that story. When my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's we tried to allow her to stay at home. I lived with her while working at our local hospital up the street. Yet, it became apparent that she would be unable to stay at home. While I was at work she would wander the streets thinking that she was a young mother and someone had taken her baby. The delusions got worse and worse and when she began to go into rages and become violent there was nothing that could be done.
The hospital arranged a conference call with a social worker, who outlined how the dementia and its financial toll on the family would progress, and then added, out of the blue: “Maybe you should divorce.”
“I was blown away,” M. told me. But, she said, the hospital staff members explained that they had seen it all before, many times. If M.’s husband required long-term care, the costs would be catastrophic even for a middle-class family with savings.
Eventually, after the expenses whittled away their combined assets, her husband could go on Medicaid — but by then their children’s nest egg would be gone, along with her 401(k) plan. She would face a bleak retirement with neither her husband nor her savings.
A complicating factor was that this was a second marriage. M.’s first husband had died, leaving an inheritance that he had intended for their children. She and her second husband had a prenuptial agreement, but that would not protect her assets from his medical expenses.
The hospital told M. not to waste time in dissolving the marriage. For five years after any divorce, her assets could be seized — precisely because the government knows that people sometimes divorce husbands or wives to escape their medical bills.
“How could I divorce him? I loved him,” she told me.
“I explored a lot of options with an attorney here in town,” she added. “The attorney said, ‘I don’t see any other options for you.’ It took about a year for me to do the divorce, it was so hard.”
So M. divorced the man she loves.
[P]eople tend underestimate the extent of adaptation to pain and reduced function. That’s the sort of thing a doctor might bring up in a counseling session. But it’s not clear how relevant it is. Living wills, as I understand them, primarily involve questions of what to do when a patient has lost consciousness, or is a state of heavily drugged consciousness, and is being kept alive by a respirator or other apparatus that is substituting for an organ that no longer functions. The big questions are about whether to withdraw active life-extending interventions or not, and under what conditions. If you’re functioning at a level sufficient to revise your living will, you can do that. It’s not like you’re locked into your first draft. And it’s not as if it is possible to set out in advance the conditions under which one would like to be legally euthanized. So I’m not sure I see the mistake.
Lately I've been watching Jada Pinkett Smith in HawthoRNe on TNT. I'll admit it is a fairly sappy little show with few redeeming qualities. The acting is sub-par and the story lines suffer from an identity crisis: Are we a drama, a comedy, a soap opera?
And just so there's no doubt in people's mind, the blanket coverage the mini-mobs are lapping up (i.e. the mobs are hugely important!) stands in stark contrast to the way the press often did its best to ignore liberal protesters who spoke out against the war in Iraq.For instance, in October 2002, when more than 100,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., to oppose the war, The Washington Post put the story not on the front page, but in the Metro section with, as the paper's ombudsman later lamented, "a couple of ho-hum photographs that captured the protest's fringe elements."For that same 2002 anti-war rally, The New York Times also bungled its reporting. The day after the event, the newspaper published a small article on Page 8, which was accompanied by a photo that was larger than the article itself. And in the article, the Times falsely reported that "fewer people attended than organizers had said they hoped for."