9/03/2013

Former Navy chaplain wants ‘worthy of death’ printed on all LGBT couples’ wedding photos



Former Navy chaplain wants ‘worthy of death’ printed on all LGBT couples’ wedding photos (via Raw Story )
A disgraced former Navy chaplain is calling on all photographers to print Bible scripture that says homosexuals are “worthy of death” on the back of photos taken at weddings of gay and lesbian couples. On his Monday Pray in Jesus Name Internet show…



8/27/2013

Pat Robertson: Gay people will cut you and give you AIDS

Pat Robertson: Gay people will cut you and give you AIDS with special rings (via Raw Story )

Derailing his own advice segment for viewers, 700 Club host Pat Robertson launched more anti-LGBT paranoia on Tuesday, accusing the LGBT community of imposing “draconian” censorship laws and willfully transmitting the AIDS virus. “You know what…

Daniel Hernandez targeted by hate groups for being gay

Gabrielle Giffords’ ex-intern targeted by homophobic flyers amid recall effort (via Raw Story )

Daniel Hernandez, who gained public praise for saving then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) life during a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona is being targeted by both a recall campaign from his own public office and a series of homophobic flyers. The…

8/24/2013

Charleston Restaurant to African-Americans: We feel threatened by you

South Carolina restaurant ejected African-American customers when white person felt ‘threatened’ (via Raw Story )

A group of customers at a Wild Wing restaurant in Charleston, SC were forced to wait two hours for their table and then were ultimately denied service on the basis of their race. According to Charleston’s WNEW Channel 5, the group of 25 African-Americans…

Cato Institute: The poor have it too good

Think Tank Report Says Poor Americans Have It Too Good (via Moyers & Company)

Conservative think tanks have spawned a cottage industry churning out dubious studies purporting to show that poor families are living high on the hog on public benefits, a claim that anybody who has actually experienced poverty in America would find…

8/23/2013

Idiots..

Vaccine-fearing Texas megachurch urges flock to immunize after measles outbreak (via Raw Story )

A Texas megachurch whose leaders have linked vaccines to autism is now asking its members to get immunizations or stay quarantined after an outbreak of measles was traced to the congregation. Instead of her normal sermon on Sunday, Eagle Mountain International…

8/20/2013

GASP! Pink means you're gay...

‘Ex-gay’ therapist tells televangelist: I can tell if you’re possessed by which crayons you use (via Raw Story )

“Ex-gay” therapist Jerry Mungadze told televangelist Benny Hinn he can identify someone possessed by “demonization” based not on brain scans, but on what colors a person chose when coloring in a drawing of a brain. “You can see demonization…

Christian radio hosts: Gay Boy Scouts will get merit badges for sodomy, incest and cannibalism

Christian radio hosts: Gay Boy Scouts will get merit badges for sodomy, incest and cannibalism (via Raw Story )

Christian radio broadcasters Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner told their listeners that Boy Scouts were trying to “find the thing that God really, really, really hates the most” by allowing gay members, and soon the organization would be handing out…

6/06/2013

The Danger of the Cute Factor

Sometimes Michael and I watch "America's Funniest Home Videos." We have a running joke that no matter what videos get chosen as finalists if one has a kid it will win. In fact, it will win even if it's not actually very funny. People just automatically feel predisposed toward cute kids.

That's what's so dangerous about Judge Michael Baylson's decisions in the case of two children awaiting lung transplants. Baylson has decided that the "cute factor" trumps actual medical facts. The two children are desperately in need of lung transplants but there are no pediatric lungs available at the moment. Thus Baylson has ordered that the children be bumped to the top of the adult waiting list.

This is very troubling. Until yesterday afternoon transplant list priority was decided strictly on medical terms. The best match for the patient who needed the organ most. Today we have a new paradigm: The cutest or most sympathetic patient regardless of match or projected outcome.

The 10 year success rates of pediatric lung transplants is about 30% at 15 years that drops off to around 20%. While more children receive lung transplants today the outcomes have not significantly improved. In short, pediatric transplants are not always "life saving" they are more likely to be "life extending."  (source)

Jumping the line based on non-medical criteria such as age or the fact that the recipient is a child may prove to be not only dangerous for the child who may not survive a transplant with a too large lung, but also damaging to the idea of the transplant process being blind to social status.

Over the years speaking about donation I've encountered many people who think that transplant recipients are chosen because of their social status. High profile transplants like Steve Jobs underscore this misconception because of the media coverage involved. When I was told I would need a transplant I also had this mistaken idea. Being a gay man I thought I would be passed over for transplant simply because I would not seem as "socially valuable" as someone with children or because of social prejudice against gay people in general. I was thrilled to learn that none of that goes into the mix. There was no litmus test for who was more valuable to society or who was an insider or outsider. It was strictly based on medical need. This is the way it should be.

With the judiciary now getting involved in the process we are opening a Pandora's box where medical need may take second place to perceptions of value or cuteness. If a lung is available who does it go to? A cute 7 year old who might live another year or two with it or a 50 year old who may be able to live out the rest of her life with it? With Judge Baylson's rulings we now have the answer: whoever can garner the most public sympathy and win the popularity contest.

What people who cheer this ruling do not take into consideration is that there could well be a child who is 12 or 13 (the point at which they move to the adult list) who may be denied a transplant that could give them a better outcome because of a capricious legal ruling. The sad fact of organ transplantation is that for every organ transplanted someone else on the waiting list may well die before another organ is available. It's not just little Sarah who is dying it is thousands of men, women, boys and girls. Being able to jump the line with the help of a judge means that someone else will likely die instead.

That is why those who are petitioning and calling on this child's behalf would do better to be out in the streets talking about donation, signing up donors and making sure that as many people as possible sign up to be organ donors and are aware that allowing their children to be donors if the horrible happens can save the life of someone like Sarah.

If you think this is an isolated "one off" type of ruling, today proved you wrong. Another family of a pediatric patient filed suit and received a court order to go to the head of the class. Let the flood gates open. If you need an organ and can get the right amount of public support you too may file a lawsuit to jump the line - no matter whether the transplant will better your chances of living or not. Dangerous precedents indeed.

3/21/2013

Why Immigration reformers are turning me off

When I was little I never considered race. No child does. I had a wonderful friend in first or second grade whose name was Leilani. I thought it was the most beautiful name in the world and she was the most beautiful girl. Alas, Leilani was African American (or Black, back then, which I will use during the story when that was the preferred term). Still, I had no real concept of that.

One day, my mother was planning my birthday party. My parties were always lots of fun. We weren't rich but I had a gay (though not out) older brother who threw a grand party for his baby brother. There was always a theme, great decorations, games, and even entertainment. I was asked to list the school chums I wished to invite. Leilani's name was at the top of the list.

A few days later my mother sat me down and said Leilani couldn't come to the party. I asked why and she said "Because she's black." That was the first time anyone had ever said that being black meant you were different. I pitched one of my better hissy fits but to no avail. Pretty Leilani was off the guest list.

Fast forward to Junior High. I still didn't really distinguish between black and white. In fact, I sort of rebelled after the party which is my normal reaction to being told no. In eighth grade, though, I had a black teacher who was very hip and militant (this was the last 1970's). She wore African prints and lots of African jewelry. She had the requisite Afro and was all around pretty cool looking. I liked her well enough.

That school year, we had consolidated three or four previous junior highs into one central one. So we had teachers that some of us had never met. One of those, an elderly black man, had decided to retire mid-year. Our teacher was in charge of collecting money from the kids for a present for this man. Though I didn't know him and had never met him since he was from another school; I obligingly gave a few dollars because I'd been taught that it was the right thing to do. Others in my class did the same - but not everyone and obviously we did not give the amount our teacher thought appropriate.

A rare true protest sign... even Native Americans
are immigrants to North America.
One morning she strode into the room and glared at us. Our homeroom which covered the first few letters of the alphabet was primarily white. She began to pace back and forth and then launched into a tirade about us "crackers" and "little white brats" and how if it was a white teacher retiring we'd be giving money but because the teacher was black we wouldn't give a penny. She went on to tell us we were racists and how we, personally it seemed, were responsible for slavery and every bad thing that ever happened in the world.

It was a true "Holy shit!" moment for a 12 year old. I'd never been called a racist or a cracker. I'd never done anything, I thought, to warrant that level of abuse. But here I was responsible for everything that had happened in the last 300 years - personally and deemed a racist just because of my skin color.

It would take me a few years to puzzle out that she was actually the racist. She had preconceived ideas about how white people were supposed to act and no matter what they did she would proceed as if those people had acted in that manner. Still, it messed me up. I had few black friends in high school and really didn't make any new ones until college.

That's sort of how I feel with the immigration reform debates. No matter what you do or say in support of reform, if your skin color is too light you're going to get painted with that big ol' racist brush.

Let's move to the Kansas Legislature where they're arguing over an SB1070 type bill. It's an onerous law here in Arizona and one I opposed vociferously as I do most of the anti-immigration laws. But, our lone Native American (or First Nations as I prefer) legislator had a pithy comeback recently and the entire liberal world fell over themselves laughing and cheering. Here's what she said (to a white legislator):“I think it’s funny Mr. Kobach, because when you mention illegal immigrant, I think of all of you."

"All of you." To me, that's racist. Normally, an "all of you" or a "you people" type comment would engender outrage. Remember, Ann Romney? She wasn't even talking about a racial group. But, Rep. We-Victors got cheers and applause because she is First Nations.

Yet, there's so much factually wrong with her sentiment. We can begin with the fact that Native Americans are not native. They are immigrants like everyone else. Sure, they got here before the Europeans (unless a new theory based on distribution of Clovis points is right in which case we may really have a serious conundrum). But, their arrival doesn't make them native to the area. In fact, the only place on Earth where Homo Sapiens is native would be Africa. Everything after that is migration.

The sentiment also seems to express the idea that our First Nations peoples had some sort of codified law system which covered immigration into a region. To my knowledge, they didn't. There were no customs officials standing on the shores when Europeans arrived to stamp passports and issue visas. So, the European settlement could not be illegal as Rep. We-Victors contends in her pithy statement.

Now, that's not to say what happened is not immoral. Other than slavery (which was also applied to the First Nations peoples) there are few things in our history of the Western Hemisphere as horrible as the subjugation of those peoples and the theft of their lands and property. That is something that continued nearly to the present day. It is also something that must be addressed to level the playing fields for everyone who wishes to have a stake in the modern world.

This type of racism doesn't help the cause of battling racism - which
is the basis for the anti-immigrant right. 
Rep. We-Victors' comments though, are typical of what you hear in the immigration debate. I've heard "gringo" slung around, not to mention all sorts of jokes about "whities." Many of my fellow liberals just laugh along. But I can't do that. If I'm going to be against racism, which I am, then I'm against ALL racism - including that pointed in my own direction. My "liberal guilt" does not allow me enough room to become a person who can pick and choose which racism is acceptable.

The longer the immigration debate goes on, the less engaged I feel in it. It's even begun to feel that if you are white your input and your support really aren't wanted unless you are willing to debase yourself. I won't do that. Just as my friend Mari is proud to be Mexican, I'm pretty proud to be English although neither of us have been truly Mexican or English for hundreds of years! We're both American - and that's the point.

If there is to be true immigration reform in this country then folks like Rep. We-Victors need to abandon the pithy comebacks fraught with inaccuracies and talk plainly about why it is morally and economically right. No matter how odious someone like Kobach is (and he's pretty odious) equating him with all people of European ancestry just makes you sound like an asshole - no matter how much applause you get from the sycophants in the peanut gallery.  Racism, is racism, is racism and to claim differently is an exercise in hypocrisy.

By the way, many years later I asked my mother about the party and Leilani. For all those years, though I loved my mother, I'd put her down as just another old south racist because she wouldn't let Leilani come to my party. What I learned was that she had been fine with it but when my grandmother had found out she had pitched a fit because it wasn't right for white and black children to mix. It was bad enough the government made them do it at school - she'd be damned if they'd do it at a party.

3/15/2013

An open letter to my doctor's Medical Assistant

Dear Medical Assistant:

I've been out of a medication for a month. My pharmacy has called and faxed you and I've called and faxed you. We've left message after message - to the point that the last two times I called your voice-mail was full and you couldn't even get any more messages.

Really? Are you that busy or are you just overwhelmed? Could it be you're just not equipped for the job you're doing? I think it might be the latter because the last time I actually spoke to you you had no idea about  medicine. You had no idea about liver enzymes or what they were, you were puzzled about what the normal readings on something as simple as an A1c test were and you couldn't even pronounce most of the medications we discussed. That's a little scary.

Look, I know. You have six months of training at a "college" that used to be a Circuit City or an abandoned car dealership. I get it. You probably owe in the tens of thousands of dollars for that "education" and may never be able to pay off what you owe. But that doesn't excuse your mistakes and inability to take care of patients. If you want to be in medicine that comes with a big heaping helping of sacrifice. I know, I used to be there.

Once upon a time there used to be someone who helped the doctor called a nurse. Specifically, there used to be someone who helped the doctor called a Registered Nurse. A Registered Nurse (or RN) has an actual college degree from an actual college. Some have two year degrees and some have four. Regardless, they all study very hard and take lots of weird classes like pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, psychology, and even spend a lot of time working practically in hospitals and clinics. After all that and the hundreds of tests they take while in school they have to take another big test to actually get their license to practice. Then, they still have to go to school for a certain amount of time every year to keep their license! It's a lot of work and they were very good at their jobs for the most part. They understood patients' problems and could react quickly and prioritize their duties. They also got paid handsomely for all this knowledge and skill.

Then the insurance companies looked at how much doctors charged. They thought doctors charged too much because, well, those RN's had to be paid good money. So the insurance companies began cutting back on what doctors were allowed to charge. Enter the Licensed Practical Nurse or LPN. The LPN didn't have quite as much education as the RN but still, it was a minimum of one year of training and most of the classes were the same. They still, generally, attended real colleges or community colleges and still had to take lots of tests. They also had to take a licensing test before they could get a job. While the LPN's weren't quite as knowledgeable as the RN's about their patients' health and needs they still did a pretty good job.

But, as things go, the insurance folks decided LPN's were just too expensive too. So, they cut those rates until there had to be someone to fill the gap. The doctors knew they couldn't just turn loose their secretary on the patients so a new "profession" was created - the Medical Assistant. The MA was three parts secretary (or administrative assistant) and one part health care associate. The education requirements were minimal - as little as six months in most cases and there were no licensing requirements. If you made it out of school, you were golden. And most of the new for-profit colleges springing up on street corners made sure you made it out - whether you actually got the knowledge or not.

And that brings us to you and why you don't know what ALT means or even what liver enzymes indicate. And why you can't pronounce illnesses or medications - much less understand what they are or what they do. But what it doesn't explain is why you can't figure out phone messages. That's the one thing looking at the curriculum for your program that you should be able to do. Ninety-nine percent of your college time was spent on office systems of one type or another. Surely, phones and fax machines were covered. So, why have I been out of my medicine for a month?

Maybe it's not just the slow decline of quality of care because of the for-profit medical system we have in the United States. Perhaps, I'm over-analyzing things as is my wont when I'm out of a certain medication. Of course, maybe... just maybe... you're an idiot.

Sincerely,
Your Patient

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