Saturday, October 31, 2009

The need for health care reform hits close to home.

The arguments against our current health care system -- if you can call it a “system” -- are just overwhelming. Every other industrialized country does it better. Every damn one.

Let me give you one example of how our system fails people.

A young woman has been working in one of the local restaurants here. The owner of the place pays her partly in cash to fudge the number of hours she works. And that’s done so the cheap bastard doesn't have to pay for the girl's health insurance.

But the girl didn’t really care. What the hell: she’s young, she’s single, she’s healthy, and she’s living on Maui. Life is good.

But a week or so ago, she got an infection … scratched herself on something and just didn’t give it much thought. Then she developed a fever. Probably just the flu, she thought … no need to see a doctor … especially with no health insurance.

A day later she was worse, much worse, and was finally taken to the emergency room. They did all they could, but the infection had spread throughout her body. She turned critical and ended up being flown to Honolulu where she had surgery to replace a couple of valves in her heart.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are in lock step opposing any real health care reform. Forcing people to buy insurance is bad. Raising costs to small business is bad. Could mean higher taxes, and taxes are bad. It's all just bad, bad, bad!

Well, guess who’s going to pay for this young girl’s medical expenses? We all are … through higher hospital bills, which ultimately mean higher insurance premiums and reduced benefits.

The last I heard she was still alive, but just barely. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

What I don’t understand is, how do all those people – John Boehner and Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham and all the rest of those selfish, cold-hearted ideologues -- how do they sleep at night?


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reveling in My Obsession

The first major league baseball game I ever saw was in Boston at storied Fenway Park. It was May 25, 1946. I was nine years old.

I vividly remember walking through the bowels of that wonderful old ballpark, down a concrete ramp, looking up at a maze of steel girders overhead. Then came the magical moment: walking up a ramp and seeing that baseball diamond: green grass, immaculately groomed, and dazzling in the sunlight of a perfect spring day.

The Boston Red Sox were playing the New York Yankees that day. They won, 7 to 4, and ever since I have been a passionate fan. I even manage to travel to Boston almost every year to see them play.

But while the Red Sox grew to be my passion from that experience, it also turned the Yankees into an obsession.

I loath them.

I will not see them play in person and I cannot watch them play on television. They often win and I often hear myself screeching obscenities at the screen. It's just too upsetting.

And so, this morning, I am reveling in the news that the Yankees lost the first game of the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-1. And, adding luster to this glorious news, a local Maui boy, Shane Victorino, played center field for the Phillies, got a hit, scored a run and drive in a run. And it all happened in the new BILLION-AND-A-HALF DOLLAR Yankee Stadium in front of all those Yankee fans.

I am still pessimistic about the final outcome of the series -- being a Yankee-hater breeds pessimism -- but today, at least, I rejoice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Little Weasel Does It Again!

Joe Lieberman was the Democratic Party nominee for vice president a few years back, so it was shocking when he endorsed John McCain in 2008.

But the Democrats welcomed him back and he became the 60th vote that would prevent a Republican filibuster of any vote on health care reform ... a filibuster that would put off any action indefinitely.

And today, the despicable back-stabbing little weasel said he would side with the Republicans.
They don't call Hartford, Connecticut -- capital city of Lieberman's home state -- the Insurance Capital of the World for nothing.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Petty Spite ... and the Company It Keeps

The Republican right is happy that Chicago didn’t get the 2012 Olympic games because Barack Obama spoke to the International Olympic Committee on the city’s behalf.

They want to wreck health care reform because, as Republican Senator Jim DeMint said, it would be Obama’s political “Waterloo.”

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House yesterday, Democratic congressman Alan Grayson from Florida said it best: if Barack Obama were to cure hunger, the Republicans would blame him for over-population; if he were to bring about world peace, they would blame him for destroying the defense industry.

What a spectacle: the flag-waving, drum-beating, family values, holier-than-thou Republican blowhards would rather see Americans hurt than see Obama succeed.

And today they’re angry because an American president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

There are, however, two prominent groups that agree with them: Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Health Care Reform: One More Case History

The other day there was a heartbreaking – and infuriating – story in the New York Times by columnist Bob Herbert. It was about a man who has lost both his kidneys to a serious disease. A transplant will soon be needed … or the man will surely die.

His two sons are potential donors, but there’s a problem: Any test to determine if their kidneys would be compatible with their father’s will also reveal if the same disease is latent within their bodies. And there’s a 50-50 chance they have it.

Why is that a problem? Because their health insurance company could then claim they had a “pre-existing condition” and cancel their policies. And no other insurance company would ever insure them for the same reason.

How’s that for being between a rock and a hard place? The boys want to have the tests done anyway; their dad doesn’t want them to do it, even if he dies as a result.

How can we, as a civilized society, stand by while people are forced to make choices like that?


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Super Patriots or Super Hypocrites?

The right-wing media blowhards like Glen Beck, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other of that contemptible ilk love to loudly proclaim their patriotism. They love even more to denounce as America-haters and traitors anyone who dares to disagree with their ideologies.

Yet these and others like them actually cheered when Chicago was not selected as the site of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Glen Beck: “Oh, it’s so sweet. Savor the moment.”

Rush Limbaugh: “I don’t deny it. I’m happy.”

Erik Erickson of “Hahahahaha!” (Articulate devil, isn't he!)

But why in the world were these buffoons slobbering with such delight? Clearly, Chicago’s pitch to the International Olympic Committee had nothing to do with politics, left or right. It had only to do with the huge economic benefits that would have come to the people – the American people – of that city.

Incredibly, in their tortured minds, the devastating loss to the people of Chicago was not nearly as important as the supposed loss of face for President Obama, who had flown to Copenhagen to champion Chicago’s bid for the games (photo above). And that's why they were cheering.

What a bunch of miserable, low-life, soul-less hypocrites.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Bad News and Good News from Washington State

In Washington State, budget cuts meant the suspension of "adult day health services" to 950 elderly people. I gather these services, among others, included providing professional visits, therapies, necessary treatments, allowing relief breaks for those caring for elderly and infirm spouses, and just checking in on people to make sure they were OK.

Well, hell .. we got no choice, right? The durn money just ain't there!

Result? Elderhealth Northwest is an organization that helps frail adults continue to live in their own homes. This organization has determined that two people died and eleven others have lost the ability to walk as a direct consequence of lack of service resulting from state budget cuts.

Thankfully, a federal judge has stepped in and temporarily restored these services ... services that are clearly very much needed.

How can we as a civilized society simply say, "We don't have the money to look after the old and the sick and the helpless"?

How? Well, let someone propose a small tax increase to pay for these "frills" and the Republicans will start braying about "tax and spend" and "big government" and yaddah-yaddah-yaddah.

And, fearing that inevitable onslaught, no politician will have to guts to do what is not just right, but what is civilized.