Friday, August 28, 2009

Just so we're all on the same page...

I thought that I'd clarify a lot of the stuff being flung about at town hall meetings and in the blogosphere. Courtesy of The American Heritage Desk Dictionary, here are some handy references when you read about or hear some terms being used. Or if you choose to use them yourself, please do us all a favor and make sure you use the terms correctly. Communist: a member of a Communist Party. A person who believes in or advocates communism. communism: any social system characterized by the absence of classes and by common ownership of the means of production and common sharing of labor and products. fascism: a political philosophy of the extreme right, marked by strict government control of the economy, nationalism, and suppression of all opposition. Nazi:a member of a fascist party founded in Germany in 1919 and brought to power in 1933 under Adolf Hitler. Short for Nationalsozialist. Nazism: the doctrine and policy of the Nazis, including state control of the economy, racist nationalism, and national expansion. socialism: a doctrine or movement calling for public ownership of factories and other means of production. A social system that practices this doctrine. In Marxist-Leninist theory, the stage of society between capitalism and communism. Socialist: a member of a socialist party. Sooooooooo. From this we can draw some parallels and we can also see some freaks of logic (meaning, some parallels that defy logic). Folks who call the Democrats Nazi socialists are obviously confused. The two systems are polar opposites. Folks who call the Democrats fascists are obviously confused. And most likely to be Republicans - the more conservative of whom are actually closer to fascism than the Democrats. Folks who say that the plan(s) - because there are what? Five of them floating around - to "socialize" our health care are obviously confused because socialism advocates ownership, and if there's a public option as proposed in at least one of the plans floating around, there's no socialism. There's choice. For those who continue to bandy these often-misunderstood phrases around, I hope that by providing this compendium of definitions, I have helped clarify your thoughts. You may now return to your regular programming - which, by the way, can be improved by using your own brain and thinking instead of swallowing talking points.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let's Try a Little Common Sense...

It probably won't hurt too much. Here's a clip of an op/ed piece by Roger Ebert, a man who knows whereof he speaks. I've cited the entire article for you - and you should read it. Do you know what the "public option" is? It would be the establishment of a federal fund to provide health insurance for those who cannot afford it or qualify for it. I have the feeling that if Jay Leno went Jaywalking among the protesters at a town hall meeting, even among those holding signs opposing the public option, he would find few able to define the term. If you lack insurance coverage, are you opposed to the public option? If your premiums have increased so much that you can't afford them, do you oppose it? If you have a "preexisting condition" that disqualifies you from insurance, do you oppose it? If it would provide you with equivalent insurance at a lower cost, do you oppose it? Most Americans, even those angry people at town hall meetings, now approve of MediCare. The public option would essentially make a system like MediCare available to the general population. Would it replace private health insurance? Not at all. It would provide an option. Who opposes it? Do the math. The insurance companies do. It would provide price competition for their extremely profitable businesses. Price competition. It's the capitalist way. Besides insurance companies, who else opposes it? The unwavering opponents of all things Obama. Having arrived at a qualifying age thanks to the love and care of my wife and doctors, I am writing this as the beneficiary of the excellent heath care my insurance plan covered (until my illness exhausted its provisions). I am now covered under MediCare. I continue to get the same treatment as before--and as, for that matter, all members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives do, no matter what their age or political party. You should try it sometime. Here's the complete link: In the overwhelming din of the crazies howling their talking points (or should that be "shreiking points"??), let's use a little common sense. Let's use the things our Creator gave us: our brains and our ears and our sense of logic. We are a great nation. We don't provide what other nations do. Why? Greed? Lack of respect for our fellow citizens? Lack of basic humanity? None of those things seems palatable to me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dickens was right...

I'm reading Charles Dickens' wicked-smart satire on poverty, riches and imprisonment, Little Dorrit. I confess it was because we caught an episode on PBS. Dickens also makes some very pertinent allusions to government. And what strikes me is how close they are to home right now! For example, there's this passage: "But, Precedent and Precipitate were, under all circumstances, the well-matched pair of battle-horses of this able Circumlocutionist. No matter that the unhappy honorable gentleman had been trying in vain, for twenty-five years, to precipitate William Barnacle into this - William Barnacle still put it to the House, and (at second-hand or so) to the country, whether he was to be precipitated into this. No matter that it was utterly irreconcileable with the nature of things and course of events, that the wretched honorable gentleman could possibly produce a Precedent for this - William Barnacle would nevertheless thank the honorable gentleman for that ironical cheer, and would close with him upon that issue, and would tell him to his teeth that there was NO Precedent for this. It might perhaps have been objected that the William Barnacle wisdom was not high wisdom, or the earth it bamboozled would never have been made, or, if made in a rash mistake, would have remained blank mad. But, Precedent and Precipitate together frightened all objection out of most people." (Little Dorrit, p. 427-428) Change "William Barnacle" to "Republicans" and you have the current uproar over health care reform. Republicans continue to tell us - using their usual tactics of Fear and Smear - that if health care is truly "reformed" that that's code for "socialized medicine" and "government run medicine." Hearken back to Ronald Reagan with Medicare reform wherein he posited that "one day, doctors will no longer be allowed to live in your town." An early example of "If you can't convince them with truth, baffle 'em with bull...." I'm happy to see that some Democrats are coming to their senses. The government already runs several healthcare programs: the program for active duty military; Medicaid; Medicare; the VA. And in many cases, the people who use these programs are just fine. Of course, there are problems. I don't believe it's endemic to the government running the program. It's endemic to PEOPLE being involved. What's wrong is that in this country, we have 47 million uninsured Americans. What's wrong is that according to the World Health Organization, we rank 37th in the world for health care. Columbia is above us. That should make every flag-waving Republican proud. A nation known to "disappear" people, murder missionaries, kill at random in vicious turf wars of drug lords. They're a couple notches higher than we are in health care. I would urge you to THINK. I would urge you to RESEARCH. And I would urge you to not swallow the "truth" as you read it until you've looked at it from a couple of different directions.

Open Letter to the President...

I am terrifically disappointed in you, Mr. President. Where is that dedication to change that you preached during your campaign? Your campaign was the first one I've been really involved in. Your campaign gave me hope that someone, somewhere, actually had a SHOT at getting change to happen in institutionalized Washington. Do you read the e-mails you get? Does anyone on your staff point them out to you? Because if you did - and if you were aware of what your supporters want - you wouldn't even entertain the possibility of removing the public option from your healthcare platform. Why do you back down? Why do you let people sway you? I can fully understand the idea of changing your mind. That means that you have the capability to think and consider. However, you must know - really, think about this: The Republicans wouldn't vote for this bill if it came engraved in gold with God's signature on it. No matter WHAT you cave in with, they won't vote for it. They are waiting to see you fall on your rear end. Publicly, and instantly. Please do not back down. We need the public option. If only 1% of the American public takes advantage of that public option, it's still a win/win because that's 1% more of the American public who can afford insurance. Don't let the (R) party dictate to you - because that's not how or why you were elected. You were elected to bring change. More change than just your color or your background. You say you can implement change. Do so. Don't back down. Don't compromise with people who have no intention of holding the good of the American people in their hearts. And people who are determined that you fail at all costs. Please. Listen to those of us who elected you. Put the public option back on the table. The Republicans won't vote for your plan anyway. So do something for the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We're Already Rationed

I have a friend who has a better insurance plan than I do. She's very overweight and has a host of problems associated therewith, including rampant diabetes. Her primary care physician, after much discussion, recommended bariatric surgery. Her excellent insurance company denied payment. Because she was "non-compliant" with several weight-loss programs. And because she was (wait for it...) "overweight and had food issues." Really? Say it ain't so. I have another friend who has Sjogren's Syndrome - it's an autoimmune disease in the arthritis family whereby all your "moisture producing" glands dry up. She has chronic dry-eye, produces nearly no saliva and doesn't sweat even on the hottest days. HER insurance company denied her Sjogren's meds because they weren't in the formulary they prescribe out of, and they weren't sure that what she had was "really" a disease. I have gone from an excellent insurance company to a sub-par insurance company, because of a change in my husband's job. I am on an anti-seizure medicine that costs about $1100/month. My insurance company has stated that I must begin paying for my neurologist because she's not in the plan. And she won't sign up to be in that plan because this is a sub-par company. One of our local hospitals SUED this company because its "reasonable and customary" costs for procedures were so out of line with Medicare, which is the baseline for these charges. The company that submitted those "reasonable and customary" costs was said to be independent. But (wait for it...) it turns out that it's OWNED by the sub-par insurance company. That company is under investigation by the State of New York as we speak - for conflict of interest and price-fixing. My sub-par insurance company switched me to a generic for my seizure meds. They don't work as well. But, the insurance company says, I can get the brand-name. If I pay the extra cost - they'll kick in the $17 that the generic costs, leaving me with $1083 to pay out of pocket each month. What's my point? The wingnuts are all screaming about "rationing." You've just read about 3 cases of rationing with regular insurance companies. And we pay a hefty price for these insurance policies. And they routinely deny care. And for those who say that they want government out of their health care, I have news for you. If you are of a certain age and eligible for Medicare, you are IN a government-sponsored and government-funded (you can thank me anytime, if you are so inclined) insurance program. I'm paying for you. My kids are paying for you. My husband is paying for you. So when would you like to cancel that Medicare policy and go purchase insurance? You can't afford it, you say? You're a senior citizen or on disability and have limited income? Welcome to the world of many other Americans. Take your government-sponsored and government-funded insurance and be glad in it. Count yourself lucky. You're not in the "donut-hole" where you might have been laid off prior to being eligible and you can't afford COBRA payments. You might be a spouse who's younger than your mate - and he or she has Medicare, but you don't and you're now without insurance with several years to go before eligibility. You can try finding a free clinic or a health department clinic. But the waiting lists are long and while they do their best, there's only so much you can do with limited funds and charitable donations. Be reasonable. There are no "death panels" or committees that will determine your health care based on your productivity. I realize that at some point, some northern indigenous tribes used to set their elders afloat on an ice floe - but we don't do that here. Be reasonable. Read the bill. Contact your representatives. Attend a meeting, with NO preconceptions, and an OPEN mind and listen. Don't let your brain be coopted by nutjobs out to disrupt anything and everything. Volume of the argument doesn't make it correct. Inciting people to riot is a crime. Disrupting the democratic process is un-American. We need a universal health care option so that I'm sure my mom is taken care of. I'm sure my kids are taken care of (they're young men, not yet working in jobs that supply health care, but too old to be covered under our care). To make sure that my mother-in-law and father-in-law are taken care of. We need reasonable discussion. Not disruption. Not fear. Not anger. Not hate. Those are un-American and irrational responses to a very American problem: How to help those who need our help.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Heavenly Fox Trot

I have a vision of two people, reunited after a long absence, greeting each other with open arms. And immediately beginning a graceful, floating fox trot. Yesterday, after a major stroke last Thursday, my Grandma passed away just before 6 p.m. I am sad that she's not here, but in truth, because of various illnesses, she wasn't "here" for the past year at least. She wasn't the woman I want to remember. So I shall keep my memories in my head and in my heart. Every stitch I take in a crochet project; every roski I make; every pecan nut cup that comes out of my oven this Christmas; every time I try to duplicate her chicken and rice... those are the times where I'll remember my Grandma. There'll be an African Violet on my desk in the next few days. She taught me about those, too. They were always blooming in her house. Rest in peace, Grandma. I hope you and Grandpa have a lovely reunion.

Monday, August 03, 2009

When it rains... most certainly pours. Our weekend was a blur as we went to and from the nursing home, and did a canine rescue run in the rain (with pooping Pomeranians, just for fun). When I talked to my mom today, she said that she and my aunt don't want anyone up to visit tonight. Grandma wants no extraordinary measures, so we're letting nature take its course. And I have to tell you, this is almost harder than watching my dad die of cancer. My grandparents pretty much raised me. This is like watching a huge chunk of my childhood disappear. Home wasn't a lot of fun and games for a variety of reasons, and Grandma & Grandpa's place was stable, happy and quiet. For those reasons alone, I was able to flourish as a child. Due to the instability of home, I was able to become strong. In a large part, I am very ready for God to take her. Now would be good. She would be totally mortified to see herself. No dentures; hair in disarray, in a Depends. She was always put together: shoes, neat clothes, hair done, lipstick... the whole package. We've encouraged her to go. I've told her that Grandpa's been waiting. The polka band is playing and the dance floor is ready. Her sisters and brothers are all there ready to greet her. She needs to get the gate ready for our second cousin, who's in hospice care in the end stages of breast cancer.

But the other part of me, the kid part, is having a rough time of this. Grandma's memory hasn't been what it used to be. And I have been TREMENDOUSLY lax in visiting her. Much more so than I should have been (it's that whole "not good with sick people" thing rearing its head). And the truth is, I don't want to remember her like she is now.

I want to remember her teaching me to crochet. Teaching me the "best way" to iron. Hanging clothes on the line. I remember being so proud when I was tall enough to string the clothesline from the garage to the house! Going over her recipe for chicken and rice - which, by the way, I have NEVER mastered. Trying to replicate her dumplings. A million memories come at me all at once, almost a sensory overload. And it's all I can do to hold it together today.

Hubby asks if I'm fine. Yeah. Sort of. Today is a weepy day, but I guess it's better to get it out now. We have her directions for the funeral. The dress is ready. I have the crystal rosary. We know the songs. Now, all we can do is wait. For God's own time, which is not our time. In a complete about-face, the dog is improving. She's blind in one eye, but we think the meds are working and she was back to her goofy self last night. I had a friend who used to write to me. She used to say that life was like a zebra. You got both black stripes and white stripes. Right now, it seems like the black stripe is pretty wide. I'm hoping to see the white stripe sometime soon.