Friday, July 31, 2009

Birthers: Too Stupid to Ignore?

Bill Maher has a very good op-ed today on the subject of the idiot Birther movement. You know, the one led by the crazy Russian woman who claims that we're living in Nazi Germany, which is supported by crazy Americans like the woman who screamed "I want my country back!"

Which I translate as meaning, "I want my white presidents back!"

In fact, the birther argument is so profoundly stupid that I can only conclude that what's driving it is far beyond, or below, the actual (stupid) argument being made. After long and careful thought on the subject (five minutes, max), I'm interpreting the birther position thusly:

Barack Obama cannot be an American citizen, because there are no educated black people in America unless they come from somewhere else.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care: Building a Mastadon Out of Spare Crocodile Parts, When What We Need is a Pony

Let me start by saying: I don't know anything about health care or health insurance, except as a consumer.

Let me also say: I think Ann Coulter is an evil clown.

However, this recent column of hers raises some good points, I think, once you clear away her usual anti-liberal hysteria.

We all know this health care plan is not the one we would create ex nihilo. We all know we have to work with the muck we're mired in. We're not going to start from scratch. That's just reality. Insurance companies are going to be a part of any new system; they just are. Identical coverage for all citizens is never going to happen; half of the country is just set against it.

But why THIS? Can't we be any more imaginative with the pieces we have on the table? Why are our legislators showing SO little imagination?

Never mind; I withdraw the question.

Here's my Brilliant Plan. I challenge our gummint to tell me why something kinda sorta like this wouldn't a) work, b) be cheap and reasonable, and c) satisfy critics on both sides of the aisle.

DAY-TO-DAY CARE. Most of the time, most of us need to see a doctor for very minor maladies. Really, what we need is a nurse. We need an antibiotic. We need to see if something is sprained or broken. We need a throat culture. There is no reason why those of us with insurance should have to schedule an appointment with an actual doctor for this, at top dollar (regardless of who is paying), and those of us without insurance should have to clog up emergency rooms. Drug stores like Walgreens have started opening walk-in clinics staffed by registered nurses to handle just this kind of low-care traffic, and they're convenient, quick, and cheap. Why not encourage the entreprenurial spirit and let a thousand such flowers bloom, competing with each other for low cost and good (but low-level) care? I don't need health insurance to cover a quickie visit to a nurse when I need a flu shot. Let most of us handle this ourselves. And provide people below the poverty line--or some other line--with a voucher or a card that gives them either unlimited access to such facilities or a certain number of free visits per month.

CATASTROPHIC CARE. If we want to provide some level of government-supplied, universal coverage, without making conservatives feel like we're being nanny-statish, why not aim up here, where people can really suffer? Provide a high-deductible, catastrophic insurance policy free of charge (i.e., paid for by our taxes) to all citizens, so that if something horrible happens, it doesn't wipe out people and their families. With a pool as large as Everyone, it ought to be a reasonably cheap policy to create, maintain, and fund.

IN-BETWEEN IS UP FOR GRABS. In between quickie nurse visits and cancer surgery is a wide territory, and this is where the rich can buy their boutique insurance policies, those of us with families or chronic conditions or whatever can hope for good policies from our employers (which can still be a selling point in job recruitment), those of us who are young and healthy can go without if we so choose (to Coulter's point), and the poor can get some kind of government assistance a la Medicaid. I would think that insurance companies would be able to craft some kind of in-between-y policies like this that are attractive to people who need them and reasonably inexpensive for employers, since the scope of services covered would be much narrower.

I welcome your thoughts, you 2.5 people who read this.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brains are Funny Things

It was a grey and overcast morning here in southern Arizona--a rare event. Being a Yankee by birth and an autumnal kind of person by disposition, I tend to fall into a reflective mood on cool and cloudy mornings like this--sometimes wistful, sometimes melancholy. But even that doesn't explain the weird thing that happened to me this morning.

I started the day alone with Thing 2, who slept in bed with me, most of the night, after a bad dream. Thing 1 is off on an adventure in the Galapagos Islands with his grandfather, and The Wife spent the night in nearby hotel, either to have some horribly tacky affair or to finish the novel she's writing.

Thing 2 was in a jolly mood, watching Sponge Bob while I sat on an early morning conference call, and then trotting out to the car when called, his new stuffed animal in tow (in a cardboard box he's using as a bed, with a pillowcase for a blanket). We drove him to preschool/camp, listening to NPR and yakking happily away.

After I dropped him off, as I was driving home, a flood of memories washed over me--unbidden, unpredicted, and out of nowhere. All of a sudden, I was remembering a play that I wrote and directed back in college--26 years ago. As if some long-locked door had suddenly swung open, I could see entire scenes play out in my head--specific lines of dialogue, costumes that people wore, and songs--entire songs, line after line of the lyrics I wrote--things I hadn't thought about in...well, in close to 26 years, honestly.

Where did it all come from? What triggered that flood of memories? I have no idea. And HOW? How is it possible that such incredibly detailed memories reside inside me somewhere, fully accessible and present if the right key trips the lock?

Bits and pieces of the play have lingered with me all morning--more lyrics trickling into my head as the hours go on.

It's all very strange.