Archive for March, 2010

31
Mar
10

Overheard in the Jury Room

Call me crazy, but I LOVE jury duty. Even if you don’t get picked and you just sit in the jury pool room all day, you get to read! So, I was a little perturbed that the potential jurors behind me spoke loudly and wouldn’t just be quiet and let me read my book. The woman beside me sighed and shut her book. I smiled and said it is hard for me to stay focused and we shared our aggravation. Still, after their lengthy discussion of the Kindle, their conversation had an interesting twist. These two women of a certain age both self-described as grandmothers by mentioning their grandchildren. They proceeded through several subjects and came to legalizing marijuana being on the ballot in California. As I have mentioned before, I am in a deep red state – a more purple county maybe, but a very red state. Imagine my surprise to hear these two women talk about how they thought it was a good idea. “It’s not like they are going to hurt anyone, they just walk around eating and going ‘Wow man!’.” They giggled. The other one said that the tax couldn’t be too high! She thought it should be low so people would purchase legally, explaining that if it was too high they would just continue getting it off the streets. She proceeded to talk about how in England they hand out needles and explained they have a program that will give heroin addicts heroin so they don’t have to lie, cheat and steal to get it. If I remember correctly, that program had to be done away with for political reasons – being seen as soft on drugs/crime. Still, she thought this was a great idea. (It is and it showed great success in keeping people on the margins engaged in society in a productive way.) I just never thought I would hear two grandmothers in my state support such open-minded drug policy. It made my day.

Then I got called for a jury…

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25
Mar
10

Check and Balance This

First, does anyone know Rush’s new address in Costa Rica? I would like to send him a house warming present.

As much as I loathe the bickering and the parliamentary tactics of congress, I have to remind myself that this is our system of checks and balances. On the negative side, nothing major and earth shaking really ever gets done. The health care bill is a major piece of legislation, it is historic perhaps. But, for the vast majority of people, those of us with heal insurance and no pre-existing conditions, not a lot will change. It is not like we now have a national healthcare system. While many supported and called for a single-payer system, nothing anywhere like that could ever make it through congress. On the positive side, nothing major and earth shaking really ever gets done. When the Republicans held the majority, they couldn’t eliminate social security, for example. Congress is a screen that only lets small pieces of law through – things small enough to change or undo, small enough not to disrupt society.

The frustration for me is that the Republicans are simply so much better than Democrats at this. Their “screen” is nearly impervious. Even now, with the health care bill signed into law, they are fighting tooth and nail to stop it by continuing debate on the reconciliation bill – well, as long as it doesn’t go past 2:00 p.m. (What kind of arcane rule is that? Closing down at 2:00?) The list of amendments they are proposing is frustrating. These things have been debated and debated – or simply do not pertain much to the bill. The one getting attention is Tom Coburn’s no Viagra for Perverts Amendment. Now, certainly, I do not think sex offenders need erectile dysfunction medication, but is this really an issue? No. It is a delay tactic and you throw in sex offenders to give a good dose of “scare”.

I also thought that reconciliation had to be about budgetary issues. How does Senator Bennett’s amendment to suspend issuing same-sex marriage licenses in DC help reduce the budget? Senator Grassley’s is broad reaching including extending the Satellite TV authorization and the Flood Insurance Program. Hey, maybe that would be good or no, just what does it have to do with the subject at hand? My personal favorite is Senator Vitter’s, at least he is blunt and to the point: “Repeals Democrat’s Health Care Bill”.

The Democrats have a big victory under their belt and I think and hope it has given them a little more fight. They need to finish this up so we can move on to other “big” things.

Here’s a list of the amendments from the republican.senate.gov site or see the full list of 147 at the Library of Congress site: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/L?d111:./temp/~bda3yYk:1[1-147]%28Amendments_For_H.R.4872%29&./temp/~bdneYQ

Health Care: Republican Amendments to Reconciliation

  • Senator Gregg: Protect Medicare Savings
  • Senator McCain: Remove Sweetheart Deals
  • Senator Crapo: No Tax Hikes for Families Earning Under $250,000
  • Senator Enzi: Strike the Employer Mandate
  • Senator Barrasso: Requires Legislation Not Increase Premiums
  • Senator Grassley: Requires President, Congress Enroll in Exchange
  • Senator Alexander: Reduce Student Loan Interest Rate
  • Senator LeMieux: Members On Medicaid
  • Senator Coburn: Bars Sex Offenders from Receiving E.D. Drugs
  • Senator Hutchison: State Opt Out
  • Senator Hatch: Block Medicare Advantage Cuts
  • Senator Collins: Waive Employer Mandate Tax
  • Senator Thune: Strike CLASS Act
  • Senator Cornyn: Remove New Taxes on Investments
  • Senator Hatch: Protect Wounded Soldiers from Medical Device Tax
  • Senator Inhofe: Protect Pediatrics and Disabled from Medical Device Tax
  • Senator Crapo: Protect Cancer Patients from Medical Device Tax
  • Senators Roberts, Inhofe, Brown, Crapo: Strike Medical Device Tax
  • Senator Burr: Tricare and Veterans Health Programs
  • Senator Roberts: Rationing
  • Senator Roberts: Critical Access Hospitals
  • Senator Vitter: Repeals Democrats’ Health Care Bill
  • Senator Grassley: Extensions
  • Senator Risch: Lower Itemized Deduction Threshold
  • Senator Hutchison: Marriage Penalty Relief and Sales Tax Deduction
  • Senator Vitter: Mobile Mammography
  • Senator Bunning: Medicare Opt Out
  • Senator Bennett: Same Sex Marriage
  • Senator DeMint: Cross-State Purchasing
  • Senator Ensign: Liability Protection
23
Mar
10

Separation of Church and Work

I have a hard time just keeping my mouth shut and letting things go. Most the time I try to be diplomatic about it, but still just gotta say something. Like yesterday when I was wading through all the emails I had ignored while on vacation and I see an email that has come to me by way of a company group list. The email was from some guy in another office in another city that I don’t know. It went out to people in more than two dozen offices across the country. It was an off forwarded forward of complete and utter bunk about the evils of “universal healthcare”. After a few deep breaths, I replied to him and explained that everyone had different views on this important issue, but if he wanted to send out information company wide he should at least check it first. I attached the Snopes link that pointed out the inaccuracies in his forwarded email. That should have been enough, although I could not stop but explaining how the email was just a scare tactic, that the bill was anything but “universal healthcare” and he had insurance through the company and thus had nothing to fear. I eagerly await his reply that I am most certain will not come.

Then today I get another one that I simply cannot answer. It is not the first time I’ve gotten it, oh no! My boss’ mother sends me emails on occasion – forwards and work related – but her “signature” includes this: “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” ~~ Ecclesiastes 10:2 I simply cannot think of any way to diplomatically say how offensive this is, how I am not a “believer” and I am about as “left” as you could get. Do I add a verse of the Koran or a quote from Buddha to my signature in a passive-aggressive tactic? Or, do I find a nice little gem from Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris? Where is the line between church and work? Is this sort of like a bumper sticker – just a banner showing which side you are on? When you wave that banner don’t you open up your beliefs to debate or comment? I get all kinds of comments – verbal and gestural – regarding my “Obama 08” sticker on my car. I can’t complain; I chose to put it there. So, can my boss-mama really complain if I respond to her “bumper sticker”?

Do I just let this go? Of course I do, but I don’t like it.

22
Mar
10

Hope Springs Eternal

I did something that I haven’t done in years. I took a real vacation. The family and I left town. I didn’t go by the office to check on the mail. I didn’t call in to check messages. I didn’t answer emails. All of spring break! I also didn’t read news on websites or papers or listen to any newscasts other than what I caught in hotel lobbies and waiting areas of airports. I had no idea how much I needed this.

By yesterday, I was ready to get back into the swing of things – just in time to see the House vote through the health care bills. Throughout the day, I would flip over to CSAN to watch Republicans line up to say “flawed health care bill”. Finally, when I was herding my boy off to bed, it went to a vote. I watched the vote totals inch up like some strange sport and cheered with the House Dems when it hit 216.  I went to tell my boy it had passed.  What this bill means for him and his family in the future will be the subject of debate and, most certainly, scare tactics this fall. But, in concrete terms it means that he can be on my insurance as he finishes college and, gods willing, finds a job before he turns 26. It means that if some medical issue comes up, gods forbid, the insurance company cannot drop him. Eventually it will mean that everyone will need to pay for insurance (or face a fine). That sounds scary to a lot of folks and I honestly can get that. Still, it is simply a shared responsibility no different than everyone on my block paying school taxes whether they have kids or not. It is in the best interest of my neighborhood that all the kids have a good school to go to – better educated kids will have better opportunities, they will have more activities to keep them out of trouble, and they will make higher wages.

As much as anything, I’m glad it is over. It has been so ugly and the behavior of protestors on Saturday was simply frightening. There will still be so much anger and yelling – but it is done. Eventually, the coverage will move on to the next thing. Perhaps this will be like opening the floodgates and other things will just start flowing through congress. Well, hope does spring eternal.

10
Mar
10

Frank “Expletive” Luntz

I just love this, Colbert calls out Frank Luntz and the tactic the Republicans use so well – namely, assuming that the populace is uninformed and uneducated enough to be swayed by renaming and re-branding things in such a manner so they will vote against their own best interest.

And the populace never fails to meet their low expectations.

Frank Luntz is the master of this word play – surely he is a man without a soul.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Frank “Explitive” Lutz“, posted with vodpod
09
Mar
10

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!!!

Is there any need to say more???  This, surely will prompt our moribund legislature to get health care reform passed right away.  Let’s get this lard out of the country!

(From Huffington Post)

05
Mar
10

For those who read “I don’t like dogs”

As I walked home from work yesterday, I crossed the street to avoid three largish dogs that were tussling and growling.  Their owners were nearby chatting, but they weren’t on leaches.  Then I passed a man, his little dog on a leach and a green plastic bag in his hand.  Since I was walking and my ipod was in my bag, my mind wandered.  What will archeologist think of all those little green bags of poo?  My mind then turned to this weird little thing it always has a way of finding.  When I was 15 and stuck in the back of class I didn’t want to be in, I found a stash of old Reader’s Digest.  There was a funny little story of what archeologists would think if they unearthed the average motel room.  It described how the black box with the glass opening was an alter that served two gods “MovieA” and “MovieB”.  (As I said, they were old – and so am I.) If those same explorers found our age’s little laminated bags of canine feces, would they not think we worshiped dogs?

I then passed a stop sign with a flier on it.  I didn’t think twice about it and walked past.  But, something caught my eye and I had to go back to see I saw what I thought I saw.  I saw the word “kid” and I was alarmed that there was a missing child.  That was not the case, however.  The flier is below.  It reads “Missing dog/kid”.  In other words, “please help us find our dog because we have lost all sense of perspective and think of our pet as a child.”

And a few millennia from now, those archeologist might not be so far off.