23 September 2009


My Last (Only) Klan Rally

Date: Mid-summer, 1980 (I'd guess)
Dateline: Cave City, Kentucky
The Scene: Good buddy Tricky Nicky and I were staying at the Holiday Inn, Cave City, because we were doing the Lantern Tour of Mammoth Cave the next day.

We came across a Klan rally. A real, no-shit, Klan rally, with Klansmen in white sheets and totally cowardly masks: pointy dunce-cap masks, etc., as you've all seen depicted.

I wanted to rush the rally.

Tricky Nicky said, "Timmy, you're crazy. They'll kill you."

I let him talk me out of it.

I still regret it.

Goddamn Klan. How the hell almost 150 years after the US Civil War do you still have so much sway over the minds of the weak? You are not Christian, for all your protestations, and you know it. You are evil, weak, sinful, and cowardly: Something for all the human race to be ashamed of. Go to Hell, you piss-poor excuses for human beings.

And your Klan wannabe teabaggers, too.

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10 September 2009


"My God. It's Full of Stars"

I had opportunity this past weekend to lay in the near dark, no moon, and look up at the sky, and see more stars than I had seen since Mack and I were in the Oklahoma panhandle in the winter several years ago. The ability to realize one's own personal insignificance in the larger Universe was welcome.

The stars, galaxies, Universe, were all there in the night sky. I was there, supine on a bench of plastiwood, but not falling through to the center of the Earth.

What kind of higher purpose would I need? The stars, galaxies, were there where they are; the Earth was beneath me. Gravity was doing its thing in both departments. The waves were crashing onto the Florida panhandle in a semi-regular pattern not unlike my own breathing, the taking air in and out of my lungs in a semi-regular pattern not unlike waves crashing on the Gulf coast.

I don't dismiss my responsibilities to my fellow humans—starting with Mack, the one closest to me, the one to whom I owe so much; to my family who gave me so much over the years; to those who regularly give me resources in exchange for my attempting to show younger ones how to become effective engineers; to my communities of birth and of choice: those matter more to me than I can express in ways I'd hope you'd understand. But let no other human be so presumptive as to tell me they know what God/the Universe demands of me; what my "purpose" is in life.

The stars are where they are; my body does not fall into the ground; food and drink remain available; this one rejoices in being part of this.

I will stand in open defiance of anyone who attempts to shut down those who feel the need to express their percepts of the divine. But that is not for me. The divine is there in the stars; is there in the fact that my body doesn't fall into the earth; that the waves come to the shore again, and again, and again; that my breath, for now, goes in and out and in and out. But those miracles do not mean someone else gets to tell me, in a way that ultimately serves their purposes, of some Purpose to my life.

My purpose is what I make of it. Or fail to make of it.

It's my responsibility, not that of some California megaChurch preacher with numerous best sellers, not of some monk with a stick, not of those, of you, who feel so close to what I'm saying.

Breathe! It is a gift. Is it so hard to conceive of a gift with no giver? Or a giver who demands not fealty and obedience but joy and appreciation no different than that of a parent giving a child the best birthday present ever.

Massive love to one and all. It's really all we have to give each other. Enjoy it. Enjoy the stars. Enjoy the solid Earth under your feet. Enjoy every breath.

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05 September 2009


G.O.P.-care IV: Medical Payment Roulette II

We've already discussed the kind of payment roulette that comes from visiting your doctor then finding out that the tests, procedures, and treatments your doctor proscribed aren't covered by your health insurance. The G.O.P. and the for-profit health-care industry want to keep things this way (are they proposing to do away with it?), 'cause it's part of what keeps them rich. But worse than that are the caps on annual and lifetime spending.

God-forbid you should find out you have cancer. Cancer requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars of visits to oncologists, of treatment, of hospitalization, of surgery. And then you realize that you've reached that annual cap on what your health insurance pays. Guess who pays now? That's right, buster: it's you.

The reforms being proposed by the President and the Democrats in Congress would simply end this practice. Yes, of course that means an increment in what would have to be payed out by insurance, and, yes, of course, that somehow we have to come up with the resources to cover the expense. That might come from savings, from reduced waste fraud and abuse, or from taxes, but it's worth it, and it's the right thing to do.

As always, ask yourself why the for-profit health care industry and their G.O.P. toadies are against this approach, practiced by almost all industrialized nations. Could it be that they would rather have your dollars than have you receive the treatment and care necessary? As always with the G.O.P., it comes back to the money.

See also:

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G.O.P.-care: Political Interlude

I know it's unfair for me to pretend that it's only the G.O.P. who is bound to the Health Insurance and For-Profit Medicine Industries. I know there are several Democrats who are complicit in blocking health-care reform, too. But I'm a partisan Democrat, and I am interested both in getting real health-care reform passed and in putting the current crop of G.O.P. loudmouths on the defensive to which they very much belong.

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02 September 2009


G.O.P.-care III: Transfer of Wealth

What's the G.O.P. want for you regarding health care?

Since the G.O.P. is against proposed reforms and they refuse to provide any constructive suggestions for reform of their own, it's a safe conclusion that they're for the current system. That's likely because it puts money in their pockets and the pockets of those for whom they're pretty much the legislative arm. That would be those with lots and lots of money. Never forget: The G.O.P., regardless of the degree to which it uses well-meaning religious people as a base, exists in its current form to serve the interests of those with lots and lots of money. With them, it's always about the money.

They want to transfer wealth from those of you paying insurance premiums to those not paying premiums. And to those with lots and lots of money to start with. That's what the current health insurance system in the U.S.A. does: it transfers wealth from the insured to the uninsured and to those who own and run health-insurance operations. Excepting some small number of municipally- and county-owned hospitals where local taxpayers foot the bill, every time someone without health insurance goes to the emergency room for treatment, you and I who pay health insurance premiums—and/or our employers, depending on arrangments—pay for their care. That's a transfer of wealth from those who are insured to the uninsured, who are largely poor. And don't think the health insurers don't arrange things so that they still profit off of such events. Of course they do. You think they're giving health care away when they can take home beaucoup dollars from it? That's a transfer of wealth from those who are insured to the ownership and management of health-insurance organizations.

And with the cost of health care increasing constantly under the current system, more people lose their health insurance each month, meaning you and I, if we're lucky enough not to be them, spend more for our own insurance and have more of that go to support more of them.

Now I have nothing against poor people: I wish them the best in dealing with what life has dealt them. I begrudge nothing against the rich who have somehow accumulated a lot of wealth. Rich, poor, middle-class: we're all one American family. But I don't have to support a system that takes my hard-earned dollars and hands it off to either in a nearly unregulated manner where I don't know how much goes in either direction. The kinds of reforms being proposed by the President and the Democrats in Congress, by mandating care for the uninsured and subsidizing that care with taxpayer dollars will actually make that transfer transparent. And by using taxpayer dollars, the transfer will come not just from you and me, the working middle class, but from the rich also. And the proposed reforms will reduce the cost of health care through features—including the public option—that pressure insurers, hospitals, and doctors to adopt best practices that reduce costs.

It's not that the uninsured will become insured by magic: it's that the means by which that happens will be fairer, cheaper, and more transparent. In the longer run, those who become insured will have healthier lives, again reducing costs.

The G.O.P. is against this, because it will keep some fraction of your and my money in our own pockets instead of handing it to their patrons in the health-insurance business. Remember: With the G.O.P., it's always about the money.

See also:

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01 September 2009


G.O.P.-care II: Medical Payment Roulette

What's the G.O.P. want for you regarding health care?

Well, since they want to prevent reform from taking place, that means they're for the current system of payment roulette. You go to the doctor, the doctor recommends a test or a procedure. You go ahead with it, and then you find out several months after the fact that your insurance company won't pay. Doctors' offices are calling you, sending you bills, threatening collection action, all because the insurance companies have it rigged where you don't know how much you're going to have to pay out of pocket, sometimes for something as simple as a doctor's visit.

One of the main aspects of the reforms proposed by the President and the Democrats in Congress is you would know how much a doctor's visit, tests, and procedures would cost you out of pocket beforehand, not months after the fact.

The insurance companies and their G.O.P. toadies like it the way it is, because they often can trick you into paying for things you shouldn't have to, or they can make their rules so impossible to decipher that you—and sometimes your doctor—just can't tell how much your insurance covers before hand.

If you're against medical payment roulette, you ought to support the kinds of reforms proposed by the President and the Democrats in Congress.

See also: Republican End-of-Life Care.

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