Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Interesting Development on the Collective Bargaining Front

I think that it is without question that the current GOP is no friend to Labor.  I also think that suggesting that the fiscal problems since the crash of '08 is because of the benefits packages of state and local workers, as opposed to the open, and sadly legal, theft on Wall Street, is scurrilous.  But what do you do, if you are in the Labor Movement now, when a Democratic controlled legislative body overwhelmingly votes to restrict collective bargaining in a Navy blue state?  If we follow the current and coming events in Massachusetts, then I suppose we will get an answer.

UPDATE:  Let me add that I found this story over at Think Progress.  I just re-read the post, and I noticed (unless I missed it) that the story does not note that the Massachusetts House is controlled by Democrats.  Now, it's very possible that because it is Massachusetts, most people would know that it's a Navy blue state.  However, I think that it might be important to remind folks of who controls that legislative body.  It will become more interesting still, if other Democratic controlled legislatures will follow suit.  If that is the case, then the overall meme will have to be re-examined and modified.

For Us HP Movie Fans, the End is Nigh

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waste of Time and Energy

I prided myself in avoiding the whole discussion of birth certificates.  But with the news that President Obama, has requested that his long form birth certificate be released, I decided that I needed to say something.  And not that he will read it, but I will address my comment to the President. 

President Obama, for those people who are most dedicated to the idea of "birtherism," NOTHING that you do will ever be seen as legitimate.  Jesus could tell the world that you were born in Hawaii, and they would consider Jesus to have been paid off, or even worse, a liberal. 

I can understand why Obama would do this, really.  But like those folks who are now questioning how he got into Columbia and Harvard (because for that lot, no black person can actually be qualified to get in to a school that isn't an HBCU on his/her own merit), it doesn't matter what Obama does, says or is; he is to be reviled, detested and removed.

As much as I did not like the policies of President Bush, it never dawned on me to think that he wasn't an American, nor was I one of those folks who considered Bush illegitimate following the SCOTUS ruling in 2000.  Not since Chester Arthur's nomination to be James Garfield's running mate have we had this level of hullabaloo around a President's birth (and there, apparently, are real questions about whether Arthur was born in Vermont or Canada, which for the geographically challenged, shares a border with Vermont).

The vast majority of Americans know that President Obama was born in Hawaii, including the 30% of Republicans who have legitimate policy beefs with Obama.  Releasing that birth certificate was not necessary, and a waste of President Obama's time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ahhh, Some Good News Today

Haley Barbour isn't running for President.  It would have been interesting though.

On the Latest Leaks

I'll be honest:  I'd never really thought much about civil liberties until I'd read various commentaries regarding the passage of the Patriot Act during the Bush administration.  So far from being an expert on the subject, I decided to read commentaries here and there, if only to be able to get something of a grasp on the complaints I was reading about.  Ultimately, I started paying closer attention to Andrew Sullivan's growing concerns about encroachments on civil liberties, specifically related to Guantanamo, and it was through the Daily Dish that I learned about Salon's Glenn Greenwald.  Since I've been reading their various posts about the government's continuing encroachment on civil liberties, I've been troubled by what seems to be actions that just don't (and I am sorry for the lack of a better term) feel right, when I think about what I've been taught over the years about American rights and values.

I wrote that little prologue, because of the latest news regarding leaked classified information regarding Guantanamo.  I've long argued that I am fine with not knowing some of the things that my government does in my name, because I understand fully that we live in a dangerous world with real enemies.  Yet, I'd always told myself that my government works to remain within the boundaries of our laws, international treaties, and most importantly, our American values, even as they do things that might raise my eyebrows.  For me, the latest leaked information shows just how far off the rails we went during the Bush administration, yet the current administration seems not to be concerned with getting back on the rails.

I like the idea that we are morally superior to our rivals in the world.  I like that we could say with straight faces that we, as the United States, don't do certain things, things that less enlightened societies would tolerate (like torture).  Reading these stories and posts about this leaked information on Guantanamo (as well as the information the Bradley Manning allegedly leaked) is disappointing and dispiriting. 

As I read posts from Sullivan and Greenwald, I found myself nodding in agreement with their assessments of this news.  I also found myself checking out The Gaurdian's take on the Guantanamo story, and was surprised to find a full-throated comprehensive, multi-linked web page entitled the "Guantanamo Files."  It's more information than I've seen in one place on the subject.  I also read a piece in The New Yorker (recommended by Greenwald) that also was good.

Ultimately, I think that it is good to have someone writing about these issues.  It's good to have the information out there, independent, to a degree, from what our government's position happens to be.  I was taught that the role of the press was to serve as a check on government excesses.  Sadly, I don't think that the press is serving that function to the best of its ability, and too often, it is complicit in maintaining the government's (and the corporation's) position. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Old School Presidential Leadership (Would Love to See Some of That Again)

Director David O. Russell wrote an interesting post over at Huffington Post.  Russell brought attention to a speech President Franklin Roosevelt gave as the 1936 elections loomed.  There is a video and the text of the speech in the post.  I decided to read the speech, and I found myself inspired by Roosevelt's words.  I was also impressed by Roosevelt's accomplishments, as well as his willingness to take on his political enemies.  As Roosevelt put it, he welcomed their hatred.  Russell, I think, wanted to remind people of what political leadership and courage look like. 

Sadly, I have to say that I've not seen much of either political leadership or courage on the national level since I've been paying attention to politics.  Though I am sure there are those who would argue that examples exist, none really stand out.  I've heard mostly platitudes, bromides, gibberish and bullshit.

When I think of leadership, at least in the 20th century, I think of Presidents Roosevelt, Roosevelt and Eisenhower.  There were leadership moments from Wilson, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan (each of these presidencies were marred, for me, by various issues ranging from the introduction of segregation in the Civil Service to Iran-Contra). 

The 21st century has not proven promising.

Friday, April 22, 2011

2012 Budgets Galore

I thought it might be helpful for the people who read this blog to have access to the proposed 2012 budgets floating about out there.

White House 2012 budget proposal
House GOP 2012 budget proposal
House Progressive Caucus 2012 budget proposal

I've only poked around each of these proposals, and I've certainly heard highlights of each.  There is no question, for me, that the GOP proposal is the least appealing (for various and sundry reasons).  However, it's better to read something that one thinks one will disagree with, than simply accepting the word of others.  I know it sounds boring, but I will be reading portions of these budget proposals this weekend (naturally, I will be wondering how historic preservation fares).  I recommend that folks just poke around these budgets, for fun. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sen. Ensign's Resignation Seems a Bit Late

Whenever I think of Sen. Ensign or Louisiana Sen. Vitter, I marvel at how these "family values" types survive politically.  I suppose straight adultery (prostitute diddling for Vitter), coupled with shady payoffs, and possibly violating the lobbying law, are not things that get you to think "I should just resign now."  Now, Sen. Craig made the mistake of taking that "wide stance" in the men's room.  Maybe he could have survived politically, if he'd slipped into the ladies' room instead.  Regardless, I was glad to hear of Ensign's resignation.  Though, Sharon Angle might find her crazy self in the U.S. Senate after all.

On a Life Well Lived: Thoughts on the Death of Tim Hetherington

It was on Tuesday when I was reading an article in GQ (written by Howie Kahn) about the effort to demolish abandoned homes in Detroit.  The haunting images from that article were taken by Tim Hetherington.  I became familiar with Hetherington because of his collaboration with Sebastian Junger on the documentary "Restrepo."  It's a film I'd been planning to watch, though I never managed to find the time to do it.  So, when I saw Hetherington's picture in the May 2011 GQ, I was reminded that I needed to get my hands on that film.

Needless to say, I was shocked and saddened to learn that Hetherington died in a mortar attack in Misrata, Libya yesterday (along with another photojournalist, Chris Hondros).  And I don't really understand why hearing that news affected me.  Perhaps it's because that even in the face of real danger (Hetherington has been in many, many dangerous places to bring images to the rest of us), Hetherington was doing something that he loved, following his passion (GQ has a nice obituary).  I am not sure that I can say the same. 

To me, it seems that Hetherington lived life, and lived it hard (in all the good ways), as opposed to just going through the motions.  I find it exhilarating, when I am in the company of people who really live their lives and follow their passions.  But I cannot help but think about all that I am not doing, mostly out of fear of the unknown.  I doubt that Hetherington had many regrets, and I am sorry that he is no longer with us.  Maybe it's time to follow his example, and live life.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On Nikki Giovanni (for National Poetry Month)

I really cannot remember the first time I read something from Nikki Giovanni, though I assume it was in high school.  I do, however, remember the first time that Giovanni stood out for me:  African American Literature at Hampden-Sydney in my sophomore year.  I was the only black student in the class, and I remember feeling a very strong sense of pride as we read the various black writers.  I wondered if my classmates appreciated the literature they were reading (I wish I'd asked), as I appreciated the white American and English writers that I read and loved. 

Giovanni stood out for me because of her brash and unapologetic style, her use of language, and her love of being an American black (note the noun and the adjective).  I was inspired, following my class, to read more of Giovanni's poems.  The many historical references in some of her work really appealed to me, and they provided me with a window into the mind of a young black woman during a very tumultuous time (I thought of my mother going through similar things).  I had the pleasure of meeting Giovanni twice in my life, first at Sweet Briar College in '90, then at Hampden-Sydney in '91.

While I was in graduate school, Giovanni had wrote a book of essays, Racism 101.  That book helped me get through my Master's program.  I don't remember how many times I read Racism 101.  It was at that time that I decided that I would look for everything that Giovanni written, and try to buy what I could find, old and new.

Now I will admit that I don't agree with all of the things that Giovanni has written, and I may not agree with everything that she has said, but that doesn't diminish the power I feel when I read her words.  I return to a number of poems when I am feeling down, or when I want to laugh, or when I want to contemplate next moves.  I even love the fact that she wrote a poem with the title "Hampton, Virginia," my hometown.   I also love that Giovanni is ever changing, and living life to the fullest.  Those students at Virginia Tech are very lucky to have her as a professor.

There are too many Giovanni poems that I love to recommend only a handful.  I would suggest going to the library and checking out The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni:  1968-1998.  It is a wonderful entree into the world of Giovanni.  My copy is pretty worn out.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How Many of Ol' Girl's "Black Friends" Got That E-mail Message?

I've been in the uncomfortable situation of having to deal with odd comments regarding President Obama from at least one person (a gay conservative no less).  Let's just say that I didn't let it go, and that situation was quashed (but I haven't forgotten).  With that said, I simply cannot believe that Marilyn Davenport of the Orange County Republicans actually has a black friend whom she really considers her friend.  If she did, there is no way that she would have sent out the now infamous e-mail message suggesting that President Obama's parents are chimpanzees (I swear folks forget the man is half white).  I am going out on a limb in saying that I think that the three conservatives whom I consider to be my actual friends would never find something like what Davenport sent as funny.  And I do wonder if Davenport sent that e-mail to any of her "black" friends?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Can't Imagine Rick Santorum Being a Fan of Langston Hughes

Last night, I heard that the campaign slogan chosen by former Republican Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is a derivative from an old Langston Hughes poem, "Let America Be America Again."  According to a brief bit in Politico, a student asked Santorum if he was familiar with where the phrasing "Fighting to Make America America Again" came from.  What was interesting to me was Santorum's reactio
n; it almost read like sputtering.  That sputtering from Santorum could possibly be because Santorum was told that Hughes was both Black and gay and union supporting (how could his campaign slogan possibly be related to someone like that?).  We can't have that.  I wonder if Santorum even knew the name Langston Hughes?

UPDATE 4.16.11:  In the comments section, Tara asked if there was any video for this.  I looked, and I found.  He didn't sputter as much as I thought, but he did look uncomfortable.  I am also surprised that he said he's read some Hughes.  Seriously, I am surprised (maybe he got exposed by a lit professor in undergrad).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And People Wondered Why I Cringed At Larry Summers...

...being named to any post in the Obama administration.  Summers and Geithner, in my opinion, have been doing all that they can to defend the indefensible:  Wall Street.  Of course, there have been no real investigations with prosecutions in mind.  Of course, nothing will likely change in terms of how things are run on Wall Street.  And few, seem to care.  The real class warfare has never been televised, and it is bipartisan, and has been since 1981.

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

Last night, I listened to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell offer an analysis of President Obama's speech yesterday.  Looking at the clip below, I started to laugh (again) when O'Donnell mentioned that Obama said something that automatically made him lose half of the country, in terms of his argument.  I really did laugh out loud.  It's an interesting analysis.

Did Someone Get Played?

In all honesty, I wasn't sure if I should laugh or just shake my head over the revelation that all of the drama that we went through last week over the potential government shutdown was really over $350 million dollars (for this fiscal year) and funding Planned Parenthood.  I knew that there was no way that one could take out $38 billion between now and September 30th, so I guessed that some of those numbers had to be for future costs and unfilled posts.  However, how many people, who aren't familiar with the strangeness of the federal budget and its numbers, even considered that?  I am guessing that most Tea Party people went to bed last Friday still mad that it wasn't a $100 billion immediate cut, but feeling clear about the $38 billion. 

Welcome to the ways of Washington, and those ways have never been one sided.  Can't wait to hear John Boehner's explanation to his caucus.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Not to Teach American Slavery

What on earth was this teacher thinking by hosting a mock "slave auction" and using only the black kids for the slaves?  I am more than confident that there are a wide variety of ways to explain this important historical subject.

A Civics Reminder About Washington, DC

No matter what one thinks are the actual motivations of the Mayor of Washington, DC and several member of the City Council, their arrests yesterday, and the reason that there was a protest following the agreement that prevented a federal government shutdown, will bring back into focus the unique position the District of Columbia is in vis-a-vis the United States Congress.  It's a civics lesson that needs to be explained across the nation, and it's a lesson that will show just how manipulated the residents of the District can be at the hands of some meddlesome members of Congress (as dcist noted in a post about a comment from a GOP House member).

That unique position was often on my mind, when I was a resident of Washington (I will be back).  If I understand the situation correctly, DC is now not allowed to use local (not federal) tax dollars to fund abortions for poor District women who seek them.  Again, we are talking about DC tax dollars for a program that apparently exists only for District residents.  Personally, I think that this was an easy slap at DC for approving marriage equality in the city (though there is still likely a contingent in Congress who would like to try to tackle that too, maybe for the debt ceiling fight or the '12 budget fight).

Simply put, there should be more autonomy for Washington, DC, the non-federal city, particularly with local tax money.  Congress should not have authority over DC tax dollars, and DC programs, that are for DC residents.  If we are talking about what DC does with federal dollars, then there is no question that the Congress has a say.  Just as I don't expect Congress to dictate what happens to Virginia tax revenues and programs, I don't think that Congress should dictate what happens to DC taxes and programs. 

And people need to understand that that is precisely what happens to the city of Washington all too often.

Monday, April 11, 2011

And So it Began...

...150 year ago today, the beginning of the American Civil War.  This is perhaps the seminal event (well, series of events until April 9, 1865) in American history.  Our country changed fundamentally by its conclusion, and I am personally glad of the outcome (though I know I've shared air with people who have the opposite sentiment).  Though it is not my favorite period in American history (I'll see you in 2015 for the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Reconstruction), I certainly embrace its significance.  I am also glad that for the next four years American history will move occasionally to the forefront of our discussions.

I want to recommend strongly to all of those who read this blog that you visit several Civil War era historic sites and historic battlefields during this 150th anniversary period.  So many of those sites will provide you with excellent information and history related to their individual sites and battlegrounds.  I am lucky to have Fort Monroe less than three miles away from me.  And here is a hint.  If you spend money going to these historic sites (paying admission fees, staying in hotels, traveling), you are helping local economies grow, and we all know folks need more work out there.  What a great way to learn something substantive and help local American communities at the same time.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On Libya V

I hate to sound skeptical, but should we really believe that the African Union has brokered a legitimate deal that will result in something substantive, and in our interests?

UPDATE 4.11.11:  Gee, I couldn't see this coming at all (sigh).  And I can understand why, since in the "brokered" deal, Gaddafi remains in power.

Kristoff Hits a Large Number of Nails on the Head

I just finished reading Nicholas Kristoff's column in the NY Times today, and I found myself shaking my head in agreement on many of his points.  I certainly agree that this whole ridiculous episode could have been averted altogether if the Congress had pushed to complete the budget last year.  I lay blame on last year's Congress for this, both the fearful and feckless Democrats, and the utterly nihilistic Republicans (who have managed to bully Democrats since the rise of Reagan, and have only perfected their bullying tactics in the subsequent decades). 

I am proud to say that I belong to neither party, and if we as Americans ever get any common sense (an extremely tall order, I know), we would develop competing political parties.  It isn't as though we haven't had multiple parties in our past.  We've just become fearful, lazy and uninterested (and do not believe the bullshit line that the Tea Party is a "party"; it is a faction of the most rabid of conservatives within the Republican Party, with no desire to form an independent party whatsoever).  We have been given a front row seat to see precisely why Americans (particularly those actually paying attention) DESPISE the Congress. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spare Us Your Sexual Insecurities

I was on Towleroad, and I saw a post about two basketball players from the Toronto Raptors who, at the end of the game, ended up hand in hand as they went back to the locker room.  Here is the clip from YouTube:

Apparently, that gesture, which was essentially a way to get the one team player to get moving, sparked a barrage of nasty anti-gay commentary.


Are we, as men, so insecure that we can't touch one another without some suggestion of homosexuality?  Does the contact, if you aren't gay, or if it's a mixed gay/straight couple of guys, always have to be some form of violent contact (a punch, a jab, etc.)?  I am really glad that my straight guy friends are secure enough in their sexuality (and in who they are) that I can give them hugs when we greet one another.  I've certainly grabbed the hand of some of my straight friends to drag them away from something (essentially what happened here).  The hand holding wasn't long lasting, but the situation, whatever it was, was averted, and we went on our merry way.

The bottom line seems to be that most men need to deal with their own sexual insecurities in private and spare the rest of us.  There is nothing wrong with men, particularly friends, showing affection for one another.  Only the stupid and the insecure would take "affection" to mean something sexual and, dare I say it, "gay."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Strangely Convenient

I assume this will be an interesting story in Wisconsin, as events unfold.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Budgetary Thoughts

Following the announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget proposal, I knew that I would write about it, but I wasn't sure what angle (or angles) I wanted to approach the issue.  As I considered approaches, I realized that I likely would have to write more than one post, and I wanted to be more deliberative than I would have been, if I'd written something yesterday.

I think it's clear that Republicans are gunning for the most offensive (to them) aspects of President Lyndon Johnson's Great SocietyMedicare and Medicaid are both components of the Great Society, having been established in 1965-66.  And though it's not mentioned in Ryan's budget proposal (as far as I know), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is another creation of the Great Society.  I did not know that the same person, John Gardner, who ushered in the implementation of Medicaid and Medicare also ushered in the implementation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1967.  Of course we know what many conservatives think of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  So, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, particularly following the madness related to the NPR scandal, that there is yet again a push to deny federal funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  It's these three components of Johnson's Great Society that are the big gets for the GOP.  Though, I've never quite been sure of what the demise of these programs would mean for them.

In a way, I can only speculate on the loathing of these three programs by conservatives.  Perhaps it's a sense of derision that the government should help people in need?  I know that conservatives I know often talk about people making "poor choices," and that those who make "poor choices" should suffer the consequences.  This makes Ryan's suggestion of a voucher system for the elderly an interesting one.  There is always the probability that people will choose private insurance that will not be able to meet their needs, most likely because of costs.  I suppose if you follow the "poor choices" argument, then it was a poor choice not to (say) go to college and law school (and finish) in order to hedge your bets on the possibility of earning a sufficient income to provide cover as you age.

Interestingly, I think that Medicaid is more reviled than Medicare.  Medicaid helps poor people, and I it is clear that conservatives and Republicans really don't care what happens to the poor (well, they do like those poor people who vote for them).  I never believed the line that many conservatives give about their policies actually helping the poor.  Trickle down economics did not work.  Chimera is a fitting descriptor for that economic theory.  Governmental guarantees of some form of service related to health care, through Medicare and Medicaid, may be flawed, but those guarantees have helped the people in those programs.  It seems that from the Republican and conservative perspectives the offense is that a private company didn't make money, that people are seemingly getting over on someone, and that governmental help provides a benefit to the undeserving.  Clearly, programs like that must be dismantled.  Apparently, they hurt America.

Any sane person knows that many government programs need to be overhauled.  I would love to see programs related to historic preservation, historic sites and national parks re-tooled to ensure the most bang for the taxpayers' bucks.  We all should want greater efficiency in government; it does indeed save money.  But, I do not think that the virtual abolition of the American health care safety net is the best move.  I also don't think that we need to pretend that Ryan's plans related to Medicare and Medicaid are not anything short of dismantling the two programs.  As Ryan stated, his effort here "isn't a budget.  This is a cause."  He should repeat that in every interview, and then be made to explain his point in explicit terms.

I might have to break out some of my old history books and re-examine the Great Society and its various programs.  I also need to re-examine the programs of the New Deal, because I know that many conservatives and Republicans would love to get rid of Social Security as well.  A conservative friend of mine didn't appreciate my position that conservatives and Republicans really just want a dismantling of the governmental safety nets that were put together in the middle of last century, but I have seen nothing that suggests that my position is wrong.  I think it's fair to say that their philosophy holds, now, that individuals need to be responsible for their money, and should win or lose in the marketplace on their own.  I simply don't share that view.  I think that we should have a safety net.  I think that we should, as a civilized society (though I sometimes wonder if we are anymore), should offer help to the least among us.  Not everyone who finds him/herself in a tough circumstance made "poor choices."  Sometimes things happen, and we have been a society, particularly since the middle of the last century, that offers help through those tough times through our government.  

I am sure that aspects of Ryan's budget proposals will actually come to pass.  That's just where we are as a nation now.  I suppose this will be a way for some to get their country back.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Version" is My Favorite Word in a Bible's Title

I just finished reading a great column by Christopher Hitchens over at Vanity Fair.  The focus is on the process of putting together, as well as the subsequent impact of publishing, the King James version (KJV) of the Bible.  I highly recommend reading the column, particularly for Hitchens' reminders of how some things were included, while others were exclude, and some translations were legitimate, and other a little less so. 

I have found that "version" has become something of a talisman for me, when I hear Christianists talk about the "inerrant Word of God."  I generally cannot help but ask which "version" of the Bible that Christianist was using to make that statement.  It's also a reminder, and Hitchens helped me to remember this, that the KJV is a fascinating work of literature, a mixture of history, fiction and allegory.  I've read parts of that version over the years, but I've never really committed to going through the whole thing (maybe one day).  And even I can admit that it's jarring to read modern translations that many people read today.  There is in fact a majesty to the KJV, that modern translations strip from the text (Hitchens offers great examples in his columns).

Though I am not an atheist, I do appreciate the atheist's knowledge of the various religions.  I also find fascinating conversation in those religious folks who actually have studied world religions.  I have little to no patience for a fundamentalist of any sect.  Sadly, most of them would likely miss the very point of the column.

Navigating the World of the Uninsured: Questions and Answers

In so many ways, I feel like I am in the calm before that storm.  I've been to the emergency room, where I received good care and prescriptions (Prednisone, Flexeril, and Vicodin).  The medications certainly helped to mitigate my pain, though I spent essentially a week laying on my right side (it was not fun).  During that week, walking any real distance was a very painful chore, and I tried my best not to, unless it was absolutely necessary.  Sleeping was an altogether different hurdle.  Let's just say that I did not get very much sleep.

During that first week, I had a couple of things that I needed to do, based on the emergency room doctor's recommendation.  I scheduled an appointment with a neurosurgeon's office, as well as scheduled an appointment with a community health center.  Making the appointment with the neurosurgeon was fine; however, when the receptionist asked me for the name of my insurance, it felt strange and a little foreboding to hear myself say that I didn't have insurance.  And yes, there was a subtle change in tone on the other end of the phone; it wasn't a negative change, but a change nonetheless.  It was enough to prompt me to say that I would be paying for the visit myself, as though that restored some element of pride that I'd never realized I has within me over health insurance.  And I was mad with myself for saying it, just as I'd finished the statement. 

The only thing that worried me about the call to the community health center was that it took two attempts to get someone to answer the phone so that I could set up my appointment.  I was hoping it was not a precursor to my pending experience.  Once I had someone on the line, things went smoothly, though I was surprised by the actual date of my appointment; let's just say that I have another week and a half before I am seen (I don't ever recall waiting that long to be seen when I set an appointment with my past doctors).

In the midst of all of this activity, I have not seen my bill from the emergency room trip.  When I told the person (the one with that giant machine to take your insurance and contact information, though we know which one is really more important in that moment) who comes into the holding area before a doctor, but after a nurse, sees you, that I didn't have insurance, she gave me a pamphlet and an application for charity assistance.  I was actually surprised that the hospital offered anything of the kind, but I will not be able to apply until after I receive the bill.

It was last Monday that I had my appointment with the neurosurgeon's office.  There was lots of paperwork to be filled out, which I certainly expected.  Sitting was still a bit of an issue, and standing was not the remedy, so I suffered a bit (and prayed that the additional dose of medication that I took, which was allowed, would kick in quickly).  I did find out that patients who were paying for their visit were given two payment options.  If you have a financial hardship, and want to pay for the visit in full, then the amount is cut in half.  If you have a financial hardship, and want to pay for the visit in installments, then the full amount is charged.  Actually, I found that to be fair, though I had no real idea of what I would be doing once I went through that door. 

I did not actually see the neurosurgeon.  However, I did work with his nurse practitioner.  Of course the world now knows that I am dealing with the symptom of sciatica.  The question of what is causing the sciatica remained the mystery.  Unfortunately, the way to resolve this mystery is through an MRI (even though I wanted to try the X-Ray, because it would have been $60, as opposed to the $2-$3,000 MRI).  The MRI was recommended, because it was determined that I have an unexplained weakness in my left leg, as well as a mysterious spasm in my left foot.  What wasn't a mystery to the nurse practitioner was the likelihood of me having to have surgery for my back.  With the exception of the weakness and the spasm, my symptoms led her to believe that I may have a herniated disc.

Since that visit, I've been trying to figure out paying for this MRI; I can't wrap my mind around the idea of paying for surgery, yet.  I've also begun researching Medicaid to see if it is actually an option for me here in Virginia.  I know that states have varying requirements when it comes to Medicaid, and there is a possibility that I may not qualify here in Virginia (actually, that wouldn't surprise me somehow).  Regardless, I have been sufficiently spooked about being my own boss in the midst of a painful recession.  I am still seeking consulting clients, and trying to cultivate (through selective volunteering) more solid client leads.  But, for the autonomy and freedom that come with going it all alone, it's a bitch when an emergency comes along, and one isn't fully prepared financially.  It's a lesson I know many self-employed people go through, with varying degrees of success. 

So, the adventure continues.

Friday, April 1, 2011

If It's True, then Throw that Book

I just need folks to learn how to keep some things to themselves.  There is no reason, ever, to threaten anyone with death, if he/she is not actually attempting to kill you, and you need to save yourself.  NO REASON!