Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday Themes -- Sad and Mad Version

Steve Jobs was 56 years old. That's 2 years older than I am. He accomplished more in his short life than any 10 of us put together. He did it with passion and joy. We should all be so lucky as to find the work, family and friends that give us such a strong love for life.

Derrick Bell passed yesterday, too. You probably don't know about him, but you should. A lifetime ago, I heard him give a speech in which he said all white people are racist. I was determined to prove him wrong, so I wrote him. He wrote me back, and there started a brief but intensely meaningful correspondence. He taught me my own heart. The fear I felt when a group of African-American men approached me on a dark street. The assumptions we make about people. He challenged me to confront my silent bias and work it through. I am a far better person for having known him. I am so incredibly sad about his passing.

Once I stopped crying over Derrick's death, I started reading the news and got increasingly angry. I'm not in the mood to play nice today, so here's what I really think:

Senate Dems have proposed a 5% surtax on the super-wealthy. That would pay for President Obama's jobs bill. A lovely GOPer named Denny Rehberg says we should cut two provisions of health reform instead -- subsidies that will allow people to afford insurance, and the planned expansion of Medicaid. Sure -- take away anything that will help poor people get health care. And then blame the Dems for class warfare? Are you nuts?

Indeed, the Administration has scaled back funding for Community Health Center expansions -- another strike for the lower and middle class forced by arbitrary budget cutting.

If the individual mandate is scrapped by the Supreme Court, will we still have health reform? If you have a pre-existing condition, you better hope so, because if health reform goes down, so does coverage for pre-existing conditions that will begin in 2014. And that will kill us. Literally.

Meanwhile, anti-reform Congressmen brought a petition with 1.6 million signatures supporting health reform repeal to the President yesterday, accusing him of lying about the fact that health reform will save jobs. If you look a the jobs numbers, you'll see that one of the only sectors where jobs have steadily grown is health care. But why bother with those pesky details when your goal is to find excuses to call the President of the United States a liar?

And 78 Dem members of Congress have asked the supercommittee to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. About time. But since part of the GOP's job is to protect Pharma, there's probably little chance of success here.

The President has embraced the offensive "Obamacare" label saying it's correct, Obama Cares. I'm not as magnanimous as he is. I still think it's a horrible offense.

One of the largest hospitals in California is teaming up with hundreds of doctors to create a healthcare delivery system aimed at eliminating inefficiencies. Only through these types of innovations will we figure out how to solve the mess we're in.

Should a candidate's weight be part of the discussion? Those of us who struggle with obesity know that people assume we are lazy, disorganized. People make judgments about us all the time. It's going to come up if someone who is overweight runs for President. It should stop. Now.

Public health department budgets are being slashed, crippling them in their efforts to keep us safe and healthy.

A body suit may enable the paralyzed to walk. Wouldn't that be something?

Millions of people have to travel long distances to get to a trauma center, when any delay can make the difference between life and death.

Scientists have found a new, better way to harvest stem cells. It involves cloning.

Another hospital -- this time Stanford -- has had a security breach, posting private information about patients. If we're going to go to electronic medical records, providers have to get better at protecting it.

It surprised researchers to find that surgery is common in the last year, month, even week of life. People with a love for life cling to it while others are ready to let go. No surprise to me.

Sloan-Kettering wants to set up another location in Westchester, NY, but local hospitals object.

Derrick Bell was right. White people tacitly accept the privileges of being white all day every day without ever thinking of how their life would be different if they didn't have those privileges. Think about that. Reflect. Be honest with yourself.

And then tell me -- do you think people would EVER talk about the President of the United States the way they talk about President Obama if he were white? Really? Do you remember the Senate Minority Leader ever announcing after an election that his number one priority was to make sure the President only had one term? Has Congress ever before opposed increasing the debt limit? And then there are the birthers -- could that happen to a white President? Don't answer me; reflect on what's in your heart and learn to live with it. Jennifer

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