Thursday, June 28, 2012

Affordable Care Act

Today the SCOTUS ruled that Obamacare is constitutional.  I am not a lawyer and don't claim to understand whether or not it is a good ruling.  My gut says "yes," but that is an opinion without any real basis so take it with that degree of impact.

Whether or not the law is constitutional has nothing to do with whether or not it is a good law and there are those on the right and the left who are arguing that it is not a good law.  Those on the right say that the law interferes with the movement of the free market and impacts the freedom of individuals.  Those on the left argue that health insurance is too important to be subject to the whims of the free market and should never be a for-profit business and that this law will make the movement towards establishing a non-profit, single payer system more difficult to accomplish. 

I hoped for at least the option of a single payer system all along and in the best of all worlds, that is what Obamacare would have been.  I'm not sure how this law will impact that possibility.  There are those who argue that the constraints on the private insurance companies included in this law will drive them out of the health insurance business and push us towards single payer.  Others argue that this law just entrenches the for profit health insurance companies which will keep us from moving towards single payer.  Time will tell.

The Republicans will vote to repeal this law although, it isn't clear that they would do this if they really had the power to make it happen.  Being seen as responsible for removing the popular provisions of this law is not likely something they really would want and keeping the popular provisions without the individual mandate is not something the insurance companies are likely to be happy about...

Interesting times.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

tired of politics

Yep... I'm tired of politics.

First the reasons why I keep making political tweets, facebook entries, and blog posts...

I think politics are important.  Our politics do shape the way we live together as a nation and the way we interact with the rest of the world.  That has profound implications for me as a person of faith.  If I really claim to follow Jesus, then my faith must express itself in political ways.

I think the next election is particularly important as there may be a member or two of the Supreme Court who are replaced and the make up of the court has a huge impact on the direction of the country.  Another far right justice could really change things.  (I know that Supreme Court justices have tended to surprise people in the past as they have taken their roles very seriously but there have been some recent appointments that seem to not get it and are simply partisan hacks.)   On top of that we are facing some significant issues that require choices to be made based on values and the platforms of the two primary parties do represent different value sets.

Obama has not thrilled me but I don't know that anyone could have done a better job given the current political climate.  And I am convinced that much of the reaction against Obama is racist in nature.  Yes, I know that previous presidents have also been the brunt of jokes, animosity, and disrespect, but it feels worse at this point and the only reason I can see is his race.  That must be resisted.

And the reasons that I am tired...

The attacks on Obama really do seem over the top and at times have an overt racial side to them.

I don't sense that either party, but especially the Republicans, have a commitment to making things better so much as they have a commitment to winning... or worse than that, for the Republicans, a commitment to ensuring that the Dems lose.  Indeed, Mitch McConnell has said as much.

Yes politicians lie... and politicians engage in hyperbole... and politicians make promises that they either can't keep or flat out don't intend to keep...  but again it seems worse to me as, and again I see it more from the Republicans, they flat out lie as a way of getting power. 

I am disenchanted by the role big money can play and has already played since Citizens United.  (see the Wisconsin recall as a clear example of that).

And finally, I am saddened by the degree to which partisan politics have fragmented our nation.  I happen to think that a diversity of viewpoints and even disagreements are productive when we have a common commitment to the common good and work/struggle/wrestle together to that end.  More and more it feels that the differences do not help us to find creative solutions or even compromises,  instead they drive us apart.

So, I'm trying to write/blog/tweet/post less about politics... we'll see how that goes.

Good Grammar, Proper Word Choice

I'm usually pretty good with my English.  My grammar is usually spot on... and I'm generally careful with getting the right word in the right place.   It is, after all, a significant part of my job.  Sometimes though, I do fall down... and I have a good friend who enjoys finding such gaffes and sent me a note the other day with a few examples from previous blog entries.  Thanks Tom ;-)

In one, I quoted the phrase from the United Church of Christ, "Don't place a period where God places a comma,"  except I misspelled comma - I wrote "Don't place a period where God places a coma."  And I did it more than once so it wasn't a simple typo.   Tom enjoyed wondering what it looked like when God put people into a prolonged unconscious state.  In another blog I said something like "illicit a response," but of course meant, "elicit a response" although an illicit response might have been entertaining.

So I've been thinking about the wrong words/poor grammar issues that make me cringe... here are a few...

Irregardless - no such word.  It is a conflation of regardless and irrespective.

There, Their, They're.  Three very different words even though they all sound the same.  Use the right one in the right place.  There = a place.  Their =  a possessive, belonging to them.  They're = a contraction of "they are."  Every time I see the wrong one in the wrong place, I can hear my 8th grade English teacher exploding.

The wrong prepositions... don't you just hate it when people confuse the usages of him/he, her/she, me/I ?

What grammar/word choices issues get under your craw?  Can you list some more?  Or write a sentence using a bunch of the ones that make you cringe?

Saturday, June 02, 2012

stereotypes & smiles

Stereotypes... they're everywhere.  Sometimes they're helpful, usually they have at least a little basis in fact or history, occasionally they're a bit funny.

Last night we had supper in a little Italian restaurant and the wait staff were wearing t-shirts with the following text on the back...

Heaven is where
The police are British
The cooks are Italians
The lovers are French
The mechanics are Germans
and it is all organized by the Swiss

Hell is where
The cooks are British
The mechanics are French
The lovers are Swiss
The police are Germans
and it is all organized by the Italians.

I have to say is made me smile even though we ate some amazing meals in England and I'm sure each of the other stereotypes clearly fall down in many individual cases... but as general observation, it may ring true... and I did laugh as I ate my chicken parm and drank a bottle of Tuscan wine.