Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care and My Mom

Health Care Reform passed the House last night. It was historic and, like many, I watched all of it. It has been something that was talked about, and needed, for so long. It isn't perfect, but it is a good start.

I won't get into the incredible lack of maturity of the people who opposed it who just kept chanting the same lies. I won't get into the protests that turned so ugly. Frankly, it can be cited everywhere - with pictures, with ridiculous speeches, with spitting on people, with yelling out homophobic and racial slurs. It sounded like something out the mouths of junior high school bullies.

There are some good things that are immediate, two of which are that you can no longer be kicked off of your insurance because of
pre-existing conditions, and, for Medicare D prescription coverage, there is no longer that ominous "donut hole" that was hit halfway through the year, making coverage for the rest of the year worthless.

There is much more to say, but my thoughts are elsewhere tonight. My thoughts are with my mother. In her early eighties and dealing with constant back pain for way too long, she went into surgery this morning. A surgery on an already frail lady - but one with a strong spirit and sweet personality that won over the entire hospital staff. A surgery that was originally scheduled for three hours, but went for almost six. A surgery where they discovered that much of her spine had deteriorated. A surgery that was originally scheduled for two weeks ago when I had planned on being there.

I'm glad my sister is with her, being a fantastic nurse helps a lot. I'm glad she is there with my father too, married to my mother for 60 years. But, I'm not happy that I am 2,000 miles away. After my sister called me tonight to tell me my mother was in ICU, was bloated, pale, had lost a lot of blood, had a leakage of spinal fluid, had a breathing tube, and was to remain completely still for 36 hours - I said a prayer, took a walk, and tried to keep busy. But, I knew I had to write about it.

This morning when I got up, I put on a small silver bangle bracelet she had given to me. It is one she wore for years. I wore it all day to remember what was happening...I am not going to take it off until she is better. I talked to my dad, I talked to my brother (also a long way away), and I talked to my sister. I feel better that at least this time my mother is at Duke and is under the best of care.

So, yes, I am happy Health Care Reform has passed the House. And I'm happy change of such significance has occurred. But, right now my thoughts are with my mom and my dad and how I wish I was there. And I know she will get better and I hope to get down there in the next couple of brother helped them move, my sister is helping with the surgery, and then it will be my turn to help with the rest. My siblings are not only fantastic people, but we make a great team and realize we have great parents.

So, as the changes start to happen, and my mom gets better, maybe she too will see the significance of the bill passing. It will be a long recovery, but she will recover. And since she was one who always hit the infamous donut hole way too early in the year, maybe that is the one immediate thing she will see go away...along with the pain she put up with for way too long.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Free Speech or Hate Speech?

America is known for its free speech. But, is it really still free speech when it turns to hateful speech and it is hurtful and devastatingly cruel?

I am consistently appalled at some of the behavior of some supposed Christian organizations. I am a Christian, but I have friends of all different beliefs, backgrounds, and lifestyles. We respect and appreciate each other. I make mistakes - a lot. I do not have all the answers and do not pretend to. I am amazed at some of the judgment, hatred, and downright cruelty thrown at people by so-called Christians. Everyone deserves love and respect.

The Westboro Baptist Church is one of these organizations. According to Wikipdia:

The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an Independent Baptist church and hate group known for its hatred of gays.

The WBC is not affiliated with any known Baptist conventions or associations. The church describes itself as following Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles, though mainstream Primitive Baptists reject the WBC.

The group is best known for its protest activities, which include picketing funerals and stomping on the American flag.
So, they protest at funerals of fallen soldiers with disgusting signs. Where is the compassion, the love, the just plain decency in this mess? If they want it from the Bible, try 1 John 4:8: "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

For the record, the Bible is full of verses on love. None of them say it is okay to go out and protest a fallen soldier's funeral while his family is grieving terribly. Also in the Bible: Proverbs 10:12 says: "Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs."

Or how about this for a fallen soldier: John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

According to Yahoo News, the Supreme Court has noticed the latest protest:
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is getting involved in the legal fight over the anti-gay protesters who show up at military funerals with inflammatory messages like "Thank God for dead soldiers."
So, in the name of love, in the name of compassion, in the name of decency - enough! It is my hope that the Supreme Court will rule that these people have taken free speech too far, and turned it into hateful, cruel speech. There is no God or love in any part of this equation.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Boo to Jay

I had written a short post about Jay Leno's ridiculous show with Sarah Palin doing stand-up, but it was written so well in another blog, Strong: Progressive, that I just had to quote that:
Sarah Palin debuts in her new career as a (deliberate) stand-up comedian....on the Tonight Show??

The former Republican vice presidential nominee turned into a stand-up comic on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" Tuesday, dropping one-liners about the White House, Congress and Fey -- the "Saturday Night Live" star known for her impression of the former Alaska governor.
But before Palin hit the stage alone, she sat down with Leno and talked about her role at Fox News and about the Tea Party movement.
Leno asked Palin what she thinks about joining the media by becoming a Fox News analyst. Palin told Leno that she's there to build trust in the media. "I think that the mainstream media is quite broken and I think that there needs to be the fairness, the balance in there. That's why I joined Fox." Leno laughed.
For all the comics who've had to work sleazy dives across the country while getting themselves established, had to simultaneously work two or three day jobs while pursuing their dream of stardom, gotten the 1 AM slot at the comedy club and had to be happy that they got any stage time at all, and who've spent years learning their craft, this has to be an outrage. Her first gig is the Tonight Show?! Why is it that Palin once again gets a opportunity for which she's unqualified, untrained, inexperienced, and in the pursuit of which can only spew out snarky remarks?

Agreed. So, what is she exactly? A vice presidential candidate that got way to close to the White House, a governor who quit two years in, a writer who doesn't write her own books, or now a stand-up comic who thinks she's funny? Let's just face it, for someone who hates the mainstream media so much, she sure is doing her best to become a part of it. I've said from the beginning, she will end up with some reality show or talk show - she just wants to be famous.

Boo to all of this. Boo to Jay Leno. Boo for not stepping aside from his position after having it for years - after dangling the carrot in front of Conan O'Brien and then snatching it away when he failed in prime time. But, most of all, boo for this latest stunt. Quit adding to this woman's ego and wallet, quit giving her a forum - and boo to the people who brought her out of Alaska in the first place. At least as a viewer, we do have the control to keep the remote away from whatever channel she lands on. In the case of Fox, most intelligent beings don't watch that anyway.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just a Bit Severe

Having been on the other side of adultery many years ago, I would never say it's okay. If you don't want to be with your spouse anymore, have the decency to say so and move on. Doing it behind a partner's back is never cool.

Here in America - and in other free nations - there is little punishment for this. It causes a great deal of hurt and a betrayal that is hard to get over. What is harder to get over, though, is the double standard in the not-so-free nations, especially the treating of women like they are slaves or property.

I've said often that I'm fortunate that I was born in America. There is still sexism, there always will be. But, in some areas, it is beyond that. You hear of this type of thing way too often. According to CNN World:
For the first time, Malaysian authorities have caned three Muslim women under Islamic law for acts of adultery, the Malaysian national news agency Bernama said.

Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein announced the canings Wednesday, saying the penalty was carried out February 9 at a womens' prison near Kuala Lumpur.

The canings -- a punishment that persists across Malaysian society since the British colonial era of the 19th century -- have been denounced by one Amnesty International official, who says "caning is tantamount to torture."

But Hishamuddin said the punishment was carried out "to educate and make the offenders realize their mistakes and to return to the right path."

"It is hoped that the issue will not be wrongly interpreted to the extent of tarnishing the sanctity of Islam," he was quoted as saying. He also said the punishment did not cause any injury and that the women were remorseful and repented, Bernama reported.

The women were struck with a rattan cane. One woman was released Sunday after spending a month in prison, another will be released in the next few days, and the third will be released in June.

Malaysia, which considers itself a moderate Muslim country, has a dual-track justice system, in which Islamic courts operate alongside civil ones. Muslims make up about 60 percent of the country's population of 28 million.

Last year, a woman was sentenced to caning under Islamic law for drinking alcohol in public -- beer at a hotel bar -- and that case caused an uproar in the country. Malaysia forbids alcohol consumption by Muslims, even those who are visiting the country.

The caning sentence of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno has been postponed while the issue is under review, and she said that if she were to be caned, she wanted the flogging to occur in public.

"Let's be transparent about it," said Kartika, a mother and part-time model. An Islamic court also fined her $1,400 for the act. She has pleaded guilty and paid the fine.

No, adultery is not okay. But the severity of the punishment is a bit much. Especially when you consider that men are applauded for the same act and justified for the cruel punishment when their "property" does something they don't like. The punishment is way too severe - and the double standard is way too common in too many places in the world.