Thursday, June 28, 2012

Affordable Healthcare Act Upheld

I, like many Americans, am breathing a sigh of relief this morning with the news that the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the Affordable Healthcare Act and the individual mandate provision therein.

The ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius was handed down at 10 a.m. (EST) and will dominate the news cycle for weeks to come. You can read the entire 193-page opinion in pdf format here.

There is so much to be said about the final split, the courage of Chief Justice John Roberts and the individual arguments made, but for me and millions of Americans, this is personal.

For the past two years, my only hope of acquiring health insurance has hinged on the constitutionality of President Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act. My entire adult life I have been either underinsured or  uninsured. When I wrote my support for a public option, I was underinsured. Today I am uninsured and I have held my breath since the AHA was passed. Now I can look forward to 2014 with the absolute certainty that a constitutional law will allow myself and millions of Americans to access healthcare despite our pre-existing conditions.

Is this good for President Obama and his campaign? Yes. Does that matter to me this morning? The politics aren't nearly as important to me as the personal consequences of the Court's decision. I care much more about policy than politics today.

Those of us in the frightening boat without health insurance and one diagnosis away from complete financial collapse dared to hope. We remain in that boat, awaiting 2014. But today, thanks to John Roberts, there is hope and help on the way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Those Dangerous Dreads

Many laughs have come at the expense of Manny Ramirez. And I don't mean the typical 'Manny being Manny' nonsense that he was once famous for on the field. Manny's off the field decisions have come to overshadow whatever skill he once exhibited on the field.

Take for instance what Keith Olbermann once said about that positive drug test that got Manny suspended and resulted in him retiring from the game only to return in the A's organization: "Drug for which Manny Ramirez tested positive, prompting his retirement, is either formaldehyde, botox, or the preservative in cookie dough." There were plenty of jokes like this because Manny, like big leaguer Marlon Byrd this week, tested positive for an estrogen-based drug that is designed to mask the side effects of steroids.

Plenty of other off the field stories about Manny have surfaced over the years including a domestic violence charge after he reportedly slapped his wife. With all of this, it's hard to take Manny seriously. That said, there's a whole new image to add to Manny Ramirez, whether he deserves it or not. Enter this fan (you owe it to yourself to listen to the whole clip):

Now, take a breath, wipe the tears from your eyes and stop laughing hysterically. Once you do, let's break this down. Who knew dreadlocks were a slippery slope, the gateway to drugs? I mean, really? Did you? Not only the gateway to drugs, but to abortion and gay marriage.

How many of you who have now listened to this will never think of Manny Ramirez without thinking about how dangerous his dreads are? That they surely are responsible for his positive tests for steroids, potentially hazardous to basemen, and must be connected to abortion and gay marriage? I know I will never look at the man the same.

This woman has clearly not made it out of the 1950s. In all seriousness, it's impossible to ignore the racist tone of her complaint. But that she called the front office of the Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A's, to voice this complaint is absolutely insane. Imagine you're the first person in the office and happen to listen to the voicemail message. Was that person still on the floor laughing when everyone else showed up to the office?

The chances of Manny Ramirez making his way back into the big leagues are slim, but there has to be an over/under on whether or not the person calling his first game back attributes the fall of the Western world to Manny's dreads.

That Manny, he's no fuddy-duddy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Middle of the Week Mélange

A few things that require reading and that I haven't had the time or energy to comment on at length:
It has been an incredibly busy political week in Idaho. The state of Idaho executed Richard Leavitt, the second execution this year by a state that hadn't executed an inmate since 1994. The FEC finally caught up former Senator Larry Craig and is suing him for misuse of campaign money to pay for his defense in the Minnesota airport sting case that brought an end to his political career. Former state senator John McGee was arrested on the charge of disturbing the peace and probation violation stemming from the sexual harassment claim that brought an end to his political career in February. The Idaho Republican Party heads into their convention in Twin Falls with bad blood remaining between House leadership. Crazy happenings.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quote of the Day

"As the Jints take the field for the top of the ninth, Seth Stein ruminates. He is thinking about baseball as History. How this extraordinary game is not just a game, but--perhaps more than political machinations or global events or wars or changes in governments--a metaphor that represents, in some profound way, History itself. How its metaphorical criteria include the passing down of passions and information to future generations, the learning of life lessons, the learning from past experience, the learning from winning and losing, the overcoming of obstacles, the coping with ebb and with flow, the performing of actions under pressure and a microscope, the creation of a crucible in which ordinary events and people can be transformed, momentarily, into heroic entities.
"Baseball has always been and always will be, he is thinking, a sign of the times, a continuum. Thanks to its fans, players from the past--some long gone--live in the present and well into the future. Their personae, their statistics, their records, the numbers on their backs, even their most insignificant and stupefyingly idiotic idiosyncrasies live on compellingly, entering the brains and hearts of countless millions of passionate strangers, generation after generation, to be buried with their bones or burned with their ashes. 
"Then there are the eternal routines and rituals that remain changeless, from 1869 to 1951 to 2033 and onward. The faithful maintenace of dizzying stats and the parochial lingo known to every true fan and the mindless infield chatter like no language known to humankind and the pregame fungo and the warm-up pitches and the practice catches in the outfield and the on-deck circles and the dugout ribbing and the dumb practical jokes and the rhubarbs and the ground rules and the spitting of tobacco juice and sunflower seeds and phlegm. Reminds Seth of the old Bill Veeck quote: 'Baseball is the only thing besides the paper clip that hasn't changed.'
"And this pennant race of 1951, and this final, climactic playoff game that Seth feels privileged to be witnessing, what more glowing example could a person find of metaphor, of History?"
-- Bob Mitchell, Once Upon A Fastball

Friday, June 8, 2012

TGIF Tunes

Eliza Gilkyson's "Is It Like Today?" Heard this song on the season finale of Bones and have been hooked. There's also a live version online here (sound quality not superb) and the lyrics are available here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Of History, Baseball and Mentors

When the power went out the other night, I picked up Once Upon A Fastball by Bob Mitchell and I have been mesmerized by it ever since. The timing of my picking up this book is impeccable. This passage near the beginning of the book spoke to me. The history, the baseball and the mentor behind it:
"And while he really loves his Martin acoustic guitar, his Balvenie single-malt Scotch, his feisty squash matches with best friend, Gordon, and of course Sammy, Grandma Elsie, and Kate, he loves History--just as he adores baseball--in quite a different way. More proprietarily. Like the way a dog loves his bone. Meeting the challenge of attempting to "know" the past, to resurrect it in all its glory--not just names, dates, and events, but virtually everything in the air that drives people to action--has become for him a marrow-sucking obsession.
"So much so that nearly every one of the ten million available neurons in his gray matter (excluding, of course, the very considerable number dedicated to baseball trivia) is preoccupied with the minutiae of things past: battles, paintings, symphonies, poems, natural disasters, working conditions, biology, technology, meteorology, genealogy... A walking encyclopedia, his students call him, those earnest, bushy-tailed freshmen in the Fundamental Problems of History seminar he's teaching this term. Flattering, he thinks, but to his mind, most of the credit--genetic and pedagogical--for his extraordinary gift and his passion for History belongs to his teacher, mentor, role model, confidant, and pal, his beloved Papa Sol."
(pages 5-6)
If you haven't, I highly recommend this easy read.