How tenacious is your God?

This post may lay bare some deep dark things, so you may think twice about reading it. I am probably risking excommunication by even writing this blog. I’ll risk it.

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Anyone who thinks the Stupak Amendment to the Health Care Bill HR 3962 has nothing to do with overturning Roe v. Wade fundamentally does not understand the true Pro-Life agenda waged by the Catholic Church (anyone else of a different faith is a poser.) Their agenda is to harass and disrupt any and all pro-choice options at any and all cost. There is nothing less than eternal life and damnation in the balance for any Catholic who actively or passively supports abortion rights. Some of these folks are violent, but most of them are tenacious and very, very intelligent.

I heard Chris Matthews poo-poo the suggestion made by one of his guests last night. In fact, he did not just poo-poo it, he almost violently dismissed it. Deep down, he being Catholic and raised such “at a certain time” probably knows this very ugly truth, but also knows that if he explores it, he risks his job. The topic has almost as much secrecy, tenacity and visceral fear among Catholics as does the Opus Dei in a Dan Brown novel.

This is not light stuff. This is the dogma of terror the Catholic Church uses to seek out its agenda. Just because the Church does not have the prominence and authority it had during the Middle Ages and the Spanish Inquisition does not mean it is less powerful within the faithful. The Catholic God is a very tenacious god. He is infinite and these ebbs and flows of human culture are merely a ripple in His pond.

Roe v Wade is borne of the laws of man. The sacred miracle of life is the law of God. God is more important than the laws of man. Because man is more frail and less patient than God, He will ultimately prevail. The faithful just need to steer the cause through the political waters of governments and popular cultures. And then strike when their guard is down, like an amendment to a health care bill the supporters are desperate to pass. If you lay aside the religious implications of it all, you have to admire Stupak’s deft, patience and political skill. You didn’t even see it coming. For that, he will probably be given a plenary indulgence.

But if life was sacred, why do we then have people like Scott Roeder or Paul Hill applauded as heros in the Pro-Life camp? Because in these cases, taking one life saved thousands. As in war, that is justified. While the Catholic Church publicly denounces these murders, within their ranks, there is a hushed approval of the courage and dedication to the cause. The murder of Dr. Tiller or Dr. Britton would not only prevent the abortions each would have performed directly, but make other doctors fearful for their lives and stop performing abortions as well. In that context, the act of killing is justified. It is the same argument the Church uses for soldiers at war.

And make no mistake, this is a war.

Kinda sounds like the extreme Islamic terrorism that we are purporting to fight over there, doesn’t it? Or the argument Maj. Hasan is purported to have used to justify his shooting rampage at Fort Hood. It is, in fact, the same argument. We just think it’s different because we believe our Christian God is the right God.

This is not conspiracy theory; this is the long-term agenda of a group of very dedicated, very passionate people who believe that they are on a mission from God and that even if they don’t complete the mission in their lifetime, they will have done their part in advancing the baton further so that one day, Roe v Wade will be overturned. They are prepared to think in terms of thousands of years and thousands of lives. The agenda and the people who espouse it should not be taken lightly. And they are everywhere.

HR 3962 will become an “abortion bill” whether President Obama likes it or not. In fact, it already has. The Pro-Life supporters will forego the chance to save thousands of lives by providing insurance to the uninsured in favor of saving one life lost through abortion, so focused is their cause.

The only thing that will kill off the Stupak Amendment on the health care bill is if the Pro-Life wing nuts overplay their hand and the media exposes them as crackpots. The Church is praying they won’t; the rest of us better be praying they will.

Full disclosure: I was raised Catholic and am currently in remission. My parish was perhaps one of the most militant branches of Catholicism you can possibly imagine. If the Spanish Inquisition was legal, the Monseigneur who was the pastor then would have brought it back. Masses were said in Latin and you lived in deep fear for your eternal soul every day of your life. If it wasn’t the Russians invading and torturing Catholics, it was the pro-choice heretics or the Anti-Christ who was being groomed for world domination, starting with the slaying of all the Catholics.

The six assets of national security. A strong military is last.

I’ve been giving a bit of thought to the budget arguments of health care on both sides. I’ve come to the conclusion that the arguments are incredibly silly because if you have a nation of sick people because it “costs too much” to keep them healthy, nothing else really matters.

Then I saw Al Gore being interviewed on The Daily Show and thought the green folks are also wagging the dog. It is not about the environment, but about energy independence. Things started to thread together.

So far, here is what I have concluded.

There are six assets of national security. If any of them are weak, the whole structure is weak.

  • Citizens who are secure in their persons and papers. Citizens who feel safe think, create and share. Citizens who don’t feel safe hoard and protect.
  • Citizens who are healthy and have access to quality health care. If you don’t have your health, nothing else matters.
  • Citizens who are educated and strive for education throughout their lives. Educated citizens are innovative and insure a continued development of the six assets.
  • Energy independence. Regardless of what your energy raw resources are. If all you have is sand, educated citizens and a need for energy, these smart people will find a way of turning sand into energy.
  • Respect, given and demanded. The world’s original currency is respect. More can be accomplished with others of different cultures through respect than force or money. It takes more time and patience, but the foundation is stronger.
  • Strong military. Just in case you have to protect the other five assets from those who wish to take them by force or when dealing with irrational folks who refuse to be reasoned with.

Many would argue that a strong economy should be an asset, but that is actually a product of the six assets above. If your primary focus is making or saving money, you cut into one or more of the six assets to achieve the result. If you focus on building the six assets, a strong economy will naturally flow as a result, further allowing development of all six assets.

Many also argue that a strong military should be primary and while it may be necessary to create a state initially, once the state is created, the military then plays a protective, defensive role. It is the “pulling back” and handing off power to a citizen state that is hard for militaries. But necessary for growth and true national security.

The formula is not a hard one, but the temptation to focus on making or saving money as a shortcut is strong. Saving money is easy. Building assets is hard and takes faith.

What do you think? And please, no arguments about the economy. Unless you concede that a strong economy is a result of doing the right things, not the end in itself, we’re not going to have a productive discussion.

PupPeroni is even more fun than ice cream

Charlie and Sallie love Pup-Peroni after walks. If I run out, they won’t take any other treat.

So, I happened upon the Web site (printed right on the bag) and found this really cool, fun movie maker where you can write messages on the billboard the dogs hold in their mouths. (If you have a dog, go ahead and make a few and tweet them. Mention @dogwalkblog; we’ll see them!) I made a few movies and wanted to share them with the world. I type up my tweet and thought I would also drop a mention to @puperoni or even @delmonte. (see the two movies I made here and here.)

Nothing, no twitter accounts, no links to twitter, nothing.

Now, come on, other folks must want to do the same thing so I searched for PupPeroni on Twitter and found lots of chatter. Seems people like PupPeroni as much as Charlie and Sallie!

I’m pretty confident that the big-boot lawyers at DelMonte will be sending me a cease and desist and forcing YouTube to remove the video, so hurry up and view it. I hope they choose to reach out and say, “Wow, Rufus, that is a cool idea! Tell us more about how we can use Social Media to reach our canine fans and their humans with bulging wallets” but I’ve walked around the block far more than most. I’m not that optimistic.

But, I am hopeful! DelMonte, drop me a tweet!

*The title? A take on @ev‘s explanation of twitter. It is not useful, but neither is ice cream. People, I’m a dog. the only thing we live for is fun. PupPeroni and ice cream 🙂

A metaphor for health insurance even Congress can understand

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One of the arguments that always comes back about the number of uninsured is that 64% or so of Americans have insurance and like it. (WaPo)

But, what nobody is doing is actually looking at what the insurance really is. Here is a metaphor that I think might clear up what the insurance problem in this country really is.

Let’s say your insurance policy is a pile of money, or if you are in Congress reading this, a bag of money stuck in a freezer. The only hitch here is that some of these bills are counterfeit, but you don’t know which ones. When you pay for medical procedures, you can only pay for them using bills at the top going down. Obviously, when the medical provider gets paid, he is going to reject the counterfeit bills and want you to swap out real ones for them.

When you run out of a stack of money, you can no longer buy any more medical things. And, the money stack must stay on the table it is on (your job!) so if that gets taken away, the stack of money goes with it.

The 10-47 million uninsured folks are not really a problem. They will either die early or get treated minimally until they do. The real problem this country faces are the 260-197 million or so who have a stack of health insurance money, but have no idea which bills are real and which aren’t until they need to spend them.

Switch out enough bills for counterfeit ones and they will start buying pitchforks instead of CAT scans.

Those damn socialists at the Englewood Water Department

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A water main starting leaking in front of my house. Last week, the City of Englewood sent a man out in a pickup truck who marked up the pavement with green and orange paint.

This morning, the Socialist Englewood Water Department sent an entire crew of water department surgeons out with spare parts, heavy equipment and trucks to repair the water main. They put up signs, tore open a neat (very neat!) square hole in the road, cut the old valve out, put the new valve in, flushed it all out, filled up the hole and left without much evidence that they were there. I have water which they assure me is safe. They even publish a water scorecard every year to prove it.

And nobody knocked on my door and nobody asked for a co-pay or a water insurance card.

Damn socialists. Next thing you know, they will want to be running health care.


Photo: One of the workers was drying his boots on top of his pickup. I had to grab that photo!

How important is a human legacy

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I watch a lot of History Channel. It lends some perspective.

One of the series they are running is about the Knights Templar. All the legends aside, the one thing that was striking to me is how long some of the stone tablets with their histories and accounts survived, since the 1100’s or so.

The same goes for clay tablets, papyrus, parchment scrolls, sheepskin and even paper. We can read an original book that is thousands of years old.

Then, along comes the Internet and rushes to destroy all things analog. We race to plunk down an entire generation of knowledge into a collection of blogs that have no paper backups anywhere. In a few short years, all our books will be Kindle files. This is good, good, good yell the digital pundits and evangelists!

And sometime in the future, the power grid will go silent.

And we will have approximately 3-7 hours (depending on what Apple does with battery life in the next generation of MacBook) to print and archive an entire generation of knowledge or lose it forever. How many pages of your blog will you be able to save and pass along to the next generation?

Before we dance on the graves of newspapers and books, perhaps we should think a few minutes about what we are giving up and what our legacy of knowledge will be when we can no longer leave a series of links and bookmarks. What knowledge will be lost simply because we didn’t write it down or print it off.

Gotta go now. The flight attendant is motioning to me to shut off my computer. The guy next to me didn’t have to turn off his book. Doesn’t quite seem fair.

Amy Poehler, wisdom, teamwork and the art of improv

Hulu left the best parts of the interview out and I hope to be able to find them to piece this together, but the video below comes the closest.

Among the gems:
“Playing with good players makes you look really good.” This works in life and in business. Play with the smart, funny, talented, dedicated and passionate people. Don’t spend time with the haters and nay-sayers.

“Yes, and….” The first rule of improv and a pretty damn good piece of advice for life. Accept something from the other person and offer something more of you back.

Why Hulu decided to cut these parts out and just go for the funny is baffling to me. We can watch Amy Poehler’s comedy every week on Parks and Recreation and SNL, but it is these inside glimpses through the cracks when the actor isn’t “on” that gives Inside the Actor’s Studio it’s value.

Dear Minority Leader John Boehner; this I fear more

A few days ago, I saw a video of you saying that Americans most fear the US Federal Government is spending beyond it’s means and that we are leaving a mountain of debt to our kids and grandkids. (I can’t find it right now, but when I do, I’ll post it.)

I think you are wrong.

Here is a short list of things that I fear more than the Federal Government spending getting out of control.

– I fear that my health insurance company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield will send me a letter in March, 2010 stating they no longer want me as a customer because I am getting too old to be in the “sweet spot” of profitability for them. My insurance renews on April 1st of each year which gives me thirty days or less to find an insurance company to take me.

– I fear that I will have a heart attack during the next four years, causing me to spiral into bankruptcy during a time when my daughter most needs me to be able to help her with college tuition.

– I fear that the City of Englewood will assess me an outrageous fee to arbitrarily replace the curbs and water supply infrastructure in front of my house, oblivious to the recession going on around us.

– I fear that I will be diagnosed with a medical condition that my insurance company will not pay to treat.

– I fear that I will get a letter from some tax department in Ohio (county, city, state) claiming I owe a bucket of money to them and they will hang on like a rabid dog because they are running a deficit themselves.

– I fear that some of my right-wing, gun-happy, God-fearing neighbors will become irrationally scared of losing their country to “those who are not like us” that they will do something stupid that will endanger me, my family and my home.

– I fear US Representatives who can afford to live in West Chester, OH and stay tan all year losing touch with their constituency* and start erroneously claiming to know what Americans are most fearful of. I also fear these same Congressmen categorically dismiss and oppose ideas simply because they came from the “other party” with no thought or analysis.

– I fear the loss of rational thought and civil discourse.

– I fear the decline of the quality and breadth of education available to our younger generations that will further doom them to become less competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.

– I fear the increasing selfishness and short-sightedness of parents who teach their kids that the President of the United States of America is not worthy of their attention or respect.

– I fear a society that believes it to be permissible behavior that a Congressman disrespect a sitting US President in public. On TV.

There are many more things, but this list is probably long enough.

Mr. Boehner, I fear a lot of things more than I fear the US Federal Government putting us in debt. If you had to live in the day-to-day world that your actions in Congress create, you may possibly also share these fears.

Please, Mr. Boehner, please think before you talk in hyperbolic terms. Please think about what consequences your words have. Please think that possibly things like fear, hatred, distrust and violence may be a worse legacy to leave to our kids and grandkids than debt.

——

*I know, Mike Turner is my rep, but he never gets the microphone and doesn’t ever read my blog nor return phone calls.

What’s wrong with our public schools?

A mass of children, all huddled around a 19inch CRT TV, watching the President address our nation of youth.

In 2009.

Really, WSJ this is the very best photo you could source that shows the rest of the world how wonderful our public schools are? Not only are other developed countries laughing at the big brew-ha-ha over nothing about the speech, but now they have this image of our classroom technology firmly burned in their brains.

No wonder the rest of the world thinks it is beating the United States of America in the brain department. We keep handing them the evidence.

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Health care on a freemium pricing model

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I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk* yesterday deliver a talk to publishers and indie bookstore owners. At some point in the talk, he encourages everyone to have some sort of freemium pricing model. That got parked in the furrows of my brain.

What if we had a freemium pricing model for health care? When you move into a new area, you need to choose a doctor but that doctor may not be compatible with you. Once you got there, though, you usually become “stuck” with the doctor as the new one will require endless reams of forms, medical history photocopying charges, blah, blah. Many of us stick with a doctor because the pain of finding a new one is overwhelming.

Under the freemium model, your first visit is free with no obligation to provide stacks and stacks of forms. S/he would then have to put his/her best foot forward, maybe give you a few extra minutes of time instead of processing you like a sack of potatoes, maybe even have a full conversation with you. The doctor and the practice would have to sell you they are the best option for you.

Maybe the doctor would give you one free checkup a year. They could work the model like auto repair. If you bring your car in every three months for an oil change, they usually find something else wrong with it and end up charging you for replacing this or that, even though you may have waited until this or that fell off. (Come to think of it, oil changes should be free and … that’s another post.)

Vision and hearing checks could be available through the schools to our children free of charge. At the end, the doctor could send home a brightly printed piece of paper that has eyewear package option listed. The model works for class photos and we all know how many of those we buy that we don’t need!

If wellness programs really did save costs overall, they should be free as the “public option” because it makes good business sense. Then, insurance would only be used for major repairs, like heart attacks disease, broken bones, hernias and life-saving operations. Why don’t medical practices compete against each other for customers? What if only the free parts of the medical service was subsidized by a government-run “public option.”

The time to start thinking a little bit outside of the normal ways of doing things is now. The current system of health care is unsustainable and a full public option is perceptibly unaffordable. Every other business is expected to adopt some sort of freemium model in the near future; why not health care?


*I don’t know what Gary’s views are on health care. His video was merely inspiration for this blog post. The views expressed above are entirely my own.

It was not like that when I was a little kid

“It was not like that when I was a little kid,” she said as I mused about life, sitting on the sofa with my daughter watching some mindless movie on a Saturday morning.

I was musing that having friends means crushing expectation that you can’t possibly live up to, that empathy and kindness were a weaknesses and that when you can no longer contribute economically you are tossed aside for someone else who can.

I was fourteen when I started working full time to support myself. I am now well into my forties and have not had less than a full-time schedule of work since. Perhaps I am afraid if I slow down, the world will run me over and not stop to see if I am ok. Perhaps I am scared to ask if my value to everyone around me is solely economic. Perhaps I just don’t know what else to do.

Perhaps I should not be sharing these thoughts with my eighteen year-old daughter who should be seeing a bright, idealistic future and that makes me a bad parent. But I think she already knows the truth and that if I sugar-coat it, she would see through it anyway.