Friday, July 10, 2009

Heads Up: Article About Palin's Resignation

The Alaska governor's resignation seem to come out of nowhere. It was surprising that after enduring a brutal series of attacks during the campaign, Palin would cave now. A new article by Matthew Continetti over at The Weekly Standard provides an insight into what went in to her decision and makes it all more understandable:

The attacks did not stop when McCain and Palin lost the election. To the contrary: They shifted location and emphasis. Palin returned to a changed Alaska. Her first year in office had been remarkably successful because she governed with an ad hoc legislative coalition of Democrats and antiestablishment Republicans. That coalition broke down the moment Palin became a force in national politics and the most famous woman (probably the most famous person) in the Republican party. The Democrats in the legislature defected en masse. Compounding the problem: Because she had unseated it, the GOP establishment never liked Palin and wanted her to go away.

Suddenly "people were confronted with policy differences with the governor," Alaska state senator and Palin ally Gene Therriault told me. "The call went out from the national Democratic party to take her down. Some of the Democrats who worked with her previously took their marching orders." Gridlock ensued. Bipartisan comity was no more.

Anybody who had the opportunity to score political points against Palin took a shot. The Alaska judicial council, a body that recommends jurists to the governor, forced the pro-life Palin to appoint a pro-choice judge to the state supreme court. The legislature rejected Palin's choice for state attorney general. The governor and the legislature fought protracted battles over the replacement for Democratic state senator Kim Elton (appointed to the Obama administration) and stimulus money from the federal government. Civility with the legislature became untenable. John Coale, the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic lawyer who set up Palin's political action committee and legal defense fund, told me, "Something had to change."

Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Read: Coming Soon

Some of my very favorite authors:

Rain Gods by James Lee Burke circa July 13. Just watched Electric Mist over the weekend, based on Burke's In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead. Hate to say it, but I wasn't crazy about Tommy Lee's portrayal. Best Burke-based movie I've seen starred Alec Baldwin(?) and Eric Roberts. Just my opinion.

The Defector by Daniel Silva on July 20 or so. This one is purportedly a sequel to Moscow Rules and also features Israeli operative/art restorer Gabriel Allon.

Also on July 20 comes Fire and Ice, the newest entry in the Joanna Brady series, the 14th. Rumor has it that it will also involve JA Jance's other sleuth, JP Beaumont.

South of Broad by Pat Conroy sometime in August. Excited about this one, his first in many years. To give you an idea, I once forced the family into vacationing on Daufuskie Island, SC, setting of The Water is Wide, or Conrack in the film version with Jon Voight. The daughter got food poisoning, insists she was cured by a ghostly witchy woman in a nightmare, and has never let me live it down.

Finally, one to keep an eye out for in August is Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. It's by Jon Krakauer who's written some good stuff. My favorite: Into Thin Air.

A Quote for Today

Right intention, transparency, and the search for positive results are mutually compatible and must never be detached from one another. If love is wise, it can find ways of working in accordance with provident and just expediency, as is illustrated in a significant way by much of the experience of credit unions.

from Charity in Truth by Pope Benedict

Another Quarter Heard From

Yesterday the Pope weighed in on the economic morass. On Fox Business, the encyclical was treated as if it inveighed against capitalism. Not true. Read the text. The Holy Father goes out of his way to establish that markets in and of themselves are not bad things. It is the lack of ethics, according to the prelate, which is the problem. I ask you, what is wrong with the head of a Church urging that we exercise morality in our commercial dealings? Nothing. It was an eminently reasonable argument. Reaction to it does expose the edges of a pervasive, usually hidden, prejudice against Catholicism that exists in many elite circles.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meanderings: There ain't no winnin'

I started my day with a call to United Healthcare which runs the medical plan at my company.

"Hey," I said, "I'm calling because there's got to be some mistake here. I went for my annual Gyn exam, and it cost me six hundred dollars."

"It sure does sound like there's something off." the lady on the other end replies.

"Well, when I got to the doctor," I tell her, "I found out my doctor doesn't take your insurance. But heck, I'm really quite attached to her, so I figured I'd pay out of pocket. But then she sent me for a mammogram which was in network, but I get a bill from the hospital. So I figure that's that. But it's not, 'cause then I get another bill from the guy who read the mammogram."

"Did the hospital charge you the agreed upon amount?" she asks.

"What's that?"

"95 dollars. And I see the radiologist charged 54. But don't worry because it all goes to your 300 dollar deductible."

"Okay, but I'm not finished. Then I get a bill for 142 dollars for my pap smear. Lady, I am 51 years old. In all my life, I've never paid more than 25 dollars for a pap smear. I thought it was like a rule that a yearly mammogram and pap smear was part of a health insurance policy. You know, all that bullshit about preventative medicine and all. Are you telling me that 142 dollars is the discount price you negotiated? We're not talking about brain surgery here, you know."

"Well, that's the policy your company arranged. And as I said, it does go toward the deductible." Now she's not sounding quite as nice. You might even say she sounds a bit exasperated.

"All right," I counter. "That's why I sent in an out of network claim for the doctor."

"Oh, that's the one for 200 dollars. We were missing some information. Let me transfer you to someone who can help you with that."

My next customer service rep is Christina. "Oh," she tells me, "There was some information missing."

"What was missing?" I ask.

"The doctor's name, address..."

"Wait a minute, I attached her pre-printed receipt as instructed."

"Well, we need the codes."

"Ma'am, it was all on the receipt. I saw it."

"Was the the doctor's taxpayer ID on the receipt?" Christina's getting a little defensive. "We need it to pay the claim."

"Lady," now I'm losing it, " You don't need her number. You have to pay me, and you have my number."

"It's a federal law."

"It's federal law that you need her tax id to pay me? Okay, what do I need to do? After all, I should satisfy the 400 dollar out of network deductible and get some money back."

"Oh no," she informs me, "that's a separate deductible. You have to spend 400 dollars with the out of network doctor."

" You gotta be kidding. Well, I'm going to complain to my company. Better yet, I'm going to write to your CEO. Scams like this are exactly why we are going to wind up with Obamacare. And you know what, Christina you ain't gonna have a job."

The moral of the story: check your insurance before you go to the doctor.

My morning entertainment done, I spend the rest of my day off attempting to quit smoking. Of course, since I'm trying to quit for the umpteenth time, I smoke double. Here's a primer. Before the bleeding heart Democrats got in power, I paid 2.69 for a pack of cigarettes. Today, thanks to them and the other misbegotten offspring of randomly copulating camels who call themselves the Florida legislature, I pay $5.35. Let me 'splain. At a pack a day, that comes out roughly to $160.00 a month. At two packs, that's $320.00 So at my house that translates to about $600.00 a month. Since I can't afford that, but I can't quit, I am freaking.

But they don't care about me. Even worse the prating hypocrite Dems don't care about the poor. It is the poor who smoke. These cigarette increases represent what is surely the most regressive tax ever passed. What was that Mr. Obama about not raising taxes on those earning less than 200 thou? Unfuckingbelievable.

I console myself. As I was on the beach at Manatee County over the weekend, where I go because the upscale elitists who run Sarasota want the beach all to their nonsmoking selves, I was struck by a thought. It is an observation I first made as I sat in the waiting room at the hospital where my mother was dying and where smoking was not allowed on the grounds of the entire campus. If there were ever a time for a cigarette.... I was looking at the photos of the ladies who run the hospital, each more porcine than the other, as if vying for the Petunia Pig award.

Well, the beach yesterday was full of fat, white flesh. And they're coming for you next, baby. And you know what, I ain't gonna give a damn. What was that Shirley Jackson story? See ya.

Monday Briefs

The Honduras controversy continues. Despite the threats of real economic harm, the interim Honduran government has sent the OAS packing. They also sent the once and would be future President Zelayas packing again. Read about it here.

There is a second controversy here, namely the domestic response to our government's strident denunciations. Perhaps taking their cue from the numbers of Hondurans who have written the media in support of the military's actions, some major names have taken up the cudgels. First out of the lists is Patrick Buchanan who points out in addition to the hypocrisy of the OAS that there is something wrong when we find ourselves with such bedfellows as Hugo Chavez, the ruling military junta in Cuba, and Nicaragua's Ortega. Additional voices against the Obamian condemnations include Michelle Malkin and Mary Anastasia O'Grady here.

This week saw the dollar a pack increase for cigarettes imposed by the Florida Legislature. Sarasota Herald Tribune article here. The Herald also published a spot on column by Tom Lyons about the whole situation, most notably to me- how the move amounts to a shakedown of smokers.

Finally, in the once a teacher, always a teacher department. Bill O'Reilly complains of the hackneyed words and phrases that have taken over our public discourse. I say, "Keep on truckin', Bill!"