Health Care

I always like these occasional features in the NY Times Sunday Magazine about a mysterious medical diagnosis. This account, though, seemed particularly relevant at a time when the country is debating health care reform. [Spoiler alert] The patient, a sixty-four year old woman who is pretty clearly from the working class, loses her ability to walk because of weakness in her legs: she is suffering from a copper deficiency. It turns out that her dentures don’t fit properly and she has been piling on the denture cream, which contains zinc, which reduces the minute amounts of copper needed by the body. At the end of the piece we are informed that, while she “still cannot afford new dentures,” she has switched the brand of denture adhesive she uses and is going to physical therapy, though the nerve damage might me irreversable. So: an aging woman’s false teeth don’t fit and she can’t afford new ones — no insurance, you know — and as a consequence she unknowingly poisons herself and causes severe nerve damage in her legs. Still, in the end, she’s got the same old ill-fitting dentures. No insurance, you know. And the various mouthpieces of the medical-industrial complex and their political defenders are making up shit about a very modest healt care reform proposal creating “death panels” so as to quietly dispose of grandma on the cheap. One would like to ask them what they propose to do for people like the woman in the Times story, since they have such deep concern for the weak and unprotected.

They Should Be Happy

. . . because most of the crackers [more here] who live in Alabama think that government is the problem. This is the end result of radical right-wing-attacks on government and civic life in general, in favor of a kind of he-man individualism. Well, at least most of them are armed so they will be able to settle their own disputes the old fashioned way. So close the jail and the schools and the DMV, bro, and don’t forget the fire department.

In Which I Remember Richard Nixon

He really was as bad as we thought at the time. And Reagan comes across in these recent tapes as a bland and lawless vacuity without a shred of integrity of allegiance to anything but power. And Nixon and Reagan gave birth to George W. Bush. All the characteristics are the same. The idea that the executive is above the law; a world view built on the worst of 19th century social Darwinism; and utter incuriosity about other people and other places. I have a such a visceral reaction to these creeps, perhaps, because my step father was a sort of cheap knock-off version of the same cluster of attitudes. I take these sons of bitches personally. Which is why it’s such a relief to have Barack Obama as president, despite the fact that he has deeply disappointed me on civil liberties issues, particularly the half-measures he’s taken to do away with torturing people in my name. With Obama, I at least get the impression that he has thought through the issue and made a conscious decision based on what he believes to be the good of the country. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Obama works through health care reform. I fear that he will compromise away significant change and wind up serving narrow interests; whereas venality drove Nixon and Reagan and Bush, a dangerous idealism may turn out to be Obama’s weakness.