Sunday, October 21, 2007

SCHIP again

This is a long windup. I dropped out of the Republican party back when I was in college. Just as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson turned me off to the more conservative branch of Christianity, William Bennett caused me to reject the GOP itself, although fiscal conservatism is something I lean toward. Why? He wanted to eliminate the federal subsidies of student loans. Even though our family was middle class, we didn't have "wealth" and I was the first in my family to go to college. So I needed those student loans Bennett sneeringly rejected as subsidies for stereos and spring breaks.

Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, hardly bleeding hearts, worked hard for this compromise that the extreme wing of the party rejected. And the language those people use reminds me of Bennett and the student loans. As someone who worked at KFC, JC Penney, McDonalds, a sub shop, often until 1 a.m. before morning classes, I really, really resented that.

To me, the SCHIP is along the lines of federally subsidized student loans, or even FHA loans. It's a subsidy, not an out-and-out payment. Families still have to pay premiums, but they get a discount. These are the working poor and working middle class who can't afford insurance for themselves, but want to protect their children.

Most Americans, if you put it in those terms, would not object at all to the coverage. It's not the kids' fault their parents don't have jobs that include insurance. And it keeps getting dropped from more and more jobs.

As an aside, something that strikes me when I read the messages of hatred toward the Fosters or Bethany's family, instead of any ounce of empathy or "there but for the grace of God," a lot of these folks seem to be worried that someone is going to get a break that they didn't receive. And my guess is, if you automatically assume someone must be cheating, you must tend toward that yourself. Maybe IRS needs to carefully audit their tax returns.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Scum of the earth

I haven't posted much about politics because, quite frankly, I've felt numb. When so much angers you, it's hard to get worked up about any one thing.

Well, now I'm angry, outraged, beyond words. Apparently some of the right wing persuasion have decided it's perfectly fine to go after a 12-year-old boy. This kid gave the Democratic response to Bush's veto of S-CHIP. Now S-CHIP is supposed to help cover -- with insurance, mind you -- children whose parents' income levels are too high to qualify for Medicaid.

Apparently it's perfectly justifiable to make up crap about such a kid's family. You know, ASS-U-ME things. Such as just because the family lives in a gentrifying neighborhood, that must mean they're living beyond their incomes, instead of buying before the neighborhood changed, or that because the kids go to private school, that they must have paid full tuition.

In fact, it's an irony overload because under any other circumstances, these same people would be pointing to this family as an example of respectable Republican virtues at work. You know, father is a small business owner, mother, up until recently, was the bookkeeper, etc, and stayed home with their four kids, they invested in capital that might eventually pay off.

But because they voiced support for something that leaned Democratic -- and even though lots of Republicans support the same thing and it was a bipartisan effort -- nope, they must be slimed and stalked.

I seem to recall that Michelle Malkin takes pride in being a purported journalist. Well, as someone who, as a reporter, had to screen people for the Santa's helper Christmas features, I can tell you, she doesn't know the first thing about bread and butter journalism.

We'd always first screen families for criminal history. If a parent had a checkered past but wasn't willing to 'fess up in print, we'd turn the family down. I thought that sucked in many cases because the parent had turned their lives around and it wasn't fair to the kids, but I wasn't the editor. Then we'd check their property records to make sure they weren't living beyond their means, check their DMV records, etc.
The operative phrase is property record. It's the easiest thing in the world to check. But apparently while Michelle had the time to visit the neighborhood in Baltimore where this family lived, she couldn't bother to make a detour to the courthouse to check the property records.

And then there's this whole Dems exploiting little kids charge. Uh, last I heard, it's something all politicians do. Bush had Noah McCollough and his social security campaign. There's the new spots on abstaining from sex. I've sat through way too much Congressional testimony that included young people telling their anecdotes for both sides of the aisle. Politicians live by anecdote. Heck, so do journalists.

OK, long windy rant over.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Has it been a month?+Top Chef Finales

Geez, this blogging thing is harder than I thought. I can't believe it's been a whole month since I blogged before.

The outcome of Top Chef is what I feared at the beginning, but it was a more fun ride than the original episode hinted at. For a while I thought it was going to be the Tre v. Hung show all the way and that the season would be boring for that reason. Hung sank from view and Tre, alas, got cut earlier than anyone anticipated.

The season did get tedious at times, but I quite frankly think it was because they had so many d@#$% chefs that it was hard to keep track and hard to get to know them.

The most refreshing thing about this season: no clear-cut villains and almost everyone was a professional instead of the juvenile delinquent high school clique mob mentality we saw last season.

And I loved, loved, loved the fact that I had no problems with any of the top three winning. Yeah, Hung is an arrogant ass and too snobby for words, but there's still something cuddly about him. Maybe it's because he so obviously (especially in this eppy) adores what he is doing. The joy seeped from his pores. It's an avocation, not just a job.

I was rather rooting for my girl Casey, but alas, she went the way of Sasha Cohen and a million other over-hyped Olympic athletes who choke when the world is watching.

And Dale, who couldn't like Dale, the Mr. Dial-a-Quote? He was such a midwesterner, beyond the wry observations. Plus he definitely liked to play on the edge and take risks -- who couldn't root for that?

And I also cheer Bravo for the setup of having celebrity sous-chefs. That was a clever twist. You also got the sense that none of the secondary sous-chefs who came in the following day would sabotage their chef, also a refreshing change from both previous seasons.

My one concern: it seems a little unfair to have the final competition at such a high altitude. Yes, they should have prepared and planned for it. But what about physical reactions? Dallas is a pretty flat place, like my home state of Florida. It isn't easy and I wondered if part of Casey's discombobulation was due to altitude dizziness?

And always, please focus more on the food!