Friday, December 4, 2009

Health Care Battle on Two Fronts and More

I’m not sure if this is considered progress or a regression—our military exploits abroad no longer are cast in the context of preventing falling dominos. Now, It’s cancer that we must contain.

“We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country,” said President Obama Tuesday night. “But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.”

So we are now fighting for universal health care at home and abroad.

I am loathe to give odds on the successful outcome of either battle this embattled president has joined.

A clarification: My suggestion the other day to donate food for the hungry brought an immediate response from my accountant, Roch. He cautioned it is important to receive written acknowledgment from the food bank. I thought I had covered myself with the taxman by getting separate receipts from Costco for my personal purchases and those made for the food bank, but Roch said, “If you were audited your receipt would not suffice. I suggest at a minimum you receive an acknowledgement from the food bank on their letterhead with a description and date of the donation. They do not have to assign a value to the donation; you would just attach your receipt to their acknowledgement.”

Maimonedes, the 12th century Jewish scholar and physician, articulated eight levels of charity. The second highest level is when the donor and recipient are unknown to each other. I guess now that I've at least partially blown my cover I should ask for a letter, but I still like my idea and anonymity better.

Sports Note: Now that Tiger Woods has shown he’s mortal and susceptible to the enticements of flesh not worn by his wife, the question remains how golf fans will react.

Unruly, disgraceful, vulgar fans make sitting in ballparks uncomfortable for many, particularly those with children in tow. Epithets shouted at players like Alex Rodriguez for his womanizing and steroid use would blanche even a sailor’s face.

Golf is different, some say. Fans are deferential. As in tennis when a player is about to toss a ball for a serve, they quiet down when a shot is to be made.

But all it takes is one shrill outcry released during a backswing for decorum to be smashed. Whose to say that one of Lefty’s (that’s Phil Mickelson) ardent fans is not savoring this moment when the Tiger is at last vulnerable, that he or she is not waiting to unleash a verbal missile that breaks Tiger’s concentration during the arc of contact?

Fewer and fewer unblemished icons—in sports, politics, entertainment, business, you name it—remain.

Nation Building: Ours, not theirs. Tom Friedman explained his dissent from President Obama’s decision to expand the war effort in Afghanistan, even at the risk of “a little less security” at home ( Here’s my way of looking at it, actually written before the speech, but not posted:

“Here’s an outlandish thought, something akin to how actuaries help companies decide if it’s worth, say, fixing a small part on an automobile or risk paying out millions in insurance claims when the inevitable crashes and losses of life occur:

“Why not simply accept that some terrorist activity will happen here over the next five to ten years, but instead of sending billions to Iraq and Afghanistan, spend those dollars in the U.S. to help our countrymen live better lives. Would it be worth providing everyone true universal health care to save tens of thousands of lives a year? Would it be worth improving our educational system so we can graduate workers who can compete for 21st century jobs? Would it be worth subsidizing a transportation industry so we can have more efficient rail, highway and air traffic systems? Would it be worth jumpstarting energy independence initiatives?”

We will never, never be able to stamp out terrorism. Determined men and women, much like a lone assassin willing to die in an attempt, can penetrate almost any defense. Our strongest defense against outside and home-grown terrorism will be a strong USA, not as a crumbling superpower. We cannot afford to disillusion our citizens. They need jobs. They need health care. They need to feel good about their prospects. Demagoguery flourishes during periods of economic stagnation. Our values and way of life are at risk here, not in some remote cave in the mountains of Whatever-stan.

Subject Matter: A few weeks ago my son Dan cautioned that if I kept posting blogs every day I’d run out of material. I assured him writers need to write, as often as possible, to keep in practice. Besides, there is an ample supply of memories and current events to fuel my 10-finger exercise. So reader, be forewarned, I will try to keep up with the news, placed in context both personal and professional. Hopefully, you’ll tolerate my passion. I’ve already lost one follower because of my political views. Or perhaps better stated, his. C’est la vie. Vive la différence.