Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4 Wishes, Canada Radio Interview. Oregon Visitor, Storm & Heat Wave, More on Roberts Ct., Health Care, Rangel’s Challenger, Honduran Patient, Renegade Nun, Why Nasty Review Is Gone from Amazon

Posting here a photo of a flag hanging out my bedroom window on July 4. Also, one of my kids Jon and Melanie at the beach in Hawaii, where Melanie is visiting Jon and Stephanie, my two kids living there.

My hour-long radio interview on the Vancouver station on Sunday went well and some questions even came in from listeners. But an hour wasn’t long enough for all I had to say.

On July 4 afternoon, a young visitor arrived from Oregon, where she said the temperature was 65F when she left, then she walked into 100F when she got off the plane here in DC. Still, she was game to go immediately with me to a neighborhood July 4 party and to see the fireworks on the mall. She wanted to take a jacket for later in the evening; not necessary, I assured her. At the party, quite unexpectedly, I saw a man I really never wanted to see again, someone who had argued vociferously with me about Cuba and Fidel Castro’s alleged virtues, insulted me on his blog, and castigated me for having a fundraiser at my house for a Honduran aslyee family. He is the one who actually inspired me to write my Cuba book, which when it appears, will be announced on this blog. I tried to avoid him all evening, but was uncomfortable even being with him on the same premises. Hope my readers had a good July 4.

6-29-2012--Mark Richards, weather observer at Reagan National Airport, said the temperature at 2:48 p.m. hit 104, blowing by the old June record of 102 set on June 9 in both 1874 and 2011. We are now experiencing D.C.’s hottest June temperatures in 142 years of record-keeping, he said, with an outside chance today’s high temperature could match D.C.’s hottest in any month: 106 reached on both August 6, 1918 and July 20, 1930. [So far, we have not exceeded the 106 F mark.]

Our East Coast heat wave began before July 4 and has continued afterward, with high temperatures hovering daily around 100F, the kind of weather we used to get in August, but now, one month early. It reminds me of the year-round climate in southern Honduras, even in Feb., when I usually go there. It’s also why, when I had wanted to extend my time in Honduras, that after 2+ years of unrelenting heat, sporadic electricity, and difficult transportation, I transferred to higher, cooler La Esperanza. Some poor folks in DC area suburbs have been without electricity in this heat, ever since a fierce thunderstorm Friday, June 29, resulting in many downed trees, including in my neighborhood. However, because our electrical wiring is all underground, the major damage was to cars parked under the trees, not to the electrical grid.

On my last posting, I acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s decisions on Arizona’s immigration status verification law and on the Obama administration’s health care reform program were mixed, but mostly favored the administration, with Roberts being the conciliatory vote. Now, it seems those administration victories, especially in health care, are even stronger than I had supposed at first glance. And many opponents of the health care law are calling Roberts a traitor to the Republican cause. However, Romney’s comments so far have been somewhat muted, as they should be, since he approved a similar law in Massachusetts. So far, I don’t see Romney gaining much political traction, but maybe I’m not the best judge, not being anxious to see him elected.

No doubt, Republicans will still try after November to gut the health care law. It’s very hard to implement it with all this continuing rancor and uncertainty, or even to try to find a middle ground on possible modifications, though, of course, the electorate, through their representatives, have the right to overturn any law at any time. The problem is that opinions now are so polarized and opponents of the law will do their level best to make it unworkable in any form. I’m wondering if there are financial interests behind much of the opposition—maybe some pharmaceutical companies, device and equipment manufacturers, and organizations of health professionals, who want to keep the status quo and/or to keep on expanding their piece of the health care pie? When I worked for the occupational therapists’ association, our whole thrust was to keep getting more jobs and better pay for our therapists, while also giving value to patients. Every health profession and stake holder is doing the same, constantly.

There is an almost limitless number of possible and desirable interventions available to keep an individual alive, happy, and functioning—organ transplants, joint replacements, breathing and feeding tubes, drugs, devices, psych meds and talk therapy, and myriad other treatments—even toenail trimming is allowed under Medicare. If any service becomes limited, the cry of “rationing” goes up. But health care, like any other benefit, has limits and none of us will live forever. We cannot devote the majority of GDP to health care, crowding out food, housing, environmental protection, and other life necessities, whose insufficiency will also have an impact on our health. But arriving at consensus about what health care limits should be is very difficult, especially if ourselves or our loved ones are involved. This attitude of the right to have limitless health care benefits, together with the high earnings of doctors and other health providers compared to counterparts around the world, plus the availability of emergency care for anybody, with or without insurance, all combine to make our health care in this country the very costliest. Do we want to exclude some people and allow them to suffer and die? And, as I have observed before, pharmaceuticals here are more expensive than anywhere else because the market will bear that cost, whereas in Honduras, or even Europe or Canada, the same drug costs less. Obama’s plan is a modest effort to get a handle on some of these ever-rising costs. Of course, those affected in their pocketbook are fighting back.

Remember the cousin of my Espaillat family friends in the DR—challenging Rangel in the Democratic primary? According to Yahoo News, 6-30-2012—“Later this week, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, Rangel was ahead by only 44 percent to Espaillat's 41 percent—or 16,916 votes to 15,884, a margin of just 1,032 votes, according to the Associated Press. Those totals were the latest available as of Friday.” The entire tally is not in yet.

Had an interpretation client (patient) recently whose first name was Erundina, not a name I’ve ever heard before. Amazingly, she used to live near San Felipe Hospital and the school for the blind in Tegucigalpa, my routine haunts in that city. She told me she’d had a son when she was in her early 20s and then, almost 20 years later, at age 44, without any fertility intervention, was surprised to give birth to another son. She is delighted that the older boy, born in Honduras, is eligible for the new two-year parole (or whatever) offered by the Obama administration. As I’ve said before, in my job, I never know what to expect and often it’s a nice surprise, like meeting this lady.

Jeanine Gramick, a nun who attends our masses at Communitas, was featured in an article in the Washington Monthly, May 24, 2012, entitled “The Renegade.” Jeanine, who had been inspired, as many of us were, by the reforms of short-lived Pope John XXIII, has undertaken a special mission to minister to gay and lesbian Catholics. See:

Among folks with whom I have shared the good news that the terrible review is gone from Amazon, I’ve had mixed advice about whether or not to post that news here. Some said I definitely should do so, since I’d mentioned it on my blog; otherwise, the matter would be left hanging and people going to Amazon now would wonder what I’d been complaining about. Others, including my kids, advised just letting it drop. “Don’t call attention,” “don’t gloat,” they said. They also feared retaliation from the guy who posted the malicious review who might accuse me of getting it erased, which I certainly did not do nor did I know how. So, I’m not gloating, just heaving a sigh of relief.

It turns out that another former Honduras PC volunteer, without any prompting from me, someone I’ve never even met, took matters into his own hands, contacting Amazon on his own. He found that the author of the nasty review had several books listed on Amazon, including a Honduras memoir, all with few reviews. Here, in case someone else ever needs it, is what Amazon told him:

What's not allowed

Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to share your opinions on products. While we appreciate your time and comments, we reserve the right to remove reviews that include any of the following:

Objectionable material:

spiteful remarks

sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product

I apologize for typos in any of my blogs. Sometimes, I don’t have or don’t take the time to go over them carefully. Thanks to my readers for bearing with me. You know what I meant!


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