Rants & Raves

U.S. Health Care Solution — CHINUP

The Republican health care disaster this week, culminating seven years of failed proposals, prompted my wife and I to sit down and offer a hand. I set a timer for seven minutes, in which time we came up with the following. The CHINUP plan for America.

  • Everyone is covered
  • Health care is virtually free
  • Insurance companies no longer sell health insurance
  • 25-30% of federal government’s tax revenue goes to CHINUP
  • CHINUP money is distributed to the states on a per capita basis
  • Medicaid and Planned Parenthood are included in CHINUP
  • Each state sets up its own health care, doctors and hospitals
  • Each citizen makes additional token contribution to their state
  • State issues health card to each person with proof of citizenship
  • The state’s doctors have a salary cap that the feds oversee
  • The state’s hospitals are non-profit, also overseen by the feds
  • Privatization is available for certain elective services

CHINUP is basically a model observed by industrialized nations worldwide. It is immoral to capitalize on a person’s health. There is no magic formula to satisfy doctors, hospitals and insurance companies all focused on increasing their respective profit margins. The past seven years and Obamacare have taught this to Republicans and Democrats alike.

Health is the one item capitalism cannot — and shouldn’t — conquer.

Rants & Raves

Chewin’ on “Deadwood”

I purposely avoided watching the HBO series Deadwood (2004-2006) lest it influence my own fictional account of the South Dakota outpost’s goings-on in my 1876-based novel Bushwhacked! Now that I’m in the middle of season two, I bring high praise, albeit with one saddle sore.

Ian Shane, who plays the Gem Saloon owner Al Swearengen, is well-deserving of his 2005 Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series Drama. His fierce tenacity and derogatory wit is the embodiment of pure greed and power in the lawless town. The Gem’s manager E.B. Fenton (William Sanderson) is comical in his penchant for speaking his thoughts aloud in near-Shakespearean rants. Trixie (Paula Malcomson) shines in her role as a prostitute with pride.

But while the show’s creator David Milch has done an admirable job of bringing the prim and proper Victorian-speak to the high brow folks, most notably, Alma Garrett (Molly Parker) and Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), it’s the show’s profanity-laced dialogue that often threw me from the period piece.

While Deadwood puts the devil in Gunsmoke and Bonanza, the f-bomb was only a sexual reference until World War I. The 43 uses of it in the first episode are highly gratuitous. Robin Weigert, who played Calamity Jane, must still be cursing “c*cksucker!” in her sleep, it came every other word for her.

The profanity surely comes to contemporize  and gratify today’s Walking Dead-proofed viewership. Apparently Deadwood’s minimal body count needed to be bolstered by f-bombs exploding throughout.

Potty mouths aside, the show is cut-throat gritty. It has a raw energy that plants you in the chuck wagons and chamberpots that were the wild west frontier. The story is reduced to the quick — bare bone elements of character and motivation sans technology in a wilderness environment where nerves of steel battle an itchy trigger finger and a man’s word is sealed with a spit-soaked hand shake.

Like getting thrown from a horse, the initial episode may shock you. But climb back in the saddle or step up to the bar … because there’s more drinkin’ than ridin’ in this blackest sheep of shows on the Black Hills of American history.

Rants & Raves

Boston for what ails ya …

Don’t Look Back … but I absolutely have to. Last week’s 7-hour drive south across the border to Missoula was a pilgrimage of sorts. Boston played the Montana outpost as part of their 40th anniversary tour. I sang their hits in the shower — but had never seen them live. Sadly, the glass-shattering lead vocals of Brad Delp were gone. I’d lost touch with the goings-on of the band and didn’t know he’d taken his life in 2007. A further google behind the scenes told how when Delp first auditioned for Tom Scholz, the band’s founder said he “knew in the middle of the first line that a guardian angel had just presented him with one of the best vocalists to ever step in front of a microphone.” There has since been a constantly changing line-up and a litany of law suits.

But it was Scholz’s meticulous touch and hard work that kept their music alive. It was a sweet, wonderful tide that night that picked us up and carried us away to the very heart of classic rock. As the familiar refrains of More Than a Feeling, Foreplay/Long Time, Rock’n Roll Band and others filled the sky behind Big Sky Brewery, the decades simply disappeared. Precise moments from the 70s and 80s zoomed into focus. Lead singer Tommy DeCarlo was very good, an impressive, welcomed copy of Delp’s voice, save for the high notes we all knew remained with the band’s original singer. The night was cathartic … an adrenaline rush … a true blessing in 40-years disguise. It was the vibrancy we need to revisit time and time again … for music has many emotional stamps, but Boston’s a biggie. …  It is to listen. Thank you, Tom Scholz & Co.

Rants & Raves

The Brexit Bre-Entry Plan …

Incredibly, the UK hacked off its nose to spite its face. How to reattach the ol’ schnoz? I’ll play mediator for those 4 million folks who want a do-over … and the EU bigwigs who want to save other EU members from nasty nose jobs.

Tragically, the Brits were told a Channel-stretching Pinocchio lie on how much the UK sends the EU. We’ve all seen the Big Red Bus number of 350 million pounds per week. Let’s back that bus up a moment. Each of the 28 EU member nations are required to send 1% of their annual GDP to the EU. The UK sent just under 1% — 17.8 billion  —  which is where the 350 million-a-week figure came from.

Woah, don’t put away your calculators. The British Treasury would have us now subtract the 4.9 billion pounds the UK received as an annual EU budget rebate … and a further 5.4 billion the EU gave back to the UK in public and private funding for everything from poor farmers to scientific research … and you have the true figure of 7.1 billion pounds the UK sent the EU this past year. Weekly, that’s 136 million pounds, 60% less than the 350 million pounds figure that had predominantly old, rural-based UK citizens checking the ‘Leave’ box in droves.

I blame the media for not getting the word out on this before the referendum as much as I do UK citizens who’ve had 40 years to see and be the EU in action.

Sherlock Holmes would scratch his head at the notion the UK will now get better trade deals with EU members they just thumbed their nose … er, zombie face at. The UK’s GDP, ranked 5th in the world, could fall to 15th. Rules are rules. There are no do-overs. Boris “Go Start the Bus” Johnson wouldn’t be the first politician to tell a whopper of a campaign promise. The Leave group’s promise of the weekly 350 million being transferred to the National Health Services is already off the table. I haven’t even finished the soup.

The solution? Money still speaks volumes. The UK should pay a stiff fine … The Double Whammy … to the EU for it’s colossal brain cramp. Half a billion pounds to every member of the EU. With 27 members … that’s 13.5 billion pounds total from the UK on top of what they would normally pay over the next 2 years (14.2 billion) as a functioning EU member. They’re paying twice … to get back in.

The UK could counter offer with a quarter billion pounds to each EU member, an increase in their immigration quotas, that they will gladly — no, gleefully —  use the euro, etc. Let the negotiations for Bre-Entry begin.