Saturday, August 29, 2009

At my request, Ayelet Waldman sent sent me the link to a draft of the Kennedy Healthcare Bill:


I've begun reading. It's 167 pages in PDF form and I'm getting deep into it. I've also been posting up at Facebook as I read, but have reposted here, for comments and input. Everything below is my own commentary at Facebook, read and post: not posting other peoples' comments, since I have no permission or right to do so.


Thanks to Ayelet for sending me the link to the Kennedy healthcare bill. Am reading. Page 2, I am already holding up a hand and saying "um.....hold it...." And not because the idea is wrong - HCR is desperately needed. But by the time I reached the Declarations, I'm already cranky (see below for why, if curious).

"Sec.2, item c): HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS SHOULD JUDGE WHAT IS BEST FOR THEIR PATIENTS - Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have the right to judge what is best for their patients."

Um - NO, fucko, the PATIENT is the final say. We call it "choice". If they have the final say and not us, we're not patients, we're CHATTEL. And I am no one's chattel.

Back to reading. There had best be some serious answers to my questions in this thing. (My note: someone commented that they thought it meant "professionals, not bean counters". Maybe, but the language needs to say that. This is a loophole you could drive an ambulance through.)


I'm seeing a trend in this thing: A wonderful humanist intelligent heading followed by a list of stuff that qualifies it into mush. Section 2702, GUARANTEED AVAILABILITY OF COVERAGE" Awesome! As it should be. Followed one subsection (b) later by: " B1: RESTRICTION: A health insurance issuer described in section (a) may restrict enrollment in coverage described in such subsection to special or open enrollment periods."

Um - meaning, what? "Sorry I wasn't able to fill out the 87 pages of forms during the three days of the past six months when "open enrollment" was applicable, but I was getting chemo and radiation. Now what...? Oh, wait for the next open or special enrollment period? When - oh, next year...?"

Back to reading.


Section 2704 is a beauty. Glorious, if they could enforce it or get a single megolithic soulsucking corporate greed-fed "screw your stupid disease, where's my profit margin?" insurance company out there to agree to it. About as likely as me being nominated as Citizen of the Year by Rush Limbaugh, which is to say, not at all.


Section 2706, the anti-discrimination section, excellent. Right up until the "[further conforming changes to this section may be needed]" thing at the end. I'm being asked to sign my name to support a draft for which every section is liiely going to undergo massive changes. What happens if someone gets the bright idea to outlaw birth control as a rider to one of these sections as a condition to passing it? There are certainly enough whackjobs in both houses of congress to pull a stunt like that, or worse. And there are certainly few enough congresscritters out there with the stones to smack them down.


I'm a HUGE fan of socialised healthcare, but I'm not signing my support to anything until I've read the whole thing and made my decision based on that. So far, nice intent and not enough meat.


The main roadblack to desperately-needed health care reform in the country is the mindset: every corporation thinks it's somehow guaranteed profit. WRONG, buckaroos. You takes your chances. And that's especially true of insurance, any kind, which is essentially by nature legally enforced gambling: "I'm betting you $870 a month that you'll get catastrophically ill! HAHAHAHA! Roll the dice!"

Until we address the mindset that Corporate America is somehow entitled to profits, we are hosed, SOL, kerfuckety.


And here's a perfect example of why I'm molar-grinding: nice intent, shiny statement, issuing a mandate - and ZERO details as to how it's to be done:

"Section 2707: ENSURING THE QUALITY OF CARE". It has a long series of subheads, all incredibly cool and right-on and needed - but all they are, are vague directives. "Insurer shall develop chronic ... Read Moreillness care" - um, HOW, goddamnit?!?! How do you plan on enforcing that? If this is a law you're talking about, what's the regulating reality?

I want substance. Why is it so hard to provide that?


Section 270, redux. Second half is followed by a series of sub-sections that basically say "at some point not more then [ ] period of time after passage of this act, we'll figure out some of the details.

NO. You are talking about a @#%%$$ LAW here, people. Details are important - it's where the devil lives, remember? Get your shit together and GIVE ME SUBSTANCE.


Section 2708, Preventives, looks quite good, until we get to (b). (b) isn't evil, it's just so badly written, I can't figure out what in hell they're talking about. Anyone? Bueller?

"(b) SITES OF CARE - Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to prohibit a group health plan or health insurer issuing group or individual health insurance coverage from establishing conditions for coverage for the services described in subsection (a) that requires that such services be [performed by providers with appropriate expertise?]"

Everything, including the brackets and the question mark, is theirs, not mine, as written. I can't figure out what in hell that means. "You have the right to have people with medical degrees perform medical procedures"? Quois...?


And that's all for tonight. There will be more read-and-post tomorrow. Tonight, need dinner and if I read any more of this without food, head will go 'splodey.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Here comes the Big Damned Psych-Up

So here we go: the second JP Kinkaid mystery, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, hits the street on 15 September. That means it's time to mentally get into a full lotus tuck, tell the universe and my Inner PR Wonkesse "Namaste", and get my head into the space for pushing the book.

Of course, the Zen thing might not be the ideal road this time. The events I'm doing are on a rather different level than straight in-store signings:

Three radio spots (including the two excellent hours I just did for Lilycat at FCC Free Radio, and David Gans' nationally syndicated "Dead to the World" on 16 September, the night after the official pub date).

The amazing benefit fundraiser at San Francisco's Boom Boom Room, Roy Rogers playing and Jim Marshall - yes, that Jim Marshall, the man called the Godfather of Rock Photography and one of the best on his side of the aperature that ever picked up a camera - signing with me, for MSFriends/Rock for MS.

The fundraiser for the San Rafael Library: three of us who write music-based mysteries (Jon Pederson, Danny Carnahan and myself), with live music and special guests and in connection with the Marin Rocks exhibit, on 1 October, at the San Rafael City Council chambers.

The Marin County Writers centennial party at Book Passage in Corte Madera on 18 October - I'll be covering "The Cover of Rolling Stone" with my adored Kathi Kamen Goldmark's band, Los Train Wreck, and there are something like 18 writers attending. That one's $45, but you get a full lunch and your choice of book. Well worth it, since the average hardback these days is $25 plus tax.

The "Wine, Women and Song" event I'm doing at Clayton Books on Sunday, 25 October, with Laura Anne Gilman. She's providing the wine aspect (with the first book in her new series, which is getting starred reviews and raves everywhere), I'm providing the song, and we're both women. Then, of course, there's Word Fantasy in San Jose over Halloween weekend...

So maybe that "namaste" thing should be more on the Tarantino end of the scale: Namaste, motherfucker, a kind of literary version of what Ted Williams used to do before going out and creaming the baseball: "I'm TED FUCKING WILLIAMS and I am the GREATEST BASEBALL PLAYER IN THE WORLD!" This was just during batting practice, but there you go: it worked for him.

I think I'll try the Zen first. If that doesn't get me cooking, I'll do Tarantino. And if both fail me, I'm pretty damned sure the Nickelback show at Shoreline next Tuesday will kickstart me, good and hard.

Namaste, yo.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So very tired of having to call "bullshit"....

Today, Lieutenant Dan Choi went before the review board and was fired from the US Military he'd served - for refusing to lie about being gay.

Said President Obama a few days ago, to a group of very unhappy gay activists:

"I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps...We've been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration."

Yes, well, I'm sure that's making Dan Choi - fired for not lying - feel ever so much better about things. And you know, of all the bullshit I've heard spouted recently, the sheer doubletalk in the above statement really is breathtaking. "I expect to not be judged by promises I've made" - um, wait a minute, want to roll that back a few reels, buckaroo?

Dan Choi now takes his fight to Nancy Pelosi, in hopes that the Speaker - who is also my rep - will defend his worthiness to her Supreme Boss. Since the lady reps my district, and I've watched her political and ethical spine turn to jello these past couple of years, my initial reaction is a hearty "yeah, don't hold your breath, dude".

I call bullshit. And I'm curious as to what my gay friends, or the people in the ranks of those I know and even remotely call friends who claim to support gay equality and rights, are calling this.

Because, truly madly deeply?

I DO judge you on the promises you made, President Obama. And I call bullshit, yet again. I'm really damned tired of calling bullshit.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Reposted, with Ayelet's permission

Just received in email:

"Most of you are used to receiving from me funny little emails, chock full of jokes and self-promotion. But today I'm emailing for a different reason. Today Dr. George Tiller, one of the last late term abortion providers in the country, was assassinated by an anti-abortion maniac, a home-grown American terrorist, brought to you by the likes of Randall Terry and Bill O'Reilly.

Women went to Dr. Tiller when they were given diagnoses of fatal abnormalities, when they'd been sent from doctor to doctor, desperate to find out what was wrong with their babies, only to hear the worst possible news. They came from all over the country, and found in his clinic -- once they'd run the gauntlet of the hysterical and rage-filled protesters -- warmth and sensitivity, support and caring.

There is no doubt that this vile murder was inspired by the likes of Bill O'Reilly, who targeted Dr. Tiller, and by Operation Rescue and the Kansas anti-choice organizations who put Dr. Tiller's name, his photographs, his home address, and the address of his church up on their websites, the better to facilitate his murder. Organizations like Priests for Life tried to shirk hoped in the beginning even to pin the blame on "an angry post-abortive man or woman, or a misguided activist, or an enemy within the abortion industry." (Yes, that is in fact a quote from their official statement.)

I'm going to ask you to do something for me. I'm going to ask you to make a small donation. $5. $10. $100. Whatever you feel moved to donate, in Dr. Tiller's honor. And in honor of the millions of women like me, whose hearts were broken by pregnancies gone terribly wrong. Women who found only warmth and love in the care of Dr. Tiller and the other courageous few who continue to risk their lives for our sakes.

Donate at: http://www.prochoice.org/support/index.html

or at: https://secure.prochoiceamerica.org/site/Donation2?1901.donation=form1&df_id=1901

or at: http://www.pbscf.org/index_files/pleasedonate.html

They kill us, and still they make us stronger. Let's prove it to them.


Ayelet Waldman"


If you're not pro-choice, no pressure; I am pro-choice, and I respect yours. But please, ask yourself if murdering a doctor in church fits your own personal definition of "respect for life".

IMe, just donated.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dark's Tale (formerly Dark in the Park): The Cover!

Coming 23 March 2010, Egmont USA.

I get the best damned covers....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh, and in re Afghan women...

Yeah, we're fighting the "Good War" in Afghanistan. We're bolstering up Shrub and Cheney's hand-picked president and his sexist Shiite bullshit because, hey, women are SUPPOSED to be chattel to the men in their lives! And besides, it's all about having to respect everyone else's culture, because it's about sensitivity. Quick, someone start a flame war about how it's All About Something Else and anyone who sees it differently is a Hater!

Reading stuff like this, I want to puke - because Rall is right as right gets. And the only conclusion I seem to be able to draw from this today is that, as a species, we're slime.

We're mean, stupid, superstitious, territorial, and we learn NOTHING. We fall for every shiny distraction. We actually hanker after anything that will sedate us enough to keep us from having to go out and actually learn things for ourselves.

And then, when we're done doing that, we pat ourselves on the back for being on top of the food chain, and being the Most Favoured of God's Creation.

Beam me up. I'm ashamed to be human. And someone pass me an airsickness bag on the way out.

And for the record? This is why I continue to state that, no matter what else changes, gender is the noun, and everything else - race, ethnicity, age - is an adjective. In the end, women get nailed.

And I am bloody sick of it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Afghan Women's Writing Project

I'm feeling incredibly fortunate right now: I've been invited by journalist and novelist Masha Hamilton to participate as one of the teachers/mentors in an incredible project: The Afghan Women's Writing project.

Along with several other writers, I'll be working online directly with young women in Afghanistan. These women are in some of the most conservative provinces-Farah, Kandahar-as well as in Kabul and Herat. We'll be helping to develop their writing.

Says Masha: "These are women who, when permitted to attend school, are often NOT encouraged to seek a higher education. They have such strong voices, (and what a wealth of experiences), and they just need development. Some are young journalists; others have studied briefly in the states but are now back home, others hope to study here at some point. They all have workable English (sometimes excellent English) and access to a computer."

I'll be doing rotating work online for three weeks or so with these young women over the next six to nine months. There will be a website up shortly, and as the project moves along, these women will have their work showcased. Security issues are bad, and getting worse; these women are in so much danger locally that only their first names can be used. But as soon as the website is up, with details, I'll be tweeting, Facebooking and blogging generally about it.

I'm just incredibly pleased to have been asked to be a part of this. It's so very easy for me to work at lightspeed on whatever I choose, sitting comfortably in the First World. Women around the rest of the world are not nearly so lucky.