Columns 2009

2009 Hall of Infamy

This was a pretty amazing year for nominations into my Hall of Infamy. Considering it was not an election year, I thought the pickings would be slim. But political pandering lives on in all its glory as seen by the machinations that led to a health care bill that was, quite frankly, hardly worth either the wait, the cost or the pandering.

But I digress. The Hall is about those who have caused such ickiness and disgust as to have risen above the usual sleazy suspects.

Let’s start with Dick Cheney who retired from active politics on January 20, 2009

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Columns 2009

A Christmas memory

When you’re young, you think your holidays will go on forever in the old familiar way. But they won’t. Eventually, what you’ll have is memories. Hopefully they will be wonderful.

For me, Christmas will always mean my Aunt Ida’s house on Sylvania Street in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. My family would start the day in Atlantic City, opening presents and getting dressed in our new winter clothes. My brother and I were allowed to pick one gift we could bring in the car for bragging rights with all the cousins we’d soon be seeing.  We would have gone to

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Columns 2009

Keep the spirit year round

Given the general discord in the country right now, it would seem as though any spirit of holiday good will would have to be a positive thing, one we should foster.

If you think about it, the person a large majority of this country celebrates at this holiday time, Jesus Christ, seems to have been a fellow who not only had good will but liked celebrating good times as much as the next guy. If not, why would he have turned all that water into wine when he was a wedding guest? Talk about the perfect wedding gift!

So having

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Columns 2009

Stop letting abusers sit at the table where the power is

Sean Parnell is the kind of conservative who should make liberals take a second look. While many Alaskans were annoyed at what was viewed as his snub of President Obama during his stop over, it’s hard to stay mad at someone who seems to have his priorities so well ordered.

From being an almost ghostly gray presence during the reign of our gal Temporary Sal, he is emerging as someone who will probably never grace the cover of People Magazine but who will govern Alaska with competence and thoughtfulness. That’s more than most politicians seem to offer nowadays.

In his

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Columns 2009

Respect in political life

As I listen to the commercials being broadcast endlessly about health care reform and its alleged dire circumstances to seniors on Medicare, what sticks in my mind is the ending to one of the commercials. It is simply a senior saying, “Seniors won’t forget”. The not too subtle threat is that if a politician votes for health care, senior citizens will vote en masse to turn him or her out of office.

And so my last hope for civil discourse crumbles as the only age group who could possibly still remember what civil discourse sounds like makes a move to

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Columns 2009

Happy Thanksgiving… and keep getting those mammograms

Here’s what I’m grateful for on this Thanksgiving. I’m grateful that two of my friends, both in their fifties, did not wait two years to get their next mammogram. Because if they had, both would have had well advanced tumors that may or may not have been treatable. And if the tumors had still been treatable, the treatment would have been much harsher and horrifying than it was.

Talking in abstracts about how many more lives are saved or not saved through an annual mammogram is one thing. Walking with a friend who stands a good chance of being around

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Columns 2009

Braces can make a difference

A judge recently ruled that the state had to provide braces for children in state custody if, in fact, a dentist determined they were needed. A small victory but one of great importance to children being raised by the state because their parents can’t quite find the time to do it.

A few years back, there was a young girl on my GAL caseload who had dental needs. She was one of those kids that just worm their way right into your heart. She was bright, pretty, charming and should have been having a wonderful childhood. But instead, she was

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Columns 2009

When did we become so selfish?

One of the questions that must be asked as the health care debate rages on is just what type of society we are or want to be.

The reason humans first banded together those many millennia ago was because communal life provided better protection against the wildness and dangers it contained.  But living together only worked if the rules of the society in which you lived made life better than facing the lions and tigers and bears that inhabited the primeval forests alone.

So humankind made rules for its societies. It created both spoken and unspoken codes of conduct that,

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Columns 2009

When will we put our money where our mouth is?

Once again the headlines tell a sad, sad story. American children are still killed by their parents or caregivers with disgusting regularity. An article in the Oct. 27 Anchorage Daily News quoted a report from the national child advocacy group, Every Child Matters, that 16 children died in Alaska due to parental abuse from 2001 to 2007. The report added that those 16 were only the documented number; the real number is probably much higher.

Perhaps even more frightening, Alaska public health researchers reported in 2008 that over the past eleven years, 114 babies had died “from abuse, neglect or

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Columns 2009

Respect in political life

As I listen to the commercials being broadcast endlessly about health care reform and its alleged dire circumstances to seniors on Medicare, what sticks in my mind is the ending to one of the commercials. It is simply a senior saying, “Seniors won’t forget”. The not too subtle threat is that if a politician votes for health care, senior citizens will vote en masse to turn him or her out of office.

And so my last hope for civil discourse crumbles as the only age group who could possibly still remember what civil discourse sounds like makes a move to

Continue reading → “Respect in political life”