We Own DC Superheroes and Villians

7 Aug

I have quite possibly never seen so much hand-wringing and vile human verbal bile than when it comes to the casting and costuming of theatrical comic book characters. I’m willing to admit I was a desk chair critic for a while and still have thoughts and feelings when it comes to who is cast in certain roles. What I realized recently though is I haven’t seen nearly as people with their hair on fire about Marvel characters. Robert Downey, Jr. is Tony Stark. Chris Evans is wholesome and American-y. Scarlett Johannsen is convincingly convincing as a spy.

The real issue seems to be mostly, in the arena of public opinion, with DC Comics:
• Can Ben Affleck be the Batman?
• They cast Jared Leto as who?
• How can Superman be English?

What is there a stronger feeling of certainty about how members of the Justice League and their villains should dress, behave, and appear? I think it has to do with these characters being viewed psychologically as paragons in our mind. Superman is a Boy Scout, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” paragon of virtue. Batman is an archetypal anti-hero. Wonder Woman is a warrior princess. The Joker is the model of criminal insanity, Lex Luthor is the corruption of power and wealth and ego, etc. That’s what lures us into these characters: we have our version of who and what constitutes these characters based on their presentation because we feel we own that virtue, and likewise that virtue is a resemblance of us.

Stating the obvious on HB2 in NC

3 Apr

For those who missed it the NC General Assembly passed legislation at the end of March that overruled all other NC law in two main categories: First, no counties or municipalities can pass any form of statute that gives extra protections to specified groups and second, those same smaller governments cannot raise the minimum wage above the state level.
The law, HB2, has gotten a lot of flack because of its status as a “bathroom bill” due to its immediate effect being that transgender and transexual citizens have to legally use the bathroom that matches their biological (at birth) sex. This is regardless of whatever stage in transition the person who has too many coffees may be in. It has been described by proponents as a law that’s utility is found in protecting children and other other adults from sexual predation of any form. The law presents itself a solution without a problem because we already have laws in NC concerning indecency.
Proponents also say that this law expands uniform civil rights across the state. Gov. Pat McCrory has supported his signing in baffled tones illustrating examples that this increases liberty, nevertheless it disallows counties and municipalities from passing stricter laws.
The current list of NC protected classes leaves outs gays, lesbians, trans, queer, veterans, and seniors. If the City of Winston-Salem wanted to pass a statue that said veterans had a protected status in employment practices the state can overrule it. If the City of Durham wanted to pass an ordinance saying all restaurants must serve Muslims then only the state and federal laws would have any jurisdiction.
Why is that important? Because this opens the door for ultimately more discrimination statewide because the state law reduces the ability of citizens to have legal recourse locally and forces them to seek action where it is more difficult and expensive: state and federal court. It’s also contrary to the hallmark argument conservatives give about Federalism: It allows people at the local level the ability to make the decisions concerning those people.
Additionally HB2 attached the mercantile carrot to the quagmire stick: local governments cannot increase the minimum wage. So if Asheville or Wilmington wanted to pass legislation that raised minimum wage even the slightest amounts (on the heels of West Coast cities doing so) it’s not legal. Businesses have that added legal protection to insulate from even having to pick a position.. However, in the public relations nightmare this has created it’s cold comfort no insulating can help.
A wedge issue has stripped North Carolina of its dignity.

Darrell Issa and Chris Christie

17 Mar

All in all it was a pretty exciting couple weeks for the GOP, especially with the Russian Menace looming, invading, and being all decisive, giving every Republican a valid reason to mention Reagan. It’s natural Republican Viagra!


Darrell Issa, the richest occasionally working man in Congress, abruptly concluded a hearing this week with Lois Lerner dissatisfied with her audacity to not self-incriminate and make “IRS” the new “Benghazi” after “Fast and Furious”, it was discovered, only reminds conservatives that Paul Walker is dead. May he rest.

After less than 20 minutes, Issa adjourned to get on with the rest of his day demanding the truth and hair coloring products. What happened next made many wonder if Chairman Issa was in desperate need of a nap and juicebox when he not only refused to allow any Democrats to ask questions but then cut off ranking member, Congressman Elijah Cummings’ microphone. As we all know, cutting the mike of an outspoken Civil Rights proponent completely disarms them. To his chagrin and numerous MSNBC footage reels, Rep Elijah Cummings wanted to ask a question in the way most middle managers give a performance evaluations–with all of the criticism getting around to one point justifying a generous 5 cents per hour raise. However, press mikes continued to record the entire exchange as Cummings lectured Republicans like it was Shakespeare in the House.

By the end of the exchange the future talking point that Lerner wouldn’t answer questions she hadn’t planned to answer to begin with was lost and we all learned a valuable lesson: gaveling just makes some people feel powerful. Also, the “cut the mike” gesture will now be referred to as the Issa instead of the O’Reilly.


CPAC was also this week showing us Mitch McConnell carrying a shotgun, because things in the Senate have gotten that bad. Bobby Jindal compared Obama to Jimmy Carter in material he’ll soon be turning into his own sitcom called “Tired False Premise”. Look for it this Fall on NBC. This was far better than Donald Trump who’s losing more of his toupe every time he appears in public, who thought Carter was already dead. He’s not certain as he has not seen the long form death certificate.

Chris Christie enthusiastically spoke and sounded very hungry….for the GOP to win in 2014. He was finally invited back to CPAC after upsetting conservatives in past years by working with President Obama to acquire Hurricane Sandy relief and expanding Medicaid in New Jersey. He remarked that the GOP cannot govern if they don’t win, but should have reminded everyone that constituents can’t vote if they aren’t alive. He also said that the GOP ideas were better than those of the Democrats. This coming from the guy whose playbook allegedly includes shutting down the busiest bridge in the world as political payback and withholding hurricane relief funds to the mayor of Hoboken. If his ideas get any newer he’s going to start taking the cannoli BY THE TRUCK.

Aside 16 Mar

Friday, March 14, 2014, was my last day in healthcare as a biller. Seven years in reimbursement. It’s been an interesting, frustrating experience at times. I’m not sad to be moving on, but the things I’ve learned really have opened my eyes to how flawed the American system really is when it comes to providing consistently affordable maintenance healthcare. 
So I thought I would write down a quick list of the things I’ve learned in hopes it may help you. Or the healing process (ha!). Really, I’m tired of working Medicare audits this week.
1. Insurance companies are assholes. They only care about their shareholders interests or the law. If they can prove any reason not to pay something they will. Every time.
2. If anyone says, “You’re insurance will cover it” punch them in the gut and give them my Twitter handle. Your insurance will accept the charges but everything is still subject to coinsurance, copays, and the DEDUCTIBLE. You should be hearing hushing, ominous music in your head. Learn what those are for your policy. Be discerning when suggested treatment and equipment. Discuss with everyone.
3. Most all equipment “rents” for several months THEN it “converts to a purchase”. Most of the stuff I dealt with was for aged and elderly: Hospital beds, nebulizers, wheelchairs, etc. Oxygen rents but never converts. Hey, there are no absolutes. Insurance and government payers do this to reduce costs. They have no way of knowing just exactly how long you will use whatever and they’re not medical equipment Santa.
4. This entire field and business is over-complicated, messy, and automated. Claims are flying out the door all the time, payments are coming in, errors errywhere. Ask someone how the billing works before you troll them how it’s supposed to work.
5. Due to the penalties, jail time, and sheer amount of work it would take (laziness wins) there are very few companies that are willfully billing fraudulently. It’s almost impossible to overbill a medical payer because of how claims are adjudicated and the established rate. I could bill Medicare all day $300 for a box of bandages. They’re only going to pay $2.10. Things are billed with codes, codes match dollar amounts and limits for time frames (only 500 bandages a month!), and if everything lines up there’s some payment. Medical billing is unlike any other billing. 

There’s plenty more, but really that’s the short of it. If you understand that much it’s not so scary, at least based anecdotally on the hundreds of phone calls I’ve taken.

Five things Bill O’Reilly flubs in ‘Killing Jesus’

12 Jan

Casual critique and a reminder that simply because a book hits #1 doesn’t mean it is historically accurate. Or even good for that matter.

CNN Belief Blog

Opinion by Candida Moss, Special to CNN

(CNN)--Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus: A History” is the best-selling book in the world right now. But it’s far from flawless.

The Holy Spirit may have inspired “Killing Jesus,” but he didn’t fact-check it.

Here are five ways it shows: 

View original post 792 more words

“Obamacare Driving Me Drink”

5 Jan

This week I’ve noticed a rather interesting television ad going after Sen. Kay Hagan and Obamacare, previously known as the Affordable Care Act, previously the wild-eyed scheme of a group of people who thought certain bankruptcy for medical attention in a country that touts their Christianity was both ironic and immoral. The ad features a real live person and North Carolinian, Sheila Salter, who is a businesswoman in the medical field. Yes. Really.

After watching it I immediately decided to search the internet for her to see what information turned up. Thankfully, tastefully, the first result was her LinkedIn, but shortly thereafter the search results turned to her appearance on CSPAN3 where she was giving testimony concerning how Obamacare was going to cost her business $4,584. I truly tried to empathize with her and, while recognizing that small businesses budget within strict margins, quickly found the empathy evaporating. Was this the first time she’s ever had a government, state or federal, guideline change her balance sheet and possibly force the business to adjust its pricing? Evidently so. While getting in a few laughs for her drinking joke, she appears to completely miss the point of risk pools. In a pool of people who sign up for a policy, there will be provisions you will never use. Ever. What’s more is you don’t pay for those provisions under the potential risk of having to use them solely, but that it drives the cost down for everyone in that pool. It’s one of the numerous ways health insurance is different than any other kind of insurance. I have no issue paying for maternity because it drives down the premium potentially expectant mothers pay. It’s really as simple as that. No. Really.

The ad in question appears to have numerous spots and funding and was well-produced in a kitchen bigger than my first apartment. That isn’t even hyperbole. The fact that the counter tops are granite actually made me cross my arms with consternation. Through the course of the commercial she laments that she has lost her doctor, her health plan, and will now have to pay more for health insurance. While the entire “you can keep your health plan and doctor” line of assault against really President Obama was effective concluding 2013, it appears to be the only assault now that the website is improved. Not even the President is excusing his choice of words and the fact they were misleading. Furthermore, this is what you’re going to get with a public/private partnership, especially with insurance companies that do not care about your health, insomuch as it never forces them to pay out more than your premiums and out-of-pocket expense annually. The President should have never had said it, but haranguing him only wins temporary political points. It doesn’t actually solve problems, like Ms. Salter losing her doctor and plan.(And she really hasn’t lost them down a rabbit hole in space on a deserted island.)

So what does she do? How does recoup? She purchases a new plan on the exchanges, a more comprehensive plan and through BCBSNC. (NC Governor Pat McCrory, in what really feels like a betrayal of conservative business values, abandoned the free market and BCBSNC is the only provider through the exchange, happy to compete with itself. This is on top of the Governor not expanding Medicaid.) Despite implying that the change in premium rate is a huge disservice, I see she has those granite counter tops and lose all sympathy. It’s entirely judgmental of me, agreed, but she didn’t say she couldn’t afford the rise in premium. She also didn’t say she wouldn’t be able to see actual doctors. So she’s inconvenienced at best and at worst dosed with the level of uncertainty and confusion anyone uninsured or under-insured has had to live with for decades. The ad isn’t plausible to invoke sympathy. 

Within the trail of crocodile tears a pattern unfolds more stark than subtle. The people who absolutely despise Obamacare and want to invest time and money into seeing it dismantled are only ever just slightly inconvenienced by it. They’re not being denied care or access to care. They’re not being subjected to a premium completely out of their ability to pay. They’re not even being disallowed a lollipop at the end of the visit. Rolls of people who object to Obamacare and present their numbers have been time and time again proven either hyper-political against the policy or bad at signing up for a policy through the exchanges. The general tone these discussions take consistently revolve around people of means being inconvenienced and the fake outrage that ensues, like a child who was told there would be cake at dinner but then cries foul with a bait and switch when presented with broccoli and meatloaf first.

It’s time to pass the gravy.

Duck Call Politics

24 Dec

Duck CallsOver the course of the past few days I’ve been listening to all the different arguments concerning the Duck Dynasty personality Phil Robertson and his indefinite suspension from A&E. I’ve listened to pundits, family, friends, Facebook, and Twitter. People have quoted everything from the First Amendment to the Bible in asserting their point of view with his paraphrasing of Christian philosophy. So, I wonder: Is hiding behind theology to assert a controversial religious opinion “duck call politics”?

His “freedom of speech” wasn’t violated by being suspended.

Freedom of Speech is a guarantee that government will not infringe your ability to state fringe, crazy things. Well, most crazy things. If his employer wants to say, “That out of line. Go sit in time-out.” they can. It’s their network.

The controversy isn’t really about  Robertson saying what he said. It’s because A&E indefinitely suspended him.

They’re a private company who knew exactly who they had hired, but still had to take a stand on the issue. Part of it was a moral position, part of it was public relations, and I wouldn’t be surprised if was partially a publicity stunt.

The “he was just quoting scripture” or “it’s his religion” is moot because: bestiality.

A lot of people have a lot of religious beliefs and good for them. However, you can’t just go and compare something to raping an animal and not expect the people who are being compared to be just the tiniest bit offended.

Referring to this as “hate speech” in a mocking tone.

Let’s say it’s not hate speech. Would you like it if you were compared to a goat fucker? Is that slightly offensive? What about if the person you loved was called a goat fucker? Your brother? Sister? Aunt, uncle, best friend, MOM or DAD.

Saying liberals or anyone who is criticizing him is intolerant.

Is being intolerant of intolerant speech redundant, repetitive, ironic, or just a lousy observation? The entire idea or statement that being ridiculed for saying something ridiculous is showing “intolerance” is purely a simple answer or tagline for people who think “critical thinking skills” are what’s used to fill out a 1040EZ form on April 14th.

The arguments become more specious and ludicrous the further they span out from the actual heart of the story. While we realize that this country and this world views LGBT as some monolithic group with the same set of values, proclivities, and tastes it couldn’t be farther from the truth. What Phil Robertson said, the patriarch–a title that is almost implied to mean he has no ability to comprehend feminism–of the duck dynasty, is a common sentiment among a wide swath of Americans who view homosexuality as immoral and curable, however, it overlooks the individuality of each member of both communities by forcing the same stupid tribalism that has haunted every single social movement in the history of our nation.

Finally: Nobody cares about your thoughts on the morality of homosexuality or if you “agree with that lifestyle”. It’s a social issue and it’s not just one lifestyle.

Lifestyles you are allowed to disagree with:

  • Violent criminals
  • Sex offenders
  • Bigots
  • Men who grow beards they choose not to trim

Lifestyles you cannot disagree with:

  • Homosexuality
  • Watching all of “Sherlock” in one day on Netflix
  • Eating a box of cereal in one sitting, especially Fruity Pebbles