The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Greatest Tragedy Of All

Ah, Rush Limbaugh doesn't get his NFL team. Sob sob. The chickens have come home to roost. He's been playing around the edges of racist rhetoric for over a decade, doing the "aw shucks" routine when he gets called over it. At the VERY least, he is remarkably insensitive to complaints of such talk...and why in the world would black NFL players want an owner who doesn't care about their feelings? Who tells them their concerns are just phantoms of their mind? Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, we still have a person who apparently just doesn't care about people's feelings. Would you want him as a boss? People who suggest that his disturbing rhetoric is "just an act" are missing the point. If it's an act...the situation is actually worse. In that case, he is AWARE of the impact of what he's saying, but doing it anyway for money, not because he actually believes it. In which case he is a sociopath. I'd rather think he actually believed his positions. Then, at least, he would be an honorable man. Why do I waste time thinking about him? Well, unfortunately, while I lived in the NW he was one of the few radio stations that came in clearly. I was listening the day Dick Cheney called in and annointed him as "the official voice of the Republican Party." I see no reason to believe this was entirely a joke. The fact that he hides behind "it's entertainment" whenever someone draws a bead on him matters to no one but Dittoheads. He knows exactly what he is doing, and I would love to think that the NFL debacle is the beginning of a long, painful decline.


The Health Care Industry has announced, clearly, that unless they have competition (in the form of a Public Option) they will raise their rates. This is absurd. The entire fiction that the government is BOTH incompetent AND will drive private insurers out of business is just disturbingly schizophrenic. What is the industry that governmental competition has ever driven out of business? I may be totally ignorant here, seriously, but I can't think of one. There are private fire departments, police forces, mail services, schools, even private armed forces. Please, and I mean this honestly because I just can't think of one, and I'm wondering if I'm blocking somehow. Remember: I'm saying competition, not legislation. I understand Canada made private insurance illegal, which I'm not advocating. But what industry went belly-up as a result of governmental competition? If it has happened, I genuinely want to know.


I've been running the 101 board for just about a year now, and have been having an unbelievable amount of fun. Still haven't gotten the for-pay aspect of the board going, at least partially because I've seen how much people appreciate what I'm doing free of charge. I have to admit that it is terrifically meaningful to offer something that simply flows from my heart, without any thought of material compensation. Sigh. Life feels good right now.


"We become what we think about" is the hidden message of Think And Grow Rich--or so some say. Frankly, I don't think the message can quite be phrased in words. Most profound knowledge doesn't easily yield to language. Another way to put it is "where attention goes, energy flows and results show" a phrase I first learned from Tim Piering. I miss Tim. His morning workouts were just wonderful, but I can't get up that early without throwing the rest of my schedule out of whack. A genuinely wise and good man who has done enough work on himself to have achieved a kind of Parallax--he senses where parallel lines of spiritual inquiry meet, and can communicate this to others. Scott Sonnon has this capacity--to sense a reality about physical movement that cannot be entirely conveyed in words. I suspect it is the source of his fecundity. Harley "Swiftdeer" Reagan is another one. Now, that is not the same as what, for instance, Sri Chinmoy seemed to be. HE was one of those guys who actually sits in the crossroads of that inexpressible knowledge, radiating outward. Fascinating, and very different, someone who lived on a different level of human experience. Scott's spiritual guru Amma is another. More so than Chinmoy, I suspect. My ability to sense auras was totally overwhelmed by her, to the point that she barely registered as human. I know that that sounds freaky, but I'm just being honest: consider me cracked if you want, but I'm being honest. It has been a great honor to be allowed to sense the presence of beings simply more advanced than I. It marks out a direction for growth, and once that path is detected, it is possible to look at any spiritual discipline and see what the "critical path" as opposed to the political bullshit that gets grandfathered in by church leaders and grasping gurus. And worst, in some ways, is the damage done by half-awakened individuals who want, really deeply want, to be teachers and wise folk. I know one person who is so obviously damaged that anyone in his/her presence knows it immediately. He/she is kind and giving, but just so wounded that he/she is damned near an anti-advertisement for his/her discipline. It is sad, because there is real value there, but he/she grasps so hard at a level of integration totally beyond him/her, and cannot grasp it.

This is why I've used the over-simplified standard of body, relationship, career. If you have all three, I am instantly curious as to what you're doing, and look for ways that your process might be superior to mine. Without all three, there is the very real possibility of ego traps, of perverted scripture, of fear masquerading as wisdom.

IF you will look at all three aspects, you will need no teachers save your own heart. If you are excellent in any area of life, you already know the secret of becoming excellent at everything. "Know One Thing, Know Ten Thousand Things." Find the connection between whatever principles and actions that led to your excellence, and see how it applies to the other arenas. Stay THERE. Consider THAT the center of your existence, and pay no attention to any spiritual or psychological rules that conflict with whatever basic truth you have found. As the years pass, you will begin to grasp everything that the great teachers have said about our existence, and make the progress you have sought...even if you cannot put it precisely into words. The truth is there, but you have been taught not to trust your own heart, and this is one of the greatest tragedies of all.

Can anyone think of a greater tragedy than the inability to trust your own heart?


Mike R said...

>Can anyone think of a greater tragedy than the inability to trust your own heart?<

Trusting your heart fully and completely and having it lead to one horrible disaster after another?

A woman who stays with a man who beats her because her heart tells her so, for instance.

Foxessa said...

You're not right about Canada making private health insurance illegal.

Go here, which is an official Canadian government health insurance site.

Everytime we repeat something like that, we need to recall that almost everything you are hearing about Canadian and European public health care is wrong, i.e. propaganda put out and about by the medical insurance racketeers of this nation, and their paid lackeys, and those who have a need to believe it for whatever their own personal reasons.

Looking up the facts in these days of the googles and intertubes is the work of less than 20 seconds. It behooves us to do so.

Pagan Topologist said...

Everytime we repeat something like that, we need to recall that almost everything you are hearing about Canadian and European public health care is wrong, i.e. propaganda put out and about by the medical insurance racketeers of this nation, and their paid lackeys, and those who have a need to believe it for whatever their own personal reasons.

This really does not make sense. I hear a lot of both good and bad things about both systems. Are both of these wrong?

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"Can anyone think of a greater tragedy than the inability to trust your own heart?"

As the Miami Sound Machine song says: The Heart Is Not So Smart. Listen to your heart, but vet its yearnings and make all decissions with your brain.

Marty S said...

You can find all kinds of facts on the net, but half them are distortions posted by people with biased opinions. In terms of the Canadian health care system, I prefer going with my son's opinion based upon actual experience living there the last seven years. He has two words to describe it bad and worse.

Pagan Topologist said...

I agree, Marty. My information comes entirely from friends who live or have lived in England or in Canada. They most definitely do not all agree with each other.

Marty S said...

Its not surprising they don't all agree. My son has had several negative experiences and finds getting to see a doctor difficult. But he and his wife are in their thirties and none of the problems he has faced were life threatening. Its always possible that more serious cases are seen in a more timely manner.

Unknown said...

I really wasn't going to get dragged into this, but geez. "Private insurance is illegal"? "Bad, and worse"? Really? C'mon. If you can't make your argument without slandering your gentle neighbours to the north, then maybe there's a problem with your argument.

I was born in the southern US, and my family moved to Canada when I was 13, some 30-odd years ago. Most of our relatives still live in the US. I think my family and friends and I have more direct experience with both systems than most people do. So here's a few points from my perspective:

First of all, anyone lucky enough to live in a developed country, with access to modern 21st century medicine, is freaking lucky. Canada, the US, Britain, France, wherever - we're all blessed beyond the imagining of most people throughout history. Poor people in the US can likely get better medical care than Alexander the Great ever got. And he was, y'know, like, all Great and shit.

As for my personal experiences: no horror stories. Sorry! My family and friends have run the gamut of medical situations, from the very serious - cancer, heart disease, a broken neck, and one child who was born with his insides on the outside - to the moderately serious - hip replacements, spinal fusions, stents - to the mundane - colds, flus, broken bones, amputated digits - and we're all still kicking. Everyone was treated well, no one was butchered; in some cases, the treatment bordered on the miraculous. We live in a small town in northern BC, so the health care is far from the best Canada has to offer; we aren't rich or important, so I think we can rule out preferential treatment. No real horror stories from south of the border either - sorry again - except for one thing, which would be cost. No one on the Canadian side has been driven into massive debt or bankruptcy by a serious medical situation, whereas on the America side they have; and we here on the Canadian side pay a pittance of what our American relatives pay in term of monthly insurance fees. Is our system partially supported by American ingenuity and money? I think so, but to what extent I'm not sure. Is our system sustainable? I really don't know; I suspect not, at least not in its current form. But really no one knows, because this kind of system has never existed before.

Are the waiting times excessive? Hard to say. I know that many my fellow Canadians whine incessantly about any wait, in any situation, so it doesn't surprise me that there are complaints. And yeah, the ER on Friday night can be a zoo. But where is that not true? I don't personally know anyone who has died while waiting, or even suffered egregiously, though I know many who are deeply aggrieved. I suspect it has something to do with being so blessed that any hardship seems like a bitter and unjust punishment. But that's just speculation. (I have my complaints too, though I suspect many on this thread would shake their heads at my ignorance and ingratitude; for example, our current health care in BC covers both acupuncture and chiropractic, both of which I tend to categorize as faith-based systems of dubious scientific merit, and therefore undeserving of public funding. But that's just me; and what a thing to get to complain about! How lucky am I, if that's my biggest bitch?)

Unknown said...

Having said all that, all that's anecdotal, and anecdotes don't constitute evidence. Opinions even less so. Marty's son despising the medical system doesn't prove it's bad; me revering the same system doesn't prove it's good. In terms of actual hard data - longevity, infant mortality, survival rates for various conditions, etc - Canada tests pretty well, and that's the long and short of it. (As for someone's previous post regarding Canada's suicide rates - Universal health care makes people kill themselves! News at 11! Only on Fox! - well, that's pretty tenuous. Canada does have a pretty high suicide rate, slightly higher than the US's, but Italy's is less than half, and they have universal health care, so...Other countries with significantly lower rates: Netherlands, Australia, Germany and the UK. Countries with higher: Finland, Japan, Austria and France. I may be wrong, but I believe all those countries, higher and lower, have universal health care. So...)

Is the Canadian medical profession less inventive and creative than the American, as measured by Nobels? Probably, but most countries in history are less inventive and creative than the US, so that doesn't necessarily make us a bunch of dullards. Does capitalism drive that medical ingenuity? Maybe, but I wonder how the other Nobels measure up? I would guess the US has won a disproportionate share of physics prizes; how many American physicists have gone their whole careers without government funding? I wonder...On that note, the US military has been astonishingly inventive and creative, and there's a wee bit of government involvement there. If they gave out Nobels for Stuff That Can Kill People, the US would have a few of those on the old mantle. I'm just saying, money is a driving force, but as Steve has pointed out, it's rarely the only driving force.

Finally, and this is really important: have whatever medical system you want, but for God's sake leave us out of it. Seriously, this is just getting silly. We're neither hell on earth nor some fabled utopia. We're a country that is very similar to your own, in terms of everything that matters, and most things that don't. We have a really good health care system, that has some serious flaws and limitations, and is as subject to human error as any other human system.

And if you just have to point to us as an example of whatever it is you're trying to argue, for God's sake get it right. Private insurance is illegal? Boy, that's going to be news to Manulife, the gargantuan private insurance corporation that covers all my health insurance needs. Based in Canada, operating in ten countries, largest insurance company in North America, fourth largest in the world: yep, they were sure hit hard by socialized medicine! Poor bastards; reeling in agony all the way to the bank. And it's probably a Canadian bank, y'know, one of those backwards Canadian communistic banks that somehow managed to weather the global economic crisis just fine. Heh, heh; you hosers.

Love y'all, eh?

Rafael Santoro said...

> I prefer going with my son's opinion based upon actual experience living there the last seven years. He has two words to describe it bad and worse.

And I personally prefer going with my own experience growing up in Canada than your opinion, which has a rather tiresome sameness to the opinions of many older White males. Perhaps it's just a remarkable coincidence.

The bottom-line truth is that the Canadian system may not be perfect or fantastic, but even in its present state it is, overall, light years ahead of the atrocity you have in this country.

suzanne said...

I recently listened to one
of the regulars
on a local NPR program
tell a tale about health care
he spoke about a specialist
to whom he's been going regularly for some years on a monthly to six week basis
the doc called him to say they'd no longer be honoring
his insurance
the reason:
the doctor's honoring the insurance have received NO
increase in their paymentas from the insurance company since 1985
whereas the premiums the company charges have
increased by 700%. . . !!!

health insurance companies need to be regulated
and people would be better served by a public option

Marty S said...

gmcrash:A couple of points. My comment wasn't that health care in Canada caused the higher suicide rate. It was that it didn't prevent it and so expectations that UHC would lower the murder rate in the U.S. were unlikely. On the issue of long wait times experienced by my son and his wife. You say that you live in a small town in northern BC, but my son lives in the big city of Ottawa. The denser population probably means more people per doctor hence longer wait times for service.

Anonymous said...

Mr. gmccrash,
What an excellent post!If every human had your perspective we could make any system work. As I age it is becoming obvious to me that individual behaviour is still the key to civilization. Always has been and always will be.
-A fellow Canadian who has also lived in the Usof A

Steven Barnes said...

I guess I was repeating what I'd heard that private insurance was made illegal in Canada. Damn it! I would have sworn I'd heard that from several reliable sources, and now I'm chagrined. Just flat wrong on that count? Damn! Then...I have an even harder time grasping why some people don't want me to have the option of buying insurance from a non-profit governmental entity. And I apologize if I inadvertently spread a lie.

BC Monkey said...

Steve, here's what you had to say in 2007 about the Dixie Chicks.


From my point of view, there is little difference between American crowds burning Dixie Chicks CD’s for dissing Bush, and Sudanese crowds demanding blood for the Englishwoman supposedly dissing Mohammad. The American attack was on the third chakra—power, specifically earning power. The Sudanese demand for blood was an attack on the 1st Chakra-survival. Certainly, at least an order of magnitude more serious. But not on a different continuum
1) in any culture, attacking a person’s livelihood IS an attack on their survival. Obey the tribe, or die.

But Rush isn't part of your tribe of belief, so you feel that the attack on his livelhood (and reputation) is justified. I'm going to guess that you don't consider it equivalent to the Sudanese call for blood, either.

Another parallel would be the Hollywood blacklist. The studios refusing to do business with publicly identified communists in the 1950s. Again- explicit attack on peoples'livelihood based on their political beliefs.

Now mind you, free association is a right, which is also the right not to associate. I think it's perfectly within the rights of the NFL owners and the others who Rush was investing with the decide to drop Rush from their consortium.

What is wrong here is that this has been a complete hit job on Limbaugh. The quotes being put around as supposedly being said by him are fake. Inserted on Wikipedia and then reprinted by a media all too eager to believe them.

Read over, please. :

The man has been on the air 20+ years. Publicly ID'd as an enemy of the Democrat party for most of them. Had he said these things, there would be audio, a date and a time- and they would have been widely reported at the time. (Recall how Rush's comment that the media wanted a black quarterback to do well was reported widely.)

If Rush is such a racist, then why is it necessary to make up quotes to "prove" he's a racist?

BC Monkey said...

As for Canadian helth care, I mentioned my cyst in my jaw a few months ago. Well, that's finally treated by Canadian health care.

Elapsed time from starting to book an appointment with my General practioner to referral to specialist to the actual operation to remove the dammed thing: Eight months.

Oh yes, and what was removed was a ruptured cyst- it had been in there long enough to overpressure and rupture. I may well get more cysts because the cyst material had a chance to pollute the area. Such a dammed shame for me it couldn't have been done slightly effing sooner!?!?

In the meantime, my Dad is now waiting for knee surgery. He started consultations around the spring. He's waiting to be scheduled for the first surgery. He's been waiting tor scheduling for nearly two months already. But of course this waiting does mean that he waits in pain, but hey, at least he has socialized medicine, right?

Oh, and another little thing I thought I'd mention. When the current provincial Liberal government came to power in Ontario they had promised no new taxes.


Their first budget they bought in a "health premium"- an income tax of $950/year in my middle class tax bracket. Explicitly because the Health Care system in Ontario was costing too much and needed more revenue. (They did claim it wasn't a tax too, because it was a "Health premium")

If you get the public option, you'll see all of this in time as well.

Marty S said...

Steve: you weren't really spreading a lie. Private insurance in Canada exists, but is not what we are really talking about. To see what I'm saying follow this link.

Basically what it says is that two years ago Quebec legalized private insurance for faster knee and hip replacements, and cataract surgery. But no policies sold because it was too expensive and could only cover those three medical procedures. This type of limited, expensive coverage hardly qualifies as true legal private insurance

Steve Perry said...

Just a question to refresh my memory. Isn't Limbaugh the same guy who offered that dope fiends should be put under the jail, and who was then found to be abusing hillbilly heroin himself?

At the very least he's a hypocrite for that little bit of business.

And BC -- it's the Democratic Party -- not the "Democrat" party.

Pagan Topologist said...

Steve P. I think he wanted 'dope fiends' put to death, and it later turned out he was doing some legal narcotics illegally by getting multiple prescriptions from multiple physicians.

BC Monkey said...

Back to Canadian private health insurance for a moment.

The relevant fact is that you are not allowed to have private health insurance pay for something covered by the provincial health plans. If you want extras in your hospital stay, like a semi-private room or private room, that's where private health insurance comes in.

FYI, being Canadian and covered through work with private health insurance, I thought it might be interesting for US citizens to see how much I pay and what I get covered for it.

(These are figures from my last pay stub from 2008. Small figure is for that pay period, second is YTD)
Emergency Travel Medical 2.11 54.86
Medical 78.34 2,001.96
Dental 48.22 1,247.24
Optional Spousal Accident 1.87 48.62
Optional Employee Accident 3.11 80.86
Optional Child Accident 0.31 8.06
Short Term Disability 3.20 82.12

Employee Critical Illness 3.13 77.06
Child Critical Illness 0.30 7.80

Here's from my coverage sheet....

80% of the first $5,000 of eligible expenses
100% of eligible expenses thereafter

Lifetime maximum $1,000,000 per covered person
Prescription drugs
Covered based on lowest-priced generics and therapeutic alternatives, where they exist.
Semi-private or private room
$150 per day
Convalescent care facility
$150 per day (maximum 120 days per disability)
Paramedical services
All eligible practitioners*:
Massage therapists
Speech therapists
*must be performed by a licensed practitioner
All eligible practitioners

$500 per service per Benefits Plan Year

Overall maximum of $1,000 per Benefits Plan Year

$50 for x-rays by Chiropractor, Podiatrist and Chiropodist
$1,000 per Benefits Plan Year
Vision care
$150 every 24 consecutive months

The links at the bottom of the page Foxessa linked are good for both sides of this discussion when looking at Canada as a case. Note the large number of articles discussing Wait Times in Canada. Why do you suppose there are so many?

Lobo said...

--What is wrong here is that this has been a complete hit job on Limbaugh. The quotes being put around as supposedly being said by him are fake. Inserted on Wikipedia and then reprinted by a media all too eager to believe them.

BC, you do know that tape exists of his race-baiting, right?

He made the McNabb comment on national television, ferchrissakes. He streams a video feed every day from his studio so there actually is tape of him saying insanely racist bullshit on a nearly daily basis. The quotes referenced in the article you posted may or may not have been said by him, but that's really just a couple of drops out of a lake's worth of race-baiting this guy has been doing for years.

There's a saying, "Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas." The man has made ungodly amounts of money servicing a niche market that just loves it when he does his race-baiting hunk. Now he has to deal with the consequences. He's the one that damaged his ability to make money outside of his niche.

BC Monkey said...


Given how I referenced the McNabb comment, telling me it's on tape is not exactly news.

What I dispute is "there actually is tape of him saying insanely racist bullshit on a nearly daily basis."

Then you won't have any problem providing direct links now, will you? If they are so regular and so prominent, it should be all of 2 minutes googling for you, right?

Don't tell me it's there- show me. Otherwise it goes right back to the question- if he's so racist, why make up quotes to prove it?

Note that many of the places that put out the "racist Rush" quotes last week have retracted on the basis of being unable to prove them.

If major media organizations cannot produce the quotes to back themselves up (truth being an absolute defence against libel) I'm doubting you can prove your allegation.

(unrelated note- My insurance figures I should note that they are for coverage om myself, wife and kid)

Lobo said...


Rush Limbaugh pining for the days of segregation. In case you don't see it, the subtext is now that Obama is the president, it's OK for black kids to beat up on white kids. He especially likes the "reverse-racism" canard.

Rush Limbaugh playing "Barack the Magic Negro" on his show. Created by Paul Shanklin as a parody of something Al Sharpton said. Appropriated not as a subtle goose of Al Sharpton, but as an openly racist attack on Barack Obama.

Discussing Obama, Limbaugh suggests Dems, media believe "you can't criticize the little black man-child"

Here's a link with a few more:

If you need more convincing, check out Media Matters and FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).

Jonathan Alter likes to keep a record of his more egregious statements.

Keith Olbermann delights in pointing this stuff out.

I think I've made my point.

Tom Perkins said...

"I guess I was repeating what I'd heard that private insurance was made illegal in Canada."

It was made illegal for many decades, and then because Canadians going south for the more timely care they could afford there, were doing just that, they made it legal again.

"The entire fiction that the government is BOTH incompetent AND will drive private insurers out of business is just disturbingly schizophrenic."

Why, the two aren't truths aren't even slightly contradictory. If they make supplemental, alternative, or catastrophic private insurance expensive enough through taxes or illegal, then either only the stratospherically rich/influential have it--and most providers of it shrink to insignificance or go under, and the mass of us hoi polloi wither while DMV type cretins decide if we have enough tax-paying ability left in us to warrant keeping around.

"Elapsed time from starting to book an appointment with my General practioner to referral to specialist to the actual operation to remove the dammed thing: Eight months."

Contrast a colleague of mine who had one growing in the middle of his forehead. We nicknamed it "uni". Time from seeing a doctor about to getting it out was about four weeks, and that was as much the convenience to his schedule and giving the antibiotics time to do their thing as it was any other cause for delay.

Tom Perkins said...

"I think I've made my point."

That you're pretty far left, sure.

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