Saturday, May 2, 2009

Open Salon Comments

I am going to post some of my Open Salon comments to other posters, as I don't want to lose them. I tend to be a thoughtful commenter and not a very fertile poster. This will be edited/extended from time to time:

In response to Cindy Ross' post:
UPDATE We went broke paying medical bills--and we're insured.

I found your post via CM's Daily Scrawl. And you've now been awarded an Editor's Pick. Double bonus. I appreciate your post. It shows the community here on OS what normal, hardworking folks go through in this country every single day with our "free market" "health care" system which incorporates "choice" (whether you can afford it or not).

Our son has a chronic medical condition that he acquired from his first country at birth, which we didn't know about , but which surfaced during his middle school years.We are lucky that his very expensive treatment was fully covered by our HMO, which we "chose" during the "election" period at our large university employer. If we had "chosen" the non-HMO, typical Blue Cross option, which would have cost us much more, his "treatment" would NOT have been covered. But, his organ transplant WOULD HAVE BEEN covered.

He responded very well to the grueling treatment and has been healthy since. Lucky "choice" on our part.

He and his girlfriend, who has Type I diabetes, had a baby 2 years ago. Our grandson was "unexpected." Because they were both on their parents' respective health insurance policies, they couldn't marry because our insurances would drop them, and they are uninsurable due to their "pre-existing" conditions. Plus, although our son's girlfriend's parents both cover her with their large employer-based insurance policies, the pregnancy was not covered. Why? I'm am not sure if they could have "chosen" such coverage. Even if they could have how many of us foresee our children's pregnancies and would choose a higher premium based on such possibilities?

Thankfully we had a very new Medicaid program in our state that covered the pregnancy, and our grandson's care after he was born. Both mom and baby have received excellent care from "Medicaid." Our son and his girlfriend are in graduate school now, and because they remain in school their parents' (our) health insurance policies will cover them until they are 24 years old. Apparently, that's the "standard" age that "kids" are dropped from parents' policies. We do not have any "choice" in the matter.

They will graduate before they are 24 by three months, and at that time will have to find employment from an employer that has a Group Health Insurance Policy, so that their "pre-existing" conditions do not "count" against them, so that they can be covered by health insurance.

What do I think their chances are of gaining such employment in this recession? I seriously don't know, but their "chances" of gainful post-graduation employment look dimmer everyday. This is not their "choice" either.

This is what "choice" gets you.

In response to Dennis Loo's: Tugging on the Torture Thread

Hi Dennis,

I wrote the following on Blue's blog and I'll re-post it here:

"With all of these posts on water boarding, I've been trying to figure out my reticence to jumping on board the anti-torture bullet train all night. I guess it's this: if there was an evil person that knew some secret information that could stop people from being killed, why wouldn't I torture him or her to find that out to save people's lives?

Okay. I'm ready for the millions of comments I will get pounding me for that statement.

But, there seems to me a difference between torturing someone for information on a person who already did something, and torturing someone regarding something that is about to happen that you can stop.

Is this simplistic thinking?

I actually am a Catholic that thinks like a Buddhist most times, and these thoughts still come to mind. I mean, I totally believe in the laws of karma........ So, I'm not sure why I'm thinking this way.

Is it fear?"


It's not like I want to get pummeled. I want to hear your answer and you seem like a very smart guy. So, I welcome your response.


Dennis Loo's response (same url):


You write: "If there was an evil person that knew some secret information that could stop people from being killed, why wouldn't I torture him or her to find that out to save people's lives?"

There are a number of different ways of answering this question.

The most important one is in my April 22nd post: "The 'War on Terror' is Like Antibacterial Soap.”

That post puts the stress on the moral question which is the central one. I also address (albeit very briefly) all of the other major dimensions.

I would read that post first.

To add to that post, let's take your question.

The “ticking time bomb” scenario contains a number of fallacies. The first one is that the ones holding the suspect are CERTAIN that this suspect has knowledge about a soon to happen murderous act against many people.

Under what circumstances would anyone come upon such certain knowledge?

To my knowledge (I don't have complete knowledge, but I have familiarized myself with the issues in this matter), there has never been a case in history where such certain knowledge was possessed by someone.

It would be a different thing if you saw someone who had their hands on a triggering device that you saw was going to blow up a building or bridge where there were many people and you had a chance to stop this person, if necessary, by shooting them.

Torturing someone based on a SUPPOSITION (because that's all you would have) that they might be involved in a murderous plot is a wholly different matter. Torturing someone based on such a supposition would be morally and legally indefensible. It would also be a bad way to get information since torture doesn't produce honest answers. That is the consensus among intelligence people worldwide and the universal conclusion of those who have been tortured and survived.

The people who are justifying torture on the grounds that a "bomb" might be ticking somewhere are saying this not because they have such information - because they CAN'T have such information - they are saying it because they want to cover up what they're really doing and why they're doing it. (If someone wants to claim that an informant has told them that their suspect knows something, then you have to assume that this informant isn't lying. This is another supposition you'd have to be relying upon to justify torturing someone.)

Furthermore, if a group was actually planning a murderous terrorist attack and one of its members with critical knowledge of the plans were arrested, what would the rest of the group do? Would they still go ahead with their plans, knowing that one of theirs is in custody and could spill the beans? They would, of course, cancel the plans and disperse. This means that torturing the person in custody wouldn’t prevent an attack.

What those who torture are up to throughout history isn’t getting information. Torture is specifically designed to terrorize the individual and others. That is its purpose.

If one were to allow the exception that in some instances one may be permitted to torture someone, then what this opens the door to is anyone, anywhere, just has to SAY that they believe that the person they have in custody has info that will save many lives and that they can't find out the info without torturing them, and one would have NO WAY to determine whether or not this was simply an excuse and the torturers were using torture because they were sadistic or trying to terrorize the population and so on.

In other words, by allowing exceptions, what you have done is permit torture to become a regular, widespread practice. That would obviously produce a hellish world where any tyrants could torture without any consequences.

My response:

Thanks Dennis. The "ticking time bomb" scenario is the one that keeps surfacing when I'm trying to get over *not* being outraged by waterboarding. My husband and I went over hundreds of possible scenarios last night, and you're right, we couldn't come up with a single one that would warrant or even be helped by an act of torture.

Seriously, I think that this "ticking time bomb" scenario is so present for me because I've seen too many Superman movies or CSI episodes (pick your movie or tv show). And I don’t want to minimize PTSD, but I think that to varying degrees we all suffer from it or something similar to it as a result of 9/11.

My feelings on this issue are surprising to me, because I'm a person that is adamantly against capital punishment, for instance.

Dennis Loo's response:


9/11 was traumatic for Americans and the cultural productions that you mention such as CSI (you don't mention 24, but of course that one tops the list) have been exploiting this and promoting it.

Bush and Cheney made their regime on it. The GOP more generally and the rightwing overall bang the 9/11 drum incessantly because it suits their real agenda: a fearful population will agree to measures that they wouldn't otherwise stomach or contemplate.

The Nazis used this same technique to impose their policies.

My response:


This will be my last comment, I promise. I just want to say that I appreciate your tone. You are informed and rational, and you didn't call me names, which I appreciate. My husband is a Jew and a student of the Nazis I would say, and he was having a hard time walking me through this discourse yesterday.

I hope to hear more from you;


In response to Dennis Loo's Post: Genius: It’s not who you are, it’s what you do.


This post is fascinating and I agree with everything you say in theory. I have to speak as a mother here, as I haven't done any research on this issue. I do have the unique perspective of having one child that is biological and one that is adopted. One of them has a rather significant case of ADHD. Each, I suspect have different IQs. Both of them have focused on very different things from very young ages, in which I think in the long-run they will both be very successful.

Here's the thing: I am convinced that I couldn't have predicted or directed their areas of focus, not that I didn't try. Maybe Mozart and Woods had extraordinarily persuasive parents with very pliable children? Their parents "saw" a sport and an instrument and directed those children from there. Whatever they did, as a parent, I would have appreciated the recipe 20 years ago. For our kids, there were certain 'gifts' each had from birth, and we tried to foster those. However, let me tell you, they didn't follow our lead at all. The Pied Piper we're not. They hyper focused on areas of their choosing, which may or may not have been what we would have chosen for them. Once we saw what motivated them, we supported them from there. Who knows if they would have been a Bill Gates in a different area that we had pushed?


In response to Lea Lane's post: Birth and Death: The Circle of Life

I like the original Shakespearean version of the Seven Ages of Man, although I'd title it a bit differently and add a stage or two. My father was in the seventh stage when he heard that our son's girlfriend was pregnant. This was not a joyous thing. At the time I thought it was tragic. My father didn't though. He beamed. He died before my grandson was born and I thought about the cycle of life and death and half wondered if Kellan wasn't gestating if my father would have died. Silly I know.

My mother says that on the farm, when someone died they used to say, "and here she comes!"


Oh Lea,

My comment didn't make me cry but your empathy did. Painful but beautiful to watch someone you love so much take flight while another loved one is finished on this earth. Our son is expecting another child, this time a girl. We have been waiting so long for a girl child in this family. There really hasn't been one since me (and I'm 51). It's unspoken that we're all worried that my 88 mother won't survive this, even though she would gladly give up her place for Daniel's daughter.

When I used to ask my mom why people died, she said, "to make room for the babies, of course!"

Thanks for writing this and understanding.

In response to Mothership's post: Prelude to VR (5)

Dear MS and VR;

This post made me so sad I really couldn't speak or write right after reading it. As I told you, on one of your previous posts, my birthmother didn't get to hold me, let alone know what gender I was. Actually, I think they told her but she thought they were lying to her so she didn't commit it to memory. Add to that that she was so emotionally scarred by the circumstances surrounding my birth that my birthdad (BD) convinced her that my birthday was right around when their second child was born (in March, just 15 months later) so they could 'celebrate' both birthdays at the same time. Still to this day, I have to remind her I was born in December not March.

Suffice it to say that BD tried to get her to put my brother up for adoption too. Her response, "I'm not going through THAT again." They both raised him, in a city 3 hours from where I was raised. My BD lived with them 1/2 of the week, and with his wife and son the other 1/2 of the week (across the river in the "nice" section of town). My brother finally found out that they weren't married and about my dad's "other family" when he was 18. He's smarter than I am but the devastation was unremitting for a number of years. Here I am with my bag of degrees and he just graduated from high school (normal life trajectories are interrupted when you have to deal with this kind of crap).

I don't know why I'm telling you all of this... I guess I'm mad at BD. He died of Alzheimer's before I came around. So much in the aftermath to deal with.



In Response to emma peel's post: Are you love-based or fear-based?

Hi emma;

I'm late to this conversation too. Thanks for posting this. I think that if children can withstand their 13 years of primary and elementary school education they can get to a place where they can be love based. Unless, as a child, you're perfectly rounded and good at everything, and learn well through reading and lectures, well you're going to come out of the experience being somewhat fear based. Parents who don't know any better overly react to teacher's comments about their children and the 'problems' become the focus. I am relieved that my last child is leaving high school this year, but now, after hearing about your granddaughter's experience I realize I will have my grandchildren to worry about. .

Just as an aside, a very good thing is resulting from our current budget crisis at the Big University down the street. They are "merging" 8 departments, fortunately two are our school of social work and the school of education. I believe that the synergy between the two schools can produce better teachers. SWs focus on strengths, and protective factors, rather than weaknesses and risk factors.



In response to Sandra Stevens post: I'm Afraid of Menopause.

This seems like the topic of the day.

I've gone through it.

It was rough and it took a long time, and my body is changed forever.

However, I am on the other side and am actually interested in sex again, and vivacious, although very thick in the middle, which I think is my fault for not going to the gym as I should, and belonging to one too many wine swilling book clubs.

After 2 years of misery-- I mean, I seriously couldn't be in public and have a decent conversation with someone without having a meltdown-- I did the bio-identical hormone thing. Well, first I started with a patch prescribed by my doctor and I hated it. The side effects -- heart palpitations and a sort of over revved up feeling, were followed by the normal icky menopausal symptoms of major sweats, among other gross things. The latter effects were because the damned patch fell off before it should have.

Oh, and did I mention that I almost left my husband of 20 years? Oh, yes, I did that too. Just classic. And I didn't "see" any of it. Yep, I was pretty crazy.

I'm sure I'm just scaring you. I don't want you to think that this happens to everyone. Not everyone goes through this. Some women barely notice, or don't notice at all. It all depends on your DNA, and the amount of hormones that your body retains. I've heard that soy supplements help women that retain a degree of estrogen in their systems. I tried that, but it didn't work, probably because my body had zero hormones in it (I know this because I went through saliva testing).

There is help available. You just first have to see how you react to menopause. If you feel you are sliding downhill and primary care doc doesn't help you, contact me. I can pass along reading materials that can help.



In response to Stellaa's post: Stop Bashing Menopause.

Stella, hi.

Can I ask you something: Why not be able to talk about the extremely positive and the extremely negative of menopause experiences (and everything else in between)? Why does it have to be one or the other? When I had my son 18 years ago, my husband and I went to natural (of course!) childbirth classes. The long and the short of it was that after weeks of training, and a very detailed, very natural, anti-drug birthing plan, which I still have by the way, I had 24 hours of miserable labor, and finally, an epidural, and in the end, a C-Section. What I just described was the *definition* of failure. I remember coming to a reunion class with our babies and being one of the few mothers that didn't describe the birthing process in glowing terms. I felt terrible about the experience for years. From what I understand, childbirth classes offer more choices these days and make fewer pronouncements of what is good and bad.

I think that if we push the idea of a limited dialogue about menopause, the same type of only “positive” discussions could be the norm, which would be unfortunate. It would put some women back in the same type of situation: feeling awful because your menopause experience wasn’t “positive.” You may have been one of the lucky ones, symptom wise, but some of us haven't been. When I went through menopause 6 years ago, I didn't have anyone to lean on, had no information good or bad, and was totally in the dark and miserable. Remember, menopause was for most of my life a topic that was *just not discussed*. For me: if I could have my period back, I would be thrilled.

I don't think that it's helpful to insinuate that descriptions of menopause by women here or elsewhere have been exaggerated. What that does is divide us as women.




In response to tammie's post: Women's Mid-Life Career Crisis.

Hi and Welcome,

Everyone here knows my tale of woe but here goes the telling for you. We moved to LA for my husband's first academic job when I was 36. It is a state where I couldn't practice law. He said he'd move us outta here and he didn't, not for lack of trying. The Gods just weren't willing to give him a chance at another decent job. I was mad as hell at him and life for a number of years, and I wasn't very nice. I just wanted to go back out west (to a place like Walnut Creek, CA) and practice my earned profession. I was fixated. Finally, after a couple of years, my husband said, "For the love of God, just do something to make yourself happy!" I did, and I have done such awesome things in that period of time from then to now, and have had a very rich life.

It's hard to explain how to get there from where you are, but let me try: the key lies in just "doing it," whatever "it" happens to be. Live in the moment. What I mean by that is do not toil for the payoff, and by that I mean a career, recognition, publication, or whatever your end game happens to be. In fact, don't have an end game. Follow your bliss. Learn to have some measure of equanimity. You are a young-thing and have years ahead of you to explore an absolutely fabulous life.

I know you can do it! Keep us in the loop.



In response to Steven Axelrod's post: Leaving "The Breakers": Escape From Assisted Living.

YAY for your family! This is precisely why my mother 'lives in my backyard' in a beautiful addition we had built for her, and why we purchased long-term-care-insurance years ago for both her and my dad, so that they could 'age in place' no matter what health issues materialized.

So far so good. Dad died almost 3 years ago in his sleep. Mom has made a great life for herself and is intricately involved with my husband and I, her grandkids and her great grandchild. My husband adores her BTW.

If you want tips on universal design -- just let me know. We built the addition according to that model with help from an architect friend so that dad could get around even if he became wheelchair bound.

Good luck and God Bless you and your family.

And beautiful writing. I've been in enough nursing homes/assisted living facilities/CCRCs to smell them by what you write.


In response to Jess D Fact's post: The quest to save baby Alana


There are several issues here: issues related to Alana's abandonment and legal issues related to your quest to adopt:

Alana's short life sounds a lot like Misty's life. Consider that Alana's future behavior might be very similar to her mother's past behavior. Both have been abandoned repeatedly, and there are certain behaviors that go along with abandonment.

Consider Misty: Every time Misty was 'saved' by a new someone (Stewart, Jean, your husband) she challenged her new savior with her 'bad' behavior. She was forcing another abandonment, that she was certain was coming, under *her* terms, rather than wait for her new caretaker to abandon her under theirs. She was absolutely right, because with each new string of bad behavior, she was sent packing to some other destination.

Please consult with Mary and the other real therapists on OS, but I believe that you can possibly anticipate similar behavior from Alana. Your husband sounds like a good old fashioned dad, and no doubt your kids respond to his limits and boundaries. Alana may not. If your bottom line is that she can stay with you as long as she "plays by your husband's rules" she might be gone as soon as puberty takes hold. You taking her on would require a different set of parenting skills, or maybe the same skills with different responses, and maybe no or different expectations. You taking her on would mean more parenting efforts directed at her than potentially to your other children.

I am an adoption advocate. I am not saying *don't* raise this child. I am saying -- be prepared, get the support you need, and go into it with eyes wide open. It sounds to me like you've already begun bonding with her even though you don't know her, like many of us do with our adopted children at the point we know they are meant to be "ours." Love can overcome a lot but maybe not everything.

The legal issues involved are daunting, as well. If the father had simply put Alana in foster care, you-all would probably have been first in line to foster her and adopt her. But, he was the parent with the legal rights and he terminated them. When did this happen? How long ago? Do you know if he in fact legally terminated his rights or did he simply give her away? What sort of situation does the child live in now? I just don't know how the law will be on your side if he went through the full legal route.

Tell me what happens Momma.


In response to cartouche's post: Overage and Undervalued - America's Midlife Crisis:

So much to say. You know that cartouche is already living in a multigenerational living situation, right, mary and RedStockingGrandma? She takes care of her mother.

In our household, we have three generations living under one roof, our son, 18, my elderly mother and my husband and I. I love it and it makes sense. Much of the world lives this way, why not those of us in the US? Rich and I are lucky, we have children that claim (without prodding from their parents) that they will take care of us when we’re old. For those of you that don’t have children, I would recommend what cartouche has suggested: multi-family households of either roughly the same age or of multiple generations. This is *not* a new idea. The intentional community movement (google it) has been on-going for a number of years now, and a number of my friends have lived in such a situation, either here in the US, in Europe or in India. I would have been tempted to join my SC friends, if they (my favorite community) hadn’t disbanded a few years ago (Nature’s Spirit—see a remnant of what it was all about: in an interview with my friend Carolyn Vaughan).

We have come a long, long way from the days where we expected to work for the same company our whole lives and receive some sort of financial security in our retirement years. My father was the president of a union, so I grew up with those expectations.

Honestly, from my point of view, I don’t think it’s bad that we have to shift our expectations to the reality that we will be living in community with others. There are so many rewards that we will reap from living that way, if we wanted to or not.


In response to Cindy Ross' post Health Care Abuse: Could This Happen to your Teen?

Dear Cindy,

I'm sorry this happened to you. We have tried to dispute bills before but eventually paid to save our credit rating.

About kids and health care-- I am conflicted about my response. I think that part of the reason that insurance costs so much for most of us is because young people 18-30 do not purchase health insurance, even when it is available to them. So, the oldest and sickest are insured, which raises rates for everyone.

I think that the system is at a critical point and we *will* have some form of universal health care and your son and other young people won't have a choice but to pay. I hope that lowers rates and provides health care for everyone.

About my son and his girlfriend who are going to run out of health insurance either when they graduate with their MBAs or at 24, whichever comes first. If they can't acquire insurance, my husband and I will go broke paying for their COBRA benefits.


I understand. Really. But what kind of a cost are we talking about for a 19 year old that is single? Then again, he's probably making almost nothing. My father unionized all of the "retail clerks" in Portland, OR when I was growing up. So, the secretaries and the grocery clerks had good benefits and pay. I think part of what we're seeing is a result of a decline in the presence of unions.

At any rate, I do understand the dilemma, which is why I am for a mandated contribution and coverage so that these "choices" don't hurt those of us that do choose insurance or those of us that at this point in time do not.

I am a bit afraid, at this point, that Obama, with his rational 'don't stir the pot' decision-making style isn't going to mandate health care coverage, and therefore we won't truly be able to get this universal health care thing figured out.

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