Steve Brodner
September 2009
A Tear for Kimberly

Kimberly Young, 22, died from swine flu on Wednesday. Sadly, it has been reported that she delayed treatment due to a lack of health insurance. Although there's no guarantee that earlier treatment would have saved her life, it would be hard to find a more obvious example of the need to fix our broken health insurance system.

Kimberly Young was a previously healthy 2008 graduate of Miami University of Ohio. She was diagnosed with swine flu and pneumonia. However, she was reluctant to seek treatment because she had no insurance. Brent Mowery, her friend and former roommate said:

"That’s the most tragic part about it. If she had insurance, she would have gone to the doctor."

On Sept. 22, Kimberly Young’s condition suddenly worsened, and her roommate drove her to McCullough Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford. She was then flown in critical condition to University Hospital in Cincinnati, where she died.

Ironically, Young is a constituent of John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Minority Leader. Last week on "Meet the Press," he dismissing the public option as “big government” while defending a watered-down health reform plan.

Boehner, who makes a show of crying in public over Democrat war appropriations has been a staunch foe of real health reform.  Well, here is your rationing.  Here is your death panel.  Here and now. Administered by the very efficient insurance industry.  Okay so long as it’s not the government, right? What, Rep. Boehner, not one tear for Kimberly?

Migraine Liberals
The recently departed Irving Kristol claimed that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. The implication of this is that liberals, so concerned with the problems of others, enter a whole new world when they  suddenly experience fear and pain themselves.  And there is an ugly racial tinge to this which we can talk about another time.   Anyway,  this comes up now because of a recent Talk piece in the New Yorker on Cindy McCain. She, apparently, has been suffering from migraines for many years. As described in the article, this is a very debilitating condition.  It gets so bad that she finds it at times completely immobilizing.  This is an awful thing to come to anyone.  Anybody  who reads this piece has to admire her courage to go public and reveal the truth about this condition, long kept too quiet.   Toward the end of the piece it mentions her crusading for Congressional action for research. She says, “For the first time in my life, I’m going to go to Congress, and I’m going to be tenacious and be forceful and be honest and tell them that it’s time. If you can give five million dollars to study flatulence in cows and its effects on the ozone layer, you can give me some money for migraine research.”  This is a good thing.  But it got me wondering: “You want help from the GOVERNMENT now?” I starting thinking about Nancy Reagan and her battle for funding for Alzheimer’s,  Bob Dole and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The minute a personal problem becomes too big for the folks on top, they become like the rest of us: looking for collective action. It seems that a variation of the Kristol statement can be true. A liberal is a conservative with a migraine.

Talk of the Town: Cindy McCain

Who's Ludacris?

A very sharp piece appeared in The Times on Sunday, almost tongue-in-cheek, comparing Glenn Beck and the loud-mouth Right with the rap tradition.  A fan of hip-hop, David Segal finds that he’d heard these voices before . . . in gangsta rap.
He breaks down the similarities into Ego, Haters, Feuds, Verbal Skills, etc..

From the piece by Segal:
“I’ll admit that the parallels between Jay-Z and Rush Limbaugh do not seem obvious, and to grasp them you need to look beyond the violence and misogyny that have made rap a favorite target of the right wing. (Come to think of it, perhaps each of these realms will be chagrined to be likened to the other.) But as soon as you dig beneath the surface, the similarities between talk radio and gangsta rap are nothing short of uncanny. And these similarities are revealing, too.” . . .
“Even beyond simple matters of style, rap and conservative talk radio share some DNA. Once you subtract gangsta rap’s enthusiasm for lawlessness — a major subtraction, to be sure — rap is among the most conservative genres of pop music. It exalts capitalism and entrepreneurship with a brio that is typically considered Republican.”

Here’s the piece

Baltic Amber
Scenes of a great summer. Lucky to be an illustrator in these crazy times for starters. And lucky to stop being an illustrator for a few weeks and check completely out.  Well not completely. I was still surgically connected to my sketchbook.  So here are my scribbles and snaps from a sweet sailing aboard The Century across the Baltic Sea in August.

The first stop was Amsterdam. An amazing town, filled with canals and blonde bikers.  Another planet.  Almost every vista is gracious, as if designed by a single Olmstead-like artist.  People live on ships in the canals.  The bicycle has taken the city.  You have three kids? No prob.
The Anna Frank House. At first it was hard to feel the gravity of the place.  The street is so beautiful; hard to picture the Nazis there.  Then you see the diary.  And a video of Otto Frank saying that after he read the diary he realized he hadn't really known his daughter.  After a while it became overwhelming for me.  I began to see her before me  . . and all the Annas in their time, and ours.
I also visited Rembrandt’s house, but it was closed. Typical.  He always was an SOB. To hell with him.
Cynthia and I ended up in an interesting coffee house.

The coffee had a very strange effect on me.  Maybe it was the little cigarette they served along with it. We gradually found our way back to the hotel.  I think it was the right one.
That night at the Concert-gebouw we happily heard wonderful Mozarts and Haydns, which sounded . . . groovy.  All the musicians seemed to be blondes in their 20’s.  The audience: not so much.

The Century is a huge ship. Everyone quietly battles with overeating.  Then the captain comes out.

You have a really good time on a cruise if you meet great people.  Jan and Hanna: brilliant and vibrant, "young" people from Israel. He’s an archeologist/biologist working first hand uncovering the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  She’s a former costumer for the Israeli film industry.  Both unpredictable cut-ups.  Also hung out with Duane and Anna of upstate NY, of whom a photo later.
First stop Varnemunde, a beach town in Germany.  This lady was seen on the way from Rostock.

In Stockholm we bounced around by water taxis.  Spent time at the Vasa Museum.  The Vasa battleship, now recovered in very good shape, was buried in the harbor for 400 years because King Gustav II Adolf couldn’t stop loading it with cannon and other fittings.  So down it went . . . happy now? Idiot.  Look at his pants.  A regula gangsta. There are still proud images of him all over the place.  I guess  Swedes will prefer to remember him as the King of  Empire and not the guy who screwed up on the ship thing.

Outside the Nobel Prize Museum.
In Finland we were hosted by our friends Adam Korpak, the brilliant cartoonist (currently having three shows across Europe) and his lovely wife Dina Veronika Mattson, actress in the Swedish City Theater in Helsinki. Here they are a luminous couple. Thanks to them we saw lots of Helsinki: museums, an amazing church dug into stone with a 360 degree skylight.  Yep, sunlight!!!
St. Petersburg is another universe. Nevsky Prospekt is a hot avenue but with added weight of  history that never dissipates. Our guide to the Hermitage had very interesting ideas. Chechens need the Russians there because they are born wanting to kill each other  . . . so it’s kind of  a humanitarian mission Russia is on.  Germany still cannot be forgiven for WW 2.   It’s still too early.   And, oh yes, Rasputin really did have healing powers but  was killed by Bolsheviks who then were able to write lies about him.
You really can see Sarah Palin from Russia, by the way.
At a local farmer’s market.
Hermitage. You have to wear booties. That’s why it’s so clean there.
Some of the best stuff in the world. You can see artifacts of the Czars (which all have these depressed, bored women guarding them).  And/or  the spectacular art collection, which is also guarded by these women.  I asked Svetlana what was up with them.  She said they were “retirees.”  I’m still working on that.

In any case you’ll find mind-blowing Rembrandts (at last), Ferdinand Bol, Matisse.  I’m very, very happy.
Speaking of Blinis, here's a typical Russian in a blini shop.
Next was Copenhagen and a day spent with rising star cartoonist Erik Petri, who I had met some years before.  (I was hoping to also see Peter Herman too but he doesn’t live near by.  You can’t have everything.)  Erik is making it in a world of few magazines but still healthy newspapers. It’s a tight community so you can keep with one outlet if you stay good . . .  and he does. The fees are not great so he does several illustrations a day.  Does that sound familiar or what!?  He is also doing a kind of visual recording at corporate meetings which is a very unique application.  Very innovative and challenging. I fell in love with Copenhagen right off.  Gentle, open, public spaces, art, a literate electorate.  Here’s to them and their intrepid cartoonists and his work.  Erik, visit us!
The last stop was in some ways the most surprising of all. Tallinn, Estonia.  It was charming to the core.  Here’s our gang, that’s Duane and his niece, Anna on the right.  He’s got a massage therapy biz upstate and she’s an artist. You can get the most delicious chili-chocolate in Tallinn. Emblematic, for me, of this very sweet time. My thanks to everyone we met in those weeks, whom we hope to see again soon.
And especially the girl with the green eyes.

Maxed Out
Max Baucus, (D-Cigna), released his plan, at last, yesterday.  It is such a lousy health “reform” that it might just help revive the Public Option. This thing kills the Public Option and gives giant profits to the Medical Industrial Complex might actually help the debate. Democrats can see now that something so watered down and useless will still get no Republican support.  And that may be the beginning of clarity for them: they could go bold, actually help people . . .  and then reap big political benefits next year. Wouldn’t that be something?
Read comments by Wendell Potter here

Got Stupid?
Got stupid?  Do we! . . and how!!  This summer has taken our temperature as a nation and we have come up a walking basket case of stupid.  So here it is, the conspiracy as a tumor: representing the medical industry, a monopoly, the only ones who want to keep this diseased system . . . along with their pols, who are their metastasis.  And the biggest tumor of all, Betsy McCaughey, a thoroughbred liar of the first water, pumping out scary BS all season perfectly designed for the Right-wing garbage news network to crank up people who don’t get news, or don’t want it.  These people show up at town meetings proudly flaunting their stupidity: terrified about the death panels that don’t exist while apparently having no problem with the monopoly-based ones in place right now.  And a Main Stream Media too afraid of the Right (for some reason) to call them what they are: stupid.  
Betsy’s lies here.
Tonight Obama must dispel the BS and give the monopolists hell.  Let them and country know that there will be a public option and the jig is up.  And the Democrats will do this with 51 votes through reconciliation. Do you think he will do that, or try to make nice to people whose vision for the country extends only in seeing Obama fail?  It’s a new season and we can only hope.

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