Monthly Archives: July 2009

Grasping at straws

This from the latest Human Events.

If ObamaCare passes, you can kiss your private health insurance goodbye… maybe your doctor, too… and you can certainly say adios to the best health care system the world has ever known.

What country are they living in?

The other day I asked my mother about what kind of health coverage she and dad had to cover us when we were children. Nothing. Nada. Four children. pa141509Dad had a steady job with the same company through my childhood (in the 60s) and the company didn’t cover anything, yet the out of pocket expenses of keeping a family of 6 healthy did not kill them. I had my adenoids out. Mom had 5 kids and stayed in the hospital more than a day, and there was no worry about where the money would come from or what would be covered. They paid for it out of my father the salesman’s salary. Plenty of dental, eye care, regular check ups, we had it all. There was never any question about whether we could afford medical care. One salary, no insurance. And I don’t think we were unusual.

Then it all changed. It was thanks to Nixon and the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973. To be fair, the left pushed for it because it seemed like a good idea to pool resources for good care. Unfortunately, it was another lesson in no regulation running amok. The insurance companies that were supposed to make care cheaper used their profits to invest in real estate in the 80s and then when the market tanked, they had to make up the difference, first by starting to deny care, then by raising rates. Then pharmaceutical companies, hospital corporations and medical device manufacturers got in line for the big profits. And so we are where we are now. With what the Republicans are saying is ” best health care system the world has ever known.”

And their solution is…? Still waiting.

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Popular Delusions

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!”

screen-capture-21Many years ago I bought a book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Written in 1841 by Charles Mackay, it examines times throughout history where large groups of people have been led to believe in falsehoods and what has been the fallout of those beliefs. I have thought of this book many times recently when reading about the financial follies of Wall Street and Madoff’s scheme. What caused so many smart people to “believe” that things were working just fine? From the book, it is clear that people are easily led to believe in schemes that promise them wealth even when on the face of it, it makes no sense.

In the 17th century, wealthy Europeans were throwing their fortunes into tulip bulbs only to lose bundles when the prices fell to rational levels! In the 18th century, the South Sea bubble was more like our current mess though. But at after it all fell apart, at least “the estates of the directors of the company were confiscated and used to relieve the suffering of the victims.” I am appalled that the CEOs, CFOs, and others who were at the helm when everything fell apart are still getting their huge salaries and even bemoaning the losses of their bonuses. Why can’t we take their estates and spread it around for the victims.

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Sarah, you were so misunderstood

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Not a big Conan fan, but I love William Shatner. Who knew it was poetry? If only she’d had bongos.

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Gone but not forgotten

Just in case I need a reminder of what was so frightening about this woman, I can always look at this. She officially stepped down as Governor of Alaska today and I hope she will just take her money for speaking engagements and keep away from me forever.

PAC money? I don’t see how it helps her to step down. Quitter? Stay visible on the rubber chicken tour of the USA? What can she do to look presidential? I hope he is right that she wants to be a TV star. Give her a show FOX so I never have to see her again. Please!!!

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Today was a unique experience to me, but one that could be played out all over this country. I knew my ancestors had slaves, but today I met my cousins, the descendants of those slaves at a reunion of the Carson family held at the Carson House in Marion, NC. Seems great-great-great-great grandpa had two full sets of children with two women, just across the creek from each other, each in their own house. The black slave woman with whom he had 12 children was named Kadella. She was considered a princess, perhaps the daughter of an African king and did no work except for making beautiful quilts and exquisite hand sewn clothing.

My new long lost cousins

My new long lost Carson cousins - Preston & Ken

That and having kids all the time. They say she never walked anywhere and was carried around by the other slaves on a palanquin. An interesting note to this story was that Master John Carson sent the children (update – make that just the boys) he had with Kadella to the north as soon as they turned 14 so they did not become slaves themselves, except for the last two who probably turned 14 after his death. (Another version of the story is they were sent away because of their “shameful likeness” to their father.) I could not find whether any of the people at the reunion were related to those children who went north. Lots of the history is a bit fuzzy for obvious reasons. Names came up again and again. My great great grandfather William Carson was the son of the original John Carson. There were several Will and William Carsons there. People came from NY, NJ and Texas. Many others from NC, Hickory, Statesville, Morganton, Marion, stayed close to home.



My family on Mom’s side is so small, it was fun to be among this large extended family. Sure, at best we are probably 6th or 7th cousins, but blood is blood.

Where it all began

Where it all began

There is a moment in history where we were joined. It is a strange history, a bitter one, and I was ambivalent about one of the other white relatives who gave a short talk and apologized to all the black Carsons. Should we be sorry that we are all here today together? That our common ancestor was the man he was? Isn’t it presumptuous to apologize for their own progenitor as if we as 21st century white people bear more responsibility for his actions than they do? We are all his descendants. I am sorry that it happened, but can only do what I can do in this life to see that the wrongs of society are addressed in the here and now.



One of the other black Carsons (could not find him after he talked to get his name) got up and led with the line,”Guess who’s coming to dinner” which got a great laugh and applause.
_DEB0046_2He went on to say, “This is where it started. Our Chicken George, our Kunta Kinte. We built this house. And today, nobody came in the back door.” Earlier when he was sitting beside me he mentioned the family resemblances and pointed to his little boy, “see that nose?” And sure enough, looking at my Mom, that was a Carson nose.


The black Carson relatives have been having reunions for years, but this is the first time they came to the Carson House where it began. And the first that the white side was invited, kind of. Mom saw something about it in the newspaper. It said all relatives were welcome. We were a tiny minority, but I am glad I went, though I would be interested to meet more relatives on any side. There are so many intertwined stories there. It would make a great book, or movie or miniseries. The sensibility now would be very different from the days of Roots when it would not have been p.c. to explore the depths of the love John Carson had for his slave wife and children. Or to talk about the intermarriages of his sons with the slave women as well as the indigenous Cherokee.


There was another quilter in the house, a woman named Fatima. _DEB0027Her story could be yet another thread in the saga. She claimed to be of noble blood and claimed to be able to read and write though her writing was illegible to anyone in the house, until a traveling preacher who had been in Africa as a missionary came through and recognized her writing as Arabic. It also explained that she had brothers named Mohammed and that she was a Muslim. She was also apparently very tough to deal with and was traded after being there for a short time. I would love to know her whole story.

The slave records had been transcribed for this event and there were lists with names and ages. It was interesting to see that there were a number of people 60 and older who were just listed as invalids, taken care of when they could no longer work. I wish there were time machines to go back and see how it really was. _DEB0044_2No doubt, it would sicken me a lot of the time, but I know it would be very different from our pictures of the life, since there are no real histories, only fragments of what the educated thought should be written – their version of the story, leaving out the majority of the people – slaves, women, the Cherokee.

At the Carson Plantation, during the Civil War, when the Yankees came through on Stoneman’s Raid, the slaves put mud on faces of the master’s children and hid them and their mother and fed them from their own meager stores of food. Many of the slaves stayed on with the family long after the war ended and they were freed. I think that these families in the isolation of the western mountains had become close. There are stories of slave-master children marrying into the families of the locals and in the end, the ancestry is so mixed as to be indistinguishable. When we arrived, one woman who spoke with me early on was a white woman whose great-great grandfather had a child with a slave woman who was her great grandmother. I would love to see a family tree and I am hoping that some of the people I talked with and traded email addresses with will be able to help with the other (until now unknown) side of the family. I hope this is just the beginning of a beautiful kinship.

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How did we get to this place with Health Care?

Triage medicine in the Cocke County Gymnasium

Triage medicine in the Cocke County Gymnasium

I got out of bed early today and took a ride over to Tennessee with a friend to see what is happening out there for the common American when it comes to health care. An organization called Remote Area Medical (RAM) out of Knoxville was conducting a free medical clinic in the Cocke County High School for all comers. When we arrived around 8:45 they were still letting people in. By 9:00 they were turning people away, telling them to come back tomorrow. People who began arriving 2 days ago were already inside availing themselves of free dentistry, eye exams, glasses and medicals. Walking through the parking lot on the way in, we saw signs that people had been and were still sleeping in their cars. Doctors, dentist, and nurses from all over the US donate their time through this organization to give care where it is needed to folks who would otherwise get none. When I asked about volunteering, they said that they were full up for next weekend, which I take as a good sign. People are willing to take care of each other.

The dentists’ nurse told me that the majority of their cases are pulling teeth. In other words, people are not getting preventive care, just coming in when they are in pain. A young mother with one child in a stroller and five more at home was there with her husband who does not have a job or insurance. Her school bus driver job covers only her and if they wanted to cover the whole family it would be $1000 they don’t have.

One of the nurses I met there was from Canada, though she works in the US, and laughed about the notion that socialized medicine was the bugaboo it has been made out to be. She and some of the other nurses have treated the Mountain Dew kids in Appalachia and are totally behind a real reform of the medical system here. _DEB0016_2Of course they are; they see people at their most vulnerable, the ones who have no insurance, the ones who fell through the cracks, the children who may not get the nutrition they need to form a great brain because they are dirt poor, the out of work and no insurance people like me. I could find myself there but for the grace of God and a mom with a checkbook.

I have no doubt that free clinics like this one are seeing more and more people these days and that is a scary proposition. It had the feeling of a M*A*S*H unit. One of the volunteers said they would treat about 480 people today and half again as many tomorrow because of church and the doctors’ schedules. This was a small town. And they will have treated about 700 people in 2 days. Extrapolated out, how many people in the country are in need of basic health care and are not getting any?

From the local paper Sunday
Article about upcoming event.

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Ding Dong the Bitch is dead

When FOX News comes out and says Palin is a kook, you know it is either April Fool’s Day, the End of the World, or they cannot argue the point any longer. Please let this be her exit line!

The funniest thing here to me is that the male commentator expected Liz Trotta to be on his side that Palin was being mischaracterized and she goes and nails Palin for being the nut job she is calling her inarticulate and undereducated. “I think a lot of this criticism is well deserved.” Priceless!

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