Monday, October 08, 2007

Reforming Behavioral Health Care.

I was having a discussion with a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Executive Director the other day and naturally we discussed the challenges of mental illness and ways to reform the entire field of behavioral health. I was asked to succinctly list the ideas contained in my book for reforming behavioral health care. I had pointed out that this was the last section of my book to be worked on, even though I had some direct experience in behavioral health care, and that in some ways it was the hardest to work on. Although my ideas for reforming healthcare are sweeping, behavioral health needs a lot of solutions tailored directly for it.

Behavioral health, much of its most debilitating diagnoses have been conclusively tied in large part to brain chemistry, tend to be chronic, long-term in nature and needing of various medication and psychotherapy. Assessing the state of mental wellness and treatments and the way they are handled by insurers and government, leads to a short list of necessary reforms. It's funny, whenever I'm asked to list some of my ideas for health care reform, and I do, people often find many of them interesting and possibly revolutionary, but they also always point out that if I'm able to give them a succinct and detailed list so quickly, how can I possibly really fill up a whole book with these ideas. Of course, there is more to the explanations than that. And I point out that there are political obstacles and tax ramifications that all need to be explored. But those who know me don't necessarily believe these explanations as much as they believe that I like to talk and always have lots, LOTS to say.

To reform behavioral health care we need complete parity. Mental illness must be treated like any other illness. There have been major inroads lately but we are not there yet. Also, because of its chronic and debilitating nature in many instances, we need to expand residential services, because supervised and supported places to live are much cheaper than longer-term hospitalizations, as well as much better for the long-term mental health of the service recipients and their families. We need more supported employment programs to help people get to work in whatever capacity they are able. Work builds self-esteem, gives people true meaning rather than something to keep them busy and provides financial assistance. We need reform of assistance programs at the state and federal level so that as the consumers of mental health services make money in supported employment, or in the traditional job market, they don't have to worry about losing their benefits, and other support structures that might otherwise tempt them to avoid employment in the first place. We need a comprehensive and national level, with regional variations, anti-stigma campaign. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or to be feared by others. Stigma is caused by ignorance and fear. In order to ensure that people are comfortable seeking out help and treatments, that people seek out the most effective treatments and assistance, and are comfortable adhering to treatment, we need to remove the stigma that has built up and remains over time. Stigma affects all aspects of behavioral health care. In order to ensure appropriate and adequate housing, employment and adherence to treatment we need a true effort to combat stigma. All of these things, along with the reforms to healthcare in general, can help us improve health care delivery and results, control costs and yet still maintain the most innovative, forward thinking and dynamic health care system in the world.

Because I believe that comprehensive anti-stigma campaigning is one of the core and key factors in reforming behavioral healthcare and helping it to move ahead as one complete reformed healthcare system someday, I am part of a mental health anti-stigma project. Anyone interested in this topic should visit the blog: The link is also in our links section to the right. It is another piece in the movement to reform all healthcare.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bush’s Latest Release: "HealthCare, Leave the Children Behind." Satan’s Review: "Two Horns Up!!"

“That’s just plain mean.” Satan said as his face lit up and a wide grin spread across his face face. We were sitting at the bar of our favorite Manhattan spot when the news scrawled across the bottom of the cable news screen. President Bush was suing to stop states from expanding public insurance programs to cover more uninsured children.

"He needn't keep trying so hard to get my attention and spend the afterlife with me in my domain," Satan said, "he had me at Hello!" We laughed.

"Yeah, tell me something we didn't know!" I said.

"This is pretty despicable though, keeping health care from children in need because he believes this is slowly leading to Universal Government Run Health Care." Satan said.

"Yeah, well, he and his administration aren't going to be accused of either great foresight or great compassion. And as for intellectually and morally considering issues, well, I heard he is also committed to outlawing antibiotics to stop the genocide against microbes!"

"So where do you stand on this issue?" Satan asked.

"I am for the genocide of illness inducing microbes, actually, although I understand the importance of microbes in general and support all non-pathogenic microbes, molds and viruses."

"No." He barked. "On expanding these government run programs for children!"

"Ah, well, I am not a fan of Universal Health Care because I believe it will sap the future of medical innovation and grind health care to a bureaucratic halt where we will end up a nation of chronically ill generic pill poppers. I believe that a carefully constructed realignment of health care is in order, and I have peppered these concepts throughout my many months here. However, I am never against fixing anything and Universal Health Care is better than no health care, which the most recent census just announced another 2 and a 1/2 million uninsured in this country to over 48 million! This needs to be addressed and Universal Health care is one way. If the president fears this, he'd better come up with alternatives because a conservative free market President that hates lawsuits should not be threatening to sue states to stop them from providing necessary health coverage to uninsured children. In the short run, these programs make sense and should be put into place while the kind of system wide restructuring I advocate is explored and enacted." I responded. Satan just looked at me.

"You both think very highly of your opinions," Satan began, "but at least your ideas would help people. and George W. Bush's will help him go down in history, not only for so many terrible crimes against humanity in the middle east, and for his atrocious self serving domestic initiatives, but now, for holding back health care from the children! He will have as a big a place in history as he imagines, but not in the way he believes." Satan smiled.

Gary Hart Redux: Or Another Difference between Democrats and Republicans.

I really hate to go against Oprah, because I respect her, look up to her, and sincerely hope to be on her show someday with a book I wrote that she puts on her recommended list! Nevertheless, I cannot figure out why she believes all you need to be President is to be a good person and have some good ideas. If that were enough then Jimmy Carter would have gone down as one of the best Presidents of the 20th century instead of one of our less effectual ones.
I am of course speaking of her endorsing Obama for President. Fortunately, as bad as Democrats are at running elections, as a party they rarely vote in those with good things to say, but no substance, or at least current proof of substance, for what is surely the single most important job in the free world. They didn't vote in Gary Hart, or Howard Dean, even though it was exciting to think you could just embrace change and move the country forward. It takes much more then good intentions and good ideas in this world. It takes foresight, compromise, political abilities, guts, determination, and yes, experience in these areas. Republicans on the other hand love inexperience because it leaves less of a history to dissect and attack. that is why George W. was their candidate. He was a mediocre 1 and a 1/2 term governor of a middle-ground state. Very little to point to, and little to criticize, and really not much to talk about at all...just to speculate...and then, of course, be attacked for speculating. It works for parties afraid of their candidates, but not for those looking for the best. And in that regard I believe Hillary Clinton, should, and will be the Democrat candidate for President, as well as the first female President of the United States of America.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Note to Bush Administration: Just because Satan does it, doesn't mean you have to!

I was busily working on my HealthCare Reform Part 2b when my cellphone rang, and as is often the case, the caller picked a hell-of-a time to call.
"Hello." I said.
"You don't sound so happy for getting a call from your biggest---and really, ONLY--- fan." Satan said.
"I'm busy, that's all. What's going on?"
"I noticed in one of your drafts for a future blog entry you mentioned that Satan could learn a thing or two from President Bush, what with his trampling of American citizens rights and all."
"I was being facetious." I responded. Then, "Hey! Don't look through my drafts!"
"I look at more than your drafts, I've gone all through your computer and I have to say I am shocked, horrified and impressed all at the same time. As for being facetious---so you say, but I want you to know if anyone learned it from anyone, he learned it from me!~ Meet me at our favorite establishment in an hour and we can talk more about it. Maybe I can even give you some ideas." He was already clicking off as I agreed.
One hour later at a bar in NYC.
I didn't see Satan out front but when I looked in I saw him at the bar. I walked in and sat down at the available stool right beside him.
"I can always get a seat here, no matter how busy it is." I remarked.
"Some people don't want to sit too close to the devil. Maybe they fear guilt by association." He mused. "But you have never hesitated, not since that first day you found yourself sitting beside me and you eavesdropped on my phone call."
"I'm not sure sitting next to you is the issue." I said, "But as for eavesdropping---you were talking very loudly. I think you wanted me to hear. After all, it went down like a healthcare joke, remember? You were sitting there and you were repeating what you were hearing, and apparently there was a train full of managed care and health insurance executives, politicians, lawyers and doctors all on their way to Washington D.C. for a congressional hearing on healthcare reform when there was a terrible accident. Many were killed, and their souls were on their way “down” to you for processing. Suddenly, you dropped the phone on the bar, threw your hands up in disgust, and cried out: “What did I do to deserve this?!!! Remember?”
"Yes, I remember." He smiled. "A fortuitous coincidence." He smiled again, in a way that made me sure he was lying. Then he pulled out a digital recorder and laid it on the bar. "A glass of 'Blue' for my friend here, " he began, "and another for me as well."
"You have good taste, I always have to say." Which I did. Then he pulled out two fine Fuente Dominican cigars with the ends already neatly clipped.
"Thank you," I said as I took one, but added, "you know, even though you keep ignoring it, I pretty much gave these up. I only smoke with you now."
'What do you want to do, live forever?" He said with mock indignation.
"Well, I'd like to hang around a while, and besides, I'd like to be sure where I am headed first."
"Oh. I think we both know where YOU are headed. Besides, afraid of Hell?" He asked.
"Isn't that the point?" I asked.
"But it's a dry heat." He remarked.
"Yeah, yeah. I know. I am also scared of the company. When I look who is likely headed down there, I am afraid every day would be like the 2004 Republican Convention."
"We get all kinds down there, you know." He responded.
"I understand." I said as flame flared from his fingertips and lit both of our stogies. "What's with the recorder?" I asked. "You want to quote me accurately in your own blog?" I laughed.
"No. I want to play you a recording I made in the White House back a ways." He said.
"OK. But if it's Monica talking about dress stains, I don't need to hear it. I'm thinking of ordering food at some point!"
"No. Not Monica."
"Something historical? Thomas Jefferson cavorting, perhaps?" I asked.
"No. But by the way, the digital recorders back in Jefferson's time were the size of a house and needed a thousand rats running on treadmills to power them."
"Sure." I said sarcastically.
"Or maybe I'm just having a flashback to the Flintstones. Anyway, listen...." He said as he pushed a button on the recorder. A little screen popped up and I was watching as well as hearing George W. speaking with Dick Cheney. On the bottom right corner it flashed 2005.
"Dick, I am a little concerned here, sticking up for Halliburton when they continue to do business in Iran, and when all the news is on about how they were in Iran and Iraq back when you were running them. I wasn't supposed to have to do this. You said no one would notice."
"Mr. President, George, please, we've been over this before. I said it was none of their damn business, but you have nothing to worry about, after all, let me remind you that you have already actually won the election this time! Now, as I have said, that is a subsidiary of Halliburton doing the business, and in my opinion, and that of many Halliburton executives, it is a quite legal thing to be doing. But more important, let me remind you how Halliburton continuing to work in Iran is good for all Americans."
"Please Dick, please do that, I am faltering from my moral high ground and I need your stout hearted, albeit with stents and medication, faith and support."
"Look, it's great to hate Iran. Really. Hey, I hate it, and all its people too. But--BUT---if we are too hard on Iran, or don't help support its infrastructure, a big supplier of oil will falter, and then we will have less oil for all the blessed people of our great nation to execute their God granted right to drive big gas guzzling automobiles and SUV's. Now, it's okay to say we shouldn't work in, or deal with, Iran, because that sends fear into the markets and raises the price of oil without actually affecting supply. This in turn enriches those great Americans, like ourselves, who had the foresight to invest in Oil and fuel services. BUT, if the supply were to actually be disrupted, then the price increases would primarily go to all those Terrorist--Allah fearing countries with little left for honest Americans except long gas lines. So you can see that Halliburton is really carrying out a public service, protecting our peoples supply of gasoline as well as enriching some of the most deserving and important Americans."
"Dick, I know I can call you Dick because so many people do. I want to thank you for reminding me of how difficult it can sometimes be to protect this great way of life for our friends as well as all non-Muslim Americans and for giving me the strength to continue to fight the good fight, even when being criticized by those Godless liberals and their always dragging the Constitution into everything. As long as we hold onto Congress and the Senate, and I have no doubt that we will because I believe we have begun a Republican empire that will last a 1000 years, before I leave office I am going to propose a constitutional amendment to make it unconstitutional to throw the constitution in the President's face every time he has to 'trample on a few personal liberties and rights' for the greater good of this great nation of ours."
"George. What a courageous and bold idea. Not like anything I have heard before. There has truly never been a President quite like you. I believe that your brilliant handling of the Middle East will ultimately seal our place in history " Cheney uttered in awe and admiration.
"Thank you Dick. Read my lips, and I'm sorry to have to say this daddy, but I think you, Dick Cheney, are the hardest working Vice President this nation has ever known."
At this point Satan clicked off the recorder.
"What'd you think?" He asked. Then he looked in my eyes, "You're unimpressed!" He barked.
"No, I admit it was interesting to have the particulars, but to see that Dick could convince George W. of these things is not really much of a surprise from a President who thinks 'rights' are just some complicated gibberish the police read to you just before they book you for drunk driving."
"You make a good point."
"Also," I began, "I actually agree with Cheney on one point. I believe the way this Administration has handled the Middle East will help to seal their fate in the historical record. However, not in a good way. By the way, what you did here was really bugging, circa Nixon, more than wiretapping circa Bush. But, then, I guess it's all really just covert and illegal surveillance of American Citizens circa a bunch of Republicans." I pointed out.
Satan considered a moment and then said, "Let's watch the Mets Game and then I'll give you some ideas you might be able to use."
"Ok. I love the Mets. They've been doing pretty good the last couple of years." I said as I puffed my cigar, then took a sip of scotch. Satan looked at me and smiled, then said, "They strike a hard bargain."
"No. I know you're kidding this time because if they made a deal with you they wouldn't have blown the playoffs last year!" I cried out.
"Or maybe they just didn't read the fine print." He said as he began laughing.
To Be Continued, (again)....

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Karl Rove Apologizes! And HealthCare Reform Part 2.

Unfortunately Karl Rove resigned before I ever got to finish this (and unfortunately he did not resign many years before!). I post this as Part 2(a) with the rest coming soon, before it becomes even more irrelevant, along with Mr. Rove and his sidekick Mr. W. Bush!
I am sure we don't need to preface this with a list of all that Rove has to apologize for since we have mentioned it regularly. Of course, he only advises, and the worst offenders are really those that follow his lead. Nevertheless, to remind you we can just look at his most recent debacle; his coordinating on behalf of the administration, the firings of the Federal Prosecutors. Now, this is just the latest in a string of heinous violations of decency and human and religious moral and ethical codes. But it came as quite a shock when I turned on the television and found Rove making this announcement: "I am terribly sorry for helping to engineer a Presidential Administration that makes most Americans long for the good old days of Nixon and Carter and the non lethal crimes of Watergate and runaway inflation and oil prices (oh wait--we have those!). Yes, you see, I have just come to realize that I, as bad as I am and have been known to be since High School, still have not been myself. It appears that I have been channeling the spirit of Lord Voldemort (of Harry potter fame) for the past 6 years." This was not really much of a revelation, of course, but what was, was just how swiftly George W. attacked him on it. Standing next to him, in a show of support, the President appeared quite angry and turned to him and said: "Darn it all, Karl, The Dark Lord? He-who-must-not-be-named!? He was a brilliant tactician, he almost took over the entire Wizarding realm, Karl---why the heck didn't you clue me in so I could have put you in charge of Iraq?!!!!" At this point I started to smell sulfur and brimstone. I just hoped mine wasn't the only television receiving this broadcast! I pulled out my cellphone and, even though I knew it would cause every kind of petty overage known to cellphone science, I called HELL.
"I thought that would get your attention!" Satan said.
"Oh man, you mean it wasn't real?" I asked.
"Oh, it's real, except it is not really Lord Voldemort he is channeling, but rather a resident of my domain, Aerostreptos, an ancient Mesopotamian regional ruler that created death and mayhem and was only a tactical genius in his own mind! I figured he would fit well with this administration but because he fashioned himself a 'dark lord' with mystical powers to try to dissuade his detractors from killing him, which actually did not work as they threw him into a pit with a thousand scorpions, I guess there was a misidentification. But while this is all true, in actuality, Karl and George haven't really gone public. You are the only one who knows!" Satan laughed, thinking how frustrating this would be for me.
"No. I am the only one who saw that transmission, but that there are evil influences surrounding this administration is hardly a shock. I assure you, the majority of the country, and the world, already knows this.
(To be continued...)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hubris: thy name is Gingrich.

Boy, it is good to be back blogging again. I'd ask if I was missed, but as Satan has pointed out, my 'hits numbers' would indicate that, no, sadly, I was not missed. Anyway....
As reported by the AP, from an interview with FOX News (who else would give him the airtime?) Newt (a fitting appellation) predicted a Clinton-Obama ticket and then discussed the Republican candidates, pointing out that if none of them seemed a credible candidate against Clinton, he, NEWT, might then choose to run. This sort of implies he feels he WOULD be a credible candidate to run against Hillary. I question, however, whether he is credible to run against a cantaloupe, much less an intelligent, accomplished and experienced candidate like Ms. Clinton. Newt apparently has forgotten his own legacy, which if I were Newt, I certainly would endeavor to do. He managed to misrepresent the Clinton Presidency and mislead the people about his failed Contract with America, that he was able to stall the government and derail Healthcare Reform. Since then, he has toured the country, preaching to the wealthy that the real key to Healthcare Reform is to put the onus and expense on the back of the common people, so that they would really appreciate health insurance and try to keep costs in line. In reality, people are more likely to put off costly healthcare decisions then they are home or car repairs, and this would lead to more lost productivity from illness as well as an entire new class of 'bankrupt from poor health and costly healthcare' Americans (which is something the Republican led Congress helped to begin with their bankruptcy laws overhaul of the last couple of years). Newt would not make a good President, or lizard like amphibian, for that matter. He is well suited for his current role however, touring the country and telling rich conservatives how great they are, and that they are right to want lower taxes and to remove the burden of health insurance financing from their businesses to the backs of their employees. Conservatives love that feel good stuff. They have used it to their political advantage, sadly, and obviously, at great cost to the overall health and stability of this country. But things have been shifting lately, and soon, possibly very soon, the only ones listening to Newt will be Newt, and maybe George W., Cheney and a handful of others.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It really is okay to make the punishment fit the crime.

As reported by CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer
MIAMI - A sex offender was found guilty Wednesday of kidnapping and raping a 9-year-old girl and burying her alive in a case that led to a crackdown around the country on people convicted of sex crimes. Jurors deliberated about four hours before returning the verdict against John Evander Couey in the slaying of Jessica Lunsford, who was snatched from her bedroom in February 2005 about 150 yards from the trailer where Couey had been living.
Her body was found in a shallow hole, encased in two black plastic
trash bags. She had suffocated and was found clutching a purple stuffed dolphin.

And let me add this:
As enlightened as we are in the 21st Century, we must face reality. There are no effective treatments for Pedophilia and Sex Offenders. Castration and Exile seem to be the only reasonable options. Some would say that this was "cruel and unusual" punishment. But it isn't. Because anything else is not really a punishment, or rehabilitation, because nothing else works. We have to start worrying more about the potential victims rather than the rights of these monsters. In the meantime, though I generally oppose the death penalty, there was enough evidence and confession to be sure who committed this crime, so put the animal to death, because we, as a society, are not ready to ship him off to some god forsaken island somewhere, even though we are comfortable watching game show contestants marooned on them. And as you contemplate these harsh fates for these sick and unrepentant creatures, if your courage wavers, let the picture I placed here haunt you back to bitter reality.
Rest in Peace little Jessica.

Monday, February 26, 2007

America needs to grow up.

I can't believe the nonsense I'm reading in the press these days. David Geffen, Arianna Huffington, and the Hollywood elite are getting behind Obama because they have their misgivings about the Clintons. They forgot how good the Clinton presidency was to them, and to this country. They clamor for Hillary to apologize for giving the President authority to wage war in Iraq, when the majority of Americans supported the same thing based on the lies and misinformation our President was supplying at the time. It's ludicrous to think she should not have supported it, although some of us didn't, I don't blame anyone who did, if they felt that the evidence the President was giving was convincing. Remember, the President had promised not to wage war unless it was the last resort. That was his LI E, not any of the senators who voted for the resolution.

I have said here before that politics is the only place where it is unacceptable to learn from your mistakes and change your mind. Now you can add to it another crazy distortion; in politics these days, it seems, experience is considered a bad thing! Bob Herbert, the New York Times columnist, was writing today about Obama’s fresh ideas being a threat to Clinton's establishment attitude. This is of course nonsense. Voting someone in with no experience and good intentions usually leads to an ineffectual President; see Jimmy Carter. Inexperience is not a virtue. Senator Obama couldn't get a mid-management level position in a company with the amount of experience he has. People want to vote him in to the highest office in the most powerful nation in the world? If he's really a good person and has good ideas maybe someday he will become a good politician, who can work within government to build a concensus, and to put fourth reasoned ideas, and he may, someday, be electable. Obama talks about a new brand of politics. Funny, a first-termer, little experience, and he talks about new ideas and working together: sounds a lot like George W. Bush. If that doesn't scare you away from thinking Obama should be President, I don't know what would. Now I'm not saying Obama would make a bad President, I wouldn’t know. Neither would any of you. That's the point. After the primaries, in the general election, the Republicans would rip him apart. They'll take everything that the misguided Democrats in the primaries liked about him, and then convince the same people that those are all negatives, just like they've done many times in the past. When a seasoned politician like a McCain or Giuliani, will talk about their experiences and how they worked together for the betterment of this country, and then attack Obama for his lack of experience, especially in these “dangerous time” you will watch as the same people who voted for Obama will buy it, not vote for Obama in election, and will put in another misguided Republican administration that will bring us further down into a hole. What would Obama's slogan be? INEXPERIENCE THAT COUNTS! I HAVEN'T MADE ANY MISTAKES YET. MY BEST MISTAKES ARE AHEAD OF ME! On the other hand, Clinton is experienced, intelligent and talks about a lot of good ideas. Her experience has made her learn from her mistakes. I’ll bet, for example, her next healthcare reform proposals, while not as grand as they were in the early 90s, will probably be much more approachable. Mind you, I have never found anything to particularly like about her, or dislike, as I did not think about her very much at all. But now that thoughts turn to the next Presidential election, I have had to think about it, and I think she is probably the best candidate out there. It's not because I liked her husband so much though I did)that I think she should be in office, just to bring him back there too. No, I think she's proving to be the best qualified and electable candidate. Obama, just like John Edwards, only has style and no substance. Experience and compromise will bring legitimacy and wisdom. Someday both of them might be good candidates, but that day is far in the future.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I am truly sorry for America that I am not making this up...

Vice President Dick Cheney announced that it was a good sign that England was withdrawing a good amount of its troops, saying, "it shows that things are getting better in some parts of Iraq". This, as our Administration attempts to send over 20,000 more American troops into Iraq. Now, I am sure some parts of Iraq are more stable; in fact, I heard that there is a deli in Baghdad that has not had any patrons pulled outside by roving militias and executed in almost a week!! Nevertheless, as far as I can tell, we have these things called 'Humvees' to transport troops, so if the reason England is pulling their troops is stability in some (imaginary) part of Iraq, and we need to send over 20,000 troops because of instability elsewhere, maybe they could MOVE their troops?? They could...if that were the reason they are withdrawing. It is because Tony Blair hitched his star to George W. and now that his star is quickly fading, he is trying to salvage something of his reputation by acknowledging things are NOT working as planned, and leaving his soldiers there, is leaving them to possibly die with litttle chance to succeed. Now, I don't know Dick Cheney personally, but I hear tell he is a pretty intelligent guy, so I smelled something Prime Evil here. Though I had never called him; he always got in contact with me, I decided to try to call Satan himself and see what the deal was. I pulled out my cellphone and went to the received calls log, and when I pulled up 'HELL' I pressed SEND and it seemed to be placing the call. Moments later I heard Satan's voice on the other end. "Hell's Kitchen, can I take your order?"
"Oh, what?" I asked confused.
"Just messing with your head. I hate to tell you what placing this call is going to do to your cell phone bill, but I think this counts for like 20 or 30 text messages!" He said.
"Damn!" I exclaimed.
"Sure." He responded.
"Listen, what's the deal with Cheney? He says the British troop pull out is an indication that everything is on plan in Iraq. He's either smoking some really bad shit, or I smell a little sulfur and brimstone, no?"
"Listen, you can't pin this on me!" Satan howled. "Cheney's crying to me about how everything in Iraq is, if you will pardon the expression, going to Hell, and I admit, I was a little drunk, and well, I make a little joke about telling everyone this troop pull out is a good thing. And he takes me seriously! The next thing I know he's announcing it to the media! I should know better than to joke with him. The last time I saw him, we were out hunting and I yelled: "That lawyer's about to charge ---SHOOT! And, well, you know, it was really, after all, not a very good shot, anyway, not fatal or anything." He muttered. "I just meant he was about to charge----him $275 an hour!" He laughed.
"I see." I said, not really understanding, or necessarily believing everything I was hearing. Then I mentioned that White House spokesman Tony Fratto warned that a pullout of U.S. troops could bring chaos to Iraq. Laughing I said, "Chaos might be an improvement, although in actuality I believe chaos is just the appropriate word for what we have there right now.
Satan said: "That one you have to pin on Cheney and Bush. I had nothing, NOTHING, to do with that. Even drunk I couldn't get those words out, I'd be laughing too hard!" Then he thought a moment, "Perhaps civil war, or uncivil war, might be good."
"They all seem accurate." I pondered. Then Satan changed the subject.
"Listen, a Dunkin Donuts in Duluth has a bran muffin that looks like Mary and I have to go make it talk backwards and spit pea soup." He said.
Nauseated, I asked, "Really?"
"Nah, that would be kind of funny, not the effect I'm looking for. I might make it start bleeding though...from where, I haven't decided yet."
"Okay." I said, trying to put the thought of bran muffins shaped like biblical women that would start bleeding from---the Devil knows where---out of my head.
"So, where was Part 2 of the Healthcare reform discussion we had? I didn't see it on your blog yet." He mentioned.
"I'm still sorting it all out. I'm trying to get it up soon." I promised.
"See that you do. If I had to sit through all of that...the rest of your loyal readers should have to also. You do still have a loyal reader...right?" He laughed.
"Hey. I have more than one...I think."
"Fine, I'll speak to you after you post that piece then, okay?!" He said.
"Okay." I said.

Wimbledon enters the 20th Century

Wimbledon just announced it was going to pay Women Tennis Champions the same monetary awards that it pays to the Mens Champions. This is news to me, because it never occurred to me they weren't paying men and women the same. Welcome, Wimbledon, to the 20th Century, although the last time I checked, it was now the 21st Century, but hey, better late than never, right?! Now, this is not the only example of time distortion in American culture today. The George W. Bush Administration has somehow managed to turn our civil liberties and the great freedoms America is founded on, into some weird variant of Cold War Russian KGB era kinds of wiretapping, surveillance, and encouraging you to report suspicious activities of your friends, neighbors and parents, while imprisoning without due process. But in all fairness to the W. Bush Administration, while no safer here in America then you were last year, the year before, or the year before that, you are most certainly safer than anyone in Iraq. And finally, as American politics enters the 21st century, with a woman and an African American running for the highest office, you will notice that they are both members of the Democratic Party, because that is the party that actually not only tolerates the presence of minority views, but also minority representation. That is partially the weakness of the party. They support all views, and dissent, while Republicans are quite good at keeping their disagreements to themselves. It is time the American electorate grows up, and not allow the Press to make you think a candidate is less worthy if they attack another candidate or defend themselves. Judge them by the issues, and right now the Democrats issues are to get out of Iraq, actually fight terrorism instead of just lying about it, reforming healthcare and making the tax code more equitable. Hopefully getting back to the financial success and balanced budgets of the last Democratic administration of the 1990's will soon follow.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Debating HealthCare Reform with the Real Devil's Advocate...(Part 1)

My cell phone rang and it said HELL. I tried to muster up some semblance of sympathy: "I take it that wasn't just a case of indigestion last night Mr. Vice President?" I said as politely as I could stomach.
"No, Dick Cheney is still alive and kicking up there. It's me, Satan." The devil responded.
"Hey," I began, "I thought the next time we were going to meet in person."
"That's what I am calling about. Let's meet for a drink!"
"At the same old bar, again?" I asked.
"Hey, they let me run a tab." He laughed. "Besides, we won't be staying long. I want to show you a few things."
"Oh yeah?" I asked, my interest piqued, "Something good?"
"Yeah, pictures of what you were doing last Saturday afternoon." He said.
"I don't need pictures, " I said, "I got a video."
"I know. I've been selling copies on the internet all week. Or should I say I have been TRYING to sell copies. There is about as much interest in your exploits as in your blog." He laughed.
"You mean you didn't even sell one copy! I was counting on royalties!" I ranted.
"Royalties! It's Hell. We Pirate everything!"
"Yeah, I remember," I said, "With Real Pirates!"
He laughed and then asked: "Now, are you going to meet me or not?"
"I'll be there in an hour." I said.
When I arrived, as I expected, Satan was enjoying a fine glass of scotch, neat, with a nice fat cigar. As I sat down the waiter put down a glass of single malt scotch for me, with one lone ice cube, just the way I like it. And Satan handed me one of the same cigars with the end already clipped.
"I thought I'd mentioned I gave these up." I said, "In fact, the entire city gave them up. We can't smoke in here anymore." I said.
"The Devil you say!" Satan cried with mock indignation. "The owner doesn't mind, and I'll 'make sure' there are no surprise city investigations."
"The owner doesn't mind?" I said. "And what about the other patrons?" I asked as he offered me a light, which I accepted.
"The owner and patrons are all neo-conservatives," The Devil began, "They all voted for W. Bush---twice! They all own gas guzzling SUV's. After their taxes were lowered, they all still cheat on them. Any one old enough avoided service in Vietnam while their middle and lower class brothers were dying 'for their country'. They support the Iraq war, though none of them, nor their kids, will be fighting there either. In short, they are all afraid of 'hanging with me for all eternity' to object now. Watch!" Satan stood up and yelled out: "Anyone mind our cigars?" There was not a peep from the crowd. "I didn't think so." He said aloud as he sat back down.
"Okay." I said. "I am not the Devil. I might run into these people when I am not WITH the Devil. Please---PLEASE---do not do that again."
"Oh, I promise, we won't be drawing any more attention. Drink up, and then we will be taking our cigars outside anyway."
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"I wanted to have a discussion about Healthcare reform, with my favorite Healthcare Reformer."
"Cool, who's that?" I asked.
Satan looked at me. "That would be you." He said. "But, in order to give you my spin on what I think is coming, I wanted to take you on a little tour first."
"I see," I said, "I guess this means when I write about it, it will be another two parter, eh?"
"Well, sure, on your blog, because you say too much and your hands get tired of typing very quickly."
"Not my hands, just the two fingers I actually type with." I said. "And what do you mean I say too much? You know, we spent a couple of days together on election day, was I supposed to cover that in a paragraph?"
"Whatever." Satan said as he downed his scotch, and I did likewise. Then he got up and we walked outside.
"You think highly of American citizens, don't you?" He asked.
"Yes. I do." I replied.
"You think the last election proved something, don't you."
"Yes, again." I said.
"At the end of our little tour, I want you to tell me some of your ideas on HealthCare Reform, and I will start to whisper them in some of the right ears...that is...if you still feel like doing it after our time together."
"Okay." I said. "But I have been working on this stuff a couple of years. You think you are going to change my mind in a few hours?"
"No. I think you will still believe in your ideas. I just don't think you will believe in the society that would need to enact them. I think you will lose faith and no longer believe that the American people want to solve their problems, much less do so with any appreciable cost to themselves."
"Really?" I said. "Well, as you have pointed out, you are not omniscient, you were wrong about this past election day, and I believe you will be wrong about this," He was just about to interrupt when I beat him to it, "I BELIEVE you will be wrong, but since I don't know what we will be doing, I guess it is possible that I will be mistaken...but I find it hard to imagine."
"Okay." Said the Devil, "Our first stop is Darfur."
"Darfur. What does that have to do with American Healhcare Reform?" I asked.
"Well, I would venture to say, at least as much as invading Iraq had to do with American security. But that's not the point. I will make my points when we are done." And he swept his cape around us like in a Batman movie (when did he put on a cape?) and in an instant, the air grew hot and arid. Flies could be heard buzzing. There was a smell, a vaguely bad smell, of garbage, and something else, in the air. We stood on a dirt road, and there were small cabins, or huts, all around us. "We are going to stick out more than your horns, you know." I said.
"No. I don't think so." Just then a young girl left a hut, leading an older man by the hand. They almost walked into me, but I moved aside. "They didn't see us." I said.
"No, nor would they feel us." He commented. "We do not exist, to them."
"What are you now? The Ghost of Christmas Past?!" I asked.
"Perhaps by the end of this, you may actually begin to understand my true nature. I would like to point out, that had you not been so wrapped up in worrying about being seen, you would have noticed that the man with that girl, her father, by the way, would not have seen you or anything else anyway."
"He's blind?" I asked as I looked towards them. How did I miss this? I could see there were two raw, moist, wounds where his eyes should be.
"That's not a disease." Satan began, "His eyes were gouged out by Arab militias known as the Janjaweed. They did it right after they forced him to watch as they gangraped his 15 year old daughter; the girl who is leading him around now."
I didn't say anything. I looked at this sweet young child helping her father; a scene like you might see anywhere, except it wasn't, it was a nightmare that we could never see back home. Then I spoke: "I'd read about these things, of course, in the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof writes about it often, but..." I trailed off.
"But it's different to stare a nightmare in the face, isn't it?"
"Yes, one that these people cannot wake from." I said.
"But they are still alive, and that is different from the tens of thousands that are not. Tortured and murdered merely because they lived, and lived here. But they blind, torture and rape without killing, to spread this message----leave your homes, because you might not be the lucky ones who are put out of your misery." Satan said.
"Is all of this your doing?" I asked, weakly.
"You're like my first wife! You don't understand me at all." Satan said with mock indignation.
"Why are we here? I asked, the bitter taste of tears held back, dripping down the back of my throat. I knew I would never forget the haunted expression in the eyes of that young girl, or the eyeless face of her father.
"All in due time." He said. "Shall we walk around. There are many men in this village who have had their eyes ripped out. even more that have had their ears cut off. Many of the women have been raped, usually gang raped, and there are many pregnant girls or babies born because of these acts, many under the age of 16."
"Must we?" I asked. "I believe you."
"Sure. You've read about it, though many of your fellow Americans have not even bothered. But for many that have, like you, they have done only that. Read about it. Nothing more. No letters to their Senators or President, or to the UN. No outcry of anger. Not like how your people reacted to 9/11." We walked. I wanted to believe this was all a movie or a bad dream. I wanted to think this was all done with makeup, and no one really suffered like this. I wondered how any human being could do these things. How do you rip another man's eyes out of his head? How do you rape a little girl? Don't you have children of your own where you come from? Aren't you afraid...but as my thought trailed off...Satan spoke...."Aren't they afraid of going to Hell?" He laughed. "It's not like that in every religion, although there is punishment for sin, but as you can see, sin can be rationalized to mean anything, or nothing.... "He said, after reading my mind. Then I considered what I had asked, the Devil doesn't really make people do bad things, though, yeah, sometimes he encourages them to do the wrong thing, but they know clearly it's the wrong thing before they do it. Most of the time he isn't even involved...I think. Rather than an evil influence, he was more like a second conscience to ease the burden if you chose not to listen to your fist one. Maybe it was to his benefit if you did not heed your conscience, but there was no subterfuge. I needed to think about this.
"Yes you do." He murmured as he waved his cape again. Suddenly it was very, very, VERY cold. Even though we had left New York in February and I was dressed pretty warm, it felt like I was naked. The wind was howling and all I could see was dim white in every direction. "Where are we?" I yelled above the din.
"Antarctica." He said smoothly, as all the extraneous sounds died down, and the cold receded, and we began to float above the ground. "I have decided that you do not have to freeze to death for me to make my point." He said.
"What do I need to do? Fall to my death?" I said as I looked down and saw we were soaring a few hundred feet above the ground.
"No. Just pick a spot for a snowball fight." He said. He seemed very serious.
"You are kidding, right?" I asked.
"I thought we should get one in while there is still snow." He said.
"What, is this a global warming thing? Is Al Gore gonna come narrate? I wrote all about it already on my blog, if you remember, it was our last conversation, and then what happenes, barely a week later, the Northeast dives into a big chill! And I look like you were just joking with me!"
"Gee, it got cold in the winter. Pardon me! You think that means global warming isn't really a threat?" He asked.
"No." I just don't think enough people would believe in it right now to make it compelling reading on my blog." Just then a great roar, like nothing I had heard before, interrupted us. I looked down to see a great mass of white, there was no scale to utilize, but a vast expanse broke off from the main ice sheet, and a large part of the edge just dropped into the sea.
"The part that broke off is as big as Manhattan, and the part that fell into the sea was bigger than some Hawaiian islands. The 'permafrost' isn't so permanent anymore. And while it is true, that there have always been temperature fluctuations in history, there is still human made patterns occurring here, and the big problem is, when humankind wakes up, it will take many years to turn the tide, and the ill effects will be seen for many years after that. So you can see that every year that a solution is put off is a dangerous thing for the Earth's future."
I just stared at the ice, shimmering pools of water all over its melting surface, as Satan whisked his cape around us again....
Suddenly it smelled damp and not very good, but was not hot like in Darfur. There were houses, and a lot of overtunred things and garbage in the streets. It seemed like a ghost town. No one was around.
"Where are we now? Another far and desolate spot that you want to tell me the rich and powerful country of America and all its citizens have ignored?"
"You guessed it." Satan said. "We are in--- New Orleans, Louisianna, right in the good old US of A."
I looked around at the desolation.
"You know how many people died here?" Satan asked.
I thought for a moment, frowned, thought some more, and finally said: "You know, I don't. I once tried to find out on the internet but could not find a reliable number." I said.
"Interesting, no? In America, in the 21st Century, you don't know how many you lost. More than in 9/11, I'll wager. Much more. And so many more... displaced and ruined. And while not from the same cause---terrorism,--- the result was allowed by the same government ignoring the same advance dire warnings that they ignored about Al-Qaeda before 9/11. The same mistakes again...except this time, they continued their terrible failure after the fact, with none of the resiliency and effort you saw in New York after 9/11. It was failure heaped upon failure, which is why the disaster ended up as devastating as it did. And where is the government support for the survivors. All ruined, and fighting for scraps of claims in court against insurance companies that never expected to have to pay for your government's indifference. No millionaire widows and widowers inLouisianna, not like after 9/11. Yet, though both were from outside sources, both were allowed by an arrogant government that ignored every warning." Satan smiled eerily, "Truly, this W. Bush Administration has worked hard to earn a special place in my domain." He laughed. I looked around. There was nothing to laugh at, I thought.
"It's my way." Satan responded again to my thoughts. "I laugh. Your government ignores all the signs and warnings. It's the way of things." He said.
"Recently, but the tide is already turning." I said.
"You still think so, after our little journey?" He asked as he whisked his cape around us. We were back in front of the bar, a barely smoked cigar back in my hand. I hadn't even realized it was not in my possession while we made our 'trip'.
"Yes, I do." I said, but not quite as sure as I normally would be.
"You're kind of stupid, aren't you? I never noticed." He laughed. "I show you the genocide and torture going on in the world; something the 'enlightened West' said would never happen again after the Holocaust of World War II. I show you the folly of humankind, blissfully fiddling, while your future burns---and floods. I show you the disaster and tragedy, not in some far off locale, but right in America; with little outcry and fury, unlike in 9/11 even though so many more thousands are affected and those responsible are right at hand. Your people ignore suffering, the risk of a disastrous future and disaster as it goes on around them. You still believe that America is going to tackle the complicated, expensive, and personally challenging task of HealthCare Reform?" He asked incredulous.
"Not only that, but, while it sometimes takes a while for our collective conscience to awake, I believe we will tackle everything you put on my plate today. We will demand the world deal with Darfur. We will stem the tide of global warming. And it is not too late to indemnify the losses of New Orleans, even though we did not avert the disaster."
Satan grabbed my cigar out of my hand, and sniffed the burning end. "What the Hell are you smoking?" He laughed heartily now and handed me back my cigar. "Or did that one glass of Scotch go to your head?" He asked.
"I'm serious." I said.
"No, I think you're crazy." Satan said. "John McCain is serious. Here's a man who has given up his convictions, and has hired all the people who were used in the past elections to beat him! He wants to win at the cost of his beliefs. He is a man I can understand. He is a man who works like me. You?! What am I to make of your unswerving belief in human nature? If everyone were like you, I'd be out of business."
"Well, sadly, I haven't always walked the straight and narrow." I sighed.
"You still don't understand what gets someone into Hell? Did you not learn anything today?"
"I think there is more to you than I understand. I think you took me on this expedition so I would write about it, because you do believe that humankind is better than this, and that eventually, the tide will turn."
"Really." He said. "If that were true, it might explain why the New York Times writes about these things...but your blog?! You think you have enough loyal readers to change the world? You don't even have enough people viewing your blog to change the toner cartridge in my HP Laser Printer!"
"You have an HP Printer?" I asked.
"Yeah, HP--Hell Products." He said. "It's a patent infringing knock-off we have made in China." He laughed.
"I do think I am starting to understand you. Let me think about it some more while we discuss HealthCare Reform."
"If we must. I was hoping to convince you that it was pointless, thus saving myself from the interminable boredom of the entire topic. But a deal is a deal. Let us go have seats at the bar...and whatever part of my mind is not numbed by the alcohol, I know you will take care of with your talk of HealthCare...."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

McCain proves you can be aligned with the Ultra Conservatives, or the American People, but not both. OR The 6 Horse's Asses of the Apocalypse.

Newsflash: Make the total now--6 braindead unpatriotic American's working in Government. Yes, there are 6 now willing to either lie to you, or plainly cannot see the truth, and still believe that Iraq is going well. These losers are, in AlphaMoronical order: George W. 'I always support American wars as long as I can avoid combat' BUSH, Richard 'Now you know why they call me DICK, and I too support wars if I can avoid combat' Cheney, Condoleeza 'I never met a piece of Al-Qaeda intelligence I couldn't ignore' Rice, Karl 'I never met a lie I didn't embrace' Rove, Joe 'my morals, my brain and my integrity are all in the same blind trust I used to look at Iraq and see it was going well' Lieberman and add John 'Convictions? Please, I'll say anything for a Conservative's vote' McCain.
McCain called the congressional resolution against the throwing of another 21,000 of our troops to the desert wolves in Iraq, a vote of no confidence. D'uh. No one, or should I say, it's down to six, has any confidence in the way this administraiton is handling this war. With no new plan, we should send more troops and money to Iraq? Both of which are disappearing with alarming quickness, as both the attacks and the fraud mount speedily. McCain said we have to support our troops. I, like all true Patriots in this country could not agree more. Where I differ with these politicians, is in what supporiting our troops means. Giving our troops worthless rhetoric while leaving them in an untenable position where they continue to die, and achieve little else? I don't call that support. Either come up with a decent plan, or get them out and take your losses. That is supporting our troops. I find it hard to believe that a soldier like McCain, who suffered for years as a prisoner of war, would have called for more soldiers to have been sent to Vietnam, so we could have continued that doomed struggle, while even more soldiers were killed or captured. Is his support for the W. Bush position just stupid, or is it really just pandering to the far right wing of the Republican party---the only people still believing Bush has a clue--and a plan? I could go on and on, as you well know, but in truth, the point has been made by events, and is just repetitive here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

When the pathetic game of politics can still accomplish some good....(Mental Health Parity-Part I)

On his Exit, and clearly in preperation for his hope for a national stage, Governor Pataki signed into law, a Mental Health Parity bill. Not a great bill, with some costly compromises, but a good bill. I say that this is a result of a pathetic political game because, as you can see, Pataki was governor for several terms, and signed this law on his exit. Also, if he believed he could not work on this before, because it would be too costly for the state, it is telling that he did not mind saddling his predecessor with it. But it won't be too costly, of course. As the Federal Government has seen, while there may be a rise in the mental health care costs of the plan, there are cost savings to be had in lowered medical bills, less absenteeism and better employee productivity. Meaningful Helathcare Reform in this country will certainly entail Mental Health Parity, because of the benefits to the economy that a work force less challenged by mental illness will bring, as well as the needs to address the high cost opf mental health care for those chronically and pervasively challenged by mental illness. For them, an expansion of Residential programs, and a new effort to combat the secondary medical conditions we are seeing in the population due to side effects of the strongest medications and highest doses, need to be encouraged. On that front, I am involved in developing, with the guidance and resources of a dynamic, state of the art Residential system, a program to coordinate diet, exercise, psychiatric and case management to aid in medical and psychiatric adherence as well as use diet and exercise to combat these side effects. One area to explore, especially in light of recent studies questioning the benefits of some of the newer medications for some patients, is creating protocols to keep certain medications for use as a last resort, for those in the population who are clearly most susceptible to the potential damaging side effects, such as obesity and Type 2 Diabetes that are being observed. Any valuable protocols will clearly need to be useful for the many facets of a comprehensive Residential System (from group home and scatter site housing). Soon I will be posting updates on these projects as well as the development of an anti-stigma campaign that has been mentioned here before. However, I think it is time we once again work on some issues regarding medical healthcare reform, and look in on some of the things going on around the country.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Satan to the Northeast this winter..."Hot enough for ya?"

My cellphone started vibrating and when I consulted the Caller ID it said "HELL".
I answered as respectfully as I could muster, "This is an honor Mr. President," but was interrupted,
"No, he's still alive. You know that. This is Satan."
"Yeah, I know." I said. "Our President's been practicing staying out of harm's way since Vietnam, so I am sure he has a few years left."
"How's the weather?" Satan asked with a chuckle.
"Nice. Warm. Why?" I asked.
"Know why it's so warm?" Satan asked.
"Well," I said, "the global warming community says it is increased green house gases from the world's growing industry and overindulgence of oil consuming cars and trucks. The neo- conservative movement would have us believe that global warming is utter nonsense, it's only the resurgent el nino current, and we should sit back, relax, and enjoy springtime in January." I said.
"And what do you think?" Satan asked.
"Well, now that I have the Devil on the line asking me, I think you have something to do with this."
"You know, this is one of those rare confluence of events where the answer is, actually, all of the above!"
"You mean like 'Murder on the Orient Express'?" I asked.
Well, sort of. It is global warming, and el nino, and Hell's doing, if that's what you mean."
"Satan, can I call you Satan?", I began.
"That's Mr. Devil, to you!" He barked.
"Sorry...You're kidding, though, right?"
"Yeah. I guess Satan's all right. Although my friends call me Stan, or Lou, or Santa."
"Oh, come on!! You are kidding now, right?"
"Yeah, I am,", he said, "mostly..."
'What's the deal with Santa anyway? Same letters in his name, the red suit?" I asked.
"Well, look at it this way, you take the birth of the Christian lord, and turn it into a commercial endeavor where parent's everywhere have to buy a bagload of presents, and then have to say it came, not from them, but from an imaginary character, and you didn't think there was anything devilish about that? My hands are all over that! I remember it like it was yesterday, I said to God, 'God, if you get to bring down a force for good in the world, and start a new religion, you gotta let me get something out of this too. Hence the conversion of the religious to the commercial, and the pious and poor lord to the mother of all shopping events! Then I got the Jews into the act. Eight days burning on one day of oil...not your most amazing of miracles, not the parting of the Red Sea, or anything, but certainly adequate enough for the making of eight nights of gift giving, to compete with the one monumental morning of the year!"
"All right. Enough!" I said. "You are taking the fun out of all of this." I said.
"That's part of my job. It comes with the territory." He said.
"And what were you calling me about?" I asked.
"To let you know why it is so hot up there." He said. "Remember how cold it has been in Hell lately?" He asked.
"You mean when Hell froze over because I was right about the American electorate coming through and booting the Republican majority, and you were wrong?" I said.
"Yes," he said. "Well, the heat has to go somewhere, and there you go. A few degrees of global warming, an el nino, and a little extra heat courtesy of Hell." It all spells a warm start to winter for you surface dwellers. Mostly, in the northeast, for a variety of interdimensional, geographical reasons. Much too complicated to go into now." He said.
"You don't understand why it's mostly in certain areas either, huh?" I asked.
"Don't taunt the Devil." He laughed. My nephew works for the IRS and I have other nieces looking for dates."
"I see. All good points." I said, chastened.
"And I can think of over 111 things I can do to your car that will not be covered by the warranty."
"My car's been giving me trouble. I'm thinking of trading it in!" I said smugly.
"See." He responded. "Don't taunt the Devil."
"Leave my cars alone, thank you." I said. "Don't you have better things to do?"
"No. It's been kind of slow. I promised to leave the new Congress alone for a few weeks. I used my cellphone to videotape Saddam Hussein's hanging, but that only took a few minutes. You can see it on YouTube. It's getting more play than the video I took up Britney Spears skirt when she was out with Paris and Lindsay that night. When she was a little girl, surely Brittney's mother told her to always go out wearing clean underwear, but I guess she should have stressed the underwear part more than the clean, huh?" He laughed.
"So what is your point here?" I asked.
"Don't stress global warming," he said. "Listen to your President, and to Dick Cheney."
"Really," I asked. "There's nothing to worry about?"
"Oh, of course there is. It will destroy the world. But hey, we all gotta go sometime, and your generation won't even have to worry, not before, say, your grandkids generation, at least!"
"That's not to worry about?" I asked, incredulously.
"Not if your Satan," he replied, "If the world ends through humankind's avarice, evil, or stupidity...I win."
"Win what?"
"The game. You know...." He said.
"No, I don't know. What game?"
"All of this." He said. "Everything. LIfe, the earth, you know.... Maybe not just a game, so much as a bet, a wager, between God and myself."
What do you mean?" I asked.
"God bet that he could create a physical dimension populated with independent biological processes, that would evolve with free thought and choice into an advanced race that would someday become fully self aware, and understand their true nature, and that of their creator, and a harmonious symmetry would be created that would transcend our dimension and yours to create a utopian pandimensional multiverse that would herald a golden age of plenty throughout the entire cosmic spheres. And I bet you'd be mostly a nasty lot of greedy, self annihilating poseurs."
"And have you collected on this bet?" I asked glumly.
"No, sadly, we are not even close to the finish, unless of course you 'accidentally' self annihilate before you can prove yourselves. God thinks you are moving, with major fits and starts, of course, in the right direction. I do not. Even God admits the last 6 years in America, one of his favorite places, has started to push the momentum in my direction. But he feels the previous 200 years or so, went his way. So, who can really say?"
"That's why you are pushing us now to ignore global warming! Now I understand." I said, "You are likely to lose unless the human race should exterminate itself."
"You mean when it does." He laughed. "I'm not worried about losing." He said, but clearly he was.
"The Devil you say!" I laughed. "I think you are concerned!" I said.
"Do I smell another wager?" He asked. "A chance for me to score some, after my poor insight into your election day?" He inquired.
"The result could potentially take thousands of years to decide." I said.
"So, what's our rush. If you lose, I can come collect you, that is, if I don't already have you!" He laughed, more Satanically than usual.
"I'll think about it." I said, as I also thought about maybe, making my next car a hybrid, or at least something more environmentally friendly than the cars I usually go for.
"Economical cars are soooo boring!" Satan whispered on the other end of the cellphone."
"Are you reading my mind?" I asked, aghast at the possibilities.
"You were talking about buying a new car before, and now about global warming and then you were silent. It doesn't take the King of the Underworld to figure that out. By the way, it is better to rule in a gas guzzling SUV or Sports Car, than to serve in a Hybrid." He laughed. "You can quote me on that." Then he laughed some more.
"Go to Hell." I muttered, annoyed.
"Already there. That's the beauty of the phone. Not as impersonal as email, more convenient than leaving your own dimension."
"Lucky you called after 9pm. I have unlimited night and weekend minutes and this is a long call!" I said.
"Sorry, any call from Hell is peak anytime minutes. It's Hell, after all."
"Are you kidding me?!! Next time leave your own dimension! You owe me more than a drink for all the minutes you're using!" I said.
"Fair enough. Next person." He said.
"And when will that be?" I asked, but my phone already said --Call Ended--.