Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I'm a reporter for a living and I know for a fact that some of the most incendiary stories I've come across have been flat-out BURIED by editors over the years. Not at my current job thank God (not just saying that!) but at the Chicago Tribune and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in particular, there's been VERY severe abuse of the journalistic process.
I got the following info in an email from a friend I trust. Yes, he's forwarding info from a conservative group. But it spells out the pages in the Obama health-care bill and I urge you if you disagree with this or don't believe it, to check it out for yourself. I promise I will try to find the bill - if they even let us read it!!! Rep. John Conyers feels there's no need to do so, God forbid it takes him two whole days and two lawyers to understand it, he says, but he'll vote for it blindly - and verify this all myself and if i'm wrong i'll loudly and gladly eat crow.

Please take this seriously. This shouldn't be a partisan issue and it's certainly too important to blindly accept such a bill without knowing what's in it.

Obama Health Care Plan DetailsHR 3200 currently under consideration in the House of Representatives
Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the Govt will audit the books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!!
Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get
Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED!!!
Pg 42 of HC Bill - The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your benefits for you. You have no choice!
Pg 50 Section 152 in HC bill - HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise
Pg 58HC Bill – Gov’t will have real-time access to individual’s finances & a National ID Health care card will be issued!
Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Govt will have direct access to your banks accts for electronic funds transfer.
Pg 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions & community orgs (ACORN).
Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Govt is creating an HC Exchange to bring priv HC plans under Govt control.
Pg 84 Sec 203 HC bill - Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private Health Care plans in the Exchange
Pg 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specs for of Benefit Levels for Plans = The Govt will ration your Healthcare!
Pg 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill - Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. Example - Translation for illegal aliens.
Pg 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18 The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals for Govt HC plan
Pg 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specs of Ben Levels 4 Plans. #AARP members - Your Health Care WILL be rationed
Pg 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill - Medicaid Eligible Individual will be automat.enrolled in Medicaid. No choice.
Pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue Govt on price fixing. No “judicial review” against Govt Monopoly.
Pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill - Doctors/ #AMA - The Govt will tell YOU what you can make.
Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into public opt plan. NO CHOICE
Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their families.
Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Employer w/ payroll 400k & above who does not prov. pub opt. pays 8% tax on all payroll
Pg 150 Lines 9-13 Biz w payroll btw 251k & 400k who doesnt provide public opt pays 2-6% tax on all payroll
Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesnt have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.
Pg 170 Lines 1-3 Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay).
Pg 195 Officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access to ALL Americans financial and personal records.
Pg 203 Line 14-15 HC - “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax” Yes, it says that.
Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors, low income, poor affected.
Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill - Doctors, it does not matter what specialty you have, you’ll all be paid the same.
Pg 253 Line 10-18 Govt sets value of Dr’s time, prof judg, etc. Literally value of humans.
Pg 265 Sec 1131Govt mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries.
Pg 268 Sec 1141 Fed Govt regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs.
Pg 272 SEC. 1145. Treatment of certain cancer hospitals – Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!
Page 280 Sec 1151 The Govt will penalize hospitals for what Govt deems preventable readmissions. (Incentives for hospital to not treat and release.)
Pg 298 Lines 9-11 Drs, treat a patient during initial admission that results in a readmission-Govt will penalize you.
Pg 317 L 13-20 PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Drs. what/how much they can own.
Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand.
pg 321 2-13 Hospitals have opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input required. Can you say ACORN?!!
Pg335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339 - Govt mandates established of outcome based measures. HC the way they want. Rationing.
Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans (Part B), HMOs, etc. Forcing people into Govt plan.
Pg 354 Sec 1177 - Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people!
Pg 379 Sec 1191 Govt creates more bureaucracy - Telehealth Advisory Committee. HC by phone/Internet?
Pg 425 Lines 4-12 Govt mandates Advance [Death] Care Planning Consult. Think Senior Citizens end of life.
Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of atty. Mandatory!
Pg 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Gov’t provides approved list of end of life resources, guiding you in death.
Pg 427 Lines 15-24 Govt mandates program for orders for end of life. The Gov’t has a say in how your life ends.
Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An “adv. care planning consult” will be used frequently as patients health deteriorates.
Pg 429 Lines 10-12 “adv. care consultation” may incl an ORDER for end of life plans. AN ORDER from GOV
Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.
PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life
(NOTE FROM RJ: The above really does give the government the authority to determine who lives and dies, and when. A government bureaucrat really will be making this decision for you and your loved ones.)
Pg 469 - Community Based Home Medical Services=Non profit orgs. Hello, ACORN Medical Svcs here!!?
Pg 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORG. 1 monthly payment to a community-based org. Like ACORN?
Pg 489 Sec 1308 The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. They will insert Government into your marriage.
Pg 494-498 Govt will cover Mental Health Svcs including defining, creating, rationing those svcs
PG 502 Sec 1181 Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research Established. – Hello Big Brother – Literally.
Pg 503 Lines 13-19 Gov’t will build registries and data networks from YOUR electronic med records.
Pg 503 lines 21-25 Gov’t may secure data directly from any depart or agency of the US including your data.
Pg 504 Lines 6-10 The “Center” will collect data both published & unpublished (that means public & your private info)
PG 506 Lines 19-21 The Center will recommend policies that would allow for public access of data.
PG 518 Lines 21-25 The Commission will have input from HC consumer reps – Can you say unions & ACORN?
PG 524 18-22 Comparative Effectiveness Research Trust Fund set up. More taxes for ALL.
PG 621 Lines 20-25 Gov’t will define what Quality means in HC. Since when does Gov’t know about quality?
Pg 622 Lines 2-9 To pay for the Quality Standards, Govt will transfer $$ from to other Govt Trust Funds. More Taxes.
PG 624 “Quality” measures shall be designed to assess outcomes & functional status of patients.
PG 624 “Quality” measures shall be designed to profile you including race, age, gender, place of residence, etc
Pg 628 Sec 1443 Gov’t will give “Multi-Stake Holders” Pre-Rule Making input into Selection of “Quality” Measures.
Pg 630 9-24/631 1-9 Those Multi-stake holder groups incl. Unions & groups like ACORN deciding HC quality.
Pg 632 Lines 14-25 The Gov’t may implement any “Quality measure” of HC Services as they see fit.
PG 633 14-25/ 634 1-9 The Secretary may issue non-endorsed “Quality Measures” for Physician Services & Dialysis Services.
Pg 635 to 653 Physicians Payments Sunshine Provision – Gov’t wants to shine sunlight on Docs but not Govt.
Pg 654-659 Public Reporting on Health Care-Associated Infections – Looks okay.
PG 660-671 Doctors in Residency – Gov’t will tell you where your residency will be, thus where you’ll live.
Pg 676-686 Gov’t will regulate hospitals in EVERY aspect of residency programs, incl. teaching hospitals.
Pg 686-700 Increased Funding to Fight Waste, Fraud, and Abuse. You mean like the Gov’t with an $18 million website?
PGs 701-704 Sec 1619 If your part of HC plan isn’t in Gov’t HC Exchange but you qualify for Fed aid, no payment.
PG 705-709 SEC. 1128 If Secr gets complaints (ACORN) on HC provider or supplier, Gov’t can do background check.
PG 711 Lines 8-14 The Secretary has broad powers to deny HC providers/ suppliers admittance into HC Exchange. Your doctor could be thrown out of business.
Pg 719-720 Sec 1637 ANY Doctor who orders durable med equip or home med services MUST be enrolled in Medicare.
PG 722 Sec 1639 Gov’t MANDATES Doctors must have face to face with patient to certify patient for Home Health Svcs.
PG 724 23-25 PG 725 1-5 The same Gov’t certifications will apply to Medicaid & CHIP (your kids)
PG 724 Lines 16-22 Gov’t reserves rt to apply face to face certification for patient to ANY other HC service.
Pg 735 lines 16-25 For law enforce. proposes the Secretary-HHS will give Atty General access to ALL data.
PG 740-757 Gov’t sets guidelines for subsidizing the uninsured (Thats your tax dollars people)Pg 757-762 Fed gov’t will shift burden of payments to Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) to States. (Taxes)
Pg 763 1-8 No DS/EA hospitals will be paid unless they provide services without regard to national origin
Pg 765 Sec 1711 Gov’t will require Preventative Services including vaccines. (Choice?)
Pg 768 Sec 1713 Gov’t – Nurse Home Visitation Svcs (Hello union paybacks)Pg 769 11-14 Nurse Home Visit Svcs include-economic self-sufficiency, employ adv, school-readiness.
Pg 769 3-5 Nurse Home Visit Services - “increasing birth intervals between pregnancies.” Govt ABORTIONS anyone
Pg 770 SEC 1714 Fed Gov’t mandates eligibility for State Family Planning Services. Abortion & State Sovereign.
Pg 789-797 Gov’t will set, mandate drug prices, controlling which drugs brought to market. Bye innovation.
Pgs 797-800 SEC. 1744 PAYMENTS for graduate medical education. The government will now control Drs’ education.
PG 801 Sec 1751 The Govt will decide which Health care conditions will be paid. Say RATION!
Pg 810 SEC. 1759. Billing Agents, clearinghouses, etc req. to register. Gov’t takes over private payment sys.
Pg 820-824 Sec 1801 Govt will identify individ. ineligible for subsidies. Will access all personal financial information.
Pg 824-829 SEC. 1802. Govt Sets up Comparative Effectiveness Research Trust Fund. Another tax black hole.
PG 829-833 Gov’t will impose a fee on ALL private health ins. plans incl. self insured to pay for Trust Fund!
PG 835 11-13 fees imposed by Gov’t for Trust Fund shall be treated as if they were taxes.
Pg 838-840 Gov’t will design & implement Home Visitation Program for families with young kids & families expect kids.
PG 844-845 This Home Visitation Prog. includes Gov’t coming into your house & telling you how to parent!!!
Pg 859 Gov’t will establish a Public Health Fund at a cost of $88,800,000,000. Yes that’s Billion.
Pg 865 The Gov’t will MANDATE the establishment of a National Health Service Corps.
PG 865 to 876 The NHS Corps is a program where Drs. perform mandatory HC for 2yrs for part loan repayment.
PG 876-892 The govt takes over the education of our Med students and Drs.
PG 898 The Govt will establish a Public Health Workforce Corps to ensure supply of public health prof.
PG 898 The Public health workforce corps shall consist of civilian employees of the U.S. as Secretary deems.
PG 898 The Public health workforce corps shall consist of officers of Regular & Reserve Corps of Service.
PG 900 The Public Health Workforce Corps includes veterinarians.
PG 901 The Public Health Workforce Corps WILL include commissioned Regular & Reserve Officers. HC Draft?
PG 910 The Govt will develop, build & run Public Health Training Centers.
PG 913-914 Govt starts a HC affirmative action program thru guise of diversity scholarships.
PG 915 SEC. 2251. Govt MANDDATES Cultural & linguistic competency training for HC professionals.
Pg 932 The Govt will estab Preventative & Wellness Trust fund- initial cost of $30,800,000,000-Billion.
PG 935 21-22 Govt will identify specific goals & objectives for prevention & wellness activities. Control YOU!!
PG 936 Govt will develop “Healthy People & National Public Health Perform. Standards” Tell me what to eat?
PG 942 Lines 22-25 More Gov’t? Offices of Surgeon General -Public Health Svc, Minority Health, Women’s Health
PG 950- 980 BIG GOV’T core pub health infrastructure including workforce capacity, lab systems; health info sys, etc
PG 993 Gov’t will establish school based health clinics. Your kids won’t have a chance.
PG 994 School Based Health Clinic will be integrated into the school environment. Say GOVT Brainwash!
PG 1001 The Govt will establish a National Medical Device Registry. Will you be tracked?

Thursday, July 2, 2009



I’ve always loved ‘80s high school movies, and I’ll even admit that I was hooked on the original “Beverly Hills, 90210.” They all depicted the world’s coolest proms, the most exciting football games, and offered up characters like Brandon Walsh or Ferris Bueller who were able to get away with anything they wanted, and most of all, they offered up dramatic moments of utterly cheesy uplift - like when the school geek finally gets his moment to shine as the rest of the class gives him a slow-building and stirring round of applause.

Those movies made my teenage existence in the small city of Little Rock, Arkansas, where I was a hardworking but mostly quiet kid, feel like there was hope out there somewhere to have my own moment of glory someday. But I never imagined that that moment would come this year, right back where I came from, in Little Rock at my high school’s 20–year reunion.

I went to Little Rock Catholic High for Boys, which was about two miles away from the Mt. Saint Mary’s Academy for girls. You can only imagine the sheer social delight to be had from the fact that we were in gender-segregated schools while raging with hormones. If I wanted to have the same cool social life as Ferris Bueller or Brandon, I’d have to make the trek up to the Mount after a grueling eight hours of girl-free schools - and even then it was hopeless because I didn’t get to drive ‘til my senior year and was trapped having my Mom behind the wheel for a full ¾ of my high school experience.
Not exactly the kind of thing that lends itself to living a life as cool as the ones I watched in the movies. Add in the fact that my year-older sister Krys went to the Mount, and imagine my agony knowing that the only girl I’d be picking up each day from that school was related to me. Krys tried to be good sibling, going out of her way to help my nearly-nonexistent social life, but she went about it in entirely the wrong way: by pimping me as a prom or homecoming dance date for the strangest foreign-exchange student in her class each year.

There’s really no way to describe the joy I felt twice a year when told that I would be taking yet another girl who barely spoke English - or whose culture didn’t even allow them to dance anyway - to the big dance. I relished sitting on the sidelines, unable to communicate with my date as everyone else cut a rug and wondered why I didn’t shake my tailfeathers along with them, assuming that I must not know how to even hold a conversation. And even better, I got to pay for dinner and throw down $50 on a tux rental!

Perhaps now you’ll understand why, by the time graduation rolled around, I and my two best friends – the one open atheist, and the one all-but-openly gay guy – vowed to leave the grounds and never return. I treated college like a federal witness-protection program and completely reinvented myself into my present adult status: as a stand-up comic and entertainment reporter in Hollywood getting to do whatever I want just like Ferris Bueller, with a big, brash personality and unfortunately a big fat gut to go along with it. But I kept my personal promise to live my life the way I wanted it and make up for the 18 years in which I felt bottled up by going through Catholic schools in the buckle of the Bible Belt.

So I skipped my 10-year reunion. I was in Chicago at the time, still skinny as in high school and working at my dream newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. I was head writer of a local TV comedy show and was the show’s host for “Weekend Update”-style fake news, complete with a memorable night in which I got to “co-anchor” with future “Today Show” substitute host Lester Holt! Why would I possibly want to go back?

Well, the subsequent decade taught me a little bit of humility. I developed a sleep disorder that cost me jobs, forced me to stop driving for years and screwed my metabolism up to the point where I topped (or should I say popped?) scales at over 300 pounds. I had to back out of an engagement when my fiancé developed severe bipolar disorder and her doctor said the emotional rollercoaster of relationships often prove impossible for manic-depressive people to deal with healthily.

And I had a profound reconciliation with my dad, who had often been repressive in my childhood but was now not only my friend but an artist himself, creating a successful second career as a painter in his retirement. I’d been coming home happily for the past seven years, so when the word came this time about the 20-year reunion, I realized it was time to confront and reclaim my past.

One big part of that decision came thanks to Facebook, where a few of the guys I thought never gave me a moment of thought in their lives tracked me down, saw my avatar picture in which I’m hanging with Jay Leno, and started asking about my standup career. Then some of the guys started buying a humor book I wrote. And finally, my senior class president – a real-life Ferris Bueller who had become a major-city TV anchor while maintaining his staggeringly funny sense of humor – wrote me a note two weeks before the two-night reunion in which he ordered me to come, assuring me that high school was “o.v.e.r.” and that rather than being a loser for not having a wife and kids, I’d be seen as a hero still living the single-guy dream.

So I went, plunking down a fat $500 for a plane ticket with the awareness that that same president had ordered me to “entertain the troops” and perform standup at the big party. All I can say is, if you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth going back for a reunion, you’ve simply GOT to do it.

It was fascinating to see which people looked older and which ones stayed the same. Most of the guys had either gained weight or lost hair, providing a much-appreciated shot of self-esteem as I realized I wasn’t the only person who’d grown up to resemble the Michelin Tire Man. On the other hand, the women had either stayed the same or gotten even better looking with age. The only problem was, we had a live ‘80s band cranking out the hits of our youth, but I couldn’t tell who was married and who was single and wound up talking on the sidelines for fear that I’d wind up getting hit by the husband of someone I tried to hit on.

Our class president was a rising-star TV anchor, and another guy is in the Secret Service protecting former President George W. Bush. Another is a cop in New Orleans who slogged through the pandemonium of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, while yet another guy is now the doctor keeping my parents alive. But whether they were computer techs, concrete-truck repairmen or grocery-store managers, it was cool to see that all the old social barriers – the walls that separated freaks from geeks, and jocks from nerds – were gone.

We were just people now, happy to see how each other survived and changed and moved forward in life – while also sad to think back on the four classmates who had died over the intervening years. And all those people – nearly 200 guys and women whom I had hidden my comedic interests from in high school, secretly wishing I could “show them” someday – wound up being the coolest audience I’ve had in 12 years as a professional comic.

As the night’s official party wound to a close, the band having said its goodbyes and venue officials ordering us to clear out, my class treasurer jumped onstage, waving my humor book and announcing that it’s a rare thing for a class to have an actual comedian in their ranks. And just as I gave him the “cut” sign and thought I’d better not risk a failure onstage, one classmate whispered from behind me that if I didn’t take that moment, I’d regret it the rest of my life. With that, women I thought were far beyond my wildest dreams started whooping for me and both classes burst into chanting my name: “Carl! Carl! Carl!”

The only thing missing was the slow-building applause that greeted the misfit title character in “Lucas” or helped the nerds finally feel welcome in “Revenge of the Nerds.” But as everyone laughed and clapped, I felt the weight of 20 years of bitterness, fear and bad memories fall off my shoulders like an unwanted coat. I’d made peace with my parents years before, but now I felt loved and accepted by everyone else I’d felt ignored by so long before.

I’m not gonna lie and say the night remained as noble as that moment. I wound up at an after-party in which I finally danced off all the horrible memories of those lame dances with foreign exchange students, busting moves with one of the prettiest girls at the Mount and posing for pictures that will probably prevent me from ever seeking office.

But in the end, my $500 planet ticket wasn’t just a chance to fly home. It became a chance to fly, period, in my life, knowing finally that I can go home again – anytime I want. And that you can take any bad or tough situation in your life and reclaim and reinvent it. That’s a good lesson to have even if you’re not heading for a reunion.