Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Medicaid and Viagra - I am Confused in Cairo Again...

Recently many blogs have referred to a study done in the state of New York showing that many convicted sex offenders were able to get Medicaid reimbursements to buy Viagra. People thought this was really shocking. Both liberals, especially feminist ones, and conservatives, quoted it.

I guess this is one single issue where I (normally the most liberal person I know) really have a conservative type of reaction - I am not so much exercised about sex offenders specifically getting government benefits to buy Viagra, as I am about anyone at all getting government benefits to buy such a frivolous medication that treats a non-medically threatening condition (impotence).

In fact, if we decide that Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs are, in principle, a Medicaid-reimbursable thing, how would we be able to differentiate between sex offenders and the general public without getting our society that much closer towards 1984? They already have these public shame programs towards sex offenders who have served their time, which don't seem to do much good in any practical sense, but satisfy our need for revenge - they would need a very complicated track-keeping system to make sure that Medicaid does not reimburse only a certain group for a certain drug, and I am not really in favor of all this monitoring.

But back to the idea of government funding for such a treatment on its face. Men won’t die if they aren’t able to perform, will they? Are other frivolous medications also covered by Medicaid - such as Retin-A or cosmetic surgery? How about Rogaine? If so, why? What is the possible argument for this?

It occurs to me that I know very little about how Medicaid works. I thought it probably was geared towards medical procedures and drugs that are needed because a person has an illness. I did not think it covered non-threatening things like men's inability to perform sexually, which may be too bad and annoying for them, but is not going to lead to death or even poor health.

I am actually in favor of socialized health care and I like the European model (I lived in France for a year, and while I saw some abuses of the system -- people getting out of work for weeks complaining of headaches, for example - nothing there compared to our heartless system where people without money could be refused treatment or go bankrupt when they have a medical emergency).

However, I simply don't think that taxpayer money should go to purely elective health treatments or medicines.

I also have heard, anecdotally, that some anti-depressants are not covered by Medicaid and therefore many mentally ill poor people end up on the street or suicidal because they cannot afford them. To me, this is a travesty and wrong. But I am hoping my informant was wrong, as many Americans don't seem to really know what government programs target and what they don't.

So if anyone feels like enlightening me on what is really going on with Medicaid in these areas, I would be most grateful. (I would particularly appreciate someone telling me that my informant is wrong - please, please help me think our system makes any sort of sense at all.)

I remain Confused in Cairo (one of my regular nicknames on the Internet).

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Star Wars - What Character are You?

I found this quiz funnier than most. I tried consciously to be a Jedi - as they are kind of like Sufis and I would love to be one. When you answer questions purposely to get to a certain result, it usually ends up turning out. (I should create a test called "what kind of test taker are you?" I am Qui-Gon Jinn. (I was actually hoping for Obi-Wan.)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Sound Drubbing

I just noticed something that should have been obvious to me long ago - the Arabic word for "beat or hit" is "d-r-b" (that's the root) and when it is conjugated it sounds a lot like the word "drub" in English, an archaic word meaning.... "to beat or hit." Weird. I wonder if there is any linguistic connection besides mere coincidence? However, I note that the archaic English "drub" was used also to denote "beat as in win" - "He drubbed him soundly at tennis" - and in Arabic I have always heard people use a completely different word for that context.

I also note that the verb "drub" is very associated with the adjective "sound" - in most of the contexts I have seen it they are used phrasally. Whereas the word "d-r-b" in Arabic is often used as a stand-alone. Hmmm.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Honor Killings of Women- Lying about them in order to save them

I am a member of several discussion lists, one of which is concerned with women and Islam. Recently someone there posted a review of a book about "honor" crimes committed against women in the West Bank. For those interested in the review, it skewers the book, marketed as a true story by a woman who underwent horrible torture and mistreatment, as being basically completely made up. The evidence the reviewer marshalled to prove her point was pretty damning. The book was riddled with inconsistencies and falsehoods that anyone who had lived in the West Bank or even had a very basic knowledge of Arab culture would recognize.

Now, this discussion list is pretty progressive, and people on there are very feminist and all of them are horrified by "honor" crimes and loudly denounce them and try to fight them in various ways, such as doing Amnesty letter-writing campaigns and similar things to fight the medieval practice. I have been a member of the list for several years.

A new person to the list, however, seemed to think that a critical review of the book was a whitewash for the practice of honor killing, and stated the following amazing idea:

"I did say that it does not matter whether it is true or not and I
am not going to take that back. The point and the main aspect of
the story was the matter of "honor killing" and the treatment of
women. So, what if she glaring mistakes in reference to important
matters of area and the Palestinian people, for all you know the
story could have been written by someone here in the U.S. who has
never set foot in the Middle East, but to dwell solely on her
mistakes and ignore the plot and meaning of the story then "honor
killing" will remain an hidden secret."

I read this statement over and over again. She really is saying that a book full of lies is supposed to be read without noticing the lies and instead merely focusing on its polemics, or else "honor" killing has no solution.

Are there a lot of people out there that think lying is OK in order to get people involved in an issue? Why is the truth not just as OK, or more OK? I want to say more about this but it will take some thought. There is just so much wrong with the idea that I am unsure of where to start.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I Am Quitting the Mind Games with Rush Series (for now)

I have thought a lot about this exercise I started, analyzing the transcript of a Rush show from an outside perspective. I decided that Mark was right. As I am critiquing Rush for oversimplifying a person, yet I am evaluating his views based on this single transcript, and according to Mark, Rush himself thinks you should not judge him until you have listened to 30 hours of him. I have no time (or inclination, to be really blunt) to do that, even if I lived in a place where he was on the radio (which I don't), and I am not going to spend the time to read that number of transcripts. So I will jump to no conclusions about him as a person. I will say that I still think the small portion of a radio show that was represented here by the transcript, which may not even be a complete show, apparently, sounds pretty much like he is jumping to the same conclusions that he asks others to avoid about him, about Ward Churchill. But I may be wrong; there is a possibility that Rush treated the issue in depth and fairly at some earlier or later point, and made a crystal-clear logical argument for why Ward's metaphor represents all that is wrong with the "left" and what is "being taught" in our universities.

Seismology Thriller Writing

I love the thriller as a genre. I think it is very instructive to see the technique good thriller writers use to keep your suspense mounting and keep you from closing the book.

Right now, I am reading an older thriller,The Fourth Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders, which is quite entertaining, though the male/female interplay sounds very stilted to me. I have very high standards for thrillers and have read many, so I think I am a pretty good judge. And I have a great thriller beginning for you.

Not only is it a great thriller - it's non-fiction! That is really the best kind of thriller, because you feel the extra "frisson" of knowing it really happened.

It is over at WitNit. Anyone who knows a good literary agent, please tell them about Mark Alexander, the writer of the one and only conservative blog I ever bother to spend the time to read.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Silly Quiz of the Week

I thought it sounded funny and bet I could beat all the liberal bloggers for "liberalness" and non-republicanness, and I have, I think. (I bet this will really disqualify me from commenting on Rush Limbaugh according to most. It clearly shows I am pretty darned one-sided.)

I am:
"You're a damn Commie! Where's Tailgunner Joe when we need him?"

Are You A Republican?