Saturday, June 30, 2012

Things We Saved | the Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act

Here are some things we saved this week when the Supreme Court preserved the Affordable Care Act:
  • Insurance companies can no longer stop paying benefits in the middle of the year — or stop paying altogether because your loved-one or neighbor has reached their insurance cap (I believe this alone is sufficient to put a dent in the number of medical bankruptcies in the US).
  • Insurance companies can no longer simply cancel a policy if your loved-one or neighbor gets sick.
  • Insurance companies must cover the cost of preventive services such as mammograms at no additional charge.
  • Insurance companies must justify rate increases and rebate excessive overhead charges directly to policyholders.
  • Starting immediately, insurance companies may not deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Starting in 2014, insurers may no longer discriminate against adults with pre-existing conditions.
  • Starting in 2014, insurance companies may no longer charge women more than men for coverage (put that feature along with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and you can see the vicious cycle some have attempted to protect at the expense of working families — namely, the right to pay a woman 22% less when she does the same work at the same level of performance as a man, AND the right to charge that woman a premium for health coverage because she is a woman)
  • Starting in 2014, state-based marketplaces will enable us to compare coverage on an apples-to-apples basis when we make our choice of insurers.
  • Health Insurance tax credits for working Americans beginning in 2014.
  • The construction or improvement of hundreds of health centers in underserved communities.
  • Tax credits to help small businesses offer affordable health care plans to employees.
  • Increased penalties for Medicare fraud.
  • Lower costs for older Americans on Medicare.
  • Personal responsibility for seeing that none of us unnecessarily burdens our neighbors and our nation by losing or failing to maintain adequate health coverage.
For more about all this, including straightforward information about health coverage in your state, visit

If you care for such things, Chief Justice Roberts' opinion for the majority turns out to be a really fascinating read. Things start getting really interesting around page 31. Find the Roberts opinion here

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mothers|Daughters|Women|Girls | A Short Play About Sex + Growing Up

Mothers | Daughters | Women | Girls | A Short Play about Sex + Growing Up

Mothers | Daughters | Women | Girls is a short play in four scenes featuring one adolescent female and two adult females.

Monologues by 15 year-old Jules and Ginny, her 40-something mom, bookend a scene in which Ginny discloses a secret to her friend Ferne and another in which Ginny and Jules tussle over issues of sexuality and worth.

Mothers | Daughters | Women | Girls starts out funny but ends in earnest as the characters grapple with unintended consequences.
Discussion questions accompany each scene.

Mothers|Daughters|Women|Girls and my other short plays are available from Amazon in the UK, Germany, Spain, France + Italy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chloe Found Words | Fire Storm

Tim Ares Lynch
The breathtaking devastation in Colorado has reduced many of us to monosyllables and repeated murmurs of disbelief and anger and bargaining and, and, just, wow...

Chloe Lewis found words and brought them from somewhere deep, up and into the light for the rest of us. Chloe, who is 15, lives in Colorado Springs. I've had the good fortune to know her mom, Lara Lynn, since she was 15.

Thanks Chloe.
Fingers and tongs of viscous heat tear and crawl through the land
With roaring flames jumping through the trees and eating the grass
Slowly reaching and creeping toward the homes of our loved ones
The air becomes thick with the choking smoke
Families gathering what they can before they are forced to leave the place where they grew and raised their children
They run from the oncoming fire toward safety
With sinking heart they watch as their home, not their house, but THEIR HOME goes up in flames
So many families who have had to flee
Children and parents hoping and praying
Communities coming together
Friends and families watching after each other
Let us weave a tight net or shield of prayers to cover and protect homes and families alike
To protect the firefighters
To protect the animals
To protect the spirit of the ones whose homes will or have burned
Let there be no casualties
And if there are, pray for the families of the ones that we have lost
Pray for all of us 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Life In Hell (1978-2012) | Matt Groening Moves On

Before there was The Simpsons or Futurama, Matt Groening created Life in Hell. This month, he ends more than three decades drawing the weekly strip.

In the final strip, Binky tells his girlfriend, "Just once I want to hear the three sweetest little words in life come from your lips."

She replies, "I forgive you."

To which Binky responds, "Close enough."

I think that about covers it. Thanks Mr. Groening.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The President + the Private Sector | What Barack Obama Actually Thinks

What a bunch of numbskulls. Do we have to do everything?

I keep waiting for someone in the so-called "Beltway Press" to point out what the President actually said about the performance and condition of the private sector in his press conference last Friday. 

But no. They're playing out the ridiculous "gaffe" narrative, aren't they… 

Knuckleheads. 7th graders could do the job you're doing now.
The President (2nd paragraph of opening remarks): Today, we’re fighting back from the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  After losing jobs for 25 months in a row, our businesses have now created jobs for 27 months in a row -- 4.3 million new jobs in all.  The fact is job growth in this recovery has been stronger than in the one following the last recession a decade ago.  But the hole we have to fill is much deeper and the global aftershocks are much greater.  That’s why we've got to keep on pressing with actions that further strengthen the economy.
(12th paragraph of opening remarks): Keep in mind that the private sector has been hiring at a solid pace over the last 27 months.  But one of the biggest weaknesses has been state and local governments, which have laid off 450,000 Americans.  These are teachers and cops and firefighters.  Congress should pass a bill putting them back to work right now, giving help to the states so that those layoffs are not occurring.
(15th paragraph of opening remarks): Instead of just talking a good game about job creators, Congress should give the small business owners that actually create most of the new jobs in America a tax break for hiring more workers.
Caren Bohan: Blah, blah, blah, European debt crisis. Blah, blah, And finally, you talked about  a number of ideas that you've already put forth to shield the American economy. Do you plan to give a speech or lay out additional ideas now the crisis is really escalating?
The President (9th and 10th paragraphs of response to Ms. Bohan): …And the most important thing I think we can do is make sure that we continue to have a strong, robust recovery.  So the steps that I've outlined are the ones that are needed.  We've got a couple of sectors in our economy that are still weak.  Overall, the private sector has been doing a good job creating jobs.  We've seen record profits in the corporate sector.
The big challenge we have in our economy right now is state and local government hiring has been going in the wrong direction.  You've seen teacher layoffs, police officers, cops, firefighters being laid off.  And the other sector that's still weak has been the construction industry.  Those two areas we've directly addressed with our jobs plan.  The problem is that it requires Congress to take action, and we're going to keep pushing them to see if they can move in that direction.
Jackie Calmes: What about the Republicans saying that you’re blaming the Europeans for the failures of your own policies?
The President:  The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone.  The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government -- oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.  
And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry.  Because the recipes that they’re promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more. 
Was that so hard? 
Ten seconds into his remarks the President affirms our businesses for reversing a 25-month trend of job cuts and creating jobs for 27 months in a row — 4.3 million jobs in all. He credits businesses with generating stronger job growth in this recovery than the much shallower recession a decade ago. He doesn't take credit for this; he gives credit to "our businesses."
A few minutes later, the President reminds us that the private sector has been hiring at a solid pace over the last 27 months.
Another minute passes and the President says Congress should stop talking about job creators and give the business owners who actually create most of the new jobs in America a tax break for their trouble.
A few minutes later, part of the President's answer a question from Caren Bohan is: "Overall, the private sector has been doing a good job creating jobs. We've seen record profits in the corporate sector."
When Jackie Calmes asks a followup question, the President reiterates that we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone and that the private sector is doing fine  compared with state and local governments that are hemorrhaging jobs at an alarming pace and are powerless to do much about that unless the federal government acts.
And there you have it. The President said the private sector should get full credit for creating lots of jobs. He said — five times in 29 minutes by my count — that private sector businesses are more than pulling their weight. And he said Congress is sitting on its hands, refusing to step up for reasons that boggle the mind.
The President thinks the private sector is doing well in job creation. Does Governor Romney think they are not? Do Congressmen Boehner and Cantor and Senator McConnell think the private sector is failing America? I'm hard pressed to see how that's not what they're saying…unless you want to try to convince me they are simply playing the fool; pretending the President said what he clearly did not say. You don't want me to believe those good men are clowns, do you?
Speaking of clowns: Why am I up writing about this at 11 o'clock after a pretty stiff day of writing about things people actually pay me to write about? Where are the people who are supposed to keep the record straight about what leaders and would-be leaders say and do not say? Are there no honest brokers of truth in the press? Has this whole enterprise devolved into lunchroom gossip?
Here's the transcript of the President's remarks and the Q+A that followed.
Here's a link to download the video.
Here's a link to download the audio
And here's me, going to bed grouchy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Open House | A Monologue in Five Brief Scenes

Open House | A Monologue in Five Brief Scenes is now available at the Kindle Bookstore for Kindle Readers and iPad.

The actor, male or female, sits on a rocking chair and speaks deliberately, affecting the wisdom of dignified age.

Don’t let that description fool you. Open House was first performed one scene at a time in five sessions by a grandmotherly black woman at an event dominated by white middle school and high school kids — it killed. There were misgivings among some conference leaders before the fact, but Olivia, as we called her, was a rock star. After several sessions, the sight of her silhouette seated in the rocking chair as the lights began a slow fade up, elicited cheers from the young crowd. Joanna, the first actor in this role, was taken aback by the number of people — even more adults than adolescents, it seemed to her — who couldn’t seem to grasp that she was not Olivia, and this was not her own story.

All that to say, Open House stands by itself as a one-act, and also performs nicely in the context of a mixed media series progressing through authenticity, love, humility, courage, and faith.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Beautiful Dreamer | a one-act comedy of biblical proportions

Beautiful Dreamer | a one-act comedy of biblical proportions is now available in the Kindle Store for your Kindle Reader or iPad.

Beautiful Dreamer is a comic telling of Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-45. Which is to say it’s a comic telling of a comic tale with menacing undertones of kidnapping, murder and famine.

For sheer fun, with a cast of up to 13 players — or half that many if you have plenty of hats and wigs — this is one of my favorite scripts. 

It's mostly done as Readers' Theater, but the sky's the limit here. Throw in a DJ or a small orchestra, add some lights + sound effects, put the Chorus in choir robes...and you've really got a production.

Have fun, and let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Ray Bradbury | 1920-2012

Ray Bradbury by Alan
Light, Comic-Con, 1975 

The people there were gods and midgets and themselves mortal and so the midgets walked tall so as not to embarrass the gods and gods crouched so as to make the small ones feel at home. And, after all isn't that what life is all about, the ability to go around back and come up inside other people's heads to look out at the damned fool miracle and say:  oh so that's how you see it!? Well, now, I must remember that. 

— Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, William Morrow, 2001, page xiii