Sorry about yesterday. Too much eggnog. And I wasn’t sure how to answer the reader who chastised me for espousing dictatorship. (Needless to say, I’d only accept it if I were assured you could be the dictator.) And there was the 8pm Acela Sunday – waiting for us in Union Station at 8pm despite the snow – that didn’t board until midnight because there was no one to drive it, which got me off to a late start Monday, which cut into my Rachel Maddow time Monday night, which … oh, well, mainly it was the eggnog.

And now it’s Christmas Eve!

HEALTH CARE

If we were starting from scratch, we’d have something entirely different. (And we’d be on the metric system and a single senator couldn’t bring business to a halt and the Brits would drive on the right side of the road.) But we’re not starting from scratch and the health care bill that seems likely to emerge and be signed into law – while it clearly could be better – is still likely to be a meaningfully good thing, with likely future improvement.

I talked to one progressive Senator yesterday who highlighted, for example, the requirement that insurers pay out at least 85% of the premiums they collect (in big group plans; 80% in small ones), a number which should be higher – but is still a meaningful improvement (some today pay out less than 75%). And who said that just about every pilot program anyone’s ever thought of is in the bill, “which is why it’s 2,000 pages” – and which bodes well for innovation. He says the bill instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to roll out the pilot programs that work (“if we didn’t give HHS broad latitude in how to do this, and tried to specify the details, the bill would be 100,000 pages”). And when I asked whether there was a pilot program for tort reform – which, within bounds carefully drawn to balance the needs of victims and discourage malpractice, I favor – he said that Tom Carper of Delaware had added that to the mix. Whether that – or just what – will make it through conference and into law, I, of course, can’t say. But I think we have reason to be hopeful that we’ll soon have taken a major first step toward meaningful health care reform. And that for at least the next three years, if not lots more, the Health & Human Services team charged with executing on a lot of this stuff will be enlightened and energetic and on the side of reform.

WANTED CHILDREN

The first reason for family planning is that every child deserves to be wanted and loved. So things like condoms and Plan B are – you’ll forgive me – godsends.

But the second reason is that – at the moment at least – we haven’t figured out how to live successfully on our little planet with nearly 7 billion people, let alone the 9 billion we’ll have by 2050. As this item explains, the most cost effective investment in greenhouse gas reduction may just be family planning.

(Of course, it has its limits – spending trillions on family planning would be nonsensical. But spending more than the world spends now?)

Our friends on the other side of the aisle can’t imagine a connection between billions of birds in a nest and fouling that nest. They impose a global “gag rule” on family planning whenever they are in power.* Which is one more reason, if you love kids and/or your planet, to feel welcome on our side of the aisle.

*Then, the first week Clinton or Obama take office, we lift it.

INSPIRATION

Cole Lannum: “A short inspirational clip that will move you … from the Today Show a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had the pleasure to know the subject of the story (Mark Stephan) for more than 20 years, and he truly is a wonderful human being. The only unfortunate thing about a 3 minute clip is that it significantly understates the incredible amount of work it has taken for Steph to get to this point and how much of a challenge his situation continues to be. Nonetheless, I dare you to watch the clip and not be truly moved.”

☞ So isn’t it great we are now encouraging, rather than discouraging, the stem cell research that could one day make lives like Steph’s so much better?

MORE INSPIRATION

Have you seen Invictus? Yes, we are sometimes just dreadful. (“Some people!” George says to Jerry. “Yeah,” agrees Jerry. “People – they’re the worst.”) But sometimes, especially around the holidays, but other times too, as this movie reminds us, we have it within us to be … well, not half bad.

CHRISTMAS

Listen: I don’t believe Jesus walked on water or that Moses parted the Red Sea, but I sure love the stories; and the spirit of Christmas. May yours be merry and bright.

Back to the eggnog.

 

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