Disaster

My kids love their pediatrician, Dr. Harris. They are almost as excited to go see him as they are to go to Train Town. They are excited merely to drive past his office. “That’s my Dr. Harris!” Archer exclaims, pointing through the car window. They love him so much that they put on their bravest face when getting painful vaccinations. Archer, age 2, even thanked the nurse after his last one.

Of course Andrea and I love him too. We first met him when he delivered a lecture to the parenting class we took, back when Andrea was pregnant with Jonah. The best advice we got in that whole class came from his lecture: namely, that it’s pointless to obsess over the birth, which after all is just a day out of your life, more or less. Possibly a difficult one, but one when you’re surrounded by a team of professionals. All you really have to do is show up. No, said Dr. Harris, the right thing to obsess about during pregnancy is every day for the rest of your life after the birth, when the development and well-being of a whole new person is your sole responsibility.

Now the disaster: Dr. Harris’ practice, Mill Valley Pediatrics, is about to close. He and one of his partners will be joining the HMO, Kaiser Permanente.

This follows a string of medical retirements and closures that Andrea and I have suffered through in the past 10 or 15 years. First my GP, Dr. Cumming, got out of the biz, although she was yet a young woman. I switched to another doctor at the same practice, but within a couple of years the entire practice folded, scattering to the four winds some eight or ten doctors in all and probably thousands of patients. (My medical records from that practice are still in limbo.)

Halfway through Andrea’s second pregnancy, her OB/GYN, Dr. Toton, who’d delivered Jonah, retired. More recently, my new GP‘s partner, Dr. Cummings (not to be confused with Dr. Cumming above), has had to institute new limitations on her practice. And now this.

I don’t know the reasons for all these events (well, Dr. Toton was of traditional retirement age), but the Marin Independent Journal blames tight-fisted insurance companies for the demise of Mill Valley Pediatrics. Dr. Cummings’ new rules appear designed to improve her bottom line. And shortly before Dr. Cumming retired (back in the days of Hillary Clinton’s abortive health-care reform effort), she once complained to me of the byzantine rules and payment mechanisms of the American health care industry.

We will make every effort to continue seeing Dr. Harris even though we are not Kaiser members. And from now on we will be voting against the health-insurance industry and in favor of anyone with the balls to set up single-payer healthcare.

It’s this simple

Driving to work this morning I found myself behind a car with a striking bumper sticker. In bold black letters it said: “DEMOCRAT.” The background was a narrow, stylized slice of a waving American flag.

That’s all.

I have spent a fair amount of energy over the past few years trying to think of ways to convey pro-Democrat messages succinctly and persuasively. And I tell you, this simple message — “DEMOCRAT” and the flag — did it better than anything else I’ve seen or imagined. Not “Proud Democrat.” Not “Stop the Lies.” Not “No Blood For Oil.” Those clumsy sales pitches sound keening next to “DEMOCRAT” and the flag, which doesn’t persuade, doesn’t plead, doesn’t exhort or extoll. It asserts, simply, boldly, and surely: you can be a Democrat and a patriot. It proclaims: there is an alternative. And it does it in the gut, not the head. I think a lot of us wish that the head is where it counts, but if there’s one true thing the GOP knows that we don’t, it’s that the head follows the gut.

Forget explaining. Forget detailed arguments, footnotes, cross-references. Would you use those when trying to pick up a hottie in a nightclub? Of course not, and this is no different. Job number one is to create an impression in the gut: “I can get with that.” To do it at once, without involving the intellect.

“DEMOCRAT” and the flag. The little black cocktail dress of political speech.

(Cross-posted at http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/8/23/215335/881.)

Feel like crying? Read this

The Impossibility of Unknowing” by SusanG.

Can we restore decency and justice in America in my lifetime? Right now it sure seems like a stretch…