A “Catch All” Column, Volume 1

Too often, I skip writing because I don’t think I have enough to go with on one particular topic. But that ends today. I hope you’ll enjoy the first of “Todd’s Catch All” columns, where I share a paragraph or two on topics across the spectrum – politics, sports, pop culture, and anything else that strikes me. This is really the structure that a podcast of mine would take, if I can ever get “The Toddcast” going. So, here we go.

POLITICS

North Korea — One of the many problems with Our National Embarrassment is that he governs like a member of the WWE. He loves having a heel, or playing one to another “wrestler.” (world leader). By treating Kim Jong Un (who is more of a Rocket Boy than Man… but now I’m doing it!) as something of a wrestling foil, Trump only feeds into Kim’s desire to be seen as a player on the world stage, and on equal footing with the United States. Further, he undermines any attempts at effective diplomacy through his blustery talk of wiping out North Korea. How are North Korean leaders supposed to work behind the scenes with U.S. diplomats who have seemingly been forced to begin every secretive meeting with an explanation? “Oh, he doesn’t really mean it. You can take OUR WORD for it. We speak for the country.” Hmmmm, the North Koreans must think, do they? Or does the crazy guy count for more? Trump has boxed us into a situation where we either attack or hope the storyline just quietly disappears. He’s completely unfit to serve.

Health Insurance – Let’s remember to accurately label this topic. Because the day we actually debate Health CARE in this country, will be the day we talk about our diet, how our food is made and processed, exercise, and how we generally take care of ourselves. When we debate Health “Care” in politics, what we’re really debating is Health INSURANCE. So, let’s talk Health INSURANCE. The current Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill is a disgrace. Instead of fixing the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare,” it guts it, and returns us to the days of punishing people with pre-existing conditions, high deductible plans, and overall health INSURANCE unaffordability. The plan:

  • Eliminates Medicaid (MediCal here in CA) expansion, which has helped millions, including veterans, obtain quality health care outcomes
  • Eliminates subsidies for lower-income Americans to afford purchasing a health insurance plan
  • Eliminates the individual and employer mandate that all must carry health insurance, which, while not universally loved, was an effective spark in making sure everyone was paying into health insurance pools to share costs
  • Eliminates requirements that health insurance plans cover certain minimum health conditions or illnesses
  • Overly relies on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) as a means for Americans to cover what their insurance plans do not. Two problems with HSAs are, among others, A) they do nothing to reduce health care costs; B) they only work if you have money to put into them. In other words, they only work for the upper middle class and wealthy

Lindsey Graham may be good for a witty remark every once in a great while, but he and Bill Cassidy (who was an M.D.!) have put forward a morally bankrupt proposal for health insurance that essentially just delivers less insurance. As usual, wealthy people will be just fine, and the rest of us will be wrapped in the warm Republican embrace of “being on our own.” … Seriously, what are these guys smiling about?!

 

SPORTS

The Dodgers just lost two games in a row to the worst team in baseball, the Phillies, and are scaring the shit out of me. You have to be hot going into the playoffs. They better get there again.

The Angels just blew a chance to take the 2nd American League wild card spot by losing two games at the same time as the Twins, who currently own that 2nd spot, also lost two games. Every time I look at the Angels, I almost want to say to them what Dean Wermer said to Flounder: “fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Except in their case, it would be, “mediocre, complacent, and being chokers is no way to win a pennant.”

The Chiefs come to L.A. this weekend to face the 0-2 Chargers at Stub Hub. Everyone has, of course, overrated my Chiefs. I love them, and think they have a lot of weapons and talent. They are also, at all times, about 2 injuries away from finishing 8-8. And you KNOW the Chargers don’t want to start out 0-3, so they are going to be very hungry AND DESPERATE. And you know what desperate teams do? They wrack up penalties while they take out their frustrations on YOUR players. I expect a game of huge anxiety for me, as I pray that we not only pull off a win, but that Joey Bosa doesn’t hurt any Chiefs offensive weapons.

Speaking of the Chargers, I finally figured out who they are today while driving to pick up lunch. The newly minted “L.A.” Chargers are the Clippers of the mid-1980s. They came to town when no one wanted them here. They had no identity or much of a fan base. They couldn’t fill their own arena, and instead, you saw throngs of fans rooting for whatever team they were playing that night because they were probably there to see the team from their hometown play the Clippers. All of the same challenges await the Chargers here.

Don’t buy Tom Brady’s book.

POP CULTURE

Not sure if some of you knew this, but I REALLY love stand-up comedy. Marc Maron has a new standup special on Netflix that you really shouldn’t miss. Not every one of his standup specials has worked for me in the past, but given how much I liked him on “GLOW” earlier this year, I gave the new special a try. It delivers the funny from beginning to end. Enjoy!

Erin and I are making our way through the new Ken Burns epic documentary “Vietnam” about as quickly as the French and Americans made their way through the actual country. It’s a lot to take in, but incredibly moving and provides a lot of historical context that I missed over the years in my studies or any rare conversations I may have had with my Vietnam Veteran father. It’s incredibly well done through the first two episodes, which takes viewers from the 19th century through the Kennedy years. I’ll offer a few observations on what I’ve seen thus far. However, they can only really be

21 Sep 1967, Da Nang, South Vietnam — Da Nang, South Vietnam: Marine Cpl. Michael Wynn, 20, of Columbus, Ohio (Enjoy, Smiths fans!)

understood or appreciated if you, too, also watch the series:

  • Here goes my political career, but I’ve come to really appreciate Ho Chi Minh. All this stick of a man every wanted was for an independent Vietnam. Sure, we obsess over the fact that he was an avowed Leninist, but as I’m watching this, he seems to be the only major character in this decades-long ordeal who was CONSISTENT in what he said and what he asked for from the international community. The French, the Americans, the U.N. all acted like two-faced idiots who didn’t know what they wanted except “not communism.” Speaking of …
  • Charles de Gaulle’s insistence that France be allowed to recolonize its territories after World War II was foolish, though not surprising. His country, and his military, was humiliated World War II, and like anyone who has been abused and humiliated, he turned around and abused and humiliated his colony. De Gaulle’s jingoistic pride in France and insistence it be a leading, nuclear powered nation only worsened the lives of the Vietnamese and it’s eventual division into two countries.
  • It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback this now, but the United States’ obsession with fighting a failed economic system from taking over the world was a real, real – like, looking back, REAL waste of (a lot of) money. You know who didn’t go Communist? Places like Turkey and Greece, who we didn’t offer weapons or troops, but instead helped with real international aid and infrastructure development. People can’t eat guns and bullets. You know who they side with? The people that give them food and a semblance of economic structure.

Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments.

3 Comments

  1. The Dodgers are scaring me too. I think we need to bench Baez and bring out Culberson, Barnes, Farmer and more Utley. We need some hungry players get more play time – they have nothing to lose. I don’t care about the Angels.

    • Great call on Baez, Christina! (I’ll overlook your crack on the Angels!). Baez is such a liability, I honestly don’t know what he’s still doing on the roster.

  2. A fellow dodger fan at work uses Baez as a shutdown: That Graham Cassidy bill is a total Baez. Trump’s UN speech-Baez.

    I won’t watch anymore games until they start to care again.

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