(Scroll down for an update.)

There seems to be a slew of articles coming out this week, all of which focus on what’s right with Obamacare. Here are two I read with interest:

I also did my own investigation. I tried to (almost) sign up for health care using the new exchange. I live in New York, a state in which the lawmakers welcomed the ACA and did not do everything in their power to ensure its inefficacy. In fact, New York created its own health care website. If you go to healthcare.gov and indicate you’re a New Yorker, you’ll be redirected to New York’s site. Within half an hour (including the time it took me to set up an ID and answer the questionnaire), I was comparing plans and was just one click of a button away from buying health insurance.

Now, I don’t need to at this time. Currently, I have insurance through my employer, but I was curious to see the process. And the process worked when opposition governors weren’t thwarting roll out efforts.

I don’t understand why Republican governors—Republications being those who, traditionally (and they love their traditions), are champions of states’ rights—wouldn’t take this opportunity to say, “States can do this better, and here’s our working website to prove it.”

Yes, the federal website was a failure in its initial launch, and, in this day and age, that’s inexcusable. But what are the states doing to help citizens who want health insurance? Are they really playing politics with people’s health?

UPDATE:  “A New Low in Health Care Rhetoric,” by Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi


Seven Dirty Words

November 1, 2013

Last night, I discovered (with glee) that almost all of George Carlin‘s specials are on Netflix streaming. Without hesitation I decided to start watching and I began at the beginning, with his first HBO special, which aired in 1977. I was shocked when it began. The head of programming at HBO was addressing the camera, warning HBO (then called by its full original name, Home Box Office) viewers that what they were about to watch contained strong language that some might find offensive. She continued, saying that HBO is committed to freedom of expression and supporting artists like Carlin. Then the special began. Carlin was hilarious, as expected. About an hour into the 90-minute special, the frame froze, and for a moment I thought something was wrong. Then a title card appeared, laid over the frozen frame, once again warning viewers that the final segment contained explicit language (Carlin was about to get into a variation on his “seven dirty words” routine) and that viewer discretion was advised. 

I couldn’t believe it. It had never occurred to modern sensibilities that such a warning would need to be given – repeatedly – on HBO. And when Carlin started saying the seven words, it was jarring to recognize how frequently we hear many of those words on broadcast TV these days. In only about 35 years we’ve come quite a long way. 

I love language and I support people’s right to express themselves with, as Carlin would say, all words available to them. Yet I wonder if it’s progress that crassness and vulgarity has become an accepted norm, that we seem to have lost any sense of decorum and ability to distinguish between what is an is not appropriate.

Yet context certainly matters, as Carlin has argued. Remember The King’s Speech and the fact that it was given an R rating because of a series of expletives yet other movies, with gratuitous sex and violence get off with a PG-13? I rarely use Carlin’s seven dirty words but, just as their use in The King’s Speech proves, sometimes they are necessary, powerful and satisfying. 

Where do you stand on the issue? Should anyone be allowed to say any word they want on broadcast TV, or do broadcasters (and the FCC) have a responsibility to shelter viewers from content that could be deemed offensive?