Friday, July 16, 2010


Vanity of Vanities

James Wolcott of Vanity Fair has a delicious demolition of the Miss Congeniality in the Conservative Wet-Dreams Pageant, Laura Ingraham, and her recent exercise -- in book form, no less -- of puerile "satire" about the Obamas.

This part is cute ... in about the same way as a three year old trying to say "nuclear physics" is cute:

I think we live in the greatest country on the face of the earth. And of course America was going to elect a minority president. Why wouldn't we? I always hoped it would be a conservative that would be elected first, but we're America! Stephen Hawking is one of the most brilliant people in the face of the planet—a celebrated person around the world, also a disabled man. I mean, Oprah Winfrey is an African-American woman."
What's up with conservative "pundits" and Hawking? Wolcott reminds us:

During the health care debate the idiotic Investor's Business Daily ran an editorial claiming that Hawking were in the UK, he'd be targeted for the human scrap heap by the National Health Service. When it was pointed out to IBD with an accompaniment of of scorn and mocking that Hawking is in the UK, that he was born and raised and educated there, the paper issued a pissy little retraction, provoking Ezra Klein to observe:

Investor's Business Daily...has now deleted the offending line from their editorial and published a correction. "This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK," reads the addendum.

But that's not a correction at all. IBD never claimed that Hawking didn't live in the UK. It claimed that the NHS would judge him worthless and leave him to die. That was what was wrong. And that has not been corrected by the IBD -- which says a lot about how much trust readers should place in their work. Instead, it has been corrected by Hawking himself.
I suppose that they dimly know that Hawking is the most famous and, quite possibly, the greatest, theoretical physicist alive and, having had their lizard minds imprinted with the "American Exceptionalism" meme, they can't help in their ignorance but assume that he's American.

But Wolcott then goes on to pile another log on what's rapidly turning out to be the bonfire of Arianna Huffington's vanity:

I don't know if you noticed -- I didn't draw attention to it -- but I removed The Huffington Post from my peerless blogroll for running anti-Darwin/pro-"Intelligent Design" claptrap propaganda, and now I see they're publishing Ingraham's "Obama Diaries" as a daily blog, only reconfirming my original slash mark through their name.

We know what Hawking's fate has been in the UK. What would it have been in the USA? I can't see any commercial insurer having taken him on once diagnosed (unless required by law and pre-Obamacare that surely was not the case even if it is now - is it?), so if he didn't already have insurance where would he be?

Serious question, if someone has a brief answer off the top of their head to save me hunting around, lazy sod that I am.
There are other programs ... Social Security Disability and Medicade prominently ... that would have provided help. If he was insured before he was diagnosed most private plans provided for continuing coverage (though life-time caps might kick in) as long as he was able to keep the same plan (something Hawking probably could do but many Americans can't).
It may be that people assume that Hawking is American because his "translator" device has an American accent.

If Hawking had let his coverage slip before being diagnosed, he'd be dead now, I'm pretty sure. And it probably isn't a concern for Hawking, but he could not have changed jobs, either, if his health insurance was provided by his employer.
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