BronxinIowa

Pawn takes queen

Ira Lacher ponders the possible fallout from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that undermines reproductive rights.

When my wife and I consider a major home project, such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, we apply the principle I call “pawn takes queen.” As in chess, the idea is to consider several moves ahead so as to anticipate the ramifications. If we knock down a wall to open up the kitchen, where do we put the stove? Will we need to add new gas lines? Where? How much time and disruption will that add? And so on.

America may have to apply that principle if, as widely predicted after oral arguments December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Mississippi House Bill No. 1510M, which bans nearly all abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy.

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The truth is all we've got

In the spirit of the gift-giving season, Ira Lacher offers a few pointers to see you through our ever-increasing spate of less-than-credible news.

November 22 passed last week, not with a bang but a whimper. It seems no one cares to remember that on that date fifty-eight years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Fifty-eight years ago, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t even a zygote, so the rash of conspiracy theories circulating around the shooting in Dallas — “the Mafia did it, with the help of Cuban guerrillas and the CIA!” — had to depend merely on the number of book authors attempting to take advantage of Americans’ chronic abdication of reality.

Today, of course, social media is to conspiracy theorists what steroids were to Barry Bonds. And for good reason. We know the companies who administer those platforms do so with the idea of magnifying shrillness. It’s like substance addiction: The more you ingest, the more your body wants it.

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Once again, Democrats are in denial

Ira Lacher: Why is it so difficult for Democrats to do what Republicans are great at—seize an issue and run with it in a straight line to pay dirt?

On November 2, Democrats took a shellacking, losing the governorship of Virginia and nearly New Jersey, along with many local elections, once again illustrating they can’t convince enough Americans they share their values. Three days later, proving Napoleon’s adage “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap,” some doubled down.

Despite the Democratic-controlled U.S. House finally passing President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill that promises to repair dangerously broken bridges and highways, hasten to bring broadband internet to hundreds of rural counties, and enable scores of other improvements throughout much of America, six Democrats believed it still wasn’t progressive enough, and voted against it.

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"Props" to nobody

Ira Lacher: Why does Hollywood continue making movies with gun violence? Because Americans are in love with guns.

Everyone is still talking about actor Alec Baldwin’s apparently accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza on a movie set in New Mexico. Baldwin’s been a jerk on and off set, but he’s never remotely been accused of doing anything intentionally life-threatening. And indeed, no charges have been filed in the fatal shooting.

But in the wake of the sensational coverage emanating from the story, one article jumped out at me: a report in The New York Times about how movie-makers regularly use similar “prop guns” — real, functioning firearms, perhaps loaded with blanks — because they provide realistic effects. The Times quoted a piece from American Cinematographer written by Dave Brown, a firearms instructor who has worked with a number of movie crews:

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Put 'er . . . where?

Ira Lacher: Now that the Delta surge seems to be fading and we can dare to dream of being together again, an entire legion of scientific Debbie Downers is scolding us to do away with a millennium-old cultural mainstay.

Recently I attended an event where I didn’t know most of the folks, all of whom, as I, were masked. At the close, and we prepared to take our leave, I automatically did what uncounted multitudes have done to acknowledge becoming acquainted with someone new: I offered up a handshake. And a few turned it down. Some preferred the fist bump; others, a forearm touch.

Initially, I shrugged off those responses, simply complying, as requested. But on the drive home it started to bother me because I realized those requests, while perfectly understandable in our COVID world, seemed somehow forced or staged. And I couldn’t tell very much about those folks the way I could from a handshake. And that bothered me even more. Because it seems that along with the millions of lives the pandemic has robbed us of, it’s robbing many of the survivors of their humanity, specifically, the need for physical touching.

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Those magic(?) dice

Ira Lacher returns to the topic of what is owed to Americans who have chosen to remain unvaccinated for COVID-19.

Wow, unvaccinated America: Are you in luck!

Nah, not from any new discovery that prevents you from getting COVID-19, or that if you get it you won’t die (actually, you’re 15 times more likely to than if you’re vaccinated, and 29 times more likely to land in an ICU). But hey — if an emergency room is in your unvaccinated future, you’ve got unlimited dice rolls because you’re guaranteed to get medical attention. Which puts you ahead of someone who might have brain cancer. Wow! Can you buy me a Powerball ticket?

This great good fortune favoring you, unvaccinated America, results from what is known as the “duty of care” doctrine: A doctor has a moral, ethical, and legal obligation to treat a patient to the best of the physician’s ability; failure to do so can invite a malpractice suit. Further, hospitals that participate in Medicare must, under federal law, stabilize an ER patient’s condition, regardless of the person’s ability to pay, or at least transfer that patient to a suitable institution.

But not everyone loves someone on a winning streak. Health care providers may have to treat you — but they may not want to.

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