When I was a young and buxom lass of 19 at Santa Barbara City College, I would borrow my roommate's polka dot sundress (on the days I wasn't wearing black leggings under cutoff shorts) and follow [redacted] around campus. A group of us would cluster about him—he was the student body president, and he would tell you so every time he called. "Hello, this is [first and last name, redacted], student body president at Santa Barbara City College," he would intone, and 14 years later I can still do it perfectly. Dara and I adored him, because power is sexy. So did Echo, a sweet girl who'd been raised by hippies on a bus and who was, like, recording treasurer or something of the student body association, so she could go into his office and be really, really helpful while she fluttered her lashes awkwardly at him. That was before we took pity on her and let her come over to sit cross-legged on our couch and smoke cigarettes. I don't think she left for the rest of the semester.
Nobody did, really. Between Alex, whose Jewish roommate had converted to Chumash and kept leaving dead chickens on his coffee table; Rod, our philosophy TA who always brought the weed; the aforementioned Echo; and Ria, a giantess of a woman who stopped slumping over to hide her giantess breasts and instead glided down the street with a showstopper smile, our beachside studio apartment was home to six people, one bong, and an army of scabies marauding their way to our hearts.
As for [redacted], student body president at Santa Barbara City College, Dara and I were sure he would one day be governor. We went to all his rallies protesting student fee hikes, sat on the grass and whooped with ironic zeal. He was so . . . white. Preppy-like. Straight-arrow. Such a Capricorn!
After we went up to campus one night to do it on his desk—that's right, on the desk of [redacted], student body president at Santa Barbara City College!—he started to look much less pleased whenever I'd stalk him on campus. I never dated a Capricorn again. Make that I never "dated" a Capricorn again. I did, though, "date" the cameraman who shot me and Dara and Echo whooping in ironic zeal at one of those rallies, till I told him we'd had a scabies invasion, and then he didn't come back.
And now [redacted] lives in Huntington Beach. I know because he MySpaced me.
MySpace is fucking awesome.
To my knowledge, my friend has not become governor. It might have been those seven years he spent in college that got in the way of his political career. After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger never spent seven years in college. Arnold Schwarzenegger never spent any years in college. Instead, he spent his time far more productively, becoming the most famous action figure in the world (after Jackie Chan), investing in real estate (and racking up lawsuits), and groping ladies on rowdy movie sets (and racking up lawsuits). I think it's very nice that Arnold Schwarzenegger wants us all to have health insurance. I think it's even very nicer that he doesn't discriminate between uninsured children here legally, and uninsured children who aren't. It's safe to say Chuck Devore doesn't agree, but he can be pompous on someone else's dime; this page is all for me.
But Arnold's health plan, though I think it's well-meaning, is a fiasco. It's a cobbled-together mishmash of strategies, a few of which do aim to rein in the insurance companies' most troublesome tactics but most of which just add on more cost to businesses that are already eating shit due to energy costs and inflation.
But simply being insured isn't any sort of guarantee. In 2001, half of all personal bankruptcies were due to illness—a 2200 percent increase since 1981—and 75 percent of them had insurance before they got sick.
Whether it's homeowners insurers refusing to pay out Katrina debts or health insurers refusing to pony up for your cancer treatment because you had an undisclosed hernia, the insurance industry has managed to bring bad faith to levels previously enjoyed only by various mayors of Huntington Beach.
You already know of course—you're so smart!—that insurance premiums have risen so greatly in the past decade because insurers tanked their investments in the stock market. (This, sadly, doesn't stop the AMA from fighting for "tort reform" on the premise that lawsuits cause their malpractice insurance to increase, when in fact there wasn't any increase in lawsuit payouts in the time their premiums skyrocketed. Just that little ol' market "correction.")
Then there's the little matter of their record profits, which may not compete with Exxon's, but still manage to bring in the cheddar, ballooning in the past couple of years from the mere hundreds of millions (per state) to billions. Billions is a lot! In fact, just in California, they rake in $10 billion for profits and "overhead." That's a lot of color copies.
I'll leave it to Warren Beatty, as Bulworth—which I once made some Northern Californian Young Republicans watch on their teevee at the Long Beach Hyatt—to explain it better than I ever could.
"Yo, everybody gonna get sick someday/But nobody knows how they gonna pay/Health care, managed care, HMOs/Ain't gonna work, no sir, not those/'Cause the thing that's the same in every one of these/Is these motherfuckers there, the insurance companies! You can call it single-payer or Canadian way/Only socialized medicine will ever save the day! Come on now, lemme hear that dirty word: SOCIALISM!"
Yes, it'd be much less annoying if it wasn't in rap form, but then you'd never get the beautiful sight of Halle Berry cradling a mortally wounded Senator Bulworth, and cooing at him, "Yes, baby. You are my nigger."
Like my friend, Warren Beatty hasn't become governor either.
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If power is sexy, like my former friend, why isn't Mike Schroeder? The LA Times' sad dribble of an expos in Sunday's paper had all of us on tenterhooks—and my, they chafed!—wondering what the Times' Christine Hanley had found out. Surely there would be something hinky in the life of fixer Mike and his war bride, Susan Kang Schroeder,38. Instead, the Times—after saying it wouldn't bow to the Schroeders by taking Hanley off the case (Mike and Susan claim she's biased) promptly took Hanley off the case. The story ran instead under the byline of CatherineSaillant, a reporter from the paper's Ventura edition—and it read like it was researched from that same 100-mile stretch. If there was anything in there you wouldn't already know from reading OCBlog, I must have skimmed past it. Mike likes wine and leaves his business card with defeated opponents? News as old as Susan Kang Schroeder, 38. You know what might have surprised people? That Mike has been on record as against the Iraq war from the beginning. That's something. Or that Susan, 38, is 38. "I think I look 28," Susan said when I called her. "It really hurt to see my real age in there like that." How old do you tell people you are? I asked her. "I tell them the truth," she said, so of course I didn't believe her. "It just hurt to see it like that in print."
Poor, pretty baby. (38.)