This is sort of remarkable. It's kind of a page out of John Oliver who did something like this a year or so ago as a joke to make a point. But the Toledo City Council did it on a massive scale.
Last night, the Toledo City Council approved $800,000 to purchase the medical debt of those in the city who qualify,
There are 270,000 people in Toledo. That means it cost only $3 per resident for the city council to create around $160-240 million in debt relief. Worth noting, too, is that the money is being made available by using some of the federal recovery dollars the city has received -- thanks to the Biden Administration and Democrats.
Here's an article on the story and the television report from station WTVG in Toledo.
If you missed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the Main Story was LGBTQ Rights, with a focus on transgender rights. The particular perspective was the attack on these rights by the GOP, and how Republicans have tried to use them as a wedge issue in elections. It's a well-done piece that has some very good humor mixed in.
I'm only sorry that the video cuts off before the show's closing credits because it had me laughing throughout -- basically, it was images the report used earlier of odd, undersea creatures that they called "God's mistakes" as a beatific recording of "Ave Maria" played and the credits rolled. I know that doesn't sound especially funny, but it was.
Last Friday, my pal Mark Evanier posted a segment form a recent episode of The Problem with Jon Stewart, which streams on Apple TV+. It was part of an interview with the Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and deals with the state's decision to ban gender-affirming medical care for minors, the first in the country to do so..
The clip only runs about six minutes. Stewart is incredibly polite, totally respectful and utterly scathing. As Mark describes the freeze-frame image on the video, "That is the face of a woman who deeply regrets having agreed to sit for this interview. And it gets worse for her in the whole conversation…"
You can watch it on Mark's site here.
The only disappointment with the interviews is that he didn't have at his fingertips the information about the “experts” that the state had called to oppose the conflicting testimony of such major medical groups as the American Medical Association, the American Association of Pediatrics, and the Endocrine Society. When Stewart asks about who Arkansas' experts were, and Attorney General Rutledge doesn't recall, but explains it's in their legislative history and briefs, which she says she'll send.
I bring this up here, because this woman, Alajandra Cabarallo -- who works at Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic in the area of gender and techs -- filled in that gap on Twitter. She has a thread looking at each of the Arkansas “experts” -- and it’s devastating.
If you do watch the video above, it's highly-worth reading this follow-up thread, by clicking here.
I figured that since, in my piece this morning, I mentioned the wonderful interview that Jason Kander did with Al Franken, some people may have missed it when I posted it a few weeks ago and now might like to hear it.
It is thoroughly entertaining, no matter how serious the subject matter is of Jason Kander dealing with PTSD after his time in Afghanistan as an Army captain. The two are friends, and it come through clearly -- in the openness and laughter throughout.
I will say what I said previously: this is highly recommended.
By the way, in both this Franken interview and the one I posted this morning, they talk about Jason Kander's famous campaign ad when running for the U.S. Senate against Roy Blount. Franken plays the audio of the ad -- which is still pretty impressive, considering the point is so visual. Here is the ad itself.
A few weeks back, I posted Al Franken's podcast with Jason Kander, the former Missouri Secretary of State, whose uncle is a longtime friend from my Camp Nebagamon days (and whose great uncle wrote the musicals Cabaret and Chicago). Their conversation was absolutely fascinating -- dramatic, at times harrowing and often surprisingly very funny, as Kander discussed his book, Invisible Storm, about his career and challenges dealing with PTSD from his time in the Iraq War.
He was a guest last week on C-SPAN's show BookTalk, along with his wife Diana who wrote first-person commentary throughout Invisible Storm to add family perspective to the book. And once again, the conversation was absolutely fascinating -- dramatic, at times harrowing and often surprisingly very funny. Kander is very open about it all, but he seems to have crossed a major hurdle in his life and is able to talk about it from a perspective that allows him to laugh -- sometimes sardonically, but sometimes at the absurdities and sometimes in a self-effacing way.
(My favorite story that he Franken has him read from the book's introduction, though isn't told his, concerns when he decided to get help and walked into a V.A. clinic. Most of the people in the waiting room recognized him -- he was, after all, the state's former Secretary of State, ran for the U.S. Senate and barely lost to Todd Akin and was at the time running for mayor of Kansas City. But the therapist did not recognize him. So, when Kander was asked if he was under any stress lately, he honestly told him what he was doing and added that he'd been also thinking of running for president. "Of what?" the doctor asked. Of the United States, he answered. The therapist, of course, looked at him with great skepticism, and asked why he thought he could do that. To which Kander honestly replied, "Because Barack Obama told me I should consider it." It's at this point, he burst into laughter saying that he could tell that the therapist was sure he totally nuts and delusional.)
I'm unable to embed the 50-minute video on these pages, but you can watch it here on the C-SPAN site. It's really wonderful -- for however bleak much of the realities are, this is not an hour of angst. It's actually very entertaining in a rich, meaningful and funny way, by someone able to tells stories extremely well.
I am, though, able to post a one-minute clip from the event. It doesn't do the conversation justice at the breadth of the talk, but has him explaining how most people perceive PTSD and what he hopes the book shows in contrast to that.
If you didn't see Last Week Tonight with John Oliver last night, his Main Story was on Monkeypox. It was an interesting and surprising look at the history of the virus -- considering that there was a small outbreak of it 20 years ago that was easily contained -- as well as problems with how its been addressed since. All done with sardonic humor mixed throughout.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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