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Column: Roping up some rhymes

Poet laureate is one of those things that you might know what it is and how it's pronounced. To my own way of thinking, poet laureate is pronounced almost like lariat, and it means you're good at throwing around words instead of ropes.

Albert Rios is Arizona's poet laureate. Here's the verbiage from the email with the announcement:

In honor of Arizona's Centennial year of statehood, Governor Brewer last year signed into law SB 1348, making Arizona the 43rd state to establish a Poet Laureate. The purpose of this position is to commemorate Arizona literary artists whose work and service best represent Arizona's values, independence and unique Western history and culture.

There's no doubt Mr. Rios is well qualified for the position, but what happens when the bright lights fade and Arizona moves on to the more mundane task of being 101 years old (and I hate to be a nag, but we're more than a year late on this centennial/poet lariat thing, and Arizona is already 101)?

At this point, I think, being poet laureate just might be beneath a man of Mr. Rios' stature.

So I'm volunteering, at least if it's a paying gig.

As far as credentials go, I remember claiming to like Emily Dickinson's work in high school, earning an A in the process. I also remember that she didn't title her work, instead identifying it with numbers. As an editor who has struggled with headline writing, I can tell you right now the number thing has a lot of appeal. But how do we train readers to know that "1,457" means "Exploding Cigar Kills Nine"?

You can see the dilemma.

Anyway, years back I was sorting through the mail and came across consecutive news releases, the first about the number of amazing poets in the community where I lived, the second about the dreadfully high number of functionally illiterate people in the community where I lived.

I should also mention the news release about poets was more interested in getting money from aspiring poets. In other words, if you submitted a poem, you won. This particular pitch called for poems about Jacqueline Kennedy.

Poetry and illiteracy struck me as a natural pairing, at least at the time. So I came up with this:

I got a dawg, his name is Fred,

And yesteeday I runned over his hed,

If he'd a wored a pillbox hat like Jackie,

Mebbe his ear wouldn't look so tacky.

As our former first lady, you had some back luck,

But at least you never got runned over by a truck,

Now I've got a dawg and his name is Fred,

And he's got Goodyear rittin all over his hed.

Jan, get back to me when it's convenient, especially if this laureate gig includes health insurance.


One reason given for the need to have ObamaCare is that health care as it existed was not sustainable. I'm not sure what that means, given that the statement on these pages a few days ago wasn't backed by any data. But I know what I can see with my own two eyes.

Kingman Regional Medical Center's sprawling campus sure looks like something more appropriate to a community much larger than ours. And it looks sustainable to me.

There are doctor's offices, from general practitioners to surgeons to dermatologists, all over town.

All of them give every appearance of being sustainable, at least until their federal ObamaCare reimbursements drop to too few pennies on the dollar. According to the CDC, one in three doctors refused new Medicare patients in 2011. Going by that data, it would appear that the problem with sustainability had to do with government shortcomings, not an issue with our doctors and other health care professionals and the services they provide.

And for doctors who still see Medicare patients, underpayments to them are ultimately shifted to patients in the form of shorter visits, less doctor face time, quick hospital discharges, and compromised care, according to Jason Fodeman, M.D., of the Galen Institute.

Look, if ObamaCare is such a good deal the president wouldn't be traveling all over the place trying to sell it to the public years after it was passed into law. If ObamaCare is such a good deal, the timetable for it being put in place wouldn't be arbitrarily changed by the president to after the 2014 elections. And if it's such a good deal, what's with all these waivers from businesses that want nothing to do with it?

No, if ObamaCare was a good deal, Americans would know it. But it's not, so one of the popular liberal talking points now is that health care is unsustainable, so that when ObamaCare crashes and burns that will be the proof that even more government intervention - not less - will solve health care problems.

Government "fixing" health care has broken it, just like government making college "affordable" has created a mountain of debt for millions of Americans who can't find work in the Obamaconomy.

It's almost enough to make a guy give up writing poetry.


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