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November 10th, 2012:

Saturday video break: Blinded By The Light

Song #44 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Blinded By The Light”, originally by Bruce Springsteen and covered by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Here’s the original:

Note that the lyric is “Cut loose like a deuce”, not “ripped off like a douche”, or whatever it is you hear Manfred Mann sing. “Deuce” is old timey slang for the devil, so think of it as “Cut loose like a bat out of hell” and it suddenly makes sense, no? Here’s the Manfred Mann cover:

OK, “Revved up like a deuce” works, too. I think I’ve heard this version on the radio a hundred times for each time I’ve heard the original, maybe more. Manfred Mann made a pretty good living covering Springsteen – they recorded their own version of two other songs from “Greetings From Asbury Park”, “Spirit In The Night” and “For You”. I actually heard their “Spirit In The Night” the other day. But needless to say, this is the one for which they’re best known.

There’s a third version of “Blinded By The Light” that deserves mention, and it’s the remake of it Springsteen did with the Seeger Sessions Band. Here’s the video of that live recording:

I think that one’s my favorite. I learned about it after making a request to Coverville a couple of years ago.

It’s official: Sylvia vs Carol for SD06

It’s on.

Sylvia Garcia

Houston community advocate and longtime public servant Sylvia Garcia announced today she will run in the coming special election to represent Texas Senate District 6.

“I’ve been fighting for our community and our families for years in Houston and Southeast Harris County,” said Garcia, “and now I am ready to take our fight to Austin.” “Our neighborhoods need a State Senator who understands our priorities and our values,” Garcia continued.

“Rick Perry and his Tea Party allies have already cut nearly six billion dollars from public schools and fired thousands of teachers. Now Perry’s opposition to the new health care law means four hundred thousand people in Harris County could continue to be without health insurance. That is why I am running for Senate — to protect our schools, our jobs, and our families,” concluded Garcia.

“I have worked with Sylvia to improve the availability of health care in East Harris County,” said Representative Ana Hernandez Luna (Dist. 143). “She understands the issues, has the ability to work with others to achieve the goal, and the passion and energy to stay in the fight until the battle is won.”

“Sylvia has never stopped working for us,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Jessica Farrar. “Serving as a social worker, attorney, city controller and county commissioner has provided her broad experience and solid relationships at all levels of governent. She is well equipped to fight against the special interests in Austin putting people first. Sylvia’s priorities of education, healthcare, and jobs are what strengthen families most.”

“You can trust Sylvia Garcia to say what she’ll do and do what she says,” said State Representative Armando Walle (Dist. 140). “Throughout her years of public service you have always been able to count on Sylvia’s word. She has the intellect, honesty, maturity professionalism and integrity we want in our representative in the Texas Senate. Someone our children can be proud of”.

“Make no mistake, Rick Perry and his cronies are not going to give up their disrespectful opposition to our President,” said Representative Garnet Coleman (Dist. 147). “They may have lost the election, but our community knows Perry will keep fighting our President’s efforts to improve our schools and health care. We need Sylvia Garcia to stand with us.”

The Republican who got 29% in November is also running, not that it matters. Note all the testimonials from State Reps, which among other things shows how big a family fight this is going to be. Let me say up front that I like, admire, and respect both Sylvia Garcia and Rep. Carol Alvarado, and that I think either of them would do an outstanding job as Senator. I’m also very glad that I was redistricted into SD15 so that I don’t have to choose one or the other in the voting booth. Best of luck to them both, and may the best woman win.

Planned Parenthood gains a stay in state lawsuit

If you’re confused by where the Women’s Health Program stands in Texas, I don’t blame you.

Right there with them

Planned Parenthood will continue participating in the Women’s Health Program — for now. Travis County District Judge Stephen Yelenosky on Thursday approved a temporary injunction to delay the state’s implementation of the “Affiliate Ban Rule,” which would bar the nonprofit from participating in the program, until a full trial can be held in December.

Planned Parenthood is “likely to prevail on their claim that the rule is inconsistent with the instructions of the Texas
Legislature,” wrote Yelenosky in a letter authorizing the temporary injunction.

“This is another victory for the women of Texas that Planned Parenthood is proud to serve,” said Pete Schenkkan, the lawyer representing the group.

Multiple court proceedings have delayed and complicated the implementation of the Affiliate Ban Rule and the Texas Women’s Health Program, which the state previously planned to start on Nov. 1. In October, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals shot down Planned Parenthood’s claim that the Affiliate Ban Rule is unconstitutional and set the stage for the state to move forward with its plan. But a few days after that ruling, another Travis County district court judge issued a temporary restraining order requiring the state to continue the program until it could be determined whether state law made the rule inoperative, because it caused the state to lose federal funding for the program.


“We’ve got the state program ready to stand up at any time, and that transition would be seamless for patients and their doctors,” Kyle Janek, Texas’ executive commissioner of health and human services, said in an earlier statement announcing that Texas would continue the federally funded Women’s Health Program until funding stops or a state court decision is made.

TM Daily Post has a primer on how we got here, which will bring you up to speed. See here for background on the lawsuit, and here for my opinion on Janek’s claim of readiness. The state will of course appeal this ruling, so I’m going to save myself the ride on the emotional roller coaster and wait to see how that shakes out.

No smokers need apply

Boy, is this a big can of worms.

Methodist Hospital System in Houston this month announcedit will implement a tobacco-free hiring policy on Jan. 1, joining the Texas Medical Center and Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, which have had similar policies since last year and 2010, respectively.

The policies are straightforward. Applicants who smoke or chew tobacco will not be hired. Existing employees are exempt.

A growing number of hospitals and health care institutions have adopted the policies to promote wellness, improve productivity and rein in rising health care costs, but critics say they discriminate and could lead to punitive actions against other personal habits and vices.

“We think this is an invasion of privacy and really overreaching,” said DottyGriffith, public education director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Texas. “At what point do you give up your rights and autonomy? Will they not employ those who ride motorcycles and drink alcohol?”

Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Methodist Hospital System, said the policy is about company employees modeling healthy behaviors. More than 13,000 people work at the system’s five hospitals.

“This is part of a journey of wellness and making this a great place to work,” Boom said. “Employees work here to take of care patients. We can only do that if we’re leading by example.”

Methodist’s online application will warn job seekers that it is a tobacco-free employer and that urine tests will be used to detect nicotine. A job offer will be rescinded if an applicant’s results are positive. Free smoking cessation classes will be offered, giving applicants an opportunity to reapply if they have been smoke-free for 90 days.

On the one hand, it makes perfect sense for a hospital system to practice what it preaches. There’s a lot to be said for leading by example. And, though it isn’t specifically mentioned in the story, having an entirely non-smoking workforce would be great for Methodist’s bottom line, since it would reduce their own health care costs. Therein lies the rub, of course, because if having a non-smoking workforce is good for the company, then so is having a non-overweight workforce, and who knows what else. Employers have enough power over their employees already, thanks very much. Be that as it may, I have a strong feeling this will ultimately be settled in a courtroom, after someone files suit for discrimination. What do you think?