NPR logo The End of Cash For Clunkers and Gay Friends?

The End of Cash For Clunkers and Gay Friends?

It's Friday! We have two entries today - a double feature - from two of our senior staff. And though I was clever enough to squeeze them both into one headline, you'll see, their messages really do stand alone.

First, our Line Editor Alicia Montgomery has a few things to say about our conversation today about the sometimes strong, sometimes trivial bonds between straight women and their gay male friends. And then Senior Supervising Producer Teshima Walker wants you to know something about health care and Cash For Clunkers, which we'll be talking more about on Monday.

Take it away fearless leaders ...

Thanks Douglas.

I really enjoyed today's conversation with Salon writer Thomas Rogers about how gay men are sick of straight women trying to fashion Will & Grace-style friendships with them, even explicitly offering to be their ... uh ... it rhymes with "bag tag."

It may seem silly that a television show can have that kind of power. But even trivial experiences can and do have that kind of power, and having your mind opened after years of narrow experiences can be a painful and awkward process, no matter how well-intentioned and friendly the stereo-typer is.

Being the token identifying-adjective-here friend is an experience that too many people can identify with, including me and other African Americans. I know I'm not alone in having near-strangers greet me with an implausible, "Hey, girlfriend!" in some misguided effort to make me feel at ease.

And I know I've been guilty of doing something similar. Once (and I'm SOOO going to blame this on having been 19 and thoughtless at the time) I told a co-worker that a man I knew loved dating Asian women like her because they were so well-mannered and passive.

"You said WHAT?!" my mother snapped at me when I casually recounted the conversation. I then put myself in my co-worker's place; I tried to imagine her telling me HER friends loved to date black women because we all were so, so...Yeah, there's just nothing you can say after that to make that okay.

Of course, these lines should be clear —even to thoughtless 19 year olds—when you're dealing with someone who's just a casual associate. Strangely, the closer you are to someone, the harder it can be to set those boundaries.

A Jewish friend of mine once joked with me —after he was struggling to make some gadget work—that his people weren't good with electronics. He was puzzled when I didn't laugh. So I explained my take on it. Talking bad about "your people" is like talking bad about your mother: you're allowed to do it, MAYBE your brother is allowed to do it, but anyone else who does is itching for a fight.

So my current rule of thumb is that you shouldn't presume you're close enough to ANY friend to joke about stereotypes or use a common slur as a pet name unless one of you has given the other a kidney. Now I can hear groans all across the blogosphere about political correctness, freedom of speech and whatnot. But exercising absolute freedom of speech with friends is a great way not to have any.

Alright, I've had my say. Teshima, the floor is yours...

Thanks Alicia. I'll be thinking about that this weekend. Now ... can I get the mic?

Folks, if you're living without health care - the latest poll numbers indicate that you may be in trouble. The Washington Post-ABC News Poll reveals that half the public believes that the government reform of the health care system is necessary to control costs and expand coverage. But, the other half of the population believes that government action on health care will do more harm that good.

So, what will the nearly 46 million Americans (under the age of 65) who live without health insurance do? Stay healthy? How? Who cares?

Now, I have good health insurance provided by my employer. I'm grateful. I have visited my doctor's office three times this month. I've had an annual exam - no cost. I visited my doctor to complain about the amount of medicine I have to take for my asthma. I had a $20 dollar co-pay. I visited my doctor to complain about my annual exam and I cussed when they asked me for my $20 dollar co-pay.

On occasion, I've spotted the sign in my doctor's office that reads clearly 'If you DON'T have any health care coverage, you have to pay $150 bucks' and they won't see you until your check/debit card clears or they have your cold hard cash. Let's do the math - three appointments without insurance could cost over $400 dollars. My costs with health insurance ... you say $40 dollars and I say "priceless."

Check it out.

Two of my favorite interviews today about the health care debate include (1) Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep, who talked with Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurer (because of the number of people it covers); and (2) Michel's conversation about the role of faith and the faith community in the health care debate. She talked with Rev. Cynthia Hale, of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia and David Brody, White House correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Now, next week, Michel is on vacation and NPR correspondent, Jennifer Ludden will sit in the BIG CHAIR. On Monday, Jennifer will talk about the end of Cash for Clunkers - you know, the government program that allows you to trade your old, busted, gas guzzling, emissions test failing ride for a new car and a $4500 dollar discount. Oh, by the way, if you participated in a Cash for Clunkers deal, send me a picture of you with your new vehicle. I'll be green with envy but I want the picture anyway. And, you'll want to hear Jennifer's interview with Newsweek reporter, Anthony Dokoupil about his father - who was a drug dealer. It's crazy and sad and fascinating. Dokoupil knows how to tell a great story!

So, tune in on Monday. Tell your friends to check us out and thanks for listening to the show.

Article continues after sponsorship

... thoughts from Senior Supervising Producer Teshima Walker and Line Editor Alicia Montgomery. Thank you both. We'll have more on Monday!

Folks, if you're living without health care - the latest poll numbers indicate that you may be in trouble. The Washington Post-ABC News Poll reveals that half the public believes that the government reform of the health care system is necessary. But, the other half of the population believes that government action on health care will do more harm that good.

About