Category Archives: healthcare

The Presidency™ is a bruised brand

United States President™ brand has lost too much value.

A couple years ago, a colleague of mine admitted to loving the President of the United States.

“I just love him,” she said, in all sincerity, regarding President George W. Bush. “I think he’s terrific.”

I didn’t think Mr. Bush was very terrific, but I didn’t have the energy to straighten her out. Who has the energy to take on the power of love?

The point is, love is rarely a word one applies to the President of the United States these days. Despite my co-workers admiration, it’s safe to say that a great deal of people didn’t like Mr. Bush very much. We mocked him. Sneered at his policies. Openly doubted his intelligence.

Somewhere down the line, we lost respect for the office of the Presidency.

Today, the President addresses school children on the Internet, and Conservatives respond as though he is trolling around playgrounds in a van offering crack to kids.

Today, the President addresses members of Congress only to have an elected lawmaker interrupt the speech by calling the President a liar. To his face. On national TV*.

Asshole

Since the founding of this country, the President, even the great ones, has been subject to ridicule and insults. Andrew Jackson was labeled a bigamist. Some called Abraham Lincoln an ape. But today, what Conservatives hurl at the President is nothing less than seething hatred that bypasses reason with barely a glance.

Our President has been called godless. Socialist. Communist. Weak. A Muslim (an insult?). A liar. A foreigner. A radical. People appear on camera to admit that they fear the President. Fear him! As though he were something that oozed out of a haunted lake.

There is a weird segment of this country that treats the President of the United States as an enemy.

Wasn’t there a time when the Oval Office alone commanded respect? After all, it is an office appointed by the will of the people. Us. And when we levy these blind, baseless, idiotic charges at our President, aren’t we really self-indicting here?

Insulting the President has always been a national pastime.

Once, my Dad took me aside and took umbrage for the way I treated President Bush on these digital pages. “Would you say the same things to President Bush’s face as you do on your blog?” he asked. I told him no. I said I would probably just ask him about his dog. After all, the President is the President, and he deserves respect.

Yet, my Dad’s words made me re-consider my editorial position. For example, it was unsavory for me (or anyone) to suggest that the President and his Vice-President were engaged in sexual congress together. I toned it down, electing to blast the President’s policies rather than the President himself.

We were all guilty – discounting those like my colleague who loved George W. Bush. Newsweek often ran editorial cartoons that likened Mr. Bush to a monkey. Late night talk show hosts challenged Mr. Bush’s intelligence every evening. We openly took delight when Mr. Bush tangled his words or choked on a pretzel.

Perhaps Conservatives are merely meting out their terrible revenge. And in their exuberance, they have taken it too far. For the sake of Pete, we’re demanding that the President produce a birth certificate? What next? A photo ID? For the love of St. Luke we’re brazenly calling the leader of the free world a liar before an audience of millions. Other countries are taking notice.

When Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw his shoes at President George Bush, I was appalled. I was insulted. You don’t chuck footwear at my President, asshole. And while I noted that al-Zeidi’s action was an expression of rancor that the Iraq War had afforded the people of Iraq, I also advocated that Mr. al-Zeidi receive the full harsh measure of the law.

You show respect to the President of the United States of America, bub.

Asshole, too.

The Presidential™ brand has taken a hit. Some will blame President Bill Clinton. More will blame President George W. Bush. Some might go so far as to finger President William Taft. Regardless, it is President Barack Obama who bears the slings and arrows of what has become a Nation that no longer respects the Oval Office.

We can only hope that leadership and decency restores luster to what was once a treasured brand.

* Excluding the FOX viewing audience, of course. Apparently, health care isn’t a big issue when stacked against the premiere of Glee.

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Rage Rules

I kind of like the Town Hall Criers.

The yellers. The screamers. The sobbers. I kinda like them. I don’t want to hang out with them. Or share a park bench with them. Quite frankly, I don’t even want to share a Denny’s with them. But I like them anyway.

I like them partly because of my special mandate to accept anger in all forms. And these clowns seem angry. Spittle flies from their lips. Their faces become red valentines of hate. They often break down in tears. How can I keep my head high in fury while dismissing the Town Hall Criers? I can’t. You’re in the club, bro.

Nobody said anger was good-looking. Or coherent.

And by expressing their anger, the Town Hall Criers have underscored the undervalued value of rancor: Rage makes people think.

Make no mistake, I believe most of the Town Hall Criers are imbeciles. They recklessly evoke the name of Hitler, applying it to our Nation’s leaders without really understanding the implications. They shout Socialism so much, you can almost see Newt Gingrich pulling the strings. And worst of all, they mistake single-minded rudeness for patriotism.

If you support government sponsored health care, then you hate Capitalism! You are a foe to freedom! And you know who else hated freedom? Hitler! Yes! Hitler! He took over the auto industry too! Boo! I’m scared! Boooo!

Yeah. I know. And still, I kinda like these guys.

I like them not for their heroically miniature brains, but because of what their ignorance has exposed: Health care is a bitch. It’s a kick to the pills for which no amount of ice can reduce the swelling and the ache. It’s as confusing as the disclaimer copy for Cialis. I’d have Lou Ferigno punch me in the face ten times rather than figure out how to pay for the resulting reconstructive surgery.

Nobody said anger was classy.

Before the Town Hall Criers colored their first Hitler mustache on a picture of President Obama, our elected Senators were hardly reading the measures the universal health care advocates were cooking up. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas claimed she hadn’t read the bill because “it wasn’t finished yet.” What the hell are you waiting for? Half-an-hour before the vote? Sen. Lincoln, fearful of becoming the next You Tube sensation, also postponed all her Town Hall meetings until after August. Perhaps she will have an opinion by then.

The Town Hall Criers, for all their misinformed bravado and scare tactics, are making our elected officials work. We’re all paying attention. Better yet, we’re asking all the questions that we should have asked at the very beginning. Why are we rushing this bill? What are the costs? Is there a better solution than just making up a whole new system? Is tighter regulation a more logical answer? Or should we forget these lukewarm half-measures and experiment with a Canadian-style system?

As an added bonus, Town Hall Criers are forcing us to ask questions about ourselves: Does the government still represent the people? Are we really a nation comprised of paranoid hillbillies? Do we view good health care as a right or a responsibility in this country? Can Senator Barney Frank hold his own in a fist fight?

Anger makes people wanna throw down.

Ask the Angry Czeck about universal health care, and I’ll tell you how I like the idea. Everyone in the word’s wealthiest country should receive excellent health care. Furthermore, our citizen’s are getting older, medical costs are out of control, malpractice suites are ridiculous, and Grey’s Anatomy is still on the air. Our health care is not the best in the world. But it’s also not the worst, and that’s got to count for something.

Meanwhile, the Town Hall Crier’s are still crying, still spreading around dumb rumors, still masking their ignorance with patriotism and still displaying a level of intelligence that makes me believe that the real problem might be our education system. Their colorful Made-For-YouTube highlights make me cringe. I thought Jon Goslin and the Oldsmobile Alero were America’s biggest embarrassments. Turns out, we can set the bar lower.

Still, I kinda like these guys.

*****

Socialism in America? Oui.

We are not a Socialist government. We are not France Lite.

At least, this is what I tell myself in the wake of historic government bailouts of noted private enterprises. As the Angry Czeck’s tax dollars are diverted from more traditional government investments, like roads and schools, and into riskier gambles like C-Grade home loans, I wonder what might be next.

Healthcare comes to mind.

And I wonder if that would be so bad.

The fact is, few Americans want the government involved in free enterprise. We view our public servants as generators of inefficiency, hinderers of profitability, and invaders of privacy. Ironically (to me at least), when somebody admits to working for the government, the only real benefit that springs to mind is, “I’ll bet the healthcare is decent.”

Here come the French!

Today, with company’s like AIG becoming wards of the state, we’re hearing the capitalistic howls of our Nation’s conservatives bemoaning federal interference even as the world’s leading Republican champions its necessity from his oval-shaped office. Bailouts have become the eraser that is blurring Party lines.

Here we have the Republican Party, the defender of Big Business and personal accountability, caught in an uncomfortable philosophical dilemma: toss fantastic piles of tax dollars at the corporate giants they’ve sworn to protect? Or allow the natural (and sometimes messy) order of capitalism to run its course? It’s just business, baby.

Democrats face a similar crisis of conscious. Throwing liberal amounts of money at problems is nothing new to us. Yet instead of funneling tax dollars to vandalized churches and welfare programs, we’re being asked to rescue the business behemoths who swore that the world would be better if we ran government in the same manner we run the boardroom.

Today’s experiment into Socialism is not without its historical precedent. Many pointed the Franco-finger at Franklin Roosevelt when he introduced his Alphabet Soup Programs during the Great Depression. Providing private-sector jobs is not the roll of the government, blustered die-hard Capitalists. We risked making our citizens dependent on the federal tit, and not even Eva Braun herself sported a more un-American breast.

Socialist.

But Roosevelt’s programs did what government programs are supposed to do: serve the people. That is what government is for. We elect people into office to actnot to sit idly by as catastrophe unfolds. If Canada decides to launch an invasion, then I expect our government to dispatch troops to the border. If the survival of Frannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG ensures the survival of our economy, then this is the government’s appropriate action.

Should it fail, should it place us in a hole so deep that Venezuela is refusing us loans, then God help us.

Which leads us, awkwardly, back to healthcare.

As our population ages, and our Baby Boomers require new hips and chemotherapy, when will healthcare’s juggling act finally drop the bowling pins? When will too few productive workers pay premiums for far too many broken retirees? Who will pay for the expensive medications? The increased need for medical technologies? The subsequent malpractice lawsuits that will bury our court system and bankrupt our hospitals?

Why, hello there, Uncle Sam.

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