Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: healthcare

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice

If you can’t say anything good about someone, sit right here by me.

–Alice Roosevelt Longworth*

Conventional wisdom says if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, you shouldn’t say anything at all. Most of us don’t live by this creed, but it rears its head more strongly when that person is terminally ill or has just died.

I bring this up because Senator John McCain is battling brain cancer, and he interrupted his recovery to rush back to DC to vote on whether or not the Senate should proceed with a vote on the nonexistent Obamacare repeal and replace bill. There’s a lot of insider baseball as to why this is appalling, but suffice to say, many people were not pleased about this. Several people pointed out the irony of a man who enjoys a lifetime of luxury health insurance paid for by the taxpayers rushing off his death bed to champion the right to take away health insurance from millions of Americans, and it did not go over well in certain sectors. Namely, old school media.

Let me preface by saying I wasn’t jubilant when I found out McCain had brain cancer. It made sense because he had appeared so befuddled at an earlier confirmation session (can’t remember which one. Sorry), and I thought it might be dementia. I was sad for him and wished him well, but it didn’t change my basic feelings about him–he’s a contrarian who enjoys acting all mavericky until push comes to shove, and then he votes with his party more often than not. In addition, he’s a petty man who really couldn’t handle losing to Obama in 2008, and he never got over it. I wrote about him many years ago, and my feelings about him haven’t changed.

When he gave a speech that journalists jizzed over, but then voted for the procedure to continue, anyway, there were some people (all white dudes. Not a judgment–just an observation) who said to wait and see. They thought McCain would eventually do the right thing in the end, that he really was just voting for procedure. Later that night, he voted yes on the repeal and replace bill, which didn’t surprise me one whit.

McCain is a craven politician, and he’s not been kind to vets among other people. He gives good interview, and he’s relatable to a certain portion of the population (again, white dudes), so they give him an endless benefit of the doubt. The journalists miss swinging on the tire swing with him, which is another reason they’re so soft on him. Not to mention the brain cancer thing. There was a woman on Twitter, an editor at BuzzFeed, I think, who scolded people for saying mean things about McCain. You can probably guess the response she got to her tweet.

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A Little Bit of Schadenfreude

That’s a nice Congress you have there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.

That’s what I imagine this president said to Paul Ryan before placing a horse head on his pillow while they were discussing the healthcare bill.

To summarize, the Republicans in the House placed forth a truly heinous healthcare bill that was noted for cutting taxes for the wealthy. They tried to “improve” it by cutting maternity care and birth control, among other things. There’s a picture that circulated on Twitter of the veep joining other old white dudes in discussing these cuts. Here’s one tweet about it.

A picture is, indeed, sometimes worth a thousand words, and this one shows in stark relief the reality of sexism in action. Not one of those men will ever have to deal with the topics they are discussing, but it’s one of the problems with living an entitled and privilege life. You think your feelings and thoughts on an issue are all that matter, and you can’t fathom anyone would disagree.

I digress.

On Thursday night, the president threatened the House GOP by saying if the bill didn’t pass on Friday, he was going to take his balls and go home. He didn’t want to do that stupid healthcare bill, anyway! That’s the thing with this president–he’s a big baby who needs to be constantly coddled. Also, side note, but his brand is that he’s a winner. He talks about it constantly. He’s tough, and he never quits until he gets what he wants. In this fisticuffs, he threatened to quit when it appeared the Republicans couldn’t get the bill passed. Winners don’t quit! That’s what losers do! It’s completely in keeping with his personality, however, as he’s never had to really work for anything in his life. Have you looked at him? He looks miserable. This job ages everyone who holds it, but it’s really done a number on him.

I’ve contended from the start* that he never wanted to be president. I think he entered the race for a laugh and a giggle, and then when he realized that he could actually win, his competitive side took over. When he won, he realized he would actually have to be president, and the panic set in. I would bet he never thought of the actual job when he was imagining being president. He just dreamed of the glory and the world-wide fame. Remember the pictures of him meeting with *sob* President Obama in the White House before he (our current president) was president? He looked bewildered and befuddled, not to mention a little bit bored.

I’m guessing he was one of the most ill-prepared men ever to enter the White House, and he hasn’t shown any evidence that he’s gotten any better. Anyway, the healthcare bill was supposed to be his stamp on the office and a way for him to show up PBO. When it became clear that it was all falling to pieces, he didn’t know how to deal with it. So, he did what he always does in these situations–he threw a temper tantrum. “Do it MY way, or I’m not playing any longer!” It would be amusing if the consequences of it weren’t so goddamn terrifying. He is the leader of the free world, for fuck’s sake, and the best way of dealing with him is to give him his binky and make him take a nap.

Anyway, the healthcare bill was an utter disaster, and the House Republican leaders pulled it. I can’t help but feel a little schadenfreude, but it’s tempered by the knowledge that these people don’t care if they kill off their fellow humans as long as they can save rich people and corporations a few bucks. The thing is, though, they’ve been the party of “block everything Obama does” for the past eight years, and their biggest goal was to repeal/dismantle Obamacare. By the way, the fact that Obama embraced the name was a smart move on his part. It would have been folly for him to try to fight it, and, yes, there are still some idiots who think Obamacare is a bad thing, but for the most part, it’s just accepted as an alternate name for the ACA.

I’ve always thought that the Republicans didn’t want to actually be in charge because they’re better at obstruction than governance. Hell, they hate the government and think it’s not good for anything, which is weird to me. Why would you do a job you thought shouldn’t exist? But, humans are capable of a great hypocrisy, and they’ve shown that in spades. They also display an astounding lack of compassion or empathy for the people they are governing. I’ve long since believed that anyone who wants to be a public servant should have to live a year in the life of their most indigent constituents to see what it’s like. Actually, I’ve been advocating for this for decades. I used to do diversity training for the county, and I quickly realized how useless it was. It’s hard to teach people what it’s like to be a minority because oppression is often a negative. What I mean is, it’s something that happens to, say a person of color, that doesn’t to a white person. So, since the white person never experiences it, they can’t fathom it actually happening.

My conclusion was that only total immersion would work. At the time, I joked that we need to build a town filled with people of color and then have the white employees live in it, but only a few at a time. It was a joke, but the core idea is sound. Immersion works when you’re trying to learn a language, and I think it could work to help someone understand oppression better. I had a roommate in college who went to an Asian event with me tell me afterwards that she had felt uncomfortable being one of the only white people there, and that was only after a couple hours.

This is what I would wish for any congressperson who talks about cutting Meals for Wheels or healthcare or other essentials: Take away their healthcare (which they get for life as a congressperson) and their pay. Give them minimum wage, a mortgage, and car payments. Tell them they have to live that way for a year. I bet they would change their tune really damn fast. The problem is that they don’t have any empathy or compassion for other people. I got into a debate on Facebook the other day about empathy versus compassion, and the pros and cons of each. I think it’s good to feel empathy to a certain point, but if you’re unable to do that, then compassion is another path to doing good work. To me, empathy is second nature. I can put myself in someone else’s shoes fairly easily, but I can understand that others aren’t able to do it. You shouldn’t have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes in order to want the best for them, however, and Republicans seem remarkable unable to do either. Which is surprising because they’re nominally Christians.

Compassion is not a popular virtue. Very often when I talk to religious people and mention how important it is that compassion is the key, that it’s the sine-qua-non of religion, people look kind of balked and stubborn sometimes, as much to say, “What’s the point of having religion if you can’t disapprove of other people?”

–Karen Armstrong

This quote gets to the heart of what I think modern Christianity is for too many people–the ability to look down their noses at others. I see that in the Republicans in Congress–the judging of others. They believe others need to be like them in order to be worthy of love. That’s not what their Jesus says, but I doubt many of them have actually read the entire Bible, especially the New Testament. They seem to see life as a zero sum game–if someone else is ‘up’, then they are ‘down’, and they use their religion to justify oppressing others. There are several verses in the Bible about being compassionate towards the less fortunate, including:

Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.

–Zechariah 7:10

To my knowledge, there are no verses that say:

Get yours while you can and fuck anyone who is struggling. Stamp out those who do not agree with your worldview.

Anyone who is a follower of Jesus should know that he was firmly on the side of the underdog and the downtrodden, not on the side of the wealthy and the corporate. He talked endlessly about compassion and love and mercy, and yet, I see none of this in many prominent Christians today.

Again, I would laugh at how this president and the Republicans are at each other’s throats because I remember how much grandstanding Republicans did while Obama was president, except their haplessness is harmful to our country. I am a staunch Democrat, but I’m a human being first. I’m glad this bill was pulled because it would have been disastrous to millions of people, but I’m fearful of what the Republicans and/or this president will do to sabotage Obamacare in retaliation.

These are not well people. They should not be in charge of running our country. Yet, they are and will be for the foreseeable future. That is no laughing matter at all.


*Of his campaign.


You Want MORE? How Dare You!

For the entire duration of PBO’s presidency, the Republicans made it their core mission to oppose everything he did. They weren’t even coy about it–they blatantly stated that they wanted to make sure he was a one-term president. That didn’t work out for them very well, did it? The one thing they continually pounded the pulpit about was how horrid Obamacare was. They kept talking about getting rid of it, and it’s my opinion that they were using it as a rallying point more than they were actually serious about doing it. Now that they’re large and in charge, and they’re finding out it’s more difficult than they thought it would be. See, most people actually like their Obamacare when it’s called by its proper name–ACA. So, we’ve had the dubious honor of watching the Republicans running around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to repeal Obamacare without upsetting their constituents. Obviously, they aren’t doing a great job of it, and their latest offering is being excoriated by many pundits because it includes massive tax cuts for the rich–the one thing that unites Republicans all across the land.

While being interviewed about the plan, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, said:

Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.

I’m just going to let that sit for a minute so you can properly appreciate how mean-spirited and gross that statement is. It’s as old as time, scolding poor people for how they spend their money and having the gall to tell them they need to tighten their already fraying belts. Let’s put aside the fact that phones are pretty much mandatory in this day and age and that not everyone is buying an iPhone, which, admittedly is one of the most expensive phones one the market–wait, no. Actually, let us get into it. A 2013 Pew study showed that only 13% of low-income people (making less than $30,000 per year) used iPhones in that year. In addition, in 2015, 23% of smartphone users had difficulty making their payments. In addition, my phone (Nexus 5X) cost $500, and I pay roughly $20 per month with Project Fi. I would be elated if healthcare only cost $20 per month with a $500 one-time cost upfront.

In other words, this is a spurious argument, but it shows how cruel the Republicans are. Not only does this plan show how they don’t actually give a shit about poor people, they want them to suffer. Republicans believe that if someone is poor, it’s their own damn fault, and they should suffer for it. Putting aside the fact that phones are almost mandatory in this day and age, even if they were only purely frivolous items, why should poor people have to be miserable day in and day out? Statements like the one from Rep. Chaffetz are meant as punishment for people who have the audacity to be poor. “Look, you motherfuckers. You don’t deserve a nice phone because you’re LAZY.”

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