Monday, September 30, 2013

An Open Letter to John Boehner

Dear Speaker Boehner:

Before I rip into you I must first admit that I do feel a little sorry for you. On the cusp of a likely Tea Party-led government shutdown at midnight Monday, you appear as feeble as the helpless substitute teacher unable to control the rowdy, disruptive kids in the back off the class. Like that classroom, your House has been hijacked by the bad kids. And there's nothing you seem to be able to do about it.

And that's just the problem. You are Speaker of the f'ing House, for Pete's sake. You're supposed to be the strongest, most powerful, influential figure in that Chamber. Instead, you're as impotent as a neutered mutt in a dog run. I'm not sure what's worse: the reckless, irresponsible antics of your renegade Congressmen who are hellbent on destroying America's economy because of their hard-on to kill Obamacare, or your humiliating lack of juice in keeping them in check. Either way, I blame you.

You and your party apparently have forgotten what Democracy means. The Affordable Care Act, or more pejoratively branded Obamacare by the right-wing spin machine, has been legislated, adjudicated and signed into law by a sitting United States president. It's been signature law since March 2010, and was a referendum in several elections. In 2012 voters were given a clear choice between the incumbent president who created this law and the Republican challenger who largely ran on repealing it. And Americans spoke, sending Mitt Romney back to sulk in his thirteen homes. What part of this democratic process don't you and your party understand? You don't get to call "do-overs" by extorting the process and holding America's economy hostage. Quite frankly, it's unconscionable that your members are careening towards shutting down the government tonight, and worse, threatening to send the U.S. into default on October 17th in the debt ceiling stand-off. You all should be ashamed of yourselves.                

What's also despicable, and hugely disingenuous, is the political rhetoric you guys are spewing. On the Sunday talks shows your talking heads accused Democrats of being the ones seeking a government shutdown, not you. You cited the revised "compromise" bill the House sent the Senate Saturday. Ya know, the laughable one where Obamacare wasn't defunded, but tabled for a year (and also stripped of the medical device tax which would be used to help pay for it). Predictably, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said screw off and we'll see ya Monday at 2pm.  You weasels cried foul: 'See?! We're the ones compromising, and Dems won't even talk to us!'

Your idea of "compromise" is a joke. Modifying a ludicrously unrealistic, impassable bill to make it slightly less ludicrous and impassable is not a "compromise." If I demand the deed to your house and then the next day said, "Ok, I will only live there 50% of the time," that doesn't make me a compromiser. It actually makes me just as ridiculous. If Reid didn't come back to the "negotiating" table it doesn't mean Democrats are disrespecting the process. It just means you and your "compromise" are a colossal insult to them and every American and Reid won't dignify it, or you, by showing up to such an outrageously offensive charade.

I'm incredulous that you guys think you could load up your "revised compromise" bill with, literally, your party's entire platform... which voters have already soundly rejected. I swear, I think I even saw a demand that Ted Nugent be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Are you people insane?           

Wait, there's more. You guys cited how "hard" you've been working all weekend while Obama played golf and Dems didn't even show up to work Sunday. "He talks to Iran and Putin, but won't talk to Republicans." Yeah, there's a very good reason for that, and it's quite disturbing: unbelievably, Iran and Putin have been acting more sane than you lunatics!

And then there's the outright lies. The ones like "People are going to lose their existing coverage." Again, shame on you. You know darn well that Obamacare only applies to those currently without health care. It doesn't apply to those currently insured unless they choose to seek cheaper options on the federal and state exchanges.

Or how about this lie: "Obamacare is the biggest job killer;" that American business are only hiring part-timers because they don't want to have to cover full-time employees. Seriously? Or is it that American corporations (who are earning record profits, by the way) aren't hiring because productivity levels are the highest they've been in ages following the massive layoffs from the recession. Why hire more people when you can get the job done with less?  

And this one's my favorite, from Sen. Ted Cruz, the chief flame-thrower in the repeal movement and the man who gives you raging hemorrhoids: "The American people overwhelmingly reject Obamacare. They understand it's not working." Funny,  Obamacare doesn't start until tomorrow.

Ya know what, Mr. Speaker? I actually don't feel sorry for you anymore. That you've humiliatingly ceded control of your House to Cruz and his Tea Party henchmen makes you inept and not worthy of your leadership position. But there's still a few hours to change all that. The ball's in your court...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why They Hate Obamacare So Much

Shut it down!! Shut it down!! Shut it down!!

Republican leaders from House Speaker John Boehner to whip Eric Cantor are threatening to shut down the government unless a resolution passes which keeps it afloat and defunds Obamacare. Clearly, the only thing these rapacious obstructionists hate more than Obama himself is his health care reform.

What it's clearly boiled down to is that Republicans are possessed by an overpowering psychological compulsion to repeal Obamacare even at great cost and harm to America and the GOP despite forty-one previously failed legislative attempts to do so. And now they can't stop. It's about raging, venomous, unprecedented partisan ego and out-of-control anger. The hope for logical, rational, country-first thinking has been decidedly killed off by a macro dose of hostility, resentment and fear; fear that Americans will ultimately grow to love Obamacare once they get a taste...and that there'll be no turning back. 

What I suspect also drives some of these rabid repealers is an unhealthy measure of racial animus. There are many on the right who still cannot get over their visceral disgust that a black man and his family are occupying the White House (it's called White House for a reason)...but it's Obamacare which really gets them frothing at the mouth. Ton them Obamacare translates to a black man taking hard-working rich white-folk money to give free shit to poor, lazy blacks.

But as reprehensible as the GOP's hate-campaign is, the level of ineptitude coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is even more disturbing. It's unforgivable how Obama and the administration have failed so miserably at conveying to average Americans the inherent value of his Affordable Care Act. Rather than falling in love with Obamacare, as they do their Social Security and Medicare, 53% actuallydisapprove of it. That Obama's allowed Republicans to frame the debate with incendiary, over-the-top rhetoric (Cantor claims it will have "horrific effects" on middle class families; Boehner calls it a "train wreck") is beyond comprehension. The most beneficial government program since the New Deal has somehow been turned into an apocalyptic nightmare. Incredibly, guaranteed insurance, no lifetime caps, no rejections for pre-existing conditions and the ability to keep children up to 26 on the family plan are perceived as a bad thingby more than half the country. 

The ultimate failure is that President Barack "Grand Bargain" Obama's been too busy these past five years kissing Republicans' asses, deluding himself into thinking he can achieve bi-partisan harmony in Washington while being embarrassingly oblivious to the realty that these same lawmakers hate his guts and everything he stands for. They have one unabated goal: to undermine him, his agenda and his legacy at every possible turn. And regarding his legacy, Obamacare will likely be what the president is remembered for most (aside from the historic significance that he's the first black president): that he had the vision for it, yet woefully lacked the skills and balls to sell it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dr Mr. Putin: How Dare You?

Dear Mr. Putin:
I read your NY Times op-ed Thursday. I have two questions for you: how dare you, and, what the hell were you thinking?

But I must admit, for about a nanosecond or two I thought, Damn, the guy's making a lot of sense here. As Elvis Costello wrote, 'What's so funny about peace, love and understanding'... right?

"We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement," you wrote. You discussed the deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations, but noted "we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together."

But then just as quickly, the realities of the man behind the pen kicked into overdrive and I found myself literally saying out loud on a crowded subway train... Is he fucking kidding?! And then I realized that your piece was no joke, but rather a cool, calculated, duplicitous bit of political propaganda from an icy, manipulative, self-serving former KGB operative who smells a self-aggrandizing opportunity to advance his heretofore shitty standing on the world stage.

Jeez, Vlad, you head a country that places a higher value on ugly-ass '80's Bill Cosby sweaters than the rights of homosexuals. How dare you?

You think that Americans want or need a sermon from you on democracy, diplomacy, morality, faith, militarism and exceptionalism? You know what's truly exceptional? Your delusional, self-important rant and your belief that you have even a microscopic amount of credibility and respectability among the same U.S. citizens whom you hope and expect to impress and persuade with your disingenuous plea for civility and peace.

With your cold-war-era policies and matching steely personality, you support terrorists, you arm our enemies, you give asylum to our criminals and you consistently vote against us in the very United Nations you repeatedly cite as the arbiter of all things good and just. How dare you?

And speaking of the UN, that errant bastion of international law and diplomacy, which you hold in such high esteem, it has been an irrelevant, impotent, Jew-hating, terrorist-supporting embarrassment for decades. You write that "No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage." Might I inform you that that moment of obsolescence arrived may years ago, and not just because of any lack of leverage per se, but more so over a woeful lack of credibility, civility, rationale and fairness. You and your friends in China, the Middle East and elsewhere have turned its General Assembly and Security Council into a disreputable, mystifyingly inept, ineffective circus.

"My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust," you incredulously claimed. Really? This statement alone is an outlandish affront to every American, and one which clearly demonstrates the alternate universe in which you apparently live.

So spare us the self-righteous, sanctimonious pontificating. It's been a long, long time since we joined hands, arms and values to fight the Nazis. Sadly, your country has driven off a political, diplomatic and moral cliff since then. We'll continue to do just fine without ya.

Regarding your shamefully exploitative attempt to selfishly soar to moral high-ground in America's newspaper of record, you don't believe a single word you wrote nor do we...