Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What is the Role of the Media?

I’m sure everyone knows at least one person who either watches Fox News, listens to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage or any of the far right mouthpieces.  I know one guy who gets so pissed off, he’s had severe health problems from it, leaving his wife to worry about whether or not he’s going to die young.  It’s a distinct possibility.  Imagine leaving behind a wife and family because you got so angry over a bunch of “news” reports, you actually died over it.

I got to thinking about that today, when I was thinking about how different the media has become over the years.

Journalism has one goal…or at least, it should.  That goal should be to give you the unbiased, unvarnished facts.  There’s a huge difference between opinion and fact, by the way.  Fact is unchangeable, incontrovertible, cast in stone, that thing that stands as a monolith and, like it or not, it is what it is.  For instance, if you shave off all of your hair, that is the fact.  It doesn’t matter if your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/aunt/uncle/etc think you look stupid (especially if you’re a woman)…what people think about that buzz cut is not a fact.  That’s their opinion.  The fact is that you shaved off all of your hair.

We always hear that there are “two sides to every story.”  This is completely untrue.

There are not two sides to every story.  Let’s talk about that aforementioned buzz cut.  So you shaved off all of your hair, and that is a fact.  You are bald.  That is a fact.

The “two sides” to that story come in when Aunt Jane says you look incredibly stupid, like a freaking walking cue ball.  Uncle Bob has a different take.  He likes it!  He thinks it makes you look older, as the 18 year old you are, rather than like a 16 year old trying to look like a man.

Opinions are not facts.

The problem occurs when people put their own spin on things.  I remember an Odd Couple episode (A Night to Dismember), where Felix, Oscar and Blanche recall how Oscar and Blanche broke up.  Of course, the person telling the story is the “sainted” one in all three versions of what is supposed to be the same story.

The role of the media isn’t supposed to give you everybody’s different spin on a story.  Of course everyone has an opinion, but opinions aren’t truth and truth isn’t opinion.  When Harold above shaved his head, again, people’s opinions differed, but it still didn’t change the fact, which was that despite how anyone felt about it, he still was quite bald.

When you watch the news, the job of a good newscaster is to inform you, first and foremost.  The way they must do that is with facts.

If, instead, that newscaster is saying things that rile you up…hint: s/he isn’t stating facts.  The facts may indeed rile you up, but the person stating them should never rile you up, because the person stating them should be impartial.  And the reason a true journalist is impartial and just states the facts is this: you are supposed to form your own opinions, and there’s no way in hell you’re going to be able to do that if you don’t have all the facts at your disposal.  Unless you’re a total idiot, you’re going to be able to do that yourself, without the so-called “help” of a so-called “journalist.”

A true journalist never tries to piss you off about something-or-other, sending you on a wild goose chase over something you think is fact, which really isn’t.

Let me get back to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and the rest of them.

For instance, let’s look at Rush Limbaugh.  In particular, let’s look at a particular case, the one of Sandra Fluke.

This, if you don’t recall, is the statement Limbaugh made about Sandra Fluke:
“What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”

Limbaugh here made the statement that a) Sandra Fluke went before a congressional committee and said she “must be paid to have sex.”

Those weren’t even Ms. Fluke’s exact words!

Sandra Fluke asked that her insurance company be required to cover birth control.  Women take these pills for a variety of reasons, only one of which is birth control.  Many women take them for truly health-related problems, such as Ms. Fluke’s friend, who couldn’t afford birth control pills for her ovarian cysts and lost an ovary.

So not only did Limbaugh call Ms. Fluke a “slut” and implied that she needed birth control pills to have sex, but in order to opine in such a way to get his addle-brained audience angry over the “misuse” of “taxpayer dollars,” he made the statement that Ms. Fluke wanted the pills so she could “have sex” (I had no idea Ms. Fluke’s doctor had been consulting with none other than Rush Limbaugh on this!), but also (in his opinion), he equated insurance with “taxpayer dollars.”  It wasn’t that Ms. Fluke was paying for insurance—the actual fact, in this case—but that Ms. Fluke instead was requesting a taxpayer handout for the purpose of covering her birth control pills.

I’d like to go to my young acquaintance (who is under 25 years old and has been in and out of hospitals for actual surgery after stressing himself out, much to his wife’s chagrin) and ask him if he would agree that the insurance company should pay nothing for his surgery and medications.  Of course, he wouldn’t agree.  Why should he?  He pays for his insurance!  So why should Sandra Fluke get something less, just because she’s a woman (my acquaintance’s wife is a woman!)?  What makes it our place to tell insurance companies that they can deny certain things to certain people?  And what, in particular, makes it Limbaugh’s place?!  Let’s not forget, Limbaugh has had Viagra covered by his insurance, and frankly, a limp dick isn’t a life-threatening issue, so why should “we taxpayers” (by Rush’s own addled opinion) pay for his Viagra?

Instead of admitting that insurance should cover birth control pills just as much as they cover Viagra, good ol’ Rushie boy sat in front of his microphone and his audience of misogynists who care little for their own wives, girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, aunts, nieces, etc, and doubled down on his statements in order to piss them all off, over the fact that (in his opinion), “we the taxpayers” fund birth control pills, rather than insurance companies, who are paid to cover customers’ medications.  (The fact that they get away with not doing this is yet another story, and it’s certainly not opinion, sadly.)

The fact is that insurance companies are supposed to cover that for which they are paid.  Rush’s opinion was that all women are just big old sluts looking for a taxpayer handout when they ask for their insurance companies to do that for which they are being paid.

I would love to see Limbaugh’s face if his insurance company refused to pay for his Viagra.  “No can do, Rush.  We can’t let the taxpayers cover this for you.”  Can you imagine the apoplexy when Limbaugh finally got it through his Oxycontin-riddled brain that the insurance company was simply doing what insurance companies expect to do these days…to get paid for doing almost nothing?!  Can you imagine the tirade that would come out of his mouth the next day over this, of course (in Rush’s opinion), because this was some kind of fascist, socialist or Communist plot against dear old Rushie?!

The problem is that today, even forgetting extremists like Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, etc, the actual “mainstream media,” entities like CBS, NBC, ABC, etc, all suffer from this same disease.  They all want to “show both sides,” to devote “equal time” to everyone, and in the end, they give disproportionate amounts of time to not only opinion, but also, mostly to only one side of the story.

For example, some of these journalists quote studies by various think tanks.  Unfortunately, there are over six hundred right-wing “think tanks,” and these aren’t so much “think tanks” as they are clearinghouses for “studies” that are written to push a specific point of view, “studies” people were simply paid to make up off the top of their heads.

Everyone has heard the “mainstream media” talk about how “Social Security is” allegedly “running out of money.”  But the fact isn’t that Social Security is running out of money.  As long as we have people working and contributing, as long as Social Security is not privatized, there is money going into Social Security.  Social Security is not allowed to take one cent from any other government program, and had it not been raided to pay for things like war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq and anything else that struck lawmakers’ fancies, it would be solvent for even farther into the future than it is now.

Social Security isn’t “running out of money.”  That’s an opinion, written in an opinion piece by a paid writer, but since it was “published” by a right-wing “think tank,” where people are paid handsomely to write this drivel (under threat of losing their undoubtedly well-paid jobs), if you listen to them—and too much of the “mainstream media” is doing this—you would sure think Social Security is “running out of money.”

Unfortunately, by putting an actual name to it…the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, etc., they make it sound official.  It sounds so good and authoritative on the news, doesn’t it?  The Heritage Foundation did a study and found water is good for breathing!  Let’s all jump into the nearest body of water and take up water breathing!  Most people won’t question the fact that it’s impossible to breathe in water, because an official-sounding entity said it’s great, so it must be great or it wouldn’t be on the 6:00 news, and Tom Brokaw wouldn’t be reporting on it.

Someone in my family recently sent me a BS mailing about how we’re becoming a “socialist” country.  I read this crap and it infuriated me, not because the person writing it intended on pissing me off, but I got angry because I believe in facts, and this was certainly a fact-free piece.  There was zero evidence about how and why the idiot writer was saying we were turning “socialist.”  It was all a bunch of hearsay and anecdotal claims, nothing that would hold up to scrutiny, but also, nothing that had enough fact to it to do the tiniest bit of research.

It brought to mind an email from back when we thought we were going to get a public option for health care.  The email was allegedly from someone in Canada, who talked about “Shirley’s cousin” and “Bob’s uncle,” but there were no actual facts to research.  Anyone can make up a BS claim about how your friend’s friend’s cousin’s uncle’s nephew had a health problem, but something verifiable was completely lacking.

Even worse are the attempts to manipulate people through religious beliefs.  I don’t know about you, but I really, really despise it when someone tells me what I have to believe.  As long as we have religious freedom, I can believe whatever I want (or not), but you’re not going to make me a convert if you must make me believe.  I can’t believe something if I don’t believe it, plain and simple.  If you want to convince me that the Easter Bunny craps chicken eggs, you’re going to have an uphill battle.  If, instead, you tell me the Easter Bunny was made up so children would have an entertaining story about their religion, I still won’t believe in the Easter Bunny, but I’ll at least understand the fact is that the Easter Bunny is a story.

Unfortunately, too many people truly enjoy manipulating others by telling them that various things religious are supposed to be a part of our government at the risk of pissing off God, even though those same people would hate it if some Muslim religious ruling were made a law by which they had to abide.  But they’ll gladly enslave all non-Christians to purely Christian “rules,” because they’re afraid the rest of us non-extremist-Christian “heathens” are going to piss off “God.”  Who, last I heard, was supposed to be a nice, loving guy.

Facts aren’t a case of “he said/she said.”  Facts cannot be changed.  Facts are facts.  If you shave your head, you are bald, and regardless of how good or bad you look, you are still bald.  You can put on a wig, but that doesn’t mean you’re not bald underneath, because you are.  Social Security is not running out of money, regardless of the fact that some handsomely-paid writer working for a big company that’s called a “think tank” wrote it.  I can sit here and write a million papers, all as devoid of facts as any right-wing “think tank” paper, I can peddle it to the media like dog crap, get paid as well as right-wing “think tanks,” retire a multibillionaire and manipulate facts like any other multibillionaire, store my money in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and memorize a buttload of “talking points” to bushwhack any fact-craving person in an attempt to force them to see things “my” way, but when you get right down to it, it still wouldn’t be fact.

So what is the role of media?  What is the role of a journalist?

The roles of media and all journalists are to bring you facts.  Your role is to take those facts and form your own opinions, not based on something meant to manipulate you through your emotions or your religious beliefs, but something tangible that gives you a clear picture of what’s going on.  A true journalist is objective.

And sadly, that’s entirely lacking in today’s media.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“The Best Health Care in the World”

I’ve heard US health care called a lot of things, but the one that has me both laughing and angry is “the best health care in the world.”

For one thing, we’re not even ranked at the top.  Last I heard, we were ranked 37th in health care, according to the World Health Organization.

37th place is nowhere near first place.  But I digress.

Let’s talk about availability of health care.  In the US, if you need to see your doctor, you need to make an appointment months in advance.  If it’s critical, chances are your doctor will pawn you off on a PA, or Physician’s Assistant.  I don’t know what the educational requirements are to become a PA, but in my personal experience, I would have been better off seeing a nurse.  The PA I saw did absolutely nothing, plus, I had to pay for the appointment, despite the fact that nothing was done.  And it wasn’t cheap.

If your needs are more critical, every last help line you might call has a recording that says, “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911.”

Nowhere in there do they say what’s going to happen if you’re poor and you actually do this.  For one thing, do you really think the ambulance they may send out is going to be free?  No way.

Then there’s the hospital bill, because remember: if you’re uninsured, this is America.  Meaning, too bad if you can’t afford insurance…you’re supposed to have thought of that long before you got sick.  You should instead have neglected to eat, gas up your car to go to work, pay your rent or mortgage or your utility bills, in favor of paying hundreds of dollars per month for health insurance, even though that insurance company isn’t required to cover anything and you may wind up paying all coverage yourself, anyway.

Let’s assume your problem isn’t an emergency…by the time you get to any kind of emergency, you automatically know you’re screwed.  Instead, let’s assume this is some kind of routine issue.  Say you’re having headaches or some kind of knee or foot pain.  Though some headaches are life-threatening, let’s say these are non-life-threatening headaches that are keeping you from doing things you would normally do in your life, or some kind of knee or foot pain that causes you to cry out in pain when you walk.

The first thing you need to do, particularly if uninsured (though being insured really doesn’t magically change things), is to figure out how much health care you can afford.  I hear conservatives mentioning how health care that’s anything other than 100% insurance company controlled will be “rationed,” but frankly, rationing health care because you simply cannot afford it is about as rationed as you can get.

So maybe at this point you’ve realized you’re screwed, so you suck it up, deal with your pain, end of story.

Should you choose to persevere, unfortunately, getting health care isn’t simply a case of calling the doctor’s office and getting a ballpark figure.  Matter of fact, most of the time, they won’t even give you a set price.  And that price doesn’t include all of those wonderful “extras” that are usually part and parcel of getting health care, things like…tests.

For every test, there is an equal and opposite lab fee.

I once went to a doctor who diagnosed allergies as my problem.  Since he didn’t know which ones, he recommended certain allergy tests, and even though I was insured at the time, I wanted to find out how much these tests would set me back, because remember, nothing is covered 100%, not even with the best of the best insurance, which is what mine certainly wasn’t.

The doctor wrote something for me to hand in at the nurse’s desk as I left, where I should have gotten a price.  The person who normally talked to patients about these tests wasn’t in.

This began a three week process of calling around to find out the price of these damn tests.  I didn’t call every day, but since I had to work these calls in between my work, I couldn’t be spending all of my waking hours on the horn to the doctor’s office.

The person at the doctor’s office apparently didn’t want to do the work herself to find out the price, so she gave me the direct number of the lab.  Not good, but okay.  I called the lab.

The lab wanted to know the codes for the tests.  How in the eff did I know?  Mind you, I was just a patient.  Matter of fact, the lab usually didn’t talk to patients…they spoke to personnel at doctor’s offices, so my request was quite unusual.

I still had to work around the doctor’s office, and so I played phone tag with the person whose job it should have been in the first place, that administrative person, who had the paid job to call around to find out prices.  I finally managed to reach her for the codes for the lab.

By then, I was so annoyed with the whole thing, I didn’t bother to get the pricing.  Money was running short, anyway, and whatever my allergies were, an OTC remedy was just going to have to do.  Which it didn’t, but c’est la vie when you live in the US and your money either stretches enough, or screw you.

I contrast my experience with those of my friends.  I have several friends in many different areas in Europe and Canada.

My friend in Belgium has spent days in the hospital, with treatments for severe back pain, with a bill that was so nominal, we can’t even see a doctor (or the aforementioned PA) for that little money.

At my request, my friend in England looked at his doctor’s schedule.  He found he could see him within a couple of days, efficiently making an appointment online.  If he had something more immediate, something that, say, wasn’t a true emergency but required seeing a doctor—not a PA—he can see one on the same day, but there’s no guarantee it will be his own doctor.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather see a real doctor than a PA, even if it’s not my “regular” doctor.

If my spouse wants to see a doctor (not a specialist, just the usual old GP for a yearly checkup to get a prescription renewed), that requires making an appointment at least three months in advance.  An appointment which definitely won’t be covered by insurance, because we don’t have any, but when we did, it wasn’t covered anyway…and why not?

Because we had a killer deductible.  And ironically, what I call a “killer deductible” wasn’t even a really high one, like $2500 or $5000.  (Yes, deductibles like this really exist.  No kidding.  You pay a smaller amount for your insurance, but then you’re banking on the fact that if you have some terrible illness…oopsie, too bad on you.  Because then you have to cough up the money for the bulk of your care, so while you’re laying there in the hospital, worried about recovering from whatever trouble you’ve been having, you also have the additional stress of worrying how in the hell you’re going to pay for all of the care you’ve received, the $2000 bandages and such, because your insurance defers those payments to you.  And you have to pay that money out of pocket until the amount of your deductible is reached.)

Because you are paying for the “privilege” of having insurance, you can rest easy, knowing your insurance company will bargain down the hospital or doctor’s price, right?  Wrong.  If you haven’t paid off your deductible, your insurance company won’t do anything to negotiate or bargain the price.  You simply pay the uninsured price, even though you are, technically, insured.

And so, you pay top dollar to see a doctor or go to a hospital, you pay top dollar for tests, you pay top dollar for care plus other incidentals before your deductible has been met, and then…

You pay on top of that.  Because you can’t forget about paying those premiums or your insurance company is out of the picture and you become one of the Uninsured.  Meaning you are a deadbeat, implying you’re frivolously enjoying your riches while forcing your insurance company CEO to slum it.  Sadly, this very likely isn’t for a frivolous reason, like you perhaps chose to vacation instead of spending money on health insurance or you bought a very expensive sports car.  Usually, it’s because you have to pay for your housing, food, utilities, transportation, etc., your basic bills.  But insurance companies neither care nor understand…an insurance company CEO just wants that bottom line to keep booming with money.  It doesn’t matter if you’re at their mercy for basic health care…what matters is how much money they can make from you, a nice chunk of it going to pay for politicians to make decisions favorable to them.  That’s right, being a CEO of a health insurance company doesn’t just mean raking in the bucks out of the pockets of customers; it also means paying a politician good damn money to make sure they can keep raking in the bucks out of customers’ pockets.

And this is the problem inherent in American health care.  It’s the fact that we pay a middle man to do pretty much nothing.  The fact is that if we were to cut health insurance companies completely out of the picture like the virulent cancer they are, if we were able to make deals directly with doctors and hospitals to cover our own costs, we’d be paying but a fraction of what we pay now.  The truth is that insurance companies aren’t so much “negotiating” with medical service providers to give you a better deal…what they’re really doing is negotiating down the unrealistically high prices medical practitioners charge, where the amount charged for services is jacked up so those medical practitioners can get an amount at least equal to what they’ve paid out for their equipment, time, etc, after the insurance companies have already stolen the largest percentages, so their CEOs may live in high style.  That cost is added to your health care bill, so it can be handed off to you.  An insurance company will negotiate the price, not to save you money, but to save them money, and thus, they can turn a larger profit.  If it’s to negotiate a better price for you…you’re on your own.

While I’ll give you that some of these extra charges levied by health care practitioners are hugely exorbitant, many aren’t.  Many of those charges have to make up for the fact that these days, a lot of doctors are themselves scrambling to survive, because they’re often forced to cover services not at all covered, and rather than seeing their patients go without, they help out the best they can.

I don’t want to paint all doctors in the self-sacrificing light, since there are many who are in it simply for profit, but there are certainly a great many who take their Hippocratic oath seriously and want to see their patients thrive.  Or at least get well.

I began talking about all of the steps involved in getting health care for some problem, such as headaches, knee pain, foot pain, etc.  Obviously, getting health care is not even an option for many these days.  So what’s the answer?  Keep handing our money to insurance companies, so their CEOs can say, “The hell with you…I’m going on vacation!”  Or do we get the same thing other countries already enjoy…hassle-free health care?  Health care we all subsidize, meaning we all get it, and no middle man is there to “handle” the money for us first.

I don’t know about you, but when I go grocery shopping, I don’t first hand my money over to a guy who takes a few bucks off the top and then hands the rest to the cashier, negotiating my groceries back down into the stratosphere after huge amounts were added to it to appease that middle man.  I pay for my groceries and I get groceries.  Insurance is the only business where someone is actually allowed to take a nice cut off the top for themselves…and give nothing in return.  It’s kind of like the stereotypical stories about the Mafia as portrayed on TV…the guys go in for their “protection” money from the hapless shopkeeper, they take the big wad of cash, skim off what they want (the largest portion), and the shopkeeper gets the measly few dollars left, at risk of broken knees.  Only with insurance companies in health care, they not only break your knees for the money, but then they tell you to go bankrupt for your health care, because maybe you earn too little money to pay them in the first place.

But that’s right.  We’re the “best.”  Or “we’re number 37!”

Sunday, May 27, 2012


where you get to choose between health care and car repairs.  (And car repairs win, because you can't drive a healthy body to work...but you can drive a car while sick.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake…Ann Romney to the working moms of America

Just when you thought the woman who had an entire upscale store close down for four hours so she could go shopping in complete privacy and not have to deal with the riffraff (er, members of her own class, ironically) couldn’t stick any more of her foot in her mouth, Ann Romney has managed to put both feet completely in her mouth, after first stretching them to about the size of Louisville sluggers.

Ann Romney, the FLOTUS wannabe who earlier on forcibly elicited apologies from Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen (because Hilary dared to boldly make a completely truthful statement, that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life) has now gone on to attack the same “moms” she claimed were under attack by Hilary Rosen.

She did so with this statement, “I love the fact that there are women out there who don't have a choice, and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids.”

Just a tad insensitive, eh?  Oh, yeah, you don’t have a choice.  But you know, I do!  I stayed at home with my kids, but I didn’t really do anything, yet I credited myself with doing what you ladies do all the time!

To back up for a second, re: the Hilary Rosen comment, I would have grudgingly given Ann props for taking, you know, the truthful way out.  Matter of fact, the Romney invention, the “war on moms,” instead went the entirely other direction…not only the non-truthful way out, but actually, the denial way.

The fact is that, first, Ann Romney knows she can’t connect with the average working mom.  Ann Romney can’t even connect with the average stay at home mom, though that’s what she claims to have been.

The problem is that the average SAHM doesn’t have staffs of nannies and maids and cooks, butlers, gardeners and chauffeurs, oh, my!

So rather than take the truthful way, to actually admit that, no, she never did work a day in her life, didn’t have to change poopy diapers, wipe snotty noses or clean spit-up and instead got to enjoy her children when they were good and pristine and fun, instead, she took umbrage, boasting about how “hard” she worked—after all, she raised five boys!  Alone, to hear Ann talk about it.  And what “hard work” that was, to order the staff around every day, pick the dinner menus, even pick which of five houses (one for each boy?) they would live in that particular day!

The Romneys cannot relate the tiniest bit to average Americans, much less working moms.  This wasn’t and isn’t the “war on moms,” it was and is the war on truth.  It’s a game of not being able to dazzle ’em with brilliance, so instead, baffle ’em with bullshit.

Had nobody looked closely at Ann’s claims, she may have indeed gotten away with it.  But with Americans feeling the pinch to their wallets and worried about, you know, those mundane, everyday things, such as keeping food on the table and roofs over their families’ heads, reading about Ann’s dressage horses costing at least one million dollars apiece failed to elicit the proper reaction from those struggling families.  Instead of falling for the alleged “war on moms,” it became patently obvious just how entirely clueless Ann Romney truly is.  We already knew this about Mitt, of course, with his insensitive remarks, geared to make him look like “just plain folk” when he’s anything but; however, for Ann to pick up the same mantra even before uttering the aforementioned elitist remark, rather than painting a picture of sympathetic, empathetic people who are willing to actually look at what’s going on outside of their bubble, they instead showed themselves for what they truly are: elitist, out of touch rich folk, who really don’t give a rat’s ass about anything but the biggest reward they can buy think of for themselves…the top political office in the US.

The thing Ann and Mitt Romney still have yet to figure out with all of the campaigns and the money spending (wow, fiscally, responsibly conservative, eh, Mitt?!  Spend tons of money to talk about how you want to be elected so you won’t spend money!) and the super PACs is exactly what is creating these huge roadblocks in what would otherwise be a pretty smooth campaign.  Mitt and Ann Romney simply aren’t genuine.  And people aren’t stupid.  They know this.

Case in point: when Hilary Rosen made her statement and the far right went utterly nuts over this “insensitive” comment, Ann Romney could have stated her case in a much kinder, gentler and genuine way.  Rather than attacking Hilary and demanding an apology, which turned out more like a truck driver or a dock worker crushing that beer can on his head to prove his machismo, that would have been to simply admit the truth.

I realize this is an anathema to the Republican party.  But the Republican party still has yet to get the message that what they’re doing, for the most part, isn’t working.  The old saying still holds, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  The Republicans are determined to take a sledgehammer to the flies—the citizens—and ram home the point of their alleged superiority, not with anything genteel or genuine, but with that sledgehammer.  If they don’t agree, whack them painfully a few times until they’re forced to admit You Are God, You Are Right, Everyone Else Is Crap, They Are Crap.

Ann Romney would have been better served with the high road.  Rather than shoving her elitism in the face of moms who don’t enjoy the luxury of staying home with the kids and having nannies, maids, cooks and butlers (oh my!) to take care of the icky, tedious, dull and just plain hard work tasks during the short periods of time they can be home, Ann Romney could have turned the Hilary comment to her advantage, by simply admitting, “You know what, folks?  Hilary is absolutely right.  I’ve been blessed.  I’ve never worked a day in my life.  I don’t know what it’s like to change poopy diapers, because someone always did it for me.

“But that doesn’t mean I don’t care.  I do care.  I care about the women who have to work outside of the home and miss the quality time they should have with their children, that time I was blessed to have, sans the chores and the hard work a mom without money has to do.  I care about the single moms who take two jobs, one to pay for day care so they can work the other job, in order to support their families.  Hilary is right; I can’t relate.  And with your help, I can learn.  I want to learn.  I want to see what people go through in their everyday lives, to understand working moms, who aren’t privileged as I am.”

Unfortunately, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so that reaction is out; it’s the road not taken.  Ann Romney has already cried for “justice” from Rosen’s comment and painted herself as the pretend “victim,” which instead showed her for the elitist snob she truly is.  Which is ironic, because Mitt actually implied President Obama was a snob, because he “spent too much time at Harvard University,” when Ann is the one who did the elitist thing, rubbing her snobbery in the faces of working moms everywhere.  Obama?  He’s proof you can work hard and make it, despite financial disadvantages.  And that’s supposed to be what the Republican party likes, hard work, but when shown the fine examples of Michelle and Barack Obama, that’s too “elitist.”

The elite like the Romneys have yet to figure out that no matter what, they can’t paint themselves as “just plain folk,” while painting the down-to-earth as elitist snobs.  Instead, they try, that blatant attempt fools no one, and they instead stick out like sore thumbs.

As I write this, I’m reminded of the late Princess Diana, who would take her children out into the real world and show them how people who weren’t so privileged lived.  Can you picture Ann Romney doing this with her kids?  I sure can’t.  Ann Romney, who grew up wealthy herself, obviously never bothered teaching her kids (or learning a little something herself) about how other people live, instead deciding the poor are simply sitting on hefty bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands (comprised of those generous government handouts, of course), so what’s the big problem with the poor writing a check or waving a credit card for whatever they need?  There’s got to be a reason Mitt Romney “isn’t concerned” about the very poor, and that’s got to be it, those hidden assets that everyone obviously has.

That’s the key.  To the Romneys, everyone must be as wealthy as they are, and the poor are simply pretending to be poor, because welfare obviously pays each recipient twenty billion dollars a year or more.

They can’t begin to wrap their minds around the utter struggle of grinding poverty, to have a tiny government check that doesn’t stretch enough, which is considered a “handout,” so shame on you for taking it, even though you need it far more than the president of ExxonMobil who gets billions of taxpayer dollars in handouts each year, not to mention that you pay for it out of your tax dollars, taxed at a higher percentage to you than the president of ExxonMobil, if he pays taxes at all, that is.  And the president of ExxonMobil isn't shamed or even ashamed to take said money...he just takes it, as if it's his “right,” but if you're poor, that measly “handout” of money you paid into the system is something where you should be highly ashamed.

Undoubtedly, the Romneys would easily be able to identify with the struggles of the president of ExxonMobil, though.  After all, why should he have to slum it on such a paltry amount of government handouts taxpayer dollars free money?!  Money definitely grows on taxpayer-dollar-subsidized trees for big oil, big pharma and any other government-subsidized lobbying entity, but when it goes to poor people who would otherwise be living on the street if not for a tiny bit of money here and there, those welfare queens are just totally irresponsible jerks looking for a handout.

The even bigger irony in the whole Mitt & Ann Romney elitist act is this: Mitt Romney is the ultra rich candidate who begs for donations to squander billions to prove how he won’t spend money if elected President.

If that alone doesn’t say “Let them eat cake” even more than Ann Romney’s gleeful comments of how she’s so glad poor moms must work, when Ann herself didn’t have to work to raise her own kids, let alone have to work outside of the home, then I don’t know what does.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Out of Control Spending

I’m amazed at the rampant hypocrisy in the Republican party these days.  Okay, maybe not amazed.  Actually, I’m not at all amazed.  This is normal Republican behavior, after all.

With all of the Republican talk about religion (which they make it clear they don’t actually follow, with draconian policies that hurt the poor, when their own deity made it clear the wealthy should help the poor, “God” forbid), Republicans aren’t really about faith.  And with all their talk of out of control spending, they’ve made it clear they don’t actually follow this line of thought, either.

They criticize Obama harshly over government spending.  Government, they’re quick to point out รก la their puppet master/owner Grover Norquist, should be small enough to drown in a bathtub.  Therefore, any undue spending (well, at least on the poor) is taboo.  Spending on overly large politician salaries, on the other hand, is perfectly within the “government not too large” arena, even though there’s actually nothing to prove these politicos are worth these salaries, that they perform their jobs or even show up for work every day.

Huge government salaries aside, the Republicans seem to believe that Mitt Romney is an acceptable candidate (well, we know they don’t really like him, but they’ll gather their efforts together to get behind him, because they can’t get anything important done, such as huge tax breaks for the rich, at least not while that “uppity” black man who managed to defeat their lily white idiots candidates is in office).  And Mitt Romney is toeing the Republican line.

So here we have Mitt Romney.  The guy who, singlehandedly with a bunch of other rich guys, got together and dismantled companies in order to make even more money—without investing a penny of their own money, mind you.  Their money, of course, came from investors.  I’m sure the way Mitt and his buds at Bain figured it, they didn’t want to risk their own money, no, no.  Better to screw around with someone else’s money, because as an investment, if all is lost, they owe nothing and still pocket something, even if it’s just a few bucks from selling off a factory.  And then with this investor money, Mitt and Bain disenfranchised American workers, had many jobs shipped overseas, and made We The Taxpayers pay for what they did, by siphoning the responsibility for worker pensions (and other expenses) to the government.  After all, why should they keep those pensions going?  Damn lazy workers, having the audacity to want money for working faithfully and loyally for a company that happened to ultimately become available for pennies on the dollar to rich corporate dumpster divers like Mitt and Bain.

For doing what they did, these rich guys were heavily rewarded, of course.

Now the Republicans are chanting the Mitt Romney mantra, that he’s such a “great businessman.”  And let’s forget for a minute that Mitt didn’t really do anything productive—and don’t fool yourself for a minute thinking he did, because starting a company that actually does something for your country, that creates good, high-paying jobs, is not defined that way in Mitt’s dictionary.  Mitt’s definition of “creating jobs,” let’s remember, is to start retail businesses which pay workers peanuts to work as cashiers, clerks, etc, which means most of them are probably on some form of government assistance if they have families to support, because their earnings are likely far below the poverty level.

Anyway, the very workers needing government assistance is only part of the problem.  The other part of the problem is this: Mitt Romney doesn’t know how to stick to a budget.  While Republicans are busy criticizing President Obama for anything and everything they can, while they’re bitching about the amount of “government spending” being too high, because of those programs that help the very same people disenfranchised by the likes of Mitt and Bain, the fact is that once again, the Republican party doesn’t want to admit that Mitt is already “out of control” with spending.  Yet this is the very same guy they credit with having “good business sense”!  And as anyone who has ever had any tiny part in building a business can tell you, Mitt has anything but good business sense.

When you’ve never had to cut corners or work with a budget, the fact is that working with a comparatively huge amount of money isn’t going to suddenly make Mitt a genius on budgeting.

Ironically, Republicans don’t seem to want to understand this.  They’ll gladly push Mitt Romney as their candidate, like him or not, because that uppity black man did what their own addle-brained candidates simply couldn’t.  And that is the bottom line, which is unacceptable to them.  But instead of admitting the truth, which is President Obama actually knows about budgeting, if only from his own life, Mitt Romney will gladly accept the mantle of being a “good businessman,” when he actually isn’t.

Money created from wealth is easy.  Money created from nothing is hard.

As President, Mitt Romney would want to do the same things he did at Bain…but rather than dismantling companies, he’d dismantle citizens, citizens who are too poor to be heard over the din of rich conglomerates.  He’d gladly take the money citizens have invested into the system via their tax dollars for programs like Social Security and Medicare, hand it off to wealthy corporations, then rewrite laws so those corporations would have the ability to do anything they want.  I point out that Mitt’s behavior on the campaign trail alone is a harbinger of things to come, should there be a Mitt Romney Presidency.  Unbridled spending, on things unnecessary, to get a result that is nothing more than smoke and mirrors…the illusion that this campaign of his is all about lowering taxes for everyone, when the only ones Mitt truly believes deserve to pay less in taxes are the upper classes, because heaven forbid they should have to skimp when it comes to fine food, vacations, expensive homes, sports cars, yachts and objets d’art, while those lazy poor people take handouts directly from the government, to squirrel away in some high-interest-bearing account in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.

Evidence for this, by the way, can easily be found in the YouTube video of Romney speaking with Leno, who isn’t exactly a heavyweight interviewer asking probing questions.  Leno, when asking about covering health care for people, gave an example of a guy who has a heart problem.  And Romney’s response was a very unconcerned (paraphrasing), “As long as he’s been continuously insured” (emphasis mine), “that will be fine.”  In other words, if you haven’t continuously bought insurance, then why should we cover your lazy, sorry ass with health care?

Left out of the equation is the fact that if that guy couldn’t afford health insurance, it’s not that he sat around on his “lazy, sorry ass” while he squirreled away his millions in the Cayman Islands and Swiss bank accounts, but rather, it means that while he was working one, perhaps even two, full-time jobs, he couldn’t afford insurance at all.  And rather than making the connection here, as any compassionate and not-entirely-clueless person would do, with the impoverished working person in question lacking health care and lacking money, Mitt Romney would rather sign the papers which basically say that as a poor person or a person not “of money,” this guy has zero right to health care.

Remember, it isn’t that the guy isn’t a productive member of society; with one or two full-time jobs, it’s that perhaps he works for Mitt’s baby, Sports Authority, and earns minimum wage stocking shelves, with a second full time job as a minimum wage security guard at a shopping mall.  Now he’s got a health problem…but that’s not Mitt’s responsibility, nor is it Bain’s, nor is it the responsibility of the health insurance companies to offer a truly affordable policy for the guy who can’t afford that while paying his bills for rent and everything else.  He skimped on health care rather than stiffing his landlord, which became his death sentence.  Which is odd, because the Republican party says they value hard work and meeting one’s obligations, but when it gets right down to it, if you meet all of your obligations but can’t afford something like health care, there should never be a safety net made up of your tax dollars paid into the system to now save your life.

Now we have Mitt’s unbridled spending.  The guy doesn’t know the meaning of the word “budget,” and before he’s managed to get into that Oval Office he covets so much, he’s not demonstrating the principles of economic conservatism that is allegedly the cornerstone of the entire GOP’s “philosophy”—instead, he’s doing the exact same thing he did at Bain.  That’s right, Mitt Romney hasn’t invested one penny into his own candidacy.  He’s begged for money, put up Google ads and raised a cry of “holding Obama accountable,” but oddly enough, Mitt has not once held himself “accountable” for anything, including—especially—his own reckless spending.

Do we really think that would change with a Mitt Romney Presidency?  Here’s a guy who sees a problem (in this case, a campaign for the Presidential election), attacks it by throwing money at it, lies, cheats, runs a filthy campaign…and he’s calling for the other guy to be accountable?  Furthermore, if he manages to wave enough smoke and mirrors to blind many Americans into thinking he’s got the tiniest clue, more of a clue than President Obama (President Obama, who knows firsthand about budgeting!), where do we think Mitt is suddenly going to develop the skills to do anything more than throw money we don’t have at problems?  In other words, how on earth will Mitt ever figure out how to cut spending, when he doesn’t know how?!

Sure, he’ll say whatever it is that he believes his party will want to hear.  Yeah, he’ll cut out those pesky food stamps, Medicare can be privatized so insurance companies can make a killing from the elderly (literally!), repeal the ACA so people will just have to pay higher rates to insurance companies for preexisting conditions or do without insurance when insurers won’t sell them policies, reestablish lifetime caps on care, because the government should never tell insurance companies what to do, because this is absolutely up to people to pay out the big bucks for their own health care.

He’ll privatize Social Security so seniors can play Russian roulette with their retirement, and if many seniors fall below the poverty level due to “lost” investments, no biggie.  We’ll just let the local charities take them in and if they can’t, well, the elderly bag lady and bum of yore can return.

He can privatize the Post Office, because that organization is just so “unnecessary,” and if there are people who don’t have email, well, a privatized Post Office will be able to sell them stamps that are priced at $5/ounce, so the stockholders can make a killing.  They’ll cut out the unions, too, because the unions wanting those silly pensions, sick pay and health care for their members, well, those are just costing us too much; better that these same people are made needy, don’t get health care coverage, don’t get sick pay, and if they don’t make enough money to feed their families, since there won’t be any more food stamps, they can just suck it up and go to food pantries.  Cut out welfare and Medicaid, too, because these programs benefit the rich not a whit.  Public education is already a goner on Mitt’s list, because the parents who have to work two jobs apiece just to get that health care or anything else the government “shouldn’t” pay can just suck it up and spend the hours when they should be sleeping on home-schooling their kids instead.  Or pay more for a private school, so some rich private school owner can make more money.

And so Mitt, if allowed, will very willingly cut every safety net program there is, while still feeling like he can spend millions, billions and trillions of dollars.  But those dollars won’t be spent on the citizenry.  They’ll be spent to further enrich the already-rich.  And once the so-called “entitlement” programs are gone, what next?  Remember, “spending” is just jim dandy to conservatives when it means spending on things that don’t even make sense.  To hire a chaplain to say a prayer, money is plentiful.  To pay a politician a good salary, money is great.  To spend on experimental weapons that actually never make it past the research stage is perfectly fine.  To spend on rewriting laws that don’t actually produce money by rewriting them is good, too (such as laws to state that marriage should be between a man and a woman).  To spend on subsidizing hugely profitable industries such as big oil, big pharma and anyone else with a huge lobby is fantastic.

The message here is that anything that’s good for the basic citizenry is unacceptable.  Furthermore, imagine where the money is going to come from when all “entitlement” programs are gone and Mitt is still waving around that enormous US expense account from “saving” the little bit of money he actually did save by hurting the poor and the middle class.  Imagine the taxes that will be levied on the smallest income, because it’s wonderful for a millionaire like Mitt to pay zero taxes on his money when he’s found a lot of loopholes or just doesn’t “feel like” paying taxes, but when a person who is so far below the poverty line doesn’t pay federal taxes, then complain…and make that person pay taxes!  But the rich can continue to get a free ride.

The fact is that the Presidency is certainly not on-the-job training.  When a candidate doesn’t know enough about a budget, that candidate isn’t fit for the job.  Even if you’re a Republican and hate “entitlement programs,” ask yourself this.  How, when he doesn’t know the first thing about keeping a budget on the campaign trail, will Mitt Romney keep the American budget?  How will a guy who doesn’t truly understand the first thing about actually spending money figure out how not to spend it?  He’s swearing up and down right now that he’ll bring back that lost credit rating, but a guy who is already “addicted” to spending as Mitt is, because he’s always been able to spend as he pleases, is not going to be able to bring back a credit rating any more than a guy who is used to spending unlimited amounts on his credit card.  Even with zero “entitlement” programs, even by increasing taxes on the poorest Americans to where they’re paying out 70% of their income, the fact is that America still has a finite amount of income if the wealthy still aren't going to pay taxes.  And Mitt Romney doesn’t have the first clue of how to do anything other than wave a credit card around.

The question to ask yourself is this: how comfortable do you feel handing that credit card to the guy who is running for the party that says they want to “cut spending” – the same guy who obviously feels most comfortable spending money?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In the Broader Sense: Would You Date Your Employer?

(Note: I'm sorry to say this piece isn't quite current.  I wrote it, planned to post the following day, then forgot.  Since the issue is still somewhat current, I've decided to post it, albeit belatedly.)

Okay, “we the people” lost out already…corporations have the right of free speech…the same right “we the people” often lack.  (Think about it…how many “free speech” corporations have been arrested for doing illegal things, when Occupiers are regularly arrested for exercising their free speech rights?  So corporations now have the right to more free speech than any US taxpayer!)

Now there’s a new ingredient in the mix: employers are asking for employee and potential employee Facebook passwords.

While there may be the tiniest (and I do mean tiniest) reason for an employer being concerned enough to want this information (an employer obviously doesn’t want to hire someone who drinks and uses drugs on the job, for example), the problem is that there are far too many invasions of our privacy, particularly here in the US.  We have few safeguards to our most private information.

For instance, while the whole Facebook password issue is a new issue, abuses of Social Security numbers have been going on for years.  This is extremely private information that has been made a basis for checking on everyone and everything, and rather than that information remaining as extremely private as it should be, known to exclusively you, the government, your bank and your employer for tax filing purposes only; instead, this information must be given for just about anything.  If you apply for a job, sign up for any form of insurance or look to rent a home, that number must be furnished.

Worse still is the fact that with health insurance, there exists an entire database kept of people, for the strict purpose of credit reporting, known as the MIB—the Medical Information Bureau.

You would think an entity known as the Medical Information Bureau would be all about health care, right?  Wrong.  The MIB acts as a credit reporting agency.  Yes, it has far more kinship with names like Equifax and TransUnion than it does with any kind of centralized information or record keeping clearinghouse.  In other words, the fact that you’re allergic to penicillin might be listed with the MIB, but more as a reason to jack up your health insurance prices than as a reason to keep you safe from harm in the case of a situation where you can’t speak for yourself and might receive said medication.  Unfortunately, what also follows is another dangerous potential situation here: your medical records are only useful as fodder for getting more money out of you, and it’s not at all about your health, not in the slightest.

Politically, nobody has any vested interest in such a database organized for purely health-related reasons (and any time this is suggested, crazed far right-wingers make a fuss about people having to be microchipped for allegedly nefarious reasons, because these people would apparently rather be given a lethal medical injection than to have their health records stored for their direct benefit).  But every day, your privacy may be violated by anyone who holds your Social Security number, and for the flimsiest of reasons.  Do you want a part-time job?  The credit check may “prove” you’re deep in debt and therefore are unworthy of said job.  Did you just buy a car and need insurance?  The price of your insurance will depend on your credit rating.  If found unworthy of a good rate, you’ll pay far more than someone else with a good credit rating, even if your driving abilities are impeccable, which ironically, should be no reason to have to pay more and has more bearing on your worthiness for car insurance than your credit rating.  Do you want to apply for health or life insurance?  The MIB will make its report on you, so there will be no getting around preexisting conditions or credit problems.  If you have bad credit, even if you’re in the very best of health with nary a claim in 30+ years, the MIB will still insist you pay more for said health insurance than others with comparable health but far better credit.  Oh, and back to that penicillin allergy…that’s a negative for you, because remember, they don’t really give a rat’s ass if it’s a health issue; if you die from a penicillin injection, no biggie.  But if they can get your health insurance company $100 more per month from you for this “preexisting condition,” hey, isn’t the MIB a great thing?!  Sure beats having a central clearinghouse to protect your health from that deadly penicillin injection in the case when you’re unable to speak for yourself!  Don’t we all like paying more for what could cost us less?

It may sound minor in comparison, but now we have employers not feeling satisfied enough with the wealth of information obtained from credit bureaus.  These employers aren’t satisfied with simply looking at what you allow outsiders to view on your Facebook page, either…no, some are asking for your Facebook password, as well, to sign on as you, so they can snoop around in your account.  And that’s not to do something nice for you, like discovering your hobbies and giving you a gift basket of sports equipment and 50-yard-line football tickets that they know you’ll truly appreciate, but rather, to do you harm.

Aside from the fact that this is forbidden by Facebook rules (it’s against Facebook’s terms to give your password out to anyone), the issue here is how little privacy we’re allowed anymore.  As a citizen, rather than protecting you from your very own government-issued ID—your Social Security number—being accessed and even used by an identity thief, now many people are being asked as citizens to give up a very large amount of privacy; namely, their use of a social networking site.

I see a whole host of problems with this, but particularly, what strikes me is how little this equates to corporate personhood.  Corporations are people, well, not really, but okay, since we can’t do anything about it…corporations are able to access your private information…not so good…and now, corporations want the right to freely see what you see on your personal networking site.

This is apparently akin to dating.  But that’s confusing, because corporations can’t socialize, which means corporations can’t date.  If this is a date, then why is there no reciprocity?  If I give my potential or current employer my Facebook password, this means my employer is now, for all intents and purposes, dating me, but my employer doesn’t pick up the tab here…I do!  I pick up the tab for this date, which I don’t even want, perhaps can’t turn down if I really want the job, and for this date I don’t want, I still have to pay the total bill.  I don’t know…it sounds more like date rape to me than a nice time going out to dinner for a “get to know me in a relaxed atmosphere” meeting.

I won’t even get the first iota of private information on my corporate employer in return (yes, I’m using a worst case scenario, but considering it’s more likely a corporate employer will ask for my Facebook password, than, say, the little mom & pop store down the street, this is more illustrative of the scope of the problem we’re talking about); certainly, none of the private tax returns of any of my bosses, no expense reports so I can see just how they spend money, not even a tiny disclosure of amounts given to charity by the corporation, to whom they contribute (maybe their choices to me aren’t worthy ones), no notations of how much my fellow employees are earning so I can find out if I’m earning a fair amount…nor do I get the Facebook password of the company big shots.

And for this lack of reciprocation, I’m expected to hand over my own Facebook password.

My feeling is this: if I were a Facebook user, I simply wouldn’t give out that information.  If you happen to have a very uncommon name, well, you’d have to hide your account info on Facebook, meaning your old friends would never find you, but at least you wouldn’t have to give that info to your employer.  Let’s face it, there is no legal requirement that anyone must have a Facebook page.  There are many of us who don’t like Facebook due to privacy concerns other than giving out passwords; Facebook keeps track of your preferences, for instance, in order to sell products to you.  Now add your employer peeking into your private Facebook messages, having him know your sister was arrested on drunk driving charges, and you’ve opened up a whole new issue.  Suppose you don’t want people knowing your sister was arrested?  This is a new nugget your employer could use against you.  While yes, it’s blackmail, the fact is you gave your employer your password, due to his request…and right now, two legalities clash: you’re not allowed to give out your Facebook password according to Facebook terms, but United States law does not forbid your employer asking for it.  I may be wrong here, but I would think you’d be liable, should your employer use information gleaned from your Facebook account for blackmail purposes, since you gave him your password to begin with.

It would be akin to seeing a known burglar approaching your house and holding out handfuls of diamond jewelry to entice him to come in and rob you.

So should you or shouldn’t you?  I can’t answer that question for you, but I once again pose the question I asked in the title of this piece: Would you date your employer?  My guess is no.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Slut, By Any Other Name, Would Still be Rush Limbaugh

With the recent flap between the male members of Congress (Republicans) who decided women didn’t need to testify about birth control and Rush Limbaugh calling women who use birth control “sluts,” I’ve decided that, as Americans, we need to stop putting up with this.

The fact is that birth control pills are used for many life-threatening issues for women.  Sandra Fluke herself, the woman Rush Limbaugh lambasted, calling her a “slut,” brought up the issue of a friend of hers, who had needed birth control pills to keep her ovarian cysts from growing.  Unfortunately, the woman couldn’t afford her meds and instead ended up losing an ovary.

Translation: the woman needed major surgery to fix that which a simple birth control pill prescription could have solved without anything invasive.  To say it’s perfectly fine for a person to be cut open because you want to preach what they can and can’t do because it offends your delicate sensibilities goes so far beyond disgusting and reprehensible, it isn’t funny.  To take it farther and say you don’t want such a woman to get her meds—not because she actually needs them for a life-threatening issue, but rather, because she may have sex and not get pregnant from it—is downright depraved and proves where Limbaugh’s mind really is.  In the gutter.

Now let’s take a look at ED meds.  What life-threatening illnesses do ED meds prevent?  If a man had, say, testicular cancer, would he take Viagra?  Would his doctor prescribe Cialis?  No.  Absolutely not.

What purpose does a medication like Viagra or Cialis actually fill?  Well, each of these meds help men get erections when they can’t.

So what do these medications do?

They allow men to have sex.

It seems to me that if we’re talking about “sluts” here, then Rush Limbaugh, who was once caught returning from the Dominican Republic, carrying a prescription for Viagra (not even in his own name—which means, what, he stole it?), when he wasn’t married at the time, could only have had one purpose for this Viagra.

To get an erection.  To have sex while unmarried.

Rush Limbaugh has proved—by his own reasoning—he is, indeed, a slut.

Laughing in the face of women everywhere, who—for pure health reasons—need birth control pills they can’t afford and will suffer perfectly preventable surgery and even death because the majority of Republican men in Congress don’t give a rat’s ass about women getting access to quality health care, are the same men who think it’s perfectly fine for health insurance to cover ED meds for those sluts like Rush Limbaugh to take them.  And don’t forget to check the fine print.  Because ED meds are actually covered under Medicaid, too.  What is Medicaid, you ask?

Beyond Medicare, Medicaid is the only form of US public health care that exists, a very limited plan for people on welfare to get the tiniest modicum of health care.

So in effect, we are paying these men to have sex, and not for a necessary medication.  Just like Limbaugh.  Let’s forget that insurance covers Limbaugh, because that wasn’t his point in his tirade.  His exact words in his tirade were, “What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”

While I don’t necessarily disagree Limbaugh is a pimp, as well as being a slut, right there, he proved how little he knows.  Because Sandra Fluke isn’t taking a taxpayer handout or suggesting the federal government cover either contraception or contraceptive meds used for medically necessary purchases.  To the contrary, Fluke was asking for nothing more than what Limbaugh takes for granted: that, when a woman pays for health insurance, that insurance should be required to pay for her needed health care.  And insurance isn’t paying out “taxpayer money,” so much as it’s paying out the tiniest percentage of customer money paid into said company.

Not to mention, the fact is that making a point (as the thankfully ill-fated Blunt-Rubio did) of allowing insurers to have the ability to turn down anything that goes against their “morals,” when insurance companies cover far too little as it is, can only lead to worse problems down the line.  Today, it’s contraception.  Tomorrow, it’s heart medication.  “Oh, well, Mr. Jones, I see you’ve had a heart attack.  I know these meds your doctor prescribed will keep you from having another, fatal, heart attack, but frankly, it’s against my morals to see to it that you get your meds covered by your insurance policy, because I know you’re overweight and eat a lot of fatty foods.  Sorry, Mr. Jones…request denied.  Drop dead.”

It would be utter chaos, particularly now, when health insurance companies have caused American health care to be downgraded in quality beyond that of third world countries.  It says something when a Communist country like China can cover a hell of a lot more of its citizens with some kind of health care than a big, rich country like the US can, and still, the percentage of people who do without here, compared to in China, points out how inadequate this system of paying a middleman to pimp out our health care really is.

Now, back to the slut/pimp, I mean, Limbaugh.  We all know he started losing his advertisers and getting flak from the Republican party after what he said.  And Limbaugh, the product of his many years since Reagan disastrously repealed the “Fairness Doctrine,” giving us one point of view in the media and little chance of the truth getting through, decided he didn’t want to lose any more advertisers, so he came up with the perfect non-apology apology.  The apology that says it wasn’t the personal attack it really was for him to make those incendiary remarks against Ms. Fluke and the majority of women, but rather, it was a “poor choice of words.”  A very anemic apology, followed by an excuse of why he actually uttered those words, an explanation which actually negated the half-apology he had somewhat made and turned it into the non-apology apology:

“For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

Yes, he “chose the wrong words.”  Not that he used words that labeled Ms. Fluke as a piece of crap undeserving of health care, but rather, that these were the “wrong words.”  Heh heh.  “Yeah, dad, I know you hate me using the F word and I’m sorry I chose to call you by that wrong word, so I’m sorry I picked that particular one.  Next time I’ll be sure to call you a bastard.”

Instead of stopping there, however, he proceeded to actually defend the indefensible, to actually double down with an extremely poor rationalization of why he said what he did.

So let’s pull this apart sentence by sentence.
“I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.”

Well, Rush, who the hell asked you?!  We are not discussing anything.  Congress called for this discussion.  To say that it’s “absurd” is to actually censure the men who put that discussion into action.  The same discussion to which Ms. Fluke and no other women were invited to speak at all.

It’s like if I were to call Rush on the phone, where we’d have an hour-long discussion, and then later I were to say, “You know what?  That dickhead Limbaugh made me call and speak to him for an hour!  Oh, it was absolutely horrible!  The nerve of that guy, making me do such a thing!”

“I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.”

What “American citizens” is he talking about?  The insurance companies?  The insurance companies, who get away with paying out so little, their CEOs make millions of dollars in a very short time…so who is subsidizing this?  You mean…the people who are paying for said insurance?  Insurance plan subscribers?  Such as…Sandra Fluke?!

Wow.  I had no idea that insurance was actually supposed to mean that they were allowed to take my money and turn down anything they wanted to turn down that related to my health.  I know this is what they get away with doing, but thanks for putting it into words, Limbaugh, “Health insurance is one big scam.  Stay away!  The little they cover is what we’re going to make absolutely sure they won’t cover, anyway.”

In addition, Rush here is once again doubling down on his comment that this so-called insurance is actually subsidized by the government.  Because this is the only way a “taxpayer” can pay for someone’s health insurance, and whatever “social activities” that insurance may or may not cover.

“What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?”

Of course, there’s no bigger bingo in the Republican BS factory than the old “personal responsibility” and “accountability.”  Those words mean, “Be responsible for yourself, but I can do whatever I want.”  It’s the reason why married Senator David Vitter, caught having sex with a prostitute, can still keep his Congressional seat, but Anthony Weiner, who didn’t actually have sex with any woman other than his own wife, had to resign.  It’s also why Joe Walsh, owing his ex-wife over $100,000 in back child support, isn’t in jail for not paying same, but “personal responsibility and accountability” certainly don’t come into question over the fact that he received an award for being such a “good family man.”  Oh, no, when it comes to “personal responsibility and accountability” for Republicans, they can do whatever they please.  Um, remember Rush and his Viagra-laced Dominican Republic vacation…when he was unmarried?!  Having sex without the benefit of marriage?!  Surely, if we’re speaking of people needing to behave puritanically here, why in the hell did Rush go off on a sex bender in another freaking country?!

I’ll skip over the next couple of inane comments, as pulling each of those apart is superfluous, so let’s go on to more of the real issue here:
“Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?  In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.”

So here we get to the crux and the craziness in Limbaugh’s claims.  For one thing, he keeps pushing the issue, really driving that total nonsensical claim home, saying “we the taxpayers” are literally paying for something we’re not.  I’ll say it completely clearly, for those, like Limbaugh, who apparently don’t understand this…we did not get any version of universal health care granted by Congress.  We have no socialized medicine for the citizens who completely lack health care.

Socialized medicine is the process whereby everyone pays into the system for health care, via taxes paid to the government for said purpose, and then we all get unfettered access to health care, not just Rush Limbaugh.  The government ensures doctors get paid and people don’t have to prove they have insurance when they’re writhing in pain in the emergency room or a doctor’s office.  And in the case of socialized medicine, citizens also aren’t giving up life-saving treatments so an insurance CEO can buy his 15th yacht or vacation home.  The payments that everyone pays into the system subsidize all health care.

And this is exactly what we don’t have.  So when Mr. Limbaugh talks about “taxpayers” paying for this in his non-apology, what he’s saying is, “Screw facts.  I can get people a hell of a lot more upset when I talk about how it’s you and me paying for this woman to have sex, but if I admit I was wrong because this is insurance we’re talking about, a product that is paid for by individuals, then people won’t be quite so upset.  Instead, they’ll tell me, ‘But Rush, if she’s paying for it, then you’re telling me the insurance company can choose what they want to pay for, and if that’s the case, then they can deny my son’s leukemia meds, because they’re allegedly morally opposed to this?’  So I need to say this in a way that will completely anger people, to think their tax dollars are literally covering birth control…and they’re actually not.  I’m talking about it as if it’s socialized medicine, but nothing like that in the US exists, and I’m counting on the fact that my listeners are too dumb to know the difference.”

So here Limbaugh has purposely, knowingly characterized US health care as if it’s socialized medicine, when it’s not.  And you know what, Limbaugh?  The fact is that you can’t change the facts to suit your purposes whenever you want.  You can’t tell us we have socialized medicine that we don’t have and that taxpayers are paying for socialized medicine we don’t have.  You can’t tell me that, on top of the little teeny-tiny bit of money insurance companies actually cough out on claims, letting people die from lack of health care rather than inconvenience the poor, hapless CEOs of said insurance companies, it’s perfectly fine to now allow insurance companies to cover even less, to make so-called “moral” decisions as a reason to deny still more claims.  Damn, Limbaugh, just how much Viagra did the insurance industry give you to practice your utterly depraved lifestyle, which you’ve been doing since you were single?!  Oh, suddenly there’s an exception for Rush himself to have sex outside of marriage, but if any woman is taking birth control pills for ovarian cysts or endometriosis, she’s nothing but a “slut.”

“In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.”

Now Limbaugh is going back to a second grader’s mentality.  Well, maybe he’s not actually going “back,” since he’s been there all along.  “Mommy, Bobby poked me!” knowing full well he poked Bobby first.

Who started the conversation?  Um, wasn’t that the Republicans?!  The very same Republicans who chose not to have a single woman speak about women’s health?!

Limbaugh, if it’s “not our business,” then please tell me…why in the hell are you going on about this?!  You specifically said it’s “not our business.”  So butt the hell out!

And I was going to say that, while I do appreciate your concern for President Obama’s delicate sensitivities…frankly, I don’t.  Because President Obama himself is obviously not concerned about them.  And last I heard, he can take perfectly good care of himself.  He’s not holding his “virgin ears” and singing “la la la la la” the way you want us to think you are, because President Obama is actually an adult.  He’s not a stupid little kid screaming, “Mommy, Bobby poked me!” when in all actuality, Bobby was the one who got poked first.  Nobody asked you to suddenly go from harshly and unnecessarily criticizing the man practically 24/7 to claiming you suddenly care so much about his “virgin ears.”  After all, Limbaugh, where was that “concern” about our “poor dear” President when you were claiming his birth certificate was fake?  Where will that loving concern be the next time you find some other stupid falsehood to bitch about, the next made-up story dreamed up out of your sick mind to please your Tea Party masters, the people who actually own you and pimp your voice out to the American people?

Frankly, Limbaugh, if we want to have the President sound off on something, the American people don’t need you acting as his proxy.  In case you haven’t noticed, the President is fully capable of speaking for himself, and until he actually says the topic offends him, I know it doesn’t.  Let the President speak for himself, because if you’re going to tell me what he does and doesn’t want to hear, I’m going to start speaking for you.  And Limbaugh, you’re not going to like what I say for you.

Then we get to the final nail in Rush’s coffin:
“My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

This is not an apology.  The previous paragraph proves this, but in case Rush’s meaning isn’t crystal clear…it’s not that he’s actually apologizing.  He’s saying that his “choice of words” was meant humorously, but it was “not the best.”  In other words, he really did mean it, but it was stated with a bad choice of words.  “Yeah, too bad, I called you a filthy slut who is having way too much sex on the fantasy socialized ‘taxpayer dime,’ but it wasn’t me, it was just a ‘bad choice of words.’”

My significant other has that very same way of attempting to non-apologize, too, when we’re in the heat of an argument.  “I’m sorry if you took whatever I said offensively.”  In Rush’s case, it wasn’t he who was at fault, it was that “choice of words.”  It was just “bad.”  Maybe if he’d called her a “tramp” or a “lady of the evening” instead of a slut, this wouldn’t have “created” such a “national stir.”  In other words, he meant what he said, he just said it too insultingly, and the resulting media circus is now hurting Limbaugh’s feelings.

The fact remains that creating that “national stir” is what’s really bothering Rush here.  Truthfully, I’m sure he couldn’t give a rat’s ass about hurting Ms. Fluke’s feelings, because if he did, he would have made an apology more along the lines of, “I said something wrong.  I implied Ms. Fluke was using birth control to turn tricks.  I realize this was an extremely hurtful thing to say.  I’ve incorrectly implied in the first place that birth control pills are provided by the taxpayers; thus, the government.  I know we don’t have socialized medicine, and Ms. Fluke and all women have even more of a right to have their private insurance companies pay for their prescriptions than I do for my Viagra, which is completely medically unnecessary.  My words were not only hurtful, but the things that I meant by using them were terribly hurtful.”

Unfortunately, this is not the apology Ms. Fluke received.  Instead, she received a carefully crafted non-apology apology, designed to quell the “national stir” and perhaps welcome those advertisers who jumped ship over his remarks back into the fold of the Rush Limbaugh slut/pimpshow.  As for humor…I’m sure I’m not the only person who considers Limbaugh to be not humorous, and certainly, by making hurtful remarks and shrugging them off as “humor” is insulting to not just women, but to every citizen of the US who understands the inflammatory nature of Limbaugh’s remarks at all times, not just now.  So now he happened to get caught and he crafted the kind of apology my significant other makes when we’re both hotheaded, not a truly heartfelt one, but rather, “I’m sorry if you took whatever I said offensively.”

Well, Limbaugh, you’re not only a pimp and a slut, you’re also a flaming pile of crap, a douchebag, a sphincter and a dickhead.  What?  Oh, that’s just my silly little attempt at humor.  It bothers you?  Gee, I’m sorry if you took whatever I said offensively.  It was a “bad choice of words.”