Sometimes there's things more important than pro wrestling.
I said this last fall when the United States was involved in the most transformative election of our lifetimes. We had the choice of a sea change, a massive cultural shift in our politics, or more of the same road to ruin when we had a choice between Barack Obama and Joe Biden or John McCain and the publicity stunt the Republican party had foisted upon him. For the first time in my life, I took an interest in politics and even posted on the internet because, to be quite honest, for the first time I not only had the time and inclination to involve myself in politics but also I saw a chance for real change in a moment of national crisis. I made my voice heard in a way that my "celebrity" status, such as it is, allowed me to by posting on the internet, and fortunately, to use a wrestling term, the babyfaces won. At the age of 47, I voted for the first time ever, and I was there at 6:00AM when the polls opened.
My state, Kentucky, was the first state called red in the election results on TV, and it caused me quite a bit of shame, but I knew I had done the right thing, and in the end the forces of good carried the day.
I said this again a few months ago when Joey Styles, WWE ex-announcer and current Vince McMahon sycophant, posted on his "Twitter" account a bunch of hateful and irrational statements about Barack Obama. I used my small forum on my "Who's Slammin' Who" podcast (to access my weekly rants here go to Whosslammingwho.podomatic.com to tell anyone who might listen my thoughts on him and others like him who stand in the way of this countrys' recovery and progress. Once again, whether anyone agreed or not, I knew I had done the right thing, and this feeling was borne out by the countless emails I received in support of my statements, the posting of my rant on Youtube, the Daily Kos, the Democraticunderground.com website, and other places where even non-wrestling fans who had never heard of me were touched or inspired by my comments.
So now I find myself inadvertently and unwillingly thrown into the middle of another controversy--the fight for health care reform. And I'm mad--DAMNED mad as a matter of fact, with what I see going on around me.
Let's get this straight at the jumpstart. I registered as a Democrat last fall, as I said for the first time ever, simply because I saw Barack Obama speaking to, not at, the American people, and I agreed with what he said. If it had been another person, another party, another time, I could have gone another way. I didn't because, quite simply, the Republicans I see on TV and in print are not people I agree with nor would want to associate with. I don't agree with all Democrats either--I voted for a man I felt was genuine and brilliant and determined to do the right thing, and I accepted his party simply because HE, at least, seemed to have the right idea. Now, while my admiration for Obama is undiminished, my acceptance of his party has me in doubt. For all the good Obama has TRIED to do, he has not only met obstacles and obstructionism from the conservatives and Republicans, but from his own party as well.
One of the major planks in his platform was a reset of the broken health care system in this country. I can tell you as a self-employed individual, that the cost of health insurance for a couple in their mid-30's to mid-40's, with no pre-existing conditions or children, is around $10,000 a year. I can tell you that to have my left knee ACL repaired, as I did in 2006, would have cost me almost $30,000 without insurance, and that was NOT an elective procedure as I could not walk on nor straighten out my left leg at the time. I can tell you as someone who has paid around $1 million in federal and state income taxes, give or take a few hundred thousand, over the last 25 years, that it's bullshit that one catastrophic illness without insurance could leave me bankrupt. And I can tell you that even though I maintain health insurance and make a good living that it's bullshit that in the greatest country on the face of the planet that I can truthfully make the previous three statements.
It's a fact that the cost of health care, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security amounts to the largest percentage of our annual Federal budget, that this system is unsustainable and that something must be done before it's too late. Social Security, at this rate, will be broke before I get to collect it, and if the amount of taxes I have paid over the past 25 years leaves me with little or nothing, imagine what it will be like for the average worker. Obama recognized this, and for all the Republican talk about "bankrupting our children and grandchildren", he's the ONLY one to recognize a need to do something for the countrys' long-term good instead of worrying about what the voters care about immediately. This man wants to be remembered in 100 years for having made a difference in the quality of our lives, not whether he gets reelected in four.
So what happens when he puts forth a plan to revamp the single most expensive and important obstacle facing Americans today? The Republican party, bought and paid for by special interest lobbyists and the big pharmaceutical companies, looking out for their future election prospects, their old, rich, white constituency, and their insistence that the United States of America remains the only country in the developed world with a health care system that discrimates against it's own people at the expense of it's citizenry and the benefit of it's richest two percent, does what it does best--engages an obstructionist, fear-mongering campaign against reform. It mobilizes the misguided, the uninformed, and the extremists to gin up controversies where none should exist, and engages in a misinformation campaign to obfuscate and outright misrepresent the intent of said reform under the guise of patriotism and preserving the "American Way". And all the while, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the sick get sicker, and all Americans lose their chance at a better way for another generation. For all of you who benefit from the Medicare program, get on your computers and google some information on what the Republicans said about Medicare before Democrat Lyndon Johnson was able to pass it. Look familiar? It should, you're hearing it today.
So let's take, piece by piece, the right-wing's opposition to the most reformative health care program proposed in our lifetimes, and see what's what. Their first order of business was to scare people--hey, it worked when the Bush Administration demanded of Tom Ridge that he raise the "Terror Alert" level in the 2004 election, we now know THAT to be a fact--because in times of fear and chaos, people are always liable to go with the status quo. So they invent the "Nazi policy", the "Death Panels" of that useless twat Sarah Palin, who resigned her publicly elected post so she could cash in on the undeserved fame granted to her by the Republican Party when they felt that John McCain wasn't "voter-friendly" enough for their conservative base (if you don't believe me, just ask Levi Johnson, the high school jock who knocked up her teenage daughter and was in the house to hear these conversations). These assholes deliberately preyed on one of the most vulnerable groups in the American electorate, senior citizens, who are generally living on fixed incomes and come from a generation where it was not only acceptable but incumbent upon Americans to believe in their elected officials, to advance their ideology.
You've seen the town hall meetings where citizens in their 60's, 70's, even 80's, said "I don't want someone else telling me or my family that it's time for me to die." Rightly outraged but wrongly informed, these elderly Americans were convinced that Obama's plan would allow someone to "pull the plug on Grandma", and controversy erupted. In actual fact, the provision in the bill would have provided for, in the event of an individual or someone's family member being terminally ill, as my own mother was in 2002, that if they had to consult a physician for a living will or end-of-life planning, that the insurance company would be forced to reimburse them for that service. Am I mad? You're Goddamn right I am, and if I could get my hands around that self-serving cunt Palin's neck, or the neck of whichever Republican conman that fed her that talking point, I would squeeze their britches full. To prey on the elderly is as much a crime as to abuse a child, and that's exactly what they've done.
Another bone of contention is that this plan would provide insurance for illegal aliens. At a town hall meeting conducted by Barney Frank, a woman actually brought this up, and when Frank told her it would NOT cover illegal aliens, he was dared to read the bill. He promptly READ the page of the bill where it said it would not cover aliens, and was booed. Frank, getting over with me, said "You boo me because I haven't read the bill, you boo me when I DO read the bill, what do you want?" Showing more balls than most Democrats, he asked the woman who quoted the "Nazi death panels", "On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Conservative radio talk host Michael Levine said about the openly gay Frank, "Why should I listen to a guy who places his penis where other men evacuate their bowels", and I say why should I give a shit where Frank sticks his dick as long as he does the job he's elected for honestly and straightforwardly? Yes, more Democrats than Republicans ARE gay, (at least openly and not just confined to airport bathrooms or male escort services), because it seems the people who are willing to let other people live their lives as they want are predominently Democrats. What this has to do with health care remains to be established. Just another example of the Republican right wing stirring people up to fear what they do not know or understand.
How about the lunatic-fringe gun nuts who show up at the town halls carrying guns strapped to their hips in the backward states that allow this behavior? These fucking morons think that somehow they're demonstrating their rights as Americans, when all they're doing is simultaneously showing their stupidity and playing into the hands of the right-wingers pulling their strings. With the history that this country has of political violence and assasination, Lincoln, the Kennedys, King, McKinley, attempts on Ford, et al, and the volatility of the lunatic fringe, these knuckle-dragging mouth breathers somehow think that they are making a point about American freedoms and are blessed with the tacit approval of the conservatives, while making us look like a country full of neanderthals to the rest of the civilized world. Now, in a place where the first black President of the United States is going to make an appearance, they bring handguns, and in some cases semi-automatic assault rifles, to make their bizarre and ill-thought-out points and embarass America in front of the world? To give dangerous ideas to the rest of the whackos out there who buy the Republican right-wing agenda? To potentially instigate a tragedy just to show that they have "rights" when the Bush administration did more to subvert, pervert and eliminate our rights under the Constitution than any administration in the history of this country? Do they think this is 1804, and those pesky British may come back to reclaim their colonies? Or that Al Quaeda may be invading Kansas City momentarily? Or do they just want attention for a moment because their lives are lived in deserved obscurity and this is the only chance they have to call attention to themselves? Regardless, that the Republicans refuse to separate themselves from this idiocy shows that these retards are playing into their hands, whether unwittingly or willingly.
How about these accusations that Obama is a "socialist" or is advocating "socialist policies"? Another buzzword of the right to foment unrest amongst the citizenry. Firstly, there is nothing "socialist" about the idea that a government should insist on or provide for it's citizens' wellbeing. Secondly, the original tenet of Socialism according to Karl Marx was, "From each according to his ability to each according to his needs", which basically translated means those who have the ability, care for those who do not. There is nothing inherently evil about the Socialist idea, nor is it interchangeable with Communism--it is a financial system, not a political one--and even though it would not work in this country it does not mean that anyone who espouses it, which Obama of course does not, is the second coming of Adolf Hitler or Chairman Mao. "Socialism", "Communism" and other "dirty words" cited by the right are used to scare people who do not understand them and do not realize they are being used incorrectly, people whose only knowledge of those words conjures up images of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War and the scary things their parents said in their youth. More fearmongering. I have received emails from friends in Canada, a Democracy, who have stated that they would "riot" if their health care system as they have come to know it were taken away. Hey, I think Canada is as boring as everyone else here does, but that doesn't mean ALL their ideas are bad. The idea that Obama's health care plan is "Socialist" is as specious as the argument that we should all be left to our own devices in a country that levies income taxes on us and has a welfare system. If we are paying, why should the people that are paying have no benefit, but the people that are NOT paying have benefits?
The "public option", which the right-wingers have thrown the word "socialism" at, is nothing more than this--Even if health care is "reformed", the insurance companies will get together and set their prices for insurance, building in a healthy profit for themselves. The "public option" means folks will have a government-run health plan that would provide insurance at a reasonable, realistic cost, and keep the private companies "honest". The costs would not be set at whatever the private companies want to charge, but at a rate that reflects the actual cost of said services, and the private companies would have to stay competitive, or lose business. Folks would have an OPTION, which is defined in my Webster's dictionary as "The power or freedom to choose", and not have to patronize a monopoly, or a "trust" where prices for a service are set by the people controlling that service. Which, by the way, is what we have now. As of this writing, depending on who you believe, the public option may already be dead, which scores a major victory for the Republicans as it takes a lot of the teeth out of the reform. The Democrats who don't have the balls to stand up for what's right are partially to blame.
The current health care system penalizes those with pre-existing conditions, even if they didn't know they were sick before they applied for the insurance. I agree that a person whose house is on fire should not be allowed to run into an insurance office and take out fire insurance. This does not mean that those who have had insurance, but take new jobs, or switch insurance plans, should suddenly be told they're not covered because they suddenly find out they have cancer. Just when they need it most, Americans are told daily, hourly, "You've paid the premiums, you've done nothing wrong, but you should have known you have a brain tumor." Obama's plan would protect consumers from this, but that ALSO sounds a lot like Communism or Socialism to some, generally the folks who make millions from health care or insurance.
The so-called "Blue Dog Democrats" who oppose Obama's plan are doing it for one reason--they have to go back to their generally blue-collar, working-class, lack of higher-education redneck constituencies and explain to them why they voted for the progressive policies that will benefit them, but which they have been led to believe are Anti-American and thus somehow evil. These folks are listening to the conservative Christian Republicans' fear mongering, and don't have the time or apparently the intellect to investigate the facts. They better HOPE they retain the right to carry guns, they'll need them when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and they have to hunt squirrels for dinner.
How to pay for all this? Obama's idea is to roll back the Bush tax cuts, and have the Americans who have most benefitted from the free enterprise system to pay a few percentage points more. I fall into this category, Americans who make $250,000 a year or more, sometimes, and sometimes I don't. I'll tell you this--I lost nearly $400,000 on paper when the Dow Jones plummetted from 14,000 to 6500 under the Bush administration, not to mention the effect on the value of my home and land when the real estate prices dropped like a turd in a punch bowl. Under Obama, with the Dow rising from 6500 to 9500 as of this writing, after the much-reviled Stimulus plan, I have made some money back and many Americans have the option of refinancing their mortgages at lower interest rates, if they have maintained good credit. Americans weren't upset when George W. Fucking Bush committed them to the single most expensive and unnecessary expenditure the US of A ever undertook, the Iraq war, when we went after the wrong country, which has since been proven to have been either a grudge against Iraq for fucking his old man, or a holy war of Christianity vs. the Muslims, or both. They weren't upset when the Bush Administration passed reform of prescription drug costs for senior citizens, which was direly needed, but didn't provide any way to pay for it. They weren't upset when Bush handed a more than $700 billion dollar deficit to Obama after he was handed a surplus 8 years earlier by Bill Clinton, whose biggest problem was a love of pussy he wasn't getting from his iceburg wife Hillary. Now, they're worried about how he's going to pay for all of this.
The answer is, he's not going to be able to pay for any of this, and the US is going to end up like Germany in the 20's where you needed a suitcase full of currency to buy a cheeseburger, which led to Hitler gaining power, unless we get our shit together and let our leader make the decisions. We need to realize that we, for all our "rights" under the Constitution, need to move into the 21st century, politically, financially, scientifically and intellectually. We need to stop looking at people with common-sense, logical ideas as "socialists", or "communists". We need to start looking at people who espouse the ludicrous teachings of organized religion, whether it be Christianity with the story that the Earth was created in seven days and is only 6,000 years old, or the Muslim idea that martyrs will be greeted in Heaven with 72 virgins because they murdered innocent people in Allah's name, or the science-fiction teachings of Scientology, as people with turds hanging out of their mouths instead of not questioning their ridiculous ideas simply because "it's religion and it's not proper to criticize them for their beliefs." We need to realize that the conservatives of all kinds, whether fiscal, political, Christian, or whatever, are for the most part out of touch with what is going to work today. I hate change as much as anybody--my wrestling has gotten sillier, my Wendy's cheeseburgers smaller, and I don't even want to THINK about what's happened to Rock & Roll in the last 20 years--but that doesn't mean I'm against changing what isn't working to begin with! Most of all, we need to realize that the young, brilliant black guy with the new ideas is better than the old, white guy with the same tired old philosophy because, quite simply put, the new black guy is out for our best interests in the world that IS, and not the old white guy out for the special interests in the world that WAS.
People, I'm begging you--anybody with the power of reason and the intellect to devide the facts from the fearmongering, the logic from the illogic, the fact from the fiction, the idiocy from the ideology--let's get together and DEMAND progress from our politicians. Let's tell these Blue Dog Democrats and anybody else dragging their feet to get the fuck off our wagon. Today, nearly 50% of Americans have fallen for the crap and played into the hands of the Republicans, the conservatives, the Christians, the rich, the criminals, and the supporters of the status quo. Let's all nip up, those of us who know better, and try to get shit on the right track for the future. We are going to get the health care plan, and everything else for that matter, that we deserve. Let's not make it what the neanderthals who are falling for the lies of the Guns, God and Glory crowd espouse--let's make it what's right, what's fair, what's sensible, what's NEEDED. When you fight these changes, you're not preserving your "rights and freedoms as an American." You're preserving somebody ELSE'S rights and freedoms to fuck you in the ass--because as Bill Maher has said, "Stupidity is a pre-existing condition."
I'm Jim Cornette, and that's my opinion.