Tag: Obamacare

I Can’t Even…

 

Rather than dwell on this week’s inauguration (i.e., the monstrous legitimization of humanity’s most base and vile impulses), I will focus on the future — even though that future may be poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Perhaps the biggest quandary facing our country — in a cavalcade of complex and stomach-churning quandaries — is what our healthcare system will look like.

You see, the GOP has made it clear that Obamacare is the gravest threat facing America (well, other than the constant dread that grizzly bears will burst into our nation’s schools and eat all the students, but I digress).

So the Republican Congress is working feverishly to replace the Affordable Care Act with something more free market-like, with less big government and more choice and more freedom and blah blah blah. Yes, they have had years to come up with an alternative, and have failed miserably to do so. But to be fair, all their energy was taken up with hating on Obama. So you can see how some minor details — like a coherent proposal on a life-or-death issue — might have slipped through the cracks.

In any case, I have a question, one that I am frankly shocked that our highly paid media pundits are not asking.

Here it is: Why do we have to replace Obamacare with anything?

After all, when the ACA was first being debated, one argument we heard from the GOP and everybody at Fox News was that the America — and this is a direct quote from multiple conservative sources — had “the greatest healthcare system in the world.”

Again, we are not talking about the distant past. This was just a few years ago.

 

Now, at the time, many liberals pointed out that this was nonsense. A five-minute Google search would reveal undeniable statistics that showed the USA spent way more than other industrialized countries, got far worst results, had unhealthier citizens, and ranked shockingly low in terms of nationwide health.

But Republicans insisted that “the greatest healthcare system in the world” cliché was the pure truth, and not just bald-faced bullshit designed to rile up the ignorant and the racially insecure.

So now, years later, the Republican Party should be forced to answer a fair question.

If that was so very true, why not just repeal Obamacare and go back to “the greatest healthcare system in the world”? Surely we can just revert to a system that every American loved and never caused any problems and that got such amazing results.

Can’t you just hear every citizen clamoring for that?

Hmm, that is indeed strange. Because it seems that, even as it faces certain death, Obamacare has never been more popular.

Even many Trump voters don’t want it repealed. Of course, one has to wonder why they would vote for someone who said that he would cut off their healthcare. Perhaps it’s because they didn’t take him seriously and brushed it off as campaign rhetoric, which oddly enough, is not what they thought when they heard him babbling about building a wall or deporting every Latino and Muslim in the country.

Apparently, only the threats that applied to other people were to be taken seriously.

But speaking of Latinos, it’s clear that Hispanics have greatly benefitted from the ACA and will be punished severely if it is repealed. In fact, about 4 million Hispanics have obtained health insurance through Obamacare, and the percentage of uninsured Latinos has gone down.

That hasn’t stopped the GOP from attempting its own form of Latino outreach, which I would say is breathtaking in its cynicism and contempt for Hispanics, but come on, look who we are talking about here. The bar is pretty damn low. Hell, the bar is wedged underground at this point.

In any case, the good news is that if Obamacare is repealed, 18 million people will lose coverage the first year, and health insurance premiums would spike up to 25 percent.

You might ask, how is that good news? Well, if the ACA dies and is not replaced, “within 10 years, 32 million more people would be without health insurance [and] healthcare costs would continue to rise every year.”

That’s the bad news.

So again, I have to ask, were Republicans lying when they said America had super-duper healthcare that was the envy of the world? And if so, why the hell should we trust them now?

Clearly, they expect the American people not to remember their mendacity and horrible judgment.

Sadly… that’s a pretty good bet.

 


Crystal Ball

I admit that my powers of prediction are so-so.

After all, I didn’t think the racist misogynist would win. However, in my defense, I was the only progressive in the country who was merely surprised — as opposed to shocked, flabbergasted, and devastated — when Trump clinched the White House. I had always acknowledged it as an unpleasant possibility.

But now I’m going full-on psychic when I say that Trump will not turn America into a dictatorship, or provoke a nuclear war, or imprison every intellectual, or fulfill any of the other alarmist predictions you’ve seen from my fellow liberals.

For example, Trump’s wall on the Mexican border will turn out to be a couple hundred miles of extra fencing, if that.

There will be no deportation force that kicks 12 million people out of the country.

The First Amendment will remain intact.

And we can move on and on through the numerous other apocalyptic visions of what will happen in the next few years — they will not come to pass.

To be clear, this isn’t because Trump doesn’t want to do these things. Indeed, one of the more insane comments we heard during this most insane of presidential campaigns was that Trump didn’t really mean what he was saying, and was just riling up the base. Bullshit — he meant every word.

Also, let’s drop the delusion that Trump will somehow settle down once he takes the oath of office. The man has no intention of backing off on his reactionary agenda. He really does want to revoke the citizenship of people who burn the American flag.

But he won’t — mostly because he can’t. The first reason is checks and balances.

And I don’t mean that the Republican-dominated Congress is finally going to stand up for principles and standards and decency and other quaint concepts that the GOP sloughed off when it embraced Trump. It’s very cute to think so.

The only reason the Republican Congress will block Trump’s more egregious proposals is because it’s not worth the political headache. They will be too busy passing tax cuts for the rich and killing Obamacare and gutting Social Security — you know, standard GOP stuff. And they will send bills to Trump and say, “Sign here,” and he will do it, because he has no political viewpoint other than self-aggrandizement, and in any case, he will be too busy composing attack tweets.

So clearly, it’s going to be bad — just not “Here comes Hitler” bad.

upsidedownflag

 

And that leads to the chief reason why Trump will not shut down the New York Times, or make college professors sign loyalty oaths, or change the nation’s motto from “E Pluribus Unum” to “Bros before Ho’s.”

Oh, all that would be very Trumpian — and way too obvious.

You see, I know you were all ready to sign up for that Muslim registry (whether you are Muslim or not), just to stick it to the man and mess with the banality of evil and be all defiant. But there will be no Muslim registry. So then we’ll all relax and just shrug when surveillance on mosques is increased and hostility toward Muslims gets even worse. We’ll say, “Well, that’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

And when the new Supreme Court chips away at abortion rights, we’ll say, “Whew, I though they were going to completely overturn Roe v. Wade. So I’ll take it.”

And when voting laws continue to suppress blacks and Latinos, we’ll say, “Hey, I thought he was going to trample civil rights all at once. Close call.”

You get the picture. All this shrieking that Trump is going to be an American Mussolini does us a disservice. It primes us to be relieved when climate change is ignored, or when gun control becomes even less of an issue, or when healthcare is merely as terrible as it was ten years ago.

We are setting ourselves up to embrace the miserable, simply because it is not the horrific.

The most egregious, outrageous, and overt violations of our Constitution and societal norms will not be so easy for you to spot. They rarely are. So it will require work to fight cultural deterioration. Caving in to hysteria doesn’t help.

Of course, I could be tragically wrong on this, and four years from now our nation might be a fascistic nightmare and/or in the midst of societal collapse.

What happens then?

Well, then you can turn to me, as they march us into the thunderdome, and smirk when you say, “Told you so.”

 


A Bad Term

Marketing is everything.

For example, witness the well-documented phenomenon of many Americans despising Obamacare while still liking the Affordable Care Act (fyi: they are the same damn thing).

Or consider the worst branding decision of all time: “global warming.” As we all know, climate deniers just scoff and say, “Then why was it so cold this winter?” Such idiotic assertions are easier to dismiss with a new and improved term (i.e., “climate change”).

We are seeing the same pushback, the same dismissal of reality with the phrase “white privilege.” Now, for those who are unclear about this concept, white privilege refers to societal privileges that benefit white people beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people. We can nitpick this definition, but that would be a whole other article.

The problem with white privilege is that the concept is painfully easy to refute. I’m not talking about right-wingers who insist that racism is dead or that white people are actually the disadvantaged class in America. There’s just no reaching those people.

No, I’m referring to white individuals who hear the word “privilege” thrown at them and interpret it as an individual attack rather than as a societal fact. Their reply is frequently, “There’s nothing privileged about my life.”

Indeed, as the wealth gap increases, plenty of white people are being left behind. And many of those struggling individuals come from ethnicities that endured their own struggles in the past (and occasionally, in the present). Under such circumstances, it’s galling — even ludicrous — to be told that you are privileged.

And what have good liberals done when confronted with this response? We stammer that privileges are often invisible, or that white people are less likely to be harassed by the cops, or that we’re not implying white people have had everything handed to them on a silver platter.

SilverPlatterSized-300x274

 

That’s all true of course. But it’s also true that if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

And that’s why we need to drop the whole thing — not the concept, mind you, which is crucial to our understanding of racial inequalities and American culture itself. We need to rebrand.

This has been pointed out before, but so far we have failed to come up with a good alternative.

So let’s begin the discussion in earnest. Let’s make it a real goal to replace the needlessly confrontational term “white privilege.”

I’ll get it started. How about “white advantage”? It’s still racially loaded, but the idea of “advantage” is much easier to accept than “privilege.”

Hey, just take it as a first draft. I’m sure working together, we can come up with something better.

Because we really need to.

 


A Big Old Tangent

For the homophobic, Confederate-flag-waving guy who hates Obamacare, it’s been a tough week.

Im-with-stupid-confederate-flag

I’ll have more to say about these whiplash changes that are gripping America, and I’ll try my best to avoid gloating.

But that’s in the future. For right now, let me indulge in a little self-promotion.

First, there is my initial interview as a novelist. I’ve been interviewed before for my blogging and article writing, but this was the first one where I got to say the phrase “my book.” Anyway, here it is:

Second, there is the interview I did for my old friends at Being Latino. It too was about my novel Barrio Imbroglio. You can find that here:

And lastly, there is the interview I did for the Kindle Chronicles. This one is a podcast, so you can hear my voice and everything. Crazy! That one is here:

I’ll be talking more about my book soon. But in the meantime, I’ll be busy sending out rsvps to all the gay weddings I’ve been invited to.

It’s gonna be a fun time.


Did Dawn of the Dead Teach Us Nothing?

Congratulations to Katie F. and Andy R., who won passes to see The Lazarus Effect, the new horror movie opening this weekend.

The film is about the dead coming back to life.

lazurs1

If this ever happens in real life, I’m sure Republicans will find some way to blame it all on Obamacare.

 


Summing Up Our Favorite Topic

It’s the end of the year. So let’s address immigration one last time.

Listen, if you don’t know by now that most Americans support a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, well, I can’t help you.

But I will point out that President Obama’s recent executive decision doesn’t offer an actual route to citizenship. I know, I know. You heard that this was amnesty and the end of America and all that. But the people who are telling you this lie don’t know the difference between amnesty and Amway.

Basically, the administration is deferring the deportation of undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens or legal residents. The order also expands protection to more children who entered the country illegally with their parents (that’s right — the Dreamers). The president’s decision could mean that up to 5 million undocumented people will be allowed to stay in the country, without threat of deportation.

More than half of the undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America are now eligible to remain in America. But again, they would not be eligible for citizenship.

It’s not surprising that Latinos overwhelmingly agree with Obama’s approach. One poll shows that 90% of Hispanics support the president’s plan. Wow, you can’t even get 90% of us to agree that Shakira is hot (she is, by the way).

shakira 99
Now, undocumented immigrants themselves almost universally desire a way to legalize their situation. But many of the immigrants who are eligible for citizenship aren’t taking advantage of the offer. In fact, less than 10% of the 8.5 million immigrants who are eligible for naturalization have applied so far.

Why is this? Well, some still struggle with English, and they don’t feel confident they could pass the English-proficiency language exam. Others can’t afford the naturalization process, which usually costs $680 and is often multiplied by several family members.

Some still intend to return to their homelands, even if they have been in America for years. And yet others are afraid that it’s all a scam, and that some notario will fleece them. Remember, con artists love to take advantage of hopeful, desperate people who are reluctant to report fraud.

OK, so immigrants — Hispanic or otherwise — aren’t necessarily in a big rush to become citizens. But having the option is more than a nicety. You see, undocumented people who live in constant fear of being deported exist in a perpetual hell. And if you don’t care about that, perhaps you will care about the chain reaction of misery that cascades down upon actual citizens.

For example, many Latinos — born and raised in America — haven’t signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, because they worry that doing so could cause family members to be deported. They’re concerned that giving detailed info online will cause the INS to come knocking on their door. That’s not true, of course, but it’s understandable. And that has a very real effect on the ACA’s effectiveness and our health care system in general.

Oh wait, if you hate the president’s executive order, you probably hate Obamacare too.

Well, that explains a few things.

 


Encroachment in the Neutral Zone

Accusations of “selling out” are often flung around when Hispanics clash over controversial topics, like immigration reform or Obamacare or whether Jennifer Lopez has ever recorded a decent song. It’s an easy way to discredit your opponent while bolstering your own bona fides,

But usually, it’s all just talk. I have to admit, however, that the selling-out label may actually fit in one particular debate. And it’s over the dry concept of net neutrality.

Bonlie-Net-Neutrality-Cartoon

As we know, net neutrality is the concept that everybody should have equal access and priority on the Internet. It seems obvious enough that this is a good idea.

But telecommunications companies see an opportunity to make extra bucks by charging for access. So they’ve enlisted organizations like the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, which says that net neutrality policies could inhibit investment and leave disenfranchised communities farther behind. 

This is absurd, of course. And anyone who supports the telecoms must be getting paid off (i.e., selling out).

Sane parties, such as Latinos for Internet Freedom, point out that an open Internet means more job opportunities and better educational opportunities for Latinos. The group says, “creating new hierarchies of faster and slower websites means a new variation on the ancient theme of discrimination.”

The fight is getting personal. The Latino advocacy group Presente.org has started a petition titled, “They Don’t Speak for Us,” which harshly criticizes those Latino organizations that support the telecoms.

One way or another, the outcome will greatly affect Latino consumers’ access to the Internet. And it will provide a perfect example of what selling out really means.


The Best of Intentions

President Obama recently held a town-hall meeting to pitch the finer points of the Affordable Care Act to Latinos. And when I say, “the finer points,” I mean that he basically said, “This is driving me nuts. You should be signing up in droves.”

But Hispanics are doing no such thing, and despite the fact that “the Latino population is disproportionately uninsured and relatively young… enrollment hasn’t been going well.” This is because, like all things related to the Obamacare rollout, things were botched and fumbled.

Fumble

For example, “instead of starting with what would resonate with Latinos, outreach campaigns were developed in English for English-speaking audiences,” with the result that Obamacare details and benefits were not “directed particularly at the Latino population.”

Even more alarming, many Hispanics are under the mistaken impression “that signing up for the Affordable Care Act could get family members deported.”

So now some of Obama’s biggest supporters — who also stand to benefit greatly from the ACA, and who are also more likely than most Americans to be uninsured, and who are more at risk for some particularly vexing diseases – are cowering in fear rather than bum rushing the registration desks and swamping the ACA website.

It’s a cruel irony, and one that could have been easily avoided, if the Obama administration had put as much effort into proper outreach as they do in fending off right-wing attacks.

But a quick and easy solution isn’t coming. Indeed, at Obama’s town hall, “as the questions came, some of the challenges the president and his administration face in selling the health care law were brought into focus.”

Hopefully, they got the message.

 


Double Agents

So it looks like many of the bugs have been worked out, and Obamacare is more or less chugging along.

Or is it?

questionmark

According to some commentators, the key to the ACA’s ultimate success or failure is, as with many aspects of American society, none other than Latinos.

This is because “as the youngest, fastest growing, and least likely demographic in the United States to be insured,” Hispanics “represent a huge opportunity to inject a broad swath of young, healthy adults into the healthcare system.”

However, a mix of “cultural barriers, mixed-status families, and the delayed launch of Spanish-language enrollment tools” could limit “efforts to encourage Hispanics to get coverage.”

So will Latinos accomplish what the GOP could not? Could Hispanics kill Obamacare? 

Well, I find that hard to believe, since Latinos are among the biggest supporters of so-called socialized medicine. Unless, of course, we have been GOP spies all along who are intent on undermining Obamacare from the inside.

Wow, that’s either the best or the worst political thriller of all time.

 


A Matter of Confidence

Well, Obamacare has rolled out, and the results thus far aren’t exactly spectacular. This fiasco has illustrated the vast gap between liberals and conservatives.

Now, I’m not talking about ideology, or even about Obamacare specifically. I’m referring to the differing mindsets of the opposite ends of our political spectrum.

Simply put, conservatives are perennially more confident and exhibit greater faith in their causes. Liberals, in contrast, seem perpetually on the verge of giving up.

white-flag

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