Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Washington's Healthcare Victims

Thanks to some vigorous lobbying and political manoeuvring, President Obama finally got his cherished healthcare reform initiative through Congress. That’s great news for millions of uninsured Americans. But let’s not forget that there have been a number of healthcare victims along the way. Victims like:

Chief among the victims is Healthcare Bill himself. Starting out as a healthy piece of legislation with a guaranteed, filibuster-proof majority, Bill quickly suffered several serious setbacks and numerous cuts. Before long, Bill was on life support and appeared to be close to death. But thanks to the judicious use of pork barrel therapy and the selective application of some lucrative add-ons, the patient rallied and now looks to be on the path to a healthy recovery. Bill was finally released from Congress and allowed to sign out at The White House.

This is not the noted TV doctor but rather the junior legislative chamber of the U. S. Congress. In its youth, House had few problems and was able to deal with most health issues with a simple up or down majority vote. But over time, House’s legislative reflexes atrophied and its once quick-flowing procedural arteries clogged to the point where almost nothing could pass. Luckily, a last-ditch emergency procedure called reconciliation allowed House to once again function with a simple majority. But such a temporary fix does not guarantee the long term health of this once thriving body.

Undecided Democrats
Some Congressmen and women of the Democratic persuasion are seeking physiotherapy. Most are complaining of severe pain in their arms apparently caused by repeated twisting. Those of a liberal bent are feeling discomfort in their left arms while so-called Blue Dog Democrats are complaining of right arm pain. Those with the most pain report being assaulted directly by the Armtwister-in-Chief. Some of these patients will definitely need presidential support for their own legislative pet projects in order to avoid contracting a serious case of midterm electoral defeat.

Undecided Democrats are not the only victims of the push for healthcare reform. Virtually all Republican members of both houses of Congress have also suffered injury, many complaining of a throat ailment associated with undue ramming. They seem to have developed a severe allergy to bipartisanship and a compulsive desire to say "no" or "start over." In what appears to be an unusual epidemic, all of these individuals are suffering from an incurable form of block voting thought to have been brought on by obsessive clinging to an aging, outdated ideology.

Perhaps the most tragic victim of this entire process is Civility. For many years, Civility enjoyed generally good health and could be found associating with all camps in Washington. More recently, however, it was repeatedly abused and violated to the point where it was almost entirely destroyed. Although Civility appears to be close to death, some are hoping that it can be revived by the selective surgical removal of a serious case of political punditry.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sixty-six Dollar Bill

Republican Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina has proposed that Ronald Reagan’s face replace that of Ulysses S. Grant on the fifty-dollar bill. Rather than banish Grant from the fifty, why not create new denominations to honor Reagan and his contemporaries? New denominations like:

The 75-cent piece
We’ve got a 25-cent piece and a 50-cent piece, otherwise known as the quarter and the half-dollar. Why not a three-quarter dollar? Chances are it would be very unpopular and fade into obscurity. Thus, it would be a perfect candidate to honor the visage of America’s most recent forgotten-but-not-gone leader: George W. Bush. Who better to be labelled the six-bit president than "W" himself?

The $1 coin
From the Susan B. Anthony to the Sacagawea Americans have historically been resistant to dollar coins. But maybe it’s time to make it mandatory and get rid of the paper one-dollar bill. That’s what Canada did with its one-dollar coin informally dubbed the loonie over twenty years ago and now it’s in wide circulation. Perhaps the U. S. Mint could put Bill Clinton’s visage on a similar offering and create America’s own version of the loonie.

The $13 bill
This unlucky bill with its unlucky numeral is destined for limited circulation just like its honored president Richard Nixon. The back of the bill will have a representation of The Watergate Hotel and the front will feature Mr. Nixon with arms outspread above the quotation that says it all: "I am not a crook!"

The $66 bill
This might be a more fitting tribute for Ronald Reagan. After all, although Reagan purported to be a small-government, low-spending conservative, he reigned over the biggest spending orgy of his day resulting in a tripling of the national debt during his term in office. What better way to honor his memory than to issue a sixty-six-dollar bill representing the effective worth of a hundred dollars after his eight years as president.

The trillion-dollar bill
It’s unheard of to honor a sitting president with his face on a unit of currency. Then again, recently it was unheard of to incur a trillion-dollar deficit. Since President Obama has broken new budgetary ground, it’s only fitting that he should appear on this new bill. The back will be completely filled with all twelve zeroes of the bill’s denomination while the front will feature a portrait of Obama with the legend: "To boldly go where no president has gone before."

Monday, March 08, 2010

Eh? Canada

With millions unemployed and a soaring debt, last week’s Speech from the Throne zeroed in on one of Canada’s biggest problems by including a pledge to amend our national anthem to make it gender neutral. Although Prime Minister Harper later changed his mind, maybe it’s still time to give "O Canada" a major overhaul and make the whole song a truer reflection of who we are. Here’s the current unsatisfactory version:

O Canada!
Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

First, what’s with the "O"? Who says "O" any more? Let’s make it truly Canadian and change it to "Eh?"

"Our home"? Get serious. We don’t really own much of anything in our country. It’s more like we’re leasing it from the Americans, the Saudis and the Chinese. "Our rented home" would be a truer representation.

And "native land" is a bit misleading. Are we trying to say it’s our land or the natives’ land? Either way, the wording’s inaccurate. How about "once natives’ land"?

The next line seems to be the one causing Prime Minister Harper and his gang the most trouble. Self-styled longtime fighters against sexism, the Conservatives apparently want to change the word "sons" to something more inclusive.

But the entire line needs reworking. How many of us practice "true patriot love"? Isn’t it really more like a "convenient temporary allegiance"? And if "sons" is a problem, let’s just replace it with "folks."

If anything needs a change it’s "glowing hearts." What the heck is a glowing heart, anyway? I’m not sure but I do know a "heavy heart" when I see one. And if you haven’t noticed, Canada’s not "rising" except for our unemployment rate. "Sliding" would be more like it if you ask me.

I’m a little uncomfortable with "The True North" as well. "An American branch plant" seems more appropriate. After all, they’re the ones who keep us "strong and free."

The next line’s fine but as for standing on guard, I think that’s a bit strong. I’d prefer a more accurate sentiment like "we think mostly of me."

If "sons" is a problem, then "God" has to be changed, too. I’d turf the deity and go with a more innocuous, non-religious Canadian sentiment such as "Let’s keep our land clean and litter free."

Put it all together and you’ve got a new version of our national anthem, a non-sexist, non-deist, non-contentious version that we can all sing, if not with pride, at least with honesty:

Eh? Canada!
Our rented home, once natives’ land.
Convenient temporary allegiance in all our folks command.
With heavy hearts we see thee slide,
An American branch plant economy.
From far and wide,
Eh? Canada, we think mostly of me.
Let’s keep our land clean and litter free!
Eh? Canada, we think mostly of me.
Eh? Canada, we think mostly of me.