My fellow Americans. The ones who are eligible to vote, who are registered, who haven’t voted yet, who are open to my opinion on this. This is for you two.
This is the big one. This is the endorsement that’s gonna seal the deal, in my opinion. My friends, I believe Barack Obama deserves re-election, and not just ’cause I don’t want that creepy game show host looking guy in the White House. I believe Obama is a good person and a good president, and also has good taste because I read that he had some Gil Scott Heron on his iPod. And that blows my mind. Being friends with Jay-Z, that could be seen as a cynical ploy to attract youth, but Gil Scott Heron? That’s gotta be legit. That doesn’t appeal to any significant voting block.
There is no way Mitt Romney knows who the fuck Gil Scott Heron is. But we have a president who does. He appreciates the music and he knows about the revolution that won’t be televised and maybe he wasn’t gonna be able to be a part of that but he would do what he could in his own televised way, which was to become president. Wow.
Man, I wonder if he has any Last Poets on there? But anyway. I’m getting sidetracked here.
There’s this myth that we were supposed to get the world and didn’t get shit. That we were all convinced Obama was gonna turn our shit into rainbows, and that we should feel betrayed that he didn’t. Sure, we’re bummed that he said he was gonna close Gitmo and it still hasn’t happened. And while he did improve the economy and save the auto industry, the economy is still bad, and cars don’t talk like Knight Rider yet.
I don’t believe that somebody else in office would’ve done better, or as well, at fixing the economy. I sure as shit don’t believe that the policies Romney and Ryan are offering would improve things. And I also think people are forgetting some of the things Obama got done:
He got the troops out of Iraq. Set a time table to get them out of Afghanistan. Stayed out of the way and/or helped behind the scenes as oppressive regimes were overthrown by their own people – the spreading freedom and democracy that Bush made so many speeches about, but without having to invade anybody. And they found and killed bin Laden without blowing up the whole neighborhood. That was impressive.
The bank reforms. I don’t understand much of it, but I know one thing they did that they don’t know to brag about, because they don’t know people who live from paycheck to paycheck, is they actually changed the law so that banks can’t charge you an overdraft fee unless you opt into that program. That’s a big deal to alot of low wage people, and that got done. One less problem to worry about.
While writing this column I went back and read my ecstatic column about the election of Obama in ’08, and in that I also lamented all the setbacks for gay rights that happened in that same election. But then Obama came into office, he ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a perfect success. He publicly changed his position on gay marriage, came out in favor of it, a huge deal that I believe will help it to happen. They even said it would hurt him politically. You could tell it came from his heart. I didn’t expect Obama to do any of this. A great and historic surprise.
He spoke to the American people like adults. That was cool.
And of course there’s the one that they named after him, Obamacare. They meant it was an insult but he said “fuck it” and took it as a compliment. He had to fight and he made us wince as he made compromises to get various assholes to let it through, but in the end he got The Affordable Care Act.
Now sick people can’t be dropped from their insurance, or denied for pre-existing conditions, women can’t be charged more than men, most middle class families save thousands due to tax cuts, young people can stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26… Next year there will be caps on how high insurance companies can raise premiums and many other protections. I know my day job finally kept the same insurance plan for a couple years in a row, and things are only getting better.
This is all good, and we can build on it in the future, but Romney, to please his crazy right wing base despite his past as a pro-health care governor, has vowed to “repeal Obamacare on day 1.”
I think this says a few things about Romney’s character: that he’s so lacking in principle that he’d disavow his own greatest accomplishment to to appeal to the current whims of extremists in his party, that he doesn’t expect voters to know anything about his history or the program he’s talking about, but most of all that he’s willing to threaten the lives and well being of 32 million Americans that will have insurance by 2019 under Obamacare but won’t under Republidontcare.
I don’t care if it’s a cheap political gimmick, I don’t take the threat lightly. No, I don’t believe he could do it in one day, but he could and would get it repealed with the help of the Republican shitbags in Congress who made it their job as public servants to try to impede and water down the legislation in hopes that it would be shitty and make the president look bad. Now Romney promised them he’d repeal it, and you can take that to the bank… to the blood bank, because you’re gonna need every dollar you get if you’re bankrupted by health problems.
Who are these people who genuinely believe that the problem is too many people having health insurance? Do they honestly not know anybody who has been fucked over by their insurance company, or who can’t go to a doctor because they don’t have insurance? It’s weird that they can’t relate to this. They see it as a hypothetical, an abstract problem. But it’s not. This is not a right wing/left wing, let’s debate on a talk radio show bullshit issue, this is human lives. This is people. Think about people in your own lives and how it has affected them.
I think about a couple of acquaintances from the past decade who could’ve used health insurance. There was a guy I knew through work, didn’t know him very well, but his name was Phil. Strange guy. Had done some time at some point, told me once he’d survived a horrific motorcycle in the ’70s, wasn’t crippled or anything though. He loved martial arts movies, so that’s what I would talk to him about. He was the guy who recommended HEROES OF THE EAST to me, that’s why I reviewed that. Great movie, glad he told me about it.
One day somebody mentions to me that Phil has these tumors on the back of his neck. I hadn’t noticed them before, but when I saw them I thought it was one of the most disgusting things I’d seen, they were about the size of golf balls. We were worried for the guy, but somebody talked to him about it. He said he didn’t believe in western medicine anyway. He was gonna put some salve on it if he could afford some special mushroom. I knew he was a house painter, so he must’ve been an independent contractor, didn’t have insurance. But he wasn’t the type of guy who would complain about it, or admit that was why he couldn’t get help. Somebody convinced him he should at least go to a free clinic, gave him some phone numbers and stuff.
The golf ball sized tumors were only the beginning. I tell you, this poor guy started to look like something out of BASKET CASE. The thing grew up around his neck, exploding out a whole side of his head. It got so big it started to droop. Sometimes it would crack. Sometimes stuff would come out, he’d have to ask for a paper towel. He couldn’t move his mouth very well, his voice got weak. He’d try not talk, you could tell it was painful because his eyes would well up with tears when he did. I’d look him in the eye when I talked to him but worry that he could see my pity. He was obviously living a daily torture, but he’d turn his collar up as if he could hide it, try to turn his head away so you wouldn’t see the sick side. Try to just go on with his life and act like everything was normal.
At some point he did go to a doctor, but it was way too late. They said they could remove part of it, but it had grown into his jaw, so that would probly shatter and fall apart, and it would only slow it down a little.
We were surprised he could walk around, let alone drive. Then one day he said goodbye. “This is it,” basically. And we never saw him again.
You can talk all you want about your Tough Shit philosophy, but if so I want you to look somebody like this in the eye and tell him why access to health insurance is not for him.
A guy like Phil, too proud to ask for help, too low on the class pyramid to get coverage from an employer, he pulls the wrong card and he’s fucked. We believe in America, is this really what we want to keep doing? Wouldn’t it be cooler if our house painters had insurance and when there was a bump on their neck they could go to the doctor and have it checked out, maybe catch it early? That’s the approach I would prefer.
Maybe Phil was too stubborn, you say. Maybe he doesn’t like doctors, even if he had the coverage he wouldn’t have gone. Another acquaintance I’ve had in recent years who died of cancer, he went to the doctor as soon as he could. A guy named Chris. I don’t think he ever recommended me any Shaw Brothers movies, but he was a cool guy I wish I could’ve known better, best friend of a friend. By all accounts a great and hilarious guy, beloved by the community. He worked at a bar, his employers one year finally added health coverage, and he’d had a persistent cough and sore throat, so he went to have it checked out. Turned out he had lukemia or something. Needed bone marrow transplants. He fought it for a couple years. People came together to help him out, had benefits in his honor, paid some of his bills. I think he did better than expected, but he couldn’t beat it.
I believe in America and I think America is too good for this bullshit. We don’t need to live with a class system where if your job isn’t good enough (or your employer isn’t progressive enough) then we say tough luck, nothing I can do, you gotta die. Or you gotta lose your life savings. People have been trying to improve our system for generations. Obama finally made progress on it, and these fucking scumbags, because they’re on the other team, they want to take a hammer to it. They want 32 million human beings to look down the barrel of the gun that killed Phil and Chris and so many others.
Don’t point that fucking gun at us, Romney.
Those are the stakes, people. It’s no joke. If you are registered to vote, you better get off your ass and do it. No excuses.
There’s a pretty common attitude that voting doesn’t make much of a difference, because the two party system is corrupt and both parties serve corporate interests and there’s not that much of a difference between them and blah blah blah. I accept my own guilt in this – I just re-read what my dumb ass was saying 12 years ago in item #2 here and in this column.
But after what we’ve been through in the years since I reject this idea that it’s better to boycott a flawed system than to try to get the best we can out of it. If you lived through the Bush years and you really don’t think it would’ve been different under Gore then I don’t know what to tell you. I sure didn’t like Gore back then but oh man, do I know it would’ve been different.
And Romney would be different. 32 million less insured, at the very least.
You know what, I see “undecideds” on TV, and it terrifies me that our future depends on these nitwits who can’t look at these two and figure out which one most represents where they want the country to go. I mean jesus christ, I can only assume that undecideds are the same people who go onto the IMDb message boards and ask if so-and-so is the one in such-and-such, apparently not aware of the websight IMDb where you can look up stuff like that. These are not people who we should have to count on.
So maybe they shouldn’t vote. But you’re not one of those morons. If you’re someone who cares, who believes in stuff, who is gonna complain if shit goes bad, you better get around to filling out that ballot. And there’s more at stake than the presidency.
In Washington we got R-74, which would (will!) legalize same sex marriage. Actually the state government already legalized it, but bigots forced them to put it on the ballot before we can keep it. The very idea that the rights of a minority could be put to a vote is absurd. Of course that’s wrong. I mean, they never had white people voting to see if black people could be allowed to vote. But then again if they did, wouldn’t you have run out and voted? Or would you have been the asshole white person who doesn’t bother?
I got a buddy who told me he never votes, he’s too cynical for it or whatever. I think I successfully guilted him into doing it this time, but I want to get the word out there in case there are others like him. I trust most of you have gay friends or family, and you know that they fall in love and have relationships just like straight people do, and they should be able to visit their loved ones in the hospital and share property and inheritances and whatever else straight people do. If your religion is against gay marriage then you don’t have to take part, but your religion is not the rest of ours and it is separate from government, so it can please mind its own fuckin business when it comes to these matters.
This isn’t a right/left matter, it’s human rights and freedom and basic fairness and the government staying out of people’s lives and letting them do what they want. It’s one thing that my boys Clint and Invisible Obama can actually agree on.
So if you’re in one of the states where something like this is on the ballot, it is your duty to go out there and vote in favor of equality. I don’t want you some day to be talking to a friend about how her wife got hit by a car and the hospital wouldn’t let her in to see her because she wasn’t the legal spouse, and you gotta look your friend in the eye and say “Oh yeah, I was gonna vote for that.”
Nope. You ARE gonna vote for that. Let’s do this, people.
thanks for listening
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.