Friday, December 25, 2009

Health Care Reform: It's The Same Old Song -- Different Singers

The health care debate is slowly coming to an end and what do we really have to show for it? The way that I see it – not a whole lot. What could have been a shining moment for our country only produced a lot of heated noise and rhetoric; and the end result is a reinforced feeling of powerlessness mixed and the knowledge that the “change we could believe in” promise is never going to come true.

I have to admit that on the night that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States – I got sucked into that whirlwind of belief that we were finally going to see some change in this country. I jumped onboard the Obama Change Train and was beginning to feel positive about this country after eight years of the politics of George W. Bush. I was looking forward to seeing policies made in Washington that would benefit the working class man and woman and not just the corporate fat cats and Wall Street manipulators. With Obama in our corner and a Democratic majority in both the house and the senate – there should not have been anything to stop our elected representatives from turning this country around and changing things for the better. Or so we thought.

Looking back at the past twelve months – Who won this health care battle? It wasn’t the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight” bunch from the Republican Party. The Republicans idea of leadership was to make up things like “death panels” or to try and convince people that there was nothing wrong with the health care system as our nation’s health care costs continued to rise and the people’s ability to pay for it increased.

The health care debate felt like a replay of the McCain presidential campaign – full of lies and fear mongering. People who wanted change to our health care system were branded as socialists. The opposition to health care reform could only equate change with big government, which in turn gave birth to the tea bag protest movement that fueled the health care debate with images of Obama as Hitler and comparisons of “Obama Care” to Nazi death camps.

The Democrats are not walking away from the health care debate looking much better than their Republican counterparts. In January – we were to believe that with the Obama’s change team in office things were finally going to be different only to find out in December that it’s politics as usual in Washington. It’s hard for me to look at the Democrats passing the health care bill in the Senate as a victory when two Democratic Senators were given a sweetheart deal for their states that has the other 48 states shouldering the cost of health care reform. That’s not a victory – it’s the same kind of old backroom politics that got us into this health care miss to begin with.

Now that we have seen how the Obama team has handled health care reform – what do you think the odds are for them to reform the banking system that will prevent another economic meltdown from happening again? I’ll be honest with you – it doesn’t look good – but he wanted to job – but don’t try to sell us on “Change we can believe in”, Mr. President – because we know that that’s one promise you can't deliver on.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I Wish I Knew What I Know Now...When I Was Younger

There’s a new television drama/comedy on TNT called “Men of A Certain Age” that looks at three men who are going through a mid-life crisis. The music that they are using to promote the premiere of the show is an old Rod Stewart song called “Oooh La La” that has a refrain in it that says: “I wish I knew what I know now (when I was younger)”…which brings me to this:

Some Things I Wished I Knew What I Know Now (When I Was Younger)

#1) Girls don’t have cooties. There are a lot of thing that girls do have, but I have come to the conclusion that cooties isn’t one of them. I wouldn’t doubt that somewhere on this vast planet that there are scientists in a lab trying to document the “girls have cooties controversy”, but they’re just wasting their time and money in doing so – because once you get to know girls you discover that you let the fear of cooties get in your way of getting to know them. Trust me -- girls are ok.

2) Sooner or late – we all become our parents. While attending Northern High School in Flint, Michigan some forty-one years ago, I was a walking “Hey Look At Me” billboard. If weighing in at some three hundred or so pounds with hair that went down to the middle of my back wasn’t enough to get your attention then maybe the white bib overalls that I tie-dyed four different colors could get you to turn your head. My divorced parents were basically split on “the look” I had in high school….Mom basically accepted me for who I was and didn’t make a big deal out of it – but my Dad with his flat top haircut hated “my hippie looking ways”.

As I have gotten older a lot of things have changed – especially when it comes to my hair. What once flowed down to the middle of my back has now turned gray and is now even shorter in length than what my Dad’s hair was when he died. How in the hell did that happen? Who knows? As I have gotten older, I have found myself saying things out loud that our parents use to tell us. I’m usually taken back by what I have said , because even though it was my voice that spoke the words there was a voice of one of my parents in my head that shoved the words out of my mouth. Most of the time that voice was my Dad and every time “his voice” enters my head it scares the shit out of me. It scares the shit out of me only because it reaffirms that no matter how hard we fight it -- we eventually become our parents.

#3)In looking back…I know that I made a memorable impression on people when I was young and back then I enjoyed making that kind of flamboyant statement – but when I see kids today – Oy Vey! Kid’s hair today is pretty short – compared to when I was a kid – but when they dye it purple, green or some day-glo pink color you have to say….(reverting back to “the we have become our parents” theme)….what the hell! Now add the piercings and the tattoos – the sometime Goth look – and I find myself asking why do they have to look this way….but then I remember the bib overalls and long hair that I wore and I really don’t have a right to judge them. In the not too distant future, the kids of today will have their “ah ha” moment and when they come to that intersection where youthful expression takes a backseat to the realization that you’re an adult and you have to act like one. (I just wonder how they’re going to hide the tattoos and piercings.)

#4) When you’re young…If you read the newspaper – it was to find out what time “Star Wars” was playing at the local movie theater or to check out the box score of your favorite baseball team – you never read the newspaper for the news. Duh! Then slowly but surely, you're not checking the times at the movie theaters anymore and you start to become interested in some of the news stories and articles in the paper; and then before you know it the first thing that you go to when you grab the daily newspaper are the obits. If we just went to the obits and read them that would be find, but then we take it another step further by reading them aloud and then asking our friends or significant others, “Did you see who died today?”. Then you have long discussions about the deceased person. Then you attend the person’s funeral, because believe it or not, funerals have become a social event. You check out all of the people and wonder aloud why this person or that person didn’t attend the funeral. All I got to say is if I would had known when I was younger that death plays a big part in your life when you get older, I would have invested a little money in a better suit.

5) Enjoy it while you can. When you’re young, you can do anything. You’re indestructible and nothing’s going to harm you. When you’re young, you can get shit-faced drunk and laugh off the hangover the next day. When you’re young – you don’t think twice about eating this or doing that – you just did it. It’s only when you get older that you have to deal with some medical professional in a white coat telling you, “You can have pizza, but only in moderation – have a piece, not the whole pie.” Or be asked" “Is there diabetes in your family?” Or be told: “I think that it’s could be tumor – I’ll set up some tests.” Or you have to deal with the ball buster of ball busters: “I got the results back from the lab and I’m going to set up an appointment for you with Dr. So and So because I think you might have.....”

It's like the song says...I wish that I knew what I know now…when I was younger. Ooooh La La!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

2009 -- Who Cares -- A Year In Review

We’re approaching the end of another year and you know what that means – a lot of people and their lists of what they thought was the best and what was the worst (fill in the blank) of the year. I’m not going to some best or worst list – mine is going to be a little different – so allow me to present to you:

Rich Frost’s Who Really Cares List for 2009

News bulletin -- Michael Jackson is dead. Who cares! I have no desire whatsoever to rush out to my local movie theatre to see “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” or even rent a DVD of the movie when it’s released; and I could care less about seeing with any member of the Jackson family talk about their brother Michael in exclusive interviews with Larry King, Barbara Walters or Anderson Cooper.

A lot of people are wondering if I am I going to read Sarah Palin’s book? Here’s a quick answer -- Hell no! Sarah Palin wrote a book -- Who fucking cares! It’s incredible how someone as stupid has gone so far doing so little in such a short amount of time and in the process has managed to attract people who not only support her, but will seriously defend her to the end of the earth. Has the pool of legitimate political candidates hit rock bottom or what? How can one take Palin seriously when she actually says that CBS’s news anchor Katie Couric does “gotcha interviews”? Having watched Palin on the talk shows during her recent book tour has only reinforced my opinion that one day historians will proclaim the Sarah Palin era of American politics as “the ultimate dumbing down of America”. Whether we're talking about the book or the politician -- when it comes to Sarah Palin -- all I have to say is "Who cares!!!!"

The movie “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” has taken in some $230 million in at the box office in its first ten days. Who cares? The phenomenon surrounding the “Twilight” movies and the books is crazy. ‘Twilight Fever’ has even affected people who I never would have expected to get hooked by a hokey vampire/love story series, and what’s even more amazing, these people aren't afraid to make public their love for the Twilight series. Me? I could care less.

It was announced five years ago that Conan O’Brien would become the host of the “Tonight Show” on NBC in 2009 and it took the brain trust at NBC a few months in 2008 to finally figure out what to do with Jay Leno to keep him in the fold. What was their solution? Get rid of scripted dramas and move Jay Leno to 10 o’clock. NBC network brass will be the first to admit that Leno at 10 saves them lots of money not having to produce those expensive dramas – but you’d be hard pressed find anyone at NBC that will admit to the show being a colossal failure for the network and the affiliates who carry it. Jay Leno has always been a lousy interviewer – now combine those lousy interview skills with such audience attention grabbers such as “Earn Your Plug” (where celebrities have to do something to earn the right to plug their new movie); or where celebrity guests are timed doing two laps around a race track in an electric car and you can easily see why people are tuning out Jay Leno at 10 in droves….Who cares!!!

Remember when there were just a couple of reality shows on television and we either watched them or didn't? Those were the days – now we can’t get away from these damn reality shows. We have literally have people bumping into other people for their fifteen minutes of fame. We have housewives and chefs, drug addicts, sex addicts and people wanting to be the next superstar model or top forty idol. It has gotten to the point that in 2009 reality TV stars are bumping into one another just so they can get a taste of that elusive fifteen minutes of fame that Andy Warhol warned us about. I say, “WHO CARES!!!!!”

This last past year – we have had to deal with Kate and Jon and all of their kids and the freak show known as “the Octomom”. Then there’s the parents of the ‘balloon boy’ who were so desperate to become reality TV stars that they perpetrated a hoax that captured the attention of the cable news networks eager to fill up air time and had the nation worrying about whether or not a little boy was floating in the air aimlessly in what looked like a Jiffy Pop popcorn like flying saucer.

We can't forget about the tiff that went on between Miss California and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton about gay marriage and now we have a reality TV star wannabe couple crashing a White House state dinner that raises the bar on what people will do to become famous. I would like to say “Who cares” about this incident – but it would only challenge the dumb to do even dumber things for us to write about in 2010.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

East Side Memories

What has become of one of those “showplace homes” on the east side during the 60s-80s. (Photo courtesy Google Earth)

I lived a good half of my life on the east side of Flint, Michigan – residing mostly in the working class Franklin/Dort Hwy/Leith Street area and not the more affluent East Village part of the east side.

The neighborhood that I lived in was definitely what you would call “working class” – where people had dreams about buying that cottage up north with all of the overtime money they were making at one of the General Motors plants in town. My neighborhood was a good neighborhood – where neighbors talked to one another and wouldn't think twice of coming to your aid in time of need. I can’t tell you how many times one of our neighbors mowed our lawn and never charged us – but it was many. And my Mom wouldn’t think twice about making an extra pumpkin or cherry pie for one of our neighbor’s Thanksgiving table.

Like any good neighborhood – there were characters like Mr. Marcel (not his real name) – an old man of Indian heritage who would come home at night and sit on the front porch in his boxer shorts. If was a hot enough summer night – Mr. Marcel would end up sleeping on the front porch. If Mr. Marcel was late coming home – the odds were pretty good that he was sampling the beverages on tap at the old Cozy Corner bar.

Then there was the German woman with two children that was getting a divorce from her husband who people loved to tease because of her thick German accent.

And when it comes to characters – you can’t forget about me – the first hippie in the neighborhood. Yup, I was the kid with hair that went down to the middle of my back who wore white bib overalls (that I tie-dyed with three different colors) and played Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” on his record player loud enough for the entire block to hear it. Needless to say – my hair, clothes and the music that came blaring out of my record player speakers made a statement and it’s a pretty safe bet that I was the talk of a few dinner conversations in that east side neighborhood in the 60s through the 80s.

The east side of Flint – there was no place like it. You could sleep at night with your doors wide open and actually feel safe. Neighbors would not only lend a helping hand – they would watch out for you and keep you informed of anybody who stopped by your house or even asked about you. It’s not like that any more and probably never will be again.

I feel sad when I drive though the east side of Flint today – homes that people once took pride in and were the showplaces of the neighborhoods are now either boarded up or are over run by weeds and garbage. People that lived in my old neighborhood felt safe – now they live in constant fear that their house might be burglarized or that a drive-by shooting could happen at any time.

If there’s one thing that I can point to that illustrates just how much things have changed on Flint’s east side – it was when I was driving by St. Mary’s Church on a Saturday about a year ago or so. I don’t know if there was a wedding going on at the church or if they were holding Saturday services – it’s what I saw happening in the parking lot at the church that surprised me. While people were inside the church worshipping – hired rent-a-cops were in the parking lot of the church watching over the cars. I couldn’t help but mumble to myself, “That’s just not right…that’s just not right.” Has it come down to the church having to hire people to protect the parishioner’s vehicles while they’re receiving the Lord’s word? It looks that way at St. Mary’s and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other churches in the Flint area that have to do the same thing.

Things will never be the same on Flint's east side -- but at least we have the memories.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sesame Street Remembered

Forty years ago – if someone would have told you that a television show featuring a big yellow bird, a Cookie Monster, a couple of guys named Bert and Ernie and a vampire that would teach kids to count would revolutionize children’s television – you’d probably think they were nuts. Well, kids – it was forty years ago that a little show from the Children’s Television Workshop called “Sesame Street” premiered on public television stations across America and it turned kids TV on its head and changed children’s television forever.

Forty years ago – most television stations popped on “Popeye”, “Bugs Bunny” and “Beany And Cecil” cartoons or dusted off the “Our Gang” or “Three Stooges” film shorts from the 30s and 40s and they called that “children’s television. The cartoons and films shorts were money makers for the TV stations and there was really no thought behind the programming that they were airing for children. TV stations figured that they were entertaining kids and the shows were attractive to the advertisers that wanted to sell them sugared cereals, candy bars and soda pop and that’s all that mattered to them.

Then there was “Sesame Street” – a children’s program that was unlike any other at the time. The people at the Children’s Television Workshop figured out a way to do a television program that not only entertained young minds – but educated them as well. While the commercial television stations aired old cartoons sponsored by toy companies tied to the programming that they were airing – “Sesame Street” was sponsored by the letters A, G, and P and the number 3. A children’s television show sponsored by letters of the alphabet and numbers – now that’s crazy – crazy like a fox.

By combining the talent of Jim Henson’s Muppets and children educators from around the country – the Children’s Television Workshop created a program that not only entertained children – adults like it as well and parents discovered that TV could be more than a babysitter -- it could be a tool in the education of their children.

When “Sesame Street” premiered forty years ago – my hometown of Flint, Michigan didn’t have a public television station at the time. There were public TV stations in Lansing, Detroit and at Delta College – but they were on the UHF band which wasn’t that easy to tune it and cable television had yet to really make any inroads – so, the only thing that we knew about “Sesame Street” was what we were reading about the show in the newspapers or weekly newsmagazines.

I was in 10th grade at the time when “Sesame Street” debuted on public television and I can remember stopping in to a friend’s house after school one day to watch “Sesame Street” for the first time. My friend had a antenna on his house with a rotor and he could pick up the signal of the Detroit public television station that was airing the show. Here I was a 10th grader in front of a television set watching show where a puppet monster ate cookies, another puppet lived in a garbage can, and another puppet sang a song about his “rubber ducky” and I’ll be damn if I wasn’t entertained by it all – but when will the rest of my hometown be able to see this show.

Because of the popularity of “Sesame Street” – a commercial television station (WJRT TV 12) did something unusual for a commercial television station at the time – they worked out an agreement with public television and the Children’s Television Workshop to air “Sesame Street” on a commercial broadcast station with no commercial interruption. “Sesame Street” continued to be sponsored by the letters of the alphabet and numbers – but TV 12 wasn’t allowed to sneak in any commercials for any hamburger chains or even promote their own “Bozo” show that aired later in the day. Imagine a commercial television today giving up five hours a week of air time to air a children’s television show from public television – it ain’t gonna happen – but things were a lot different forty years ago.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Byte Me -- You Gotta Love Them Computers

Can we talk? The odds are pretty good that if you’re reading this entry in my blog that you own a computer. It might be a top-of-the-line computers or one of the lower priced E models that you can get at Wal-Mart – but it’s a computer. The odds are also pretty good that no matter how much you paid for your computer – it has done something to piss you off. Whether its froze up on you and you had to reboot the damn thing to get it to work again or you hit the wrong button and you lost whatever you were working on in the ether of your computer or somewhere in the vastness of the world-wide web – your computer at one time or another has pissed you off.

I was literally tied to a computer when I wrote commercials and handled the production department for a group of five stations in Michigan. The computer made my job a little easier – instead of having to get my fat ass up and in the production room to get commercials recorded and in the studios – I could pretty much do everything from my office desk with a fresh cup of coffee by my side. It was nice – but there were those times when you wished that these damn computers never existed – like when your system crashes and you have to retrace your steps because everything that you had done that day is lost.

Computers – they’re not the most reliable invention ever made – yet we have accepted and embraced them and have made them a vital part of our life.

Now, imagine paying top dollar for an automobile that decides that it is only going to let you drive no faster than 30 mph on that day that you have to get that throbbing tooth yanked out of your mouth at the dentist office. On other days this car could run fast enough to qualify for the Indy 500 -- but on this day it's 30 mph and no fast – I’m sure you would get a little pissed. You want that tooth out now and this expensive car is making you wait a little longer.

At that point, you would probably take this car back to the dealership and say, “What gives?”

But what if he said to you, “Hey, they do that sometimes. All you have to do is turn off the car and restart it again – you know – reboot your car – and the car will work the way you want it to.” You would be so angry they would probably have to put you in restraints to prevent you from driving that car though the display room windows.

Why is it that we can accept a computer that occasionally freezes up or a computer that runs slow – even though you have a decent internet provider? We wouldn't accept a car (or any other product) that we had to reboot to get it to run the way it should – but with a computer – we embrace (and tolerate) all of their imperfections and we cherish those days when our computers run the way that they’re suppose to, because we know that tomorrow our computer can make our life a living hell.

Why am I writing all of this now? The answer is pretty simple. My computer is taking a break today from running slow, freezing up and popping up with messages about my installation and allowing me to share this with you – and tomorrow might be another story.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Only In America

The year is 2009 and there are a couple of events that took place in this country that will be remembered for a long time. On January 20, 2009 – Barack Obama became the first black American to take the oath of office as the President of the United States. Millions of people descended upon Washington, D.C. to witness this historic occasion and billions of people around the world had a front seat to history being made when they watched the swearing-in ceremony live on television.

Another television event took place in 2009 that some people never thought would ever happen. After years of planning and discussion – broadcasters in America finally converted from broadcasting an analog television signal to broadcasting a digital signal.

One of the reasons that broadcasters made the switch to digital was because of America’s need for more frequencies for cell phones and emergency services – frequencies that were being used by the television industry. One of the selling points for the switch to digital was the promise of a clearer picture and more programming choices….but the switch wouldn’t be easy. To get these new digital signals meant that we would have to purchased a new digital television set or a converter box that would allow us to watch the digital signals on our analog television sets.

Not everyone can afford to go out and plop from $399-$1500 on a new television set and our government knew that – so Congress funded a program that would give all Americans who asked for them – not one, but two coupons (valued at forty dollars each) for a digital converter box. You had to have been living under a rock if you didn’t see your favorite television station advertising the switch to digital and how you could get your free digital converter box coupons. Over $1.3 billion dollars was spent on providing these coupons so that America could continue to enjoy watching “free TV”.

Recently, I got a chance to see one of free digital converter boxes that was purchased with one of the two free coupons that a friend of mine received in the mail. One of the first things that surprised me was seeing how small this converter box actually was – I have read books bigger than this box was.

The other thing that surprised me about this converter box was actually something that was written on the cardboard box that it came in. There was a warning on the box about not returning the converter box to the store where you “purchased” it with the coupon should it be defective – because of the box was a part of a government-financed program. I could see millions of people using the free coupons, buying the boxes and then trying to bring them back for a cash refund – so that warning made sense to me.

What really surprised me about this digital converter box were the three little words that followed the warning about not returning the box to the store it was purchased…those three words:


What! Congress allocated more than $1.3 billion on digital converter boxes made in China! Don’t you think that someone in Washington could have put some sort of stipulation on who manufactured these converter boxes and had them made in the good ole U.S.A.? Imagine how many jobs could have resulted had they stipulated that the boxes be manufactured in America. Well, that’s Washington for you and another one of those “Only In America” stories that has us screaming at our elected officials – “What in the hell were you thinking?”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Twitter Picture

The woman in the picture above isn't country music star LeAnn Rimes -- although she looks a little bit like her. Nope, this woman just happens to be the daughter of a U.S. Senator and last year's Republican candidate for President of the United States. Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks to her posting this picture on her Twitter page, let me introduce you to Meghan McCain. Nice picture, huh?

Why did she post this picture? Good question and one she answered a couple of days later in her column at

Meghan writes:

"Could it be it's because I have breasts? Because for those of you who didn't know, I have two. They're larger than some women's and not as big as others. I don't usually show off my cleavage—as I did in the photos I posted—which I will admit is not the smartest thing I have ever done.

For years I have struggled to accept the fact that the way I look in a tank top comes off more “sexual” than a flat-chested woman. And once again I was reassured by the media that someone with my cup size should always be covered up. Or what, I’ll be seen as a slut? It’s pathetic we can come so far in so many ways, but when Rep. Aaron Schock or Rep. Jeff Flake post pictures of themselves without their suits on—and their shirts, for that matter—they are proclaimed “hotties.” But put me in a tank top and I am suddenly an embarrassment to the Republican Party and women everywhere. The double standard is infuriating.

It's amazing what you can learn. And I've certainly endured my share of harsh comments from those who follow me. But yesterday was the first time it really wasn't fun. It's not easy to be called a slut. But I'm not giving up my Twitter just yet—I'm just going to be more judicious in how I use it. At the end of the day, I am a work in progress. I am not perfect and have never given anyone the assumption that I am. I turn 25 next week and I am still adjusting to the glare of the spotlight and making mistakes.

This is the last time I’ll ever address this non-scandal but at the very least I hope other girls can learn from this episode before they post any kind of photo online. I know I have learned a valuable lesson about the Internet and the boundaries between personal and public use with social media.

I just wanted to get that off my chest."

What more can I say? I would never in my life call Meghan McCain "a slut", but posting that picture is probably one of the dumbest things that she has ever done. Meghan, you of all people know how politics and the media works and you should have known that posting a picture like this just gives the media a reason to get you off of any other message that you wanted to get out to the public.

And I'll be honest with you -- I'm a normal guy and I enjoyed looking at the picture -- but it sure was stupid to post it on your Twitter page. Lesson learned and life goes on.

Come Back To CNN, Ted

Ted Turner, the founder of the world’s first twenty-four hour news network CNN, was recently interviewed on the Bloomberg business channel about CNN and some of the other properties he once owned. In this interview – Turner said that he would love to be able to run CNN again – because he would run things a lot differently than what’ is being done now and you want to know something – I would welcome the return of Ted Turner to CNN – but it’s not going to happen.

I miss the old days of cable news. I miss being able to go to CNN and actually watch a newscast where we would actually see reporters in the field reporting the news all around the world. News reports where the reporter actually has to cover a story – get the interview with the people in the news – and put it together in a package piece to air in a news cast. And if someone blurted out some fact -- the reporter actually had to fact check what was said before they aired it. We don’t see those kind of newscasts on CNN or the other two cable news networks – MSNBC and Fox News – and we probably never will again.

Today – with few exceptions – what the cable networks call news is just non-stop talking heads and so-called experts yelling and screaming at each other hour after hour. It’s the same people each and every day bitchin’ about this and bitchin’ about that and Monday morning quarterbacking – not reporting – what’s happening in Washington every single day of the week.

I don’t care if it’s Chris Mathhews or Sean Hanniety, Glenn Beck or Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Lou Dobbs, or Bill O’Reilly – cable news viewers are getting more volume and vitriol than we are the news. Every day and every night – these “so-called news hosts” ride the same trick pony of punditry. Some are going to call Obama everything other than the President of the United States and leader of the free world; and the other guy is going tell us that if the other side wasn’t such God-fearing homophobic racists this country would be a better place to live.

I have this to say to all of them at CNN, MSNBC and Fox News: Enough is enough! All of these networks have a news slant and a news bias – it’s just that at a couple of these networks the bias is a lot more obvious – and none of them are really doing news. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News are doing “talk TV” and the talk that they’re doing is more divisive than it is informative. It’s time that all of these networks actually started to report the news of the day and quit turning the information we need to know into some screaming town hall sound bite. I’m sure if Ted Turner could come back and run his old news network – we would truly have a twenty-four hour news network – but that’s not going to happen anytime soon – and I’m sad to say – the anger and the volume on our so-called cable news networks isn’t going to go away any time soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is There A Doctor In The House?

About five or six years ago, I was watching a news program, something like “60 Minutes” or “20/20”, and they did a really long piece about the day in the life of some politician in Washington. This politician, whose name I can’t remember, talked in great detail about the frustration of his job. His frustrations weren't what you would think they’d be -- nope -- this politician was saying that once you get elected to an office a lot of your time is consumed by making sure that you stay in office. He mentioned that it seems like a day doesn't go by that he doesn’t have to attend some fundraiser for himself, his party or one of his colleagues – which means a lot of those $200-$300 a plate benefits with constituents and who knows how many meetings and get-togethers with the lobbyists or the political action groups that helped him get elected.

Now, let’s go forward to what’s happening today in Washington, D.C. with health care reform. I can’t tell you if that politician that I watched years ago is even in office today, but I’m sure things haven’t changed when it comes to what a politician has to do to stay in office today; and that's to continuously raise money for the next election campaign.

And when it comes to health care reform – it’s a safe bet that these politicians aren't listening to the people who voted them into office – they’re concentrating more on the special interest groups that put them into office. You know who these special interest groups are – the insurance companies, the drugs companies, lawyers, etc. – all of those people that have a vested interest in making sure that they things don’t change and they can continue making money hand over fist while more and more people are losing medical coverage or going bankrupt trying to finance hospital and doctor bills.

I want to scream every time I see a politician in Washington being interviewed on one of the cable news channels that says that there isn’t a health care crisis in America and there are a lot of politicians out there who believe that. Who in the hell are they fooling? They should get away from their comfortable office in Washington and away from their staff (who I'm sure are handsomely paid and who's job gives them fantastic medical coverage to boot); and they should stay far far away from the lobbyists and influence peddlers and take a up close and personal look at America’s broken health care system.

They can see what health care in America is really like by visiting a free clinic. The free clinic in the area where I live is only open three days a week from 8 am until noon. Although the doors to the clinic open at 8 am – there are people lining up outside the door at 3 o’clock in the morning so that they can hopefully be seen by a doctor or be given the medications that they need to live. It doesn't

matter if it’s the middle of the summer or some of the coldest days of winter – people still line up outside of the clinic at 3 o’clock in the morning. The people know that if they get in line at 3 o’clock in the morning – there’s a good chance they’ll be seen – if they get to the clinic any later – their odds diminish because the clinic can only take twenty or so people each day. When the doors open at 8 and you’re number 21, 22, 23, 24….they’ll tell you that they’re sorry and invite you to come in tomorrow and play the waiting game again, but there are no guarantees that you’ll be seen if you’re stuck being number 21+ again the next day.

The people that you will find waiting in line at the free clinic aren’t bums or drug addicts. Some of the people that come to the free clinic work and have jobs but can't afford health care. Some of the people who come to the clinic have just fallen on hard times and the free clinic is their last resort and hopefully their key to feeling better. I’m sure that some of the people feel bad about having to come to a free clinic for medical attention – but they soon discover that the volunteers and the doctors who work there have an incredible amount of love and compassion for their patients and they are treated more like a person than they would have had in any other doctor's office. Patients at a free clinic discover that there is someone that cares about them and their health care needs.

One of the drawbacks about this free clinic and probably others around the country is the waiting. Because of the demand for health care and the need to see a doctor -- you have to do a lot of waiting. On top of waiting in line outside to get into the clinic – there’s more waiting once you get inside to see a doctor – and once you see the doctor – there’s the additional wait for you to receive your medications. A visit to the free clinic can begin at 3 in the morning and end some nine hours later and although the hours of waiting can be long – the patients at the free clinic are grateful for everything. How do I know? I was one of those patients for nearly a year and I don’t know what I would have done without them.

I just wish that all of the politicians who are deciding what changes that need to be made to our health care system would take a break from their special interest groups and lobbyist friends and visit a free clinic. Let them see first hand what people with no insurance, no job or money has to do to get relief from pain and sickness. And these politicians shouldn't be allowed to be whisked in to the clinic for a quickie visit with the doctors and volunteers – nope, they should wait outside for four hours or so with everyone else – trying to keep warm when the temperatures are in the teens. And, I wonder how that politician would feel after waiting for hours on end to be told that the clinic had reached their quota for the day and would have to come back again tomorrow. Once they had to face something like that -- maybe, just maybe they would find it hard to deny that America’s health care system isn’t broke and actually work to fix it.