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.