Wednesday, September 30, 2009

While Rome Burns...

Anyone who knows me, knows I have never cared for Obama. I have always been suspicious about his motives for being President, suspecting that he prefers being a celebrity rather than being President of the United States. I was never impressed with his speechifying -- his words are like pretty bubbles that float up into the air and have no substance. As a Canadian, I am not invested in what he has to say, and his promises of "hope" and "change" do not affect me. Unfortunately my opinions of Obama have caused me some difficulty with the Obamamaniacs on both sides of the border, but whether it is a blessing or a curse, I am often able to see people as they really are. I was right about the disengenuous John Edwards, when he was still the front runner for the Democratic nomination, and I feel very strongly that I am right about Obama too. Obama is fiddling while Rome burns.

I sometimes feel like the small child in Hans Christian Anderson's story about yet another legendary emperor; as his procession passes by the child yells, "The emperor is naked!" No one wants to hear it, because it does not admit failure on the part of Obama, but rather on the people who elected him in good faith. (And no, I am not a Republican, or the Canadian equivalent...)

One of Obama's campaign promises was, "I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year." The main part of that promise was the public option, which was shot down yesterday, and so far it looks as if Obama is missing in action. He seems to be more interested in campaigning for the 2016 Chicago Olympics rather than being a strong President and fighting for something for which the American people elected him. It looks as if the health care reform in the U.S. will end up being more like insurance company reform, with the insurance companies monitoring themselves. It's all about business and profits, and nothing to do with health care.

I read the following on a blog the other day, "There are other insufficiently addressed problems with unionized government workers providing healthcare. Some of it has been quite forcefully said: chances of survival of cancers and other life-threatening diseases are much greater in the U.S., than, say, in England or Canada, where rationing plays the main role in holding down costs. That is to say, some of healthcare savings may be paid for with higher mortality." That is complete bullsh*t -- pardonnez mon français. I work in the health care system, and there is no rationing in Canada. Ever. Is that that sort of nonsense upon which people have based their decisions?

Everyone loves Americans, and it's really sad to see them being jerked around this way. They elected a President to represent their interests, and that is not happening. Polls have suggested that anywhere from 65% to 76% of Americans want the public option in their health care reform. Canada has a population of 33.7 million people, all with universal health care. France has a population of 65 million, all with universal health care. America has a population of over 305 million, and a huge percentage of them -- larger than the whole population of Canada -- have no health care coverage at all. Another large percentage, greater than the population of France, have less than substantial health care coverage.

American folks need to hold Obama's feet to the fire. The first thing they need to do is to get a large bowl of popcorn, sit down for an hour and a half and watch Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko". Love him or hate him, Moore's movie on health care in other countries will be a real eye-opener. Health care should be about helping people who are ill, not about making a profit from them.

The rest of the world all hopes the best for the American people, and at the very least they deserve an effective President. Obama needs to show some leadership, and have a "stern chat" with the five of his fellow-Democrats who voted down the public option. I do hope Obama will prove me wrong, but I have my doubts...


Russell said...

Could it be? Could I actually be ... FIRST??! Heh!! Whoaaa!!

Oh, I suppose I should comment... hmmm... what to say? Well, I hope Chicago gets the 2016 Olympics! That's only 6 hours from my house! Then again, maybe I don't....

Wait! How 'bout Des Moines!?!

Well... okay. Maybe not...! Better hope (!) for Chicago!

Jo said...

Russell, well, Vancouver will have the 2010 Olympics. I will let you know how that works out. :-) My guess is it will be chaos, but fun.

cat said...

I am not a fan of Obama or the public option. I agree that there needs to be healthcare reform, but not at the hands of politicians. I worked in the healthcare field for 7 long years and saw many people on government healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid) who completely abused the system, with their expensive cars, jewelry and sense of entitlement while I worked hard to provide for myself and pay for my insurance and did not qualify for any type of govt assistance, insurance or for my education. And now as a military spouse in the military healthcare system, there is a complete breakdown of patient/doctor relationship, instead it is about making sure you follow their rules, even if it is at the expense of your health. I know everyone has different experiences and b/c mine has been bad doesn't mean it has been for everyone in the military.
I think people are scared of having the government involved in their healthcare decisions after the govt has proven time and time again that when they get involved in something, it is a disaster. If their intentions were to genuinely provide good, affordable healthcare for everyone, I would be more enthusiatic about it, but in my heart I feel that it is a power grab, designed to expand the politicians careers and pocketbooks.
And just so you know Jo, thanks to all of your wonderful posts on Canadian healthcare, I have been able to correct some misinformation among my friends and family. :)

Katy said...

I read somewhere the other day that "hope is the willingness to live without resolution or closure." (Richard Rohr I think).

Now that was not said in a political context, but it given the way Obama has handled things (esp. health care) I find that his campaign slogan fit him better than I could ever have imagined.

SparkleFarkle said...

We are definitely on the same page with this Obama thing. His wife's arms are overrated, too.

Inty swetha said...

Jo you make me laugh and think! I don't like Obama either, and i don't think he will fulfill all his promises! But i hope he will one day!

Jo said...

Cat, if you had the same public option that we have in Canada, or even France, I think you would be very happy. The man who initiated universal health care here in Canada was voted the Number One Canadian -- of all time -- by Canadians. But I do understand your fear -- your government is much larger than ours.

Katy, oh my goodness, you have stated it so succinctly. I could not have said it better myself...!

SparkleFarkle, Oh, yes, I did a whole post about Michelle Obama's arms. She could give Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money. *Heh*

Inty Swetha, well, time will tell. However, I am not going to hold my breath. :-)

DUTA said...

Jo, it's not what Obama wants to be; it's what he can be. I doubt it he can be even the President of Burundi.

Now , you say as a canadian, you're not going to be affected. One never knows; America might have to kind of "swallow" Canada, when things enter into their worst phase.

Jo said...

DUTA, you are so right...! Unfortunately, whatever happens in America directly affects Canada. We are America's largest trading partner, just for starters, plus we are right next door. We have much more of a vested interest in what happens there than anyone realizes.

susie said...

Well, it seems to me that the more the government gets it's hands into, the more we pay and pay and pay, and whatever they are monkeying with stops functioning.

Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of Wall Street, or all the overpaid CEO's.

Obama is having problems fulfilling his promises, and seems to be running off all over the world instead of doing his job.

The politicians are more interested in keeping their well paid jobs with all their wonderful perks than in helping their constituents.

What does this say about America?
Do you have the same problems?

PhilipH said...

I only know what the tv and newspapers report about Mr. Obama. He seems to be better educated than his predecessor, that awful Bush fellow (how did such a buffoon ever get to hold such high office?).

Is Obama all-powerful? I know not. I just do not understand American politics at all. The voting system is completely lost on me.

All I can say is that I hope most sincerely that the American people get healthcare as and when it is needed whether or not they can afford medical insurance.

In the UK our National Health Service is not perfect, but it is available to ALL. If you want to 'jump the queue' you can 'go private' if you've got the dough. The care and treatment one receives is the same, NHS or privately. In fact the private healthcare patients are treated by the same doctors and surgeons in the NHS.

It's worked in the UK for over 60 years. Those scheming medical insurance moguls in the USA are the villains of the piece. Almost like the mafia with stethoscopes instead of tommy-guns?

Kathryn said...

This is basically my opinion on universal health care:

(The site itself is crazy full of conspiracy nuts, but the article is well done.)

Basically, this sums up my belief, speaking of conventional medicine & pharmaceutical companies: . . . This fraudulent monopoly system causes Americans to pay the highest prices in the world for pharmaceuticals and health care, even while receiving remarkably poor results in their own health status.

If we could come up with a plan that would cover the folks who are struggling to get coverage, i would support it. Or, if we could do a real over haul of the system so that we are not locked into the high costs with low results we currently have, then i would support it. But it is craziness to try to cover every person in this country with a universal plan that continues to run the way our current system is running.

But what is currently being proposed is nuts & will bring about rationing if only because it is trying to cover so many folks. And it most definitely will limit if not eliminate many of the alternative treatments some of us utilize.

I'm not talking Canada. I'm happy so many Canadians are pleased & well served by their system. But again, apples & oranges. I don't believe we can create a Canadian system here without putting major limits on the influences of conventional medicine & the pharmaceutical companies.

I wish there were an easy answer, for i know many people are hurting. But i can't do anything but agree with your assessment, Jo, that Obama is fiddling while Rome burns. I've never been his supporter, i'm not Republican either. I'm tired of all the email i get still bashing him. I do think he means well, but i think he is totally in over his head.

robert said...

Indeed of interest to read from far away in 'old Europe'. Hope to see you from time to time again at:
As I had to close the other blog due to some misbehaviour of a few people with my pictures.
All the very best for you !

Carol E. said...

I loved "Sicko." And I do still have hopes for Obama. I think he found Washington a lot more complicated and tough to change than he expected. Some folks insist on being so stubbornly partisan....... it sucks.

Susan said...

Jo, I'm no maniac but I'm hoping you're being too harsh on Obama.

I spoke with a young MacArthur Fellowship recipient who said she understands his problem; she, too, became head of an old organization with big plans of changing everything. It is taking, she says, MUCH longer than she anticipated, but she still intends to do it.

I'm hoping that's also true of the president.

But I'm not holding my breath.

I do not believe we cannot have a Canadian-style health care system here. We just won't because the big industry with the big money won't allow it.

Philip, our system isn't about voting, unfortunately. It's much simpler. It's about money. The biggest contributors to the winners get the spoils. The voters? We don't matter.

cat said...

For PhilipH: Former President Bush graduated from Yale University and then Harvard Business School. President Obama graduated from Columbia University and then from Harvard Law School. Nobody is perfect.

ivan said...

Mark, THE WALKING MAN also blogs on this today.

He names the five democrats who turned their backs on the bill. Lists their telepone numbers.

Jo said...

Susie, oh, yes, I think folks have the same problems with politicians whichever country we are in. However, the countries that have universal health care are very happy with it. Perhaps the Americans should give it a chance.

Philip, Those scheming medical insurance moguls in the USA are the villains of the piece. Almost like the mafia with stethoscopes instead of tommy-guns? Oh, yes, between them and the pharmaceutical companies, there is a stranglehold on health care in the U.S.

Kathryn, yes, I believe it is going to take a lot of work to get health coverage for everyone in the U.S., and it probably should have been done decades ago, the way it was done in Canada, the U.K. and France. But the insurance companies have always opposed it, so it may be too late now.

Robert...! What happened to your blog? My goodness. Thank you for your new address. I will be over to visit you.

Carol, isn't "Sicko" great!? And yes, I think Obama's lack of experience is starting to show. He is in over his head. And I almost get the feeling he has given up.

Susan, perhaps my assessment of Obama is wrong, but I don't think so. Americans have had strong Presidents and they have had weak ones, and I think he falls into the latter category. And you're right, the U.S. will never have a true universal health care system. I think it's too late for that now.

Cat, yes, they're both well-educated, but unfortunately education is just the beginning of learning. :-)

Ivan, yes, Mark got the numbers from TomCat, who posted them on his blog too. He should have added Obama's number.

ivan said...


You offend my religion. Take the name of God in vain? :->

eda said...



the walking man said...

Just to correct a bit of misinformation here Jo...The public option was defeated in the Senate finance bill sponsored by the chairman of that committee five members of the democrat party sided with their republicans and their masters in the insurance industry.

The administrations plan is not dead and it is not defeated and it does have a public plan alternative to compete with the them who make a profit off of misery. The American political system is not one where the administrative branch runs the legislative one. The House of Representatives also has a voice and they are debating 6 plans put forth by Democrats that all have a public option. So it is in no way defeated just yet. if a bill comes out of conference committee without a public health plan then and only then is it defeated if the both houses approve it and the president does not veto it. The administration has stepped into the fray, the man went before the a joint session of congress to make his thoughts known and some fool stood up and violated him with lies of his own. My God what do you want from the man...he is still restricted to a 24 hour day.

And remember of the four countries vying for the 2016 Olympics all of their heads of state have already appeared before the committee that will make the ultimate decision. His short trip to the committee is not about Chicago or the Olympics it is about JOBS, up to 350,000 of them, and helping the economy, which is a part of his job.

You keep pissing on Obama's shoes and that's OK, I think your voice is one, and your right to speak same as mine. But there is an awful lot on the man's plate right now.

The economy left in shambles by rampant greed, the medical situation in shambles by rampant greed, the wars left this administration because of the last administrations need for rampant power that was inspired by greed.

And as well as trying to manage the desires and needs of a population ten times the size of Canada that is still losing a half million jobs a month while the wealthy get wealthier. If Canada lost the same number of percent of jobs then it too would be in deep trouble, but Canada like the rest of the world carries large trade imbalances with the US. Trade imbalances that are in Canada's favor.

This is month 10 of an administration that is left with the result of thirty years of bad policy come home to roost. Is there any Canadian comparison to what your PM has on his plate compared to what the president of the US has on his?

If your gut is telling you that our president is evil and the spawn from hell then I say you are entitled to vocalize and write that, it is an easy thing to do from across the border, a step removed.

But then at the same time when considered along with the other rants and and raves about this President it is to me just simply more shrill shrieking in the cacophony coming from the right.

When has the left or the president ever said anything evil about the Canadian health care? Yet you vilify him and support the very idiots who are making the argument that the National Health Care system sucks. The Becks and hannity's, The orielly's and the other paid for mouths of the industry that fears National Health Care in America.

I don't know but you are sounding more partisan for them who vilify your beloved system of health same as the sheep down here are supporting the continuation of the health care industry that destroys them.

Mona said...

wow, i am truly surprised that you don't like obama...must have missed your previous posts where you express this...what did you think of bush?

well, i voted for obama and i'm extremely glad he is our president instead of john mccain and i'm rooting for obama's success as i believe it will be good for everyone...

time will tell...and seek you shall find...

Land of shimp said...

When Obama was elected, and my entire household voted for him (although I was a Hillary supporter) I had an exchange online. One person said that Obama seemed liked a nice man, and a good person.

I replied that I had always had the feeling that the man had a streak of cold-hearted bastard in him a mile wide...and that that was good, because to get anything done, he'd need that.

One of the first things that happened in Obama's administration was that he left a man named Dan Choi dangling in the breeze. Make no mistake, Obama had promised, repeatedly, and in writing since taking office, to take down "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Dan Choi, the perfect example of how idiotic Don't Ask, Don't Tell is , was left high and dry.

Land of shimp said...

When that happened, as horrible as I felt for Dan Choi, his remarkable service record, and his truly admirable personal courage, I thought, "Health Care. Obama's going to have to tackle health care. He's probably saving his fight for then." It still doesn't excuse the Choi situation, because again, that was one of Obama's campaign promises.

I've seen comedians quipping that what Obama should do is address the nation and say, "Jesus told me to fix health care." and just do it. Funny, right?

But this isn't Obama's fault, Jo. If he made a mistake at all, it is that he tried his level best to participate honestly, and openly, in our system of governance. He was firmly devoted to having the democratic process honored in reforming health care. He took this to town hall meetings, and let the will of the people be heard.

He has behaved honorably in this fight. He has tried to honor our system. He has truly tried to work within the actual construct of democracy, unlike his predecessor.

This one isn't on Obama. He tried to fight the good, and fair fight. He is playing by the rules of democracy.

However, his opponents whose emails detailing plans of taking him down for personal, and political reasons on this issue have long since circulated. As well as racist, we've all seen them, there is racist intent in many of them, blatantly spelled out.

Those are the people who have betrayed the American public. Those are the people not serving the will of the citizens. Those are the villains; nefarious and scheming.

Obama is not fiddling as Rome burns, he is standing in the middle of Rome, desperately trying to get politicians to honor what they have sworn to do, as they busily torch the place around him.

Obama let Dan Choi lay down his professional life, and did not react. Choi, a shining example of a soldier, let alone a gay soldier, tried to make Obama keep his promise. Obama employed that streak of mile wide bastard and focused elsewhere.

I don't think I'll ever truly forgive him for that, but he did what he felt was important.

In this? Even though I do think of Obama in the above described terms, even though I would have preferred to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton, he hasn't done anything wrong. I don't care about his wife, or what she does. I don't care about what kind of puppy the family gets, or where he goes for an anniversary dinner. I like the man well enough, I suppose, but I'm no fangirl and when I'm speaking plainly I will tell you that in the Choi situation, no matter his reasons, Obama behaved in a very low manner.

But this one isn't on him. To blame him for this is to draw attention away from the perpetrators of a crime against democracy. People who subverted the will of the people, because citizens for reform do out number those against.

In this Obama has behaved honorably, honored democracy, and has been met by scheming villains.

It's tempting to blame Obama, but make no mistake, the actual villains of this piece fully intended that.

On Dan Choi? Yeah, what Obama did, was break his written word. Now there's some evidence that this man is not what he claims to be, or what we would have him be. He took out his mile-wide streak, and gave it an airing there.

On this, his true fault? He tried to behave in as honorable a fashion possible, and found himself facing opponents who were not.

Land of shimp said...

always enjoy your posts, and would defend your right to express your opinion here and elsewhere.

But in blaming Obama, you are doing exactly what the people who voted down the public option would have you do.

On this one alone? Don't look at the ring master. Look at the rat bastards who planned from day one to take down the public health care option, not because that best serves the people, but because they wanted Obama to look like a failure in the eyes of the world.

I've got absolutely nothing but respect for you, and I think you know that, but truthfully, in believing this to be Obama's fault -- anyone who believes that -- has fallen directly into the schemes of the actual perpetrators of this campaign, in which health care was never going to be as important to them as ruining Obama's image was going to be.

Those rotters cared more about profiting from the sick, and tarnishing Obama's image.

Funnily enough, Obama handled that one all on his own. It just didn't happen to be in this situation.

I'm sorry I had to break this into three posts, by the way. It's a complicated situation, and requires...words :-)

Deedee said...

Jo, I agree totally with Land of Shimp - You are blaming the WRONG person here. The Republi-kooks have put a massive effort into trying to derail absolutely EVERYTHING the President has tried to do. A handful of gutless, wishy-washy Democrats have contributed to the problem. We need healthcare reform with a public option, but it probably won't happen now because of the lies and twisted agenda of the president's opposition, which in my opinion, is largely motivated by racism. I agree with you about John Edwards, always thought he was slimy, but I think Barack is an incredibly good, incredibly smart man. He will put us back on track if the lunatic right-wing fringe doesn't succeed in scaring those with lower intellects into thinking he's the big bad wolf. God knows they are trying.

prashant said...

I will let you know how that works out. :-) My guess is it will be chaos, but fun. Domain registration india

RB 13 said...

I am very sorry that the word "racist" is back... it seems that if someone opposes Obama, they are racist. Please! This is a very weak argument! It seems to me that American just voted for Obama - not racist then, but now yes?

I lived in Canada for most of my life and I am in the US so I can compare both systems. but first my thoughts on the current health care debate.

My experience with the american system has benn excellent, but as a Canadian, it is very scary to think that you could be in a position that you do not have coverage - very scary!

The canadian experience is of interest: there are daily bus trip from MOntreal to Vermont (Burlington to be precise) to get treatment - immediate treatment - because people have to wait... sometimes weeks, months and even years! I am fairly certainly that the number of canadians going to the US totally outweight the number of americans going to canada to get treatment (hmmm? are they any?)

Obama and his team did not do a very good job in presenting their case to the American people: the rhetoric is interesting: we will cover more people at a lower cost. However, in practice, this does not work - the CBO clearly stated that the proposed plan would add about 1 trillion in cost over the next 10 year.

Key issues are not being addressed: inter-state competition (insurance companies can not offer their insurance in all 50 states); tort reform (average cost per year to get insurance for a doctor: $200,000!); and the list goes on and on...

So, the more Americans understand the Obama plan, the more they do not like it...

TomCat said...

When Clinton was President, he took a top down approach to health care reform and failed. Obama is trying the bottom up approach. That was a mistake, given the best Congress money can buy... and does.

Land of shimp said...

RB 13, I was referring specifically to emails sent between republican representatives in which racist language, and images were used. Really, nothing ambiguous about it. One use the term "that boy" repeatedly. Another used an image of watermellons.

It's hardly a baseless claim.

nomore said...

I don't wanna discuss any political issues on this chit comment zone...But I think that peoples used to respect and follow their leaders the leadership to...
Exactly i don't know how's it going on yet their the health cares....


I think THE WALKING MAN's post pretty much said 90% of what I've had added......

The man is a mere mortal president; not a miracle-worker, and it's very hard to undo the mess that the 8 years of near-criminal like actions and decisions were what brought America to such a critical and pivotal point.

You can't crush an egg with your foot, and expect anyone to quickly put it all back together; including the egg-white and yolk - essentially that's what GWB and his 'gangsters' did, and most Americans ultimately have seen it, which is why they now look to the current administration to start putting the pieces back together.

Obama's feet were 'to the fire' the minute he decided to accept the nomination as a candidate for president; I'm guessin the rest who ran, are darned glad they lost!