11 September 2009

Southside Kiwanis - In The Belly of the Beast

A year ago I was invited to speak to Tyler's Alpha Kiwanis's group about the Alliance of Retired Americans and my experiences at the 2005 White House Conference on Aging. I had to cancel that engagement due to the onset of cancer and only recently was able to reschedule. Last Tuesday, I finally made that appearance. Here's a quick "condensed & abridged" version' of the occasion.

I had early indicators that my audience not only were not interested, but were overtly hostile and belligerent to whatever my presentation might be. One of those early indicators was the group of five who clustered next to me to make certain I could hear them as I was setting up--as they loudly pronounced that, "Obama is a communist, no one knows where he's really from and he won't tell us, the socialists paid his way through college so he could undermine America", and other equally ignorant and disgusting filth.

The other indicator was when the event's host; after the group sang a round of America The Beautiful, recited The Pledge of Allegiance, and a prayer complete with imprecations to GAAAWWWD, and his son, JEEEESUUUS, to save us from what's happening in Washington, apologetically introduced me as having "different ideas", but, "it won't hurt us to hear another opinion".

Good Marine that I am, I threw down my smoke grenade, faced toward and charged into the ambush, and attacked. Now, by God, I want my Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

I played our video for them, recounted my personal story of my battle with cancer and how, were if not for Medicare ( a government administered single-payer health care program), I would be destitute, if I were even able to find treatment. I then said that the Alliance has some suggestions about the things we would like to see come out of health care reform that we believe would be in the best interests of seniors and working families.

1. Open bidding for low cost drugs in bulk for Medicare as now does the V.A.
2. Close the do-nut hole so that seniors do not have to choose between food or their meds.
3. Extend the Medicare option to uninsured 55 to 64 year-olds increasing contributions to the plan while, at the same time, spreading the risk out over a younger, healthier demographic.

I then opened things for questions. The first purposely set the tone for what followed:

Mercedes Benz and BMW driving, renowned arch-conservative and xenophobe, Republican State Representative, Leo Berman, asked, "Under Obama-care, Medicare benefits are going to be cut, what's your alliance's position on that?"

"Leo", I answer, "You've been around long enough to know that your question is based on a fallacy. There is no such bill as Obama-care, and in fact, there is no bill at all until the House and Senate wrap up what they're doing and put a measure out on the floor for debate and vote and then the House/Senate Conference Committee will craft a final package for our President to sign."

"But", I went on, "Medicare Advantage plans do need to be trimmed back because they are draining the system and cost, on average, more than 10% more than standard Medicare treatment."

Leo huffed and puffed and found some other canard to trot out, "Under what the president wants to do, 20-million illegal aliens and their kids will get free treatment at tax-payers expense. Does your alliance support that."

"Leo", I say, "What the Alliance supports is that every American deserves an opportunity to have access to affordable, quality health care from the time they're born until they die and that we are particularly concerned that seniors continue to be protected under an improved Medicare system."

"So', he blustered, "I can quote you that your alliance stands in opposition to federally financed health care for illegal aliens?"

"Leo, you know better than to try to put words in my mouth. What I said was this, very clearly, The Alliance for Retired Americans believes that every American deserves quality, affordable health care...but, as to what you're suggesting with the tone of your questions, the Alliance is not going to support any measure that works to the detriment of seniors!"

Faced down, our hero, finding discretion as the best part of valor, announced he had "a meeting to attend", hauled ass--followed by four of his sycophants--without another word.

So, based on this experience, you can understand why I was not at all surprised by the childish, rude, belligerent and churlish behavior by so many of the Republicans toward the President during his address the other night, it's in their genes. They're like unruly children, they just have no self-control.

No comments: