Dear America,

This week, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, released his alternative to the American Health Care Act sent to The Senate by The House about six weeks ago.  Yesterday, McConnell touted the bill as follows:

"Americans are no longer forced to buy insurance they don't need or can't afford."

 But is that what he really meant?  Consider this.

The purpose of health insurance is to make sure that when you need health care, you can get it no matter how much it costs.  What other purpose could health insurance serve.   So, if we can agree to that proposition, we can also agree that wherever the phrase "health insurance" appears in McConnell's self-serving panegyric, we can substitute the phrase "health care."   Thus, if McConnell had been less cynical, and candid instead, his description of his bill would have read:

"Americans are no longer forced to buy health care they don't need or can't afford."

That sentence reveals the real motive behind the Republican effort to repeal what they themselves dubbed "Obamacare," a mistake they are about to pay for; that sentence and the history of their efforts to sabotage every effort the Democrats made when they had control of the federal government.

Since that appellation for the Affordable Care Act was introduced by them, the membership of the Republican Party has defamed the law and done everything it could to vitiate the law and render it a shell of what was intended, and they have often succeeded to the detriment of the American people.  Concomitantly, the Republicans endeavored to vilify the Democrats as usurpers of states' rights and civil liberty while painting themselves as the benefactors to the people for fighting them.  They have done this dirty work because instead of cooperating in making the Affordable Care Act a success, their real purpose was to regain hegemony in the federal government by making the Democrats...Barrack Obama in particular...look bad by whatever devious and dubious tactic might work because allowing success would be inimical to their return to power.  They undermined the subsidies intended to make insurance affordable and the mandatory aspect of the Medicaid expansion in court, for example; as a consequence, some 31 states have opted for the expansion, which means that 19 states have not.  They also did what they could to undermine the strategy of putting separate insurance exchanges in the states by refusing to create their own in Republican controlled states and outlawing the federally funded administrative assistance effort intended to help new insurance applicants to "navigate" the exchanges.  All the while they were gravely intoning an intention to relieve the American people of this usurpation of their rights as they crooned that such was in their best interest because they could do better...but they never did until, they claim, now.  But McConnell admitted the ugly truth yesterday.  The American people weren't the intended beneficiaries of the Republican sabotage...at least not the vast majority of them.  The American rich were intended to benefit so that their largess could trickle down on us like a cleansing rain.  Unfortunately, it isn't rain that would trickle down on us under "Trumpcare."

The Republican alternative to Obamacare is really an attempt not to unburden the American people, but to take from those of us who "can't afford" healthcare what they have finally enjoyed for the past four to six years: necessary assistance in getting health care and the peace of mind that goes with it.   So, since these letters are addressed to you, America, and since Mitch McConnell is an American, I want to address this suggestion to him with the rest of you as witnesses.  Look in the mirror, Mitch.  How can you stand to be that guy you see? 

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

The day before yesterday, a relatively inconspicuous man walked onto a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia and shot five people.  Not by chance but by design, the scene was a baseball practice for Republican congressmen, and one of those shot was the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives; he is still in critical condition though the other victims are well on the way to recovery, at least one of them already released from the hospital.  Less than five hours later, a man walked into a UPS facility in San Francisco and shot to death three men, then killing himself.  Then yesterday, Paul Ryan stood before the Congress and sanctimoniously proclaimed that the members of congress were a family.  "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us," he effused.  He never mentioned the victims in San Francisco, not the fact that an attack on three of us, America, is also an attack on all of us.

In events of the previous day, a young college student named Otto Warmbier arrived in this country on a plane.  He was coming back from North Korea where he had been brutally imprisoned and left comatose for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from the staff quarters of the hotel in which his group was staying.  Even if the offense was committed, the punishment was an inhumane atrocity perpetrated by what the victim's father called a "pariah nation," and he was right of course.  But young Otto Warmbier's father also said that he was "so proud" of his son and that their spirits were together.  How pride came into this I do not understand, but that is what links the two shootings to a panegyric for a victim of the North Korean government.

We have become so prideful as individuals, and thus so self-absorbed, that all we can see is what is immediately in front of us.  Paul Ryan spoke and his fellow representatives, including opposition leader Nancy Pelosi, all stood together, some of them embracing and shedding tears for one of their own, without dedicating a thought, much less a word, to the three people shot in San Francisco.  And Otto Warmbier's father, speaking to the press as his son lay in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness" nearby in Cincinnati, thought first of pride when he spoke of his son, who apparently went to a dictatorial country on a lark after a tour of China out of a "spirit of adventure."  Whether or not it is true that he attempted to steal something for which he purportedly was promised $10,000 toward the purchase of a car by some church organization representative,  Otto didn't do anything to be particularly proud of...at least not in North Korea.  And as to the members of our congress, if ego were capable of reaching a critical mass, the United States Congress, not to mention the White House, would have been vaporized in a self-inflicted mushroom cloud centuries ago.

As a nation, we have institutionalized pride, which I was taught was the worst of the seven deadly sins.  We speak of ourselves as exceptional, and we tout our accomplishments world-wide.  We use our military to impose our values on other nations and then expect them to be grateful when in nations like Afghanistan, the people don't want us there just as they didn't want the Russians before us and many other empire builders before them going back farther than Alexander the Great.  Tens of thousands have died in Iraq because we invaded the country to remove one oppressor only to find that those whom we installed to take his place are just as vitriolic and oppressive in their sectarian hatred as was their predecessor.  The list of our prideful misadventures is long, and in spite of it, we never learn.

No doubt, the Warmbier case will be an international issue, as it should be, but it is hard to see what there is in it that is worth taking pride.  And though our last president expended enormous political capital to reduce our troops' exposure to harm in Afghanistan, our current president has authorized sending back into harm's way four thousand of those whose well-being has just been extricated from it.  As to the shooting of the UPS employees and the Congressman, those are things that should never have happened in a civilized nation, but you can be sure that if gun control comes up, some weak link who managed to get elected to The House will stand up and unleash a diatribe against those favoring universal background checks.  He'll start with the phrase, "Every time there is another mass shooting..." not realizing that by starting his remarks that way he only reaffirms that there are so many that the subject keeps coming up.  What we need is recognition of the fact that rampant gun violence requires a solution because there is an "every time."  What we don't need is another conceited, stentorian, egotistical ignoramus claiming to be sage enough to tell us what the constitution means, but who doesn't realize that the first four words of the second amendment are, "A well regulated malitia..."  We'd better get over ourselves and start thinking with our own heads instead of those out of which come the loudest voices.  Our lives depend on it. 

Your friend,

Mike

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