Saturday, November 21, 2009

Senate Health Care Bill, & Other Stuff

So, the Senate has finally brought their health care bill to the floor for a debate. They had the 60 votes needed to avoid filibuster. Damn good thing, too. I really don't like filibusters, even when they're on my side. Frankly, it bugs me when one dude can gum up the whole works indefinitely. Don't get me wrong, filibusters often represent minority opinions -- of which I sometimes happen to be -- and minority opinions need to be protected if America is to be at all free, but I don't think filibusters ought to be done by just anybody. If I were to wave my magic wand and revise the Senate rules, one of the things I would do is restrict the number of filibusters which could be done. Seriously, filibusters should be something like instant replays in football -- you only get three per alotted time period, and then that's it, you're out of filibusters. Maybe two or three per year, maximum. That way, Senators will think twice before launching a filibuster over unimportant shit.

The more I think about this, the more I like it. Yeah! Write your representatives!

Anyway, part of the funding for this new bill comes from what is essentially a luxury tax -- a tax levy upon elective plastic surgeries. Interesting.

I have to say that the more I think about THIS one, the more I like it too. Here, perhaps for the first time ever, is a tax which truly targets only the affluent, and in a way which they cannot dodge. It's not like a cigarette tax, where something really unhealthy is discouraged with an increased tax, but which is paid for by the poorest people whose nicotene addiction is one of their only creature comforts. It's also not like a tax on items like yachts, which only typically results in the rich not buying so many yachts anymore, thus depressing the marine vehicle industry and causing thousands of blue-collar boat-builders to get laid off. No, this is only for the botox, the boob jobs, and the laser treatments - stuff which the rich cannot truly get around if they want to stay pretty.

But is it sexist? That's an excellent question since over 90% of cosmetic surgery is undertaken by women. But I'm not so certain that this necessarily means its sexist. After all, even if over 90% of the procedures are done on women, who is paying for those procedures? Their husbands? Their boyfriends? No, it may be the corpus femme which is getting the cosmetic surgery, but the impact upon the pocketbook is quite gender neutral. Besides, women have been condemning artificial boobs for decades, now. Here, finally, is some vindication for that form of feminism. The underground movement of men who belong to the "home grown only" club of breast afficionatos has decried fake boobs as well -- making for a curious area where feminists and male chauvanists actually agree on something.

Can men get around this tax by not prettying up their wives? Perhaps. They could always divorce their wives and marry younger women. But then, they could always do that. And divorce usually costs a good deal more than any plastic surgery ever could. By that rationale, plastic surgery has done more to preserve the sanctity of marriage than opposition to gay marriage ever could! But it's really not much of an impact, there. Really, aren't the shopping trips to Macey's and Bloomingdales, and the ridiculous diamond jewelry purchases just a normal part of the wealthy lifestyle? Yesterday it was fur coats. Today, it's botox. And let's understand, men do get their cosmetic surgery too. Let's hear it for the laser removal of back hair! Let's hear it for the old farts looking a little less decrepit. The rich will always want to look good, and that means they'll pay just a tiny bit more so that the rest of us can pay a whole shitload less. There are no cosmetic surgeons whose livelihoods are threatened, here. Those doctors will do just fine. And so will the doctors who provide basic health care -- finally!

It's just a shame they couldn't have enacted this BEFORE Barry Manilow got his new face.

Speaking of plastic surgery protecting the sanctity of marriage, I have to chat briefly about something that's been coming up in the news again and again. Recently, Governor Don Carcioni of Rhode Island vetoed legislation that would have allowed same-sex couples to have the right to plan the funerals of their departed partners. Carcioni said that this legislation represents "a disturbing trend" of the erosion of heterosexual marriage.

So, after a lifetime of living with a beloved someone, this dick says that the surviving partner can't even have the simple right to plan the damned memorial?! It isn't bad enough to deny the rights of those who engage in the American pursuit of happiness in a way which harms no one their rights in life -- they must now also do so in DEATH? What an unbelievable asshole!

Let's take a good look at this "disturbing trend" of crumbling heterosexual marriage Carcioni is talking about. It begins with 30% of the very conservative Christians who decry gay marriage getting divorced! Hell! If you're going to preserve the sanctity of marriage, look to your own damned house first! With conservatives dropping their marriages all over the place like hot potatos, it's amazing that they dare to champion marriage at all. There's the Rev. Ted Haggard and his gay lover giving him crystal meth. There's Governor Mark Sanford of North Carolina, who took his prolonged vacation with his South American mistress. There's Senator John Ensign of Nevada, who refused initially to resign after his sexual affair came to light. There's Larry Craig, the Republican Senator from Idaho, who tried to solicit a plainclothes police officer in a Twin Cities airport bathroom stall. Conservative states and communities consistently show a higher unwed teenage birth rate than liberal states and communities. Sarah Palin's own family illustrates this disturbing trend as Bristol Palin had her child out of wedlock. And please, before anybody gets mad at me for attacking Bristol, please understand I'm not attacking her, I'm attacking Sarah. Because Sarah thinks she can run the Republican Party, and probably the nation as president, when she can't even manage her own family.

Let's be completely honest, here. The sanctity of hetersexual marriage has been -- well, fucked for many decades now. Even Ronald Reagan was divorced. Mixed families are now commonplace -- so much so that no public school child feels at all out of place for being in one (though there are still plenty of other reasons for teens to feel awkward). Married couples routinely take lovers, teenagers routinely screw around, and it is now considered the norm for a couple to have sex together or live together before they get married. Conservatives want to deny gays & lesbians the right to get married in order to preserve the sanctity of marriage. People, THAT SHIP ALREADY SAILED! Rome has already been sacked and burned by the vandals -- and the poor conservatives are lining up a defensive posture around what's left of the walls, completely oblivious to the smell of the smoke. The culture war is over on this one, folks. The religious right lost.

In the meantime, the fight against gay rights somehow goes on, waged by the very same people who have enjoyed the freedoms of extramarital heterosexual sex. But you know what? Sooner or later we've got to realize that this is fucking AMERICA! When our citizens have to flee to France in order to gain freedom, there's something severely wrong here. Freedom, people! It's what America stands for. Without it, there is no America. And YES, that sometimes means people choose to excercise their freedoms in a way which the rest of us find disgusting. They'll get nose piercings. They'll tatoo their genitals. They'll die their hair neon purple. They'll get married to Larry King. We need to at least put gay marriage into this same category: Bizarre, maybe a little gross to some of us, but PROTECTED.

Sort of like plastic surgery to give a woman with a 24" waistline a 64 EEE bra size.

Or maybe conservatives would feel better if we legalized gay marriage, but taxed it to help pay for healthcare?

I guess that completely busts that argument.


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