008 – Improve the ACA, rather than just trash it? What a concept. Who knew? (An Editorial)

Uhh, actually LOTS of people knew … and still know.

The initial failure of the McConnell led Republican Senate to pass their version of wealthcare, may finally lead to an opportunity which might be a whole lot bigger than just the American healthcare system.  Now, to be sure, wealthcare is not dead by any means.  We saw the Ryan led Republican House fail the first time and then narrowly pass their version on the second try after a bunch of arm twisting.  McConnell will do everything he can to try and get their version through as well.  At least, his colleagues now have the 4th of July recess to think about it … and to hear about it from lots of their constituents.

There has seldom been much positive coming out of Washington ever since the Donald blocked out the sun.  But just since the vote was postponed, there are a number of new voices on the Republican side saying things like, “You know, maybe we are better off actually trying to work with the Democrats to try and improve upon the system we have.”  Repeal, without a replace, regardless of what their slogan says, is not a workable concept.

Look at some of the voices we are now hearing from on the Republican side – Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Susan Collins from Maine, Dean Heller from Nevada and even John McCain and Lindsay Graham.  It is finally dawning on all of them that repeal without a replace is NOT what the vast majority of the American people want.

The voices on the far edges of both parties will need to be marginalized in order to go forward.  Rand Paul and the Freedom Caucus will likely never accept any type of compromise.  Any compromise will likely have to include the elimination of the removal of the tax that funds a large part of the ACA, and inclusion of funds for Planned Parenthood will likely need to be part of that compromise as well.  There’s no way Paul and his group will ever go for that.

008 - Too hideous for human eyes.jpg

Unfortunately, I believe the same is likely true of the extreme Progressive end of the Democratic party.  It has been great to see the enthusiasm generated by Bernie supporters.  But what I see now is that they seem to just smell blood in the water and that they think now is the opportunity to just push through the extremely progressive end of their agenda, such as single payer healthcare or even Medicare for All.  If they hardline those ideas right now, then they are very little better than the extreme voices on the Republican side trying to ram through wealthcare.

There are lessons to be learned from the last few months.  The first is that after 6 plus years of the ACA, the positives of that system have become something that people rightly do not want to see go away.  To achieve those positives, you need revenue and the tax on the wealthy is part of that solution – not the whole part, but certainly an integral part.  As I mentioned in my previous editorial, it’s not like our economy has tanked or that jobs have stopped being created because of the taxes that were imposed as part of the ACA in 2010.  Just the opposite has occurred.  That tax increase has, not surprisingly, been absorbed quite nicely.  But it likely will not be enough to either sustain or significantly improve the ACA, which is what needs to be done.

The second lesson we certainly should have learned is that anything having such major impact on the daily lives of our citizens cannot just be rammed down our throats by whichever party happens to be in power at any given time.  We cannot afford to play ping-pong with healthcare, nor with any other major legislation.  That is exactly what would happen if the Democrats gain the majority and then are able to push through universal healthcare without any Republican support.  The rancor would continue and then, when inevitably Republicans once again gain control, they would restart this same process all over again.

Each side has to have an iron in the fire … some skin in the game.  Use whatever trite idiom you need to describe it, but each side needs to feel that they are fighting together FOR something, rather than simply fighting against the other side.

That opportunity seems to have at least a chance of becoming a reality.  One of the best indicators of that opportunity is actually the person currently in the White House.  I certainly have not said there is much if anything positive that has come, or is likely to come, from his Presidency.  But at least in this regard, Congress can turn one of Trump’s biggest negatives into a positive.

The Donald, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is probably the least ideological person to ever hold that office.  Said another less charitable, but equally descriptive way, he is the least principled person to ever hold that office.  In regard to having Congress finally be able to work together, that can be used to everyone’s advantage.  The Donald only wants to win.  If the majority agreed to universal healthcare, then he would be right on board.  If the majority just wanted to defund healthcare entirely with no replacement, he would back that equally as enthusiastically.  If the majority realizes that it needs to meet somewhere in between, the Donald will support that to.  Anything goes just so that he can simply claim a win.  Do you honestly believe that same opportunity would present itself with Mike Pence at the top?

The truth is that the majority, at least for the foreseeable future, will NEVER agree to universal healthcare.  We are certainly not there yet, and there is no guarantee that we will be anytime in the near future.  Equally as true, which the Republicans are finding out, is that the majority will NEVER agree to simply ceding the obvious gains that have been experienced with the passing of the ACA.

The answer lies in between – in improving upon the ACA in those areas where it most definitely needs improvement and in each side compromising on some of their most extremely held core beliefs.  If that could be done with healthcare, then just maybe, just maybe, our representatives on both sides would see that it is a workable path on other issues as well.

The continuing theme of my editorials has been to try and find those “silver linings” in the chaos, the division, and the frustration that have been hallmarks of our political process – particularly since the election of Trump.  This would be a huge (to borrow a term) silver lining … if only it would come to pass.

008 - 7 years of practice

Synchronicity (A movie review)

Released in theaters

  • 2016

Ratings

  • 44% – Rotten Tomatoes Critics
  • 34% – Rotten Tomatoes Movie Goers
  • 75% – Roger Koehler

Starring

  • Chad McKnight, Brianne Davis, Michael Ironside

Directed by

  • Jacob Gentry

Roger’s Review

Synchronicity  is a film noir story that involves time travel.  It centers on the main character, Jim Beale, who is a young physicist leading an experiment in trying to send objects forward and back in time.  In order to fund his experiment, he gets involved with a shady millionaire, Klaus Meisner, played by Michael Ironside.  Ironside also has a woman, Abby Ross, who initially is working for him to surrepticiously keep tabs on the experiment and to get sole control of time travel capability for himself.

Jim accidentally goes backward in time and realizes what Meissner and the girl are up to.  The movie then continues with his attempts to foil Meisner’s attempt to take control of his discovery, and he also ends up falling in love with the girl.

Movie trailer for Synchronicity (1m53s) …

The movie does indeed have a dark, film noir look and sound to it which is quite well done.  It keeps you guessing and I particularly liked the parts where things happen in the “first go round” which are then explained by what happens when Jim goes back in time and has an effect on events.

Synchronicity - Abby and Jim

It reminded me of the Back to the Future  trilogy of movies and of one element that I always wished would have been part of the first movie in that trilogy.  For example, it was not until the second movie where Marty goes back to 1955 once again to help his father and mother meet that we see that there were actually two  Marty’s back in 1955.  It would have been fun if there had at least been some vague indication of that in the first movie.

Synchronicity  was both written and directed by Jacob Gentry. Gentry is perhaps best, though not widely known for directing the 2007 horror film, The Signal.  The star of Synchronicity, Chad McKnight, first worked with director Gentry in that movie. McKnight and Gentry worked together again in the 2009 TV movie, My Super Psycho Sweet 16.

Synchronicity - Promo posters

Most of the actors are relatively unknown in this 2016 movie, except for Michael Ironside.  He is a familiar face, if not name, and has appeared in many TV shows and motion pictures, mostly as a bad guy, and often in science fiction oriented themes.  Perhaps his most famous sci-fi appearance was in the original Total Recall released in 1990 starring Arnold Schwartzenegger.

Movie trailer for Total Recall (2m2s) …

 

I recommend this movie.  It is technically well done and the story is a bit challenging to stay with, which I always find adds to the interest.  If the DVD you watch has extra features on it, I recommend watching the interviews with the stars and with the director.

One additional note, I did find out there is another movie, by the same name, that was released in 2007.  It is also a sci-fi movie, but with no reference to time travel I believe.  Reviews I have read of that movie also indicate that it is dark and “gory” – probably not my cup of tea.

Interview with Synchronicity director and cast (12:13) …

 

Movie clip – “Jim is Tesla and Edison was a dick.” (3m44s) …

 

Full Synchronicity movie on You Tube (1h23m02s) …

 

007 – Repeal & replace? Get real. It’s simply repeal. (An Editorial)

Why the Democratic response, or anyone’s response for that matter, to the Republican’s version of so-called healthcare, hasn’t been to directly call them out on it is baffling to me.  It is so transparently not a “healthcare” plan.  It is simply a repeal of those taxes on the wealthy that primarily funds Obamacare.  Once those taxes are eliminated, there is nothing to be done but eliminate virtually everything else in the plan.

Republicans are being allowed to get away with claiming that they are replacing Obamacare with something much better – much fairer, even if all of the facts clearly show that they are not.  But they are being allowed to continue that narrative almost unchallenged.  What a complete load of horse manure.  They kept telling their supporters for years that when given the chance, they would eliminate the vile Obamacare.  But when it came to doing it, they had absolutely no clue how to replace it with anything that would be even close to satisfying to the American public, much less even their own party.  So screw it.  We’ll just repeal it so we can say “Look, we did what we promised.”

007 - Healthcare reform - that took seven years

That does not even address the total hypocrisy of their fearless leader.  He initially got a foothold on setting himself apart from the pack of other Republican candidates by claiming to want a good, inexpensive healthcare system for all, and to never even think of touching Medicare and Medicaid.  That was so clearly just another bait-and-switch that he played on people who were eager to believe anything he said in order to get their vote.  Yet, to this day, with all of the other continuing evidence, day after day, that Trump said everything to everybody in order to get their vote and had no intention whatsoever of even making a show of trying to follow through, people still continue to support him and blame everyone else but him for his failures … or they just simply delude themselves that no failures have even occurred.  In that, they mirror Trump quite precisely.

Instead of waiting until the 2018 elections, there ought to be ads right now hammering away at how monumentally hypocritical is almost everything is that is being said by Republicans in regard to their healthcare plan.  Every time Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan says anything about this process of creating and pushing through this repeal, there ought to simply be side-by-side comparisons of what they both said in 2009 versus what they are saying about exactly the same thing now.   People may be aware of that intuitively, but they need to be smashed in the face with it for he reality of it to sink in.

About the only thing that is different now, is that when then speaker John Boehner held up the Democratic healthcare plan in 2009 and opined “Oh … my … God.”  The Republican plan certainly is not that big.  Funny how something just intended to totally eliminate something that went before it can be so much smaller than the actual plan they are intent on repealing.

The tired refrain that Obamacare is dying on its own is equally as hypocritical and self-righteous.  Sure, complain that everyone is going to die of thirst while you are simultaneously denying everyone access to water.

Let’s be clear.  There are deliberate actions being taken to ensure that premiums will continue to be higher and that more and more insurers will leave the insurance exchanges.  The Obamacare system was a start, and one that began to address some fundamental needs in this country, but it was only a start.  It was also handcuffed from the start by hundreds of amendments that were added to the original legislation by Republicans knowing they would never support it regardless of how many of their amendments got added.  But many of those amendments have helped lay the groundwork for some of the problems we are experiencing now.

Of course, with their legislation (and it sickens me to even call it that), there won’t be any time to add significant amendments to it.  The word hypocrisy looms its ugly head once again.  Republicans railed about the Democrats rushing through their legislation in about a year’s time, but now they say a week is enough time to review their plan, and perhaps less than a day is enough to vote on amendments?   Give me a damn break.

The reality is that there actually is not much to amend in their legislation anyway.  Since the plan is fundamentally repeal only, how do you amend that other than to just say “Don’t $^%$ing repeal it!”

Obamacare needs to be built upon and certainly improved.  Those states that even before were down to just a few, or only one, provider need to have that issue addressed.  In addition, because of the meddling of this administration, there are now many more states, or at least areas within states, that are down to only one provider now as well because the insurers are not at all certain they will be receiving any sort of compensation for participating in the exchanges.  That clearly needs to be addressed.  But when one half of the elected body thinks that nothing should be done to improve healthcare – just that all government funded healthcare needs to be eliminated entirely – well that leaves us squarely where we are right now.

007 - Healthcare reform - everyone will be covered

Interesting how our economy has not gone in the tank since those initial taxes to finance healthcare, on those making more than $200,000/year, were implemented back in 2010.  Well, whatda you know.  Almost every indicator in the economy has consistently gone in the right direction since the steps were taken in the first years of the Obama administration to get things back on track from the looming precipice we found ourselves in 2008.

The effort to not only repeal those healthcare taxes and to also make additional tax cuts in reforming the tax code, in the name of fairness, is a joke.  How often does “trickle down” need to be discredited before everyone just laughs derisively whenever it is even mentioned.  Now Democrats share the blame quite equally, if not sometimes even more so, when it comes to how the money that is currently collected in taxes is used.  That also needs to be addressed, and needs to be addressed a lot more seriously than just reciting the tired old refrain “We have to reduce waste”  and then never doing anything about it.

But healthcare cannot solely be funded upon the backs of the wealthy.  I doubt that any other nation in the world with universal healthcare has been able to fund it without a contribution from all elements of their society.  It is an entitlement program – deal with it.  People are entitled to have decent, affordable healthcare.  People are entitled to not have to choose between living or dying, either for themselves or for their loved ones, based upon their ability to afford, or to even get  healthcare.

It has to be paid for by someone and should be paid for by anyone who is in a position to do so.  If the wealthy are asked to contribute more, then so be it.  God knows they benefit disproportionately every day from their wealth – regardless of whether that wealth was accumulated fairly or not.  Additional taxes are not going to prevent them from buying one more yacht, or having to downsize on one of their alternate homes.  But those additional taxes, used wisely, may mean the difference between life and death, or to complete financial ruin, to hundreds of thousands of Americans.

That is not even a choice.  It is an obligation for being a part of the human race.

007 - Healthcare reform - we took a stab at it

Fail Safe – 2000 (A made-for-TV live event review)

Made for Television

  • 2000

Ratings

  • 100% – Rotten Tomatoes Critics
  • 78% – Rotten Tomatoes Movie Goers
  • 70% – Roger Koehler

Starring

  • George Clooney, Richard Dreyfuss, Noah Wyle, Harvey Keitel, Hank Azaria

Directed by

  • Stephen Freers, Martin A. Pasetta

Roger’s Review of the Television Remake of the Original Movie – Written June 24, 2017

This is the adapted, television screenplay of the original 1964 motion picture which was released in black and white, as was the original, in 2000.  The made-for-television live broadcast is very well done, and it is very true to the original movie.

This is the original trailer for the made-for-tv movie …

Please also see my review of the classic, 1964 original motion picture by the same name.

Since the original is one of my top five movies of all time, I was predictably not as comfortable with all of the actors who reprised the roles from the original movie.  Richard Dreyfuss was in an absolute no-win situation in comparing his role as the President to the classic performance of Henry Fonda.  I also thought that Hank Azaria was not as effective in the role of Dr. Groeteschele as was Walter Matthau in the original.

However, I do feel that Noah Wyle (Dr. Carter from E.R. and more recently, Tom Mason from Falling Skies) was excellent in his role as the President’s Russian interpreter.  I also liked George Clooney in the role of Col. Grady – the nuclear bomber commander.

Fail Safe 2000 - Binns and Clooney

Interview (4m15s) with George Clooney and Don Cheadle …

Since my wife had never seen the original movie, and neither of us had seen the 2000 TV remake, we checked out both of them from our local library and watched them on back-to-back evenings.  We watched the original first, and then the remake.  If you might plan to do likewise, I would recommend watching them in that order so that you see the best version first and the suspense is not diminished by your knowledge of the outcome.

One interesting thing I learned about this live TV remake of Fail Safe is that George Clooney used some of the lessons learned from the famous live TV episode, Ambush of E.R. shown in 1997.  In that unique event, it actually was shot twice – once for the east coast and another for the west coast.  During the two airings, they had live updates of actual baseball games in progress to emphasize the live nature of the broadcast.

This is a post show interview after the west coast version was completed of Ambush

Fail Safe -1964 (A movie review)

Released in theaters

  • 1964

Ratings

  • 95% – Rotten Tomatoes Critics
  • 91% – Rotten Tomatoes Movie Goers
  • 100% – Roger Koehler

Starring

  • Henry Fonda, Larry Hagman, Walter Matthau, Edward Binns, Dan O’Herlihy

Directed by

  • Sidney Lumet

Roger’s Review of the Original Motion Picture

This is the original motion picture that was released theatrically in black and white in 1964.  It is based upon the 1962 book by the same name which was written by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler.

Please also see my review of the 2000 live television remake by the same name.

Released not long after the Cuban missile crisis, this movie had much the same real-life relevance that The China Syndrome had in 1979 when it was released less than two weeks prior to the actual nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

This is just a completely great movie.  I rank it number 5 in my all-time list of top 25 movies which means it gets a 100% rating from me, as do the other top 4 movies on my all-time list – Field of Dreams, The Day the Earth Stood Still, To Catch a Thief  and the Sixth Sense.  To see my entire top 25 list, go to my online blog   pearlsnmblog.wordpress.com.  From the top of the left sidebar, select the following fly-out …

       Entertainment > Movies > Pearl’s Top 25 Movies

The movie explores what would happen if a communication mishap occurred and a nuclear armed bomber squadron received mistaken instructions to drop its bombs on Moscow.  The movie describes the many processes that the President and his military and civilian advisors go through to try and recall the bombers, in spite of all of the procedures that the bomber crew follows to the letter which are designed to prevent the enemy from calling off their mission once it has been authorized.

The original motion picture trailer …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9R3w8wDrmM

Henry Fonda, who initially became my favorite actor based upon this role, plays the very cool President and Larry Hagman (Col. Nelson of I Dream of Jeannie and J.R. Ewing of Dallas) plays his Russian interpreter for his negotiations with the Soviet Premier.  When it looks like at least one of the bombers will complete its mission, the President must make an unimaginable decision to prevent the world from being destroyed.

Fail Safe - Ed Binns Cap 811

Other key characters in the movie include Col. Grady – the commander of the bomber that receives the mistaken instructions.  He is played in the movie by Edward Binns.  Another primary character is Gen. Black (Blackie).  He is a trusted friend, and military advisor to the President.  He is played by Dan O’Herlihy.

Walter Matthau explaining how a nuclear war can be “winnable” …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNNMiSEZd9Y

This movie was released about the same time as the 1964 movie Dr. Strangelove, which had a very similar plot and look to it, except with Peter Sellers in the lead, the movie was a satire, and had a very dark humor to it, rather than the dead seriousness of this movie.  Dr. Strangelove also appeared in theaters first.  Even though both Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove were received very high marks from critics (note the Rotten Tomatoes scores of each), Fail Safe  did not do nearly as well at the box office.  Dr. Strangelove was also nominated for four, Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.  It did not win any.  Fail Safe, on the other hand, was not nominated for any Academy Awards.

The original movie trailer for Dr. Strangelove

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98NaJ8ss4sY

Slim Pickens in arguably the most famous scene from Dr. Strangelove …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snTaSJk0n_Y

One other note about the relationship between Fail Safe  and Dr. Strangelove, Dr. Strangelove was based on the book, Red Alert, by Peter George.  There are striking similarities between the books and the movies, even though one is a satire and the other quite obviously not.  Peter George filed a plagiarism lawsuit against Fail Safe, which was settled out of court.

Fail Safe - Henry Fonda.jpg

The full movie (1:33:07) is available on You Tube …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYAV56_8gSw