Jim Loomis

Experiences, Observations, Opinions

Archive for the category “Language”

LETTER TO SEN. MITCH McCONNELL

Dear Sen. McConnell,

I have some ideas for getting us out of our health care quagmire.

PREMISES

  • The debate and attempt to change the ACA is leading nowhere. Emotions are running too high and political positions are too entrenched for a successful resolution in the next week or two. However, time is rapidly running out. Unless this is resolved quickly, it needs to be put on hold so that more pressing issues like the budget and the debt ceiling can be dealt with.
  • You cannot repeal the ACA without help from the Democrats; you have already said as much.
  • You will not get enough votes for any “replacement” plan given the projections that the CBO puts forth.
  • President Trump has no health care policy in mind, except a generic “repeal and replace.” All that he wants is a “bill that I can sign,” and then he will be able to proclaim victory. You cannot count on him for any meaningful assistance. You must find a way to keep him from commenting on the negotiations. But you can play to his need to be able to say that he “made a good deal.”
  • A law to “repeal in two years,” giving time to craft a “replacement” in the interim, is doomed to failure. It will just “kick the can down the road.” Congress can’t meet any deadlines now, even those set by law, such as approving a budget. In two years the situation will be unchanged, except that the ACA will be a more significant part of America’s DNA, and will be even harder to replace. In the meantime, the health care market will continue to respond negatively to the uncertainty about payment, resulting in even more Americans left without health insurance and health care.
  • Despite the President’s comments to the contrary, the Republicans now “own Obamacare.” The ball is in your court.
  • We are using the wrong paradigm and words to frame the health care debate. We see it as a bilateral contest. The paradigm needs to abandon the “us vs. them” model, and shift to a model that ONLY addresses what is best for the American people. Therefor, the way we talk about this issue also needs to change.

PROPOSAL

  • First, meet one-on-one with Speaker Ryan to tell him what your plan is. You will need his full support to reconcile the House and Senate bills.
  • Do not hold a vote to “repeal in two years,” unless you need that to clearly demonstrate that nothing can be done without help from the Democrats.
  • Then ask Sen. Schumer to appoint a few Democratic Senators to work with your Republican task force to craft a health care bill.
  • Ask Mr. Trump to stop making public comments about this debate. This means NO tweets, NO criticism of any member of Congress, and NO press conferences whatsoever until the bill is ready for approval. However, he MUST provide “political cover” for you when you negotiate with Democrats. This should be the ONLY time he publicly comments on health care legislation. It may be most effective to have Secretary Price and/or Mr. Kuschner deliver this message to him.
  • Ask the President to call those Democrats who will work on the task force to encourage their efforts. This will allow him to later tout his ability to “make a deal,” as he can then claim that he was the one who caused some Democrats to “cross over” to approve the new legislation.
  • Change the language that is used. This will require an experienced politician like yourself. Stop talking about “repeal” or “repeal and replace” as the only options. Lead your colleagues to accept the fact that the only politically viable possibility is to amend the ACA.
  • Lead members of Congress to say things like, “replace the flawed funding mechanism,” and “reinstitute the beneficial programs that Americans have come to rely on,” such as portability, coverage of previous medical conditions, and care for those unable to obtain health care coverage (obviously this is a euphemism for Medicaid). This new paradigm and new language may satisfy those fixated on “repeal and replace,” as it essentially says what they want to hear, but actually means that you will amend the ACA to keep the good and repair the bad. It may have broader appeal to those of all political persuasions and entrenched positions.
  • When you have a bill that will garner enough bi-partisan support for passage, then ask the President to publicly praise the Republicans and Democrats who have made this happen and to give his full support for the bill.
  • Then hold the vote.

Given your extensive experience and reputation for pulling together legislators with diverse viewpoints, I am sure that you can improve upon this suggested course of action. I hope that these ideas are useful in moving the country forward to resolve this very heated and controversial issue.

Thank you,
James F. Loomis, MPA

 

Colbert, Trump, and Putin

On Monday evening CBS “Late Show” host, Stephen Colbert, blasted President Trump for his remarks to CBS “Face the Nation” host, John Dickerson. Whether staged or not, Colbert’s monologue was a tirade of the first order. At the end of his tirade, he told the President that the only thing his mouth was good for was…..well, you’ve all read the news and watched the video.

In his monologue, Colbert bluntly told the President, “When you insult one member of the CBS family, you insult us all.” This may have been a joke, but it was sweet music to my ears. It’s about time that somebody so forcefully told Mr. Trump that his insults are felt not only by the person he insults, but also by all those who are related to that person, and by those of us who trust our leaders to govern in a civil manner. I keep waiting for the other “Fake News” media, like the “Failing” New York Times, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and time-tested, credible polling organizations, like the Pew Research Center, who deliver such “biased” reports on the public’s feelings about the Trump presidency, to respond in such a forceful way to his insults and bullying.

Stephen Colbert’s two-word comment at the end of his monologue, vulgar though it was, does not make him homophobic, as many are now claiming. Nor does it even begin to compare in scope to the scores of derogatory accusations that President Trump has made toward others, before, during, and after the Presidential campaign, and which he continues to make while in the Oval Office. Although sexually insulting, Mr. Colbert’s comment is as far removed as night is from day to equaling the sexually inappropriate and demeaning behavior that Mr. Trump has displayed for so many years.

I like political satire. Political figures need to understand that being the brunt of satirical jokes is part of the job. They need to understand that there is an element of truth in every piece of satire. They need to have enough self-awareness to parse out that truth and examine it in the light of day. They need to be able to roll with the jokes made at their expense, and they especially need to be able to make fun of themselves. Sadly, our President does not seem to possess any of these characteristics, which makes him a perfect target for late-night comedians.

I also like Stephen Colbert. I enjoy his satire. That said, his two-word insult Monday evening went beyond the bounds of political satire. It was vulgar; it was vicious; it undoubtably was untrue (at least in reality; figuratively is a question for another time); it was uncalled for, and it has no place on a national television network of any stripe. Mr. Colbert should apologize! And, he should do it humbly, sincerely, and SOON.

Last evening he did address his remarks by asking jokingly if he was still employed by CBS, and that, after listening to a tape of his monologue, he “would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.” But he also stated that he did not regret the “few choice insults” that he hurled at the President at the end of his monologue. THIS IS NOT AN APOLOGY. This is side-stepping a blatant error, a tactic that politicians have turned into an art form.

Colbert’s monologue was surely written in advance. The scriptwriter(s) and the editor who allowed this text to be used should be reprimanded as strongly as possible by their superiors at CBS, and Mr. Colbert needs to make a heartfelt, straightforward apology to the President and to Mr. Putin. Sooner rather than later, Stephen. Tonight would be a good time!

“Thank You”…..“Thank You”

Check out these words in a dictionary.

Thank you: “an instance or means of expressing thanks.”

You’re welcome: “used as a polite response to thanks.”

In the past few years have you noticed how everyone seems to respond by saying, “Thank you” when somebody says, “Thank you” to them? I notice this especially in the media. For example, a host interviews someone, and then, at the end of the interview or news report, the host says, “Thank you.” And the interviewee inevitably replies, “Thank you.” This frequently seems to be true when news broadcasters get a live update from a reporter somewhere out in the field.

Or the interviewee replies with an exclamation, “Thank you!” as though they were the extremely grateful one doing the interviewing. On the other hand, responding with, “Thank you for having me on your show” is quite appropriate when the guest is promoting their latest book. Or, “Thanks for inviting me to share information about this project with your listeners.” But the one that really bugs me is, “Thanks for having me.” It just seems as though something is missing. Does the interviewee mean, “Thanks for having me on your show,” or, “thanks for having me” in some other way?

To respond by thanking someone who offers you their gratitude robs them of being able to gift you for what you have done for them. It sends a subtle message that their gift of thanks to you is of little value, nor are they worthy of receiving anything of value from you. Perhaps responding with a “Thank you” is a way of leveling the playing field, so as not to come across as being more important than the person offering their thanks to you. But I think that it belittles the proper reciprocation that is called for.

This weekend I heard Scott Simon on National Public Radio interview a reporter in Brussels where the terrorist attacks recently took place. At the end of her report Simon said to her, “Thank you,” and she very professionally and appropriately replied, “You’re welcome.” How refreshing! I would love to hear more of this proper form of verbal intercourse.

Thank you for reading this post about one of my pet peeves.

Oh, by the way, the correct response is to post a comment that simply says, “You’re welcome.”

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