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I’ve tried to stay out of the political debate on health care over here in the US. No one will be surprised by my position on this one. I’m not going to comment on the Obama speech or even the stupidity of Wilson. No, I won’t. I want to scratch a little bit deeper here. Deep down to a little thing known as personal responsibility…

So you are against universal health care. Or the government option – or whatever the hell you want to call it. Let me get this straight…

You are against government providing health care to those who can’t afford it or those who the private insurance companies deem as too costly to cover. Better to let them die, right?

Look, the current system isn’t working – we can all agree to that. The problem is that your proposal doesn’t address any of the fundamental challenges of the system – covering the poor and those in need. If I lose my job today then I lose my health care coverage as well. Except if I have the money to pay through my neck for it while I don’t have any income. Doesn’t sound right, right?

Let’s agree on one thing before I rant – cut some of the crap being covered by health care. Obesity? Stop eating crap. Obesity isn’t a disease. Cancer is a disease. Way too much shit is covered by health insurance. Plastic surgery? 90% are crap. Only those with facial defects and burn victims should be covered. A new boob job because you want bigger boobs doesn’t count. Whiter teeth? Go British I say. Cut the fat off coverage and only cover stuff that is really pushing people to their death.

Blame the pharmaceutical companies for lobbying for crap to be covered. They create “medicine” that will address these social “diseases” and then lobby the hell out of (mostly) Republicans for these to be covered. Why? Not because they want to address the real health issues but because they want to make a bigger profit from growing some hair over that bold spot of yours or magically make your beer and Mickey D laden fat go away.

While I’m on obesity. Yes, we carry the burden of that in the US and most developed countries. Stop eating crap and start going outside. If you get a heart disease because of your diet? Make sure you have good funeral coverage. I’m sick and tired of people being covered by health insurance for things that they do to themselves. Over and over again.

You shot yourself in the foot with your own gun? That’s stupid so pay up yourself. You want to carry a gun them suffer the consequences…

Back to the point though. So who will care for those who lost their jobs and can’t afford health care insurance? Or those who the insurance companies judge as too risky or too sick to cover? Let me give you an alternative to the government option.

You.

Yes, you. I’m talking to you Mr and Mrs I’m-Against-The-Government-Option. You should be paying for it.

Why? Because you claim to be on the side of America and the Christian right. That’s just stupid. It’s not an answer it’s just empty words of fake patriotism. America and Christianity is about solutions and not just about shooting your mouth off.

You can’t open your mouth without giving some form of solution. The health care system in the US is a failure. No one can argue against that. We all know it and we all accept it. Private industry is not the answer. I would love for them to be the answer but, in this case, they are not. They are generally the best answer when it comes to making cars (huh?) or computers or televisions or other crap we don’t need to survive. Oh they can make the medicine and medical equipment we need better than any government. But they have proven to be a complete failure when it comes to dealing with our actual health coverage. Especially when it comes to the poor and those in need.

So what alternative are you offering here? Some wishy-washy plan that will NOT result in those people being covered? I’m not interested in making your insurance any cheaper. (Or mine for that matter.) I’m interested in how we deal with those in need. Let’s assume for a minute that we won’t go for the government option. Let’s think of a plan that will help those people in need in another way.

And this is where you come in…

You can’t be American (or anything else) without taking some level of responsibility. You can’t open your mouth against something if you aren’t willing to offer up some form of solution. You do this way too often.

You are against abortion. But you are not willing to take in the unwanted kids. Or those born with disabilities. Or those born with alcohol syndrome. Or those born through rape. Or where the mother died because of the birth. I don’t see you rushing forward and claiming these babies. You shout from the side and walk away when someone holds up the results of your actions and stupidity. Here is my advice to you…

Man up or shut up…

I’m sick and tired of us having to pick up after you. I am sick and tired of having to clean your mess. You spew stupidity and we liberals have to live with the mistakes of your actions and empty words. Yes we do – why do you think those who work for charities looking after unwanted babies, HIV/Aids patients, battered women, the environment, animals etc are almost always a bunch a liberals? Because someone has to fix the crap you created. And I am sick and tired of cleaning your mess.

Shut up or pay up.

You are big enough now. Time for you to take responsibility of your own empty words and actions.

You want abortion to be banned? Then fine. You take care of the unwanted babies. The sick babies. The disabled babies. Because remember, you don’t want government to interfere either now…

You want to carry a gun in the open or hidden? The fine. You take care of those kids and innocent people getting shot by their mates by accident. You take care of what your actions resulted in. Remember, you don’t want government to intervene…

You want to stop people suing others because of defects in stuff they bought or doctors who didn’t do their jobs properly? Then fine. You take care of those people who lost their jobs and income when they got injured and hurt. Remember, you don’t want government to interfere…

You want to be able to cut down every forest to dig for oil and coal? You want to be able to dump your crap anywhere you please? Then fine. You take care of the… oh wait. We are all going down on this one. Here’s my solution. We’ll take that gun you like to carry so much and shoot you. I’ll even dig your grave myself. Hell, you are busy digging mine with your policies and actions. That way we can claim our bit of oxygen left as you wasted yours with hot air – in more than one way.

Man up or shut up.

You can’t just spew stupidity without coming up with a workable solution. You can’t be anti everything. Not when what we are trying to fix is all fucked up. You are either part of the solution (any solution) or you are part of the problem. It’s not working stupid. Fix it. And it you don’t like my plan then come up with a better one. Take responsibility for your stupidity.

It’s easier to say what is wrong with a specific part in a proposal than come up with a workable solution yourself. But it doesn’t solve the big problem standing like an elephant in the corner waiting to walk all over all of us. Someone is going to get hurt and I will be damned if it is me and my kind again.

Let me put it this way.

If we had to write into law the current state of health care. Guess what. We will all be against it – you and me. The current system doesn’t work and what is proposed by the Big O is better. Not perfect but at least better. And if you don’t like it? Then either come up with a better plan or take responsibility of your own position and stupidity.

Man up or shut up. Own up or pay up.

Until then – grow a pair of balls and stop shouting from the sidelines. 

And one more thing…

This Christian thing you claim to have going on your side…

God stood for very few basic things. Actually, it all comes down to a single concept – love for all (remember that bit? You should love others like you love yourself and as much as what you love God blah-blah-blah…) Dammit you must hate yourself a lot if that part is true. And I believe it is true.

Because if you did love your neighbor… Let me ask you this. Letting a person die because they can’t afford to pay for health care and you knowingly supported them NOT getting any help. Is that the way God will want you to love? Letting someone die from cancer because they lived in a community where some mining company dumped their crap and now they can’t even afford their health care – and you knew about both of those. Is that the way God would want you to love?

So stop giving me the Christian crap. I think we might be serving a different God here. My God is ashamed of you. I know my God actually cares about everyone and cares for everyone. Ask yourself this before you open your mouth – What would God do? Would he be proud? Would he help those who needs help? Or would he walk away? If you pick this last one – here’s something to think about… He walked away from you a long, long time ago…

Own up or pay up. Man up or shut up.

I’m not cleaning your mess anymore.

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Really? Maybe not...

America is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. But one thing is for sure, it seems as if everyone has an opinion about America. How great America is or how bad it can be. It all comes down to the problem with America. What is the problem with America?

Well, as a start, part of the question relates to a little thing called dependency. They are the big guys on the block. Pretty much “the dude”. They sneeze and we catch a cold. And we are a bit like the media – we build them up and then want to shoot them down when given half a chance. Why? Because we can’t live without them. We are dependent on them. And that makes us pissed and jealous. But that’s not the problem with America.

The simple answer is that we know that the problems of the world won’t be solved without America. Whether we want peace or the end of poverty or someone to deal with global warming or a fairer world trade regime – it doesn’t mean jack shit if you don’t have America inside the tent. Oh we can ask the Europeans to do their bit or ask African leaders to be a bit more responsible or get the Chinese cut their own carbon footprint. The reality is that none of that will work if America doesn’t come and play. It’s always better to have them in the tent pissing out than having them piss on our little parade.

We can’t solve it or deal with it at a global scale without America. That’s part of the problem. But that isn’t the problem with America.

Part of the problem is that sometimes we don’t like the answer we get from big brother America. Want a global legal system dealing with global crime? Sounds like a good idea. But a bit toothless because America refuses to sign on the dotted line. Want to stop landmines from blowing kids up after a war? Great! Get an international treaty to deal with that. But we know it will continue to give the bad guys a cop-out as long as America refuses to support it. Want to deal with those computers being dumped in Africa and the kids inhaling the fumes of burning computers for copper? Let’s all agree to keep our electronic shit at home then. Sounds like a great idea. But pretty useless because America doesn’t support the idea. That’s a problem. Sometimes we don’t get the answer we want. And we don’t like it.

Sometimes it just looks like America is in it for themselves. Thinking about what is best for them. What America needs. Instead of thinking of what we need. But that is not the problem with America. That’s just a problem with those darn humans.

Tell me. What do you want from life? Have you noticed how that involves you? Most answers are about the self. The human aspect. Sometimes it’s materialistic things we want – a bigger car and a bigger house and a  bigger telly and more bigger things. Supersize my life. But even those nice warm fuzzy answers are all about the me inside. A peaceful life and some love. You are thinking of you. And your only interest in the outside is how they might impact on your life.

When your government decides to help those on the outside. Do you bitch and remind them of the problems at home? Do you constantly try to tell your government how to make the world a better place or just your little world? I don’t mean the one off donation or being pissed at your government not doing more about Zimbabwe. We all have our moments of madness. Most of the time it’s just me-me-me isn’t it? Oh you cloak it in nice fuzzy language and make as if it is for the whole world. But it’s really about what is good for you and your country in most cases. I haven’t seen it any other way. I don’t judge this. I’m not saying it is wrong. I’m just saying…

Oh I know there are groups out there doing work on a global scale. Mostly crap like global religious fanatics. But I am talking about the good stuff. Making the world a better place. Even when working on these issues you think of yourself and your way and not the others and their way. Or try to find an “our way”. Oxfam? Love them to bits but over 90% of senior management in the UK was British. Sorry, that’s not really global. It’s just colonialism cloaked in goodness. Like the original one. Greenpeace? The luxury of fighting for whales while people die of hunger. None of these people are bad. They are just in it for themselves. But cloaked in goodness and all things nice.

Now what is wrong with that? What is the problem with that?

What is the problem with us?

What is the problem with America?

Maybe we are asking the wrong question here. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what the problem is with America. Maybe the question should be what’s the problem with us.

Maybe the problem with America is that they are just a little bit too much like us. Americans are just a tad too much like me and you. Just your average people trying to live a decent life. Their life. Maybe that is the problem. Maybe the problem is that America is in all of us. America is us. And we are America.

Yes, the problem with America is us. You, me and our American friends. All of us. That’s the problem.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that once we realize we are all one then we start looking after ourselves.

All of us.

Us Americans.

Okay, maybe genius is a bit of a strong statement. Overkill. But I got a bit hot under the collar when I read another bad review of his latest movie – You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Surprise, surprise. The critics didn’t like his movie. Apparently his humor is silly and lacks class. Excuse me, it is Adam Sandler. What did you expect? Tsotsi or Juno? Get off your bloody high horse. He doesn’t make movies for you Mister Critic. Ask his audience if they like it. Isn’t that what counts? Or are you saying that all those people who go and watch his movies are as stupid as him?

Maybe he makes movies because he actually enjoys just entertaining people? And maybe people watch his movies because they just want a silly laugh as something really ridiculous? Maybe they want some downtime from $4 gas and deeper debt? Maybe working two or three jobs at a time makes them a bit tired and they just need to escape a bit? Maybe they don’t have an air conditioned office and free passes to all the movies like you? Maybe they have to do some real work to pay the rent and buy some food?

Who the hell gives you the right to say that their entertainment is somehow of less value than yours? Being in the minority does not give you some superior insight into this world of ours. The Klan is in a minority. Are you going to say that they must have something right just because not everyone isn’t running off to join them?

I am just sick and tired of these people, who can’t act or write a script or direct a movie to save their lives, who somehow end up being critics. Pompous, stuck-up, pretentious bastards. You are no better. No better than anyone who doesn’t “get” Memento. Or who doesn’t think that Clint Eastwood is a gifted director or George Clooney is God’s gift to serious acting. We don’t think they are bad. But really, with the world in darkness around us some people watch movies to get away from it all for a little bit. Maybe people don’t want to watch Monster’s Ball because they live it. And a documentary of your own life is no fun at all.

And they climb into Kung Fu Panda. Jeeze. Puh-lease. They climb into it because it is so childish. Jack Black plays the same character he always play – just in animation this time. And it is so for young kids and parents won’t find it entertaining. Excuse me! Maybe that was the target audience? Not some slob stuffing his face with free popcorn and soda and watching a movie they weren’t going to like in any case. Not even if the voice was that of Daniel Day-Lewis and the movie was directed by Robert Altman. Nothing will satisfy you bunch. Would it?

What criteria do you use? How sad the movie makes you? How “real” the movie might be even though you would never actually live that life? Little Miss Sunshine is just so “edgy”. You wouldn’t know edgy if you walked into it my friend. Momento is so “complex”. No, you have a complex.

Sorry buddy. I want to be entertained. I want to escape. I want to forget about the troubles of the world and life at work for a few minutes. I want to hear my kids laugh at silly jokes. I want to see my wife wipe away the tears of laughter. I don’t want them to go home and feel even more depressed about this world of ours. Life is real enough. More real than your pseudo life and “deep” insights. Go stuff yourself. Get a life. A real life. Not one that you can somehow “connect” to on the big screen.

You remind me of those sport writers. Oh so insightful. But they are the same guys who didn’t get picked by anyone at school during break because their sporting abilities sucked. And now they take their revenge on those who actually play the sport.

You the critic. So important. So at the edge of art. So. So.

Oh, I like some of the movies and people I mentioned. I liked Gosford Park. I like George Clooney. Okay, sometimes. Memento is one of my favourite movies. But most of the time I just want to sit back and laugh. I don’t need much of a storyline. Just a few jokes – mostly stupid jokes. Anything goes. Anything to take me away for a few minutes. Take me away from this “real” life of the critics. Who can “feel the pain” and “live the moment”. Bah! Get a life.

Is this relevant to Africa? Yep. It is. Because it is the same type of people who will tell me all about Africa. And what the people of Africa need. And how they can “help” them. And how they feel the pain of the people of Africa. And that we should all do our bit. And volunteer our time. And… And…

Damnit man. Just stop it.

Africa doesn’t need your pity. Africans don’t need you to tell them how difficult their lives are. Africa doesn’t need more good advice. We can see where that got us in the last century or so. You campaign and you speak on behalf of us at conferences and lobbying meetings because you somehow believe that you have a deep insight into our people. Like you know what we need and want. The knight in shining armour. Where’s the white horse? Or is that just a white face?

That your deep and serious answers are so much better than our little silly childish solutions. Eish! No Country For Old Men is so much better than Mr Bean. Not when the men don’t grow old in our countries to start off with. We would rather watch Mr Bean being silly and just enjoy our moment together instead of suffering with you because that is what you need to make yourself feel worthwhile.

We don’t suffer to make you feel good. We don’t die to make you feel superior. We suffer because you feel good. And we die because you feel superior.

So sorry. I’ll take Adam Sandler anytime. I know what I get. A stupid man making stupid silly jokes, but being honest about himself and who he is. Just an entertainer. As simple as that. Not a special one who will save my world. We need you to be simple. We need you to be one of us. Be Adam Sandler. Be stupid and silly. But be honest. With yourself and then with us.

Be yourself. A flawed, but funny human being just like all of us. I am not going to give you a slap on the back and tell you I am proud of you because you are so serious. Just be. And just do. Do it because you do it. As simple as that. Don’t give me nice camera angles of poverty or deep and serious scripts for advocacy. Shut up and do it. Be funny. Be true.

Hey, you never know. Spielberg might make a movie of your life some day. Just hope to God it isn’t Oliver Stone and some conspiracy movie…

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Another week. And more of the weak.

1. Good news and bad news from the Boss

First the sad news. Danny Federici died on April 17, 2008. I am a Springsteen and E Street Band addict. I have every single album going back to Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. released in January 1973. And Danny has been there from the start. (Not me – I was hardly alive back then.) But Danny was there. Playing the organ and keyboard – and glockenspiel even. He was a centre piece in the E Street puzzle. Heart and soul. Heart and soul man. Danny. Phantom. Miami Dan. See you on the other side. On the Backstreets. Legend. No more words. It’s Danny. And he is gone. Long live Danny.

The Boss, Mr Springsteen for those non-believers, has officially endorsed Obama. In his words, Obama “speaks to the America I’ve envisioned in my music for the past 35 years.” But didn’t he do something similar in 2004? Actually, he didn’t. In 2004 he stood on an anti-Bush platform. Today the Boss is standing for something and someone. Obama.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. They lost a legend. And they embraced another.

2. Africans let it all hang out

It’s almost summer and everyone is coming up with new ideas on how to save on gas and electricity. And no, I don’t mean not driving to the beach. I mean those house-bound chores. Well, you thought Earth Day might be big. Try National Hanging Out Day. That special day on April 19 when we celebrate the good old clothesline. Huh? You have a special day for this? For hanging clothes on a line outside? I know about hanging out. Do it at the bar as often as I can to save on water. And I know about letting it all hang out. Hey, we invented the lion-cloth remember. Sorry, I meant loincloth. Anyway, you decide whether you want to hang it out, hanging out or let it all hang out this Saturday. But whatever you do. The aim is to help nature and not to go el natural.

3. Popping pills – not so good

Just when we thought we had it down to a T. All this healthy living stuff. Most of the developing world live longer than ever before. And every single day they find new ways to warn us how we are going to either explode or wrinkle away any minute now. Today vitamins are taking a hit. Yep. Vitamins. Those pills you pop every morning. Those right next to the Meridia, Claritin, Celebrex, Lipitor, Prozac, Glucophage and Viagra. OK. Maybe not that last one so early in the morning. But we are constantly told about the new ways that we are going to die. Got diabetes? Catch 22. Drink the pill and die from heart disease. Drink water? Careful with all those chemicals inside. Eating oranges? Sorry, just a tad too much sugar. Running for fitness? Check the stress on your body mate. Yes. Every single day they find new ways for us to die. I guess we need new things to worry about now that most of us live longer. We are running out of ideas on what to be scared of. So what about that “new” last 20 years added to your life? Here, have these to worry about – just don’t drink the Kool-Aid. I think I will go and have a Whopper, a smoke and a Quad Venti Latte with loads of sugar and full cream milk please. I worry that if I don’t die younger I will die from worrying about what I might die of when I get too old. You know, I am running out of options on what to worry about if I live to long. Damn, the longer we live the more ways we find on how to die. Most healthy way of living according to the scary health quacks doctors and freaks experts? Don’t eat, don’t drink and don’t breathe. All of those have bad things that can make you die younger even though you live to a ripe old age nowadays. And the only way you can be in a state where you don’t eat, drink or breathe? Being dead. So the quicker you die the healthier you will be. Thanks Doc. I just remembered why I don’t visit so often anymore. I’ll just eat my apple a day. No?

4. Dude, the water is narly

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water again… Well, actually it is safe to go into the water now. Sort of. The House of Reprehensibles, sorry – Representatives, just passed another law. This time to do something about that dirty sea water we all run to in summer. They’ll clean it up for us. (Hum, was hoping they could focus the cleaning on themselves a bit and not hang their dirty laundry for all to see.) Anyway, the water will hopefully be ready for all by summer. You would think this is a good thing hey? I beg to differ. Firstly, those damn Texans will now go to the US beaches instead of spending their dollars in my old hometown in South Africa – Cape Town. They’ll think the water is just as clean here as over there – so why go? We’ll miss their dollars man. (But not all of the Texans.) A good thing for America right? Not entirely… Think of those queues at the snack shop at the beach… And the queues at the ice-cream van… And the beached whales… Clean beaches and water will attract other less savory characters as well. The Brits and the Germans. The Brits out in the sun with nothing but a costume will blind you if the sun shines baby. Those are damn white bodies. Oh, I forgot – they turn red in an instant when the sun shines. But the Germans? Get used to the fact that they will take your spot on the beach and sit in their Lederhosen scanning the horizon. Don’t talk to them. They won’t know when you are serious or joking. They will laugh at anything. You know Germans and their fine-tuned humor right? Lastly, with the water nice and clear and clean – guess who else can see and smell so much better? Yes, that is a fin coming your way baby. Happy swimming. Or walking on water if I was you. See – even when the government does something right I can find fault… And I didn’t even get to the surfer part.

5. Old Man Nader

I know. I know I have been on about the age of McCain. Mac – the Old Man of the Siege. And make no mistake. He is old. But his problem isn’t him losing the power in his grip. It is that he already lost his grip on reality. The problem isn’t that he would be up in any case at 3 am for his toilet run. No, the problem is that he will make the wrong choice at 3 am. The problem isn’t his false teeth falling out. It is his false war policies falling flat. Yes, the Old Man of the Siege. But another old man is losing it just as quickly. That guy hiding behind the wall of shame. Old Man Nader. This is the guy who started a student revolution? Gotta be a long, long time ago. Well, he is older than even McCain. Nader – the student revolutionary. The man who created a student movement. The man who should be young at heart. You know. Down with us young ones (okay, I stretch it at my age). Asked whether he thinks the young voters will come out, he responded by saying, “if there was a draft they would. They sure would“. Ralph, Ralph, Ralph. You wouldn’t have achieved anything if you had this attitude back in the old days. You aren’t losing it. You have lost it. Less relevant than even in 2004. You’ve already lost the vote. Don’t let us start losing respect as well man.

Cheers people. Have a good one and see you later.

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