Monday, September 14, 2009

talking with tea baggers

"I don't want to wait in line," Frank said. "It's as simple as that." Frank is a friend of mine in LaConner. I see him in the morning over coffee. Aside from when he blows hot air about Glenn Beck, we have a lot in common. He's a generous man, friendly, and quick to volunteer and be helpful. He made a living in carpet and tile before he retired a few years ago.

Laying carpet means spending hours on your knees. Frank is healthy but his knees need medical attention -- which he gets. He likes the insurance he has now. "I don't have to wait," he said. He told me about some painful bone chips in his knee. It hurt. He went to see the doctor. The doctor fixed it. "It only took a few days," Frank said, "and now I'm fine."

Not like those people in Canada, he said, they have to wait in line. He doesn't want that.

Frank falls into that large category of people who like the insurance and the health care they get now. President Obama has promised that the health care reform bill will not diminish the quality of their health care one iota.

Frank does not believe President Obama. He suspects that in expanding health care coverage to cover more people, he might lose something himself, or have to pay more.

Why should Frank trust President Obama? I think Frank has a point. Obama is making foolish guarantees -- "nothing will change for you good folks out there that already have good insurance."

That just doesn't sound realistic. I wish Obama would say something like this -- "We 're going to make room at the table because we're going to take care of everybody. So you will all have to move over a little bit."

Frank's a generous man, he might understand an appeal to his good nature. He might be willing to move over a little bit, if he was asked.

All those people waiting in line in Canada -- maybe Frank is wrong about that because that's not what I hear. But when he says he likes what he has now and he doesn't want to lose it -- that's the truth.

Then Obama says, we're going to reform the whole system, Frank, but we're not going to touch your part of it. Then Frank says, I don't believe you, Mr. President. I'm afraid you might screw it up and spend too much money and leave me holding the bag. No deal. I don't like your plan.

And off he goes to the Glenn Beck rally. By the way, our lovely Skagit Valley will be graced by the presence of Glenn Beck on September 26. He will appear in Mount Vernon at McIntyre Hall before a sellout audience of his enthusiastic supporters. I expect an equal number of vigorous opponents to be in and outside the hall. And I expect the whole crowd, both pro and con, to be in a highly disputatious mood.

Because I expect conflict, I will not attend the Glenn Beck rally. But Frank will be going and he will tell me all about it the next morning when we have coffee.

CHANGING CODE ORANGE TO CODE GREY. Meanwhile, work continues at the local hospital, where I toil as a nursing aide on the evening shift. The hospital administration has announced, after an exhaustive series of meetings and attendant paperwork, that Code Orange will no longer be called Code Orange. Now, for reasons that are difficult to explain, Code Orange will now be called Code Grey --- although it will still be the same thing.

I am not making this up. Code Orange, quietly announced over the hospital intercom so as not to alarm the general public, is a summons to the male staff, both nursing and medical, to come to a certain room on the double because a certain patient is going bonkers and might need to be restrained.

Code Orange happens almost everyday -- often in the Emergency Room. The patient, maybe drunk, maybe wigged out on drugs, has become a danger to himself and to others. Now, it is a very serious and sensible rule at the hospital that no one, under any circumstance, may harm himself or anyone else.

So, if the conventional methods do not avail, and the patient continues to be disruptive -- hitting nurses, for instance -- then they call a Code Orange. It's really not nice to take a swing at a nurse. The patient will not be blamed or punished for this kind of behavior, but it will not be tolerated either.

Now, often enough, the presence of six to eight healthy males in the patient's room will be enough to calm down the situation. Even crazy people can see the odds of eight to one and know that the party is over.

But if the patient still remains violent, then all eight men will descend upon the patient in a coordinated manner -- and restrain that person. It's safe. No one gets hurt. It's the right way to do things.

I'm only mentioning this because it's no longer Code Orange, now it's Code Grey -- an example of the spurious non-change that dresses itself up as change. It's still the same thing -- so why did they spend time and money and hours of meetings and piles of paperwork to change the name of something when everybody already knew what it was, and it was working fine?

It's because of experiences like this, that I do not trust President Obama either. I'm not coming from the same place as my friend Frank, but I know that a plan might look good on paper, but not deliver in real life.

Obama needs a much better plan. And if he wants to have bi-partisan support, as he has repeatedly stated, then he will have to make a plan that Frank can agree to.

And don't forget me either, Barack. Don't change Code Orange to Code Grey, and then tell everyone you're the hero who saved health care in America.

TIRED OF "FROG HOSPITAL." I'm getting tired of this name and especially tired of the joke that goes with it. I don't want to have a name that begs for an explanation. I want something very direct like "Owens Writes" -- that's my name and that's what I do.

OWENS WRITES. OWENS WRITES. Something like that. Does anyone have any good ideas about this, because I want a new name?

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