Tag Archives: public option

No Pity For Old Men

In 2006, I did an internship at a now-dead investment bank in New York.  During my first week in orientation, I remember sitting in a large auditorium with the rest of my summer analyst class.  We had just endured several hours of listening to men in ties drone on about insider trading, compliance issues, and SEC regulations.  Finally, a woman stepped up to the podium… hello, HR!  We were talking about sexual harassment.

bclinton-lewinskyAs interns, we would only be at the company for ten weeks… but apparently, we all needed a lengthy lecture about appropriateness in the workplace.  The sexual harassment talk is akin to the private parts talk that mothers give to their five-year olds: “If someone tries to hug you, run away… No one should ever touch you there, except for the doctor… If someone does try to touch you, tell the ombudsman immediately!”  We listened to the woman outline the company’s sexual harassment policies, then went off to happy hour next to a strip club for drinks with our new managers.

Last January, when I started my full-time job, I had to watch another sexual harassment tape.  (Companies must hire the same video production company to produce their ’80s-style anti-groping propaganda…  Every single video has at least one woman with frizzy hair and Coke-bottle glasses who serves as the object of a mustached man’s affection.)  I also had to fill out several online forms, in which I answered survey questions like, “Should Bob put his arm around Sue?”  And, “Is Sue allowed to kick Bob in the groin?” (My recollection is fuzzy on the exact wording.)

lettermanSo, given my extensive immersion in the rules of sexual harassment, I figured that other places would have similar policies.  Like CBS.  Or, ESPN.  Or… the White House.  Then again, who can say no to Dave Letterman, Steve Phillips, and Bill Clinton?  “Yes, Bob, please put your arm around me.  And more.”

Then again, after witnessing the indiscretions of my fellow summer analysts with their bosses/mentors/HR reps in those ten weeks, I suppose the harassment talk didn’t serve as much of a deterrent during my internship.  And in my current company, work couples (or “inbreeders”) are common.  In fact, if you aren’t dating a colleague, then you’re likely to get laid off; as they say, it’s all about who you know.

brookephillips.jpgClearly, sexual harassment education isn’t working.  We’re still seeing predatory white-haired males hit on chubby young females.  We’re still  dealing with desperate, ladder-climbing women trying to leapfrog from cubicle to front office.

So, what can we do to reform the system?  Should we ban hugs from the office?  Give philandering men an attractive, no-strings-attached, government-sponsored public option?  Or maybe we just need to make better sexual harassment videos… Well, I hear that a writer, a production assistant, and a former TV host (Mr. Personality!) are all looking for jobs… Once we find an unemployed, mustached predator with white hair, we’re golden.

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Worldly Lessons in Politics From The Hills

On Tuesday night, we welcomed the return of an American institution, The Hills, to primetime television. The Hills is MTV’s long-running reality show featuring the glamorous side of Hollywood life. We follow a handful of attractive trust fund babies as they get in fights, reconcile, get in fights, reconcile, get in fights, yell at each other, and then take sides in a Cold War of icy staredowns and sex tapes.

jbobbyIf you think about it, The Hills could easily be adapted to The Hill – that is, Capitol Hill. Where else will you get dramatic backstabbing and illicit romances? In fact, there are more interesting scandals in Washington than in the valley: All Speidi ever did was accuse Lauren of hiding a sex tape. Sarah Palin accused the President of planning to kill grandma. And what’s with this new “drama” between Kristin and Audrina fighting over our favorite hobo-riche iconoclast, Justin Bobby? There are far more people fighting over that slut of a public option than JB.

For every storyline about Brody creeping on a girl, I’ll give you John Ensign and David Vitter. For every storyline about Heidi saying something crazy, I’ll give you Michele Bachmann saying something even worse (“I’m very concerned Barack Obama may have anti-American views… The kids who voted en masse for Barack Obama are the ones being fitted with shackles and chains.”) And for every storyline about The Hills having some redeeming social value?  Well, YOU LIE.

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Are You Ready for Some Football? (As In, Are You Ready for A Public Option?)

On Tuesday, the biggest story of the day was whether the public option had officially come out of retirement.  Last week, after President Obama downplayed its importance as just a “sliver” of healthcare reform, the public option had all but cleaned out its locker.  Political pundits immediately jumped on the story, claiming that the White House was “ready to drop [the] public option” and that Obama had “killed” it.  (The killing was all done with the blessing of the death panel, of course.)

On Tuesday, however, the public option made a comeback.  Robert Gibbs told press correspondents that Obama indeed “prefers a public option” and that it’s still a “priority.”   Sixty House Democrats sent Kathleen Sebelius a love letter,  imploring her to save the public option.  Even Howard Dean made the rounds, saying that reform would not be possible without it… Yeeeaaaah!

Given the denials, the backpedaling, and all the ups and downs, polls show that Americans are getting sick of this talk.  We just want to know what will happen next.

favreWell, here is where a Brett Favre analogy can help.  Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback specializing in football and flippy floppies.  He retired from the Green Bay Packers in March 2008, un-retired in August 2008 to play for the Jets, re-retired from the Jets in February 2009, and then un-re-retired just yesterday, announcing his intention to play for the Vikings.

With the public option, we’ve already done the retirement waffle dance.  Now, it’s gametime.  If we follow the Brett Favre Story, then we have a few more months of “will they” or “won’t they.”  Once it’s decided upon that the public option will be included in the healthcare bill, it’ll keep things close… but in the end, it will ultimately fold under pressure.  It will naturally stay in the pocket too long, get kicked around by angry Republicans clawing for a win in 2010, and toss up an ill-timed pass into coverage that will get intercepted by a watered-down bill of “reform.”  Then, defeated once again, the public option shall retire to a field of diminutive co-ops, rising healthcare costs, and Wrangler jeans, forever reminiscing about the days of Obamacare and greener pastures by the bay.

It may be a stretch… but Favre did throw 22 interceptions last year.  This won’t end well.

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