Jimmy Kimmel is the most human late show host on TV

Anybody who watches Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show knows that the man cries a lot.

He teared up when discussing the death of Cecil the Lion two years ago; he couldn’t hold it back when he mourned the passing of legendary comic Don Rickles late last month; and most recently, and certainly understandably, he openly wept when revealing on his show that his son was born with a heart defect that required life-saving emergency surgery.

Seeing somebody express raw emotion and vulnerability always gives you greater insight into who they are as a human being.

What makes us so unique to any other species is our ability to emote and to experience real sorrow. It’s what makes life tragic and glorious at the same time.

So to see Jimmy Kimmel have a moment of pure emotion like that only adds to his appeal. Especially since his story is so undeniably sympathetic. Any child being born with a heart defect is saddening.

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But what’s made Kimmel’s monologue so particularly memorable was his inclusion of politics. While he didn’t directly malign any one or group in particular, he bemoaned the fact that those with preexisting medical conditions who were afforded protection against healthcare discrimination under Obamacare may lose those protections under a new Republican plan.

And he pointed to his newborn son as a living and breathing example of this. “If your baby is going to die … it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, we all agree on,’ he said to raucous applause.

Kimmel has received mostly support from his TV colleagues and the general public. But of course, there are those few — like this former Republican Senator — who just can’t bring it upon themselves to look past politics and see the human element.

Obamacare may be repealed as soon as Thursday. And Kimmel is right about something: we need to stop kicking this issue around like it’s a political football. These are people’s lives at stake. It’s not a game. It’s not about politics.

But what makes the topic of healthcare so dicey is one simple fact: we are selfish.

And there’s nothing wrong with being selfish. To make it in this world, you need to look out for yourself and your best interests.

The reason people don’t like Obamacare is because premiums and their deductibles are high. They’re healthy and yet they’re paying an exorbitant amount for insurance because they’re being forced to by Obamacare’s mandate.

But the subtext to that statement is you don’t want to contribute your share to cut the costs for sick people.

I understand that money is hard to come by. Very few of us make enough to support the life that we wish to live.

But that is the reality of why healthcare is such a polarizing issue in our country at this moment.

At some point, you have to ask yourself: Are you willing to make a few sacrifices to prop up your fellow Americans, and fellow humans.?

Jimmy Kimmel’s little boy was saved.

Will the next one be?

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The good, the bad and the ugly Republican healthcare bill

As most of you know, Republican lawmakers finally took the first step in fulfilling their near decade-long promise to repeal and replace Obamacare last week by introducing their own alternative legislation, the American Health Care Act, which would reshape healthcare access throughout the country.

Most notably, the bill would eliminate the Obamacare mandate that all Americans have healthcare, or pay a penalty.

The mandate – while unpopular – has been repeatedly deemed necessary by economists and health care experts, noting that for healthcare to actually be affordable, a bounty of young, healthy people needed to be buying insurance to offset the costs of all the sick people, whom, historically, pay the highest prices for their extensive health coverage needs, and thus are the most expensive to insure.

The national mood towards Obamacare has changed drastically since its implementation several years ago, holding true to the adage — you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.

An awakening has suddenly blossomed among the public of the imminent consequences of repealing Obamacare: the loss of health coverage for tens of millions of Americans who gained eligibility under the law, thanks to Medicaid expansion and the qualification that young adults can stay on their parents’ plan up to age 27, in addition to the aforementioned mandate.

Paul Ryan AHCA

As a result, thousands of constituents have stormed their representatives’ offices to demand they vote against an Obamacare repeal, among many other things. Survivors of various health issues have publicly stated that they wouldn’t be alive today without Obamacare.

And yet, Republicans, pressed on, culminating with this new bill introduced last week. But despite the party’s tough rhetoric, the bill contains some remarkable concessions, maintaining many provisions of Obamacare – a clear testament to the fact that America is now too deep in healthcare reform to turn back now.

Following its introduction, Donald Trump lauded the bill as the fulfillment of his campaign promise to replace Obamacare, while throwing continuous jabs at the “imploding” state of his predecessor’s signature legislative accomplishment.

Barely minutes later, conservative Republican lawmakers held a press conference to denounce the bill, calling it Obamacare 2.0, and saying it doesn’t accomplish their desire of a full, categorical repeal.

And moderate Republicans from swing states are concerned that their constituents will turn against them if they endorse the bill.

Democrats, naturally, are united against the bill. As are nearly every professional medical agency.

US President Barack Obama gives a thumbs

Upon further analysis of the bill, it became apparent that the AHCA is basically a major tax cut for wealthy Americans disguised as a healthcare bill.

And just when support was sinking lower and lower, the Congressional Budget Office – which the White House was preemptively attacking – announced on Monday that the AHCA would result in the loss of health care coverage for approximately 24 million people.

In other words, it’s dead on arrival.

There’s a reason why presidents dating back to the early 1900s have tried, and failed, to implement health care reform – because it’s freaking hard. Obama got it done. It was not without criticism, but as a result, millions more people have health insurance than before he was in office.

Republicans talked themselves into this mess by promising to repeal Obamacare, and making it seem like it would be a piece of cake. They raised expectations by passing dozens of bills to repeal Obamacare over the last several years that were immediately vetoed by Obama.

And now, in control of the House, Senate and presidency, they have the opportunity to do it, and they’re realizing just how hard it is.

It’s ironic, but Obamacare may end up being the downfall of the Republican Party under Donald Trump.

But pay attention to what happens. It’s easy to observe from the sidelines, and even cheer that you are no longer penalized for failing to purchase health insurance if this bill somehow passes.

But one day, if you get sick, it could be your life that’s on the line … and what’s happening now was the signature moment that impacted that care that you will one day receive.

If you won’t care for the sick people, then maybe you’ll at least care about future sick you.

Don’t make future sick you want to punch young healthy you in the face.

What to expect when you’re expecting a CIA hack

Today on ‘As the World Turns,’ Congressional Republicans proposed an alternative to Obamacare that may benefit the wallets of young, healthy people, but will likely be extremely problematic for those who are severely ill; European and Asian countries are considering upgrading their nuclear arsenal out of the fear that they can no longer rely on an unstable United States; and Wikileaks released thousands of pages of documents that may reveal highly secretive — and highly troubling — hacking techniques by the CIA.

Oh, and an explosive story in the New Yorker explains how Donald Trump’s company may have done shady business with corrupt Azerbaijani officials that illegally laundered money to Iran.

In other words, just another day in the U.S.

But hey, Ed Sheeran’s new album is actually pretty dope. Give it a listen. I’m calling “Castle on the Hill” as 2017’s next big hit.

One thing that gets lost when you exclusively follow American news is the impact that Trump’s presidency is having not on our country, but on the world.

While we are micro-analyzing every Tweet, and are balancing reactions from Republicans and Democrats, other countries are taking their own actions to protect themselves against an increasingly uncertain United States.

CIA

The European Union is considering its own nuclear program. China is threatening to increase its arsenal if the United States follows through with a missile defense program in South Korea. This is an actual world development that demands attention.

We saw in the ’60s the anxiety that can resonate worldwide when powerful countries engage in an arms race. And when the man with his fingertips on the nuclear codes in this country is someone who describes nuclear weapons as such:

“You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things.”

Then call me crazy for being a little fearful.

As for the Wikileaks thing, a lot of reporting needs to take place before we understand the full scope of what was released. But the immediate indications are not very good.

For one, it means that someone leaked classified CIA information to Wikileaks, either because they really hate Trump and wanted to cause a problem, or because we have another Edward Snowden on our hands, and someone felt morally obligated to share what they felt was obtrusive and secretive spying on American citizens.

Secondly, if true, it means the CIA can spy on us using cell phones and smart TVs.

Which basically means that George Orwell’s ‘1984’ got it right yet again. In that book, the autocratic regime uses TVs, or what they call telescreens, to conduct surveillance on their citizens.

So to sum up: healthcare may no longer be affordable if you’re sick, nuclear war is imminent, the government is watching you through your smartphone as you read this, and Trump has probably committed criminal — let alone impeachable — offenses that would likely be easily uncovered if Congress were to conduct just one independent investigation into his past business dealings.

But other than that, everything is cool.

The war on Obamacare has begun, and the loser is America

Whoever imagined that “repeal and replace” would become part of everyday vernacular in 2017?

I will admit, though, it does roll of the tongue nicely, not unlike YOLO. I think I have a hunch what the title of Drake’s next single will be.

Anyway, it’s the beginning of a new congressional session  — everyone’s favorite time of the year, after Arbor Day — meaning the war over Obamacare has begun.

Now, this is something that began almost immediately after President Obama signed the statute, legally the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law back in 2010, but now with a new Republican regime about to take over the White House in two weeks, its future is very much in doubt.

Political enthusiasts have long been well versed on this battle and what it actually means for America.

But even the people who are indifferent towards, or make it a point to avoid politics, will soon be unable to avoid this topic.

So I think to fully be able to comprehend what is happening on Capitol Hill right now, and the potential impact it will have on everyday Americans, it is paramount to first come to one central understanding: what exactly is Obamacare?

On the surface, it’s simple. Expanding healthcare to everyone. The USA is shockingly behind in offering free and/or affordable healthcare to its citizens. In fact, almost all developed nations offer it. Bot not us.

On top of that, healthcare takes up a massive portion of our federal budget.

So bearing those two basic points in mind, it has long been understood on both sides of the political aisle that the United States has desperately needed healthcare reform. The major point of contention, however, was how.

obamacare

No president has made major changes to our country’s healthcare since the inception of Medicaid (for poor people) and Medicare (for old people) by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

Any realist understands that an initial plan to reform a major national program that serves millions is going to be far from perfect. But to create a system that works, you have to get the ball rolling with something, so we can learn what works, what doesn’t, and make it better for future generations.

And that’s what got us Obamacare.

In short, the federal program widened the ability for citizens to obtain healthcare coverage in three ways: expanding Medicaid eligibility to more people; creating an online market place so citizens can compare prices to find what coverage works best for them; and increasing the amount of young adults who can stay on their parents’ plan.

The law also prevents insurance companies from rejecting or discriminating applicants based on preexisting conditions or gender.

Most people don’t get healthcare until they need it. And when that happens, the price is typically exorbitant.

So to balance out the number of sick people who apply for health coverage, Obamacare mandated that all citizens be covered – or pay a fine. That directive forced healthy people to be covered, adding a new faction of previously unenrolled people to insurance companies that would not drain all their funds.

That’s Obamacare 101.

Most people know the short term results – 23 million people who were previously uninsured now have coverage thanks to Obamacare. The rate of the uninsured dropped from 16 percent to 8.

But because less people signed up than the Obama administration hoped, more insurance companies have pulled out, and insurance costs have risen – which was not unexpected. Federal subsidies were always expected to rise as well, to offset the spike.

And that’s been the rallying cry from critics of the law: the increased costs.

Others never wanted any government intrusion in healthcare, perceiving it as federal overreach.

The fact is that most people do not realize the benefits they have seen due to Obamacare. Yes it’s true that the healthier you are, the less likely you are to seek medical care and therefore reap any of the advantages. But for sick people, it’s made all the difference.

What people also fail to realize is that Obamacare’s long-term vision was to revolutionize the way that Americans receive care. Unfortunately, we will likely never know if it worked.

pence-ryan

The first wave of hospitals to participate in the program are now incentivized to not just provide care – but to provide care that actually works. Obamacare authorized hospitals to develop their own metrics to grade the quality of care that their doctors administer. Receiving federal funding was contingent on meeting those metrics.

Therefore, rather than the fee-for-service system that exists now – where doctors are paid a lump sum for every operation or subscription administered, regardless of the results – a new type payment policy was instilled where doctors are rewarded based on results.

These hospitals ware also incentivized to reduce spending while issuing the same quality of care, accomplished through consolidation and collaboration to better utilize resources; enhanced technology; and focusing on preventative care, or targeting people who are more likely to end up in an emergency room and making sure they improve their long-term health.

Better care. Less costs. That is the long-term vision of Obamacare.

How can anyone argue with this system?

But it’s not about health anymore. It’s about political victory. It’s about being the ones who get to announce that they repealed Obamacare, appealing to their conservative base.

It’s truly sad that Americans’ health has become not just a partisan issue, but the biggest partisan issue in our country. Republicans have become so determined to repeal Obamacare that they seemingly have not fully prepared for what they would do afterwards.

Whether it’s repeal and delay or repeal and replace – the fact is that more than 20 million Americans may lose the health coverage that is helping to keep them alive.

But now Republican lawmakers are backtracking, insisting that they will find a way to ensure those who received healthcare under Obamacare would not lose it. They also want to continue protecting people with preexisting conditions while ensuring young people have the ability to stay on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26.

Well, guess what could also accomplish that? Keeping Obamacare, while making some tweaks to fix the parts of it that haven’t fully panned out.

Unfortunately, actually repealing the law has become too politically symbolic that they left themselves no choice.

As we speak, Congress is sacrificing Americans’ health in order to make a political statement.

It’s sad that people aren’t going to fully appreciate this until after it happens.

And all we’ll be left with is sick people unable to afford healthcare and a stupid Drake “Repeal and Replace” mix tape.

Drake, by the way, is from Canada, a country that essentially provides free, publicly-funded healthcare.

Once again, Drake wins.

He always wins.

A jubilant, progressive time for the U.S. of A.

Man, is it a bad time to be a conservative in America.

Earlier last week, an important provision of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was upheld by the Supreme Court. Had it not been, it might have killed Obama’s trademark legislation altogether.

At the same time last week came the calls for the eradication of the Confederate flag — long viewed as a symbol for slavery, which once divided our nation and caused a bloody civil war.

And finally, in what will probably be one of the biggest decisions in our lifetimes, the Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, that gay marriage is a right for all Americans as declared by the Constitution, no matter what state you live in.

For those who enjoy progression and equality, it’s been a pretty good last couple of weeks.

gay prideIf it wasn’t for the close call and the divisiveness in the Supreme Court regarding the latter decision, those justices would be hailed as heroes. Time Magazine wouldn’t even have had a decision to make when deciding its 2015 Persons of the Year. But the four who voted against it, including Chief Justice John Roberts, were pretty adamant, as well as most of the Republican presidential candidates.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal suggested getting rid of the Supreme Court. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants a Constitutional amendment to reverse their decision. Texas Senator Ted Cruz called it “judicial tyranny.”

It’s amazing that this line of thinking is not only still happening in 2015, but that it’s being openly promoted by people who could potentially run this country.

On a lighter note, rainbows are making a comeback.

It was only a matter of time when gay marriage would be legalized in the United States. The vocal support among the masses– particularly on social media — has enhanced exponentially in the last several years, and it was becoming too ubiquitous for it to not become a reality sooner than later.

That universal support has been exemplified on Facebook, as people are draping their profile pictures with a rainbow overlay. It’s a nice show of solidarity, but it’s also making my eyes want to commit murder. Which, trust me, is possible. (Amirite Cyclops?)

I’ve always thought it would be cool to stand at the exact edge of where a rainbow forms, but now that I’ve gotten a glimpse of what it would be like, I think I’ll limit my rainbow activities to singling out its marshmallow counterpart when eating a bowl of Lucky Charms.Seriously, if you prefer any other marshmallow in that cereal, then you you need to seriously reevaluate your life. Especially if you’re favorite is the horseshoe. I just can’t respect you.

The fight for marriage equality will no doubt become a movie one day. Which is what made it even more fitting that, on Sunday — two days after the historic ruling — the annual (and previously scheduled) gay pride parades took place throughout the country. It was a perfect ending to the story.

Unfortunately, the backdrop for all of this was the memorial service for the nine victims of the Charleston church shootings, which also happened on Friday. If you haven’t seen it, Obama’s eulogy for the church pastor, Clementa Pinckney, is pretty incredible, capped with him singing Amazing Grace. Obama’s got some pipes.

As a nation, we are far from perfect. But at least right now, I can say I am pretty damn proud to be an American.

If for no other reason that it’s socially acceptable here to deep-fry pretty much any food before eating it.

Rainbows and deep-fried twinkies.

‘Murica.