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“Roseanne” and Ronnie

April 12, 2018

I was not a regular viewer of “Roseanne” its first time around, although I appreciated that it expanded the blue collar presence in sitcoms that “The Honeymooners” and “All in the Family” established.  I watched the first episode of the reboot along with 18.5 million others, mildly curious.  The advance hype centered on a gender-fluid grandchild, a mixed-race grandchild and the promise of epic political clashes between Roseanne and her sister Jackie.

The ratings dropped by 3 million the second episode, then held for the third episode.  I’m wondering if that will hold, though, because the show has quickly settled into sitcom complacency.  After a few generic dust-ups regarding Trump, the sisters have apparently settled their ideological differences.  The mixed-race grandchild was on screen for a few minutes the first episode, but not seen since.  The gender-fluid grandchild had many scenes in the opener, but also is MIA since.

In non-Hollywood news, I am chagrined, as a veteran, by Trump’s choice to replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.  Trump fired Shulkin for excessive travel expenses on an official trip to Europe.  The day after his dismissal, Shulkin told NPR that he felt he had adequately addressed the issue, and that the White House had forbidden him to comment on it until he left office.

Shulkin is a career health care management specialist, a leader in patient centered care.  An Obama appointee, he says he was under pressure to have the VA privatized, a pet project of the Koch brothers.  I’m all for accountability in government, but Shulkin’s sins are nowhere near as egregious as Scott Pruitt’s outlandish choices.

Trump has nominated Admiral Ronny Jackson, a physician, to replace Shulkin.  I appreciate that Dr. Jackson treated wounded Marines in Iraq, but his recent gushing assessment of Trump’s health is an embarrassment.  Jackson lauded The Donald’s “incredible genes”, “excellent” cardiac health, and how he did “exceedingly well” on a cognitive test.

Mind you, this was the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, and we here in Canada take coherence quite seriously.  To ace the exam, Trump had to correctly draw a clock and identify a picture of a rhinoceros.

Jackson had to fudge to avoid labeling Trump obese.  Donny weighed in at 239 pounds, and — even though people are saying that someone probably had their thumb under the scale — the good doctor bumped up his height by an inch.  Jackson somehow concluded that 45 “will remain fit for duty for the remainder of this term and even the remainder of another term if he is elected.”  That sounds to me like Trump dictated it.

Speaking of which, do you remember Dr. Harold Bornstein?  Allegedly Trump’s personal physician since 1980, he released a letter in late 2015 with an even more absurd assessment of POTUS’s health.  According to Bornstein, Trump had “extraordinary” physical strength and stamina, plus “astonishingly excellent” blood pressure and lab results.

Bornstein, who looks like an extra in a Cheech and Chong movie, had a big finale that again sounds like Trump dictated it: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

A website listed in Bornstein’s letterhead linked to an offer to update a Flash program.  The letter opening read “To Whom My Concern:”.  The doctor later admitted that he wrote it in 5 minutes as a limo sent by Trump waited outside his office.

But I digress yet again.  The VA is the largest department of the federal government, based on the number of employees.  It is so overburdened that it didn’t catch up on its Agent Orange claims until mid-2012.  It took me 4+ years to get disability payments for my Vietnam-related PTSD, and it turned me down once.

Shulkin had extensive managerial experience, Jackson doesn’t.  Privatization will further gum up the works.  One bright spot: at least Trump didn’t nominate Bornstein.




  1. I. P. Freely permalink
    April 12, 2018 6:14 pm

    More sadness in the US&A.

    There was the little pickup in spirits when Ryan announced he was “retiring” to spend more time with his children. I wonder if he asked them if they wanted to spend more time with him?

    Yours for the revolution.

    • April 17, 2018 1:34 pm

      Maybe he’ll get more time to spend with Sean Hannity.

  2. Judith permalink
    April 15, 2018 3:03 pm

    I worked at Palo Alto, Ft Miley and the Yountville Veterans Hospital. I suggested at the time the patients would be better off in Private hospitals the medical care was so bad. Get them on Medicare or Medical and ship them out to local private hospitals for medical care. The doctors practicing in them were quacks. At Ft. Miley they had no chief of staff were dependent on residents from USF who were running experiments using the patients. It was horrible.

    • April 17, 2018 1:41 pm

      To be sure, as Oliver Stone showed us in “Born on the Fourth of July”. But I don’t see how privatization would improve it, although I admit I have a knee jerk rejection of anything the Kochs promote. And wouldn’t the transfer of that many patients to Medicare further stress that struggling program?

  3. Don permalink
    April 16, 2018 11:12 am

    Grateful to have found your blog Alan and this latest hits pretty close to home. Having been reliant on VA healthcare for some time and also a Vietnam Vet. the prospect of privatization is to me the scariest thing I’ve heard coming from this scary administration.
    Thanks Alan for bringing some sanity & timely wit during what seems to be a devolution of

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