One of the regrets of modern life is that various ailing appliances no longer respond well to a good whack, which for many years was the standard way to get things working again.
But for a good whacking, some of us would still be sitting helplessly beside the road in a stopped car, or at home beside a blank computer, beside an idle washing machine and generally beside ourselves in frustration at the failure of our personal technology.
Unfortunately, it seems that modern technology, having become more human in its intelligence, has also become more sensitive, thus defeating the effectiveness of a good whack in reviving the inner workings of ailing devices.
This is a shame because nothing seems more deserving of a good whack than the website for the Affordable Care Act: www.healthcare.gov.
Unprepared for the several million people who visited it -- Americans who somehow didn't get the Republican message that everybody in America hated Obamacare -- the website is now undergoing emergency repairs.
Instead of rewriting the code, can we suggest that somebody just give the government computer a big whack? Sometimes the old methods are the best.
If that doesn't work, perhaps the government can recruit a team of 14-year-olds to fix the system in their own mysterious juvenile way. The bonus with this plan is they can be kept on to program the smartphones of the nation's adults.
It would be nice if everybody involved with this fiasco could be given a good whack, too. But it is not right to recommend that public officials should have hands laid on them. How uncivilized!
No, when it comes to people, whacking is unfortunately not good form. What they need is a good old-fashioned kick in the butt.
We will all have our own candidates for a strategic foot placed upon the pants. Republicans in Congress have little trouble flexing their feet for the task, as they, the insured, continue their obsession with denying a lifeline for millions of the uninsured.
On Tuesday, Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is overseeing the health care reform plan, might have had an X painted on her rear end had she not taken the precaution of sitting on it as she testified before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Certainly, she bears responsibility for the website problems -- and for this she rightly apologized -- but in my book it's her congressional tormenters who more deserve the avenging foot in the rear. Hypocrisy always deserves the curled toes of contempt.
She is at least trying to help people, albeit with not much effectiveness in this instance. That's more than you can say for the Republicans, who have chosen to believe that because the website is broken, the whole Affordable Care Act is broken. This is like saying that if you get on a plane and the TV monitor doesn't work, this is proof that the plane's engines won't work.
Of course, it doesn't inspire confidence when bungles happen, but the problems with healthcare,gov are indicative of only one thing: It needs a good whack.
It's been a spectacle to see politicians who hate the Affordable Care Act pretend to be concerned that the rollout is screwed up when they want the rollout to be screwed up.
If logic had any place in their feelings, they would have applauded Ms. Tavenner, presented her with bouquets, said "Thank you, thank you" for her good (bad) work, and told her to please come back often with more tales of woe. Not much of that occurred at Tuesday's hearing.
This is why the whole crew deserves a good kick in the butt -- because they have some cheek. If they really wanted to, they could do something positive to improve this law and address its flaws (such as some people having their insurance canceled, which is contrary to the president's promises).
Perhaps it is time we the people set up our own committees for butt-kicking purposes. Ah, but so many butts, so little time to kick them. Please bend over, everybody who had a hand in shutting down the government in the cause of defunding Obamacare and fiscal responsibility. It achieved nothing and cost an irresponsibly grand $24 billion, to be added to the deficit.
Of course, butt-kicking is only a metaphor; more's the pity, but voters like a good metaphor. They can still give the political system an old-fashioned whack to set things right.
Reg Henry: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1668.