Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions For Politicians

(bah humbug. another year, another chance to snarl)

All right guys and gals in Washington, gather round and repeat after me:

1. I resolve to act in the best interests of my constituents and my country in 2010.

2. I resolve not to be swayed by campaign contributions from giant corporations. I will put principles above payouts.

3. I resolve to argue with opponents only about issues and policy. I will leave out the name-calling, blatant lies and smarmy little catch-phrases designed to grab headlines and inflame the already-angry overweight white people in baseball caps.

And 4. Once I retire, I will go away. I will not issue irate statements or write rambly Facebook messages attacking the current political leaders. I will write my book, collect my millions, and snarl off into the sunset.

... sigh ... wouldn't that be nice?


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

You better not shout ...

You better not cry ...

Better not pout, I'm telling you why ...

Oops. Never mind.

Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Letters to Santa

Dear Santa,
I could use some hair dye. I seem to be going gray for some reason. On second thought, a wig might be better. And a fake nose, and maybe a beard. Oh, and a suitcase. I'm outta here, man.
~ Love, Barack

Dear Santa,
Please leave me a bunch of coal in my stocking. I want to throw it at my so-called friends.
~ Love, Joe L.

Dear Santa,
I want Glenn's time slot, Hillary's ghostwriter and Barack's house. In that order, please. Also peace on earth for everyone in this great nation of ours except of course the radical left wing media with their sneaky gotcha questions and snobbish elite attitudes that are destroying this great nation as everyone knows which I've said before and therefore as you know must clearly be replaced by a stronger moral majority under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all who agree with me.
~ Love, Sarah P.

Dear Santa,
Don't bring us anything! We've already received our present. The Senate gave us everything we wanted.
~ Love, the CEO's of Aetna, UnitedHealth, Cigna and Blue Cross


Saturday, December 19, 2009


Some Republican Senators just put out this video.

I'm confused.

Could somebody please tell me

please tell me

please tell me

what these people people people

are talking about???

Why are these guys still pretending to be upset about a health reform bill that now has not a smidgen of government-run health care whatsoever??

They've got what they wanted.

No public option. No medicare buy-in. A watered down, ineffective version of reform that I guarantee you will increase costs for consumers and make everyone hopping mad at the Democrats, who had the bright idea of caving in to right-wing demands by stripping out the provisions one by one that could have had a positive impact on the whole sad, sorry state of affairs.

Listen, Mr. Senators. Why don't you guys just go on over to the offices of Aetna, UnitedHealth and Blue Cross, and join their holiday parties? I'm sure they are whooping it up. They just got a giant gift from the U.S Congress, tied up in a pretty red bow.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Conspiracy Theory

(who IS this person, and how did he get in the white house?)

You've heard about the Salahi's, I'm sure. They're the couple who crashed the White House dinner party.

How did they get in? Who knows? Who cares? I have a bigger question ...

Who is this Barack Obama look-alike who is apparently now in charge???

I didn't vote for this guy.

I voted for a guy who cared deeply about the middle class. Who really wanted health reform. And most importantly to me - who knew what to say and how to say it.

The Republican party has no problem getting their message across. In fact, they are geniuses when it comes to message control. They can take the simple issue of providing health care to millions of Americans and turn it into a raging, ugly argument that invokes comparisons to Nazi death camps.

They can take Americans who rightfully feel angry and betrayed by the evaporation of their net worth during a financial meltdown that occurred during a Republican administration - and turn that anger against the current President as he tries to fix the mess left behind.

They can muster up little slogans left and right to get their message across. Death panels. Socialist. Flip Flop. Guantanamo North. Hear my voice or hear my gun. Don't mess with our constitution. Keep your Socialist hands off my government-provided health care.

Damn. They've got some good copywriters on their side.

And what is our eloquent President saying in response? Not much.

He hasn't fought back. He hasn't explained his decisions. He hasn't defended his judgment or fought for his priorities.

So here's my theory:

Either (a) the real Barack Obama has run far far away, which I could totally understand, and is now being played by some other guy, like in the movie Dave where Kevin Kline takes over as president and actually does a better job, which unfortunately is not the case here.

Or (b) Barack hasn't run away, but his speechwriters have, in which case he really needs to give me a call because I know for a fact that I could do a better job than whoever is telling him what to say right now. (call me, Prez! I'm here for ya.)

Or maybe (c) President Obama has good reasons for doing what he is doing, really he does, but he thought it would be special and festive to wait until Christmas morning to tell us what those reasons are, at which point the sun will come out, the birdies will begin to sing, and bells will chime out across the land.

Wouldn't that be nice?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Speechless. Well, almost.

(RIP, any chance for real health reform ...
it was nice knowing ya)

That was quick. The public option was here, then it was gone. Same for the Medicare buy-in.


I had high hopes for that Medicare idea.

In fact, even Joe Lieberman had high hopes for that Medicare idea. Yes, the person who killed the idea has actually supported it for years. How ironic and wry and completely bumble-headed. Lieberman says he is opposed now because it would be too expensive. But the CBO hasn't even estimated the expense yet.

I'm glad I am not a skeptical person, because it would be awfully tempting to assume that Joe's position has something to do with all those insurance companies headquartered in his state.

And now, everybody is trying to make it sound like what's left will be GREAT! WONDERFUL! The BEST legislation EVER! Even Jay Rockefeller and Ron Wyden. What the heck? Do they think we're not paying attention?

Here's what Rockefeller said yesterday:

"Can you just simply fail to govern because you couldn't get everything you wanted so you just opt out of it? And then there's no bill. And that is not why we're here. We're here to make progress."

I'm not buying it. What's left is crap. What's left is a mandate to buy expensive private insurance that is guaranteed to become even more expensive. Quickly.

Where's the choice? Don't even tell me about the "Exchange." We have an exchange right now. It's called You can go there and "choose" from umpteen extremely expensive plans. Whoopie.

Where's the affordability? Where's the repeal of the anti-trust exemption? Where's the competition?

I'm going to write my right-wing Congresspeople today, which is the only type of Congressperson we have down here in Texas. I'm going to encourage them to vote no.

I'm sure they will be happy to hear from me. But don't get complacent, guys. I'll be voting "no" on every one of you, every chance I get.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, in the Senate and House
Not a creature was stirring, 'cept Lieberman the louse.
The health bill was hanging by its fingernails with care
In hopes that a miracle soon would be there.

The taxpayers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of a public option danced in their heads.
My hubby in blue jeans and I in my cap,
Had just opened our 2010 premium statement and uttered, "oh crap."

Just then on the news there arose such a clatter
We turned up the volume to see what was the matter.
Ried, Baucus and Lieberman appeared in a flash
Waving pieces of paper and bundles of cash.

We did it, they yelled. We came up with the answer!
We'll take care of health care and maybe cure cancer!
It's really quite simple, said Senator Max.
We just sold the country to Goldman Sachs.

They'll fix up our problems lickity-split
Don't worry my friends, it won't hurt a bit.
The smart guys at Sachs will come to the rescue
And if things fall apart, well, they'll profit from that, too.

They'll short sell your health, and they'll bundle the risk
So they'll be just fine, even if you get sick.
They'll make money on ups - even more when you're down
And when we're all broke that's when they'll go to town.

And with that, the three Senators ran for their lives
Stuffing dough in their pockets and giving high fives.
But I heard them exclaim as they ran out of sight,
Merry Christmas to Goldman, and to Sachs a good night!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Not totally ranting

(RIP, public option)

Ok. So the public option is dead. Even if Harry Reid says it's kind of still alive, in a zombie-meets-alternate-universe kind of way.

My friends have been sending condolence emails. But really, I'm ok.

I'm not even ranting about it.

Because instead of the stupid, trigger-happy-opt-in-opt-out-wishy-washy public option that was never going to happen, we just might get 2 things:

1. The chance for those of us over 55 to buy into Medicare, and

2. An Exchange that mimics the health care options available to Congress.

Now, I'm not all that excited about # 2. Everybody thinks Congress gets this sweet deal, but it's really just private insurance plans saying "Buy me! Buy me!" Big deal.

On the other hand, # 1 has me not-ranting for a change.

~ I find it reassuring that I could possibly have another choice for health insurance, other than the pathetic and extremely expensive Texas High-Risk Health Insurance Pool.

~ I see the potential for further expansion of Medicare, a (gasp) single-payer system, down the road.

~ And I can't wait to hear the protests from the Republicans, who were against Medicare before they were for it, before they were against it again.

Nothing is set in stone yet. But the current compromise has tentative support from Anthony Weiner, Jay Rockefeller and Howard Dean. Olympia Snowe hates it.

That's good enough for me.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

WhatTheHeck Headlines

It's not easy to write a headline. I mean, you have to take a whole entire story and condense it into 5 or 6 words. It's a tough job!

Maybe that's why the headlines on Politico, one of my favorite websites, are sometimes a little confusing. Here are a few actual examples that I spotted, just this morning:

Critics Start Fast In Copenhagen
Does this mean that the climate change critics are not eating? Goodness. Or are they simply off to a "fast start"? I would clarify this for you, but the story was 4 pages long and extremely boring, so I really am not sure.

Gibbs: Gallup Like A 6-Year-Old
Yee Haw! Let's all gallup around the press room with Robert Gibbs! Sounds like fun. Oh wait. He was talking about the Gallup Poll, comparing it to a 6 year old with a crayon. I like my interpretation better.

W.H. Predicts A Stimulating Winter
Really? Are they inviting Tigers Woods for an extended stay?

Public Option No Longer Public. Or An Option. Or Anywhere In Sight.
Ok, I made this one up. But it's very close to the truth. And it's not funny at all. Although I am encouraged that they're talking about allowing people 55 and older to buy into Medicare. I have no idea why it took so long to get that idea on the table, but I'm hoping it will stay there.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Would you trust this guy with health care reform?

Why was Max Baucus ever put in charge of the Senate health care bill? Somehow, his face just does not inspire confidence ...

Even when he smiles, he's kind of creepy looking ...

Oh god, please stop smiling Max ...

Most of the time, he looks perplexed ...

... or confused ...

Or like he has just been stricken with lock-jaw ...

Or some sort of digestive disorder ...

But on the other hand, maybe he's the perfect guy for the job ...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I *heart* insurance companies

(who says insurance companies don't have a heart?)

Sometimes big corporations get a bad rap. But hey, this is the season of love and peace. I think we should give them a break! Surely they have good reasons for doing what they do.

So, in the spirit of love and peace, I looked up the mission statements for the country's 3 largest health insurance companies.

Wow. Golly gee. I had no idea they were so compassionate and idealistic.

Brought a little tear to my eye.

Here are the 3 mission statements. Each one is followed by an actual news story that demonstrates just exactly how compassionate and idealistic these companies are.

Gigantic Insurance Company # 1: UnitedHealth
2008 profits: $2.997 billion (this was, amazingly, a 36% DROP from 2007)
(Link to profit information)

Heart-warming mission statement:
"Our mission is to help people live healthier lives. We seek to enhance the performance of the health system and improve the overall health and well-being of the people we serve and their communities."

News story:
January 16, 2009
UnitedHealth Settles Lawsuit Over Insurance Claims

Investigators found that UnitedHealth subsidiary Ingenix was providing faulty data which helped the giant insurer under-pay medical claims, thus shifting costs unfairly to the customers. UnitedHealth admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to pay $350 million.

($350 million? Heck, they have more than that stuffed between the couch cushions in the employee lunch room.)

Gigantic Insurance Company # 2: WellPoint
2008 profits: $2.490 billion

Heart-warming mission statement:
"To improve the lives of the people we serve and the health of our communities."

News story:
April, 2009
Biggest Health Insurer Admits: We Put Profits Before People

WellPoint CEO Angela Brady told investors during a conference call: "We will not sacrifice profitability for membership."

(In other words, money counts. People don't. Plus, you guys appear to have stolen UnitedHealth's mission statement. Come on, you could at least make up your own crap.)

Gigantic Insurance Company # 3: Aetna
2008 profits: $1.384 billion

Mission statement:
"We help people achieve health and financial security by providing easy access to cost-effective, high-quality health care"

News story:
December 4, 2009
Aetna Forcing 600,000-Plus To Lose Coverage In Effort To Raise Profits

Just in time for the holidays, Aetna has announced that it will be raising rates in 2010. Because of the higher rates, the company expects to lose between 600,000 and 650,000 customers. Chairman and CEO Ron Williams explained that the price hikes instituted in 2009 simply were not high enough. "The pricing we put in place for 2009 turned out to not really be what we needed to achieve the results and margins that we had historically been delivering," he said.

(Excuse me Ron, but I'm a little confused. Where is the "financial security" for the 600,000 people who can no longer afford your "cost-effective health care"?)

You really have to hand it to these benevolent, kindly health insurance companies. They obviously have someone's best interests at heart.

Can you guess whose?


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Magical math

(i need a little cheering up. i think i'll go visit my other blog)

I was just over at the Health Care For America NOW Blog, where I learned that - yippee - the CBO has confirmed that the Senate Bill will, in fact, lower health insurance premiums!

Birds are singing. The flowers are in bloom. All is well with the -

Wait a second. What is that hidden in the middle of the blog post?

It's magical math!

The post quotes Ezra Klein from the Washington Post. Here is the quote. See if you can spot the magic. I'll highlight it for you to make it easier to spot.


The CBO estimates that 57 percent of people in the individual market will receive subsidies to help them purchase health-care insurance (folks on the individual market tend to be much lower-income, with much less stable employment). Those subsidies will reduce premium costs by between 56 to 59 percent for the average beneficiary. So in the final analysis, the effect of reform on your typical individual market purchasers is to give them insurance that's about 30 percent better but only 10 to 12 percent more expensive, and then assure them subsidies that will lower their payments by more than 50 percent. And if you're in the small group or large group markets, your premiums are expected to fall a bit.


Why oh why do people keep insisting that subsidies will decrease costs?? Subsidies will not lower health insurance premiums. They will simply shift the expense to the taxpayers.

Furthermore, are we seriously supposed to believe that if we're in the small group or large group markets, our premiums will "fall a bit"? I love the way Ezra threw that in at the end. Very funny. When was the last time the insurance companies lowered premiums for anyone??

There really is no hope for cost containment if the Senate plan does not include:

a) Repealing the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies

b) A public option that is open to everyone

and c) Brain transplants for all of the health insurance company executives who think their job is to generate profits regardless of the health of their customers. Oh wait. That IS their job. Never mind.

There really is no hope for cost containment. (I'm getting a little discouraged about the whole thing, can you tell?)

Interestingly enough, on the same Health Care For America NOW blog, there is a link to this story:

Aetna Prepares For Loss Of 600,000 Members As It Raises 2010 Prices

Chair and CEO Ron Williams told analysts, "The pricing we put in place for 2009 turned out to not really be what we needed to achieve the results and margins that we had historically been delivering."


Let me get this straight. A big insurance company raises its prices, deliberately driving hundreds of thousands of customers away, in order to achieve a bigger profit margin.

Now THERE is some math I can believe in.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Forget H1N1 ... there's a new pandemic in town

(where am i? who am i? what happened during those 8 years? nobody seems to know)

The CDC has issued a warning about a new pandemic spreading across the country. No, it's not the Swine Flu ... it's amnesia.

Yes, you heard me right! What was I saying? I forgot.

Oh yeah. Amnesia! It's everywhere.

Here are just a few examples:

1. As David Michael Green points out in this excellent Smirking Chimp post, the budget deficits that the right-wingers love to scream about actually began during the W administration. Helloooo ... remember that budget surplus he inherited? Remember the tax cuts, the unfunded wars, the disastrous Medicare Let'sSeeHowConfusingWeCanMakeThisHorriblyExpensive Drug Bill?

Me neither.

2. Last week, Dana Perino, former Press Secretary for George W. Bush, insisted that the shooting at Fort Hood needed to be called "terrorism." Absolutely. Call it what it is. Implying that President Obama was playing politics with the situation, she went on to say: "We did not have a terrorist attack on the country during President Bush's term."

Sure. Not that I can remember.

And 3. Just today, Senator John McCain offered up the very first amendment to the health reform bill currently being debated to death. Literally. His amendment would remove cuts to Medicare Advantage, which are intended to help pay for reform. But just a year ago, during the campaign (what campaign? I don't remember any campaign) McCain said he thought Medicare cuts would be a fine and dandy idea.

It's so confusing.

Where are we? How did we get here? This black dude shows up in the White House, and all of a sudden there are big deficits and terrorist attacks and complicated issues to solve!!!

Please, let's all go back to the simpler days, when the sun was shining and the birdies were singing and Americans were strong and united and willing to tell the truth.

When were those days?

I forget.