Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My resignation letter. Well, maybe.

(me? stop ranting? nah)

Dear followers, lurkers, and anonymous commenters from Japan:

Good news! I have discovered how to make money blogging. Here's how you do it: you stop blogging, and get a job.

Yes, somebody actually offered me a real, full-time job. I start next week. I'm very excited. It's not a blogging job, but it is a writing job with a wonderful company.

Of course, the bad news is that I will have less time for blogging. And I had SO many things to rant about!

I was going to look into genetically modified organisms, which I hate to tell you but you probably eat these mutated food-like undigestable substances for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Truly scary stuff.

I was going to cover the upcoming health reform summit in great detail, which I'm sure will be very amusing. Maybe President Obama will propose a tax credit for surgically removing sneers from the faces of certain Republican leaders *cough*Boehner*cough*.

And of course I was going to follow Sarah Palin's run for the presidency in 2012, which you betcha is coming and which will provide ENDLESS fodder for bloggers like me. And since I am satirical, just like Rush Limbaugh, I can say whatever I want without worrying about offending Ms. Palin. What a relief!

Clearly I can't let these opportunities completely pass me by. So I'll be around! I just won't be ranting quite as frequently.

Have a great day, my friends! But put down that muffin. Trust me, you don't want to eat that. I'll tell you why later.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anthem Blue Cross writes back

(take a chill pill, kathleen.
anthem blue cross is just doin' what comes naturally)

As I told you last time, Kathleen Sibelius wrote a stern letter to Anthem Blue Cross, demanding to know why they were raising rates as much as 39% for individual customers in California.

Well, now they have written back.

Sibelius received this detailed 5-page explanation for the rate hikes instead of the three-word answer that really would have sufficed: "Because. We. Can."

Let's take a look at Anthem's explanation, shall we? Here are some excerpts, followed by my translations in red:

Anthem's profit margin in California is in-line with and below that of many of our competitors.

Translation: The CEO of Aetna has a MUCH bigger yacht than I do.

It is important to note that the rate increases being reported in the media relate only to the individual insurance market ... which represents approximately 10 percent of our more than eight million members in California.

Translation: Besides, this change only affects 800,000 people, all of whom are obviously losers because they don't work for large corporations. Fools.

Furthermore, the figure of 39 percent being reported by media represents one of the largest rate increases and includes the impact of aging.

Translation: In fact, many of them are geezers!

It is important to know that our members often have a choice of coverage.

Translation: If they want to save some money, they can switch to our ever-popular Major Medical Instant Bankruptcy PPO Plan with a $50,000 deductible.

(later in the letter, under the heading "Why Individual Rates Are Increasing Faster Than Medical Inflation") -
In our challenging economy, a higher proportion of individuals move to lower-cost coverage.

Translation: Of course, keep in mind, if people take our advice and switch plans, we will still have to raise their rates. Hey, we gotta make a buck.

Medical costs increase each year primarily due to 1) provider prices increasing faster than general inflation and 2) increases in consumer utilization.

Translation: It's not our fault that prices keep going up. People buy insurance from us, and then they expect us to PAY when they get sick and go to the doctor. Completely unreasonable. If they would just die already, we'd all be happy. At least I would. Now kindly buzz off.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sibelius questions Anthem Blue Cross rate hikes

(surprise, surprise. health insurance costs are going up.)

Anthem Blue Cross recently announced price hikes of up to 39% for individual plans in California. Once she found out, "through media accounts," Kathleen Sibelius, the U.S. Health Secretary, responded quickly and forcefully. She sent them a letter asking why.

And guess what? I have obtained the classified, top-secret, and totally fictional letters that went back and forth!

Shhh, don't tell ... but here they are:


Dear Anthem Blue Cross,

What is the meaning of this? I was just watching American Idol and I accidentally changed the channel for a sec and heard that you are raising rates by 39%. What the heck are you thinking? Send me an explanation please. Pretty please.

Sincerely, Kathleen Sibelius


Dear Ms. Sibelius,

At Anthem Blue Cross, our mission is to improve the profits of our extremely huge company by any means we deem necessary. Last quarter our parent company, WellPoint, had profits of only 2.7 billion dollars. We have resolved to do even better in 2010. Our shareholders deserve nothing less.

If our valued customers are regrettably unable to afford their new premiums, that is not our problem. They have many alternatives, including getting a job that provides health benefits, moving to Mexico, or dying.

If you continue to make a fuss about this silly issue, we may incur legal fees which would force us to implement even harsher rate hikes in the very near future.

Buzz off.

Sincerely, Heartless But Profitable Insurance Company


Dear Anthem Blue Cross:

Oh. Sorry. My bad.

Sincerely, Kathleen Sibelius


Sunday, February 7, 2010

No joke

(the more i see of her, the more afraid i become)

Sarah Palin gave the keynote speech at the Tea Party convention yesterday. She blasted President Obama, said the word "Reagan" several hundred times, and rallied her fans with confusing run-on sentences and catchy little bumper-sticker sayings like this "How's that hope-y change-y thing workin' out for ya?"

She enumerated some admirable goals without offering any workable solutions, urged a smaller government but a bigger military, and pined for the good ol' days of waterboarding.

Then she took pre-planned questions from the audience.

With pre-planned answers written on her palm.

I kid you not.

This is just sad.

Her supporters don't care. That's even sadder. (From one message board: "I'll take inarticulate but honest over smooth-talking liar any day.")

So, if she bugs me so much, why do I keep talking about her? Why give her even more publicity? Because like her or not, she isn't going away. We all need to understand exactly what could happen if the tea party movement grows stronger.

Imagine that legendary 3 a.m. phone call - with no crib notes written on her hand.

In fact, this morning on Fox News, Chris Wallace asked if she might run in 2012.

Her response: "I think that it would be absurd to not consider what it is that I can potentially do to help our country."



Absurd, indeed.


Friday, February 5, 2010

How do you spell Hypocrite?

(how big of a hypocrite am i? thiiiiis big)

Republican members of Congress voted unanimously against the Recovery Act last year. Ever since, they have been whining about "out of control" spending, even though the out-of-control part started, undeniably, on their watch.

No! No! Don't spend away our children's future!

No! No! Don't make us take that dirty government money!

What's that? A ribbon cutting? A photo op? Count us in!

The White House recently released a very interesting list including the following tidbits:

John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement on his Web site that he was "pleased that federal officials have stepped in" to order Ohio to use its stimulus funds for "shovel-ready" construction projects.

Eric Cantor (R -Va) hosted a job fair to demonstrate how he — and not the Obama administration — is working on ‘long-term solutions that will put Virginia businesses and Virginia workers back on the path to financial stability.’ Nearly half of the 30 organizations on hand were recipients of stimulus funds.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) posted to his Twitter, "Stimulus Incentive Is Very Generous! Up to 8k! Check It Out!"

There's more. Lots more.

You guys should be ashamed. What DO you stand for, exactly?



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Obama Holds Q&A Session With Puppy Bo

(the good ol' days)

Following a successful Q&A session with Republicans and a subsequent session with Democrats that was so boring even MSNBC cut away to talk about Sarah Palin's new hairdo, President Obama spent several hours today talking with the family dog, Bo.

The session was not televised, but I have obtained a top-secret exclusive audio transcript. Let's listen in:

Prez: Hey little buddy, it's good to see a friendly face!

Bo: Not so fast. I've got some tough questions for you. I mean, this year hasn't turned out exactly the way I expected.

Prez: You and me both.

Bo: I thought it would be pretty cool to be the White House Puppy. At first my picture was in the paper all the time, my cute little tricks were on the evening news, we even ran down the hall together, remember that?

Prez: Sure. Look. You're still an important part of the team.

Bo: Yeah, yeah. I'm getting totally overshadowed. I've got no job security whatsoever. I don't even have a decent health care plan. Why can't I see the same doctor as Sasha and Malia? It's just not fair.

Prez: Tell you what. The next time I meet with Republicans, I'll bring you along. When the guy with the orange skin gets up to talk, go for his ankles and bite away.

Bo: Sounds like fun. Come on, let's go to the Rose Garden and pee in the snow. I bet the media won't cut away from that.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fun With Numbers

(be afraid. be very afraid)

Oh my gosh! We're deeper in debt! We're losing more jobs! We're doomed, doomed, doomed!!

That is, unless we get Republicans back in power as soon as possible. Just ask em, they'll tell ya.

Here are some scary charts I found on the Official Republican website. Have your children leave the room before you look at them. Really. They're that frightening.

First, here is a chart of job losses since the stimulus. Oh, excuse me. That's the "stimulus" in sarcastic little quotation marks. Take a look at this scary trend:

Yikes! At this rate we will ALL be out of a job soon! Even Jay Leno!

But the thing is, job losses have slowed dramatically since the quote unquote "stimulus." So how did they make this chart look so scary? Simple. They charted the cumulative jobless rates, rather than showing the trend like this:

(Job losses by month - from The Washington Monthly)

But hey! Jobless rates don't tell the whole story! What about all that spending, huh? The Democrats have just been going crazy crazy crazy!

Look at this chart, again from the Official Republican Everything We Say Is Right Heh Heh Pardon The Pun Website:

This one is DEFINITELY scary bad news! They even put Nancy Pelosi in the background, which makes perfect sense because it is all her fault!! Her and her "Democrat Majority."

Except ... helloooo ... this massive debt can be traced directly back to the previous Republick President and his Republick Majority, as shown by this chart from a recent excellent article by James Kwak entitled Budget Sense and Nonsense:

So I guess my point is, anyone can make a chart.

Anyone can present a scary picture.

But it takes a certain amount of chutzpah to scream about deficits that your own party created, and to suggest that tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts are going to somehow fix the problem, since as far as I remember a negative number plus a negative number equals an even bigger negative number.

Chutzpah + Screaming + Fuzzy Math = Not A Solution. Scary charts or no scary charts.