A Lesson in Irony

By ROBIN HINDERY, Associated Press Writer Robin Hindery, Associated Press Writer Tue Feb 23, 9:44 pm ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California lawmakers grilled Anthem Blue Cross executives on Tuesday about their plan to boost individual insurance premiums by as much as 39 percent, only to hear them blame the economy and a broken health care system.

Forget about the punchline because it’s already right there.  You don’t even have to read that paragraph twice to recognize the revolving-door logic, health insurance style: “(We are the problem and) we have to raise premiums because of the problem.”

You can read the full text here.  Feel free to send this article to anyone you know who is against health insurance reform.  Unless they are really stupid, they may just begin to comprehend that there is a huge problem here that we can’t trust the insurance companies to solve because they themselves are a big part of it.

In other words, if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same result.

Mandation: Sarah Palin’s State of…umm…

(Following is an excerpt of the State of the Union(?) speech from Teabagger shadow President Sarah Palin. *)

*I made stuff up

Fellow real Americans in small towns, family values, the Constitution which we hold dear has family values just like you, and thanks for buying my book!  This year we defeated Russia because Putin reared his head in my backyard talking to my neighbor and you know, it was like he was in my backyard and I could see him across a lake or he was in my air space or something so I told him to skedaddle home!  Just like with healthcare, I would have had to abort Trig because of the death panels.  Alaska did not have a death panel it was only to save taxpayer money, just like George Washington signed the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights which is in the Declaration or something.  It was a mandation from Washington that did it.  I got real mad because Katie Couric has no self-confidence and asked me what I read to make herself feel better!  So I told her I read lots of stuff, I like everything.  But she’s so elitist I could just tell she has no self-confidence.  So I just want her to stop makin’ stuff up or God will get her like he got New Orleans for sinnin’ and stuff.

Real pockets of real pro-Americans live on farms in little towns.  That is not a mandation from Washington.  You do it because you enjoy freedom and family values and our great history.  I have the courage and honor of thanking our veterans who are fighting Iraq in Afghanistan.

That’s why I make all my speeches on Fox News.  They hired me because I know all about this stuff.  I flew over Canada a few times, you know!  Obama was born there or in someplace else where they wear stuff on their heads and are anti-American (editor’s note: see what we wish had been Obama’s real SotU here).  We’d be better off being nice to Afghanistan because they’re our neighbor.

I’m a real American and they wouldn’t let me be President so I could be the only real American in Washington and run the Senate, you betcha.  I would have gotten in with all those Senators and stuff and made life better for real Americans, like healthcare which is needed for a good economy.  No need to change anything!  We need smaller government so we can stop interfering with corporations and our freedom which we hold dear and independently and don’t need spending and taxes.  We don’t need government in our lives, we need stuff that doesn’t need intervention.

So next year I am going to pray to God that we have America and family values even after that black Muslim guy is in office and the Supreme Court.  The Statue of Liberty has 25 windows and I know why cuz I Googled it you betcha.  That’s how I went to college and got my journalism degree would have been Miss Alaska except for that black girl and quit my governor job because I have family values and value freedom and work hard every day.  No lame ducks around my house!  Have you seen my husband?

I like the idea of a Queen of England, just like Queen Ester, since England is a state in New England and everyone knows women are freer if they have less rights to abortion and contraception and stuff.  But I haven’t decided yet.  Everyone pray real hard and send me money for campaign funds for real Americans.  See ya next year you betcha!

Mrs. Palin is the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Stupid of the Day Award.

What’s the difference between a breach of decorum and the truth?

Answer: there is none if you are a Republican and the truth is threatening to you.  Before I go further, I send this Bravo! to Representative Alan Grayson, D-FL.  What for?  This.

I’m not surprised that the Republicans are calling for a reprimand, since at this point they seem to have no idea what planet they are on, let alone how to act.  That they can’t tell the difference between yelling “you lie!” at a President during a speech and merely telling fellow Congressmen a blunt truth about themselves is no shock to me.

But here are some facts:

(1) Rep. Grayson did not breach decorum during a Presidential address.  Rep. Wilson did.

(2) The Republicans are rude all the time, no matter where they are, Congress or elsewhere.  (If not, where are the numerous apologies Michelle Bachmann owes the Democrats and most of the rest of us as well?  Of course, the difference is that there is no truth in anything she says — is that what makes it okay?  So should we conclude that you can say whatever you want to whomever you want whenever you want, as long as it isn’t true?)

(3) The saying goes, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” and the fact is that Congress is not a very polite place on days when the President isn’t there — which is most of the time.

(4) Another fact: if you support the status quo on healthcare in the U.S., then you support exactly what Rep. Grayson said: you’d better die fast before the bills pile up, because your insurance company may only pay a small portion of them, or it may decide not to pay at all, or you may not have insurance to begin with.

(5) Death panels, anyone?  Where’s the apology for that? Oh, excuse me…I forgot that you don’t need to apologize for it if it isn’t true (or in this case, if it might backfire by revealing something that’s actually true about the person who is saying it; in this case one Ms. Palin).

Again, hat’s off to Rep. Grayson for using the Republicans’ own tactics on them.  My advice to him is not to back down until they do — which is to say, keep up the fight, even if it takes forever.

“Stupid Panels”

“Sept. 10: In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann calls out South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson not just for his shameful incivility in interrupting President Obama’s health care speech before Congress but for being so glaringly, stupidly, publicly wrong.


Thanks to Olbermann for his seconding vote for the award of Stupid of the Day to Congressman Wilson.  It is just so frighteningly, richly deserved that I think the dear asshole Congressman will get it two days in a row.  This is an unprecedented (lack of) honor.  Take a bow, Congressman Wilson.

Something About Sarah

I admit that I find a sort of grim entertainment in reading the numerous blogs, many of them written in Alaska, that address the weirdness of Sarah Palin and the actual harm she has done as a result of being weird.  A lot of the charges made in these blogs have not been mentioned on Civilization Rant, however, and a friend has just asked me why.  I told him it was because some of this stuff is just too weird.  But then sometimes I think that can’t be it.  After all, I used to write at length about Rod Blagojevich.  I addressed that subject once again just the other day, come to think of it.

Anyway, what could be so much weirder about Sarah?  She’s weirder than Rod?  HAH!  And it’s true that Rod’s family life never figured much into his career-ending scandal, except for the part about the wife with the potty mouth.  But the fact is, weird as Blags is, Palin is weirder.  How, you ask?

Well for starters, it seems to make sense that Trig, Palin’s Down-Syndrome affected baby, is actually her grandchild.  It makes more sense than does the story that he is her own baby, especially when you consider the claims she made about Trig’s birth. 

There have also been a few reports about the weirdness of the church Sarah Palin is/was a member of.  Stuff like her being worshipped as the reincarnation of Queen Esther…you know, stuff that makes the stories about witch-hunting sound downright sane. 

There have been reports that Palin’s marriage has been on the rocks for years.  I tend to believe these, if only because her husband does not strike me as the type of guy who is secure enough in himself to put up with a politically ambitious wife — and also, her own ultraconservative politics would not seem to allow for any such ambitions in herself, unless she is a major-league hypocrite. 

There have been reports that Palin is a spectacularly bad mother, which would tend to be verified by the birth story she gave about Trig, if indeed it is true, and also from observations about the lives of her daughters Bristol and now Willow.

The only conclusion I can come to is that this woman is just phenomenally weird.  Possibly there are aspects of her life that are too weird for this blog, even though I have dealt with the subject of a weird governor before.

Who? you ask.  Rod Blagojevich, I answer.

You see, there are Alaskan blogs about Palin because Alaskans give a damn.  Palin is positioned to do real damage, while Blags, on the other hand, is finished.  He was, after all, operating without a safety net — that being the “pro life” shield wielded so effectively by so many right-wing politicians these days.  Blags wasn’t right-wing.  That left him vulnerable.

That’s why to us here in Illinois, Blags was merely the last straw in a bale of weird straws.  He was ultimately dealt with like all the rest of them.  But his removal from the bale only seemed to lead to someone else being added to it.  And it goes on and on — a culture of corruption.  That tends to drain the caring out of you after a while. 

But anyway, he had it all: monumental selfishness, delusions of grandeur, a persecution complex, innate crookedness…you name it.  Like Palin, he refused to live in the governor’s mansion and opted instead to fly back and forth to work, at the expense of the people of his state.

In fact, except for the religion thing (Palin only belongs to a weird church in which she may or may not be worshipped as a reincarnation of Queen Esther; Blags seems to think he himself is the Savior), and the “pro-life” thing (which seems to be the reason some people are still taking Sarah seriously; Blags had nothing like that to save him although he tried to make up for it by becoming a champion of illegal aliens), and the vice-presidential thing (Blags actually wanted to be President)…well, except for all that, these two are almost identical.

I say “almost” because while Sarah Palin was ultimately responsible for a death panel for seniors in Alaska, Blags tried to buy favor by creating a very silly public health-insurance program that covered kids only.  It was called “All Kids;” he somehow created it without consulting the Illinois State Legislature, and it had no funding whatsoever (I believe Blags tried to extort money from an executive of a children’s hospital by threatening to withhold state funds from the hospital, but that “donation” was to be for his own use).  

“All Kids” was immediately rejected by most pediatricians because they knew they would never see payment for their services, and is still languishing somewhere in the ozone because no one wants to become the politician who got rid of it.  But what the hell.  Blags squeezed every last bit of good publicity out of it that he could before the truth got out.  That’s the one thing he was very, very good at.

The thing is, he kept getting caught.  And so does Palin.  But the difference is that Blags paid a high price for getting caught, and the saga of Sarah Palin, on the other hand, just keeps rolling on and on as if she were a real, viable public figure.  That, plus the extra layer of “weird” that surrounds her personal life, makes her dangerous.

Maybe that’s why the bloggers of Alaska are so desperately trying to get the truth out, while we here in Illinois don’t really give a flying one about our weird and crooked politicians. 

Even so, her supporters may be asking what all these weird stories have to do with her ability to govern.  I’d say, judging from my experience here in Illinois with Blagojevich, that the stories have everything in the world to do with it.  They are part of who she is.  The “Pro Life” shield cannot change that fact, but apparently it can deflect attention long enough for a lot of damage to be done.  And so, maybe the bloggers of Alaska are doing a public service by keeping all this out in the open.  If that is the case — if Palin never gets any further in her political career than she has — then all I can say is, “bless them.”

Real-life Death Panels

Found this interesting article on Sarah Palin Truth Squad.

Don’t think it’s only happening in California, either.  Fact is, as mentioned here on Civilization Rant before, death panels are real, they do exist, and they exist because our healthcare in the U.S. is treated as a for-profit commodity even when it’s administered by supposedly nonprofit organizations. 

By the way, I used to work for one of those alleged nonprofits, and can tell you a bit about the creative bookkeeping that is used by this type of healthcare provider.  They are always at risk of losing their nonprofit status and spend lots of time and a fair amount of money trying to figure out ways to hide what they actually are, which is good old-fashioned for-profit corporations.

Further, they are corporations that have entire departments devoted to finding reasons to deny coverage (insurance companies) and sometimes even care (hospitals and other direct providers).

Clearly this is one sector where a government take-over might help, if only because the government is so lousy at keeping secrets that if there were any government death panels, we’d surely find out about them immediately.  And there’s no “death panel” provision in the healthcare overhaul bill, anyway.  That’s something Sarah Palin invented out of direct experience in Alaska, remember?

Federal governmental intervention in healthcare certainly can’t hurt.  And it might keep some people alive.  Gosh.  How awful is fascism.

Why a “Patients’ Bill of Rights” isn’t enough

Now convinced of their own propaganda, the Party of  No is seeking to assure older Americans that if there is a healthcare overhaul, seniors will not be placed before government “death panels.”  They are going to do this by installing yet another Patients’ Bill of Rights — as if there weren’t already at least 50 of those in place in states across the country, and in many corporate hospital systems and medical associations as well.

See how much good these feel-good documents are doing?  So much good that we’re talking about healthcare reform.  Wow.

You see, these documents lack any teeth because our healthcare system is so totally screwed up that no one really pays anything but public-relations lip service to a notion like a “bill of rights,” because no one needs to — kind of like the our banking system versus the Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights that went into effect earlier this year.  (Notice any difference?  I don’t.  You can bet the banks don’t, either.)  Fact is, all these bills of rights are about as useful to the public as the real Bill of Rights (the one in the U.S. Constitution), is to the Republican Party, which only likes parts of some rights (especially a piece of one sentence about guns) and kinda wishes the rest would go away (including freedom of speech and religion, unless it’s their own). 

And this particular proposed bill of rights doesn’t address any actual problem, anyway.  At least most of the rest do, for all that they don’t do anything about it.

Which brings me to the heart of the matter, which is that our healthcare system is screwed up precisely because it is strictly a for-profit system.  Your health, my health, and the health of seniors — but only to a certain extent in the case of seniors, as the majority of them have coverage through a government run system called Medicare — is treated as a commodity.  Because of this, we are as disposable as toilet paper, and so are all these healthcare bills of rights.

That’s why we need real reform, not another piece of paper with a few feel-good guidelines printed on it.

But as I said, this proposal is meaningless mostly because no one but Sarah Palin — meaning no one at all — has ever talked about installing death panels.  We are talking about getting rid of the death panels that are already in place like the one Sarah Palin presided over in Alaska and the ones insurance companies have been operating for years.

That is to say that once reform is in place, any abomination like a “death panel” will quickly come to light and be dealt with, instead of being hidden away in a far-off corner like a nursing home, a department in an insurance company whose job it is to find reasons to cancel coverage for individuals (and if they can do it retroactively, so much the better), or even Alaska itself.

Of course, asking a Republican to think is a bit like asking an elephant to forget.  On the other hand, getting implanted propaganda out of the Republicans’ noggins is like blowing up the Rocky Mountains.