Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Outrageous Nonsense

For all you praying that Sarah Palin will be President of the United States in 2012, I have a suggestion for your campaign slogan:

I’m with Stupid


Sarah Palin


Catchy, huh?


Jesus Hot Spicy Habanero Christ in a stone ground taco shell, every single time this woman opens her mouth the stupid just falls out like a drunken prom queen vomiting up cheap boxed wine all over her homecoming date.

Pin a corsage on her, she’s done now.


She bitched and complained and pointed fingers at John McCain’s campaign staff, accusing them of hobbling her, not letting her speak, of “handling” her in the manner that all politicians are managed by their staff – you know, so they don’t say something stupid. 

She has repeatedly accused them of not letting the public see the real Sarah Palin. 

In retrospect, it’s obvious that in this single matter she is actually correct, John McCain’s campaign staff did not let us see the real Sarah Palin. 

For painfully obvious reasons.

Look, I’d like nothing better than to let her fade away into the annuals of history, gone, forgotten, adios and don’t let the door hit you in your Gucci clad keister. By all means go write your little pop-up book or go back to fishing or whatever.  As an American, I’m so utterly sick of this woman.  As an Alaskan, I am so utterly sick of being embarrassed by this woman.  Mentioning her name out loud or in print ought to be like the Swearing Jar, every time you say the words Sarah Palin you’ve got to put a fin in the pot.  But she just won’t go away.  And now that she doesn’t have a staff or a publicist between her and the unprotected public, you are seeing the real Sarah Palin.

And it ain’t pretty.

On her Facebook page – because apparently Facebook is what she meant when she resigned her Governorship “to serve the nation” – she called for civil discourse on national healthcare.  She said “there are many disturbing things in the bill, but that people need to stick to the discussion of the issues,” and not “get sidetracked by tactics that can be accused of leading to intimidation or harassment.” She also boldly demonstrated her leadership skills by admonishing the public “not to give proponents of nationalized health care any reason to criticize us.”

The day before, of course, she called healthcare plan currently before Congress “down right evil,” and wrote about “death panels” – a concept she had apparently just pulled whole cloth directly from her ass.  Seriously shit like “death panels” had to have come spewing from her colon like watery diarrhea, because it sure as hell didn’t come from anything resembling a cognitive organ. In an obvious attempt to stir hysteria and conjure up images of Nazi style eugenics she claimed that in President Obama’s version of healthcare, her son, Trig, who has has Down’s syndrome, would “have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”

What the fuck? No, really what the fuck?

There is only one word to describe this statement and that’s outrageous. It is nothing but outrageous nonsense. Fear mongering and rabble rousing at its absolute worst. And since Palin brought up the Nazi reference, I call Shenanigans on Godwin’s law here and say that if anyone is pulling Nazis out of her ass it’s Palin and her hysterical propaganda and her pandering to the lowest common denominator. 

Let’s review yet again, shall we?

From Title II, Subtitle C:

    (hhh)(1) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the term `advance care planning consultation' means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner described in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning, if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. Such consultation shall include the following:
            `(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.
            `(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.
            `(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.
            `(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline, the advance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal service organizations (including those funded through the Older Americans Act of 1965).
            `(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.
            `(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders, which shall include--
              `(I) the reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the individual and the individual's family and the reasons why such an order should be updated periodically as the health of the individual changes;
              `(II) the information needed for an individual or legal surrogate to make informed decisions regarding the completion of such an order; and
              `(III) the identification of resources that an individual may use to determine the requirements of the State in which such individual resides so that the treatment wishes of that individual will be carried out if the individual is unable to communicate those wishes, including requirements regarding the designation of a surrogate decisionmaker (also known as a health care proxy).
            `(ii) The Secretary shall limit the requirement for explanations under clause (i) to consultations furnished in a State--
              `(I) in which all legal barriers have been addressed for enabling orders for life sustaining treatment to constitute a set of medical orders respected across all care settings; and
              `(II) that has in effect a program for orders for life sustaining treatment described in clause (iii).
            `(iii) A program for orders for life sustaining treatment for a States described in this clause is a program that--
              `(I) ensures such orders are standardized and uniquely identifiable throughout the State;
              `(II) distributes or makes accessible such orders to physicians and other health professionals that (acting within the scope of the professional's authority under State law) may sign orders for life sustaining treatment;
              `(III) provides training for health care professionals across the continuum of care about the goals and use of orders for life sustaining treatment; and
              `(IV) is guided by a coalition of stakeholders includes representatives from emergency medical services, emergency department physicians or nurses, state long-term care association, state medical association, state surveyors, agency responsible for senior services, state department of health, state hospital association, home health association, state bar association, and state hospice association.
          `(2) A practitioner described in this paragraph is--
            `(A) a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)); and
            `(B) a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant who has the authority under State law to sign orders for life sustaining treatments.
          `(3)(A) An initial preventive physical examination under subsection (WW), including any related discussion during such examination, shall not be considered an advance care planning consultation for purposes of applying the 5-year limitation under paragraph (1).
          `(B) An advance care planning consultation with respect to an individual may be conducted more frequently than provided under paragraph (1) if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual, including diagnosis of a chronic, progressive, life-limiting disease, a life-threatening or terminal diagnosis or life-threatening injury, or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility (as defined by the Secretary), or a hospice program.
          `(4) A consultation under this subsection may include the formulation of an order regarding life sustaining treatment or a similar order.
          `(5)(A) For purposes of this section, the term `order regarding life sustaining treatment' means, with respect to an individual, an actionable medical order relating to the treatment of that individual that--
            `(i) is signed and dated by a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)) or another health care professional (as specified by the Secretary and who is acting within the scope of the professional's authority under State law in signing such an order, including a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) and is in a form that permits it to stay with the individual and be followed by health care professionals and providers across the continuum of care;
            `(ii) effectively communicates the individual's preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual;
            `(iii) is uniquely identifiable and standardized within a given locality, region, or State (as identified by the Secretary); and
            `(iv) may incorporate any advance directive (as defined in section 1866(f)(3)) if executed by the individual.
          `(B) The level of treatment indicated under subparagraph (A)(ii) may range from an indication for full treatment to an indication to limit some or all or specified interventions. Such indicated levels of treatment may include indications respecting, among other items--
            `(i) the intensity of medical intervention if the patient is pulse less, apneic, or has serious cardiac or pulmonary problems;
            `(ii) the individual's desire regarding transfer to a hospital or remaining at the current care setting;
            `(iii) the use of antibiotics; and
            `(iv) the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.'.
            (2) PAYMENT- Section 1848(j)(3) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1395w-4(j)(3)) is amended by inserting `(2)(FF),' after `(2)(EE),'.
            (3) FREQUENCY LIMITATION- Section 1862(a) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1395y(a)) is amended--
              (A) in paragraph (1)--
                (i) in subparagraph (N), by striking `and' at the end;
                (ii) in subparagraph (O) by striking the semicolon at the end and inserting `, and'; and
                (iii) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:
              `(P) in the case of advance care planning consultations (as defined in section 1861(hhh)(1)), which are performed more frequently than is covered under such section;'; and
              (B) in paragraph (7), by striking `or (K)' and inserting `(K), or (P)'.
            (4) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendments made by this subsection shall apply to consultations furnished on or after January 1, 2011.
          (b) Expansion of Physician Quality Reporting Initiative for End of Life Care-
            (1) Physician'S QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE- Section 1848(k)(2) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395w-4(k)(2)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:
            `(3) Physician'S QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE-
              `(A) IN GENERAL- For purposes of reporting data on quality measures for covered professional services furnished during 2011 and any subsequent year, to the extent that measures are available, the Secretary shall include quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by a consensus-based organization, if appropriate. Such measures shall measure both the creation of and adherence to orders for life-sustaining treatment.
              `(B) PROPOSED SET OF MEASURES- The Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register proposed quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that the Secretary determines are described in subparagraph (A) and would be appropriate for eligible professionals to use to submit data to the Secretary. The Secretary shall provide for a period of public comment on such set of measures before finalizing such proposed measures.'.
          (c) Inclusion of Information in Medicare & You Handbook-
            (1) MEDICARE & YOU HANDBOOK-
              (A) IN GENERAL- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall update the online version of the Medicare & You Handbook to include the following:
                (i) An explanation of advance care planning and advance directives, including--
                  (I) living wills;
                  (II) durable power of attorney;
                  (III) orders of life-sustaining treatment; and
                  (IV) health care proxies.
                (ii) A description of Federal and State resources available to assist individuals and their families with advance care planning and advance directives, including--
                  (I) available State legal service organizations to assist individuals with advance care planning, including those organizations that receive funding pursuant to the Older Americans Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 93001 et seq.);
                  (II) website links or addresses for State-specific advance directive forms; and
                  (III) any additional information, as determined by the Secretary.
              (B) UPDATE OF PAPER AND SUBSEQUENT VERSIONS- The Secretary shall include the information described in subparagraph (A) in all paper and electronic versions of the Medicare & You Handbook that are published on or after the date that is 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.

        Note the bolded phrases. Note in particular that this section of the act - the section that Palin and her idiot supporters claim equates to government directed euthanasia for seniors and handicapped kids – actually says that end of life care is entirely the decision of the patient. The patient. The Patient. The Patient. (Sorry, but it obviously needs repeating).  In fact, the patient’s express wishes are emphasized no less than five times in three paragraphs.  The consultations are between the patient and the patient’s doctor – not the state, not the Fed, and not some fantasy “death panel.” Between the patient and doctor, as is clearly spelled out.  And the consultation is not required, the patient may refuse, and the consultations may not violate state regulations (i.e. the rights of each state, as defined by its citizens, take precedence. You know, like the Constitution says).   However, should the patient desire information on his or her options when nearing the end of life – not only must the doctor provide such information, the patient may bill his or her insurance for the consultation (The reason for the insurance companies’ opposition should be obvious at this point).

        Note, federal law currently requires doctors to provide such information upon request. Yes, the provisions in HR3500 aren’t new, they already exist and have for some time.  The difference is that currently, the patient usually has to pay out of pocket for the consultation because neither the insurance companies nor Medicare are required pay for it. HR3500 would require that the patient be given full information on all available options no matter what his insurance company wants – including full life sustaining measures as specified in paragraphs 4 and 5.  

        Go back, read it again, tell me where it says anything about standing before a government panel and bargaining for your life. Go on, I’ll wait.  Instead what it actually says is that you, the patient, get to decide how your life will end – and that right there, is the real reason behind the lies and the hysteria and the Nazi propaganda. Because if there’s one thing the Neocon religious goons don’t want you to have, it’s a choice.  They haven’t trundled out Terry Schiavo yet, but they are sure thinking about her.

        Note also that nowhere in the entire bill, and I’ve read every single word of it including the changes that were made today, does it say anything about whatsoever in any way, shape, or form about governmental panels deciding the suitability any person, handicapped or not, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society’ and whether they are worthy of health care. No where. No damned where does it say that.  

        Palin has repeatedly accused the media and her opponents of using her children as tokens in the game of politics – and here she is, deliberately holding up her Down Syndrome son in order install fear and hysteria and images of Nazi atrocities solely in order further her political ambitions. You can’t accuse the media of doing it to her this time, she wrote it in her own hand.  If you’ve got a Facebook account, you can go read it for yourself.

        Outrageous I said, and outrageous I meant. The woman’s actions and naked ambition are disgusting at a level that simply defies comprehension.

        I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me, right?  We’ve just had eight damned years where the smartest thing in the Oval Office pissed on three legs and wore a collar with “Barney” printed on it, but, my God, George W. Bush is a rocket scientist compared to this bush league bimbo and people actually want her for President?

        She called for national discourse.  No shit lady, what the hell do you think we’ve been doing? What the hell do you think the President has been talking about to Americans since before he took office? What have our elected representatives - of which you by your own choice are emphatically not - been busting their asses over for the last six months?  And every time the actual representatives of the people (you know, the ones who didn’t quit) attempt to speak to the American public about it – your mouth breathing followers leap up and start shouting about fucking birth certificates

        For nearly two years now this woman has screamed hysterical nonsense. She’s still doing it.  She’s done everything but spit in the President’s eye.  She done everything, everything, she can to demonize those who don’t agree with her. She’s called more than half of the citizens the country un-American – people like me who fought for this nation for over twenty years.  She’s accused the President of being a traitor, she’s fanned the flames of hate and fear and ignorance and she’s still doing it with her talk of “death panels.” She has deliberately spewed falsehoods – provably so, all one has to do is actually read the bill which is freely available to the public and which she obviously has not done – in order to inflame the people and deliberately quash rational discussion.  Hell, she basically told senior citizens that their President is going to kill them.

        But now she’s calling for civil public discussion?

        Seriously, Lady, hypocrite much?






        I know I said I was going to talk about blasting insurance executives into outer space today, but then I read Palin’s bullshit.  The insurance executive space program is holding at T-24.


        1. There are lies all around, and nobody on that side seems to care that they are spewing the wildest possible fantasies. My current favorite:

          Investor's Business Daily (via http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/08/how_stehpen_hawking_proves_tha.html and picked up on Twitter from Jay Lake)

          "People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

          Blatant falsehoods, chosen carefully for maximum effect.

        2. "It's not just that they didn't know that Stephen Hawking was born in England. It's that the underlying point was wrong, as you'll note from the continued existence of Stephen Hawking."


          Brilliant. Thanks, Phiala, for that link.

        3. Jim, take the blood pressure medication NOW. You're going to blow a stack if you keep this up.

          T-24, T-24, T-24 damnit I've got an itchy trigger finger and the safety is off. I say we're good to go, green across the board. Let's fire this puppy and get ready for the next launch.

          And yeah, tonight I get to talk with someone who thinks Palin is the peaches best. And, from what I hear, he's running for office again. There might be an incident.

        4. Hi Jim!

          Gotta love this post bud! :)

          Just so you know, nobody blames Alaska for Palin, heck we all allowed Bush and his buddies to run this country into the ground for the last eight years!

          What were seeing now is what Wendell Potter predicted on Bill Moyers Journal in his July 31st interview. Now that the Congress in recess, the multi-billion (heck is it a trillion?) dollar healthcare industry, together with charismatic puppets like Palin, is unleashing a shit storm of lies to discredit all other forms of healthcare.

          If you haven't seen the interview with Potter, the former Executive Officer for CIGNA's public relations department, I highly recommend it.


          Stay frosty Jim - I love your commentary!


        5. Using logic and facts doesn't win any arguments any more. The American public responds only to worst-case Jack Bauer scenarios and unprovable accusations. The whole point is simply to keep the opposition backpedaling.

        6. As the joke goes: "How can you tell when a politician is lying? Their lips move"

          Palin appeals to the lowest common denominator simply because that all she's got. Unfortunately there's a lot of them out there and they all get to vote. Now if you could just mobilise the disenchanted portion of the population who have the brains to vote intelligently and still don't do it maybe we could see the change.

        7. Great post Jim.

          On a related note: over at Salon, Mike Madden makes an excellent point about "death panels": they're already here, in the form of private insurance carrier beancounters.

          It's a bit like the old people on Medicare saying they don't want the government interfering with their healthcare. There are already bureaucrats with the power to arbitrarily deny medical treatment to people who are very sick--it's just that they're in the private sector. Some of the "criticisms" aren't just out of touch with what the proposed national healthcare plan says, they're out of touch with the existing status quo.

        8. Oh, and this is good: the Investor's Business Daily editorial has been edited and is preceded by this comment:

          Editor's Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.

          Uh, no. You didn't imply that he didn't live in the UK, you said that if he did (which he does) he wouldn't have a chance (which, again, evidently, he does) because of what you claim the National Health Service would say about him (uh--except I guess maybe they didn't?). So, uh, now you've lied about your earlier lies. Nice.

          Strike two. No, wait: in the spirit of the English national pastime and because it gets your editorial asses outta here faster: yellow card. That's two--red card, you're ejected. Get the hell off the field.

        9. Eric, that's highly entertaining. The revision note wasn't there when I looked at it earlier today (almost 2 weeks after the original editorial was published).

          And yes, "implied" is not synonymous with "flat-out stated". Did the first version say that $1 == $20,000? If so, I missed that. No wonder today's data analysis project isn't coming out right.

        10. Jim,

          You already know this topic has been pissing me off like Mentos dropped into a bottle of Coke...and it's getting worse. Betsy McCaughey has apparently been spouting this nonsense since February and now Sarah is jumping on the bandwagon since she sees how much traction it's getting.

          I've said before...there's an entirely appropriate debate to be held about this Health Care Bill. There are legitimate reasons to oppose it (I don't agree with them, but that doesn't make the points frivolous). This shit is just a pack of demonstrable lies. And if you repeat a lie often enough, the credulous will buy into it...especially if it just backs up their preconceived notions.

          The whole thing is just so fucking despicable.

          P.S. (to anyone who's not a regular reader here): If you think Jim's "just got it in for Palin", he was actually singing her praises around the first time her name came up in connection with the V.P. slot. She's had to work pretty hard to turn him around and prove herself the vacuous shill she is.

        11. Logging in from the base exchange via the netbook - I knew this thing would be useful. I'm in the food court and as usual the AF has FoxNews on - right now they're discussing whether Obama's townhall meeting was a real townhall meeting because people seemed to be generally supportive, so obviously it must be staged because as you know real Americans hate Obama.

          Fucking stupid silly sons of bitches.

          Nathan, I agree with you 100%. There are legitimate reasons to oppose, or at least be cautious about, healthcare reform. I have my doubts about the government being able to run anything cheaper or more efficiently. I think cost is a very real concern. I think keeping insurance companies from weaseling through the loopholes is a real concern. I think that there needs to be some protections built in, so companies can't just decide NOT to provide health insurance and dump their people on the public system. I want to see some kind of limits put on public health coverage, specific rules that prevent public money from funding cosmetic or elective procedures or any of the other forms of abuse we see in things like Social Security and Welfare.

          There are plenty of legitimate issues that need to be discussed and hashed out - but people like Palin are using their undeserved celebrity to cloud the issue with outright lies and hysteria. We have to stop and deal with this euthanasia and death panel bullshit instead of addressing the real issues.

        12. Eric, while the statements are stupid, the concern is real that the government won;t just meddle, it will have complete control. The thing about the beancounters working for private insurers is that they can be pressured.

          Government is a lot more immune to pressure, just ask anyone who has had to sue NICE in the UK for the treatments they need.

        13. Maybe it's because I'm a liberal, maybe it's because I'm a government employee--either way, I'm a bit more sanguine about my chances with the government than I am with my chances with the insurance companies. I suspect the parents who fought it out with Cigna after the beancounters denied the coverage that would have saved their daughter's life probably would agree with me, but I could be wrong about that.

          I'll also point out, and not for the first time, that in a democracy we're ultimately the government--the division that conservatives and opportunists insist on making between government and the governed is at worst a permeable one. Even the most entrenched career bureaucrat can find himself without a job should the electorate see fit to do something about it.

          And even the above makes concessions to something that doesn't actually exist, John--the fact is that what's being proposed doesn't have nearly the amount of "government control" that the Fox News crowd seems to believe.

        14. I, for one, welcome our new "Death Panel" Overlords.


        15. Death Panel is the name of my next band.

        16. No. "The Death Panel Overloads" that has the proper ring for a Speed Metal/Country crossover band.

        17. Will you look at that...

          Ebola is welcoming our Death Panel Overlords. Big Fucking Surprise!


        18. Nathan, there is nothing more dangerous in the whole world than a Senior Chief Petty Officer who appears to be smiling and welcoming you.


        19. In case anyone else would like to see the Palin comments that Jim refers tom they are here:
          "Statement on the Current Health Care Debate" http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=113851103434

          She says "And who will suffer the most when they ration care?" Other than the national medicare program, isn't health care currently rationed to those that can afford the high premiums?

        20. Tim,

          Thanks, I thought I'd included the link, apparently the mad cow is eating my brain again. I'll add it to the post.

          I don't know that the current system in the US could be considered rationing per se. There's plenty to go around, it's access that's an issue. Healthcare in the US is more like a gated community run by the insurance companies. What's funny is that I know people who don't have healthcare, and need it badly - but are opposed to any change in the current so called system because of hyperbole like that described in the post - and yet they are the ones mostly likely to benefit.

          These are the people who have to treat their kid's strep throat by using an Emergency Room on the taxpayer dime.

          But they are being made afraid by people like Palin.

        21. One other thing:

          If you do go read Palin's Facebook page, and you manage to make it to the bottom without suffering the dry heaves, look at the comments.

          These dolts are the people who follow Sarah Palin.

          Average means half the human race is above the mark, and half below - try to guess which side of the mean these people are on.

        22. Come into my parlor! No, really, it'll be fun!

        23. Back out slowly, don't break eye contact, Nathan. They can smell fear. No, really, they can.

        24. I ain't askeered o' no skwids!

        25. Popcorn, get you're popcorn here. Hell if you're going that route, Nathan, I'm at least going to make a profit on the entertainment value. Popcorn! Nice fresh hot popcorn. :)

        26. Timb11:

          She says "And who will suffer the most when they ration care?" Other than the national medicare program, isn't health care currently rationed to those that can afford the high premiums?

          As her good and close friend Michelle Bachmann already pointed out, that's the way they like it -- they don't want no poor people stinking up their nice clean clinics and possibly getting in the way of proper rich folks getting care.

          Seriously. Look up Bachmann's speech about having to wait in line and tell me that that's anything other than a blatant, naked "Screw you all, I got mine, let them eat cake" sentiment.

        27. Ebola Sunrise is the opening act for Death Panel Overlords...

          Well this can't ALL be doom and gloom postings.

          Dr. Phil

        28. May the gods forgive me if I come across as sanctimonious but as one who was born in Scotland and now lives in Canada I really don't envy you this mess. The National Health mught have been inefficient and the Medical Services Plan may be slow but I'll take them over the alternatives any damned day.

        29. Damn! I want that shirt!

        30. Eric, the fallacy there is that the bureaucrats are not elected, and the only time I can ever remember where bureaucracy was rolled back was un Reagan, and even there his record was spotty.

          "I don't know that the current system in the US could be considered rationing per se. There's plenty to go around, it's access that's an issue."

          Jim, the rationers in other countries call their rationing "access". I disagree there's plenty to go around, if there were, it would cost less, and access would not be an issue.

          Unfortunately, I can't argue this issue out in the open.

        31. No, John, the fallacy is that bureaucrats are untouchable, and I think I alluded to that in my choice of phrase: even the most entrenched bureaucrat. Bureaucrats aren't elected, but their bosses are, or their bosses' bosses are; as are the people who fund the pools of money their salaries come out of.

          But the real issue there is a profound disagreement over the competency of government in general. While I think scepticism and supervision of government are necessary--and indeed are among the chief reasons representative democracy was invented, since it's a form of government designed to delegate power to a few without the People abdicating their responsibility for that power--I also think that government can be depended upon to handle certain responsibilities; furthermore, my mistrust of the private sector and its primary motive (greed) is at least as large as my mistrust of government and its tendency to amass power for itself. I think, John, that you probably trust the government too little and business too much.

          Government healthcare programs here and abroad have problems and make mistakes, and I have no doubt that expanded government healthcare (or even a single-payer system with a private option, which is my own preference) will produce occasional tangles and perhaps recurring nightmares. But I also know that the current system is inequitable and isn't working, and entrusts much of the payment and provision of healthcare to businesses--the insurance companies--who have a conflict-of-interest in supplying it (it is self-evident that a customer who purchases insurance and never uses it is profitable while a customer whose costs are greater than the premiums he's paid is a loss, and no for-profit business is interested in taking losses). Even if I accept the claims that socialized medicine* would cause all sorts of nightmares (claims I believe are cherry-picked and exaggerated, frankly), I am satisfied that the present alternative is no better and is probably worse.

          We may have to agree to disagree. I will admit I'm predisposed to see government as a (mostly) useful beast; if I didn't, I wouldn't be bitching about it, I'd be manning the barricades.

          *The Obama healthcare proposal is not a socialized healthcare system; I refer to socialized medicine because I would go farther than the President and Congress ever would.

        32. I totally want to see Ebola Sunrise open for Death Panel Overlords. Strike that--I want to be in Death Panel Overlords.

        33. This just in, via Twitter of course:
          Stephen Hawking quite happy with his socialized medicine.

          And for the Twitterites, there's a #welovethenhs tag going around right now.

        34. Eric, I think the Bush Administration's failure to win over and change the State Department is the biggest example I can think of to show your argument is problematic. In this case, that was probably a good thing, but elected officials come and go.

          We will have to agree to disagree.

        35. Oh, and "Bush Administration's failure" is pretty much redundant, no?

        36. I'm off to my Government Run Healthcare appointment, i.e. I'm going to my appointment at the VA clinic. Oh God, the horror of socialist medicine. The horror.

          Wish me luck, Comrades.

          Oh, wait, never mind. I don't need luck, because the VA is freakin' awesome and I never have to wait and the care is excellent. Well, I guess it sucks to be you then, frankly I'll take my socialized medicine any day.

        37. Awesome-- sign me up to play electric bass banjo in the Death Panel Overlords!

          [I'm actually in the middle of building such a beast, really. Using the neck from a metal-style electric bass.]

          Any system that forces people to either take or stay with jobs they hate just for the insurance is just another form of wage-slavery. Anyway, people doing jobs they actually like are happier, and happier people are healthier, and less of a burden on health care.

          I wonder what the odds are of companies giving people rasies equal to the employer contribution to health insurance? And if they'll pass the benefit of a reduced HR department on to folks?

        38. John the Scientist: What is the difference between an entrenched government bureaucrat and any number of entrenched insurance company managers, especially if a pre-existing condition has been used to deny coverage to a customer?

          If it's a question of influence, how can one influence management at several large insurance companies that have sided against you?

          My question looks rhetorical, but it's a very real problem.

        39. Mensley, I want to see pictures of that bassanjo. That sounds like a serious sweet instrument. I also would love to know how it sounds when you're done.

        40. Ditto what Eric said about the bassanjo. I've got a friend who plays banjo and I bet he'd be seriously Jonesed about it.

        41. @Eric and Nathan: Thanks for the interest in the "bassjo" project.

          It's still a collection of parts at the moment, as I'm trying to figure out a way to build a neck block to bolt the neck onto that allow the neck angle to be adjusted but still is rigid enough to transfer vibration and tone through a rigid shaft to the tailpiece.

          I'm using an electric bass neck, a thin piccolo snare, a tailpiece from an old Hohner (Beatle style) bass, and the largest banjo bridge I've found. I'm using a shaft of maple dowel to connect the neck block to the tailpiece block to carry the string stress away from the drum as I don't want anything deforming the snare body.

          From what I understand of other bass banjos, they tend to sound in the neighborhood of upright basses, but vastly more portable.

          I've got a piezo spot pickup to start off with, but might get a piezo bridge to sit underneath the entire bridge at a later date.

          I've a friend with a good woodshop and we're trying to get our schedules together.


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