Posts Tagged ‘Health care’

I feel like my posts from the last couple of days have been incomplete, and suggested that people were exaggerating the impact of the coronavirus. I do think it’s wrong to panic, but that doesn’t mean I think you should ignore advice to stay inside. Your risk of dying might be small, but by congregating, you are increasing the risk to more vulnerable populations. I myself am going out for items like groceries, usually during periods where there aren’t a lot of people around.

Don’t panic. Be safe. Keep social distance. And then feel free to enjoy my advice about not panicking during the markets.

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The Republican-controlled House of Representatives, having postponed legislation for a few days to observe a more civil tone after a weekend of violence, has returned to work in a spirit of compromise and unity with the Democrats across the aisle, introducing a new piece of legislation showing the shared convictions of a nation coping with loss.

It is known by its unifying title, the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.”

“Hey, wait a minute …” said Democrats. “That’s not very nice.”

A largely symbolic piece of legislation, since the Democrats still control the Senate, Republicans tweaked it a bit so it read instead, “Shooting Down the Health Care Act Act.” In lieu of that, they suggested the “Cutting Life Support on the Health Care Act Act,” and “Killing Health Care Reform In A Bathtub,” and the “Returning to a Belligerent Posture Following A Weekend of Mock Civility Act.”

“After the tragic events of last weekend, we have hopefully returned to a new era of friendship, noblesse oblige and tact,” said majority leader Eric Cantor as he introduced the “Terminating the Health Care Bill With Extreme Prejudice Act.”

Were those bills to stall, Republicans say they would introduce the “Euthanizing the Health Care Reform Act With An Overdose of Morphine and Digitalis,” and the  “Guns Don’t Kill People, The Health Care Reform Act Kills People Act.” Like the others, these bills aim to remove last year’s main Democrat achievement, a law aimed of insuring 95% of all Americans by offering subsidies to small businesses and increasing the age at which children can no longer remain on their parents’ insurance plants. If that bill fails, Republicans say, they will continue to pursue a spirit of concordance and compromise by floating a bill, again largely symbolic, called the  “I Fuck Your Health Care Bill in the Eye Socket Reconciliation Act,” and if not that, they’ll try the “You Talking To Me? Health Care Reform Assassination Act.”

Other titles for future legislation, should these not pass, are the “Beheading the Democrats’ Stupid Health Care Legislation,” the “Snuffing Out the Health Care Reform with a Pillow Act,” the “Throwing Lit Matches At Democratic Faces Act,” the “Sowing Discord For Cheap Political Points Act” and “The Patriot Act.”

Again, all mostly time-wasting, symbolic titles that won’t go to Senate and really don’t do anything other than promote the new spirit of harmony.

“Americans after this weekend are showing a new unity,” said John Boehner as he introduced the “Screw Unity and Screw U Act.” We cannot let a few deranged individuals upset our Democracy and spread dissension, and that’s why we support this new bill, subtitled ‘The Democratic Criminals Are Assaulting Your Liberties Act.'”

After those bills die predictable deaths, having served absolutely no purpose at all, Republicans say they may simply call it the “Supporting Gabrielle Giffords By Repealing Legislation that Gabrielle Giffords Supported Act.”

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What were some of the highlights of President Barack Obama’s address to Congress Wednesday night?

8:15 p.m. Obama thanks the health insurance industry for making the 111th Congress possible.

8:20 p.m. Obama name checks a distinguished pantheon of Americans who have so far totally failed to bring you decent health care, including Teddy Roosevelt, Teddy Kennedy, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, George Bush and Alan Alda.

8:25 p.m. Obama stops and smokes a cigarette.

8:30 p.m. Obama excoriates those who have tried to kill reform altogether by spreading lies about the health care bill. Though he doesn’t name them personally, those people pretty much admit their guilt by sitting down and not clapping for this statement. We thank those people for telling us who they are.

8:40 p.m. Obama stops briefly while the field crew sweeps the floor and dances to “YMCA”

8:45 p.m. Obama stops to remind people that the Bratz dolls still dress like sluts

8:50 p.m. Obama suddenly inserts orders for American children to kill their parents according to plans laid out in his Tuesday speech to classrooms. “You know where the forks are. Like we talked about. On three!”

9:00 p.m. Obama is heckled by South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson for the “take her home like a six pack” joke.

9:01 p.m. Wilson yells “You lie!” after Obama says that illegal immigrants are not covered by the health care bill, after Obama says Teddy Roosevelt was president, and after Obama reads the list of specials in the Congressional cafeteria

9:10 p.m. Joe Biden still has something in his eye

9:15 p.m. Obama says that amid the health care debate, America has seen Congress at its worst (when it does nothing) and at its best (when it does nothing).

9:16 p.m. Rahm Emanuel eats a severed human hand.

9:18 p.m. Wow, after three beers … Nancy Pelosi man … I’m just sayin’.

9:20 p.m. Obama thanks the pharmaceutical companies for making Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh possible.

9:25 p.m. Obama wonders aloud why such strident political ideology is hindering progress. He just can’t imagine why influential Republican swing voter Sen. Charles Grassley, for example, would be so ideological about this health care bill.

9:30 p.m. Obama makes some controversial statements about how much his health care plan would cost, saying a lot of it was money already being spent anyway. This rankles Republicans who insist that only they be allowed to run up crippling deficits, because they do it for good reasons, after all.

9:31 p.m. Katie Couric says Obama shouldn’t kiss so many people what with swine flu running rampant.

9:31 p.m. Actually, kissing up to pigs happens a lot in this business.

9:32 p.m. Republicans several times fail to get up to clap, showing that, as an abrasive and loud minority, they are not afraid to use their thumb-sucking petulance as a weapon.

9:35 p.m. In response to Obama’s remarks, several Republicans hold up copies of a booklet which, given their complete lack of interest in reforming health care, is probably a copy of the new “Harry Potter.”

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Jaycee + Dugard

Jaycee + Dugard + Kidnap

Jaycee + Dugard + slave

Jaycee + Dugard + pictures

Jaycee + Dugard + pictures + compound + tents + garbage + toilets

Phillip + Garrido

Phillip + Garrido + rapist

Phillip + Garrido + castrate

Jaycee Dugard + captive + 18 years

Jaycee Dugard + pictures + adult + location

Jaycee + Dugard + daughters + pictures

“Why can’t I see Jaycee Dugard’s daughters?”

“Why can’t I see Jaycee Dugard grown up?”

“Why can’t I see Jaycee Dugard grown up right now?”

Chris Brown + Larry King

Chris Brown + Rihanna + “domestic violence” + “don’t remember”

“Does Chris Brown not remember beating up Rihanna?”

“How can I remind Chris Brown he beat up Rihanna?”

“Chris Brown” + “mailing address”

“Larry King” + “functionally retarded”

“Whitney Houston” + comeback + suck

Garrido + neighbor + complain + police

police + search + lazy + “not thorough”

“Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office” + “functionally retarded”

Jaycee Dugard + brainwashed + Stockholm Syndrome

“Why did Jaycee Dugard stay with captors?”

“Why did Jaycee not run?”

“Why did Jason dump Melissa?”

“Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor?”

geisha + maid + sex

Will I be kidnapped?

Will I suffer from Stockholm Syndrome?

Could I be brainwashed?

“Stockholm Syndrome” + brainwashed + “Glenn Beck” + “Fox News”

U.S. + “universal health care” + No. 37 + “laughingstock of world” + “Glenn Beck” + “Fox News”

“Where can I get universal health care?”

“Where can I get universal health care in Boise, Idaho?”

“Boise Idaho” + “bus station”

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What factors led to the end of our marriage and/or the end of health care reform legislation in Congress?

–*We failed to articulate our goals to each other.

–*We kept fighting over money.

–*There was a lot of mutual suspicion about what the other side wanted.

–*We turned to outsiders for help and they turned out to have their own selfish interests.

–*One side didn’t know how to think for him or herself unless Glenn Beck told him or her first.

–*…or Oprah.

–*We weren’t sure how to handle the necessary abortion issue.

–*Every time we tried to talk about things reasonably it deteriorated into shouting matches.

–*Each of us accused the other of patronizing and sabotaging the other in public.

–*There was a lot of increasingly nonsensical, paranoid and loony right-wing talk coming from one side.

–*”I don’t need another mother.”

–*”I don’t need another father.”

–*Turns out one of us was a racist.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (API) Nurse Claire Simonton, an RN at local Hazelton Hospital, has seen many types of patients in varying conditions cross the threshold of her emergency room over the past four years. She’s dealt with overdoses, gunshot wounds, toys swallowed by children, etc. But nothing prepared her for the frankly sickening sight last Friday night when Dr. Saul Jacobs wheeled out an EKG machine for a 15-year-old girl who’d come in with a broken arm, witnesses said.

“Wait a minute,” said Simonton. “That’s an EKG.”

“Yeah,” said Jacobs. “Do you have a problem with that?”

“An EKG?” repeated Simonton, her jaw practically lying on the floor at the utterly flagrant use of an unnecessary procedure meant to overcharge the insurance company. “Really? an EKG.”

“You know, we just want to be sure the girl’s OK.”

“With a broken arm? You’re worried about her having a heart attack? Am I on crack? Am I going blind? Or am I actually watching you bring in an electrocardiogram for this girl?”

Simonton and Jacobs sat picking over this mordant rhetorical question for several minutes while the patient, Nancy Wallis, sat in confused silence holding the broken arm, an injury she’d sustained in a Friday night fender bender.

“I just want to make sure I understand this correctly,” said Simonton, laying on the ironic sing-song rhythms, Jacobs thought, a little bit thick and with a great deal of sanctimony, “That girl has a simple broken arm, and probably just needs a splint. But we’re going to give her an EKG. How about doing an echo-cardiogram as well? Or how about a PET scan on her brain? Or why don’t we do extensive blood work and a stand-up MRI?”

“Well it can never hurt.”


“I wish you’d stop saying it like that.”

Simonton and Jacobs traded such barbs for several minutes using lots of patronizing rhetorical flourishes and sneers in the five minute conversation, their icy exchange playing out against the backdrop of the most farcical aspects of American health care, specifically doctors’ declining fees for service, an economic fiasco that has them scrambling to overbill insurers and rip them off however possible through procedure miscoding, double billing and other kinds of accounting shenanigans.

“Gee,” said Simonton looking over the girl. “You don’t seem like you’re about to die of a heart attack at all. How strange. And here I thought you were 80 years old. I guess nobody can really be sure about anything these days unless we’ve first checked it with outrageously expensive modern medical equipment. Why as far as I know, you might have a heart like an 60-year-old obese smoker on steroids.”

“I’m not sure what’s going on,” said the patient. “I just busted up my arm a little. You guys are freaking me out.”

As they wheeled the EKG over to the girl and began performing the expensive procedure, Nurse Simonton continued her stream of wry badinage.

“Oooooh!” said Nurse Simonton. “Her heart looks good. In fact, it looks like any heart you’d find in any 15-year-old girl. How’d that happen, I wonder?”

After 30 minutes the exchange ended when Jacobs went home for the night, first delivering a parting shot.

“You really ought to watch your mouth in front of the patients,” he said.

“Take it up with my union rep, asshole,” answered Simonton.

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–*Did you really just say that?

–*Am I going crazy?

–*Why me?

–*Why am I even discussing this with you?

–*Why am I here?

–*Why God, why?

–*Did my capsule land on Planet Idiot this morning?

–*Pollution can cause frogs to change sex? Who knew?

–*What are you, a socialist?

–*You don’t want to kill my special needs baby, do you?

–*You don’t want to pull the plug on my grandma with special language in your 1000 page health care bill, do you?

–*Do you always talk out of your ass or was I addressing the wrong end?

–*You’re not actually going to read that health care bill, are you?

–*Do bears shit in the woods?

–*Are bears the only ones who’ve read Obama’s health care bill?

–*Why does my country have to be the only one without universal health care? Am I a bad person?

–*We wouldn’t want to kill the health care bill with mendacious sloganeering now would we?

–*Are you an idiot?

–*Do you see demons?

–*Is this thing on?

–*Is that all there is?

–*Hath not a Jew hands?

–*Doth Caesar lie so low?

–*Can I get an amen?

–*Is that a baby gherkin in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

–*Is that a goiter or do you just have American health care?

–*Is that psycho woman on Fox hot or what?

–*Is it Friday yet?

–*Do I have ADD or what?

–*Are we in denial?

–*Are we communicating?

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If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ways to get people to visit your blog. It’s fun to create a community and get people talking about the important subjects of the day.

But many people are unsure how to get their blog seen and make sure their voices are getting heard. That’s where it’s helpful to know a few tricks of the blogging trade.

The secret is tags. These are the subject words that people search for–the things they are most interested in, and the items they plug into popular Web browsers like Google and Yahoo and Bing.

And the biggest secret of all is that you have to use the tag word “kittens” at all times, no matter what you’re talking about.

Let’s say that you’ve just done an excellent blog post on the state of the stock market. As we all know, it’s been a tough year. Stocks plummeted last September, and the American economy is largely thought to be in a tailspin because of the antics of a few no-goodniks such as those who sold bad mortgages and tried to palm off the bad debt on insurance companies and investment banks. Let’s say you’ve got a Nobel prize on the subject and you really want to get the word out that people were not paying attention to the market’s systemic risk when they looked for 10% annualized returns. You are biting your nails, because you are the only person you think in the world who understands that the algorithms just aren’t taking into account all the stochiastic random elements that cause markets to collapse. You worry that portfolios will be smashed and retirees rendered homeless.

Now say that out loud. You sound pretty dull, don’t you? Would you want to read that yourself? Probably not. It’s OK to laugh. We’ve all sounded like a self-important asshole at some time or another.

But that’s OK; fear not.

All you have to do is turn it all it around! If you had just added the word “kittens” to your tag, you’d have millions of people at your doorstep just dying to hear all about your dry “systemic risk” stuff.

Try this instead when you’re tagging: “derivatives,” “Lehman Brothers,” “Paulson,” “Goldman Sachs,” “conflict of interest,” “kittens,” “kitten in box,” “kittens with yarn.”

Or maybe you’ve got questions about the current health care plan in Congress, House Bill 3200: America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Now health care is a confusing topic. Maybe you are a patient who has no insurance. Maybe you’re a doctor who is worried about out-of-control legal costs. Maybe you’re worried that too much government intervention would distort rational, efficient pricing of health goods and services. Perhaps you find it immoral that America is rated 37 on the World Health Organziation’s chart of best health care because of our lack of services to the impoverished.

Well, that’s all well and good, but … is that all you’ve got? Really? Is that your pitch? Where’s the hook? Where’s the sizzle that sells the steak? How do you ever think you’re going to fish in the kind of readership you want with a lot of fancy words that go over people’s heads? Aren’t you talking up your own wazoo a little bit here?

Try this on for size, and add these tags: “health care,” “Obama,” “socialism,” “kittens,” “Momma,” “meow.”

Why, before you know it, you’ll have millions of people coming to your blog to hear what your problems are with the new 1,000 word health care bill, or maybe they’ll just be looking for your kitten videos. You can offer them one or both. It doesn’t matter! All that matters is that you’ve engaged your potential readership with language they can understand and you’ve brought them important information on a topic that will be important to them in the future, if not right this second.

After all, most people are only thinking about what’s going on this second. The future is a scary place! Would you want to live there? No! In the future, we’re all dead. But right now, in this moment, we have to enjoy the little things, and what we enjoy most is bright, furry, cuddly, fuzzy felines.

Perhaps you have been following the latest gossip about Pakistan and its unsecure nuclear weapons installations, which are dangerously close to the front lines in a war against fundamentalist Muslim Taliban militants who have already begun making strikes against nuclear labs, perhaps in an effort to steal technology. You may have spent your entire life in the intelligence community and know more about the real dangers than almost anyone else. You spend so much time thinking about nuclear Holocaust that you can’t sleep and it’s making you crazy in a way that literally changes the color of your urine.

But in the end, doesn’t that make you kind of a smarmy know-it-all? I mean, if you’re going to bring passionate, thoughtful national security items to the forefront of our dialogue, you’ve got to know how to speak the language of everyday folk. And what could be more heartwarming than pictures of kittens nursing at mama cat’s milk-swollen belly?

Don’t believe me? Try these tags and get results: “Pakistan,” and “nuclear facilities,” “Wiki Maps,” “Taliban,” “nuclear stockpiles,” “rogue states,” “black market,” “terrorist groups,” “kittens,” “nursing,” “meow, meow,” “vomit,” “hairball,” “poop,” “Roomba fight,” “vacuum cleaner.”

See, aren’t you already starting to see how the right kind of tagging will get your blog instant validation and notoriety?

People love kittens with great passion–almost as much as they hate the threat of nuclear annihilation. What you’ve got to do as a blogger is pick up on the topics of the day if you want to become a tastemaker, a pace setter and a thought leader. But you’ll never get there if you don’t learn the tricks of the Web world. So stop sucking your thumb and start thinking like a Web champion.

Don’t think in abstractions your whole life, think in fun, vibrant tags, whether it be “cat,” or “kitten,” or even “warm pussy.” And soon you’ll be getting the drift.

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Hello, I’m writing to you from the place where I sit atop Eric’s kidneys. I am Eric’s adrenal gland, and I account for the stimulation of certain hormones and neurotransmitters in his body.

I’m addressing you directly because I sometimes feel like my function and my role in Eric’s life is misunderstood. Sometimes, I’d even say people are trying to talk to Eric when I’m pretty sure they are talking to me, and vice versa. This gets to be pretty confusing, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to clear the air while Eric is sleeping.

I’m a fight-or-flight kind of gland. I make no bones. Eric might like to sit down with you and have a nice discussion—debate with you about aesthetics and politics over a brandy cordial or a cheese flight—but I, the adrenal gland, have nothing to do with that. I’m really a very simple kind of organism. All I pretty much ever want to do with you is have a fight or run away.

You see, I respond to stress. There are a whole lot of funny sounding chemicals involved in this, but suffice it to say that whenever there’s a real threat, I take over. I’m kind of like Kevin Costner in that movie The Bodyguard. Eric may think he’s in charge, but that’s just arrogance, mainly because of certain other organs in his body, and I won’t say them name. I don’t brag about what I do. I’m a gland of few words, and when it’s time to fight or flee the scene, I’m the guy you want to talk to, not Eric or his hypothalamus.

Sure, you say, Eric often writes about philosophy, the arts, finance and politics, and sometimes what he writes is nuanced and refined and involves logic and counter-intuitive arguments. Again, I’ve got no time for that. I’m a straight talker and don’t enjoy hobnobbing with a bunch of effete ponces.

The other day, for example, somebody came up and asked me, “Hey, adrenal gland, don’t you think that this bill in the U.S. Senate is necessary to give more people health insurance?”

“You mother fucker!” I screamed, “I’m going to bash your head in with a baseball bat.”

So I guess you’d say my view of life is simple, right? But let’s look at another example.

The other day a woman came up to me and said, “Look, Obama’s tax plan will harm small businesses, the ones who really drive this country’s economy.”

Now this was a very different case, because this woman knew karate. So after she made her point about economic stimulus, I quickly turned on my heel.

“Fuck you, you castrating devil bitch harpy!” I screamed as I ran away down the street toward the river. “You can’t catch me.”

Now as far as I know, this woman was making an excellent point. But the bottom line was, she represented a direct threat and source of stress that would impair Eric’s ability to store energy and recuperate and repair. It’s nothing personal. It’s just my function.

I even have moments where I can’t make up my mind.

“We need to tax the rich more,” someone told me recently.

“I’m going to kick your mother fucking ass,” I said. “No, wait … I’m going to run away! No! No! … I’m going to kick your ass.”

Of course, there are lots of times when I have nothing to say at all. Like when someone is admiring my shirt or asking me to go see a Fassbinder movie. Like I said, I’m a steak-and-potatoes kind of gland, and if I’m not fighting or running away, I’m really at a loss.

There is a proverb that says a fox knows many tricks and a hedgehog only one. But I am an adrenal gland, and I know exactly two: throw down or bug out. Fist city or Splitsville.

I’m not into arguments about right or wrong, what’s fair, who did what to whom, or how much money you owe me. I’ve got a very simple view of life. Like Ronald Reagan. Also, I am much bigger relative to body weight than I should be for evolutionary reasons, which not only means that I’m important to you, but also that you’re likely going to be doing what I want quite a bit of the time. You might not know this, but I swell up in the resistance stage, and even if you got rid of one half of me, the other half would blow up, like in The Blob, and take over. This is called hypertrophy, and I don’t want to bore you with the science, but it basically means I’m one star-shaped endocrine gland with whom a person should not ever fuck.

Sometimes Eric tells me, “Adrenal gland, don’t you see how the world couldn’t work if everybody were like you all the time?”

Of course, it’s like he’s talking to a wall. Sure, call it obstinacy on my part. But I know in his heart, Eric wouldn’t have me any other way. One day he’ll be running from muggers screaming like a little girl to protect himself, and he’ll thank me. Or maybe, for reasons I can’t fathom, he’ll be engaging in hand-to-hand mortal combat with a Mexican drug lord in Tijuana. He’ll thank me then, too. Some days, I know Eric better than he knows himself. That’s just the life of a gland.

I hope this has helped all of you clear up some of the confusion.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to run away from you because you represent a direct threat to my security and other bodily housekeeping functions.


Eric’s Adrenal Gland

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