Monday, August 31, 2009

Boycott Quote of the Day

From The Angry Bear:

Boycotts fascinate and disturb me though because it seems to me that they’ve taken on a punitive “wrongthink” quality in recent years. It isn’t so much that boycotts are being organized to protest a particular practice or right a particular wrong but that boycotts now seem to be organized to economically destroy someone who thinks the wrong thoughts and anyone who has the temerity to deal with them.
Well said, Angry Bear.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reason #117...

Reason #117 why I'm no longer a Democrat...

Because funerals are a lousy time for political messaging, especially when that messaging uses a kid who just lost his grandfather.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Someone Loves Chris Carlson

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hypno Health Care!

Obey the Control Voice!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wildfire in the Not-Distant-Enough Distance

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Let Me Get This Straight..."

From Maggie's Farm:

Let me get this straight...

We're going to pass a health care plan written by a committee whose head says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, signed by a president that also hasn't read it (and who smokes) with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's nearly broke.

What possibly could go wrong?
(h/t: The Virginian)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hammerboy Watches the Door

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Morning Shatner

For anyone who ever made it all the way through Star Trek V:

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I remember sitting with a friend, a writer/director, several years ago, and trying to figure out whether it was still worth it for either of us to stay in the Hollywood game.

We had met years before, when he had been attached to direct the first of my scripts that had gone anywhere and the world had looked like it would finally be, if not our oyster, then at least our really good all-you-could-eat salad bar. That project, like most in this town, ended up never getting made, but the two of us had stayed friends. We had had our separate successes since then, too. More successes than any sane person could ever reasonably expect to have in this business, in fact, though we were both far from being A-listers.

And that was our dilemma. We had had enough success to know that we were good, and to know that we could do this. But we weren't successful enough to be sure that all the sacrifices and various insanities involved would actually be worth it in the end.

We were both pushing 40 as well. That's not a good age to be in this business when you're still working to establish yourself on people's go-to lists. Especially when you could see the choice of another, more stable life looming on the horizon. And the fact that the other life included a woman you were thinking of proposing to, well, that just made the idea of moving on even more attractive.

So he and I talked. And talked.

And talked.

Did we really want to keep spending time in well-appointed rooms drinking overpriced bottled water with people who we really didn't care for (and who didn't really care for us, either) while talking about movies we all knew would never get made? Did we really want to write, direct, or write/direct the kind of projects we were actually in the running for? Did we realize that we had become those cynical guys who had fondly, if sadly, shaken their heads at us when we first started out, all full of hope and confidence that we could change the rules and never end up like them?

Did we remember why we had even wanted to make, write, and write/make movies in the first place?

I did, or at least I did a few days later, when some other friends and I gathered for 3 hours on the rooftop parking lot of a Ralph's grocery store and shot The New Guy.

We didn't have the equipment we needed. We didn't have the money we needed. We didn't have the real crew we needed. But we did have a security guard trying to run us off every 20 minutes or so. And a serious need to make something without all the agents, scammers, ego trippers, and layer upon layer of development "notes" that can suffocate a project before it even takes its first breath.

And we had fun. More fun than I could remember having since the days after I had first moved to Hollywood.

That morning, I remembered why I had wanted to come here in the first place.

Just watching it, even now, I get that same feeling...

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Mathematics of Our New Downstairs Neighbors

Three small and excitable children = Honest and forgivable noise

A set of big home-theater speakers blasting "Deep Note," the THX logo theme, with enough bass to rattle our bedroom (and our bed) like the magnitude 5.5 Chino Hills earthquake, at 6:58 AM on the one day this month I could actually sleep in = Angry upstairs neighbors quickly knocking on their front door (and a downstairs neighbor who apparently couldn't find his pants)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

SUMMER REPEAT: The Thing That Made It Real

When things started happening with the screenwriting, none of it seemed entirely real.

I was still living back east. I had never met my agent face to face. I had never met the producer who got interested in the first script we went out with. I had never met the development person who consistently gave me four hair-pullingly awful notes for each one that actually made the script better, though I later realized that was a pretty good ratio. I had never met the director who the producer sent the script to, and whose brother finally convinced him to read it, and who then taught me more in 1 hour on the phone than I ever learned from any 10 screenwriting how-to books combined.

It was easy to believe this was all happening to someone else. I was living in a tiny apartment, after all. And even then, I kept the Christmas tree up for an entire year, just so I could fill the hole in the living room left by my ex-girlfriend taking her share of the furniture when we split. I still had to walk a block in the snow to the laundromat as well, which will pop anyone's ego balloon.

Like Mickey Rourke says, I was a man alone in those days, and all I really had was my dog.

Then I got the tape.

It was the trailer the director and his brother (the effects guy) had put together for the film they were shooting while all the phone calls and discussions about my own script were happening. "World War II meets Lord of the Rings," I remembered them telling me, as I ripped open the FedEx package, popped the VHS cassette in the VCR, and then sat down on the floor with the dog. And I sat down heavily, too, because that was the moment when it finally hit me. That was the moment when I realized all of this really was, honestly and truly, actually happening.

I must have watched it 30 times that first afternoon and evening. And I've lost count of how often I've watched it since. More than enough that the video had begun to fade by the time I finally converted it to a digital file.

My script never got filmed in the end. Maybe in the Evil Mirror Universe, we were all ruthless enough to have gotten away with what we were trying to make. I still get a rush whenever I watch that tape, though, whether the cassette that still sits on my shelf or the file that now sits on my hard drive.

And it's still one of the coolest low-budget sci-fi movie trailers I've ever seen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When Will I Ever Learn?

When will I ever learn not to take on editing two books at the same time, especially when one of them is already a monster project to begin with?

When will I ever learn that an 11th edition, with a manuscript that's 95% unaltered tearsheets, still doesn't guarantee a fast and easy edit?

When will I ever learn that getting trounced repeatedly at "Go Fish!" by a friend's six-year-old daughter is one of the greatest stress releases imaginable? (Actually, I learned that one the other night...)

When will I ever learn that all my really good ideas for political satire always come when I have absolutely no time to write them?

When will I ever learn that pumping myself up with caffeine in the early evening to meet a deadline also means staying up until 3 or 4 AM, bleary-eyed, and watching Internet downloads of foreign television shows that often really are "a clattering bag of madness"?

When will I ever learn?

Probably never. Because this is my life, and all things considered, it's actually pretty damn good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SUMMER REPEAT: Tale of the $1 Car

For me, our car began—and ended—with a phone call.

Six years ago, two of our friends (Mr. S. and Ms. K) phoned and said they wanted "to talk" with us. They told us nothing more than that, so we of course assumed the worst. They were coming over to finally announce, in person, that their stormy marriage would be ending in divorce. Or something even worse.

As it turned out, they wanted to sell us one of their cars instead.

For $1.

Mr. S had just inherited a car. He didn't want to pay the insurance on the three cars he and Ms. K now owned, and the logical one to part company with was the oldest—a beat-up Mazda 323, complete with a weird skull/rabbit sticker and an engine tuned like a hot rod. The car had been Ms. K's first real purchase with her own money, though. It was a symbol of her independence, so it couldn't just be "given up." It had to find a home, and a fitting one. Considering that my wife (who was not yet my wife at the time) was a grad student struggling to finish her PhD, and considering that I had recently moved across the country after selling or giving away nearly every single thing I'd ever owned, we seemed like the obvious choice. And besides, with a car, Mr. S. and Ms. K could expect us to make the drive from the West Side of LA up to the Valley, so they would see us more often as well. Everybody wins.

My wife didn't have a dollar on her at the time. I had to loan her the dollar.

It was a sweet deal, I must admit. The car cost less than $200 a year to insure. When gas prices hit their peak a few months ago, that just meant the cost of filling its tank finally broke $20. It got better gas mileage than anything that old and nasty had a right to provide. And even with the occasional repair—which became less occasional as time went on—and with the cost of a rental for those trips that even my wife wouldn't trust it to make, we came out ahead. And I mean way ahead.

On top of it all, our car had a "story," too, which meant everything to my wife. It was cool to her in a way that no Detroit "bubble" car of the suburbs could ever be. And it was the first car she ever bought, so Ms. K got to relive that experience all over again with her.

Thus began six years of ever more white-knuckled rides.

First, my wife had to learn how to drive stick. Second, I had to learn how to drive stick. Third, we drove the Dollar Car to Las Vegas, and like the brave explorer who comes home from the jungle with malaria, it was never quite the same after that.

We thought we had checked everything before we left. Tires. Fluids. Gas. Maps. You name it. But not even 30 minutes outside LA, it started to handle wrong, and then very wrong, and we realized that one of the tires was almost flat. After solving that problem, we next faced a leaky radiator, which forced us to pull over every 50 miles or so—both ways—so that we could refill the engine with badly needed coolant.

After that, life with the Dollar Car became a blur of this repair and that bit of tinkering, of this rattle and that squeak, of surging engine power that knocked the dog off her feet in the back and putt-putt, go-cart moments that sent the dog thumping into the backs of our seats. In fact, go-carts were often faster than we were. The car seemed to go through spark plugs faster than Cartman ate Snacky Cakes. And the fuel gauge became utterly postmodern, letting you graft your own meaning onto the abstract information it provided about the level of gas in your tank. There were the overheatings, especially on the grid-locked freeways of Southern California, and the jury-rigged control to start the engine fan when the actual control gave out. Mechanics knew a good thing when they saw us, and the automotive-tech students at the local community college found increasingly ingenious ways to keep it going and snag a passing grade.

Somehow, though, it always made it through California's stringent smog emissions test. The last time did take some serious tinkering with the engine, but the guys as Midas took it as a personal challenge.

I understood the appeal of your first car, though, and how you would do almost anything to keep it running—or simply keep it. My own first car had its quirks, too. It was an old Datsun 200SX (so old that Datsun was still Datsun and not Nissan) that apparently had been rewired by an electrical dyslexic. Turn on the radio, and the "Door Ajar" light came on. Just opening and closing the door to shut off the warning light would be too easy, however. In my old Datsun, you had to turn the dome light on and off. And part of me wonders if I wouldn't still have it, if those never-were-caught Philly teens hadn't joy-ridden it into a concrete railroad abutment 20 years ago.

So I did understand the appeal of the rather unique Mazda we'd acquired. And at first, we thought we would only have the car for a year or two before replacing it. Life had other plans for us, though. We moved from the West Side to the sprawl beyond Pasadena after my exotic Canadian wife landed a teaching position, and we paid for two rounds of immigration bureaucracy-go-round to secure her permanent residency. Which also included our going from two incomes to one for far too many months when her temporary work permit somehow failed to get processed along with all the other green card paperwork.

And always in our minds was one undeniable truth: Even with all its problems and all its repairs, the Dollar Car was unbelievably cheap to run. We were saving money hand over fist, which came in handy during a move, two rounds of immigration bureaucracy-go-round, and five-figures worth of lost income.

Of course, the car also scared the hell out of me, and never more so these last two years.

And of course, we both ran it for too long.

As I said, for me, our car began—and ended—with a phone call. Only this time, it was my wife on the line, and she sounded absolutely giddy. "Are you sitting down?" she asked. I wasn't, so I immediately did, preparing myself to hear some amazingly wonderful news of the unexpected.

"I'm all right," she said then, "but the car is on fire by the side of the 210."

We still don't quite know what went wrong. And to be honest, too many possibilities come to mind. We know the engine caught fire, and the rest of the car soon followed. My wife got out in time, though, and she came through it without a scratch, which is all that really matters.

R.I.P., Dollar Car. You gave us more than our money's worth.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Politically Incorrect BBQ

I want to thank everyone at Saturday's GayPatriot BBQ for the welcome and the wonderful evening. I especially want to thank Leah and her husband for opening their home to us all. I can't remember the last time I went to any party, of any kind, here in Southern California and didn't find myself outnumbered by 10-to-1 politically. It was a very welcome and refreshing change.

And to top it all off, I got to shake Roger L. Simon's hand. (I can now die a happy blogger's death. Maybe. Because I think I really want another of those "Pinky the Elephant" cookies before I go.)

Thanks again, and I hope to see you all at the next one.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SUMMER REPEAT: Having A Serious Conversation

[Unfortunately, this one seems even more appropriate today than when it was first posted...]

I wasn't able to watch all of President Obama's town hall meeting in St. Louis today, and what I did see had me alternately shaking my head and wishing that, at least here in the Pacific time zone, it had been late enough to start drinking. One particular portion, though, actually managed to make my blood pressure start to rise...

I'm happy to have a serious conversation about these issues, too, Mr. President. So as you say, let's not play games, and let's stop pretending.

Let's stop pretending that the record deficits in your 10-year budget plan, approved earlier today by Congress, were inherited from George W. Bush. This is your budget, your stimulus, and your spending, Mr. President. A serious conversation would acknowledge this.

Let's stop pretending that asking your cabinet to find $100 million in spending cuts is "tightening our belts." A serious conversation would call this what it really is: A joke. And a bad one at that.

Let's stop pretending that we're going to lower health care costs, thus saving money and Medicare, not to mention reducing the deficits, by spending an additional $646 billion of money we don't have. And that's just for the "down payment." A serious conversation would acknowledge that your health care reform is going to cost us even more in the long run, not less.

Let's stop pretending that we can save Social Security without cutting benefits for future retirees or raising the retirement age, and that all we really need to do is just lift the cap on the amount of income that's subject to the payroll tax. A serious conversation would acknowledge that this won't even cover half of the unfunded Social Security obligations we're facing.

Let's stop touting that $400 tax cut you keep talking about, considering that the members of your own party in Congress just voted to end it after next year. A serious conversation would acknowledge that even the people voting for your budget understand that the numbers just do not add up.

And while we're at it, let's stop pretending that your $400 tax cut is actually a "tax cut." Because a tax cut means taking less of someone's money. It doesn't mean refunding money to people who don't even owe any income tax, which your $400 "tax credit" does. Even if you justify giving out this money by saying that those people still owe payroll tax, this is still a transfer payment, not a cut in their payroll tax, and transfer payments need to be paid for -- either by raising taxes in some other area or by borrowing still more money. Even the Congressional Budget Office scores these credits as "direct spending." A serious conversation would admit this.

Let's also stop justifying your policies by pretending that under the Bush administration, only the wealthy received tax cuts. Millions of people who previously had owed federal income tax each year ended up owing no federal income tax at all after the Bush tax cuts. Middle-income earners paid lower federal taxes under President Bush than they did under President Clinton. I know I did, and I'm far from wealthy. Not to mention that lowering the bottom rate from 15% to 10% is hardly a tax cut for the wealthy. If you want to argue that the wealthy got more than their share, then go ahead and make that case, but frankly, I'm tired of being told by any member of the "reality-based community" that I never received a tax cut under the Bush administration. And a serious conversation wouldn't ask me, "Who are you going to believe? The words on my teleprompter, or your lying checkbook?"

Let's also note the irony of touting a $400 tax credit as a major boost to families and the economy, Mr. President, when during the campaign, your own wife dismissed the $600 stimulus payments with the phrase "What can you do with that?" A serious conversation might include some explanation about how a payment of $200 less suddenly became so much more effective and meaningful.

Mocking those "folks waving tea bags around" might make for a good laugh line, Mr. President. I'll admit that, and also that after the first 100 days of your presidency, I'm rather tired of the dismissive, Jon Stewart-esque smirk you tend to bestow on anyone who disagrees with your policies. But those folks are voters, Mr. President. And not only do they understand everything discussed in this post, they're waiting for some indication that you do as well.

They're also waiting for that serious conversation, Mr. President, just as soon as you decide to get serious.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Hillary Should Have Said in Nigeria

What Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Nigeria while answering a question about that country's recent election:

In 2000, our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of the man running for President was the governor of the state. So we have our problems too.
What Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should have said in Nigeria while answering a question about that country's recent election:
In 2000, we had an election for the U.S. Senate in one state where the winner was actually the wife of the President of the United States. So we have our problems too.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pop Quiz: Scary Poll Numbers Edition

Which of the following scary poll results is scarier than the other?

A) The Research 2000 poll that found 11% of Americans (and 28% of Republicans) believe that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and so is ineligible to serve as president.

B) The Rasmussen poll that found 22% of Americans (and 35% of Democrats) believe that George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance and allowed them to occur for his own dark purposes.

(Hint So Good It Simply Will Not Embed Properly: "Deceptive Deceptions")

Thursday, August 13, 2009

YouTube, Welcome Back!

How full the Internet seems when YouTube is up. Nothing but post after post, at blog after blog, with big honkin' gobs of embedded video goodness...

The Trend

YouTube, Come Back!

How empty the Internet seems when YouTube is down. Nothing but post after post, at blog after blog, with big, gaping holes of embedded blankness...

The Obligatory Health Reform Town Hall Angry Mob Quote Post (with Photos and Video), Part II

Mitch Albom:

I have no illusions about protesters at the recent town hall meetings on health care.
Town hall meeting with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA):

Steven Pearlstein:
The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.
Ed Morrissey:
The anger comes from the blatant disregard of even the pretense of legitimate governance. Elected representatives from Congress openly admit they’re not reading the bills, while leadership in both chambers try to ram through complicated bills without giving anyone a real chance to learn what they say and what they do. It doesn’t help that the bills in question — health care reform and cap-and-trade — are both elitist policies that essentially puts Washington in charge of decisions that people should make on their own. Put all that together, and the only surprise should be that the anger took this long to develop.
Who are these people? Aside from being almost entirely white and irritable?
Town hall meeting with Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA):

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):
[I]t is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted "Just say no!" drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.
Mitch Albom:
Let's be honest. Those of us who grew up in the 1960s took great pride in storming events and yelling slogans. We didn't care who we interrupted. We were, in our minds, right and proud and arguing for our beliefs. And we look back on that era now with a certain pride.
Town hall meeting with Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL):

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):
Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.
CSEA/SEIU Local 2001:
Action: Opponents of reform are organizing counter-demonstrators to speak at this and several congressional town halls on the issue to defend the status quo. It is critical that our members with real, personal stories about the need for access to quality, affordable care come out in strong numbers to drown out their voices.
Town hall meeting with Sen. Arlen Specter (D, then R, then D again-PA):

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):
These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves ... Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.
Jake Tapper:
In yet more disappointing news for Democrats pushing for health care reform, Douglas W. Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, offered a skeptical view Friday of the cost savings that could result from preventive care -- an area that President Obama and congressional Democrats repeatedly had emphasized as a way health care reform would be less expensive in the long term.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
[I]t's always been a source, yes I will say frustration, for many of us in Congress that the CBO will always give you the worst-case scenario on one initiative ...
Cohen et al., New England Journal of Medicine:
Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not.
Chris Matthews and Cynthia Tucker:

Mitch Albom:
[L]ike it or not, people perceive an enemy when they hear about a government health-care plan. Especially one so complex, confusing and undercooked that no one can really say what it will or won't allow, or who will or won't pay for it.
Ed Schultz:

Rasmussen Reports:
Support for the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low. Just 42% favor the plan while 53% are opposed. Other data shows that 51% fear the federal government more than private insurance companies. Forty-one percent (41%) fear the insurance companies more. Overall, 32% favor a single-payer health care system for the U.S. while 57% are opposed.
Town hall meeting with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX):

President Barack Obama:
Now, let me just start by setting the record straight on a few things I've been hearing out here -- (laughter) -- about reform. Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.
Rich Lowry:
If the public option in ObamaCare underpays providers in a [fashion similar to Medicare], it will charge cheaper premiums than private insurance. Employers will dump their employees into the public plan, and a massive "crowding out" will occur ... whether Obama considers it logical or not.
Michael Barone:
[Y]ou can't keep [your insurance] if your employer stops offering it.
Atlas Shrugs:

Robert Reich:
Why are these meetings brimming with so much anger? Because Republican Astroturfers have joined the same old right-wing broadcast demagogues that have been spewing hate and fear for years, to create a tempest.
Mitch Albom:
What did Democrats expect with a bill like this? Roses and hosannas? Many who supported Obama's campaign promises of health care for everyone wouldn't have done so if they read how he now plans to pay for and administer it.
Leah from New Hampshire:

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA):
There’s a lot of people out there making a lot of money on this system, and they don’t want to change it. They just like it just the way it is, so whatever they can do to disrupt it, to stop it, they’re money ahead. We can’t let them stop us from changing this system.
New York Times:
The drug industry has authorized its lobbyists to spend as much as $150 million on television commercials supporting President Obama’s health care overhaul, beginning over the August Congressional recess, people briefed on the plans said Saturday.
Town hall meeting with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO):

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA):
The medical industry wants to maintain their access to unlimited corporate profits by maintaining limited medical access for the American people. And, they have cranked up the right wing fear and smear machine to make you afraid. Well, here is something to fear. Today, insurance companies control the medical care you receive, not you or your doctor, if you are fortunate enough to have one.

Town hall meeting with Rep. Peter Griffin (D-RI):

Mitch Albom:
[I] know some of these protesters are sent by dubiously named groups like Americans for Prosperity, which sounds harmless enough, until you check and see the group's leader once organized for Enron and worked with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Greg Sargent:
Aides to Senator Dianne Feinstein have complained to the White House about a deluge of visits to her offices by constituents who thought they had an appointment after O[President Obama's political operation, Organizing for America] called on supporters to visit members of Congress, Feinstein’s office confirms to me.

OFA recently blasted out an email to its list asking supporters to “visit” the office of their representatives. OFA asked supporters to sign up in shifts to avoid overwhelming the offices, whereupon supporters received follow-up emails reminding them of the “scheduled visit” they’d chosen. OFA advised them to “call ahead” before visiting.

But some constituents took the follow-up email to mean that they had a hard-and-fast scheduled meeting with their members of Congress, and around 100 such people showed up at Feinstein’s offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Feinstein spokesperson Gil Duran says. The visitors got upset when they learned they didn’t have a scheduled meeting, Duran says, adding that Feinstein’s office “expressed their concerns” to the White House.

The hostility goes back to what I was pondering in my Sunday essay: that the aggressive, furious attempts to even shut down the possibility of a political discussion is reminiscent of the anti-desegregation movement, a point that becomes noteworthy when you aggregate the motives of the "birthers", who loudly deny Obama's citizenship, the "teabaggers", who loudly declare that the same taxes they paid under Bush are tyrannical under Obama, the "deathers", who loudly assert that healthcare reform is secret plot to euthanize seniors and others that the government deems unproductive. None of these positions makes a lick of sense or has any evidence to back it up, but in large part it is the same group of hard-right, almost entirely white conservatives that believes all three at once. If you believe the shouters themselves, in their own words, the healthcare debate isn't about healthcare but about a conspiratorial government and the end of the Republic.
Either [political independents] have suddenly developed a taste for Nazi mobs of political terrorists or the Democrats’ message war on ObamaCare opponents is a rather epic fail.

Given the left’s monopoly on wisdom and virtue, I must reluctantly conclude it’s the former. When did independents start hating America?
Town hall with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI):

Mitch Albom:
It may not be pretty, but shouting and confrontations are part of this country. They have been from the start. More manners would be better. But silence would be worse.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

White House Phone Logs: President Obama Calls the New Black Panthers

"Hello? Is this the New Black Panthers?... It is?... Excellent! New Black Panthers, this is President Barack Obama... Really, it is... Seriously... Now, I just wanted to call and... How did I get your number? I assume Rahm got it from your Justice Department file... Yes, your DOJ file. That's why I'm calling. I wanted to apologize for the Justice Department filing that voter intimidation suit against you. Seriously, I don't see how anyone could possibly think that a couple of big guys standing in front of a polling place while wearing paramilitary uniforms, waving a nightstick, and calling themselves 'security' might be intimidating. Asking for a photo ID inside to prove you're actually the person on the voter rolls you say you are, that's voter intimidation!... You got that right!... Yes... Yes, it was lucky that person-who-still-remains-nameless dropped the case after actually winning a default judgment against you, because you never even bothered to show up in court... Yes... So listen, I had a second reason for this call. You know about those angry, unhelpful mobs protesting against my health care reform plan at the town hall meetings, right?... Yes, those ones... So here's the thing. Since those Service Employees International Union members beat up that Ken guy in St. Louis, people have started watching out for them, so the SEIU can no longer fulfill their assigned role in the usual quiet, under-the-radar manner, so to speak. And since you guys already have experience with providing, ah, 'security,' I was thinking... Yes... Exactly... No, I'm sorry. This would be strictly an independent contractor type deal. No health benefits would be provided by the White Hou -- Hello?... Hello?... Rahm, did somebody trip over the phone cord and pull it out of the wall socket or something?... Hello?..."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Someone Needs to Ask President Obama...

I'm beginning to think that President Obama simply can't get through a press conference or a town hall meeting now without uttering at least one howler that, if President Bush had said it, would have been the cause for a week's worth of ridicule from all corners. Today, President Obama held a health care town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and did it again:

[President Obama] also disputed the notion that adding a government-run insurance plan into a menu of options from which people could pick would drive private insurers out of business, in effect making the system single-payer by default.

As long as they have a good product and the government plan has to sustain itself through premiums and other non-tax revenue, private insurers should be able to compete with the government plan, Obama said.

"They do it all the time," he said. "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. ... It's the Post Office that's always having problems."
Someone needs to ask President Obama when, exactly, the Post Office lost its legal monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail, and when UPS and FedEx began competing with the Post Office in that area.

Someone needs to ask President Obama how, considering the quasi-governmental Post Office is still "always having problems" even with a government-provided monopoly, the Public Option is going to "bend the cost curve" down instead of making it explode.

Someone needs to ask President Obama when, exactly, the government began to dictate the specific level of services that UPS and FedEx are required to provide in overnight and package deliveries, where those companies actually do compete with the Post Office, as I understand the government will be dictating to private insurers under currently proposed legislation.

And someone needs to ask President Obama what, exactly, we will be spending that estimated $1 trillion or so of government money on if the Public Option is going to be funded strictly through "premiums and other non-tax revenues." Not to mention what, exactly, he means by "other non-tax revenues."

Someone? Anyone?

And they wonder why the protesters at town hall meetings are angry...

UPDATE: The video:

Someone needs to ask President Obama when, exactly, private insurers went into competition against Medicaid and the Veterans Administration.



Constructive Criticism for Future Conspiracy Theorists

When trying to get any conspiracy theory taken seriously by the public, be it the looming, enforced merger of the United States, Canada, and Mexico into the North American Union or the shocking secret that George Bush, the House of Windsor, and other world leaders are actually shape-shifting reptiles, a key requirement is being able to give at least the appearance that you, the conspiracy theorist, are credible and serious yourself.

Broadcasting your entire show while in Obama/Joker make-up is not the way to go about this...

Even for world-class, master conspiracy-monger Alex Jones, this is just... well... bizarre...

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Conversation at the McDonald's Drive-Thru Window

"Look at it! It's right there!"

"It's just a bee."

"It's a big bee! And it's right there!"

"Just ignore it."

"I can't punch in the orders on the register when it's right there!"

"Oh, all right."

(Wave. Wave. Wave. Wave. Wave.)

(Me) "Ah, excuse me? You do realize you're waiving that big bee out your window and straight into my car, right?"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Obligatory Health Reform Town Hall Angry Mob Quote Post (with Photos and Video)

Peggy Noonan:

We have entered uncharted territory in the fight over national health care. There’s a new tone in the debate, and it’s ugly. At the moment the Democrats are looking like something they haven’t looked like in years, and that is: desperate.
Mark Steyn:
DISSENT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF PATRIOTI… No, wait, that bumper sticker expired January 20th.
Democratic National Committee:

Guy Benson:
Actor: The vast right-wing conspiracy (or just some guy from Connecticut)
Role: Coordinating assaults on helpless Democrat[ic] Representatives' townhall meetings by mobilizing firebreathing, disruptive lunatics.
Robert L. Borosage:
Their tactic this August is clear. Run Astroturf campaigns and mobilize the zealots to disrupt congressional town hall meetings, spew anger and invective against the "government takeover" of health care that will "kill your grandmother." Intimidate legislators, cow decent citizens, sow fear and confusion. Legislators learn that if they vote to disembowel reform they'll be amply rewarded with campaign contributions. If they vote to support it, they'll face the fury of the wingnuts and the Astroturf activists.
Mickey Kaus:
If an "astroturfing" campaign gets real people to show up at events stating their real views, isn't it ... community organizing?
Jennifer Rubin:
This is a far cry from the White House spin that August was going to be the time for voters to exact revenge on those mean Blue Dogs and Republicans who were standing in the way of nationalized health care. Now the Democrats are reduced to accusing their constituents of being puppets of insurance companies (or is it of the RNC?).
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

Guy Benson:
Actor: The Democratic Party
Role: Compassionately taking over the nation's health-care system, improving the quality of care, lowering costs, not rationing, not adding to the federal deficit, not raising taxes, saving the planet, punishing villains, tracking disseminators of untruths, and valiantly resisting (or ignoring) all other actors.
Peggy Noonan:
What has been most unsettling is not the congressmen’s surprise but a hard new tone that emerged this week. The leftosphere and the liberal commentariat charged that the town hall meetings weren’t authentic, the crowds were ginned up by insurance companies, lobbyists and the Republican National Committee. But you can’t get people to leave their homes and go to a meeting with a congressman (of all people) unless they are engaged to the point of passion. And what tends to agitate people most is the idea of loss -- loss of money hard earned, loss of autonomy, loss of the few things that work in a great sweeping away of those that don’t.
Dana Loesch:

Angry voter at Philadelphia town hall meeting:
Medicaid is broke. Medicare is broke. Social Security is broke, and you want us to believe that a government that can't even run a Cash-for-Clunkers program is going to run one-seventh of our U.S. economy? No, sir! No!
Robert L. Borosage:
The opposition -- well financed by the insurance and drug companies and by the rabid right -- is mobilizing now to stop reform. Republicans believe that they can replay 1994 when the defeat of Clinton's health care plan (and the fight over NAFTA) led to the stunning elections that resulted in the Gingrich congress. The insurance and drug companies have sought to dilute reform on the inside while helping to fund front groups trying to torpedo it on the outside.
Guy Benson:
Actor: Private health-insurance companies
Role: Immoral, carpet-bombing villains (who, thankfully, still contributed big money to Obama, Pelosi, et al).
Service Employees Union International (SEIU):

Mary Katherine Ham:
Last night, as reports began to emerge of unrest at two big health care town halls in Tampa and St. Louis, a man on Twitter claiming to work with SEIU, claimed a handful of arrests in St. Louis had been Obamacare critics, and they'd been arrested for assaulting SEIU members. His report was dutifully repeated by liberals looking to paint the violence as caused by critics of the administration.
Video taken by Missourah outside the Russ Carnahan (D-MO) town hall in St. Louis:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
A spokesman for the SEIU, which represents about 1 million health care workers, said the appearance of union members at Carnahan's town hall meeting was not in response to protests mounted by opponents of Obama's health care plan.
Sam Stein:
The nation's largest federation of labor organizations has promised to directly engage with boisterous conservative protesters at Democratic town halls during the August recess.

In a memo sent out on Thursday, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney outlined the blueprint for how the union conglomerate would step up recess activities on health care reform and other topics pertinent to the labor community. The document makes clear that Obama allies view the town hall forums as ground zero of the health care debate.
Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO):

Jim Hoft:
This is my first-person account of what I saw at the the town hall meeting ... As [Carnahan] spoke the crowd of union supporters continually interrupted him with their applause. A few of the tea party protesters left during this staged show by Carnahan and his cronies. After Carnahan was through speaking he said he was going to take a few questions. His staffers then pulled out a few questions and read them to him from their index cards. They said they had collected the cards beforehand, but the tea party taxpayers did not even know they were only taking questions that were written down. It was a total dog and pony show.

After the event, things got really out of control. The SEIU members were looking for trouble.
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina to Senate Democrats:
If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard.
Enough is enough. It's time for us to get out our pitchforks and tell the Outside-the-Beltway gang that we're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more. We are the little guy, the junior senator from some godforsaken Nebraskansaw, just looking to make that subcommittee with the big contributor action. That fresh young regulatory agency head who only wants to test that bank nationalization idea from her Harvard term paper. We are the people who get up every day, work hard, and play inside the rules. Most of the time. And if one of us accidentally plays outside one of those rules, then, by golly, the rest of us will make sure to modify that rule so he's still playing inside the rules. And we're tired of getting pushed around the town hall by the likes of you, Big Voter.
Representative John Dingell (D-MI):

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):
[The White House is] just helping us understand the fringe that is trying to mess up our meetings.
Dana Loesch:

Guy Benson:
Actor: The American Public
Role: Deranged, right-wing radical, mobster, astroturfing, special interest pawns. And maybe Nazis, too. (This description may apply to 52 percent of voters).
Peggy Noonan:
Then came the Democratic Party charge that the people at the meetings were suspiciously well-dressed, in jackets and ties from Brooks Brothers. They must be Republican rent-a-mobs.
Patients First:

John Amato:
Have you seen the teabaggers in action during Rep. Lloyd Doggett's (D-TX) town hall on health care? These are standard right-wing tactics -- attack any kind of meaningful change in health care, or even any kind of meaningful discourse around it. They remind me of a gathering of Joe the Plumbers ... August will be littered with images of the Zombie Plumbers disrupting town hall meetings ...
Bob Hope:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):
These are nothing more than destructive efforts to interrupt a debate that we should have, and are having.
Mark Steyn:
Decrying the snarling, angry protesters, liberal talk-show host Bill Press ... says that "Americans want serious discussion" on health care. If only we'd stuck to the President's August timetable and passed a gazillion-page health care reform entirely unread by the House of Representatives or the Senate (the world's greatest deliberative body) in nothing flat, we'd now have all the time in the world to sit around having a "serious discussion" and "real debate" on whatever it was we just did to one-sixth of the economy.
Peggy Noonan:
What the town-hall meetings represent is a feeling of rebellion, an uprising against change they do not believe in. And the Democratic response has been stunningly crude and aggressive. It has been to attack.
Gregg Levine:
[H]ere is what I am seeing in all the organized outrage and outrageous organizing; here’s what I am seeing in teabagging anti-care birthers: racists. Rabid and perhaps irretrievable racists ... a fear of other, an unwavering dislike, a complete inability to accept that we now have a black/bi-racial/African American president.
Dana Loesch:

Paul Krugman:
But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.

That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship.
David Boaz:
Paul Krugman can’t understand why people would oppose government control of health care — or skyrocketing deficits, or a federal takeover of education, energy, and finance along with health care — unless they’re driven by racism.
Scott Johnson:
Condemning these citizens as mobs, the Obama administration apparently seek to prepare the public for the cracking of heads we have seen by administration supporters at townhall events this week. While Obama supporters dispatched union thugs to act like brownshirts of yore, Obama's minions at the DNC released a statement yesterday announcing its "REACTION [sic] to the [purported] use of Nazi symbolism from the right wing." Among the alleged malefactors accused by the DNC of fomenting Nazism was House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, the House's only Jewish Republican ... We sought a response to the DNC statement from Rep. Cantor, but it turns out he could not be reached for comment. He was touring the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem at the same moment that the DNC was defaming him at home.
Peggy Noonan:
But most damagingly to political civility, and even our political tradition, was the new White House email address to which citizens are asked to report instances of “disinformation” in the health-care debate: If you receive an email or see something on the Web about health-care reform that seems “fishy,” you can send it to
Mark Steyn:
Reporting dissent is the highest form of patriotism!

Guy Benson:
Actor: The Interwebs
Role: Obfuscation, deceit, and fear-spreading. (Please report such nefarious activity directly to the White House, post-haste).
President Barack Obama:
Right now, doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that's out there. So if they're looking and you come in and you've got a bad sore throat or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, "You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out."
Guy Benson:
Actor: Doctors
Role: Greedy, selfish, profit-hounds who perform unneccessary surgeries on children and prescribe overpriced medication just to make an extra buck.
Charles Krauthammer:
An authoritative Massachusetts Medical Society study found that five out of six doctors admitted they order tests, procedures and referrals -- amounting to about 25 percent of the total -- solely as protection from lawsuits. Defensive medicine, estimates the libertarian/conservative Pacific Research Institute, wastes more than $200 billion a year. Just half that sum could provide a $5,000 health insurance grant -- $20,000 for a family of four -- to the uninsured poor (U.S. citizens ineligible for other government health assistance).
President Barack Obama:

Glenn Reynolds
What would the reaction be if a Republican President said this?
Peggy Noonan:
All of this is unnecessarily and unhelpfully divisive and provocative. They are mocking and menacing concerned citizens. This only makes a hot situation hotter. Is this what the president wants? It couldn’t be. But then in an odd way he sometimes seems not to have fully absorbed the awesome stature of his office.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

White House Phone Logs: President Obama Calls Deloris Nissen

"Hello, is this Deloris Nissen, retired nurse's aide and former Kmart employee, who was raised on a farm near Audobon?... It is?... Excellent! Deloris, this is President Barack Obama... Really, it is... Seriously... Now, I just read that you're selling both of your television sets because you're tired of seeing me on every channel and station whenever you turned one of them on. Obviously, this will leave you at the mercy of fishy disinformation from right-wing obstructionist groups and lobbyists paid for by fat-cat health care CEOs, so... How did I get your number? I assume Rahm got it from Information or something. Now, let me assure you... Deloris, calm down... I said calm down. And let me assure you that by spending more money on health care, we will actually save money, and that nothing about your specific health care that you currently receive through the model-if-still-currently-doomed-to-bankruptcy Medicare program will change, other than you'll get a plethora of new benefits paid for with new money from only the richest five percent of Americans and borrowed from... Deloris, seriously, calm down... I said calm down... Now, Deloris, I've really had enough of this manufactured anger over my awesome health care reform proposals, and... Yes, I said manufactured anger... That's right. Astroturfed, manufactured anger. You think a former community organizer doesn't know manufactured anger when he sees it?... Oh, you better believe I'm talking to you, Deloris, so let me be perfectly -- Hello?... Deloris?... Hello?..."

Friday, August 7, 2009

You Don't Have to Read the Bill to Follow Your Conscience

Representative David Wu (D-OR) meets one of those angry mobs of swastika-bearing astroturfers intent on destroying democracy as we know it and, in the process, reveals that he doesn't actually have to read the bill to "follow my conscience."

Really. He does.

Pop Quiz: "Racist Joker" Edition

Are any of the following racist, and if so, which?

A) Cesar Romero as the Joker:

B) Jack Nicholson as the Joker:

C) Heath Ledger as the Joker:

D) President George W. Bush as the Joker:

E) President Barack Obama as the Joker:

Hint from Philip Kennicott:

By using the "urban" makeup of the Heath Ledger Joker, instead of the urbane makeup of the Jack Nicholson character, the poster connects Obama to something many of his detractors fear but can't openly discuss. He is black and he is identified with the inner city, a source of political instability in the 1960s and '70s, and a lingering bogeyman in political consciousness despite falling crime rates. . . . Urban blacks -- the thinking goes -- don't just live in dangerous neighborhoods, they carry that danger with them like a virus. . . . The charge of socialism is secondary to the basic message that Obama can't be trusted, not because he is a politician, but because he's black.
Hint from Frank J. Fleming:
Don’t you remember the long, racist history of black people being compared to the Joker? . . . Also, the image involves white makeup on a black person. White on black — that has to be racist somehow. I’ll bet makeup places won’t even sell white pancake makeup to black people. They’d be like “No! Get out of here, black person! We won’t sell that to you! That’s racist!”
UPDATE: Bonus hint from Chris Muir (click to enlarge):

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Political Labels, They Are A'Shiftin'

Things I've Learned from Barbara Boxer

Like Americans in all states, we in California have two senators. They both have names as well: Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer. Both are Democrats, because, well, this is California. Both also have additional names that I've given them. Diane Feinstein, for example, is "The Adult I Generally Disagree With."

Barbara Boxer is "That Other One."

Whether it's objecting to Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for using the polite honorific "Ma'am" during testimony before her committee (I can't wait to see Senator Al Franken tell Gen. Walsh, "Call me Senator, not Sir! I recounted hard to get this title!"), or telling Harry Alford, President and CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce, that he should change his mind about opposing the cap-and-trade bill not because of the facts but because the NAACP and the CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta disagree with him (and having no problem with Alford calling her "Ma'am"), or outdoing Joe Biden for the title "Blowhard of the Senate" by spending 7 minutes and 39 seconds to ask a single question (Gen. Petraeus, who had come back from Iraq to answer the Senate's questions, had to answer later. In writing), "That Other One" makes me wish I had more time for blogging, because she never fails to make me proud to be a former (and hopefully future) Pennsylvanian. And to entertain as well as instruct.

Like she did earlier today...

Rarely have I learned so much in only 58 seconds...

1) The anger and frustration of their constituents that our elected representatives are currently experiencing all across this nation isn't an honest, grassroots reflection of real anger and real frustration at the largest deficits in history and a badly constructed health reform plan, it's "organized" by "The Website." (Fear The Website!)

2) The proof this is all "organized" and not an actual, grassroots expression of real opinions and beliefs to the representatives they elected is that these people are "well dressed." Because a true grassroots protest must involve grass stains on the worn knees of the shabby clothes of the downtrodden. And large puppets. (Naked, middle-aged protesters inflating their scrotum are still optional. I hope.)

3) "Well dressed" people have no honestly held opinions or values of their own, because "well dressed" people disagreed with her during the Florida recount in 2000, when she tried to stop them from stealing an election. Barbara Boxer, of course, tried to stop this election-stealing while wearing a stained wife-beater and crocs.

4) Well-dressed people with good organizational skills really only care about "hurting" President Obama personally, because a former community organizer with a filibuster-proof Senate and a huge majority in the House who still can't get cap-and-trade and health reform through Congress on his own schedule just induces so much jealousy. Like that popular kid in high school who had the hot girlfriend, the one who stayed with him even after you put up that really bitchin' website listing all the reasons why he was actually a putz and she would be so much better off with you. (Fear The Website!)

5) The phrase Ronald Reagan is a hypnotic trigger of shame. Like the phrase Leave it! is for my dog.

I can't wait to vote against her in 2010...

UPDATE: "How to Dress Like an 'Authentic' Grass-Roots Activist" (language warning!)

UPDATE II: "Dress for Redress: Exurban League's Guide to Protest Wear."

UPDATE III: Iowahawk shows how to tell the difference between a true, uncoordinated grass-roots protesters and scary, reactionary infiltrators dancing on the strings of their special-interest puppet-masters!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blog Headline of the Day

"Democrats Decline to Listen to Unhappy Constituents, Label Them Nuts Instead"

A Question for the Birthers

Assuming for the moment that you're right and Barack Obama really is a naturalized rather than a natural-born U.S. citizen (not that I do think you're right), and assuming for the moment that you're successful in removing him from the Office of the Presidency because you're right and he doesn't meet the qualifications set forth by the Constitution (not that I do think you would be successful, even if I thought that you were right, which I don't), I just have to ask...

Do you really think that President Joe Biden would be an improvement?


UDPATE: "Salon's handy-dandy guide to refuting the Birthers" ("Now you, too, can silence the annoying birther in your life -- in just eight easy steps!")


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Visit to Mobile Avenue Public Option Healthful Wellness Optimization Center 3698-443/A-229

"Greetings, Citizens, and welcome to Mobile Avenue Public Option Healthful Wellness Optimization Center 3698-443/A-229. I am your federally sanctioned Healthful Wellness Optimization Coordinator, NeoCon. How may I optimize your healthful wellness outcomes today and so create a happier, more healthful society for us all?"

"It's our daughter. She keeps getting sore throats."

"I see, Citizen. You would like our completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life counseling for her then?"

"Excuse me?"

"I asked if you would like our completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life counseling for your daughter."

"She's just a little girl!"

"Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee regulations require me to offer this completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life counseling three times to each prospective recipient of health care resources that might be better used elsewhere. So, would --"

"No! We do not want end-of-life counseling for our daughter!"

"Citizen, as I previously educated you during this teachable moment, Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee regulations require me to offer this completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life counseling three times to each prospective recipient of health care resources that might be better used elsewhere. Further interference on your part with the performance of my federally sanctioned Health Wellness Optimization Coordinator duties will be punishable by fine and/or jail time."

"Jail time?! Are you kidding me?!"

"Government-mandated healthful wellness for all is no joke, Citizen. Now, would you like our completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life counseling for your daughter?"

"No! No, we would not like your completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life counseling for our daughter!"

"A questionable choice, Citizen, but one still within the current scope of your federally granted, inalienable rights as determined and interpreted by the Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee."

"Say what?"

"Ah, non-standard English usage! Which confirms my U.S. Census-trained observation during your entrance to Mobile Avenue Public Option Healthful Wellness Optimization Center 3698-443/A-229 that you and your family are of a non-European persuasion. Would you prefer an alternative remedy from your homeland of origin for your daughter today?"

"I'm a second-generation American."

"Who wisely retains strong and completely valid cultural ties to your homeland of origin, I'm sure."

"My 'homeland of origin' was a 'cultural' nightmare of repression and corruption. That's why my family came to this country. And my wife is a third-generation American."

"Who wisely retains strong and completely valid cultural ties to her homeland of origin, I'm sure."

"This is our homeland of origin, you moron! We're Americans!"

"Further interference on your part with the performance of my federally sanctioned Health Wellness Optimization Coordinator duties will be punishable by fine and/or --"

"Jail time, yeah, whatever. Just let us see the doctor."

"The Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee has determined that physicians are not cost-effective. If you wish to see an actual physician, you should have retained your gold-plated, fat-cat, Cadillac plan from your immoral, profit-twisted, private sector insurance carrier."

"Gold-plated? Our employer dropped our private insurance because his government-required contribution to the Public Option was cheaper than providing private-sector insurance to his employees himself! We didn't have a choice whether to join the Public Option!"

"That is a regrettable outcome, Citizen, but one for which The One and the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party are completely blameless. Who could have foreseen such an absurdly non-healthful and un-well side effect of claiming the moral high ground while ignoring the math?"

"The Republicans, a whole bunch of other Democrats, and most people who have ever had to balance their own checkbook and pay their own bills?"

"I'm going to prescribe a required mental wellness evaluation for you, Citizen. You appear to have lost touch with the Mandated Narrative of Healthful Wellness and Psychological Contentment as determined by --"

"Look, I just want my daughter to see a doctor!"

"Truthfully, Citizen, you'll have trouble even getting a nurse to see your daughter here at Mobile Avenue Public Option Healthful Wellness Optimization Center 3698-443/A-229."

"What, nurses are cost-ineffective, too?"

"Congratulations, Citizen! You have returned to the Mandated Narrative of Healthful Wellness and Psychological Contentment!"

"Oh, this is absolutely ridiculous."

"The richest nation in history failing to provide health care for all its people is ridiculous, Citizen."

"There's a difference between health care and health insurance."

"Citizen, the Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee has determined that difference to be a semantic glitch without meaningful cross-cultural differentiation."

"I don't even know what that means."

"Understanding is not required. Only repetition of the federally approved Healthful Wellness Outcomes Talking Points regarding provision of quality and affordable health care for all."

"But you haven't provided my daughter with any health care yet!"

"Citizen, I have offered you completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life counseling and an array of alternative therapies from your homeland of origin."

"And your job is what, exactly, again?"

"I am your federally sanctioned Healthful Wellness Optimization Coordinator, NeoCon, and this is Mobile Avenue Public Option Healthful Wellness Optimization Center 3698-443/A-229. How may I optimize your healthful wellness outcomes and so create a happier, more healthful society for us all?"

"You sound like some kind of robot."

"I am simply following the approved script for Healthful Wellness Encounters, Optimized Subscript for Those of Non-European Persuasions, which has been determined by the Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee to decrease waiting times and resource usage and improve healthful citizen satisfaction. Tell me, Citizen, are you satisfied with our interaction today as we encounter each other, as well as ourselves, on our separate journeys to healthful wellness?"

"No, I am not satisfied, NeoCon, so here's the deal. Our daughter keeps getting sore throats. We want her scheduled to have her tonsils removed so that we can finally end this chronic problem of hers once and for all."

"I'm sorry, Citizen. Tonsillectomies have been determined by the Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee to be a violation of your daughter's civil and human rights."

"I just want a tonsillectomy for my daughter!"

"Citizen, demanding an unnecessary procedure for your daughter has been determined by the Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee to be a hate crime, punishable by fine and/or --"

"Imprisonment, yeah, yeah, I get it. I'm surprised you haven't made it a crime against humanity, like hip replacements for a 65-year-old."

"Excellent idea, Citizen! I shall inter-office memo the Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee at once!"

"Daddy, I'm scared!"

"We can discuss humane ways to end your daughter's fear during our completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life counseling --"

"No! Just tell me what, exactly, you can do for my daughter today that involves Western medicine and something other than euthanasia!"

"I can give her this blue pill, Citizen."

"What is that? Cyanide?"

"Are you reconsidering our completely voluntary, federally funded end-of-life --"

"No! No, I am not reconsidering! Just tell me what the pill is!"

"This blue pill is a placebo."

" have got to be joking."

"Government-manded healthful wellness for all is no joke, Citizen. The Health Wellness Savings and Comparative Healthful Effectiveness Committee has determined that actual pharmaceuticals are not cost-effective compared to a placebo."

"You realize just told us it was a placebo, right?"

"Your point, Citizen?"

"Doesn't a placebo, I don't know, not work when the patient actually knows the pill is a placebo and not an actual drug?"

"The data are mixed, Citizen."

"All right, just forget it. Forget the sore throats. Maybe you could just listen to our daughter's heartbeat? Make sure that heart murmur of hers really has gone away?"

"There is no stethoscope, Citizen."

"Is that some New-Age-by-Committee, healthful placebo-type slogan again, NeoCon?"

"No, Citizen. There really is no stethoscope as Mobile Avenue Public Option Healthful Wellness Optimization Center 3698-443/A-229."

"Oh, just shoot me now..."

"Citizen! Are you reconsidering --"