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August 28, 2009

Of Course, It Was A Totally Different Set Of Circumstances Back Then…

Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Paul Krugman in 2004 on President Bush’s $500 billion deficit:

“Well, basically we have a world-class budget deficit not just as in absolute terms of course - it's the biggest budget deficit in the history of the world - but it's a budget deficit that as a share of GDP is right up there.”

“It's comparable to the worst we've ever seen in this country.”

 So, we have a deficit, which is—which our political system is now unwilling to be realistic, unwilling to contemplate doing what has to be done to bring it down significantly.

 Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Paul Krugman today on President Obama’s $1.7 trillion deficit:

“As I said, deficits saved the world.”

“In fact, we would be better off if governments were willing to run even larger deficits over the next year or two.”

“So don’t fret about this year’s deficit; we actually need to run up federal debt right now and need to keep doing it until the economy is on a solid path to recovery.”

 

INTEGTRITY - Krugman

J.

NOTE: I’m still technically on my light late-summer blogging schedule. Thanks to all who signed up to follow Planet Moron's Twitter updates in the sidebar.  Those will continue with my normal irregular regularity.  (Suddenly I feel like a bran muffin.)

August 28, 2009 at 02:13 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 27, 2009

The NEA: National Endorser for the Administration

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has begun a nationwide campaign to encourage artists to create works that are supportive of the current Administration’s progressive initiatives.

While some find it disturbing that a taxpayer-funded arts institution is being employed to further the specific policy agenda of the White House, we here at Planet Moron believe it is perfectly appropriate to use a public institution to venerate Dear Leader given that he is the very embodiment of the people. 

Sure, you could argue that the NEA was established for the purpose of “supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education,” but seeing as it is the single largest provider of funding to artists, that’s really not in your best interest now is it?

To that end, we offer up some of our own art in support of the President:.

This piece is meant to illustrate humanity's enduring struggle against the dualities of empiricism and abstract rationalism within the framework of perceived knowledge.  Also, that John Boehner is the devil.

John Beelzebub

The work below demonstrates the tension that exists between existential notions of expression and the dialectic of tolerance while at the same time showering Rush Limbaugh in the blood of those innocents he has all but condemned to death due to his opposition to Obama's health care reform.

Rush Blood

The piece that follows seeks to synthesize an Andy Warhol aesthetic together with the universal message that we should all live in peace, respect one another, and support the public option as outlined in Title II, Subtitle B of House Resolution 3200.

Stand With Obama!

True art allows the viewer to experience the world through another’s eyes.  This piece allows you to experience the world through Chris Matthews' eyes:

Brobamamance

Remember it is incumbent upon all of us to support this latest initiative. As an NEA official said on a conference call to artists who depend on the NEA for their livelihood:

“This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… “ 

See, they’re all about bringing the artistic community together with the government to establish a unified message in an attempt to circumvent the law.

And isn’t that what art is all about?

J.

August 27, 2009 at 01:45 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 24, 2009

Hand Puppets Might Also Prove Effective

Barack Obama has come under heavy criticism in some corners for lacking a single, simple, coherent message in promoting his health care reform proposal despite the fact that he has focused laser-like on 47 clearly defined benefits, 117 easy-to-understand regulations, 74 common-sense requirements and 23 simple funding sources.

In response, the White House has agreed to start dumbing things down:

 

Principle

See how much simpler that is?  Just tell the people that you’re going to give them more.  And tell them you’re going to do it for less.  This helps to avoid all the unnecessary complications of how you are actually going to achieve these goals.

But for this approach, no one would ever buy a boat.

How might the Administration expand this strategy as Congress heads back into session next month? Expect the following:

Microsoft’s popular Office assistant, “Clippy” will be brought in to help spread the newly streamlined message:

 

Clippy Takes On Health Care

The Magic 8-Ball will be employed to help answer people’s questions.  (Look to David Axelrod to send them out using a mailing list made up of people who have specifically asked for such correspondence from the White House.  And everyone else.)

 

THATS THE STATUS QUO

That Internet sensation, Crasher Squirrel, will be brought along for all public appearances:

Obama Crasher Squirrel  

At least they both like ACORN.

While this might help, the main problem the President is having is that the entire health care system of the United States is complex, with thousands of providers, and millions of customers, all with an impossibly diverse set of needs, wants, capacities and conditions all of which are constantly changing in an interrelated process of adaptation to the dynamics of supply and demand which is resistant to top-down command-and-control solutions and not easily addressed, even with the President’s typical 237 bullet points.

If only there were some kind of alternate approach, perhaps a market system of some kind that has proven effective before.

Oh well.

Have you met “Sammy,” the health-care-reform squirrel?

 

Sammy The Health Care Squirrel

J.

NOTE: Yep, still on my late-August blogging-lite schedule.  How can you tell?  Two squirrels in the same post.

August 24, 2009 at 08:21 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 21, 2009

Maybe John Boehner Has Huge, Sharp Teeth

Barack Obama yesterday blamed the powerless, marginalized, and inconsequential Republican Party for the troubles he's been having selling his health care reform plan.

President Obama is hardly the first resident of the Oval Office to have his policy agenda unexpectedly jeopardized by a presumably innocuous foe:

Jimmy Carter's Killer Rabbit, believed to have made the President appear feeble and ineffectual, particularly after the rabbit took 53 American hostages in Iran.  (But to be honest, we really just skimmed the Wikipedia entry.)

John Boehner

And in fairness, this would hardly be the first time that something that at first appears to be harmless turns out to be a much more formidable opponent:


So what should President Obama do?  The only thing he can do.  Bring out the Holy Hand Grenade...

Holy Hand Grenade J.

NOTE: Still on a light late-August blogging schedule.  Obviously.

August 21, 2009 at 12:58 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 19, 2009

August Recess

As we enter the final weeks of August, blogging will be light as I've decided to devote some time to drinking even more heavily than usual working on that book I've talked about before.  In fact, I would have posted this earlier but I was diligently trying to perfect the dirty martini prepare the chapter outline, and you know how you can get so hung over caught up in your work you don’t even notice the time going by.

In the meantime, we will be updating the Planet Moron Twitter page on a daily or near-daily basis.  You can either sign up for Twitter to follow our Tweets or if you prefer, just track them in the right sidebar.

We'd also like to call your attention to our Planet Moron Crap Store, offering fine apparel and accessories for all your Town Hall Meeting needs. No one will ever be able to accuse you of being part of the "Brooks Brothers" crowd in one of our T-shirts or caps, and think of how sharp you’ll look when you get beat up by wholly spontaneous counter-demonstrators who coincidentally all arrive in the same chartered bus.  

Planet Moron Apparel: Coming soon to a grainy cell-phone YouTube video near you!

And finally, we leave you with the latest Internet craze sweeping the nation:

Heath Care For America Now Squirrel

Digitally inserting a squirrel into your pictures.

Because there are not nearly enough opportunities to waste time on the Internet already.

Now, where did i put that cocktail shaker latest synopsis...

J.

August 19, 2009 at 02:11 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 15, 2009

Don’t Call Him “Dr. Death,” Call Him, “Dr. Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions.”

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel has been pushed into the spotlight these past couple of weeks as focus has been brought on certain end-of-life provisions contained in various versions of the government’s health care reform legislation and Dr Emanuel’s role as an advisor to the White House. 

This is Dr. Emanuel.

I'm From The Government...

Now, does that seem like the kind of man who could look at you with cold, lifeless eyes and turn off the ventilator with a dispassionate efficiency born of a soul that elevates the dry calculus of statistical analysis above…

Wait, where were we going with this?

Oh, yes, Dr. Emanuel’s reputation is being unfairly tarnished.  He is a compassionate man as evidenced by this piece by Jake Tapper in July, this article in Salon from the week before, and this ABC interview of last week.

From these, we distill Dr. Emanuel’s spirited defense of his past writings, along with the relevant passages:

“I do not support rationing care.”

In another article used as grist for his critics, in Lancet in January 2009, Emanuel and two co-authors discussed rationing care. But Emanuel cautions the goal of the article was not to apply his views of rationing onto providing health care in general.

“Except when I do.“

In that article Emanuel analyzed eight different views that have been advocated and, with his co-author, argued none are adequate. They combined five views to create the “Complete Life” theory. One of the arguments is that the younger patient should get the liver before the older patient.

“And besides, it polls well.”

Emanuel points out that there is some support for the positions he takes in that article from public polling.

“Hey, I was just playing pretend!”

Is he saying, as Palin and others have suggested, that those who aren’t “participating citizens” should have no guarantee to health care?

“No,” Emanuel says, “and I think I made it pretty clear I wasn’t endorsing that view, I was analyzing that perspective and what it might mean in practical terms. The rest of the text around that quote made it made it pretty clear I was trying to analyze it and understand it, not endorse it.”

“Even though I in no way endorse the rationing of care or the creation of criteria for who gets care in the context of scarcity,…

“We don’t have to raise the issue of denying care, or choosing which people get services,” he says.

 …I’m bold and courageous for doing so.”

“Throughout my career I’ve taken on those kinds of questions,” he says, “ones that people don’t like confronting.” They’re difficult issues, he says, but society already makes decisions, one way or another, about who gets the liver, and how to care for dying patients. “I understand it can make people queasy but there’s no way of escaping it.”

You should not discriminate against 65-year-olds out of prejudice, you should discriminate against them because they are 65 years old:

“Treating 65-year-olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.”

"Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years."

“You’re probably not smart enough to understand it anyway.”

Emanuel acknowledges that philosophical treatises can be difficult to consume and might lend themselves to this kind of misinterpretation… But that said, “a lot of philosophy can sometimes seem extremely abstract to people and hard to follow -- even well-educated people.”

“Heck, even I don’t know what these people are talking about half the time!”

He says sometimes he has trouble following a philosophical article. “They’re not necessarily the easiest thing to read.”

Are we being too hard on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the thoughtful bioethicist who confronts difficult issues faced by families (ours included) across America every day? 

Probably.

Are we being too hard on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, advisor to the White House in the midst of its efforts to radically restructure the nation’s entire health care system from the top down through federal fiat, all within the purported context of cost containment and budget savings?

That, not so much.

J.

August 15, 2009 at 08:33 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 14, 2009

‘Cause Suicide is Painless…

While former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s use of the term “death panel" to describe the controversial section of the House’s health care bill dealing with end-of-life planning was without foundation (for the most part, well, sort of, okay, the whole thing is creepy), it was highly effective at focusing attention on the divisive issue.

As they say, success breeds imitation.Prepare for the widespread use of this potent rhetorical device in the near future:

“Death Board”

Should be useful for getting a zoning variance: “The America I know and love is not one in which bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment, whether we are worthy of a 20-foot easement from the centerline of the right-of-way as measured 90 degrees from the axis."

"Such a system is downright evil."

“Death Committee”

“If the 41st Annual Neighborhood Block Party Coordinating Committee is going to endorse Hunts Ketchup over Heinz, we’re saying not just no, but hell no!"

“Death Council”

This will be a handy term to use to battle the city council when it tries to increase parking fees by a quarter.  “And who will suffer most when they ration 2-hour spots?  The sick, the elderly, and those who have a lot of stuff to return to Crate & Barrel.”

“Death Caulk”

For when you really need to get out of re-caulking the shower: “As I delve into the disturbing details of the denatured alcohol and blue painter’s tape that is being rushed upon me, my collective jaw is dropping.”

“Death Star”

Use the specter of the Empire’s impending deployment of a moon-sized planet-destroying battle station to unite the rebellion to rise up against…. Wait, that sounds familiar…

But why does this line of attack resonate so profoundly with the American people, particularly the boomer generation?  We chalk it up to the moving lyrics to the theme from MASH:

Through early morning fog I see,
Visions of a drip IV,
The feeding tube withheld from me,
I realize and I can see...

Suicide is painless,
It brings on fiscal changes,
And they can choose it if they please.

It appears it is too late,
For me to change my fate,
Seems they have a way to rate,
Your expiration date.

Suicide is painless,
It brings on fiscal changes,
And they can choose it if they please.

The game of life is hard to play,
I'm gonna lose it anyway,
Might as well die today,
Cost too much to X-Ray

Suicide is painless,
It brings on fiscal changes,
And they can choose it if they please.

Do I have more time left?
Than the patient to my left?
To treat me would be theft,
After all, my palate's cleft.

Suicide is painless,
It brings on fiscal changes,
And they can choose it if they please.

If the doctors predict,
That your illness can't be fixed,
They apply a new metrics,
It's cost-cutting ethics.

Suicide is painless,
It brings on fiscal changes,
And they can choose it if they please.

And help reduce those co-pay fees...

J.

August 14, 2009 at 01:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2009

Bold New Strategy

According to Politico (scroll to bottom for first entry), The White House today launches a bold new strategy in support of its efforts to overhaul the American health care system:

New Strategy

1

It’s so crazy, it just might work.

Good Idea


J.

August 13, 2009 at 08:40 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 11, 2009

Top Ten Ways Obamacare Will Be Like The Post Office

At a Town Hall meeting today, Barack Obama sought to allay a questioner’s fears that a public option under health care reform would run private insurers out of business pointing out that:

“UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. ... It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

Which brings us to:

The Top Ten Ways Obamacare Will Be Like The Post Office

10) Exquisite Commemorative Hospital Discharge Forms. For the savvy collector, medical documents will depict great moments in American history starting with a ten-piece set, “Regrigerators of the 1950s.”   Collect ‘em all!

9) Absolutely no surgeries on Sunday:

8) Conveniently Located Urine Sample Collection Boxes.

ObamaBox

7) Express Surgery rates: For when you need that appendectomy overnight.  If you can wait 2 to 3 days, you should consider using Priority Surgery to save a few bucks.

6) Snazzy new ambulances.

Obambulance

5) When an attending resident loses it and shoots up the ICU, it will be called “Going Medical.”

4) Lines!

Lines!

3) To beat the holiday rush, you’ll want to get all your colonoscopies done by December 5.

2.That kidney transplant?  Make sure you use a lot of bubble wrap.

1) More Lines!

More Lines!Now you know what they mean when they ask you to stand with the President on health care! Stand With Standacare


 J.

August 11, 2009 at 11:42 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2009

Myths, Lies, and Videotape

As the debate rages on over who is lying and who are the more authentic protestors, we came across this extensive pictorial illustrating some of the differences.  We excerpt a couple.

Here we have what are obviously professionally organized protesters who appear, as you would suspect from their meticulously coordinated actions, to be lining up to get their checks from their K-Street insurance industry lobbyist paymasters:

Professional Astroturfers

This is in direct contrast to these 100% completely spontaneous protestors all of whom coincidentally brought the same exact protest sign from Health Care For America Now (HCAN):

Completely Spontaneous

HCAN, by the way, is funded by common citizens just like you through small donations, and by “common citizens just like you,” we mean George Soros and by “small donations,” we mean $5 million.

Similarly, we have this screen shot of the grass roots citizen initiative known as “The White House” battling the many lies being spread by the aforementioned K Street Insurance Nazis and their un-American racist allies.

Spontaneous White House Grassroots Movement

For example, Melody Barnes, the President's Director of the Domestic Policy Council, discussesThe ‘euthanasia’ distortion on help for families.”

Distortion!

You know, rebutting the charge that The White House wants to kill your grandmother by noting it’s a “distortion” does not really provide a whole lot of comfort.

And here we have Robert Kocher of the National Economic Council debunking the myth that Medicare benefits will be cut by noting you’ll save money on drug prescriptions.

Myth!

He includes a clip of President Obama stating emphatically that, “Nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits.”

You see, they're not talking about making reductions in Medicare benefits, they’re talking about finding “savings” in Medicare benefits. "Reductions” would imply you are going to spend less on benefits, whereas “savings” is spelled completely differently.

And arriving at these “savings” is really quite easy.  The government just has to “eliminate waste” and “improve information.”

Which when you think about it they really should have done before, but better late than never, we always say.

We also have Kavita Patel, Director of Policy, Office of Public Engagement, to convince you that health reform “will stop ‘rationing,’ not increase it.”

Rationing? Pshaw!

If you are like us, you are probably thinking, “Please don’t tell me I’m paying for the White House to have an ‘Office of Public Engagement.’”

Also, “How can price controls and federal health boards not result in rationing?”

First, Ms. Patel points out that rationing exists today.  For example, the medical reimbursement you get today is "based on what kind of health insurance you have."

That’s right, the benefits you receive are rationed based on what you bought.

In the same way, you can argue that your access to Sirius Satellite Radio is rationed based on what kind of automobile you purchased and your access to cherry tomatoes is rationed based on whether or not you’re going to the Sizzler Steakhouse tonight or the Olive Garden.

Second, Ms. Patel notes that “The notion that the government will interfere with what you have? It really is laughable.”

Although we’re not sure whether she means it’s laughable “ha ha” or laughable “weird.”

Come to think of it, she seems kind of ticked off throughout the video that she’s been torn away from her important work engaging the public in its public engagement.  Or something.

Finally, we tried to make it all the way through the video prepared by Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers in which she explains how new penalties, fines, and requirements are “good” for small businesses, but we’ve kind of reached the breaking point on her “Good Witch of the North” style of public speaking.

Christina Romer explains the relative merits of small-business mandates:

Trust Me I'm Wearing Yellow

Christina Romer explains the relative merits of compass-oriented witchcraft:

Just saying.

And there you have it.  Who are you going to believe?  Nazi sympathizing town hall protestors controlled by villainous insurance company bigwigs?

Or White House employees and a George-Soros-funded lobbying group?

You're going to report us, aren't you?

J.

August 10, 2009 at 04:44 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack